Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ahead of the curve in England, I see

So two-thirds of teenagers in the UK don't like religion and don't believe in God. That's a good thing.

What would be nice is if these kids would follow up this natural doubt with actual studies, both into science and religion, to see why the verifiable methods of science can be reliably trusted and the unsupported fables of sheep farmers thousands of years ago can be just as reliably relegated to the category of "Quaint Historical Curiosities."

There is always the likelihood that some of this is just teen rebellion, going through a phase, what have you. But when you consider how religion has lost favor among the British public in general, it could very well indicate a healthy trend towards greater secularism on a society-wide scale. And it's a valuable rejoinder to the accommodationists and religion-defenders who lazily shrug and insist that we just can't get rid of religion, or expect it to go away, because, you know, deep down, everyone needs it.


  1. of course this is the nation that is ground zero for the Harry Potter curse. It is draining away Jebus's power!

    Word ver: Mayonism (A religion around the miracle of Mayonnaise? Sect of christianity that allows condiments on the bread?)

  2. It would be nice if the rise of anti-religion could be matched by pro-rationalism and pro-skepticism, instead of pro-spirituality and pro-mysticism... not to mention pro-television. Refusing to go to church so you can catch up on your TiVo doesn't count.

  3. I have seen it a number of times; where people have 'lost faith' in traditional religion, only to replace that perceived void in their lives with some other form of belief or spirituality that is equally irrational. Just because many of these kids were not exposed to the indoctrination of a traditional religious upbringing doesn't necessarily mean they are better equipped with the mental tools to navigate their way through the cultural soup of various competing forms of belief, devoid of evidence.

    Some time ago, I was cajoled into attending a local UFO group meeting. I was surprised at how openly a few people spoke about how they had become disillusioned by Christianity only to have embraced this new, more fuzzily defined form of spiritual belief.

    In a country like England that is generally quite accommodating to people of faith, I wonder if Religions will simply evolve over time and recapture the minds of generations to come.

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  6. Would that it were so...

    Unfortunately this non-belief is simply a manifestation of the general apathy the British public feel towards any figure of authority (albeit they have some anger towards bankers and MPs at the moment.)

    The number of British people who can describe evolution is tiny, the number who believe in it, sorry accept it, is around 30-40%.

    Science and investigation are sadly lacking. Even though scepticism is high there seems little interest in pushing on and investigating the truth, much better to sit back and sneer.

  7. As a follow up to my last post lots of stupid stuff is on the rise in the UK:
    Alternative health: crystals, acupuncture, aromatherapy, chiropracters, psychic healing etc.;
    Psychics are big on TV;
    Horoscopes still appear in (all?) the national newspapers - and so does the weather forecast...;
    Ghost hunting programs attract large audiences;
    Reality shows are big business too.

    Still, I don't see a bunch of Geminis deciding to declare war on the Libras anytime soon (Geminis are not really warlike. :) )

  8. I have always questioned the validity of God claims but it wasn't until my teenager years, 15 to be exact, that I really began to explore skepticism and science. s Being raised in a home made up of both Christians and Mormons made it difficult but by the time I was 19 I was where I'm at now. I hope that this isn't a rebellious phase for the London kids though if their families are anything like mine they'll claim it is indeed just a phase.

  9. eh, chiropractics helped my back a bit. but yeah, i know what ya mean, the claims of curing palsy and diabetes... the medicinal side of woo can be potentially dangerous (nemenhah?) but i've heard places like japan have a lot of superstitions, but there's no organization to it, so its not so bad. maybe not exactly what we'd like to see, but its still a shift to a less dangerous form. plus ppl may be less emotionally invested in generic spirituality whatever, and so less resistant to the possibility its bs.

  10. Ing, just one more reason to love Harry!!!! :)

    March, I don't mind horoscopes. I know it's all bullshit, but they're fun to read sometimes...I guess the problem comes with those who actually DO believe them...

  11. JJ: "March, I don't mind horoscopes. I know it's all bullshit, but they're fun to read sometimes...I guess the problem comes with those who actually DO believe them..."

    I don't mind the bible (torah, qu'ran etc.), it's fun to read sometimes...I guess the problem comes with those who actually DO believe it.

    All crazy-ass behaviour begins with "it's just a bit of fun, who does it harm..."
    Two years later parents allow their kids to die in the belief that homeopathy or their prayers or their crystals will somehow cure the kid's cancer or diabetes.

    This is the real world and our beliefs have consequences, that's what that gypsy woman at the fair said anyway.

  12. I live in England and I am happy about these news, but I am careful. Like some people said it here, faith in a mainstream religion is often replaced by some New Age and/or spiritualist gimmickry. But it is good that young Brits are turning away from God. Ten years ago or so, when I started studying here, Christian Union members (often Creationists) were EVERYWHERE on campus, trying to convert students at the entrance of the uni bars (with toasts, tead and fruit juice ready), trying to make us foreigners join their organisation, etc. They were not agressive, but I often found their sneaky approach more disgusting.

    I think England faces another very serious threat from religion: the huge political influence of religious leaders and religious groups, even radical ones, into the public sphere, which is disproportionate to their real popular backing. Let's not forget that the Church of England has constitutional ties with the state. While the population is secular, the institutions are not.

  13. And an Iranian top cleric is calling for executions of protesters.

    Proof I guess that people are horrendously bad at telling apart holly men from unbelievable assholes.

    Jesus, that's sad. Think about it. Here you have a population asking for order and purpose in their life and what do the supposed authorities on the subject do? Kill em. Truly a religion of peace (after all...corpses are remarkably pacifistic).

  14. I think that the numbers of non-religious young people in the UK may have as much to do with lack of family and peer pressure as anything.

    To suggest that disinterest in religion is related to an increase in interest in science is a false dichotomy. Science particularly this age group can be more about learning "facts" than concepts. I know from personal experience that I learned more about critical thinking in history courses than in Biology and Chemistry.

  15. As one who lives in a part of the UK where religion has caused the most harm (Northern Ireland). It is heartening to see that kids in England (and the UK in general I hope) are finally becoming aware of and innured to, the devisive nature of religion and christianity in particular.
    Personally I'm glad to live in a country where it is "uncool" to publicly display your religious "faith" and where politicians elicit more than the normal level of skepticism when they fervently play up their religious connection... in light of the recent "MP's Expenses Scandal" it is interesting to note the silence of the churchs associtated with those MPs that were "caught out", especially those who previously avowed a strong religious affiliation... perhaps this type of double standard is finally becomming so obvious that even "the children" can see through the tissue of lies these people project.

  16. This sort of thing is interesting to read because there's a lot of statistics available that basically say the theists outnumber the atheists by a large percentage.

    However in my experience very few people around me, my friends, my co-workers are actually religious, the numbers just don't add up

    It's also nice to see that the primary method of indoctrination (passing belief from parents to children) is failing, which means over the next few generations we should see a sharp decrease in theists.


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