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 Atheism: Contemporary Rates and Patterns
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13463 Posts

Posted - 04/03/2007 :  22:13:49  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
This is in response to a discussion that started in this thread. See the last two posts.

Edited to add:

Oh hey, it occurs to me that if anyone posts in that thread, the last two posts will not be the same last two posts. So look for my post and Mooner's reply on the first page.

Having read the article I have linked to, I decided that it deserves its own thread for discussion.

Two quotes From:
Atheism: Contemporary Rates and Patterns
quote:
What accounts for the staggering differences between nations in terms of rates of non-belief? Why do most nations in Africa, South America, and Southeast Asia contain almost no atheists, but within many European nations atheists are in abundance? There are numerous explanations (Zuckerman, 2004; Paul, 2002; Stark and Finke, 2000; Bruce, 1999). One leading theory comes from Norris and Inglehart (2004), who argue that in societies characterized by plentiful food distribution, excellent public healthcare, and widely accessible housing, religiosity wanes. Conversely, in societies where food and shelter are scarce and life is generally less secure, religious belief is strong. This is not a new theory (Thrower, 1999). For example, Karl Marx (1843) argued that people who suffer in oppressive social conditions are apt to turn to religion for comfort. Sigmund Freud's (1927) central thesis was that belief in God served to comfort humans in the face of earthly pain, suffering, and death. However, Marx and Freud provided no data. Norris and Inglehart (2004) do.

Through an examination of current global statistics on religiosity in relation to income distribution, economic inequality, welfare expenditures, and basic measurements of lifetime security (such as vulnerability to famines, natural disasters, etc.), Inglehart and Norris (2004) convincingly argue that despite numerous factors possibly relevant for explaining different rates of religiosity world-wide, “the levels of societal and individual security in any society seem to provide the most persuasive and parsimonious explanation” (p.109).( vii ) Of course, as with any grand sociological theory, there are holes. The glaring cases of Vietnam (81% non-believers in God) and Ireland (4-5% non-believers in God) prove to be exceptions to Inglehart and Norris's analysis; Vietnam is a relatively poor/insecure country and yet quite irreligious, while Ireland is one of the wealthiest/most secure countries in the world, and yet very religious. But aside from these two glaring exceptions, the correlation between high rates of individual and societal security/well-being and high rates of non-belief in God remains strong.


And:

quote:
Is worldwide atheism growing or in decline? This is difficult to answer. On the one hand, there are more atheists in the world today than ever before. Additionally, the nations with some of the highest degrees of organic atheism (such as Great Britain, France, and Scandinavia) have been experiencing a steady increase of atheism over the past century, an increase which shows no indication of abating (Bruce, 2001). On the other hand, worldwide atheism overall may be in decline. This is due to the simple demographic fact that highly religious nations have the highest birthrates in the world and highly irreligious nations have the lowest birthrates in the world. As Norris and Inglehart (2004:25) observe, due to basic demographic trends, “the world as a whole now has more people with traditional religious views than ever before – and they constitute a growing p

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 04/03/2007 :  23:58:34   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Wow! Great information, thanks!


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 04/04/2007 :  00:06:43   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'm still reading, but it appears I maligned our Canadian friends in a posting on the other link by assuming they were like Yanks in their religiousity and intolerance for atheism. Indeed, the Great White North seems to be on an advanced footing comparable with Europe. Sorry, Canada!




Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
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dv82matt
SFN Regular

760 Posts

Posted - 04/04/2007 :  06:56:32   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send dv82matt a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Kinda sucks that areas where poverty or religion dominate have the highest birthrates. Anyone got any theories why that is? There's got to be more to it than just, "Go forth and multiply." right?
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26007 Posts

Posted - 04/04/2007 :  07:22:05   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
One theory I heard was that you have lots of kids during desperate times in the hopes that at least one of them survives to reproductive age.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
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Why not question something for a change?
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13463 Posts

Posted - 04/04/2007 :  08:17:11   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Since the US is a western nation and has one of the lowest rates of atheism and one of the highest rates of religiosity, I am trying to figure out if that is an anomaly. Unfortunately, the paper didn't really go into what the numbers mean here. Perhaps it's tied to how secure Americans feel in general, with regard to health and other matters like literacy rates, even though we are one of the industrialized western nations. I dunno.

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

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dv82matt
SFN Regular

760 Posts

Posted - 04/04/2007 :  08:39:57   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send dv82matt a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Dave W.

One theory I heard was that you have lots of kids during desperate times in the hopes that at least one of them survives to reproductive age.


It does makes sense to compensate for a higher death rate.

It's massive overkill though when rich countries routinely have to rely on immigration to avoid population decline and poor countries perpetually exceed the carrying capacity of their resources.

Well at least the problems are somewhat complementary.
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dv82matt
SFN Regular

760 Posts

Posted - 04/04/2007 :  08:41:12   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send dv82matt a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Kil

Since the US is a western nation and has one of the lowest rates of atheism and one of the highest rates of religiosity, I am trying to figure out if that is an anomaly. Unfortunately, the paper didn't really go into what the numbers mean here. Perhaps it's tied to how secure Americans feel in general, with regard to health and other matters like literacy rates, even though we are one of the industrialized western nations. I dunno.


Some possible explanations that I can think of:
1. larger than average income gap between the rich and poor or alternatively, a shrinking middle class.
2. urbanization is hitting the US particularily hard
3. anti-Soviet rhetoric continues to linger
4. less effective social safety net than is the norm for developed countries

Just speculating though.
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Siberia
SFN Addict

Brazil
2322 Posts

Posted - 04/04/2007 :  08:53:17   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Siberia's Homepage  Send Siberia an AOL message  Send Siberia a Yahoo! Message Send Siberia a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by dv82matt

Kinda sucks that areas where poverty or religion dominate have the highest birthrates. Anyone got any theories why that is? There's got to be more to it than just, "Go forth and multiply." right?


As someone who lives in such a country, I'd say there's a lack of education as well. Or rather, not only education, but also lack of conscientization (person is theoretically aware, but doesn't follow, at least not all the time). Many people in slums and other poor areas start very early - the number of adolescent girls giving birth is higher. I've such cases in my own family.

The population growth, methinks, has nothing to do (directly, at least) with religiosity - at least not here, because I'd say most children are born out of wedlock and many times, from different fathers. I've no data to confirm that other than what I've seen.

"Why are you afraid of something you're not even sure exists?"
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furshur
SFN Regular

USA
1536 Posts

Posted - 04/04/2007 :  09:21:07   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send furshur a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Kinda sucks that areas where poverty or religion dominate have the highest birthrates. Anyone got any theories why that is? There's got to be more to it than just, "Go forth and multiply." right?

You may be poor and life may suck but you always have sex to cheer you up at least for a while. Couple that with almost no access to birth control and you have a 'boatload' of kids. No data to back that up but it seems logical.


If I knew then what I know now then I would know more now than I know.
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dv82matt
SFN Regular

760 Posts

Posted - 04/05/2007 :  04:58:53   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send dv82matt a Private Message  Reply with Quote
So I guess addressing education and poverty, and providing access to birth control, would be the way to deal with overpopulation.

The thing is it's not just the poor countries that have population problems. It seems that when people are educated, have access to birth control, and are relatively well off they tend to choose not to have enough children to maintain a stable population.

Why is that? Are people just too preoccupied with other things to have kids?
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Dr. Mabuse
Septic Fiend

Sweden
9675 Posts

Posted - 04/05/2007 :  15:00:11   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Dr. Mabuse an ICQ Message Send Dr. Mabuse a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Kil

Since the US is a western nation and has one of the lowest rates of atheism and one of the highest rates of religiosity, I am trying to figure out if that is an anomaly. Unfortunately, the paper didn't really go into what the numbers mean here. Perhaps it's tied to how secure Americans feel in general, with regard to health and other matters like literacy rates, even though we are one of the industrialized western nations. I dunno.

I definitly believe it's closely tied to general (universal) health care and education. Specifically education.

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