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Post Beleif Statistics
In defense of the proposition that "god" is not only not dead, but not dying, Shermer offers reams of statistics. His point is that the trend toward non-belief postulated in the 60's is wrong, and "Recent Polls Report That 96 Percent of Americans Believe in God" prove that the postulated trend is wrong.

I disagree on two grounds. First of all, something so basic to individual psychology simply could not possibly swing so far, so fast. We can tell that something is wrong in our perception even if we don't know what that something is. My guess is that many of the people who "abandoned" religion in the 60's were on a band wagon, with no depth to their insights; on the other hand, many people answering "oh yea I'm one o' them there theists" in the 00's have no depth to their affiliation, but are simply joining today's trend. The details are unknown but the premise of so drastic a change in so short a time is completely untenable.

The other distortion inherent in these statistics is the related matter of the depth of religiosity of all those "believers". Here I agree with the fundys about the secularization of society. Oh sure people will tell you they 'believe in god' and attend church; but how big a part is this in the lives they actually live? Before the American Revolution, religion permeated every part of every person's life. Anti-blasphemy laws were taken seriously and vigorously enforced. Now, one can hardly tell the difference between the atheist, agnostic, and christian in the workplace or dance club. We all do the same things, follow the same morality, and extend protection of the law to those who disagree with us. This is not the old time religion! Of course where I differ with the fundy is, she thinks it's a bad thing and I think it's a good thing. But we both disagree with Shermer!


If you make yourself really small, you can externalize virtually everything. Daniel Dennett, 1984




Sun Apr 11, 2004 9:06 am
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Post Re: Belief Statistics

Check it out:
www.gc.cuny.edu/studies/key_findings.htm

Quote:
the greatest increase in absolute as well as in percentage terms has been among those adults who do not subscribe to any religious identification; their number has more than doubled from 14.3 million in 1990 to 29.4 million in 2001; their proportion has grown from just eight percent of the total in 1990 to over fourteen percent in 2001


Why the increase? Part of it may be methodological, but the agewise breakdown seems to tell a story about the upcoming generations being significantly more freethinking than previous ones.

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Mon Apr 19, 2004 2:22 pm
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