Update AM (GMT-7) 23-Dec

Polish translation by Małgorzata Koraszewska - see bottom of article

Update PM (GMT-7) 12-Dec

2011 census: Richard Dawkins praises atheism in Wales

Prof Richard Dawkins said non-religious people in Wales were 'ahead of the rest'

Atheist author Prof Richard Dawkins has congratulated the people of Wales after nearly a third of them revealed in the 2011 census that they have no religion.

The evolutionary scientist, whose books include The God Delusion, said Wales was "ahead of the rest of the UK" in showing a decline in religious belief.

The census found 32% in Wales have no religion, against a UK figure of 25%.

The Church in Wales said Christianity was "no longer the default setting" for many, but the picture was complex.

Of those in Wales who described themselves as believers, the number of Christians fell by 14 percentage points to 57%.

Prof Dawkins said: "I congratulate the people of Wales in coming out ahead of the rest of the United Kingdom in this respect - well done."

He told BBC Radio Wales' Good Morning Wales that he believed in the "wonder" of scientific truth.

He said: "People who are educated in religion are positively encouraged not to investigate, not to think sceptically about why they are here, but instead to accept what people wrote 2,000 years ago.

"I guess we do need focal points for communities but you can say also that religion has been a focal point for all sorts of backward, indeed bigoted, thinking about homosexuality, about abortion, the right to die, that we're seeing at the moment."

Continue to source article at the BBC


Richard's artice from The Telegraph posted here in full

The drop in those ticking the Christian box, from 71.7 per cent in 2001 to 59.3 per cent in 2011, is highly significant. Even more dramatic is the rise in numbers professing “No religion”, from 14.8 per cent to 25.1 per cent.The two together represent a genuine shift of opinion, away from Christianity and towards unbelief. This is quite different from the increase in Muslims, which surely is due to demographics only: nobody could seriously suggest that any significant number of people in this country would actually convert to Islam. And, unlike Christianity, converting away from Islam carries certain penalties calculated to deter.

The exhilaratingly high figure of 25 per cent for non-believers – far more than any group except Christians – would be even higher if the census question on religion had been more intelligently framed. If they had asked “Do you have a religion?” instead of “What is your religion?”, polling data from the British Social Attitudes Survey confirms commonsense: the numbers of nonbelievers would have been massively higher. Non-belief is not a religion, and it is insulting to frame a question that presumes that everyone has a religion, in the same way as they have an age and a sex.

But in any case, do the 59 per cent who ticked the Christian box really believe in Christianity? Of course they are free to fasten any label they like to whatever it is they believe. But though they may call it Christianity, are bishops, priests and Christian lobbyists entitled to draw support from the 59 per cent? That depends on what the 59 per cent really do believe. To discover exactly that, the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (UK) commissioned an Ipsos MORI poll in the very week after the census. We asked only those who ticked the Christian box a series of supplementary questions. The results should be devastating to anybody who wants to claim that this is still a Christian country, which should be run in accordance with Christian values.

Only 32 per cent of the census “Christians” believe in the resurrection of Jesus. Only 35 per cent could pick out the correct answer to “What is the first book of the New Testament?” when given a 4-way choice of Matthew, Genesis, Acts, Psalms. When asked why they had ticked the Christian box, only 28 per cent of those who did so said it was because they believe the teachings of Christianity. The most popular answer to that question was, “I like to think of myself as a good person.” What? You ticked the Christian box because you like to think of yourself as a good person? Are you serious? Do you think atheists, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists don’t think of themselves as good people?

Yet, when these “Census Christians” were asked where they turned when faced with a moral dilemma, only ten per cent said they turned to their religion. The majority turned to relatives or to their own inner moral sense, which of course is what good atheists do. So much for the cliché that you need God to be good. And those who think that our laws and governance should follow Christian values should be disconcerted by the following. Seventy four per cent of the Census Christians are secular in that they think religion should have no special influence on public policy.

After the 2001 census, politicians and clerics used the 72 per cent Christian figure as a weapon to argue for Christian influence in public life. This time, despite the poor wording of the religion question, they will not be able to pull the same trick. Not only has the official figure dropped to 59 per cent. The percentage of those self-identifying Christians who either believe in the central tenets of Christianity, or who think Christianity should be given special status in our national policy, is now very low indeed. Christianity is on the way out in this country. We must hope that other religions will go the same way.

A collection of related articles on rd.net about the census

Continue to the source article on The Telegraph for other releated articles

Polish Translation

Chrześcijaństwo w Wielkiej Brytanii wychodzi z mody

Autor tekstu: Richard Dawkins

Tłumaczenie: Małgorzata Koraszewska

W Wielkiej Brytanii spadek liczby ludzi zaznaczających rubrykę „chrześcijanin", z 71,7 procenta w 2001 r. do 59,3 procenta w 2011 r., jest bardzo znaczny. Jeszcze radykalniejszy jest wzrost liczby tych, którzy zaznaczają „brak religii", z 14,8 procenta do 25,1 procenta. Te dwie liczby razem reprezentują prawdziwą zmianę opinii: od chrześcijaństwa ku niewierze. Jest to coś zupełnie innego niż wzrost liczby muzułmanów, która z pewnością spowodowana jest wyłącznie demografią: nikt nie może poważnie twierdzić, że jakakolwiek znacząca liczba ludzi w tym kraju przechodzi na islam. I, w odróżnieniu od chrześcijaństwa, porzucenie islamu pociąga za sobą kary mające na celu odstraszanie chętnych.

Duża liczba (25 procent) niewierzących — większa niż jakakolwiek inna grupa poza chrześcijanami — byłaby jeszcze wyższa, gdyby pytanie spisowe o religię było nieco bardziej inteligentnie sformułowane. Gdyby zapytali: „Czy wyznajesz jakąś religię?' zamiast: "Jaka jest twoja religia?" (a dane z British Social Attitudes Survey potwierdzają zdrowy rozsądek) liczba niewierzących byłaby znacznie wyższa. Niewiara nie jest religią i jest obraźliwe formułowanie pytania, które zakłada, że każdy ma jakąś religię w taki sam sposób jak zadaje się pytanie o wiek i płeć.

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