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Old 26th January 2013, 10:00 PM   #1
Warrior1461
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Are we as a society outgrowing religion?

I ask this, is the western nations such as the usa and Europe outgrowing the need for religion or specific forms of it as we become more technologically advanced?

The number of people who identify with a particular religious group is decreasing, even with the religious more and more of the bible which is the infallibe word of God is being ignored as it has become incompatible with modern life. How many christians eat foods or wear clothing and styles that are strictly forbidden? Is this s sign that these religions are becoming less important in our life?
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Old 26th January 2013, 11:44 PM   #2
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Nah. It just means religious people these days are wussies. Religious people used to be tough. But these religious wussies today are fat, soft, and weak. So the preachermen had to water the Word down for them. Because the wussies can't handle the real Word.

Their Messiah was so tough he had himself scourged, nailed to a cross, and hung up in the sun to die, just to prove a point. And to this day no one knows what his point actually was. Bad hair day, maybe. He was like, "I could, if I really gave a rat's ass, call down ten legions of angels on your sorry asses, and then we'd see who crucifies who. But you know what? Screw it. I ain't gonna bloody my hands with you. Go ahead and crucify my ass. My kingdom is not of this world." Then, after they got him all crucified up, he was like, "Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do."

Ain't that tough enough? What kind of pain threshold did this guy have? But look at these wussies today. Who are these people? They sure as hell aren't the people who, against Jesus' better judgement, bluntly refused to render unto Caesar that which was Caesar's, and ended up rendering their asses unto Caesar's lions. They didn't give a rat's ass. Everybody's gotta die sometime. Might as well make a spectacle of it. They were like, "Rome's law, Schmome's law. We follow God's law. Look, you sinners, it's not that hard to avoid eternal hell fire. Just follow us. We're going in there. Where the lions are." And the odd part is, they got more converts than you would expect. Their logic was hard to argue against. It only takes a few minutes to be eaten by a lion, but it takes forever to burn in hell. Yeah. That's what they were yelling up at the crowd while they waited for the lions to rip them up. They ended up converting the whole empire. People back then admired guts, especially if they got to see them.

It's not so much that today's wussies have outgrown religion. It's just that they ain't got the stuff for it any more.
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Old 26th January 2013, 11:53 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Warrior1461 View Post
I ask this, is the western nations such as the usa and Europe outgrowing the need for religion or specific forms of it as we become more technologically advanced?

The number of people who identify with a particular religious group is decreasing, even with the religious more and more of the bible which is the infallibe word of God is being ignored as it has become incompatible with modern life. How many christians eat foods or wear clothing and styles that are strictly forbidden? Is this s sign that these religions are becoming less important in our life?
Yes. Time use studies (I'll see if I can find some) indicate that church attendance in the US is down to about 24ish percent of the population even though a large majority claim a religious affiliation. That's a pretty solid indicator that religion serves no purpose in their lives. That level of attendance is on par with some Western European countries. I know some Atheists find this half way in half way out hypocritical. I see the incremental decline of religion as a positive step in a process.
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Old 27th January 2013, 12:05 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Warrior1461 View Post
I ask this, is the western nations such as the usa and Europe outgrowing the need for religion or specific forms of it as we become more technologically advanced?

The number of people who identify with a particular religious group is decreasing, even with the religious more and more of the bible which is the infallibe word of God is being ignored as it has become incompatible with modern life. How many christians eat foods or wear clothing and styles that are strictly forbidden? Is this s sign that these religions are becoming less important in our life?
I certainly hope so. It's about time.
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Old 27th January 2013, 12:24 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Toontown View Post
Nah. It just means religious people these days are wussies. Religious people used to be tough. But these religious wussies today are fat, soft, and weak. So the preachermen had to water the Word down for them. Because the wussies can't handle the real Word.

Their Messiah was so tough he had himself scourged, nailed to a cross, and hung up in the sun to die, just to prove a point. And to this day no one knows what his point actually was. Bad hair day, maybe. He was like, "I could, if I really gave a rat's ass, call down ten legions of angels on your sorry asses, and then we'd see who crucifies who. But you know what? Screw it. I ain't gonna bloody my hands with you. Go ahead and crucify my ass. My kingdom is not of this world." Then, after they got him all crucified up, he was like, "Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do."

Ain't that tough enough? What kind of pain threshold did this guy have? But look at these wussies today. Who are these people? They sure as hell aren't the people who, against Jesus' better judgement, bluntly refused to render unto Caesar that which was Caesar's, and ended up rendering their asses unto Caesar's lions. They didn't give a rat's ass. Everybody's gotta die sometime. Might as well make a spectacle of it. They were like, "Rome's law, Schmome's law. We follow God's law. Look, you sinners, it's not that hard to avoid eternal hell fire. Just follow us. We're going in there. Where the lions are." And the odd part is, they got more converts than you would expect. Their logic was hard to argue against. It only takes a few minutes to be eaten by a lion, but it takes forever to burn in hell. Yeah. That's what they were yelling up at the crowd while they waited for the lions to rip them up. They ended up converting the whole empire. People back then admired guts, especially if they got to see them.

It's not so much that today's wussies have outgrown religion. It's just that they ain't got the stuff for it any more.
Is that "wussification", this "loss of guts", "loss of admiration for guts" a good thing, or a bad thing in your (presumably atheist?) view? And more importantly, why? Was the past better or worse than the present in terms of humanity's moral development?

E.g. one could argue it's a good thing, if one opposes religion, by saying: "hey! They've got no guts no more... so now the religion doesn't have any teeth any more! Now it can whittle away and die!" or something like that. What do you think? If you think that religion is an irrational belief, then wouldn't this loss of "guts" indicate a weakening of this strength, and wouldn't that be a good thing from that point of view?
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Old 27th January 2013, 07:07 AM   #6
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NPR had a week-long feature this last week called "Loosing our religion". It mostly interviewed younger folks who had abandoned their parent's beliefs.

Most of the young folks interviewed had not become "atheists" as a result of intellectual scrutiny of religion. Rather, they had become disenchanted with their parent's faiths and were either "searching" for something more in line with their values and beliefs or were sort of in limbo.
Most of them did not seem to reject religion completely; they just didn't like the way the traditional religion worked.
Our "kids" are involved in the local pagan community. As far as we can tell, everyone so involved had "dropped out" some conventional system.
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Old 27th January 2013, 09:41 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by mike3 View Post
Is that "wussification", this "loss of guts", "loss of admiration for guts" a good thing, or a bad thing in your (presumably atheist?) view? And more importantly, why? Was the past better or worse than the present in terms of humanity's moral development?

E.g. one could argue it's a good thing, if one opposes religion, by saying: "hey! They've got no guts no more... so now the religion doesn't have any teeth any more! Now it can whittle away and die!" or something like that. What do you think? If you think that religion is an irrational belief, then wouldn't this loss of "guts" indicate a weakening of this strength, and wouldn't that be a good thing from that point of view?
I intended my post as satire, with an element of truth.

As to your question, it depends on why the religious fervor is softening. If it's because people are getting smarter, then that's a good thing. But I suspect they aren't getting smarter. Just wussing out.

Case in point: in the book of James there is a statement to the effect that a person's accumulated wealth counts as evidence against her on judgement day. This is backed by some of Jesus' statements, who urged rich guys to dump it all and hit the road, advised his Word-spreaders to not even worry about where their next meal was coming from, and told Pilate he just didn't give a rat's ass about this world and it's pathetic temptations, and wasn't much interested in talking to a stinking rich Roman either. But I recently heard a preacher say it is no sin to be rich, it's just a sin to die rich. An obvious evasion and softening of the hard Word. It's supposedly OK to spend your whole life accumulating wealth as long as you dump it just before you die. Yeah, right. What if you die unexpectedly? Oops. But as long as you get rid of the evidence in time, you're like a quarterback avoiding a blitz. God will be like, "OK, I see here you enjoyed a lot of wealth for a long time. Way too long in the pocket there. But you got rid of it just in the nick of time. Good work. Way to see Death coming. Nice dump-off."

The preachers are among the first to wuss out. They've found that when they give the sheep the straight stuff, they end up looking out on empty pews, and worse, empty collection plates.
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Old 27th January 2013, 09:49 AM   #8
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I hope so.
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Old 27th January 2013, 09:49 AM   #9
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It has always been a generational phenomenon that the kids drift from their religion after reaching the age of reason, and return after they have kids of their own. So we should be careful making any snapshot conclusions. This cycle could still be occurring, though with the increased communication mechanisms these days, and that now it is generally more acceptable to question the motives and actions of clergy, people may drift earlier and longer, and feel more comfortable drifting more than once during their life now than before.

So I don't really see the current period of people outgrowing religion, but more likely reorganizing it somehow.
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Old 27th January 2013, 02:53 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Denver View Post
It has always been a generational phenomenon that the kids drift from their religion after reaching the age of reason, and return after they have kids of their own. So we should be careful making any snapshot conclusions. This cycle could still be occurring, though with the increased communication mechanisms these days, and that now it is generally more acceptable to question the motives and actions of clergy, people may drift earlier and longer, and feel more comfortable drifting more than once during their life now than before.

So I don't really see the current period of people outgrowing religion, but more likely reorganizing it somehow.
Unlikely. We don't have children in waves like cicadas, and the only real oddity in our population's age demographics (the baby-boomers) should be making us more religious if that's the case.
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Old 27th January 2013, 03:33 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Irony View Post
Unlikely. We don't have children in waves like cicadas, and the only real oddity in our population's age demographics (the baby-boomers) should be making us more religious if that's the case.
I noted several issues in the post. What specifically did you find unlikely?
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Old 27th January 2013, 03:38 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Toontown View Post
I intended my post as satire, with an element of truth.

As to your question, it depends on why the religious fervor is softening. If it's because people are getting smarter, then that's a good thing. But I suspect they aren't getting smarter. Just wussing out.

Case in point: in the book of James there is a statement to the effect that a person's accumulated wealth counts as evidence against her on judgement day. This is backed by some of Jesus' statements, who urged rich guys to dump it all and hit the road, advised his Word-spreaders to not even worry about where their next meal was coming from, and told Pilate he just didn't give a rat's ass about this world and it's pathetic temptations, and wasn't much interested in talking to a stinking rich Roman either. But I recently heard a preacher say it is no sin to be rich, it's just a sin to die rich. An obvious evasion and softening of the hard Word. It's supposedly OK to spend your whole life accumulating wealth as long as you dump it just before you die. Yeah, right. What if you die unexpectedly? Oops. But as long as you get rid of the evidence in time, you're like a quarterback avoiding a blitz. God will be like, "OK, I see here you enjoyed a lot of wealth for a long time. Way too long in the pocket there. But you got rid of it just in the nick of time. Good work. Way to see Death coming. Nice dump-off."

The preachers are among the first to wuss out. They've found that when they give the sheep the straight stuff, they end up looking out on empty pews, and worse, empty collection plates.
However, what if the religious follower both wusses out and gives up the religion?
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Old 27th January 2013, 04:38 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Warrior1461 View Post
I ask this, is the western nations such as the usa and Europe outgrowing the need for religion or specific forms of it as we become more technologically advanced?
Likely a combination of technological advances making religion look sillier and sillier, and less hardship meaning less need for an emotional crutch.
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Old 27th January 2013, 05:51 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by mike3 View Post
However, what if the religious follower both wusses out and gives up the religion?
Sweet n Sour Chicken?
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Old 27th January 2013, 06:20 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Denver View Post
I noted several issues in the post. What specifically did you find unlikely?
The notion that it's part of a "cycle" of younger and older people is unlikely. We've always had young people. They aren't a new group. Further, as a percentage of the population they are actually shrinking at the moment as a side effect of the baby boom. The notion that some people leave their religion in their youth only to return to it later can in no way explain the current trend towards non-religion.
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Old 27th January 2013, 06:40 PM   #16
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Rather than ask why non-religion is spreading, I think it could help to consider how for centuries religion has managed to maintain such a large presence in Western culture. There are many methods they have and continue to use, but there are two that have recently become much less effective: silencing dissent and the heavy cost of leaving.

The first is dying largely because of the internet. People today can easily communicate with a large audience all around the world, even without the support of a major media company. As the world grows more and more connected it becomes harder and harder for the church to keep its followers in a protective bubble, free from uncomfortable questions.

The second is growing weaker through a positive-feedback loop. As more people leave religion it becomes increasingly acceptable to be non-religious, so fewer and fewer people stay out of a feeling of social obligation which, if we're being honest, is the primary reason most people attended to begin with.
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Old 27th January 2013, 07:16 PM   #17
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Are we as a society outgrowing religion?

Goodness, I should hope not. Religion has existed as long as it has because we as a species are naturally prone to magical thinking. It's what comes of having a good capacity for causal narrative and not much care what we're using it on. Without religion, or at least some sort of serious woo to hold up and say "this is why magical thinking doesn't work," it'll just creep back. Better the devil you don't believe in than the one you don't recognize.

I'd actually suggest the opposite: a required Critical Thinking class in public school about religions, their beginnings and evolutions, about propaganda and influence, about half-truths and quack medicine. Children need to know - need to be taught - when they're fooling themselves, when people are trying to fool them, and how to discern some estimate of the truth from a handful of semi-lies.
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Old 28th January 2013, 08:41 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Irony View Post
The notion that it's part of a "cycle" of younger and older people is unlikely. We've always had young people. They aren't a new group. Further, as a percentage of the population they are actually shrinking at the moment as a side effect of the baby boom. The notion that some people leave their religion in their youth only to return to it later can in no way explain the current trend towards non-religion.
I do know what is so unbelievable to you about this cycle. It is called Intergenerational Transmission of Religion, and can be googled, and is taught (when i was taking classes at least) at catholic universities. So while you may wish to ignore these studies, religious institutions do not.

And yes I believe it can, at least in part, explain this trend, and I noted why in my post.
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Old 30th January 2013, 12:16 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Denver View Post
I do know what is so unbelievable to you about this cycle. It is called Intergenerational Transmission of Religion, and can be googled, and is taught (when i was taking classes at least) at catholic universities. So while you may wish to ignore these studies, religious institutions do not.

And yes I believe it can, at least in part, explain this trend, and I noted why in my post.
I am not denying that this cycle happens. The issue is not that it happens; the issue is that you believe this "cycle" would be reflected in a poll of the general population. If we, like cicadas, only bred every 17 years or so then yes it would, but we breed continuously. So while there may be a "cycle" in the life of individuals, there is no such cycle in the population as a whole.

If you wish to use this as an explanation for the steady decline of religion over the past few decades (and accelerated decline over the past 2) then you need to do more than note that some of the youth will return to religion, because (apparently I need to state the obvious here) by the time they do that there will be MORE YOUNG PEOPLE, and some of the old people will have died, and because of this this cycle you note will continue to have a very negligible effect on the overall numbers.

The only major anomaly in our population that could cause this cycle to show up would be the baby boom, and it would be doing the exact opposite of what we are seeing.
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Old 30th January 2013, 02:10 PM   #20
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Slowly but surely.

Society without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us About Contentment

Religion is not needed for morality and flourishing societies. There is a negative correlation between religion and the increase of education and increase flourishing of societies.

The Internet is propagating this fact and I think the trend is quite stark. None of the Above: Fastest Growing Religious Group in the United States Is “No Religion”

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Old 30th January 2013, 02:24 PM   #21
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To re-phrase what Irony is trying to say:

Percentage of young people in population stays more or less the same from one year (or decade) to the next. So if Intergenerational Transmission of Religion were the only factor, percentage of non-religious people would stay the same, not increase.

Moreover, during last 10-15 years, percentage of young people in population has actually been decreasing. If Intergenerational Transmission of Religion were the only factor, percentage of non-religious people would have actually decreased.

Which means people either really are becoming less religious across the board, or young people today are MUCH less religious than their parents/grandparents were at the same age. Or both.
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Old 30th January 2013, 04:02 PM   #22
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No, we are outshrinking religion.
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Old 30th January 2013, 04:28 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Mark6 View Post
To re-phrase what Irony is trying to say:

Percentage of young people in population stays more or less the same from one year (or decade) to the next. So if Intergenerational Transmission of Religion were the only factor, percentage of non-religious people would stay the same, not increase.

Moreover, during last 10-15 years, percentage of young people in population has actually been decreasing. If Intergenerational Transmission of Religion were the only factor, percentage of non-religious people would have actually decreased.

Which means people either really are becoming less religious across the board, or young people today are MUCH less religious than their parents/grandparents were at the same age. Or both.
Certainly Intergenerational Transmission of Religion is not the only factor at work. But it is an important one to keep in mind when looking at these trends. Also, don't ignore the 'other' category in RandFan's post. This is an example of what I meant when I said religion may not be being outgrown, but reorganized somehow. Or re-expressed. While the studies are interesting, I will be much more interested to see how they trend over the next 20-30 years.
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Old 1st February 2013, 02:43 AM   #24
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It might be more accurate to say we're outgrowing organized religion but not irrational beliefs. The age of scandals has probably caused many people to leave organized religion. Clearly, fewer people are looking to the Catholic Church or some of the larger Christian movements hit by high profile scandal for moral guidance. However, if you look at things like polls on belief in ghosts or ESP, it would not appear as though people leave because they are becoming more rational.
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Old 1st February 2013, 05:07 AM   #25
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Most people around here are only religious when they go to church (average is once a month according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch) or when politics is being discussed. We no longer have the church bells that demand obedience every few hours to keep us programmed.
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Old 2nd February 2013, 12:15 PM   #26
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Seems to me that suicide bombers, battles fought against one religious group by another, etc, all in the news, must make more people wonder whether religious beliefs are really such a good thing after all.
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Old 2nd February 2013, 12:17 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by SusanB-M1 View Post
Seems to me that suicide bombers, battles fought against one religious group by another, etc, all in the news, must make more people wonder whether religious beliefs are really such a good thing after all.
Wondering implies thinking implies doubt. Doubt is not allowed.
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Old 2nd February 2013, 12:32 PM   #28
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The Western world is. But the problem is that those countries are shifting demographically to more religious immigrants. Like Muslims in Europe and Hispanics in the US. Europe has some of the lowest birthrates in the world and is probably just about the least religious place in the world. Christianity is also taking off in China right now since there has been more freedom of religion.

There is also strange happenings, like what is going on in Brazil. Like 2 decades ago, 95% of the country was Catholic. Now only like 70% of the country is Catholic, but almost all the people that fell off Catholicism have embraced more extreme branches of Christian evangelicalism. So while Catholicism is declining in Brazil, it is being replaced just as fast:

Quote:
The number of evangelical Protestants nearly tripled in the same period to 26 million, or about 15 percent of the population. That growth, which is expected to continue, is dramatically altering the religious landscape of a country where the national identity has been intertwined with Catholicism since the Portuguese landed 500 years ago.

"The face of Christianity in Brazil, and all over the developing world, is increasingly Pentecostal," said Luis Lugo, director of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, a research group in Washington.
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Old 2nd February 2013, 12:34 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by Bikewer View Post
NPR had a week-long feature this last week called "Loosing our religion". It mostly interviewed younger folks who had abandoned their parent's beliefs.

Most of the young folks interviewed had not become "atheists" as a result of intellectual scrutiny of religion. Rather, they had become disenchanted with their parent's faiths and were either "searching" for something more in line with their values and beliefs or were sort of in limbo.
Most of them did not seem to reject religion completely; they just didn't like the way the traditional religion worked.
Our "kids" are involved in the local pagan community. As far as we can tell, everyone so involved had "dropped out" some conventional system.
This is also happening a lot. People are just rebelling against traditional religions for the sake of rebelling, but then go on to embrace Buddhism or other New Age stuff. They are not against "magical thinking", they are just anti-traditionalism.
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Old 3rd February 2013, 05:59 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by Warrior1461 View Post
I ask this, is the western nations such as the usa and Europe outgrowing the need for religion or specific forms of it as we become more technologically advanced?

The number of people who identify with a particular religious group is decreasing, even with the religious more and more of the bible which is the infallibe word of God is being ignored as it has become incompatible with modern life. How many christians eat foods or wear clothing and styles that are strictly forbidden? Is this s sign that these religions are becoming less important in our life?

There was this interesting bit of news on the BBC website back 2 years ago - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12811197

Last edited by Belgian thought; 3rd February 2013 at 06:04 AM. Reason: put 'last year', was in fact 2 years ago...
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