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Why Atheism Has a Bright Future

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  • Why Atheism Has a Bright Future

    When I was a kid, atheists ruled over large swatches of the world and mainstream conventional wisdom expected religion to die out. If Communism (not then acquainted with history's ash-heap) didn't squash faith, then a combination of prosperity and technology would dilute religion into a weak inconsequential tea. Even theologians thought this way: The term "post-religious age" was coined by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Now, though, the pendulum has swung the other way, and even die-hard non-believers proclaim that "the Golden Age of Secularism has passed." But the death of atheism is being exaggerated now as much as the death of God was 40 years ago, at least according to this study: Using statistical models, it predicts that atheist-majority countries will soon dot the globe, for the first time in history.

    That is, of course, just the supposedly ghastly fate that Newt Gingrich recently said might befall the United States: He said his grandchildren could end up living in "a secular atheist country." So it seems the post-religious age has gone from inevitable future to boogeyman in an incoherent stump speech (Gingrich said this awful future secular state might end up dominated by Islamists, which shows you just how seriously he takes this blather).

    The countries heading for secularism in this paper's model would make poor Gingrich-fodder: It's hard to picture the Netherlands (already 40 percent irreligious) Australia, the Czech Republic (60 percent God-free) Finland or the Netherlands as cesspools of evil and cruelty. Yet the trends described in the paper also belie the claims of Richard Dawkins and his ilk, that atheists are an oppressed minority all over the world. Today, note Daniel M. Abrams, Haley A. Yaple and Richard J. Wiener, the only religious group that's growing in all 50 American states is "No Affiliation," and census data from 85 regions worldwide, in the countries I've mentioned plus New Zealand, Austria, Canada, Ireland, and Switzerland, show the same trend away from identification with faith.

    To explain this, the authors, who are physicists, propose a simple mathematical model, in which society is represented as two groups, religion and non-religion, competing for adherents. Their model fits census data from very different nations, they write, which supports their claim that religious adherence in all places has a single underlying explanation. Which is, they argue, simply self-interest: "The model predicts that for societies in which the perceived utility of not adhering is greater than the utility of adhering, religion will be driven toward extinction."

    To get the right number for this "perceived utility"—"a quantity encompassing many factors including the social, economic, political and security benefits derived from membership as well as spiritual or moral consonance with a group," they compared different results of their model with actual data from Finland, Switzerland, Austria and the Netherlands. The model that best fits past data was the one in which faith "will disappear if its perceived utility is less than that of non-affiliation, regardless of how large a fraction initially adheres to a religion." If indeed that's right, then, according to their calculations, 70 percent of the Netherlands population will have no religious affiliation by mid-century.

    Plug a different range of numbers into the key variable, though, and the model arrives at a steady state, in which a small social group persists as an island within a much larger group. That, they speculate, was where society spent much of its history, with religious people the vast majority and non-believers a small but constant minority. But modernity changes the perceived utility of religious membership, and that created an abrupt shift from the irreligious-as-stable-minority state to the "religion disappears" state.

    Why is all this better than simply projecting current trends forward? Because, they say, they've provided an explanatory mechanism. That lets them be sure that the trend will continue, because it is an instance of a general law, and not a historical accident or coincidence.

    The nations that supplied the paper's data are all either European or former European colonies, which means their religious traditions are heavily influence by Christianity, a religion in which conversion counts for a great deal and everyone is reckoned as either a believer or an unbeliever. It's hard to imagine how this model could fit a religion rooted in different principles. Many Jews I know regard themselves as committed to their community but don't believe in God. And for animists, their religion is more of a worldview than a creed they can endorse or abjure. It would be interesting to see how the model fits census data from a non-Europe-derived country.

    Still, for those of us who do hope Gingrich's grandchildren live in a secular atheist country, it's an encouraging paper as well as an interesting one. It suggests that even as theists and atheists stage their raging battles over questions that can never be practically answered, a majority in many modern countries will simply drift away. Patience, fellow Godless secularists. Patience!
    http://bigthink.com/Mind-Matters/why...-bright-future

  • #2
    Atheism applied in small dosages can be beneficial against blind belief, but good lord, a world without religion could not conceivably exist. It's better to be an agnostic or pagan than to reject ALL conceptions of deity based on contempt towards the monotheistic version.

    If Christianity wants to have a place in the future, then it would be wise to drop monotheism. It hardly needs to be pointed out how the Jewish community frequently rebelled against this notion and even began as polytheistic worshipers (of the stars and Saturn) like their neighbors, until Moses installed in them the idea that they were specially "chosen". Monotheism was invented to reinforce this delusion. It is not found anywhere else, not even in Akhenaten's religion.

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    • #3
      It is said that monotheism has Aryan roots.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monoth...pean_religions

      You might benefit from reading the rest of the article as well.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoplatonism#The_One
      https://forums.skadi.net/filedata/fetch?type=thumb&filedataid=113340

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      • #4
        Plotinus listed Anaxagoras, Heraclitus, and Empedocles, none of these assigned a personality to "the One".

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        • #5
          Since you don't favor a narrow version of anything and rail against it, there's no reason to hold a double standard against others for failing that litmus test of what constitutes this or that rendering of spirituality. You should just be as birds of a feather.
          https://forums.skadi.net/filedata/fetch?type=thumb&filedataid=113340

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          • #6
            The Atheism is just a religion too, they have not any fact that the God or the supernatural are not exists. These are just speculations without any valid arguments, side by side Jesus Christ has lived any thousends met with him and sow his power. The Christianity is more "scientific" like as the false Atheism with its false speculations.
            Gareth Lee Hunter and Baorn like this.
            sigpic
            "Remember that, even when those who move you be kings or men of power, your soul is in your keeping alone. When you stand before God, you cannot say, "But I was told by others to do thus,"or that virtue "was not convenient at the time." This will not suffice."
            /King Baldwin IV in the Kingdom of Heaven/

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Wulfaz View Post
              The Atheism is just a religion too, they have not any fact that the God or the supernatural are not exists. These are just speculations without any valid arguments, side by side Jesus Christ has lived any thousends met with him and sow his power. The Christianity is more "scientific" like as the false Atheism with its false speculations.
              In the wise words of Christopher Hitchens: "What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof."

              The onus is on deists and theists to prove the existence of their asserted god, not on atheists to disprove any such existence.

              SpearBrave likes this.
              Between the devil and the deep blue sea.

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              • #8
                Not really, since most people see the obvious and only a minority don't. Should an exception to the rule be seen as the norm? Stereotypes exist for a reason and it has nothing to do with taking out of context and misrepresentation of something uncharacteristic. You want to be eccentric; good for you. It doesn't make you smarter.
                Gareth Lee Hunter likes this.
                https://forums.skadi.net/filedata/fetch?type=thumb&filedataid=113340

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                • #9
                  Æmeric and Baorn like this.
                  “A dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Lack of consideration for others in minor matters. A loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than is a riot.”

                  Robert A. Heinlein

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                  • #10
                    Familiar?
                    Attached Files
                    https://forums.skadi.net/filedata/fetch?type=thumb&filedataid=113340

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Gareth Lee Hunter View Post


                      There indeed was nothing at first

                      Ár var alda,
                      þat er ekki var,
                      var-a sandr né sær
                      né svalar unnir;
                      jörð fannsk eigi
                      né upphiminn,
                      gap var Ginnunga,
                      en gras ekki."
                      http://www.heimskringla.no/wiki/Gylfaginning




                      Edit:
                      To powers that be: "Thorn" seems to be not displaying properly for some reason. Instead it displays the code for the letter.
                      Baorn likes this.
                      in die Kirche gehen wir nicht
                      der Papst das ist ein Arschgesicht
                      die Pfaffen wollen wir kastrieren
                      die Eier an die Kirchtür schmieren

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Baorn View Post
                        Not really, since most people see the obvious and only a minority don't. Should an exception to the rule be seen as the norm?
                        History is full of countless of misconceptions from the general public. Certainly, the quantity of people who think they know something is a bad adviser for truth.
                        "Nothing is more disgusting than the majority: because it consists of a few powerful predecessors, of rogues who adapt themselves, of weak who assimilate themselves, and the masses who imitate without knowing at all what they want." (Johann Wolfgang Goethe)

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Jäger View Post
                          History is full of countless of misconceptions from the general public. Certainly, the quantity of people who think they know something is a bad adviser for truth.
                          I don't think most people are idiots nor consider myself a know-it-all. When I did, I thought just like you! Congratulations, former me!

                          Originally posted by Mööv View Post



                          There indeed was nothing at first



                          http://www.heimskringla.no/wiki/Gylfaginning




                          Edit:
                          To powers that be: "Thorn" seems to be not displaying properly for some reason. Instead it displays the code for the letter.
                          But how do you get something from nothing? I only know of getting money for nothing and chicks for free, lol. Does that really work?

                          How about nothing from something? Does this work for physics? Or, does the world recycle itself?
                           
                          https://forums.skadi.net/filedata/fetch?type=thumb&filedataid=113340

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Baorn View Post
                            But how do you get something from nothing? I only know of getting money for nothing and chicks for free, lol. Does that really work?

                            How about nothing from something? Does this work for physics? Or, does the world recycle itself?

                            Well, you don't. It doesn't imply it.
                            in die Kirche gehen wir nicht
                            der Papst das ist ein Arschgesicht
                            die Pfaffen wollen wir kastrieren
                            die Eier an die Kirchtür schmieren

                            Comment


                            • Baorn
                              Baorn commented
                              Editing a comment
                              Then what?

                            • Mööv
                              Mööv commented
                              Editing a comment
                              Fire and ice

                          • #15
                            Originally posted by Baorn View Post
                            Or, does the world recycle itself?
                            Well yes it does, depending on your beliefs.

                            Life is like a fire hydrant- sometimes you help people put out their fires, but most of the time you just get peed on by every dog in the neighborhood.sigpic

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