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Religion and Social Networking

Over on Facebook, I got myself involved in a debate on religion. I know, I know; I should know better. But it's fun, y'know? Anyhow, what prompted the debate was this article on the BBC about how relgions go extinct. Good stuff.

Anyhow, it got me thinking about my interactions there and over here, and I'm curious about my friends' religious beliefs. Am I just living in an insulated bubble as described in that article, or are those national polls on religion just manipulated? So, a poll!

Here it is, a Google Docs poll so anyone can use it: Are you religious? What social networking tools do you use?




( 54 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 22nd, 2011 07:43 pm (UTC)
Dr Wiener continued: "In a large number of modern secular democracies, there's been a trend that folk are identifying 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%."

Czech Republic, ho! I am looking into job opportunities there right now.
Mar. 22nd, 2011 08:02 pm (UTC)
(no title) - holyoutlaw - Mar. 22nd, 2011 09:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 22nd, 2011 07:56 pm (UTC)
Something about that article strikes me as way too simplistic.

For instance, are they talking about Big-R religion or about individual religious groups? How does the country selection (US is not in that group for example) affect conclusions? The languages example (as they present it) doesn't demonstrate extinction, it demonstrates regionalization.

Also, I question the numbers they inply at least in terms Canada. (StatsCan) The number of non-affiliated is increasing here but non-affiliated, non-practicing, and non-religious are very different concepts... ask the Easter/Christmas Catholics.

Personally I think expecting the demise of Big-R Religion based on the number of asses in pews in secular countries is a bit optimistic. I think the number of asses in pews is a better indicator of the future of particular religious groups than of religion as a whole.

The orignial research might give a better picture.

That said, I'm an Atheist who deconverted from Christianity and who approves of further secularization of her country.

As for your poll... Why did you chose to use only one preferred social media? I use multiple on a regular basis and for different purposes.

Aside... When I left christianity I missed having the social network and social structure that church provided. I found the period of time where I was trying to figure out where I wanted to be very lonely and isolated. I lost a community.

Mar. 22nd, 2011 08:05 pm (UTC)
I hear you, though what I got out of it was that belonging to a larger group aids one's social standing, serving utility in that way. So big-R religions provide greater whuffie to members. If people don't get that, they're more likely to defect.

Oh, and the reason I worded it the way I did was that I'm curious about an observation I made about FBers vs. LJers.

Edited at 2011-03-22 08:06 pm (UTC)
(no title) - m_danson - Mar. 23rd, 2011 05:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no title) - piezocuttlefish - Mar. 23rd, 2011 12:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no title) - m_danson - Mar. 23rd, 2011 05:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no title) - piezocuttlefish - Mar. 24th, 2011 02:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 22nd, 2011 08:21 pm (UTC)
I read the discussion on FB. Long discussion, but narrow, not broad. Singular viewpoint.

But I have my own concerns about the study, not that it isn't meaningful, but that it means what the article thinks it does.

I perceive a human need that (part of) religion addresses. When that need isn't met, it leaves a population subject to some sort of revival effort, normally much longer on enthusiasm than thought. Like a teenage crush. Such a population is particularly subject to abusive manipulation. It will be interesting to see how these societies that are increasingly identifying as secular evolve.

Edited at 2011-03-22 08:22 pm (UTC)
Mar. 22nd, 2011 08:39 pm (UTC)
Interesting point - the experiment is now underway, all we need to do is observe it!
Mar. 22nd, 2011 08:59 pm (UTC)
Holy schnikies, I had to leave your FB thread before I had an aneurysm. "A world without birth control would be awesome!" Really? You would force women whom I know personally to risk death should they become pregnant? You would deny the ability of women whom I know personally to regulate their hormonal issues through use of birth control? Man, I don't know how you're keeping your temper, because I lost mine already. And let's not even mention the back-pedaling about "the fires of hell."
Mar. 22nd, 2011 09:27 pm (UTC)
Anyone who begins a discussion with "You're going to burn for eternity in the fiery pits o' Hell!" isn't a rational being, so I didn't see any need to poke the crazy more than I did. I'm surprised that so few people jumped in and called him on his statements.

Your icon FTW.
(no title) - weaselmom - Mar. 22nd, 2011 10:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no title) - mckitterick - Mar. 22nd, 2011 11:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no title) - mckitterick - Mar. 22nd, 2011 09:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 23rd, 2011 12:41 pm (UTC)
These days I find religion and naturalism in less and less conflict. After all, I believe in the Ubiquitous Cuttlefish and the Great Cosmic Squid. I mean, not really, but really. I don't need reality as a reason to devote everyday rituals to imaginary apotheosised personifications. Mollusca are awesome, and this is enough reason to have a religion—even one that covers an entire culture (cf. Shintoism, which loses very little when combined with naturalism).

And who doesn't want four cosmic hugs at all times?! From a mollusc!!
Mar. 23rd, 2011 04:50 pm (UTC)
Mar. 23rd, 2011 12:54 pm (UTC)
Goodness, you're on a role with the interesting posts this morning!

I found the conclusions in the article a little misleading. A lot of religions have gone 'extinct' over the ages, but religion itself has not (for better or for worse) gone extinct. It's hard for me to believe that will be any different now.

Also, while I need to see the parameters of the models to understand the conclusions, it seems to me that the numbers while indicating a decline don't really herald extinction -- usually the numbers have to be pushed a lot lower before anything is in danger of being 'snuffed out'.

But I do think it's very true that religion is expected to carry a 'social benefit' for the participants, and if that benefit isn't there folks will spend their time elsewhere.

Maybe Facebook is the new religion...Internet the new god...iPhones the new angels of mercy...

(Oh, and about the Dinos, they aren't actually extinct -- we just call them 'birds' now.)
Mar. 23rd, 2011 01:42 pm (UTC)
That study leaves a LOT to be desired. People are not identifying themselves as captial R religious. The word religion implies heavily that you follow one of the big institutional faiths in my opinion, so mostly that study just leaves me curious for further information.

I point this out as I consider myself spiritual and on a spiritual path but I don't identify that as religion nor do I want to.
Mar. 23rd, 2011 03:44 pm (UTC)
Re: Hmmm
I preface by saying this: I'm brain-damaged about faith and spirituality. Thus, I ask this:

...I consider myself spiritual and on a spiritual path but I don't identify that as religion nor do I want to.

Why not? Where's the line? I assume that you've got a belief structure that gives you comfort and allows you to interface with the numinous at a personal level. When does that become "religion"? After all, Christianity started out as an old-school alt.religion.judaism blog-post gone wild. Was it a religion when it was recognized by Constantine? When things were written down? When it gained temporal power?

Not being an ass, just consistently curious and welcoming of opinions from people who... well, have them. Thanks!
Re: Hmmm - wyckedgood - Mar. 23rd, 2011 04:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Hmmm - sdemory - Mar. 23rd, 2011 04:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Hmmm - m_danson - Mar. 23rd, 2011 05:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Hmmm - sdemory - Mar. 23rd, 2011 06:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Hmmm - m_danson - Mar. 23rd, 2011 06:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Hmmm - sdemory - Mar. 23rd, 2011 08:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Hmmm - m_danson - Mar. 24th, 2011 02:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Hmmm - m_danson - Mar. 24th, 2011 03:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Hmmm - mckitterick - Mar. 24th, 2011 02:20 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Hmmm - m_danson - Mar. 24th, 2011 03:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Hmmm - m_danson - Mar. 23rd, 2011 07:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Hmmm - _luaineach - Mar. 24th, 2011 04:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Hmmm - wyckedgood - Mar. 23rd, 2011 07:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Hmmm - sdemory - Mar. 23rd, 2011 09:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Hmmm - mckitterick - Mar. 24th, 2011 02:32 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Hmmm - sdemory - Mar. 24th, 2011 03:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Hmmm - sdemory - Mar. 24th, 2011 03:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Hmmm - wyckedgood - Mar. 24th, 2011 01:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Hmmm - sdemory - Mar. 24th, 2011 04:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Hmmm - wyckedgood - Mar. 24th, 2011 08:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Hmmm - sdemory - Mar. 24th, 2011 09:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no title) - m_danson - Mar. 24th, 2011 02:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Hmmm - mckitterick - Mar. 24th, 2011 02:26 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Hmmm - wyckedgood - Mar. 24th, 2011 02:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Hmmm - mckitterick - Mar. 24th, 2011 04:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Hmmm - wyckedgood - Mar. 24th, 2011 04:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 23rd, 2011 01:48 pm (UTC)
I am all for the extinction of the major religions which are in my not so humble opinion, very anti women.

Down with the Holy man!

Mar. 24th, 2011 02:26 am (UTC)
Re: P.S.
X2 - they are all so clearly manufactured by humans to give those in control more, well, control.
Re: P.S. - wyckedgood - Mar. 24th, 2011 02:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 23rd, 2011 03:37 pm (UTC)
I'm wondering whether this is something of a red herring.

I would love to know how the researchers define religion and where they stand on "religion" as opposed to "faith" or "spirituality." If they're talking about traditional, congregation-based group ritual, I'm surprised that it's only nine countries that are facing extinction of that form. It's inefficient, it's messy and it's hard to reconcile with most peoples' lives. It's not something that's useful the way it used to be, much in the same way that being a Mason or an Elk was sixty years ago.

Faith, though, seems to be a more fundamental part of how people function as people, and that's the point of frustration for those of us who can't comprehend belief structures in anything more than an abstract way. Plenty of people say "I'm not religious, I'm spiritual" or "I'm not religious, but I have strong personal beliefs." In my eyes, they're saying "I'm not a baseball player, but I own a uniform, a ball and a bat and play pick-up games of 'hit the ball and run to bases while trying not to get tagged out' on a regular basis. But I'm not a baseball player, because I haven't been signed."

I'd bet that plenty of the people polled have a passable batting average, even if they don't have a uniform.

Ultimately, is it "religion" or "faith" that's more influential at a macro level? I'm not sure.
Mar. 24th, 2011 10:24 pm (UTC)
Came across this from Ms_danson's blog.

Concerning the BBC article, I would recommend highly the book Sacred and Secular by Pippa Norris and Ronald Inglehart. It basically goes a lot deeper, sociologically and statistically, than this article into why some societies tend to religion while others tend to secularism. Its basic argument is that people tend to be religious when they have a lot of uncertainty about their existence; this is why the poor are generally more religious than the rich, so countries with large social divides tend to be stronger bastions of religion than countries with general equality (that explains why the United States is an anomaly among the wealthy nations of the world in having religion as so powerful a force in society).

Note that most of the countries listed in the article - Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland - are highly developed, very relatively wealthy in the world, and generally strongly favour social equality and social welfare programs (can't speak for the current state of the Czech Republic, or Switzerland's health care system). Being poor in most of these countries, though uncomfortable, is not the huge and frightening burden it would be in a country like, er, Libya. Nor is it as culturally acceptable for the rich to flaunt stretch Hummers as it is in some other states.

The article's writers seriously skewed their sample, I would say. Religion may get extinct? In those cherry-picked countries, maybe. Globally - you have to end poverty first.
Mar. 24th, 2011 10:33 pm (UTC)
Adding: this is obviously on a widespread statistical level. On the individual level, I know plenty of people who are well-off physically and financially while religious by any definition above, as well as possibly some who are impoverished or in poor health, and yet non-religious.
(no title) - mckitterick - Mar. 24th, 2011 10:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
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