Global trends towards secularization

Brink Lindsey has an interesting post at his blog about the increasing numbers of nonreligious people globally over the last five decades, and speculation about why the U.S. remains so religious. He suggests that it’s not the separation of church and state (with Australia and New Zealand as counter-examples to the U.S.), but ethnic heterogeneity and geographic mobility–that church membership acts to ease the transition of a move to a new geographic region.

The post that inspired Lindsey’s commentary, by Razib at Gene Expression, is also well worth reading. He throws some cold water on the idea that a decline in organized religion entails an increase in a scientific, naturalistic view of the world (as opposed to, for example, a nontheistic supernaturalism).

And Razib’s commentary is itself a response to a piece at Edge: The Third Culture titled “Why the Gods are not Winning” by Gregory Paul and Phil Zuckerman.

Enjoy reading all three…

About Jim Lippard
  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08852569465893563139 Duck

    The “Gods are winning” arguments ignore the fact that unbelief is growing among younger age cohorts in the US, as documented in this Pew Research survey.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08283495416961053745 Drayman

    As an hypthosis, might I sugest that a major cause of widespread religious belief is a lack of security.

    If you live in a third world country, where life is precarious, religion gives a sense of security and network of help in bad times.

    Modern western societies have the potential to make religion redundant, since they have the facilities to make people secure from hunger and destitution. However, some chose not to, so religion thrives.

    The obvious examples are the US and western Europe. In the latter social support for everyone is guaranteed, and religion becomes an optional extra; its not required for survival. On the otherhand, in the US, life is more precarious: illness, or the loss of a job (particuarly in later life), can reduce you to grinding poverty, and the church is the only thing that can keep your head above water.

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