The BBC reports here the decline of religion …
A study using census data from nine countries shows that religion there is set for extinction, say researchers.
The study found a steady rise in those claiming no religious affiliation.
The team’s mathematical model attempts to account for the interplay between the number of religious respondents and the social motives behind being one.
There is lots more behind that story, I’ll let you go click the link and read all the details later at your leisure.[Well OK, I bet you are as curious as I was to know which nine countries they are on about … its Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland, now that surprised me because I expected the UK to be in that mix].
The observation to make here is that its simply a mathematical trend that has been drawn out from the census numbers, and its not just media hype, its an actual study. You can find the actual paper, entitled … “A mathematical model of social group competition with application to the growth of religious non-affiliation” on arxiv.org.
OK, so why am I blogging about this, is it to simply dance on the grave of religion? No not at all, instead I simply wish to highlight a few flaws in the suggestion that religion is in decline. I’m sure the maths is fine, I’ve no quibble with that, so whats the problem then?
First, I question the data being used, I simply do not believe it to be accurate. If I did take census data seriously, then I’d be forced to accept that the fourth largest religion in the UK is Jedi, only true knights of course, I’m excluding all from the dark side of the force. Why? well because over 400,000 folks put down Jedi on the 2001 UK census. And of course they are all true Jedi knights … yea right.
Secondly, while I do accept that the current mainstream beliefs are indeed in decline, the census numbers do not tell the whole story. Many of the folks who tick, “No Religion” do still believe a lot of nonsense and are very often utterly irrational. So while Jesus might indeed be in decline, other forms of belief are taking root to replace this older form of devotion. I’m thinking about belief in the other side, psychics, spirits, ghosts, or belief in super beings, aliens and other worlds or dimensions. Belief in super-human powers such as telepathy, spoon bending, astral projection, remote viewing, etc…
Alas, I suspect its not a study that highlights the dawn of a more rational world, but rather it just tells us that mainstream irrationality will pass and be replaced by newer forms of irrationality. I’d like to think I’m wrong about this, but i suspect I’m not.