Sunday, 24 May 2020

Why Americans Are Losing Faith

Internet Access and Growth in 'Nones'
How the Internet Is Taking Away America’s Religion | MIT Technology Review

This article in MIT Technology Review is from 2014 but, if anything the correlation is likely to be even more marked today as the increase in non-affiliation (Nones) in USA has increased considerably in the last six years, as has rejection of creationism as an explanation for the existence of humans and of biodiversity.

Data from University of Chicago's General Social Survey, which has been collecting cohort data since 1972, was analysed by Allen Downey, a computer scientist at the Olin College of Engineering in Massachusetts who came up with the following major causes of this decline in religious affiliation in the USA:

  1. Religious upbringing. People who are brought up in a religion are more likely to be affiliated to that religion later. This figure tends to decline over time as non-religious parents tend to produce non-religious children. However, Downey estimates that this only accounts for about 25% of the decline.
  2. College-level education. Since the 1980s, the fraction of people receiving college level education has increased from 17.4 percent to 27.2 percent in the 2000s. Although statistically significant this only accounts for a further 5% fall.
  3. Internet Access. In the 1980s, Internet use was essentially zero, but in 2010, 53 percent of the population spent two hours per week online and 25 percent surfed for more than 7 hours. That figure has probably increased significantly since 2014. This probably accounts for a further 25% in the decline. Interestingly, this appears to show that internet access has been as big a contributor to the decline in religious affiliation in USA as has the decline in parental affiliation.

But, taken together these factors account for only about 55% of the decline so there must be one or more other factors having a powerful influence on this social trend in USA. Something else is causing Americans to lose their religion.

The question of what exactly this is, is left open.

The answer might well be found in the behaviour of religious fundamentalist in the social media. Religious fundamentalists, including creationists are amongst the most ignorant and obnoxious to be found in Twitter and Facebook. Quite frankly, if they haven't driven very large numbers of decent Americans to question what it is about their faith that can lead to this behaviour, then they can have little self-respect.

An obvious point to make here is that some of the best arguments against gods can be found in the behaviour of their followers. What self-respecting god would allow this behaviour in its name?

For example, these gems, most of which come from deleted accounts (hopefully through embarrassment):

Fuck u and I hope u watch ur mom and grandma get raped today u piece of shit CRACKA - @ChicoZoe

so one last time: Good and evil are distinguished by distinction. and youre a moron if you dont think so. #god #atheist - @schicagos

Every scientific "fact" about the beginning of time is a theory cause no one saw #!@%*#. So I'll leave you to your atheism. Bless @Thessaly

Evidence?! Evidence doesn't prove anything, only suggests. I have proof! - @TroyBeast

"All the others"?! You silly little atheist! There's only One God! If there were more, they'd all be fighting! - @IslamNotMuslims

if atheists believed that all Christians should be put to death, would you worship them?#idiots - @gemimms

cool lets see how far being a pentadactyls gets you when your burning in hell sinner #darwinhadsexwithmonkeys - @kramerassman

ATTN. all evolutionist think they came from rocks or dirt or dust or a hot steamy turd on the edge of a lake>LOL - @Frankfurt4

You know your an atheist when you kill your brother because he looks to much like a ape. - @JeffreyHarkins

I wouldn’t call science a work of Satan #PerfesserIdiot. Now atheism on the other hand, that’s a work of Satan. - @TertiusIII

You have no right to dig up my past. What if I start rummaging in yours? God has more dirt on you than you have on me. - @andyguy

You know as well as I do that on numerous occasions massacres have happened while atheists were still undergoing psychiatric treatment, but for some reason the psychiatrist is never charged as an accessory. Why is that? - @andyguy

How could a devout Christian or muslim not be embarrassed by those and not begin to question the religion that could damage people like that? There is very clearly something wrong with it that it can produce such awful people and idiots who imagine those are sensible arguments for their faith. Of course, it's not just a handful of inane idiots who are responsible, but rather the constant drip, drip, drip of this hate- filled, arrogant and condescending ignorance which contrasts so starkly with the supposed teachings of the founders of most religions, especially Christianity in the USA.

Then of course we have the systematic, institutionalised persecution and bullying of minorities and the LGBTQ community, the regular revelations of the abuse of children and vulnerable adults by priest and pastors in positions of trust, and the naked greed of telebangelicals who run the mega-churches and fleece their credulous dupes for everything they can wring out of them. The Internet has made us all too aware of these charlatans who feed off the gullibility and trust of their 'flocks'.

No wonder embarrassed Christians are leaving the faith in droves.


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  1. Good piece, as usual. You gotta get rid of that apostrophe in your headline! Feel free to delete my message after you make the correction.

    1. Thanks. Got in there from an earlier version of the title. Careless of me.


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