Hardly a Christian friendly article, but interesting nevertheless.
‘PROTESTANT ETHIC’ 2.0: THE NEW WAYS RELIGION IS DRIVING ECONOMIC OUTPERFORMANCE
A few snippets:
Organized religion in particular may be losing its appeal, particularly among the young. According to recent surveys, religious affiliation in the United States appears to be declining somewhat and secularism is on the rise; over the past 40 years the percentage professing no religious affiliation has grown over 140 percent while the percentage of the deeply faithful dropped 15%. The share of the population who claim “no religion” has risen to 15% overall and 22% of those between 18 and 29, notes a 2009 study by researchers at Trinity College. If these trends continue, the non-affiliated could represent a larger part of our population than the largest denomination, the Catholic Church.
No surprises here. The USA is trending in the same direction as its forerunners, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
Many in the pundit class identify religion as something of a regressive tendency, embraced by the less enlightened, the less skilled, intelligent and educated. Yet some scholars, such as Charles Murray, point out that religious affiliation is weakening most not among the middle and upper classes but among the poorer and less educated who traditionally looked to churches for succor and moral instruction. Secularism may have not hurt the uber-rich or the academic overclass so far, but it appears to have helped expand our lumpenproleteriat.
Some might be surprised to learn that religious affiliation grows with education levels. A new University of Nebraska study finds that with each additional year of education, the odds of attending religious services increased by 15%. The educated, the study found, may not be eschewing religion, as social science has long maintained, even if their spiritual views tend to be less narrow, and less overtly tied to politics, than among the less schooled.
I guess this will be a surprise to the ‘Brights’ like Dawkins and his other ‘Religion for Dummies’ mates. No surprise in my circles however.
Religious people also tend to live longer and suffer less disabilities with old age, as author Murray notes. Researchers at Harvard, looking at dozens of countries over the past 40 years, demonstrated that religion reinforces the patterns of personal virtue, social trust and willingness to defer gratification long associated with business success.
But perhaps the most important difference over time may be the impact of religion on family formation, with weighty fiscal implications. In virtually every part of the world, religious people tend to have more children than those who are unaffiliated. In Europe, this often means Islamic families as opposed to increasingly post-Christian natives. Decline in religious affiliation — not just Christian but also Buddhist and Confucian — seems to correlate with the perilously low birthrates in both Europe and many East Asian countries.
How does the New Atheism fit into this? From the above observations, I think we can understand at least two facets of the current New Atheist secularist shrill.
First is possible underpopulation of New Atheists as the new world order shakes out. A reasonable fear for the New Atheists secularists is that their highly evolved selves are not passing on their genes in competitive numbers. Thus instead of genes, they attempt to force their memes onto the rest of us by preaching, and by making converts and disciples through the university, media, and book publishing arenas.
The second is overpopulation of religious people. As populations continue to grow toward the theoretical 9 billion asymptote, religious people are not going away. What better way to halt religious growth than to decrease religious breeding using the guise of Earth overpopulation. FWIW, I’m partly with the secularists on the second point given the Biblical mandate to look after the planet; I just don’t share their panic of overpopulation or their global warming hysteria, I mean climate change hysteria, scare tactics. Given the intellectual bankruptcy of the New Atheists, there may not be too many Brights left in years to come anyway.
Interestingly, Africa is not mentioned at all in the article.