STUDY: RELIGION IN DECLINE, OR SOMETHING ELSE GOING ON?March 28, 2011
I ran across this very interesting article at physorg.com:
Well, we're all used to such studies being paraded and trumpeted every few years, usually by people or groups that would like nothing better than for religion to die completely. While I don't often comment on this subject on this site, this article intrigued me, because, looking at myself and using myself as a "basis of interpretation," I think perhaps the authors might be both onto something, and yet, missing something.
They seem to be onto something by their insight that social networking may be propelling the "extinction" of religion(and the religion in question, given the countries concerned in the study, can only be Christianity). The reasons, to me, seem to be clear from their premise itself: social networking allows those of similar mindsets to exchange ideas - oftentimes "heretical" ideas - quickly and easily, and it drives the "social discourse" at a speed faster than conventional religious apologetical methods of response can keep pace with.
But they seem to be missing something as well. Everyone on this site and the readers of my books know of my academic background in theology, and of my one-time strong connection to the world of Eastern Orthodoxy. I have, as most people are also aware, moved beyond or away from all that, to the extent that even discussing theological matters, for a variety of reasons, is very painful and difficult for me.
One reason that I, like many other people, have moved away from our former religious affiliations is that, in my case, I grew tired and dissatisfied with the stock-in-trade answers of theologians and apologists to things. I found myself unable to rationalize the moral, ethical, apologetical implications of some of the things I was finding, and found myself thinking that any further connection in an official way with "churchianity" as I like now to call it, would simply have been hypocritical under the circumstances.
I suspect many others are in a similar position: entertaining questions that increasingly are not being answered; lives being basically "run" by pastors, ministers, priests or rabbis: obey this rule, watch this date and time and don't do this and don't do that, while the larger questions being raised by alternative research go increasingly unanswered, except by the "specialist" who can only insist on his knowledge of ancient languages and insist "it just aint so, and you've got to trust me." Well, that's the point: no one, in today's age, is in a position to thump the credentials of their office, their autority in a church or religious or academic temple, and insist that people trust them. That, to my mind, is one reason religion is losing its ground: people are thinking for themselves, and it will only increase.
But for those thinking that the spiritual aspect of mankind is going to die and usher in a new golden age of materialism, think again. In my experience, those seeking answers that genuinely satisfy them and who, as a result, are abandoning or at least questioning their religious affiliations and authorities, are not, in my experience, abandoning their question for spirituality, for spiritual fulfillment and meaning. They are, as one person told me, literally stepping outside the box, and taking the blinders of dogma off, so that they can be free to ask the questions, and pursue the answers, freely.