The following quote from Michael Gerson came up in one of my Atheist Quote of the Day widgets, and I found it interesting. The quote is:
Britain is exhibit A for the secularization thesis - the idea that modernization and scientific rationality will cause religion to wither and die. That is manifestly false in places such as Africa, India or the Muslim world. Only in Europe does it feel true.
-- Michael Gerson
I believe that, at least anectdotally, it is true. I think the primary cause for this European Secularization is education - Europe has had a strong education system, by-and-large, for many many years (centuries?), maybe even since the Renaissance. As we all know education is the enemy of religion, and so I believe that education has help Europe finally break the bonds of religion.
Maybe that's why America is still largely religious - we haven't had a good education system until relatively recently. Just a thought.
I would love to know your thoughts on this - especially from our European members. Is Gerson's observation true? And if so, what do you believe is the cause?
Jacob - yes, that's when and why "under god" was added to the Pledge of Allegiance.
I feel that Australia is a secular country. We certainly have our loony tunes, but we do have an Atheist female, shacked up with her boyfriend Prime Minister. We don't have a problem in saying 'I am an Atheist.' Our education can be rubbish, I really don't know why we aren't more religious. You will generally find the better the education, where women have equality, the more secular the country.
When African-American children living in ghettos do not get an education, they will flounder. In America it certainly is education - when THE most intelligent man, with an I.Q. between 195 and 200, was a bouncer for 20 years, and is now shovelling pig poo, now that is a worry, all because he came from a deprived childhood. His name is Christopher Langan - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Langan.
When all these people fall through black holes, that's when the problems begin.
Fascinating biography Suzanne. Langan says he can prove the existence of god mathematically, but you have to wonder, who's sufficiently intelligent to check his work?
Think about his IQ for a moment - a human with an IQ of 1 would be nothing more than a lump of protoplasm, but a person with an IQ of 200, would be just as far above average, as the person with 1 is below.
Hello archaeopteryx, have been to your site - what a clever lad you are, wonder what your IQ is? :)
I generally don't take any notice of I.Q per se, I know intelligent and not so intelligent when I see it, especially, I know I am not. There are people on this site, that I am in awe, I only wish I had knowledge and turn of phrase that some of these people have. Langan is very bright, it doesn't matter how one looks at it. He doesn't need a test to prove it. One can see it in his writing, even if a lot of it I don't understand :) It is a shame Langan fell through a crack, and it is a real shame he believes he can prove the existence of god mathematically etc.
I don't understand science, my brain just goes into a fug, but I do understand fossil skeletons. Of course, evolution is a theory, but at least it is an ongoing search, when they find prehistoric dwarf skeletons, or the finding of Australovenator Wintonensis, around the 100 million years old, a ginormous dinosaur found in Queensland in 2009. This is just all part of why I am an Atheist.
But people like Langan, slipping through the cracks is still a shame, that is my general point. Who knows how many more like him are slipping through, who do have high I.Q's and who would make brilliant scientists, or generally productive human beings. I know, that generally, Australian education is being dumbed down, as is America. Australia is dumbing down education surreptitiously, but in America when Rick Perry wanted to 'pull' education, whatever that means, I nearly fell off my chair. Deja vu - George Bush. China is on the rise, one of the reasons being their completely subsidized education system.
Suzanne - RE: "wonder what your IQ is? :)"
Remember that lump of protoplasm I mentioned earlier? I'm about three IQ points down from that --
You couldn't be TOO short on intellect, you're here instead of at Mass, aren't you?
As for Little George "W" - don't get me started! To get the full W/Perry picture, you need to imagine W as a ventriloquist's dummy - not much of a stretch - sitting on Karl Rove's lap, with Rick Perry sitting on W's. Not a pretty picture.
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I'm German. I lived in Germany till I was 21, and I've been living in the States for about 4 years now. There is probably as many religious people back home, and I'm not sure why, but it seems we just handle religion differently. We have a LOT of churches in my hometown, and it doesn't feel like religion is "dead". A lot of my relatives go to church on Sundays, have a cross hanging in the living room, and their kids are altar boys. But they don't drag Jesus into every conversation, and we sure as hell don't drag religion into politics like it seems to be the norm here. Our politicians don't end every damn speech with "God bless Germany" ... I sure wish America would become more relaxed about these issues and actually BE a secular country. I mean, nobody here probably wants to live in a Theocracy like Iran, but what fundamentalist Christians don't seem to realize is that they are not too far off there, since they LOVE to take the Bible literally. Hey, who needs a justice system, just get some priests and let them decide if somebody should be stoned to death or put on a cross to die.
But maybe it has something to do with the USA being a very young country. European countries have been around forever, so maybe we've just had a little more time to realize what's good for us and what isn't, while the US is still a rebellious teenager trying to find its identity. As for Africa, India and the Muslim world, I would say, yes, poverty and a lack of proper education are probably to blame.
If america was left to it's own devices for that long it would be a crater, or a mega church. my observation of America is a 43 year old that still lives with his parents...
That's another way to look at it lol :) let's hope neither the crater or a mega church will be America's future.
Thanks. Those are some very interesting and insightful observations. We are a young country. We also are a spoiled country. I think we are going to have to grow up very soon or face dire consequences from our years of profligacy. The days of being just a dumb as we want to be are over. (I hope)
I agree, at least from the perspective of a UK dweller. I know very few people who ardently practice religion and have it as part of their lives. That may be partly because I deliberatly don't associate with people like that but I have certainly noticed at the very least religious people are civil when discussing the differences between their belief systems and the lack of mine.
I don't know if it has much to do with a higher standard of education or whether it has more to do with the fact the UK has had far far longer than America to kick the living sh*t out of each other over the identities of our various sky-daddies that we have realised that the practice is foolish and grudgingly tolerate other religions.