Project Teen Canada has been conducting surveys on the religious affiliations of teenagers since 1984. Its latest findings show that Canadians are becoming more polarised into believers and non-believers. The number of faithless has grown almost three-fold whereas Christians have dropped below 50% for the first time. There has also been a steep rise in believers of other faiths, although this is largely due to immigrants. One minor point is that the new data for 2008 only adds up to 93% rather than 100%.

One interesting trend is that the grey area of uncommitted believers and agnostics is emptying out leaving the two poles of practising believers on one side and atheists on the other. The article writer obviously thinks this is a "bad thing", but that just exposes her own beliefs. Indeed there is a huge statistical blunder near the end of the piece. "For instance, 95 per cent of young people who “definitely” believe in God or a higher power also think this entity “expects us to be good to each other,” while just three per cent of atheists agree. As the percentage of religious teens falls, Bibby wonders just how that will affect our ethics and behaviour."

It doesn't seem to enter the writer's mind that as atheists do not believe in God then they can hardly then agree that God "expects us to be good". Indeed, perhaps 3% of atheists didn't understand the question, or perhaps as is seen in other surveys the category of atheist hides a lot of different philosophical positions.

Sadly, the article seems to think this is a worrying trend and the road to moral corruption. A tired and boring argument that somehow a carrot-and-stick deity is the best humanity can do to live a civil life. As one commenter says, kids nowadays want to be smart, they want to know, they want to be rational and scientific - I hope the Canadian education system satisfies these desires. If at some point in the future these kids also need to look inside themselves for some esoteric knowledge, then that too can be done scientifically without recourse to a phantom in the skies.

original at A World Beyond Belief.

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