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UK - Non-belief overtakes Christianity

Discussion in 'Non-Theistic/Non-Religious Beliefs DIR' started by Altfish, May 24, 2016.

  1. Altfish

    Altfish Veteran Member

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  2. lewisnotmiller

    lewisnotmiller Grand Hat
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    I'm unsure how to interpret the final paragraphs in the linked article. It indicates a growth in agnotocism rather than secularism, which just confuses me.

    Also states that the overwhelming majority of UK citizens still have some sort of faith, meaning perhaps non-demoninational religion?

    I know they're response comments from the CofE, they just don't appear supported by any information presented here.

    Any thoughts on that part?
     
  3. Altfish

    Altfish Veteran Member

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    I think it is just the CofE trying to put a positive spin on it. And failing. Although, I would agree that a lot people describe themselves as non-religious and have never considered if they are secular or a humanist
     
  4. HonestJoe

    HonestJoe Well-Known Member

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    The core problem there is that there is massive misunderstanding and misinterpretation (intentional or not) surrounding all of the terms in this field, not least coming from the mainstream religious groups who, as has been pointed out, have a vested interest in putting a certain spin on these kind of statistics. One of the key problems is accurately measuring a growingly complex and indistinct pattern of beliefs, faiths and religious practices of the population. Just the wording or terminology of the questions in these surveys and studies can make a massive difference in how people answer.

    I think a number of parallel shifts are generally clear though. Attendance and active participation in religion has been decreasing for a long time. Diversity of formal religious practice is increasing, both within traditional British faiths and growth of others. People have become more open to (or maybe more open to talking about) varied and unstructured views of spirituality. It has become less socially and legally acceptable for religious beliefs and religious organisations to influence government policy and law (which is what secularism actually is).

    I think much of this has been developing for a long time and is steadily becoming more apparent and open, despite many people being in denial about it. Some would seek to use this uncertainty and change to their own advantage and regardless it’s a not insignificant change to our society one way or another so I think it’s vital that we acknowledge and seek to fully understand it.
     
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  5. Laika

    Laika Well-Known Member
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    I find the size of the shift in such a short space of time a little bit odd. I think this is probably due to changes in definition as I can't see the numbers doubling in about 5 years. A shift from 25% to nearly 50% would have visible "everyday consequences" and that doesn't fit with my own experiences.

    Saying that however is very value laden because of how I connect atheism with radicalism. If someone used the term "apathetism" I would think that's fairer, (ie not going to church, not overtly caring about religion, etc). But that is just definitions and word association. It's Still very interesting that there is both a shift towards secular beliefs in both the UK and the U.S.
     
  6. LuisDantas

    LuisDantas Aura of atheification
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    I think you are underestimating the numbers of people who attempt to be discreet about their atheism, @Laika.

    Most people historically decide not so much that they are believers as that it is not worth the distress to point out that they are not.
     
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  7. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Subway Stalinist
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    Ironically, an apatheist is probably unlikely to do enough digging into the issue to learn the word "apatheism".
     
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  8. beenherebeforeagain

    beenherebeforeagain Rogue Animist
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    I'll also note that the UK like most European nations still have official state religions (like the CoE), and that therefore many of those counted as religious are religious because they think of themselves as members of an official church, even when they themselves do not believe and/or practice. This "belonging without believing" is much different than the situation in the US, where increasingly, it appears to be "believing without belonging" is becoming more prevalent.
     
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  9. Altfish

    Altfish Veteran Member

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    I think it is more to do with how the question is phrased and where the 'no belief' option is placed.
    There was a YouGov poll just after the last census that showed that the 25% figure for non-belief was a vast underestimation and again the figure was nearer 50% - this again was to do with how the question was phrased.
    If you ask (say) "Which religion do you consider yourself to be?" you get a lot of lapsed Christians ticking the 'Christianity' box.
    If you ask "Which religion do you practice?" you get a truer figure.
     
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  10. Father Heathen

    Father Heathen Veteran Member

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  11. Altfish

    Altfish Veteran Member

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    It's not for want of trying the BHA has campaigns on removing religion from government. It will eventually happen, but I doubt I'll see it.
     
  12. Altfish

    Altfish Veteran Member

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  13. HonestJoe

    HonestJoe Well-Known Member

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    That’s largely a quirk of history. The US “separation of Church and State” was a response to the divisions within Christianity which has impacted European governments for so long and led to some of the intra-Christian discrimination that many of the early US settlers were fleeing in the first place. If anything it was the very opposite of a push for secularism though and I have no doubt that most of the early proponents of the separation would have had no objection to government intervention in non-Christian religion (indeed, the early Americans showed pretty much zero thought for native American faiths). In Europe we didn’t have the same big change or “reset” but still moved in a similar direction. The whole of the Western world had steadily shifted from religious (largely Christian) dominated government and societies to more secular and democratic ones. Many of the traditions and establishments remain but the practical impacts of them are quite deliberately kept to a minimum.

    It could be argued that one difference between the nominally secular state of the US and the nominally Christian state of the UK impacted the development of religion among the people. With a perceived safety net of the established church, British Christianity might have been more comfortable about a more secular and less devout population while American Christians might feel more need to support and defend their religion in an environment where it’s theoretically on the same level as everything else.
     
  14. The Adept

    The Adept Member

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    Perhaps atheism is not yet competent?
    Wishful thinking aside, nominal christian affliation will drop below 50% of the population, according to the census trend, in 2018. Not a year earlier.
    But then, some like their flights of fantasy, do they not? How about that.
     
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