So I belong to a pretty active childfree group on Facebook. It's completely private until you are accepted so people tend to be pretty honest and open on there. It wasn't too long on their discussions before I noticed the trend that while they aren't all atheists, a large number of members don't believe in god.
While this could just be a statistical anomaly (I am working with a study base of one group) I was wondering what other people have noticed. Once I saw that trend online I thought about my friends and realized that most of my childfree friends are either atheist, agnostic or apatheist. What's everyone else's experience with this like?
I am in an odd situation as about 1/2 of my friends are child-free and probably over 70% of my friends are either atheist, agnostic, pagan or non-practicing. The few child-free ones that appear to be intending to have kids are mostly the religious ones. The ones with grown kids are mostly pagans.
I can surmise that non-religious people are less likely to feel "obligated" to have children, while those of certain religious movements ("quiverfull" especially) feel that they are, at the very least, not supposed to try to avoid having children. I would guess that we are more likely to be content to make our own impact on the world (or just enjoy our own lives) rather than worrying about creating "mini-me"s.
There also is a statistical correlation of more educated people having fewer (or no) kids and also one of more educated people being less religious. That could very well lead to a correlation between lack kids and lack of religion, so what you are seeing on that group could be representative of the general population. Whether correlation equals causation in this case is something best left up to some statistician willing to do one heck of a large survey. You may very well be onto something.
I agree with B-Girl. There is indeed a correlation between level of education, religiosity, and number of children/no children.
In addition, I'd like to bring up psycho-social connotations. Without the belief of an afterlife, all matters fall into the realm of reality. Anything that would, should, or could matter is tangible and present in the span of ones natural life. In short, there is nothing else to look forward to. With the removal of any fantastic forces administering ones life, is the increase of skepticism and realism about existence. The greater awareness about existence, and its limitations therein, may lead to a decreased desire to initiate this existence with another human being.
As B-girl was mentioning, these is less of an obligation. Once the fantasy has been removed, there is less of a need to fulfill ones needs by having offspring. One can be simply satisfied fulfilling ones own existence instead.
I am constantly appalled at how recently converted atheists hang on to their religious beliefs. That all members of society are to "go forth and procreate" is a religious mantra which has no foundation in the science of biology, it is strictly dogma. For me, recently converted atheists who cling to religious beliefs and are apologetic about them are the explanation for rationality not progressing at a significant pace in our society.
From a strictly NPOV, Homo sapiens sapiens' relationship to the earthly ecosystem is completely on par with a cancer. Any rational mind (or minimally scientifically aware mind) should be able to pick up on this biological reality. But so many atheists are hung up on eternal life, Humanism (values humans above all others), so many gnu atheists simply traded adulation of a celestial god, for the adulation of an earthly god... the one in the mirror, I don't see that as an improvement. In fact self-adulation is known to be a mental disorder... apparently this has not been picked up on by many people yet :)
Hi Adam, I have thought about this too... i would attribute the connection to the fact that for one to be atheist or childfree, such a person would have to be brave enough to go against the tide of popular opinion/practice/norms etc. Ir requires independent thinking and ability to do what one feels is right for him/herself NOT what society feels is right for one.
Thus if i as an ex-muslim had the guts to decide for myself that religion is not for me despite growing up in an overtly religious society, it shouldn't be surprising that after thinking through the idea of procreating and realizing it wasn't for me i made up my mind to be childfree despite living in a child crazy society.
I hope i made some sense?
Somehow I missed this discussion last June, but better late than never.
The connection between religion and reproduction is that both draw from a feeling of personal connection to some great and abiding continuum. Religions, without exception, enjoin their followers to regard their temporal lives as fleeting and short in comparison to the broader context of god/gods/nature/etc. Meanwhile, the lure of reproduction is that our genes and to some extent our character lives on and continues contributing to the human mix long after we ourselves are toast. Even those religions that condemn or at least strongly regulate sex, still insist on reproductive continuity. And even those pro-reproductive exhortations that are avowedly secular (breed more to strengthen the nation, to produce more cannon-fodder, to have more taxpayers to fund more retirees, etc.) really draw from a mandate that resembles religion: namely, a quest to transcend the merely personal and to partake of a great stream flowing into a rosy future.
To disavow reproduction is to assert a finitude of life. This can be from an environmentalist viewpoint (too many people chasing too few resources), a philosophically skeptical viewpoint (life is suffering, and less live means less suffering), a utility-maximization viewpoint (raising kids properly is too stressful and time-consuming, therefore one is better off not even trying it), or maybe something else. But the core idea is anti-religious. It denies the value of contributing to some great continuum, or that our present lives are inextricably tied to something before and after.
Hands clapping :)