Tuesday, March 22, 2011

the late, great religion in Europe

A research group has developed a fancy-pants mathematical model (nonlinear dynamics) demonstrating that religion will eventually die out completely in nine Western countries--they demur on when.

For the eggiest of heads out there, there's the actual study. (I notice they control for perturbation, using a normalized coupling kernel for spatial coordinates. Which is totally what I would have done.)

To establish kairos, the researchers write in the intro that

people claiming no religious affiliation constitute the fastest growing religious minority in many countries . . .

which just might be true, for all I know. It is misleading, however, when talking about religious affiliation in the U.S. to use the phrase "those claiming no religion" to describe this group, since even our "nones" remain spiritual if not denominational. They may not relish in the joy of sects, but U.S. nones generally believe in divine beings and the afterlife. No idea whether this is true also for the nones in Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland.

Most fascinating to me about the study is the emphasis on group dynamics and fitness. Religion dies in these countries because religious groups aren't as strong as other social groups people can join. So religious belonging becomes self-fulfilling: the more people belong, the more people will belong. And the opposite.

1 comment:

  1. The "religion as social group" emphasis seems to have come on strong in the last few years, but maybe that is just a projection of my own feelings. I find the development fascinating: religion vs. theology, perhaps? with religion (the collection of signs in a social and moral code) winning over any truth claims.