Jump to content

The 'nones'


GeorgeW
 Share

Recommended Posts

This is a link to an article about the decline of religion generally and Protestantism specifically in the U.S.

 

http://www.nytimes.c...clining.html?hp

 

It says that the second largest religious group now in the U.S. are "the nones;' those with no religious affiliation.What I also found interesting is that only a small portion of "the nones" are actually atheist or agnostic. I would guess that this would be more true of first-generation 'nones.' Probably the children of 'nones' would grow up to be agnostic or atheist.

 

There are several explanations offered for why religion is declining in the U.S.:

 

1. People are disillusioned because of the political involvement of evangelicals in social issues like gay marriage.

2. The 'bowling alone' phenomenon, i.e. people are becoming less involved in community activity.

3. Americans are just becoming more secular like in Europe and Canada.

 

My guess is the answer is all of the above.

 

George

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3. Americans are just becoming more secular like in Europe and Canada...and Australia thanks George! We don't get much credit on the world stage so don't hide our light under a bushel if you don't mind! :)

 

But seriously, Jack Spong has been saying for a while that Christianity must change or die. I think this is an indication of what he is referring to.

 

I'd like to think that another factor is that with the science of evolution, DNA, and the more common exposure of biblical scholarship, churchgoers are simply starting to realise that Christianity is losing credibility. I suspect these people don't want to lose their faith in God, but find it hard to go along with this antiquated view of God and Christianity (antiquated in the sense that this new-ish version of Christianity has started to grow old).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It just happened to be the case that I had this very article open in my browser as I opened a tab to this forum. It is interesting to note that the decline is manily within Protetestant denominations. While I agree that science has played a significant role in the decline of religious affiliation, I worry that other social institutions will not fill in the gap.

 

What is "the gap"? Noted phllosopher John Searle, a self proclaimed atheist, has said that a majority of humans have "an urge towards the spiritual". I suspect he is correct. I think the demographics noted in the article are important. Much of the decline is concentrated in the younger age group. It could then be argued that this is where religion is failing. We have failed to give our children a relevant message or purpose for maintaining relgious affliations. The question I have is whether they will return in later life as I did.

 

That is not the only problem, IMO. I have also seen a tendency for women to leave their chuches. I do not know why. I only have hints. One problem I see is that Protestant denominations have been too slow in recognizing issues important to women. If there is a strategy to change religion before it passes into the past, it must be specific concerning what changes need to be made. I admit to some frustration on this. I have been a bit discouraged at the generality of discourse and what I see as a lack of focus.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I worry that other social institutions will not fill in the gap.

 

That is a valid concern. The 'bowling alone' phenomenon cannot be healthy.

 

What has happened in Europe with the increased levels of secularism? In the UK, there is a pub culture that may have partially filled the gap, but what else and what about elsewhere?

 

George

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That is a valid concern. The 'bowling alone' phenomenon cannot be healthy.

 

What has happened in Europe with the increased levels of secularism? In the UK, there is a pub culture that may have partially filled the gap, but what else and what about elsewhere?

 

George

 

George,

 

Charles Darwin expressed a similar concern, as did A. N. Whitehead and C. G. Jung. In a very important sense, we were warned but we have not listened. Elsewhere I stated that mutuality is a demanding force on our lives. Responsibilty is demanding. We need each other. We are social beings. John Searle states that we have inborn mechanisms to react to these demands. I agree.

 

Progressives need to know this and pass this wisdom on. But how?

 

Myron

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In Australia, the 'nones' are also the 2nd largest group, but it hasn't been a dramatic shift that has somehow left a hole in community. Steadily over the last 100 years or so, the 'nones' have grown from 0.4% to 25% of the population. I haven't observed a noticeable breakdown in community and I haven't read of any such views. I suspect a wide variety of other things have filled the 'gap' so to speak, at various times and for some in an increasing manner:

  • political activism
  • sport
  • other recreational activities
  • war
  • eastern and other foreign traditions

So I think those needs that Myron mentions are still beign fulfilled (in Australia anyhow), just in groups of a reduced size rather than one big label.

 

Perhaps in Australia the population doesn't have such an urge toward the spiritual as Searle suggests. Certainly the information below (Wikipedia) rings true for me:

 

Although many Australians identify themselves as religious, the majority consider religion the least important aspect of their lives when compared with family, partners, work and career, leisure time and politics.[16] This is reflected in Australia's church attendance rates, which are among the lowest in the world and in continuing decline.[17][18] In explaining this phenomenon, writer and broadcaster Paul Collins said "Australians are quietly spiritual rather than explicitly religious", and famous historian Manning Clark defined Australian spirituality as "a shy hope in the heart .... understated, wary of enthusiasm, anti-authoritarian, optimistic, open to others, self-deprecating and ultimately characterized by a serious quiet reverence, a deliberate silence, an inarticulate awe and a serious distaste for glib wordiness."[19]

Edited by PaulS
Link to comment
Share on other sites

In Australia, the 'nones' are also the 2nd largest group, but it hasn't been a dramatic shift that has somehow left a hole in community. Steadily over the last 100 years or so, the 'nones' have grown from 0.4% to 25% of the population. I haven't observed a noticeable breakdown in community and I haven't read of any such views. I suspect a wide variety of other things have filled the 'gap' so to speak, at various times and for some in an increasing manner:

  • political activism
  • sport
  • other recreational activities
  • war
  • eastern and other foreign traditions

So I think those needs that Myron mentions are still beign fulfilled (in Australia anyhow), just in groups of a reduced size rather than one big label.

 

Perhaps in Australia the population doesn't have such an urge toward the spiritual as Searle suggests. Certainly the information below (Wikipedia) rings true for me:

 

Although many Australians identify themselves as religious, the majority consider religion the least important aspect of their lives when compared with family, partners, work and career, leisure time and politics.[16] This is reflected in Australia's church attendance rates, which are among the lowest in the world and in continuing decline.[17][18] In explaining this phenomenon, writer and broadcaster Paul Collins said "Australians are quietly spiritual rather than explicitly religious", and famous historian Manning Clark defined Australian spirituality as "a shy hope in the heart .... understated, wary of enthusiasm, anti-authoritarian, optimistic, open to others, self-deprecating and ultimately characterized by a serious quiet reverence, a deliberate silence, an inarticulate awe and a serious distaste for glib wordiness."[19]

 

Paul,

 

I understand. Yet, much of my research has owed a deep debt of gratitude to Dr. Paul Valent, an Austrialian psychologist and traumatologist. He surivived the Holocaust and went on to examine why people survive these experiences. His conclusion is that spiritualty is a dimension of human existance that can lead to resiliance. I agree.

 

Myron

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I certainly agree with Valent that spirituality is a dimension of human existence that can lead to resilience, but I think Collins & Clark in their above comments compliment Valent's view. Maybe Valent speaks further to 'community' arising from spirituality, but based on the above his and Collins/Clark go hand in hand, in that we're not talking about Australian's losing spirituality because less identify with a particular religion. To the contrary, I think Collins/Clark's comments make the point that Australian spirituality is simply less 'showy' (for lack of a better word) in that it is not explicitly religous and is ultimately characterized by a serious quiet reverence, a deliberate silence.

 

It's not that such spirituality isn't passed on to younger generations, but rather people just aren't identifying with organised religion as much.

Edited by PaulS
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I certainly agree with Valent that spirituality is a dimension of human existence that can lead to resilience, but I think Collins & Clark in their above comments compliment Valent's view. Maybe Valent speaks further to 'community' arising from spirituality, but based on the above his and Collins/Clark go hand in hand, in that we're not talking about Australian's losing spirituality because less identify with a particular religion. To the contrary, I think Collins/Clark's comments make the point that Australian spirituality is simply less 'showy' (for lack of a better word) in that it is not explicitly religous and is ultimately characterized by a serious quiet reverence, a deliberate silence.

 

It's not that such spirituality isn't passed on to younger generations, but rather people just aren't identifying with organised religion as much.

 

Paul,

 

I certainly can agree with the less 'showy' perspective. It is representative of how I was raised here in the U S. in a progressive environment. "Walk humbly with your God". Do justice and love mercy. I can tell you that his is close to the heart of the people who sponser this website.

 

Myron

Edited by minsocal
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Also, in this age of the Internet, Wi-Fi cell phone connections, and Facebook and Twitter, young people have more alternative options of connecting towards other people and forming communities of their own outside of traditional institutions like the church. Considering though that atheists still remain the most hated minority group in the U.S., even more than gays and Muslims, I suspect many non-religious people who identify as "spiritual but not religious" may be doing so to avoid anti-atheist bigotry and the number of people who don't believe in God may be higher when you take the prevalence of anti-atheist bigotry into account.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Paul,

 

"Walk humbly with your God". Do justice and love mercy. I can tell you that his is close to the heart of the people who sponser this website.

 

Myron

 

I have no doubt - I fully agree. 'Showy' wasn't the best word (as I mentioned) but I was just trying to point out that a lack of religous affiliation doesn't neccessarily lead to a loss of spirituality, so I don't neccessarily see there being a 'gap' per se (at least not in my culture in Australia).

 

Whilst there is a decrease in religous affiliation, this doesn't neccessarily coincide with "an urge toward the spiritual" decreasing, at least from what I see and read.

 

As Neon points out, many of these people 'connect' through means not available 20 years ago.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Paul's suggestions about the ways non-religious may fill the gap

  • political activism
  • sport
  • other recreational activities
  • war
  • eastern and other foreign traditions

 

are interesting. To a list not specific to any country I would add *the arts and *experiences of nature

 

For myself, I wonder if I would have gravitated towards PC if I hadn't attended a church with my parents (from 0 to around 20). I think it'd be much less likely. Not only did I feel the loss as I left behind a familiar routine, belief system and crowd, I was tuned in to the power of the symbols and stories of Christianity. My friends raised in secular households who are still 'nones' have found diverse routes to connecting with like-minded communities and with their spiritual side, for example in volunteering, paid work, hiking and long-distance running.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I myself have been a person who spent his whole life in the community of the church. all activities were with other christians - socialising, sport, music, church meetings. Now i find myself less involved in church, I am finding community elsewhere. I have started volunteering, and am involved in music, with people who arent from a christian background. If anything i have found it refreshing, and it has put an end to the 'keep with your own kind' and 'dont be part of "the world"' undercurrent that i was brought up with.

 

Of course the result may be 'bowling alone', but the bonus of secular communities is that they are more likely to be open to all walks of life, and not just those who think/live/look like you do.

 

J

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Also, in this age of the Internet, Wi-Fi cell phone connections, and Facebook and Twitter, young people have more alternative options of connecting towards other people and forming communities of their own outside of traditional institutions like the church.

 

I think it remains to be seen whether Internet 'friends' (sometimes virtual friends) will provide the same benefits as real communities.

 

George

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it remains to be seen whether Internet 'friends' (sometimes virtual friends) will provide the same benefits as real communities.

 

George

 

I don't think 'virtual friends' are the same, but I see the internet being used to create communities that meet in person. I have a friend from the UK working in Australia who set up a Facebook site inviting other people who might be working in the city without friends & family from home - within a couple of months the site now has about 150 members, with 50 or so people coming together every few weeks or so. Similarly, groups of like minded individuals are starting clubs and groups on the internet which then morph into real life get togethers and meetings (car clubs, gaming groups, fishing clubs, etc).

 

I know your point George and I agree that a virtual friend really can't replace a friend in the flesh, but I think the internet is being used more and more to 'connect' these people whom then go off in their various communties.

 

For me personally, this forum is about the only christian community I participate in as I find attending chruch unpalatable. Whilst it might not be the same as socialising with peoplein the flesh, it's the difference between some participation and no participation.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I know your point George and I agree that a virtual friend really can't replace a friend in the flesh, but I think the internet is being used more and more to 'connect' these people whom then go off in their various communties.

 

I am reading a very interesting book now titled "Connected: How Your Friends' Friends' Friends Affect Everything You Feel, Think and Do." One thing that becomes very clear is the profound influence that social connections have on us (good and bad). Since we were living in caves, this has been largely face to face. To the extent that these connections become frayed or disappear, I wonder what will happen.

 

In some cases, virtual communities (such as this) can be additive. But, I know of people who have almost closed themselves off from tangible face-to-face relationships and live social lives almost exclusively on FaceBook and the like.

 

George

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

But, I know of people who have almost closed themselves off from tangible face-to-face relationships and live social lives almost exclusively on FaceBook and the like.

 

George

 

There certainly are those George, but I'd like to think that they're the types who wouldn't do much face to face socializing anyway. Perhaps they have a higher quality of socializing given the protection the Internet offers. There are certainly cases of face-to-face groups cutting themselves from society to.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Paul,

 

I don't disagree with anything you have said. I guess my main point is that today we have new form of community that is to some extent replacing old forms. It is qualitatively different and whether this is good, bad or neutral remains to be seen.

 

George

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have no doubt - I fully agree. 'Showy' wasn't the best word (as I mentioned) but I was just trying to point out that a lack of religous affiliation doesn't neccessarily lead to a loss of spirituality, so I don't neccessarily see there being a 'gap' per se (at least not in my culture in Australia).

 

Whilst there is a decrease in religous affiliation, this doesn't neccessarily coincide with "an urge toward the spiritual" decreasing, at least from what I see and read.

 

As Neon points out, many of these people 'connect' through means not available 20 years ago.

 

Paul,

 

To be clear, Searle is a nativist. When he talks about "an urge towards the spritual" he means "innate urge". Searle is also honest when he says he does not understnd this in the least. Jung said much the same thing, but had an inling as to why. Whenever G-d is extruded from life, something else of equal standing will take over. In other words, the "gap" will always be filled, but with what? Sometimes the "gap" is filled with rather unsavory ideologies. The reason I read Darwin, Jung, Searle, Haidt and Valent is that they look at the larger picture and are willing to accept what they see. But, that is not enough for them. Each, in their own way, are concerned with "doing justice". Darwin knew that his theory of evolution would shake the theistic world. At the same time he said that if we discovered that the remaining institutions were the cause of human misery it would be "our greatest sin".

 

Myron

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I guess my main point is that today we have new form of community that is to some extent replacing old forms. It is qualitatively different and whether this is good, bad or neutral remains to be seen.

George

 

Let's hope for the good then.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Darwin knew that his theory of evolution would shake the theistic world. At the same time he said that if we discovered that the remaining institutions were the cause of human misery it would be "our greatest sin".

 

Myron

 

Too true.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

.

 

I know your point George and I agree that a virtual friend really can't replace a friend in the flesh, but I think the internet is being used more and more to 'connect' these people whom then go off in their various communties.

 

There's also sites like Meetup.com where you can use it to start groups to meet up with like minded people over a common interest. Another issue is that it seems like churches in general don't really have very good programs for college aged students. Like most churches generally have a very good youth group that does a really good job of keeping kids actively involved in the church through various social activities and community events but then it's like you get to college and the church forgets about your class. Churches will have lots of activities for high school students and adults but they just don't do anything for college kids.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

There's also sites like Meetup.com where you can use it to start groups to meet up with like minded people over a common interest. Another issue is that it seems like churches in general don't really have very good programs for college aged students. Like most churches generally have a very good youth group that does a really good job of keeping kids actively involved in the church through various social activities and community events but then it's like you get to college and the church forgets about your class. Churches will have lots of activities for high school students and adults but they just don't do anything for college kids.

 

I interact with a few people on the internet. It has taken me a long time to really know them. I have to ask a lot of questions because I cannot see their faces or observe their body language. Darwin wrote about this. We need visual contact to confirm communications. A large part of the human brain is dedicated to this task.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I interact with a few people on the internet. It has taken me a long time to really know them. I have to ask a lot of questions because I cannot see their faces or observe their body language. Darwin wrote about this. We need visual contact to confirm communications. A large part of the human brain is dedicated to this task.

 

That makes me wonder just how humans may evolve further. Maybe that's why in sci-fi movies aliens have little bodies & big eyes - they've been sitting all day in front of the computer :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That makes me wonder just how humans may evolve further. Maybe that's why in sci-fi movies aliens have little bodies & big eyes - they've been sitting all day in front of the computer :)

 

That is funny.The big eyes are not an accident though. For some stange reason humans find large eyes very compelling. Not just large, but in a specific ratio to facial dimenions. Ancient artifacts often display humans with eyes larger than normal, again in a specific and repeated ratio to facial dimensions. Thats how sci-fi goes back and forth between aliens in the past and alien in the future. I stumbled across all this while reading Julian Jaynes' theories on the evolution of consciousness. The precision of eye-to-facial ratios across artifacts from different cultures is yet a mystery.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

terms of service