Religion receding 167

Here’s a CBS report that gives us quite a nice warm feeling to start with:

One-fifth of American adults have no religious affiliation, and this number is increasing rapidly.

The number of Americans who do not identify with any religion continues to grow at a fast pace. One-fifth of the U.S. public – and a third of adults under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling.

In the last five years alone, the unaffiliated have increased from just over 15 percent to just under 20 percent of all U.S. adults. Their ranks now include more than 13 million self-described atheists and agnostics (nearly 6 percent of the U.S. public), as well as nearly 33 million people who say they have no particular religious affiliation (14 percent).

This large and growing group of Americans is less religious than the public at large on many conventional measures, including frequency of attendance at religious services and the degree of importance they attach to religion in their lives.

But then it becomes rather chilling:

But the survey may be affected by a differing view of the words “religion” and “spiritual.”

A new survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, conducted jointly with the PBS television program Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, finds that many of the country’s 46 million unaffiliated adults are religious or spiritual in some way.

Two-thirds of them say they believe in God (68 percent). More than half say they often feel a deep connection with nature and the earth (58 percent) …

How is that “religious or spiritual”? We are deeply connected with nature and the earth.

… while more than a third classify themselves as “spiritual” but not “religious” (37 percent), …

We never can understand what they mean by “spiritual” if not simply mental or emotional.

… and one-in-five (21 percent) say they pray every day.  …

… The mildly lunatic.

The lower the age group, the less likely people are to be affiliated.

The growth in the number of religiously unaffiliated Americans – sometimes called the rise of the “nones” – is largely driven by generational replacement, the gradual supplanting of older generations by newer ones.

As new generations have always replaced older generations, it cannot by itself explain anything. The question is, why is a rising generation now  less religious, or at least less “affiliated”?

A third of adults under 30 have no religious affiliation (32 percent), compared with just one-in-ten who are 65 and older (9 percent). And young adults today are much more likely to be unaffiliated than previous generations were at a similar stage in their lives.

In addition, this report contains capsule summaries of some leading theories put forward by scholars in an attempt to explain the root causes of the rise of the “nones.” These theories run the gamut from a backlash against the entanglement of religion and politics to a global relationship between economic development and secularization.

To interpret “a global relationship between economic development and secularization”: As people rise from poverty, they tend to become better informed (or even educated) and less superstitious.

But that doesn’t apply to the many Americans who have remained religious despite prosperity and education. Why are their children leaving the churches and even becoming happily godless?

Our explanation: Religion has had its day. It has been dying out since the Enlightenment. The pace of its dying out has been quickening ever since Darwin destroyed the notion of a creator god. If the West can defeat Islam, the long religious period of history could be over.

Humanity waking from a nightmare!