Measured Against Reality

Monday, February 25, 2008

Increase in the religiously unaffiliated

A reader asked me to comment on the story about the decline in religious affiliation, and so I shall. I didn't really think too much of it, the most dramatic thing seems to be how often people switch denominations, which isn't entirely that surprising given how ridiculously similar they are, and how moving or marrying could easily cause people to switch.

And even the stats about the increasing numbers of "unaffiliated" aren't too impressive:

The majority of the unaffiliated -- 12 percent of the overall population -- describe their religion as "nothing in particular," and about half of those say faith is at least somewhat important to them. Atheists or agnostics account for 4 percent of the total population.

Four percent isn't that much, and honestly I doubt that's the true number. This was done by Pew, but I doubt they'd cook the numbers much. Maybe they underrepresented people who tend to be atheists, but I doubt that too. At any rate, four percent isn't a huge number, even if we are at 12% unaffiliated.

The one true great bit of news was this doozy:

One in four adults ages 18 to 29 claim no affiliation with a religious institution.

I don't think I've ever been prouder of my peers than this. One out of every four has no affiliation! That's a fantastic number, and I have to imagine that it's much higher than it would have been 50, 20, or even 10 years ago. After the NYTimes piece about Evangelicals fleeing, it certainly seems like we're seeing a good trend. Young people are realizing that truth, and succumbing to rationality. It's inspiring and leaves me a bit optimistic about our future. Hopefully we can keep getting atheism press, and even more hopefully good press, and people will start to wake up, shatter their delusions, and breathe the fresh air that is a world unencumbered by the old mythologies.

An atheist can dream, right?

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