18 December 2013

Religion continues to lose ground

I'm happy to say that despite the fussing of the religious majority, a new Harris poll shows that religious belief in the US continues to decline – and decline quite steeply. 
Among the highlights:
  • Atheism and agnosticism are up 7% and 4%, respectively. It's worth noting that the poll does not use the term "atheist", but "belief there is no God". They're synonymous of course, but oddly enough there are people who do not believe in God but who reject the "atheist" label, as indicated by other polls which show the atheist population to be much lower. 
  • Youth correlates with non-belief, and the youngest generation is 19% less likely to believe in God than our elderly generation.
  • Predictably, republicans are more religious than democrats
  • Only 29% of Americans believe God controls what happens on Earth
  • Less than half of Americans believe the Bible is "all or mostly" the word of God, which is more than a bit ironic considering that some 70% or so of Americans are self-professed Christians

Obviously, non-believers are still a small minority. But things are certainly changing at an unprecedented rate. Most notable is the fast rise in those who are "not at all religious", up a whopping 11% just since 2005:

It might be tempting to attribute the cause of all this to the rise in atheistic polemicism. I do think it's played a role, but I think that the church is doing enough to shoot itself in the foot with its rigid adherence to doctrines that increasingly representative of a smaller and smaller portion of the populace, be it the role and rights of women, the rights and treatment of homosexuals, or the continued fussing over religious displays and prayer in publicly funded institutions. Whatever the causes, people are increasingly finding themselves not to need the dubious comforts of religious dogma, and that, my friends, is certainly a good thing.

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