A Generation of No Religion

| 11/19/2014 2:31:00 PM

“Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions,” wrote Karl Marx in Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. “It is the opium of the people.”

Since the 1800s, we’ve long been told that religion faces an imminent death. Lawrence Krauss argued at the Victorian Skeptics Café 2014 that it’s time to “plant the seeds of doubt in our children” so that religion can disappear within a mere generation, “or at least largely go away.” He insisted that “change is always one generation away.”

Which is a fair assessment when it comes to social prejudices. He mentioned that 13-year-olds today don’t even see gay marriage as an issue, and slavery soon became a reviled concept once generations failed to remember it as a cultural norm. But one cognitive scientist told The Daily Beast that Krauss neglected to consider one of the major findings from cognitive science of religion in the last few decades—that “people’s natural receptivity to religious ideas may be borne out of certain ordinary habits of the human mind that are hard to extinguish,” such as the tendency to see actions as intentional, objects as products of design, or the mind as distinct from the body.

One study showed that even kids who have no religious exposure in the home still believe that events happen for intentional reasons, such as to teach a lesson or send a sign. Another British study found that children unexposed to religion still used God for the unexplainable, demonstrating that this kind of thinking is an ingrained mental habit. Furthermore, half of nonbelievers still believe in fate, proving there’s a tendency to see intention and agency in lives without religious ties.

The need for a higher power may arguably be an inherent human tendency, but millennials are more critical of organized religion than previous generations were at this age. In the 1970s, only 13 percent of baby boomers considered themselves religiously unaffiliated; in 2012, a third of 18 to 29-year-olds did. It’s likely that millennials marrying and entering the workforce later in life, thus extending college years, largely contributes to that gap: 86 percent of Americans without a college education believe in Jesus Christ’s resurrection, whereas 64 percent of those with postgraduate degrees do.

11/21/2014 9:59:09 AM

Another aspect of why many people leave the "revealed" religions is because "faith" is not needed to believe in God/The Supreme Intelligence. The French Deist Voltaire pointed this out when he wrote, "What is faith? Is it to believe that which is evident? No. It is perfectly evident to my mind that there exists a necessary, eternal, supreme, and intelligent being. This is no matter of faith, but of reason." ( http://www.deism.com/voltaire.htm ) People of all ages are realizing you don't need "holy" books, clergy or churches/temples/mosques when you have Nature and your own rational mind. Progress! Bob Johnson www.deism.com

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