Category Archives: religiosity

New York Times editorial page editor makes the “Little People” argument for religion

Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of […]

The Nonexistent Angels of our Nature: Why Religion Has Declined (and there’s no going back)

Yes, I’ve shamelessly cribbed from the title of Steve Pinker’s last big book, but his thesis (and that of his new one, Enlightenment Now) is relevant to this 16-minute TedX talk (below) by Dr. David Voas.  When this was given in 2015, Voas was at the University of Essex, but he’s now Professor of social science and head […]

Losing our religion: the U.S. slowly goes secular

Several readers called my attention to a new short article in Scientific American, “The U.S. is retreating from religion“, which highlights a recent study by the General Social Survey (GSS) conducted by NORC (the National Opinion Research Center of the University of Chicago.  The upshot is something I’ve written about a lot: the U.S. is slowly […]

Is religion good even if it’s not true?: A deceptive piece in the Daily Beast

Reader Saul called my attention to a Daily Beast article called “Can you be good without God?” (subtitle: “New research raises questions about whether people can be truly good or truly bad without religion”) by Brandon Withrow, who teaches religious studies at the University of Findlay. I call the article “deceptive” in the sense that both the […]

Open thread: The fetishization of suffering

by Grania Jerry wrote a post years ago on Mother Teresa that has proved to be the most popular post ever on this website (even more popular than the one on penis sizes, which is quite remarkable given that this is humanity we are talking about). Jerry pointed out, as did Christopher Hitchens before him […]

Robert Sapolsky: Religion is a mental illness

I discovered neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky this weekend, and now reader jjh called my attention to this video showing him lecture on religion. In response to Westerners who laugh at shamans and the like, Sapolsky argues that our own society is afflicted with equally stupid stuff, ranging from religion, which he calls “Westernized irrationality”, to New […]

New data on the religiosity of U.S. states and its correlation with accepting evolution

Back in 2013 I put up a post showing a negative correlation between the religiosity of American states and their acceptance of evolution, a relationship that also holds among European countries (see original post for figures). At that time, I had access to religiosity for only the 10 most and 10 least religious states in the U.S., but […]

Why the “nones” leave religion: US and UK getting less religious

The Pew organization, which certainly has no bias that I can detect against religion, had reanalyzed some data from its 2014 U.S. “Religious landscape study,” asking people who said they were both “nones” (those not affiliated with a church) and also had formerly been raised as church members but later abandoned that membership. The results are […]

Belief in moralistic gods makes people generous—towards coreligionists

I’ve been meaning to write about this paper for some time, but it’s fallen into my backlog of 1000-odd draft posts that I almost never look at. However, I found a printout in my daypack, and so will try to describe it briefly, for the results are somewhat hard to interpret. The paper, in a January, 2016 […]

England and Wales are now predominantly nonreligious

There’s a new survey out about the religiosity of England and Wales, and although the Guardian report on it doesn’t link to the original study, it does give the salient results, which are these: The secularization of Britain is very rapid, to the point where most of England and Wales consists of people who say […]