So why is it that America is by far the most religious developed country in the world? And why is the rest of the world rapidly abandoning religion in favor of scientific progress?
Simply put, the rest of the world has had over 400 years to grow up; whereas the U.S. has only had half as long. We started out almost entirely consisting of Calvinists who stubbornly resisted knowledge and progress, and their descendants in large swaths of the country still stubbornly cling to the ignorance and bigotry fostered by their fundamentalist Christian forebears.
We started out almost entirely consisting of Calvinists
No, most of the rest of the world didn't even consist of Christians, and at no point was even a plurality of Europe Calvinist.
Though I will agree with you as a theist and a Christian that John Calvin's followers are exasperating.
Quite right. Most of Europe was not Calvinist, but many of those who were hightailed it to America where they had the freedom to practice their inhumane form of Presbyterianism unimpeded. Most of my extended family when I was growing up in the 40's were Presbyterians, and they hated everybody who wasn't a white Protestant. They went to church on Sunday morning, then came home and spent the afternoons ranting on how all the catholics, jews, n*****s, whops, spics, liberals, Mormons, and FDR should be "lined up against a wall and shot down like dogs." They believed that this is what Jesus wanted. To my great satisfaction, when I engaged a unitarian minister to conduct my father's funeral, the family disowned me and never spoke to me again. Ain't religion wonderful?
Because America is the most religiously free nation on the planet.
Simply put, the rest of the world has had over 400 years to grow up; whereas the U.S. has only had half as long.
So, you're saying Australia is going to get as bad as the US before it gets better?
And why is the rest of the world rapidly abandoning religion in favor of scientific progress?
Because science offers a more robust, and accurate, model of the world.
So why is it that America is by far the most religious developed country in the world?
I've heard that it's partly because of the explicit separation of church and state, which forces the churches to actively proselytise to gain more members. In the UK and even (I think) Denmark, the state sponsors an official religion... the irony being that without all the proselytising, people stop believing it.
In retrospect...we were more secular through the 1800's, especially for that time period...with religion being present, counted as important, but not overriding in too many areas.
When Science started to explain things, newspapers became more common, more people were literate...two conflicting issues arose.
1) We started to actually KNOW why some stuff happened.
2) People who had a vested interest in NO ONE KNOWING why some stuff happened, started a Luddite type campaign....well, they WERE Luddites, so, it was expected.
So, the Luddites were manipulated into becoming a derogatory term for those who reject the modern world.
The religious vested interests then continued to campaign against anything new essentially. The old ways were best, don't trust science, its scary.
Slavery was being questioned as perhaps unfair to the slaves...the bible was there to prove it was sanctioned by God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit...but, they lost ground, except in the South.
In the SOUTH, because the biblical version of how things worked was NOW a vital part of their economy...the southerners became VERY religious, and thumping the bible was a deafening roar of defiance against the sinners up North.
They became more and more VESTED in the bible being RIGHT, because, otherwise, that meant they were bad people.
So, in the south...the bible bunch swelled like a fast growing tumor.
Then Darwin came along, and, the fan blades peppered the entire country with Luddite Excrement.
Now, it was a war. The Christians in charge realized the conflict. If people understood evolution, the entire foundation of Christianity was in danger of being undermined.
THAT meant that a misinformation campaign was needed to undermine the science.
(Same tactic used by asbestos industry, tobacco industry, and, now a days, big oil/coal industries...)
So, in the south, and, as Southerners spread west, westerners in THAT end of the bible belt, were already extremely vested in the bible being right (So that they are not bad people), and, it was Under Attack (TM).
So, the war on science and the concerted efforts to make sure their kids were dumber'n door nails...was underway.
So, that's why, for the most part...the most ignorant racist homophobic ant-science Luddite descendants are in charge and running the place.
The emphasis on religion in the south had other collateral damage. The slaves were indoctrinated, and, yes, it was even easier to keep THEM illiterate, you could kill one if it could read, etc...So, the poor slaves were raised as VERY VERY religious.
As Christianity was DESIGNED from the ground up for this exact scenario...to control a group that WOULD be motivated to rise up and kill you in your sleep, you know, for making them and their wives and kids slaves, etc...
And, they were taught that the more they suffered now, the greater reward in heaven, and the bible says right here that slaves have to be loyal to their masters to go to heaven, and that I CAN beat you, because you NEED TO BE BEATEN, and you'll be reunited with your son I sold last year, and your dog will be waiting for you, and just hang in there, your reward is coming in heaven, HALLELUJAH!
And, like the survivors of Chinese reprogramming camps, slavery was over, but they were staggering out into the daylight, with no CLUE what was out there....and conditioned with so much BULLSHIT designed to keep them docile, that they were like putty in the hands of the masters who simply re-enslaved them, but CALLED them indentured servants who had to work to pay off all those years of being taken care of....and so did their kids, etc.
So, the SLAVES were raised so that THEY had to have faith in the bible, or, ALL THEIR SUFFERING WAS FOR NOTHING.
So, now all THESE victims are in the south, west, and, came north too....carrying the plague of having to have the bible be true.
And, well, here we are.
@TJ, you have the oddest view of history sometimes.
America was hardly secular through the 1800s. Bible study was taught in public schools. In the 1840s we started Catholic schools in Philadelphia just because the public schools wouldn't agree to use the King James bible only half the time.
The printing press and newspapers came along before most modern science. High levels of literacy in the population came as the result of the printing press creating lots of Bibles, which were the reason early populations learned to read.
Luddites were a labor movement that objected to early machinery because such automation reduced the demand for manual labor. They had nothing at all to do with science or whatever you're claiming. A modern Luddite-type movement would be if taxi drivers and truckers started smashing self-driving Uber cars and tractor-trailers.
Lots of science has been and continues to be done by religious people, even priests, from the earliest days of most disciplines. Copernicus, Roger Bacon, Ockham, DeSoto, etc. Major figures in the development of genetics and evolution theory like Mendel, Lamarck, etc. also were religious.
Almost all abolitionists were religious people, who based their anti-slavery stance on their faith. Some slaveowners were Deists or largely areligious like Jefferson. And of course those Chinese reprogramming camps were perpetrated by an atheist regime.
Slavery has been justified by some slaveowners on Biblical grounds, you're correct. Slavery and oppression and segregation have also been justified by lots of folks on evolutionary / Darwinian grounds. The only moral we can derive from that is whether religious or atheist, assholes spew shit.
Looping back around to the original question, the kernel of truth in @TJ's post is that there is a uniquely American religious movement that began with what historians call the Great Awakening of the early 19th century. This was Calvinist in its origins, and had from its beginning a very anti-intellectual outlook. Anyone could be a preacher/minister without any education. This is the tradition of revival tent meetings in America.
Out of that tradition came various apocalyptic churches like the Jehovahs, the Pentecostals, the 7th Day Adventists, etc. Mormonism also sprung from this movement, though it developed much differently after its first generation. It was also was the origin of the YMCA and some other civic groups.
This was actually a northern movement, not a southern one, with its origins in rural New York and the northern Midwest. The Great Awakening, however, also energized the small baptist churches across the American South and in some ways took them over. Their membership increased dramatically.
There were features of the American frontier in particular and rural American in general that made it easy for this style of religion to catch on and propagate. It was far from the centers of learning, with few academically trained ministers available. It appealed to rugged individualism and personal liberty of the no-damned-intellectual-is-going-to-tell-me-what-to-think sort. As a pioneers' religion, it spread across the central and mountain states until it hit Spanish/Catholic California.
By and large, the northern Great Awakening was abolitionist, while the southern American Baptists that adopted Great Awakening ideas were pro-slavery, at least in the white churches, and later pro-segregation. So the interest in slavery and segregation wasn't really correlated with religion but was rather an economic - social caste issue. White American Baptists and southern Great Awakening religions are still very anti-black (and antiSemitic, and antiCatholic). Northern Great Awakening religions avoid most of that.
What has happened since the Reagan years is that the two groups have found more common cause over social/personal morality issues and now vote together as a rural churches "block" of sorts in the pioneer states of the Great Plains, the intermountain west, and the formerly Confederate South.
I did say more secular, for the times, and, I did say, that they would say religion was important.
I then showed why the SOUTH would be different from the NORTH.
Seventh Day Adventists are NOT why the SOUTH is more of a bible belt than the NORTH.
Admit the proslavery REGIONS used the bible to justify their actions at least.
Overlap the maps of traditional bible thumpers and slave owners.
So NORTHERN sects of NEW religions did NOT make the SOUTHERN slave owners use their bibles to justify owning slaves...the southerners had their own bibles.
And, sure, the entire country was racist...because of the times...but, one side fought and freed the slaves...and the other fought to keep the slaves.
The people with a vested interest in things being a certain way, more strongly believed they were a certain way. THAT is also a hallmark of the religious in general.
Human nature tends towards rationalization to assuage cognitive dissonance.
The reason why the South is different from the North is economic. Yes, religious people in the south rationalized slavery and segregation with religion; scientific-minded people from the south rationalized slavery and segregation with notions of genetic inferiority, Darwinism, and eugenics. Literary-minded people wrote essays, stories, and poetry.
The cause however, was economic, reinforced by social castes. Those forces were so strong that they caused splits within religions, for example between Northern and Southern Baptists or within the Methodists.
In the north, religious people were militant abolitionists, and led the effort to exterminate slavery. Quakers, Methodists, immigrant Catholics. Literary-minded people wrote extensively against slavery. Only the secularists and the scientific-minded eugenicists in the North were more open to segregation and repression, and advanced the notion that black peoples were inherently inferior.
So yes, people with vested interests tended to respond with self-interest, often in spite of their religion, or their science, or their politics on other issues. That's not a hallmark of religion, it's a characteristic of humanity.
What's more interesting is the behavior of those without vested interests. Northerners had no particular vested interest in eliminating slavery; in some ways, American slavery gave them cheap raw materials for textile plants. Nevertheless, it was the northern religious who were willing to go out of their way at great sacrifice to militantly oppose slavery:
"In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
with a glory in his bosom that transfigures you and me,
as he died to make men holy let us die to make men free!
His truth is marching on..."
The Battle Hymn of the Republic, the anthem of the North, was a religious call to arms after all. Glory, glory Hallelujah!
The country was founded by religious refugees, for one thing. I'm sure the way the country got started has had a lot to do with it.