“Interestingly, we found that religion is less likely to thrive in populations living in cities in developed nations where there is already a strong social support network.”
Well, gee whiz. Could it be that religion perpetuates itself more because of ignorance than because of some presupposed natural tendency? Cripe, I thought those fuckers at Oxford were smart.
Currently more than one billion people around the world define themselves as agnostic, atheist or nonreligious — including 15 percent of Americans. Perhaps more striking, “nonreligious” is not only the fastest growing religious preference in the U.S., but also the only one to increase its percentage in every state over the past generation.
There was no actual research as far as I can tell, rather, it was a summation of other research. The conclusion that religion is an innate property of the human genetic makeup is hardly a new proposal. Personally I think that the propensity that humans have for religiosity is a part of our genetic deck of cards – some of us got better hands dealt to us than others. So, my response to the study is, “well, duh!”
hey jim - Yea!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! it's about time. . .
re: growth of the 'nonreligious".
It's simply a lot easier to say "God did it" than it is to do the research that formulates a hypothesis that explains the data while consistent with verifiable evidence. Indeed, that whole process requires that your culture produces a Sir Francis Bacon who can elucidate the whole procedure in the first place. In most cultures, that never happens. If you are a New Guinean tribesman, and your culture has never produced a Sir Francis Bacon, you're stuck with religion as an explanation.
Humans are curious. We want to know "why." And "God did it" provides an easy answer. And as soon as some king finds out that some priest is useful for keeping the exploited peasants in line, you've got a religion. People accept it because if affords them a sense of community.
I don't think that humans are as predisposed to religion as much as they are predisposed to 1) being born into a natural state of ignorance, 2) being curious, and 3) being intellectually lazy. If you doubt the latter, just ask any high school teacher. Religion provides easy answers, plausible enough that you don't have to think about them - and indeed, you are positively discouraged from thinking about them.
As to how to combat religious thinking, that one's easy. Teach critical thinking, reason and logic (and moral philosophy) from the first grade right through high school, and do it with rigor, for the entire time, so that critical thinking becomes a lifelong thought pattern. It is no secret that the lowest rates of belief are among the highly educated, and highest among the least educated. So it is clear that education is key to the cure for this preventable disease. And that is why you'll never see this happening in the United States.
That is why I am very skeptical to the notion that there is an inborn propensity for religion - it is simply a confluence of other factors.
I've always attributed religion to our own self-aggrandizing nature. People just can't wrap their heads around the entirety of their experiences just getting turned off upon death. As if the universe wouldn't exist without humanity. Plausability has nothing to do with it. Some people have just built our own selfish experiences up in their heads they can't possibly see the world going around without them. We've been here for all of 200,000 years; this rock has been here for billions and you are going to tell me that this was made as our own personal playland? Absolutely ridiculous. It just boggles my mind...
My wife once asked me if I think my life has any meaning without an afterlife. I told her that I think my life has even more meaning because I KNOW I only have my 76.5 years or so and that's that. I cherish every moment because I know we don't have some BS eternity to look forward to. So I sure as hell won't waste my precious moments in some church praying to something that doesn't exist.
Indeed, when asked such a question from a believer in an afterlife, respond by asking
"tell me what do you propose doing in the first thousand years of your afterlife, and then the next million, then the next billion . . . Some people do not even know what to do now on a single wet Sunday afternoon."