Necessity of Secularism, pgs 15-16

Apr 25, 2017

“The rise and fall of religious beliefs is difficult to predict with assurance. It’s doubtful whether many Romans in the early second century would have predicted the rise of Christianity, whether many Europeans in the early sixteenth century would have predicted the Reformation and the subsequent rejection of Catholicism by much of the continent, whether many Americans in the early twentieth century would have foreseen the simultaneous decline of mainstream Protestant denominations and the rise of Protestant fundamentalism, or whether many in the West anticipated the recent spike in atheists, agnostics, and other nonbelievers. Perhaps over the next one hundred years, some faith will sweep aside other beliefs; perhaps religious beliefs, in general, will decline precipitously and all but disappear. Either outcome is possible.

However, a much more likely outcome is a significant increase in the number of nonbelievers, accompanied by a decrease, but not a collapse, in the number of believers. This increase could come fairly quickly if nonbelievers reach a critical mass, which would allow for greater acceptance and the sense among many nominal believers that it’s no longer socially injurious to acknowledge that one is an atheist or agnostic. The big break in the United States will come if and when a number of politicians who are open atheists and nominal believers to come out of the closet. But even if there is an exponential increase in the number of nonbelievers, it’s improbable that religion will be completely abandoned. Religious belief is resilient. Some debate whether religious belief has a genetic basis, but regardless of whether it has a biological foundation, it’s undeniable it has deep cultural and psychological roots. Beliefs that have had a firm grip on the human psyche for millennia are unlikely to vanish in a century.”

–Ron Lindsay, The Necessity of Secularism, pgs 15-16


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2 comments on “Necessity of Secularism, pgs 15-16

  • @OP – whether many Americans in the early twentieth century would have foreseen the simultaneous decline of mainstream Protestant denominations and the rise of Protestant fundamentalism,

    It is to some degree predictable, that as the size of the believer group diminishes, so does the collective input of real-world experience which the in-group may respect when it comes from its own members.

    As the size of cults diminish, the irrational “faith-thinking” preconceived dogmas, come under pressure from objective outside sources, so nutty leaders are less likely to be challenged by their own members, and the inward-looking “collective in-group knowledge”, becomes more intense and isolated from the mainstream thinking of the general population.
    This leads to it being more aggressively defended by its inflexible adherents, and branching splits leading to new versions with new sects, when leading figures disagree and fall-out!
    There may also be take-over bids and mergers!

    In-group, and out-group thinking, is fundamental to religions, despite various claims to be “universal”, or “all embracing”!



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  • Human tribalism and territoriality have a strong genetic component and are not unique to religion,
    so religious groups will not completely fade away. But when it becomes common for current
    religious adherents to admit that they are “faking it” in order to be socially acceptable then the
    tipping point against religious affiliation might be reached.



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