Researchers from the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago say older people are more likely to believe in god. They assert this to be true unilaterally throughout the world. Per the article:
Across the world, people have varying levels of belief (and disbelief) in God, with some nations being more devout than others. But new research reveals one constant across parts of the globe: As people age, their belief in God seems to increase. The new study is based on data collected as part of the General Social Survey by researchers at the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago.... "This suggests that belief in God is especially likely to increase among the oldest groups, perhaps in response to the increasing anticipation of mortality."...."Belief in God has decreased in most countries, but the declines are quite modest, especially when calculated on a per annum basis," the researchers write in their April 18 report of the survey....."If the modest, general trend away from belief in God continues uninterrupted, it will accumulate to larger proportions and the atheism that is now prominent mainly in northwest Europe and some ex-Socialist states may spread more widely," they write, adding that it is possible the trend could go the other way, with belief in God seeing a rebound.
Besides being afraid of death, I've heard the possible explanation that when a person gets older, they have so much time and resources invested, that it's hard to change, even though they may see more flaws in the belief. Also, if you're a leader in the church, it's going to be an embarrassment to admit you were wrong for so many years, and have the people that know you think you've went over to the satanic side.
Personally, I have a hard time understanding those viewpoints. I was brainwashed so thoroughly, that it, took me about 60 years to see religion was false, but when I did, my fear of death decreased to zero. My family are greatly disappointed in me, but I've always loved truth, and can no longer pretend I believe, no matter the cost.
I would think this would be a hard study to do and be objective. For example here in Canada, back in the '80s we had a 97% christian population compared to 77% in 2011. My question would be, where do they find "older people" who never had religion...ever? Stats may be different in 50 years when we have a larger population of seniors who never believed in the 1st place (right from childhood).
Gosh! I don't see that happening for me. The farther away I get from superstition the happier I become. Of course that could be I have no great responsibilities now that my family is grown, and I enjoy my children more than I ever have, with the grandkids and great-grandkids just frosting on the cake. I have no problem at all with the concept of something came from nothing and evolved into this incredibly magnificent planet with humans doing all they can to destroy it.
The institutions of our culture, i.e. family, church, education, medicine, economics and politics have never seemed to be able to work together for the benefit of all the people of the world. Never have so many worked so hard for the benefit of so few.
The production of our culture opens up the world to us where we can go to conferences sitting in our comfortable chairs, and tour great museums and read books of our choosing. We can even read and talk about socialism and perform work that benefits our families and neighbors.
No, I think religion is on the decline and the sooner the better, as far as I am concerned. We don't have to have a church to have community, we can just harvest a bunch of produce from our gardens, put them in a wheelbarrow and go around the neighborhood giving away my produce and accepting their oversupply. Thankfully, one neighbor grows zucchini, another has different kinds of tomatoes, so by the end of the day, we have fresh fruits and vegetables, refreshing conversations, and shared community chores. We all watch the kids from birth to fledging, and then watch the next generation come back for visits. We sit with one another when one of us goes through the process of dying and we celebrate their lives, even as they return to the earth. Our cats and dogs and ducks and chickens, birds, squirrels and mice continue to entertain and we all celebrate their gifts to us when they die, even as we watch the next generations of critters come into our lives.
Religion rebound? Why? What is the point? Who cares? What does it matter? We are honest and kind and caring and helpful and generous with each other without god or some unknowable, unseeable, unhearable, untouchable delusional element.
When I was beaten, no god answered my prayers, or church community stood between me and my abuser. Rather they gave me imperatives: submit, yield, turn the other cheek, pray, acquiesce. Sick! Sick! Sick!
When I was hungry no god or church community provided food for me and my children.
When I was homeless no god or church community put a roof over our heads or invited us in.
What did work for me was to run away, go to a local grocer and trade labor for food.
The good news is shedding all the old bromides, the old traditions and customs, refusing to submit to destructive values, and opening doors of possibilities. I had no role to live down to; I had no guilt sitting on my shoulders weighting me down. I had no preacher or god-believer turning my brain into mush.
So, what would I or anyone gain by going religious in our old age?
Well said Joan!
At 60 I've never had religion as part of my life and never will.
I agree with Joan. I didn't fully come OUT as an atheist until maybe three or four years ago, and I was, for the large portion, an apatheist before that. I find myself buoyed by the words of people like Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins, and of course, the incomparable Christopher Hitchens, who have given verbal definition to attitudes I have held in one form or another, but never thought to express as they did. I look back on my 30-plus years as an engineer, at the rationality expressed in its means and methods and cannot help but notice that religion enjoys no such reinforcement and never will.
And I find that death is nothing to fear or be intimidated by, that the final loss of consciousness I will one day experience will be no more daunting than my nightly excursion into sleep ... except that I mean to enjoy the days that I have and can share with my wife for as long as I can.
Religion has neither purpose nor place in my life, FULL STOP.
I like those fellows, too. They clearly state their positions and rationale. They don't pussy-foot around or try to sound nice; they do feed my anger, but that is a good thing for me because of decades of suppression. I won't be angry for ever. Hopefully I will become wiser.
Being an engineer may offer a concept or scaffold upon which to build a concept of no-evidence-of-god. Learning a little about physics, geology, and the scientific methods, observation, and testing, made more sense than the confusing, contradictory, hypocritical evidence I experienced from teachings and practices of religion.
Also, understanding life is energy and energy changes, especially with organic life, it is easy to see death as a process; the only time and place we have is now. So if I want to be happy, or healthy, or love, or be loved, or wise, or whatever, I have to do it now.
One other reason I feel less of a need for religion in my life and suspect a growing proportion of the population perceives less need is that religious values underlay the harm done to women, GLBT, people of color, other races, creeds, and cultures. Being defined as "other", historically, profoundly impacts people' lives. Emotional wounds, although unseen, matter.
A spiritual nature exists, as when looking at a newborn, or grieving the loss of a loved one, or knowing grinding poverty exists side by side with extreme wealth, but these are not religious, they are more a sense of wonder. Is there a word for that? "Full of wonder", perhaps? or "wonderful". No, there is a better word for the feeling one gets when filled with awe or grief.
Dan, right on topic as far as I am concerned. Natural processes have a kind of equality or indifference to them. A storm rips trees of poor and wealthy. Of course, it is more difficult for a poor person to recover and access to resources often are not there, but the strength, power, ingenuity, inventiveness and imagination of some poor folks can be awesome.
Natural indifference is why I don't fear most natural processes, but am afraid of what people can do to each other.
I've always found beauty in natural things, and none in most man-made things.