Why atheism will replace religion.

  (22 May 10)

Quite a provocative title.

Nigel Barber Ph.D. writing in a recent edition of Psychology Today argues that people in developed countries tend to believe that they have more control over their lives and are therefore less in need of religion.


Barber also argues that sport fulfils a role something akin to religion in many developed countries with sporting events becoming quite ritualistic. It’s interesting that Western Europe provides an environment in which both factors are very strong, and that it’s in such countries that atheism is at its highest eg Sweden 64% nonbelievers.


Wouldn't sport be more popular in the USA than secularised western Europe? Is sport really more popular in Sweden than other western countries?

Posted by Matt

I do think the line between religion and sport gets a little blurred sometimes (see www.sof-in-australia.org/blog.php?blog_id=669), however I too am sceptical of the sport/religious decline link.

The idea (illusion?) of control I find more interesting. It makes sense to me that those who feel powerless to influence their destiny might more readily grasp at the unseen technology of religion/magic.

Posted by Greg

The suggestion that atheism will replace religion ignores two issues:

1. There are religions that are atheistic; e.g., Taoism, some Humanists, most of Buddhism and others?

2. There are non-theistic religions; e.g., Ethical Culture, some Humanists.

3. There are theism optional religions; e.g., Unitarian Universalism and a few murmurs within Christianity, consider John Shelby Spong's "Jesus for the Non-religious."

The core issue is not whether people need religion, but what religion is. Don Cupitt and others posed the issue nicely as the question of realism versus non-realism.

The question is whether religion is about being subservient to some external or seeking--and occasionally finding--the sacred everywhere.

Posted by oldfuzz

The idea is an interesting one and many have for a long while noted that sport (and other clubs)occupy the space many filled with church in the past. I think it is foolish to assume that this is about belief. The older I get the less I think the vast majority care about belief (unless it is dictating dogma). They belong to church or club for a whole gamut of social reasons and sport can fulfil many of these. Personally I still think church does some better. However if I was evenagelical I could give numerous examples of people changing their lives for the better by becoming athletes.

Posted by Owen

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