20th November 2008

“It has long been understood that popular religiosity tends to sink as education and income levels rise. It is now understood that additional factors have sped up secularization in most first world nations. An extensive economic safety net, including universal health care, has left most westerners so secure that few feel a need to seek the aid and protection of supernatural powers and they have abandoned the churches in droves.”

Gregory Paul

9 Responses to “20th November 2008”

  1. Antitheist Says:

    I’d like to see the studies that corroborate this statement. I am not seeing “droves” of theists leaving the church. Since I base my belief structure on evidence, I refuse to take anyone’s word for such arbitrary remarks, especially when the sentence begins “It has long been understood…”

  2. Chris Says:

    This observation prompts me to wonder if the “conservative” opposition to the Department of Education here in America is intended to dumb things down a bit to create a more attenuated environment for the religious mind. I confess I hadn’t really thought about it in those terms but it makes perfect sense. They want to “shrink government until it’s small enough to drown it in the bathtub” not because of some free market objection but because a strong and secular government cannot help but erode their base of support through the promotion of math and science standards or accessibility of abortion. It is as Dawkins has called it – A virus of the mind. And it is quite capable of working to make the environment for its own growth more suitable. Indeed, the perpetuation of the meme is its own end and doesn’t care if it kills the host.

  3. Chris Says:

    Fellow Irreligionists,
    I give you Kathleen Parker, conservative columnist for the Washington Post. I rarely agree with her. This time I do.



  4. Cliff Says:

    While studies have shown a correlation between education and non-belief in western cultures, the same is not true in other parts of the world. In fact, the opposite correlation (education correlating with belief) is evident in many Far East first and second world countries. I would not be at all surprised to find the same thing in many other developing countries. This leads me to wonder if the second part of the quote (the economic safety net providing a sense of security) is the greater reason for declining belief in the western world. Complacency has never been a friend to faith.

  5. Terence Meaden Says:

    “…few feel a need to seek the aid and protection of supernatural powers … ”.

    In desperation, the unfortunates could only turn to wishful thinking. Sadly, it was all in the mind, a dream world born of desperation. The grossly fallible church relied on impoverished masses for its own type of control which revealed itself by enormous success at enriching itself at the expense of offering nothing but solace to the indoctrinated people who it had helped to impoverish.

  6. Cliff Says:

    Neither the immature “wishful thinking” faith of the masses, nor the inexcusably evil behavior of the church represent ultimate reality. Terence is spot on. But these sad sagas of human experience say nothing about whether there is a Creator.

  7. Tony Pro Says:

    Liked the article. Thanx.
    Pertaining to conservatism, I LOVE what was said by Goldwater in 1981, I first read it in Dawkins “The God Delusion”.
    It follows:

    There is no position on which people are so immovable as their religious beliefs. There is no more powerful ally one can claim in a debate than Jesus Christ, or God, or Allah, or whatever one calls this supreme being. But like any powerful weapon, the use of God’s name on one’s behalf should be used sparingly. The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their position 100 percent. If you disagree with these religious groups on a particular moral issue, they complain, they threaten you with a loss of money or votes or both. I’m frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in ‘A,’ ‘B,’ ‘C,’ and ‘D.’ Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me? And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of ‘conservatism.’

    – Conservative Arizona senator and 1964 Republican presidential nominee

    Barry Goldwater

    For more, visit:

  8. Tony Pro Says:

    After another delightfully reading of above quote by Goldwater;
    I decided I could make it just a bit sweeter by replacing (at end of 3rd sentence) the word “sparingly”, with some adjective of even less frequency.

  9. Chris Says:

    Tony – that’s a beauty of a quote from Goldwater. Thanks for sending it!