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Why Atheism Will Replace Religion

Posted by on Dec. 28, 2013 at 2:08 AM
  • 349 Replies
4 moms liked this
Atheists are heavily concentrated in economically developed countries, particularly the social democracies of Europe (Barber, 2012). In underdeveloped countries, there are virtually no atheists.Atheism is thus a peculiarly modern phenomenon. Why do modern conditions produce atheism?

First, as to the distribution of atheism in the world, a clear pattern can be discerned. In sub-Saharan Africa there is almost no atheism (Zuckerman, 2007). Belief in God declines in more developed countries and is concentrated in Europe in countries such as Sweden (64% nonbelievers), Denmark (48%), France (44%) and Germany (42%). In contrast, the incidence of atheism in most sub-Saharan countries is below 1%.

The question of why economically developed countries turn to atheism has been batted around by anthropologists for about eighty years. Anthropologist James Fraser proposed that scientific prediction and control of nature supplants religion as a means of controlling uncertainty in our lives. This hunch is supported by data showing that the more educated countries have higher levels of non belief and there are strong correlations between atheism and intelligence (see my earlier post on this).


Atheists are more likely to be college-educated people who live in cities and they are highly concentrated in the social democracies of Europe. Atheism thus blossoms amid affluence where most people feel economically secure. But why?

It seems that people turn to religion as a salve for the difficulties and uncertainties of their lives. In social democracies, there is less fear and uncertainty about the future because social welfare programs provide a safety net and better health care means that fewer people can expect to die young. People who are less vulnerable to the hostile forces of nature feel more in control of their lives and less in need of religion.

In addition to being the opium of the people (as Karl Marx contemptuously phrased it), religion may also promote fertility, particularly by promotingmarriage, according to copious data reviewed by Sanderson (2008). Large families are preferred in agricultural countries as a source of free labor. In developed "atheist" countries, women have exceptionally small families and do not need religion helping them to raise large families.

Even the psychological functions of religion face stiff competition today. In modern societies, when people experience psychological difficulties they turn to their doctor, psychologist, or psychiatrist. They want a scientific fix and prefer the real psychotropic medicines dished out by physicians to the metaphorical opiates offered by religion.

Moreover, sport psychologists find that sports spectatorship provides much the same kind of social, and spiritual, benefits as people obtain from church membership. In a previous post, I made the case that sports is replacing religion. Precisely the same argument can be made for other forms of entertainment with which spectators become deeply involved. Indeed, religion is striking back by trying to compete in popular media, such as televangelism and Christian rock and by hosting live secular entertainment in church.

The reasons that churches lose ground in developed countries can be summarized in market terms. First, with better science, and withgovernment safety nets, and smaller families, there is less fear and uncertainty in people's daily lives and hence less of a market for religion. At the same time many alternative products are being offered, such as psychotropic medicines and electronic entertainment that have fewer strings attached and that do not require slavish conformity to unscientific beliefs.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-human-beast/201005/why-atheism-will-replace-religion

by on Dec. 28, 2013 at 2:08 AM
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Replies (1-10):
colljd02
by Julia on Dec. 28, 2013 at 2:51 AM
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Very interesting. I don't think that atheism will all together replace religion, but I do agree that as we become a more developed world, that people will not rely on religion as much.
Goodwoman614
by Satan on Dec. 28, 2013 at 2:56 AM
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Excellent post.

kay283
by Member on Dec. 28, 2013 at 3:05 AM
27 moms liked this
Because economically developed countries are fueled by money. People loose sight of the things that are really important when they are too concerned with making money and buying things. If they believe in God they would be held accountable for their choices. So they choose not to believe in a higher power so that they are free to live lives consumed by money and sin without consequence or guilt. After all money is the root of all evil. Sadly this is where we are headed.
LindaClement
by Thatwoman on Dec. 28, 2013 at 4:01 AM
15 moms liked this

I think you've completely missed the point.

When people are not constantly and endlessly concerned with whether or not they're going to get to HAVE a next meal, much less where it might be coming from or what they might have to do to get it (see? not about money) people feel more confident in the future and secure right now.

That makes them less susceptible to stories about some potential afterlife, or threats about the bad things that might (continue to) happen to them if they don't kneel and worship.

You do know that the leading cause of death among men in 1900 was starvation, right? Not a million years ago, and including Europe and North America.

Quoting kay283: Because economically developed countries are fueled by money. People loose sight of the things that are really important when they are too concerned with making money and buying things. If they believe in God they would be held accountable for their choices. So they choose not to believe in a higher power so that they are free to live lives consumed by money and sin without consequence or guilt. After all money is the root of all evil. Sadly this is where we are headed.


kay283
by Member on Dec. 28, 2013 at 4:07 AM
1 mom liked this
No I think you've completely missed the point. Nothing you said disproved what I was saying.

Quoting LindaClement:

I think you've completely missed the point.

When people are not constantly and endlessly concerned with whether or not they're going to get to HAVE a next meal, much less where it might be coming from or what they might have to do to get it (see? not about money) people feel more confident in the future and secure right now.

That makes them less susceptible to stories about some potential afterlife, or threats about the bad things that might (continue to) happen to them if they don't kneel and worship.

You do know that the leading cause of death among men in 1900 was starvation, right? Not a million years ago, and including Europe and North America.

Quoting kay283: Because economically developed countries are fueled by money. People loose sight of the things that are really important when they are too concerned with making money and buying things. If they believe in God they would be held accountable for their choices. So they choose not to believe in a higher power so that they are free to live lives consumed by money and sin without consequence or guilt. After all money is the root of all evil. Sadly this is where we are headed.


Momniscient
by Ruby Member on Dec. 28, 2013 at 4:10 AM
16 moms liked this
I think you didn't read the article very thoroughly.



Quoting kay283: Because economically developed countries are fueled by money. People loose sight of the things that are really important when they are too concerned with making money and buying things. If they believe in God they would be held accountable for their choices. So they choose not to believe in a higher power so that they are free to live lives consumed by money and sin without consequence or guilt. After all money is the root of all evil. Sadly this is where we are headed.
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kay283
by Member on Dec. 28, 2013 at 4:13 AM
1 mom liked this
Maybe you didn't.

Quoting Momniscient: I think you didn't read the article very thoroughly.







Quoting kay283: Because economically developed countries are fueled by money. People loose sight of the things that are really important when they are too concerned with making money and buying things. If they believe in God they would be held accountable for their choices. So they choose not to believe in a higher power so that they are free to live lives consumed by money and sin without consequence or guilt. After all money is the root of all evil. Sadly this is where we are headed.
stormy0142
by on Dec. 28, 2013 at 4:15 AM
4 moms liked this
I personally believe religion is something people turn to when bad things happen for no reason. It provides hope and glimmer of salvation during times of despair. I do believe op makes a valid arguement since we as a society do not face the same hardships our ancestors faced 100 years ago. Society and the economy have developed tremendously and people have more control and influence over their success. We no longer have to turn to a deity for answers, to put food on the table, or ggeneral well being (disease).

Quoting kay283: No I think you've completely missed the point. Nothing you said disproved what I was saying.



Quoting LindaClement:

I think you've completely missed the point.

When people are not constantly and endlessly concerned with whether or not they're going to get to HAVE a next meal, much less where it might be coming from or what they might have to do to get it (see? not about money) people feel more confident in the future and secure right now.

That makes them less susceptible to stories about some potential afterlife, or threats about the bad things that might (continue to) happen to them if they don't kneel and worship.

You do know that the leading cause of death among men in 1900 was starvation, right? Not a million years ago, and including Europe and North America.

Quoting kay283: Because economically developed countries are fueled by money. People loose sight of the things that are really important when they are too concerned with making money and buying things. If they believe in God they would be held accountable for their choices. So they choose not to believe in a higher power so that they are free to live lives consumed by money and sin without consequence or guilt. After all money is the root of all evil. Sadly this is where we are headed.


Aestas
by Gold Member on Dec. 28, 2013 at 4:30 AM
18 moms liked this

Seems to me that the religious right are the biggest fans of unfettered capitalism. Notice the countries with the highest proportions of atheists are social democracies, countries that care for the least among them.

Also, do you seriously believe that there's no human conscience without fear of God? What a bleak (and inaccurate; we know that morality is an evolved social trait) view of humanity you have.

Quoting kay283: Because economically developed countries are fueled by money. People loose sight of the things that are really important when they are too concerned with making money and buying things. If they believe in God they would be held accountable for their choices. So they choose not to believe in a higher power so that they are free to live lives consumed by money and sin without consequence or guilt. After all money is the root of all evil. Sadly this is where we are headed.


Clairwil
by Ruby Member on Dec. 28, 2013 at 4:57 AM
4 moms liked this


Quoting -Celestial-:

Moreover, sport psychologists find that sports spectatorship provides much the same kind of social, and spiritual, benefits as people obtain from church membership. In a previous post, I made the case that sports is replacing religion. Precisely the same argument can be made for other forms of entertainment with which spectators become deeply involved. Indeed, religion is striking back by trying to compete in popular media, such as televangelism and Christian rock and by hosting live secular entertainment in church.

Interesting.

I wonder whether that makes religion a team sport, or makes team sports a religion.  :-)


So when someone proudly declares "_We_ believe the Earth is 6000 years old!", it is really the emotional equivalent of "_We_ believe that the Red Socks will win the championship this year!".    Evidence has nothing to do with it - it is a statement of identity.

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