Sunday, February 17, 2019

Is Religion Dying Out? (1)

Image result for ruins of cathedrals in England

David Voas university of Essex argues based upon his demographic research that religion will disappear over the next 50 years. [1] This is not like the usual atheist propaganda that atheism  is unceasing, for two reasons. Voas offers no data to the effect  that atheism is increasing. Never the less religion is in trouble and it has to do with the rise of the nones, . The theory is called "replacement" and it means subsequent generations are not being replaced. America is now headed for the same kimndof relgioius deliewqqe see Europe and Great Beition.
These declines in traditional religiosity aren’t offset by increasing vitality elsewhere. It’s true that the “spiritual but not religious” phenomenon has expanded in recent years. This diffuse spirituality may provide a growing market for certain kinds of religious products, such as self-help books with spiritual themes, but it isn’t offsetting religious decline, re-energizing existing religious institutions, or providing a foundation for new forms of religious collective action.It’s not just the fact of religious decline that makes the United States similar to Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, or most of Europe. It’s also the way that secularization has occurred mainly, and in some cases entirely, because each successive generation is slightly less religious than the one before.[2]
The two reasons  this is to be taken seriously and not just dismissed as the usual atheist propagate  is because it is serious academe work and the data backs it up. How bad wi;; it get.Pew research paimts a ictirenot mraeluy as bad t;s eenmade to sound:
The basic results are the same whether we examine religious affiliation, attendance, or belief in God. It’s well known that an increasing proportion of Americans say that they have no religion. That’s a generational effect, and churchgoing tells the same ....story.Figure 2 [see note] shows monthly attendance at religious services in the United States; the pattern is very similar to what we see in Figure 1. Gentle decline within birth cohorts during the 1970s was followed by rising participation in the 1980s, after which within-generation change is very minor. Churchgoing decline in the United States is driven by the same cohort replacement mechanism that drives religious change elsewhere in the West.[3]
There is no real dispirit of these findings. I not  have found any demographer who is willing to claim the figures lie. Atheist philosopher Keith parson's paints a grim picture. In "There is No Way Back or religion in the  West," her says;"I suspect this fellow is probably right in the sense that the West will eventually resemble China or Japan, where religion plays only a very marginal social or cultural role. I don’t think that’s good or bad,  just a probability.Religion is in decline across the Western world. Whether measured by belonging, believing,"[4]

The religious profile of the world is rapidly changing, driven primarily by differences in fertility rates and the size of youth populations among the world’s changing, driven primarily by differences in fertility rates and the size of youth populations among the world’s  religious group, but Islam will grow faster than any other major religion. If current trends continue, by 2050 …

  • The number of Muslims will nearly equal the number of Christians around the world.
  • Atheists, agnostics and other people who do not affiliate with any religion – though increasing in countries such as the United States and France – will make up a declining share of the world’s total population.
  • The global Buddhist population will be about the same size it was in 2010, while the Hindu and Jewish populations will be larger than they are today.
  • In Europe, Muslims will make up 10% of the overall population.
  • India will retain a Hindu majority but also will have the largest Muslim population of any country in the world, surpassing Indonesia.
  • In the United States, Christians will decline from more than three-quarters of the population in 2010 to two-thirds in 2050, and Judaism will no longer be the largest non-Christian religion. Muslims will be more numerous in the U.S. than people who identify as Jewish on the basis of religion.
  • Four out of every 10 Christians in the world will live in sub-Saharan Africa
These are among the global religious trends highlighted in new demographic projections by the Pew Research Center. The projections take into account the current size and geographic distribution of the world’s major religions, age differences, fertility and mortality rates, international migration and patterns in conversion.[5]
In that scenario Christianity is  still 2/3 of American population by 2050 that's not nearly as gloomy as  Parsons makes it sound. I must say two things to keep in mind. 50 Years ago Anthony Wallace  confidently predicted religion would   die out completely. It would be killed of by  the advancememt of science of course. "belief in supernatural powers is doomed to die out, all over the world, as a result of the increasing adequacy and diffusion of scientific knowledge" Nor was Wallace alone in this prediction The social silences adopted that view as recorded truth. That prediction was blown away by the sharp rise in religious interest in the 70's with the "Jesus movement" and the 80's with the religious right. [6] 

Anthony FC Wallace (1923-2015)

The problem with the latter is it may lack a deep commitment."There is general agreement that young people increasingly do not regard themselves as belonging to a Christian religion, much less practise it. What is still debated is whether they are prone to “believing without belonging”, in the phrase popularised by the sociologist Grace Davie. Many other scholars echo the view that religiosity is being transformed, not eroded. "[7]Linda Woodhead’s comments): "Levels of atheism have not grown a great deal in the past 30 years, and stand at under 20% … people are just less likely to associate with, or relate to, a particular religion."[8] Sociologists Ariela Keysar and Juhem Navarro-Rivera's review  of numerous global studies on atheism,thry demonstrate Atheism is  only 7% of world population, that includes agnosticism some would assume the rest believe in some from of God. [9] Since that figure includes agnostics I doubt it represents any increase in atheism,

As for shallow commitment only one in five born since 75 believes in God. There is an increase in belief in a "higher power" but that may lack the deep  commitment of theism,[10] Or it might mean deeper. I contend that social science is not good at probing such levels of belief. Since the point of being "none" is to be not affiliated the conventional markers of commitment such as affiliation are useless for accession their commitment, Less religious does not mean  less believing. The majority of of  nones believe in God, although they are less observant.[11]
One way to measure depth of commitment would be to ask therm.  Americans take for granted the  idea that Europeans are all atheists  and no one believes anymore. A major study examining European values does not afirm this stereotype so they asked the people themselves.  
It is obvious that a vast majority of all the Europeans nominate themselves as religious persons. There are even more people who consider themselves as religious as there are people who attend church. It is a kind of ‘believing without belonging’. People pick and choose religious beliefs, doctrines, and practices and they are mixing and matching them, as they would select food in a cafeteria. Sociologists talk about this trend as a ‘cafeteria religion’, or as ‘church-free spirituality’. Europeans remain religious, their approach is eclectic, and they borrow ideas from several traditions. Meanwhile, many institutionalized churches, especially in the West, are running empty.[12]
What is called  "residual involvement" is often overlooked in belief, practice, and self identification.. There is a large group that neither attended services defines themselves as non religions. The term "fuzzy  fidelity" has been coined to describe this group.[13]Europe is always held up as the horror story for the end of American religion   to end up like Europe. But we must consider that while Sweden is much more homogeneous than the U.S. We are more so than Europe as whole. The case of belief in Europe is not the horror story it is made out to be.  Europe is  a collection of differing societies the analogy to the US is useless.[14]

There is cause  for concern since disjointed communication and lack of teaching will result in doctrinal crisis  for the  church and ignorance of the faith for the masses. It will not be the end of religion  or of belief in God. Another important question arises, the caused this great falling away? The cause is important since it  reflects  upon truth content.  It's only natural to pit modernity against ancient belief. Make no mistake there is cause for  concern: 7% of young people in UK are Anglican. Stephen Bullivant, a professor of theology and the sociology of religion at St Mary’s University in London.:“Christianity as a default, as a norm, is gone, and probably gone for good – or at least for the next 100 years,” ;'[15]

Sociologists have proposed many mechanisms, economic growth bring freedom from traditional ways of life. Mass communication brings exposure to new ideas,physical security reduces the need for for spiritual consolation.[16] "An assumption lay at the core of the social sciences, either presuming or sometimes predicting that all cultures would eventually converge on something roughly approximating secular, Western, liberal democracy."[17] Thus there is an assumption that humanity is just   outgrowing outmoded belief. I think there is a better explanation. At least in term of the US the religious right is to blame.

Hout and Fischer argue that the dramatic rouse of the  non  religious is due to the religious right and its phonology and tactics of culture war.. They have transformed the church into an inhospitable environment Marginalized and all who would care or their plight.;[18]Rising none rates are higher in Republican states indicating a reaction to politics. [19] Of course that does not explain the secularization of Europe. But secularization is not the  issue. American  religion has  stood up to vast secularization. But rather there is a failure of the religious institution. They are not guiding the young through the maze ways as they one did,The answer of conventional christians is to seek to restructuring maze ways along old lines, thus failing to connect with the young. 

Next time I take up with this theme part 2/


[1]David Voas and Mark Chaves, "Religion is in decline in the West, and America is no exception," LSE US Center, published  American Politics and Policy, the London School of Economics.(Dec, 2016)
[accessed 2/16/19]

David Voas | TEDxUniversityofEssex

There is a film about his work on Youtube,

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid fig 2
Voas Fig 2

Figure 2 shows monthly attendance at religious services in the United States; the pattern is very similar to what we see in Figure 1. Gentle decline within birth cohorts during the 1970s was followed by rising participation in the 1980s, after which within-generation change is very minor. Churchgoing decline in the United States is driven by the same cohort replacement mechanism that drives religious change elsewhere in the West.
Figure 2 – Attendance monthly or more often by decade of birth, United States, 1973-2014
Source: General Social Survey, 1973-2014. Note: Includes respondents aged 20-84 born in the US. Graph shows three-survey moving average. To avoid overstating religious decline, the unusually religious 1972 GSS sample has been excluded.

[4]Keith Parsons. "Why there is no way back for religion in the West: David Voas."Attack the system,
(October 11, 2017)
[accessed 2/16/19]

[5] Pew Research Center: Religion and Public Life, "The Future of Worlds Religions: Population growth projections, 2910-2050"(April 2, 2015)
[accessed 2/16/19]

[6] Philip S. Gorski and Ate§ Altmordu,"Our comprehensive search After Secularization?"
First published online as a Review in Advance on April 9, 2008 The Annual Review of Sociology is online at This article's doi:
[accessed 2/16/19]
Department of Sociology, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 
long to,e readers have heard me talk abouit Wallace before as developing the  changing of the mazeway theory.

[7] David Voas, "Hard evidence: is Christianity dying in Britain?" The  Conversation,  US inc.(November 27, 2013 1)
[accessed 2/16/19]

[8] Linda Woodhead quoted by Josephine Lethbroidge, "British social attitudes report finds trust is in freefall" us inc(September 9, 2013 )
[accessed 2/16/19]
Josephine Lethbroidge is interdisciplinary editor for coverdstion

[9] Keysar, Ariela; Navarro-Rivera, Juhem (2017). "36. A World of Atheism: Global Demographics". In Bullivant, Stephen; Ruse, Michael. The Oxford Handbook of Atheism. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0199644650.

[10] Wooodhead op cit

[11] Pew Research Center: Religion in Public Life, "U.S. Public Becomes Less Religious," (NOVEMBER 3, 2015)
[accessed 2/17/19]

[12] European Values Study, "Religion:Church attendance – Confidence in the church – Importance of God – Traditional beliefs " Tiulburg University, Leibniz Institute for Social Change, (Feb 11 2019) no page number
[accessed 2/17/19]
The European Values Study is a large-scale, cross-national, and longitudinal survey research program on basic human values. It provides insights into the ideas, beliefs, preferences, attitudes, values, and opinions of citizens all over Europe. It is a unique research project on how Europeans think about life, family, work, religion, politics, and society.
The European Values Study started in 1981 when a thousand citizens in the European Member States of that time were interviewed using standardized questionnaires. Every nine years, the survey is repeated in a variable number of countries. The fourth wave in 2008 covers no less than 47 European countries/regions, from Iceland to Georgia and from Portugal to Norway. In total, about 70,000 people in Europe are interviewed.
The data of the European Values Study are available free of charge. Rich academic literature has been created around the original and consecutive surveys, and numerous other works have made use of the findings: more than 1600 publications are listed in the EVS Bibliography.

[13] David Voas, "The Rise and Fall of Fuzzy Fidelity in Europe," European Sociological Review, published by Oxford Academic, (July 19,2008) Volume 25, Issue 2, 1 April 2009, Pages 155–168,
Published:19 July 2008
[accessed 2/17/19]

[14] Ibid

[15]  "Christianity as default is gone rise of non Christian Europe" The Guardian," (Tue 20 Mar 2018)
[accessed 2/17/19]

[16] Peter Harrison, "Why Religion is Not Going Away and Science Will Not Destroy It," Aeon,no page nimber
[accessed 2/17/19]


[18]Michael Hout and Claude S. Fischer, "Why More Americans Have No Religious Preference: Politics and Generations,American Sociological Review, Vol. 67, No. 2 (Apr., 2002), pp. 165-190

Michael Hout  Professor of Sociology, Director of Center for Advanced Social Science Research ...
Claude SFischerClaude  (born January 9, 1948) is an American sociologist and Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. He has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in urban sociology, research methods, and American society at UC Berkeley.

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