supernatural successor

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At the risk of exhibiting a prematurely triumphalism, Nigel Barber's upcoming study looks promising. He wonders, "Why do modern conditions produce atheism?"

In a new study to be published in August, I provide compelling evidence that atheism increases along with the quality of life. [...] The reasons that churches lose ground in developed countries can be summarized in market terms.

First, with better science, and with government safety nets, and smaller families, there is less fear and uncertainty in people's daily lives and hence less of a market for religion. At the same time many alternative products are being offered, such as psychotropic medicines and electronic entertainment that have fewer strings attached and that do not require slavish conformity to unscientific beliefs.

The study's abstract is intriguing:

Findings show that disbelief in God increased with economic development (measured by lower agricultural employment and third-level enrollment). Findings further show that disbelief also increased with income security (low Gini coefficient, high personal taxation tapping the welfare state) and with health security (low pathogen prevalence). Results show that religious belief declines as existential security increases, consistent with the uncertainty hypothesis.

As people's actual lives improve, there is less need to imagine a supernatural successor.

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on July 15, 2011 6:23 PM.

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