There IS Reason to Hope

Thanks to Ed Babinski for tipping me off to two recent articles from the National Secular Society, for they filled me with hope for our future this morning: Australian Youth Follow The Secular Trend, and Spanish Youngsters Have Had It With Religion, Too. From the articles (also see here):

Australian Youth Follow The Secular Trend
Aug. 11, 2006

Less than half Australia’s young people say they believe in a god, and many believe there is little truth in religion, a new study has found. The three-year national study, a joint project between Monash University, the Australian Catholic University and the Christian Research Association, found many young people live an entirely secular life.

The study, The Spirit of Generation Y, found just 48 percent of those born between 1976 and 1990 believed in a god. Dr Andrew Singleton of Monash University, a co-author of the study, said they were surprised by the findings. "It’s well known that there has been a turn away from church attendance and participation in young people," he said. "But we thought there was going to be a move towards alternative spiritualities. There are still a number turning towards it, but not as big as you would have thought."

Religious identity will be among the questions contained in this year’s Australian census. We see the same effect in this census as in the UK census, when 72% of people said they were Christian, even though every other survey and poll showed this to be vastly over-stated. This was because of poor wording of the question.

The Australian survey found 20 percent of young people did not believe in a god and 32 percent were unsure. It also found just 19 percent of those who identify themselves as Christian was actively involved in a church (attending services at least once a month). More than 30 percent of Generation Y was classified as "humanists," rejecting the idea of a god, although some believed in a "higher being."

Dr Singleton said it was a trend that was likely to continue. "We live in a very individualistic and self-orientated society and I don't see a lot of things challenging that," he said. “One of the many predictors of whether we become religious is our parents, and unless there is a massive cultural shift, I see that the trajectory will continue as it is."

Spanish Youngsters Have Had It With Religion, Too
Aug. 11, 2006

A poll of 1,450 young people in Spain shows that most believe that religion is of little importance and has no place in schools. The survey of people aged 15 to 29 shows that attitudes have changed radically since the era of the dictator Franco. Then, homosexuality was banned. Now gay marriage is legal, with 80 percent of those who were asked agreeing with the change in the law.

More than two thirds of those polled said they were in favor of abortion (legalized in Spain in 1985) and 76 percent said they approved of euthanasia "to help someone suffering from an incurable disease if they asked for it." A third declared themselves non-believers, with the majority of the remainder stating that religion had little relevance in their lives.

Although this will be good news for the socialist government of José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, it will cause yet more angst among the Catholic hierarchy who have traditionally held enormous power in Spain.
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Aaron Kinney said...

F'ing excellent!

Ive been saying this for over a year now; that generational secularism is bound to put all god belief in the "fringe" where it belongs.

I even recently had a big argument over the decrease in theism in the Western World at Triablogue.

Mark Plus said...

According to statistics on, about a billion people identify themselves as religious non-belelievers of some sort, nearly a sixth of the current world population and exceeding in number the almost completely religious population of the world living 200 years ago. By the demographic standards during the time of, say, Thomas Jefferson's presidency, we have the equivalent of a planet full of "infidels." This trend pretty much blows up the argument that humans have "god genes" that doom us to religiosity.

O'Brien said...

I find these results disappointing myself.

Edwardtbabinski said...

Christianity of a literalistic conservative sort continues to grow in South America and Africa (poorer, less well educated nations) while in Europe (and to a lesser degree in the U.S. as well), Christianity continues to wane. This is going to lead to future difficulties for sure. See The New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South by Philip Jenkins