Saturday, November 12, 2011

Slow and Steady But not Guaranteed

I tend to read Huffington Post's Religion section for a variety of reasons. It is a fairly decent gathering of liberal views on religion. There is an odd notion that liberal forms of religion are more tolerant and reasonable. They are not. But if you want to be informed about a variety of religious views this is one of the sites that should be perused. It is rare that I find a piece that I mostly agree with but recently I found such a piece.

Nigel Barber's "When Will Atheism Prevail Over Religion?" is pretty good. It is not because of any new or original insights. He references a handful of individuals who have conduct research on religious belief. He does a good job reviewing their work and I appreciate his positive outlook. Unfortunately, I'm not as convinced as he is that non-belief will at some point in the near future be the majority view. There is one passage in particular that I would suggest holds the key to whether this future ever materializes or not. Barber states, "If we assume that prosperity is responsible for declining religiosity in the world, and that prosperity will continue to increase, it is possible to estimate the date at which the world will switch over from being a majority believing in God to majority atheist." I would not "assume" anything about "prosperity."

According to the studies, many noted by Barber, prosperity does diminish religious belief. That is the problem. Prosperity is not guaranteed. The wealthy seem determined to corner prosperity for themselves. Many of these greedy assholes are either themselves religious or have found that religion can be a useful tool. It is in their short term interest to continue to prevent the masses from becoming prosperous and to continue to encourage religious belief, or at least public displays of belief. I think it is in the best interest of atheists to fight for economic equality as much as it is to oppose religion with rational arguments.

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