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Stats Show Religion Disappearing in 9 Countries

Hugh Pickens writes (1984118) writes | more than 3 years ago

Math 3

Hugh Pickens writes writes "The tools of statistical mechanics and nonlinear dynamics have been used successfully in the past to analyze models of social phenomena ranging from language choice to political party affiliation to war and peace. Now the BBC reports that a mathematical model that explains historical census data of religious affiliation from 85 countries also predicts that religion is heading towards extinction in nine countries including Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland where increasingly high rates of citizens identify themselves as non-affiliated with religion. "In the Netherlands the number was 40%, and the highest we saw was in the Czech Republic, where the number was 60%," says Richard Wiener of the Research Corporation for Science Advancement. The idea behind the model is pretty simple. "It posits that social groups that have more members are going to be more attractive to join, and it posits that social groups have a social status or utility," says Wiener adding that the model is similar to one proposed in 2003 that put a numerical basis behind the decline of lesser-spoken world languages by examining the competition between speakers of different languages, and the "utility" of speaking one instead of another. "It's interesting that a fairly simple model captures the data (PDF), and if those simple ideas are correct, it suggests where this might be going. Obviously much more complicated things are going on with any one individual, but maybe a lot of that averages out.""

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Uh, no. (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 3 years ago | (#35649628)

"It posits that social groups that have more members are going to be more attractive to join, and it posits that social groups have a social status or utility,"

Sounds like the standard BS of conflating the lack of a religion as a religion itself.

To paraphrase, "Not having a religion is a social group just as much as not collecting stamps is a hobby."

I don't agree, you misunderstand (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 3 years ago | (#35649714)

And I have at least studied sociology of religion a bit. Nobody is conflating lack of religion as a religion in itself. The study is suggesting that identifying as non-religious has a social "utility", not that non-religious people have non-religious meetings for the purpose of not singing hymns, not praying, and walking out during the sermon. Certainly in science it does, because a lot of scientists distrust religious people. It's possible the same applies to social groups which might reject the overtly religious.

I think myself that a lot of what constituted religious affiliation in the more advanced part of the world was largely special interests that came together in churches. Now that you can join Greenpeace, or Amnesty, or Compass, you can pursue what used to be overtly religious objectives (protecting the natural world, helping victims of unjustice, bringing about a better social order) without religious affiliation. And for everybody else, you won't lose your job, be cast out socially, or be executed for failing to follow the orthodox religion, so why bother?

Re:I don't agree, you misunderstand (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 3 years ago | (#35654938)

The study is suggesting that identifying as non-religious has a social "utility"

And does not collecting stamps have a social utility?

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