I'm really asking the question here.  What do you think?  I spend a lot of time on Atheist Nexus, mainly to be around like-minded people and ideas, but then I have to return to the outside world.  I don't like what I see. 

   Although I live in southern California I see influences from the bible belt.  As a freind's son is recovering from an accident I hear comments about how "someone upstairs was watching out" for him.  I have been to events where our evening meeting group was asked if anyone had some reason to pray.  I could go on and on here. 

   The internet is full of statistics going both directions.  All of the surveys and such seem bias by whomever conducted them. 

   I see the Atheist community growing, but are we being out done by religious groups?  I understand the mormons have quite a high birth rate, (I also consider them one of the more dangerous groups). 

   It would seem Europe is experiencing a decline in religion, but U.S. bible belt seems as strong as ever.

   It always makes me feel good when I read statistics in favor of the godless, but what is the reality?

   

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Oh, yeah ... if (and that is a substantial "if") we can get CONTROL of said carrier, things can change in a HURRY.  Right now, though, we're stuck with that rowboat ... but things ARE getting better, I think!

[Side Note: I think I saw a story & pix once in a National Geographic about an aircraft carrier making a hard turn at speed.  I think the comment was: "HANG ON!"]

I'd like to add that since organized religion is so old and firmly established, it has both social and physical infrastructures and networks that will take a LONG time to dismantle.  Even if current church attendees are becoming less religious, I think there's still a large portion of that group that will stay within the structure of the church because 1.) it's all they know and they feel they have too much time/emotion invested to leave and 2.) if they leave the church they are quite uncertain and scared as to what can replace the group social aspect which is, admittedly, one of the positive aspects of churches .  Our best hope is for young people not be indoctrinated into religion in the first place.  Thankfully that is the current trend among the younger generation.  Sadly, it's just a long, slow process, much like evolution.

Flying:

Great analysis of social structures. You are right on the mark.

 

When you say dismantle do you mean an actual taking apart or did you mean more of a dissolution or a slow decomposition of these structures?

Jim.

 

Hmmm.  I guess I meant a little bit of both but more the latter.  Churches have provided and continue to provide valuable services such as homeless shelters, soup kitchens, adoption services and financial support to charities to name a few.  I know my parents' church regularly collects and sends financial support to a charity in the Dominican Republic (and not bibles, thank goodness!!)  As churches dwindle in numbers, these types of services will need to be done by other entities.  The homeless still need to eat and be clothed, etc.  This is an important gap that needs to be filled.  I think you can already see a partial dismantling of church-involved child adoption here in Illinois.  The State of Illinois is cutting off funding to Catholic adoption agencies because the church is against adoption by same-sex parents.  Other secular agencies have stepped up to the plate to fill the void. 

 

As far as a "physical dismantling," I always smile when I see church buildings being converted to lavish homes or, better yet, community centers as is sometimes the case.  In my pipe dream world, these buildings could be used as small neighborhood/local art and history museums, amateur performing arts centers (how many local theater/music/dance groups are always looking for a physical place to practice and perform?)  They can also be used for after-school educational programs or adult classes.  Yes, I know this is all quite idealistic.        

How amusing that the church-involved child adoptions are declining. This is where the inhumanity of it all rears its ugly head. The fact that ANY child could have the opportunity to be loved and cherished by another human, regardless of race/creed/sex is vital to our human existence. This is where religion sickens me, picking and choosing 'goodness' values. I cannot believe that the religious can think that they are any more righteous when they deny love and opportunity to another human being.

As for any church provided services, this can easily be replaced with regular old charity organizations, especially since so many are functioning already.

From multiple religions and multiple gods to atheism is an evolution, a cultural evolution, and it is bound to take time. People have to feel that they can live without religion. Every generation will see an accelerated speed of this evolution.

I see little decline in the role of religion in public life....exhibited by the recent GOP candidates' attempts to "out-Christian' each other.  Conservative political thinking and conservative cultural ideology go hand and hand...traditional values are even considered 'patriotic'.  I think most Americans participate in religious 'behavior'.  I would go even further and predict that most Americans today would still associate atheism with evil, with moral decline, and with (wait for it) socialism.  Our nation is culturally divided on this issue, but I see little chance of this country becoming Sweden or Denmark anytime soon.  (In an evolutionary time table maybe, but not in my lifetime!)

 

In private life, it's hard to quantify, but I get the impression most Americans are spiritual people even if they don't attend a religious ceremony to 'prove it'.   This could be just a matter of people being too busy to join organizations...groups competing for the limited time and resources of the population they 'serve'.  However, in the market of ideas, religion still promises the golden ticket: Eternal Life.  That's a powerful idea.  Even if there's no scientific evidence to prove it...fundamentalists would argue that god is beyond puny scientific evidence!  Bashing science is their specialty because investigation and curiosity are sinful arrogant human traits, as depicted in the literal interpretation of biblical scripture.  It's better to be 'dumb for Jesus', I guess...ha.

 

What I'd like to hear being researched is how many people switch from church to church v those that leave altogether as 'unaffiliated'.  The switching from church to church seems to indicate a dissatisfaction with membership or the attitude that people want to find a better 'fit' for them...a place they feel 'at home' so to speak and will make the effort to attend on a regular basis.  This is that area where we could speculate the decline of public church membership.  (And by church I mean to imply 'place of public worship' since I realize Americans attend synagogues and mosques, as well, but I just can't think of a good term to include Christians, Jews, and Muslims).

 

Youth membership and participation always seem to be a good indicator of  how religious a society is.  A decline in youth membership would certainly predict less influence, wouldn't it?  How many young people, if given the choice, would attend religious services freely and not under 'compulsion'? Think of all the Christian organizations that attempt to make Jesus relevant to 'the kids of today'.

mojo5501

Americans do have some reason for feeling frustrated, but TIME brings about changes that were not expected. This is not a matter where America will be a world leader. I feel that the strong scientific community in America will become socially active in not too distant future and will reduce the influence of religion.

Well humanity maybe a child race, but it is now entering adolescence. While the religious still outnumber the non-religious, the ratio is slowly shifting. The biggest enemy that religion is facing is attrition. With each new generation, people are getting less religious. Churches are now starting to feel ebbing congregations. For every five parishioners dying off, only one younger parishioner takes their place. You could even come from an uber-religious family and still be non-religious. I bet in another 300 years, religion will be considered another myth in a long line of myths.

If Europe continues in its present path...and all indications are that it is.

Then Religion will be a relegated to a mythology held by a minority, practised by a few true believers and disowned by the many.

Belgium has seen Roman Catholic belief decimated in a decade and a half...truly sliced and diced.

Netherlands sees a steadily ageing Congregational base and not a great new influx to replace the believers.

Fastest growing religion was Islam at one time but even that is now slowing  if not steady.

France is patchy but religion is fading in importance.

Germany still supports the RCC but most of the young generation are not as particular about the churches fate.

England well...it is in definite decline...not long ago...maybe 20 years,  numbers were boasted at being around 70%.

Recent surveys tend to lower the churches boast by nearly 25%....it is bobbing around 43% in England itself and falling...when the census details are published in the summer of 2012 a far better idea should be available...although there is concern that the manner of how the  question was asked was a loaded gun designed to deliberately to soften the religious fall.

Only the religious hold in government and authorities tend to remain potent to any extent.

Politicos & institutions still pander to religious hogwash...more afraid of law suits then respect of the nonsense.

It is diminishing though slowly it is picking up the pace a tad year on year..but it is down hill for sure...and methinks they got 'em no brakes!

Joseph Heston 

You are very liberal in giving a 300 years l;ife to religion. I often say that within 100 to 200 years all religions will be dead. You may agree with me if you take in to account the rapid progress of science and it's increasing influence on our lives. Worlds frustration with muslim fundamentalism will help further.

Maybe I am liberal giving a 300 year window, but remember after September 11,2001, there has been a resurgence of theism mixed in with patriotism. e.g., when I was 14, I went to game 2 of the 1980 World Series. They were still singing Take Me Out To The Ball Game during the 7th inning stretch. Now I went to game 3 of The 2008 World Series. TMOTTBG has been replaced with God Bless America for the 7th inning stretch. To me, it's a backlash. Sure religion is on it's way out eventually, it's just we still have to go through the theopatriotic B.S.

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