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6 Reasons Religion is Dying

Updated on October 7, 2015
Source

Declining Religion In the Modern World

Religion in developed countries is declining - but why so fast? It is estimated that soon 9 countries will be comprised entirely of non-believers.

In most other developed countries there has been recent significant decline. The UK for example took just 10 years to make a full u-turn and tilt the balance from being a country comprised mainly of religious believers to a country predominantly of non-believers.

The decline is even seen in the USA, a country known for being very religious. In the years 1990-2008, the percentage of Christians in the population fell from 86.2% to 76%.

As our societies change and develop, so too must our understanding of them. So why is it that our developed countries are seeing such a dramatic fall in religious adherence?

1. Choice

  • Upbringing- Today, with more rights and more freedom, it is more present in cultures to give children the choice to believe in a religion or not. There is no one right way of behaving anymore. It used to be that parents would teach their children to be of a particular religion from a young age. This was because everyone else in the community was too, and it would be good for the child to fit in with the community. There was simply no alternative. People did not want their child to be looked upon as an outsider because they failed to teach their children the views that everybody else had taken.
  • Multiculturalism- With the relatively new acceptance of new peoples and their cultures and views, people see that there are in fact alternatives to what they were taught as children and so understand that perhaps their way was not the best one. Thus, parents now have the choice of teaching many different views and morals, and children have the choice to choose them - all as a result of the new knowledge of the different ways that people live.

Result

  • Diffusion - Naturally, with the introduction of new choices, religion will have lost some of it's members to non belief simply because it is was a new choice to take.
  • Spoiled With Choice- Many children now see that there are over 100,000 different denominations of religion and none of them have any more evidence than the other. Hence, the value of truth that one religion has over another simply isn't there for them, many then decide that choosing one to follow on no more grounds than another is illogical.

Source

2. Education

  • Schools
    Linking back to the idea that there are more choices and rights; the modern schooling system accelerates the effects of of new choices by allowing for an unbiased teaching of different cultures and ideas. In many countries, it is mandatory for all school children to go through religious studies and understand the basic views of different religions. This then goes back to the idea that each religion is given less weight because children are no longer taught that only their parents' religions are correct and all of the others are ludicrous. They now see that religions have very large similarities and that one religion is not worth anymore than another. Many choose then to believe that all religions are worthless since they cannot choose the right one.
  • Information - With the invention of the internet and it's availability to citizens of modern societies, information is no longer a luxury reserved for the richest. People can now check certain facts that religious leaders have claimed in the past and see that they were simply lies. An example of this is Pope Benedict XVI's view that condoms are evil which has seen widespread opposition. People can find different views on topics such as these on the internet or in libraries, and see that perhaps the Pope's view is incorrect. Thus, whereas before religion had authority because leaders seemed to know certain things that the masses did not, now, everyone can know as much as everybody else thanks to the better information availability.
  • With the improvement of science, many questions that could not be answered before such as what is in space or how did organisms come to be, have been answered. Questions that would have otherwise lead people to religion because no other option was offered to them, now have many different theories. There is no necessary need for a God because other alternatives have been thought up of and so naturally some people will choose the different alternatives.

Uncanny?

Some people see vague similarities between Darth Sidious and the Pope
Some people see vague similarities between Darth Sidious and the Pope | Source

3. Bad Press

In recent times, the media has featured news relating to crimes that religious leaders and authorities have committed. Stories of catholic priests committing crimes of paedophilia and the pope opposing homosexual relationships make some people wonder whether religion really helps create morality and whether the beliefs are at all valuable. Ideas such as female circumcision and inequality of women in particular religious societies also throw up questions of whether being religious is at all valuable to a person or society.

4. It's Unnecessary/Counterproductive

Many people view religion as a burden on society or themselves. Ideas such as having to take time out to go to church every sunday, praying regularly, not eating pork, sexual abstinence, fasting, circumcision, being against homosexual relationships and abortions etc. can seem like a waste of time or immoral to some people. Therefore, many people simply decide that since they do not know which religion and set of rules they should follow (and which one would mean they wouldn't be punished eternally for not following is the right one), religion is simply irrelevant to their lives.
Also, some people find religious people and organisations who try to convert them such as jehova's witnesses and religious programs irritating and think that religion is too forceful, making them reluctant to associate themselves with these religions.

Source

5. Controlling Method & Wars

  • Many people find that since so many wars have been waged because of religious reasons, the world would be better without them.
  • Others see religion as a method of controlling the masses and cite politicians who use religion as a method of getting voters such as George W. Bush who despite committing many sins (criminal drunkenness etc.) still claims he is a Christian.

6. Free Thought and Logic

With the introduction of new rights and the encouragement to think freely and rationally, many people see religion today as something that is fundamentally irrational. In a literal sense, turning wine into water or healing people's ailments through touch may be seen as contradictory to modern science which can be said to have more proof.

Also, large problems arise with the very concept of God. The Abrahamic God is defined to having Omnipotence, Omniscience and Benevolence which many people argue is logically impossible.

An explanation of why this is follows.

Source

The Painful Truth

In a world with an all loving God, there would be no pain. But people get illnesses, injure themselves and suffer years of emotional pain. Why?

One argument is that God allows pain because it acts as negative feedback. When there is pain, we know that something is wrong and can then do something about it, and so pain can be a good thing. When we touch a hot stove we retract our hand almost immediately and thus the capacity for pain that God has given us was a kind gesture.

However, instead of making us suffer for mistakes like touching a hot stove, since he is omnipotent (all powerful), he could have simply protected us from every danger existing today. At the very least, he could have given us the knowledge to protect ourselves from these things; if we knew that touching the stove would damage our body, we would not do it.

Furthermore, there are many cases where pain cannot be logically perceived as being at all useful. Innocents who develop cancer do not benefit from the excruciating pain they have to endure without remedy. Those who live otherwise normal lives and end up becoming depressed and committing suicide because of emotionally traumatic experiences also do seem to benefit from the pain that has been inflicted upon them.

Source

The Choice to Wrong

Another argument for the existence of the Abrahamic God is that he gives us the choice of doing good or bad, inflicting pain upon others or giving pleasure, and it is based upon these decisions that decides whether pain exists or not. Therefore, any pain that exists is because of humans and their sinful actions (the definition of which has not yet been agreed upon) and not God, who is kind as he gave us the free will to choose.

However, we do not choose to suffer.

  1. We do not cause genetic mutations leading to cancer and hereditary illness which inevitably lead to our painful deaths
  2. We do not choose to be physically damaged by other humans
  3. We do not choose to be negatively affected by catastrophes
  4. We do not choose to be punished emotionally for other human actions, e.g. a spouse's infidelity affects both partners but was not the choice of the one being cheated on.

There are endless examples where pain is caused irrespective of human decisions. How could any loving being say that a child who contracts the flu and dies painfully is that child's fault?

Tied in with this point is that as shown in the story of Adam & Eve, humans are 'naturally' inclined to 'sin'. Adam bit the apple using his own free will and so Adam (and all other humans) needed to be punished.
However, it was God, as our divine creator, who created humans. Including their nature. He made Adam in a way that he would bite the apple. An analogy to this is building a robot programmed to kill someone and then punishing the robot when he does so. We knew the robot was going to do it, we made him to do it. It was our fault that the person the robot killed died. Just like it is God's fault for making us in a way he knew would end up in sin and suffering.

Therefore, God is either not malevolent because he knew we would suffer, not omniscient because he didn't know we would end up suffering or not omnipotent because he couldn't make us in any other way to stop us from suffering. He cannot be all three.

Another way of putting this is if he could do anything and knew everything, since he created our very nature, he must have wanted us to suffer - making him not all loving. Or, he may not have had the power to make us in any better way, making him not all powerful. Finally, he may not have known that we would end up suffering, making him not all knowing.

Either way, the way in which the Abrahamic God is defined cannot logically exist and thus the Abrahamic God cannot exist.

Source

A Parent/Child Relationship

The analogy of a parent and their child is made and you are asked whether or not the parent shielding their child from every danger is correct or not. Commonly you decide it is more right to let that child make mistakes and learn from them himself. Then, the comparison is drawn between we (the children) and God (the parent) and it is explained to you that this is why. But this is an incorrect analogy because in the real world children need to learn to think for themselves as parents will not always be there to protect them.

A relevant analogy would be a parent having the power to do absolutely anything, and then asking whether that parent would make it so that their child does not feel pain for the rest of his life or not. Here it is clearly cruel to allow your child pain where there would be no benefit from it, in the real world it would make for a valuable lesson and from the experience the child will gain more happiness than sadness. But where the parent, or God, has the power to prevent all pain forever, and chooses not to for no reason but to see the children suffer, it is sadistic. It neither benefits the child nor anyone else.

It may be argued that without pain, pleasure is unattainable. In actual fact this is a false statement and we don't need to ever feel pain to be happy, but since that's a different argument entirely, I'll take this illogicality as a fact for now. So If this concept of 'duality' (you can't have one without its opposite, no positive without any negative) exists then it exists as a direct result of God: if we were created by an omnipotent God, then he had absolute choice over the laws that governed us, including whether there was duality or not.

Put simply, an omnipotent god that could have done anything could have created the world so that no pain was needed in order to feel pleasure, after all, heaven boasts exactly this...


Heaven

Source

Ooh Heaven Is a Place on Earth... Not Quite.

What is the point of Heaven? God already knows exactly who will and who will not get into heaven. He is omniscient. He knew from the start. Why not just put everyone in there now and forego the suffering that happens on Earth?
The entire concept of heaven is contradictory to all of the above points Christians make about the worth of pain and free will. In Heaven we live forever and are given the free will to do whatever we want, but with the absence of pain. Heaven is a place where no pain exists, so why can't Earth be like that too?... Or, why can't we skip the pain on Earth and go straight to heaven instead? What is the point of a short painful life on Earth.

Best of all, since suicide is usually considered a terrible sin, there is no way for us to skip over a life on Earth!

Why then, you might ask, did God create Earth when we could have all just been put in heaven from the start?

There seems to be no logical explanation other than that of God not having one of the three: omniscience, omnipotence or benevolence.

If God does not have one of these three, then he ceases to be God, because by definition he has all three of these things. Therefore, the Abrahamic God cannot exist based on only the fundamental characteristics by which he is defined.

As such, many people upon realising this simply cannot adhere to any abrahamic religion. Of course, this also applies to any other religion that claims to have Gods with these three conflicting characteristics.

The Christian Fallback Argument

One last argument for the existence of God however is the following:

"Although it may seem this way to you and me, with our human logic, we cannot comprehend God's motives and so he must be doing the right thing but we simply don't understand it."

At this point you are told to forego logic altogether for blind faith, but many people find this hard to do after considering how consistently useful logic has been to them in their lives.

It then seems that these are the hurdles that have to be overcome by a person before becoming a member of an abrahamic religion:

  • No proof of God's existence
  • He is illogical by definition
  • Foregoing all human logic

When considering the impact of not using basic logic in your day to day life, it becomes obvious just how absurd it is to claim that you believe in something because logic is wrong. Here is just one scenario in the context of religion:

  1. A man on the street demands of you "give me all of your money or that man *pointing to an empty space* will not kill your children."
  2. You exclaim "what!? What man? And why would I want my children to die!?"
  3. The man replies "trust me, it's for the better."

    At this point, you are being told by a stranger that you must sacrifice your possessions to a person you cannot even perceive, who you are told has the power to do incredibly bad things and that you have to accept it for the best regardless of it seeming to you that it is inherently for the worst.

    In this case, giving the man your money would be considered lunacy.

    But for some not readily ascertainable reason, when people sacrifice the little precious time they have on Earth to worship a God that logically cannot exist, it is considered a reasonable lifestyle choice.

    After all, it is not like we are taught to be religious from a reliable source. We are typically taught by parental figures about religion from a young age. Unfortunately, since parents also walk on the streets, it is as useful to be told of Christianity by any stranger on the street.

    Becoming a parent does not grant superior existential knowledge, a fact sadly forgotten by many.

Thus I believe that even the Religious Fallback Argument that God defies logic becomes undesirable on putting it into context.

It is clear that the general public are willing to logically manoeuvre through their lives. Why then do some insist on forfeiting it in circumstances relating to religion? Only nurture can provide the answer: they were at some unfortunate point in time taught to. Their disregard, therefore, being a result of the human's readiness to believe in authoritative figures.

A Religionless Society - Perhaps more moral - Perhaps what God would have wanted.
A Religionless Society - Perhaps more moral - Perhaps what God would have wanted.

To Conclude

To conclude, religion is declining because of the increase in choice, education, information, bad press, the idea that it is useless/counterproductive and the realisation that its fundamental principles are illogical.

Perhaps it is a natural progression of society to leave religion and begin instilling morality through education and understanding, rather than fear and fallacies.

Religion is like the scaffolding of a society - It helps to support on its climb, but at some point it has to go to expand.

Other False Religious Arguments

Life Is Short In Comparison To Eternal Life
Arguing that because the duration of life on Earth is only a short time and eternity is well... eternal, then somehow the suffering God causes on Earth is justifiable is illogical. The facts remain that he could have surpassed this relatively short period of time of suffering and put us all straight into heaven.

God Wants Us To...
Any argument that involves saying "God wants us to..." which attempts to justify him making us suffer immediately makes God not benevolent. If God is all loving then he will forego his own desires for the good of us. After all, he sacrificed his own son for us, why would he not sacrifice himself?

Do you believe that the God described by the monotheisitic religions (omnipotent, omniscient and benevolent) would have to be a sadistic entity to exist at all?

See results

The Great Grayling Speaks on the Matter!

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    • Ivan Tod profile image

      Ivan Tod 7 months ago from Chester, ny

      Religion itself is not dying, the old god's system of rule by fear is and that's because the world is just too tired of it and too screw'd up to keep on with the "it's in gods hands" or "god works in mysterious ways" nonsense. The old ways were o.k for the old days and old ignorant minds but today is a new day and people are looking for a new better way. It should be obvious to anyone with at least half a brain that the worlds turmoil is based in religion which is based on the demands of their respective gods. If we rid ourselves of all the present religions we'll do two things; 1-rid the world of god based killings (which to date number in the billions) and make the world a better place for everyone, and 2-hold people responsible for their actions as with out gods to kill and maim for the perpetraitors can only attribute their actions to their own evil character and personality therefore they will no longer be able to hide behind their god when committing their acts of violence. I know some diehards will say it's not god or religion, it's the people who do these bad things but I would tell them to take a closer look at their own religious 'holy' books and they'll see that organized violence has been supported by their religious dogma since the beginning. And even if it is people doing the killing on a large scale, religion is somewhere in the shadows pushing, prodding and supporting the chaos. There is a better way, we just need to figure it out and get it going.

    • Doug Cutler profile image

      Doug Cutler 7 months ago from Temperance. Mich

      The internet best learning tool. The religions are not going to tell on themselves! Nicene conference 325. Threw out the belief in reincarnation and individual communication and salvation.

      I strongly believe in both!

    • Paul Shene III profile image

      Paul Shene 7 months ago from Portland, Oregon

      The Abrahamic God (Yahweh) was a result of a war god cult usurping societal control of a society that was polytheistic. That society was led by El, and the pantheon was known as the Elohim. The Yahweh cult violently wrecked the other sister religions of that pantheon (Baal worship, Asherah worship, et al) and put Yahweh on the throne of El forming the Judaic religion that existed since King Josiah. In Greece the equivelent would be Ares killing off the cult of Aphrodite, Poseidon, etc and calling Ares being the same god as Zeus. That absurdity is what the Bible relates through creative edits and intentional mistranslation.

    • profile image

      Sanxuary 7 months ago

      Your ideas as to why Religion is dying are not quite there. Most people today believe religion is a club and one must meet the membership requirements of its members. It is poorly taught and no one has a clue what to practice and what goals they are to achieve. Life is not about Earthly agendas and most are concerned only with Earthly agendas. Unbelievers have no idea what we practice and accuse us of hypocrisy. They ask the dumbest quetions to many of the most obvious answers. We fail to teach the real purpose. The purpose is to always seek truth and to recognize evil. To avoid sin but to also make good decisions to recieve good results. To spiritually mature and regardless of Earthly agendas to our souls at all cost. We are often to weak to cast the evil in our lives out to find happiness. We fail to choose the right things for fear of penalties that support our Earthly desires and often support evil indirectly. If our children read each verse and asked themselves how would this effect my personal sactuary, the sactuary of my home and my family, what would they learn? If we understood the journey to spiritual maturity we would spend less time judging others and are selves. We would know that it is a practice and nothing near perfection. We might practice something more once we left church. If you our a non-believer then let me tell you how hard it is to live in your world. If I judged myself on the works of others I would be in hell and never escape. Knowing this why would any believer judge me on attempting to belong to any part of this World. We live in a broken and very lost world and evil consumes it every day. Never from the aspects of free will do I believe that faith can be demanded of all people in this place. The best you might get is a secular society. Even If I die and never commit another sin I will still be a baby when it comes to spiritual maturity. I hardly expect people who practice nothing to achieve much. Most people do not even have the intestinal fortitude to make the changes that will make their lives better. A dumb question I hear from those who do not believe is how can a loving God allow so much suffering? God allowed free will and its people to unwise, unintelligent or just evil who bring you the suffering. We all die eventually and your goals in Heaven are far more important then the results on Earth. Believers have hidden their faith, been persecuted and have chosen their death over the agendas and demands of this world. How many believers are willing today to do that? If they demand that you recieve the mark tomarrow will you choose persecution? Will you choose death knowing eternal salvation is longer lasting then life today? If you can not convince the believers, then convincing the unbelievers is not going to happen. We need a better approach to faith and practice. We need to be allowed to practice and understand the difference between sin and what is just bad decision making. Half the parables are hardly understood in the context of better living. I am not Kosher but could write numerous reasons as to why its healthy living. Something as mundane to many believers was teaching control, good nutrician and how to prevent a number of health problems. Never not practicing it is considered a sin to most believers but it still has a reason for being there.

    • Ivan Tod profile image

      Ivan Tod 9 months ago from Chester, ny

      I will do that , Oztinato. If it turns out to be anything resulting in the existence of the Ethereal God of human religion systems I'll gladly acknowledge it. Talk to you soon!

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