Category Archives: Religion

Reconciliation?

I had wondered how Gafcon, the conservatives who have been trying to remake the Anglican Communion in their own likeness, would respond to the call for reconciliation, and now I know.

Abp Suheil Dawani, June 20, 2018, to the Gafcon Conference: “the community needs to be able to celebrate the differences that it has, and accept each other through seeing Christ in each other, and not by imposing our own image of Christ on each other.”

Gafcon conference publication, June 22, 2018, “we urge Gafcon members to decline the invitation to attend Lambeth 2020 and all other meetings of the Instruments of Communion” unless the rest of the Communion comply with Gafcon’s image.

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From another context

Meanwhile, in New Zealand, “The main blocker (completely/significantly block) to Kiwis engaging with Christianity is the Church’s stance and teaching on homosexuality”.

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The Development of US Religious Belief

Pew have released a survey showing the changes in religious identification over time.

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No change

Τα εθνη γαρ, ακουοντα εκ του στοματος ‘ημων τα λογια του θεου, ‘ως καλα και μεγαλα θαυμαζει.  Επειτα καταμαθοντα τα εργα ‘ημων ‘οτι ουκ εστιν αξια των ‘ρηματων ‘ων λεγομεν, ενθεν εις βλασφημιαν τρεπονται, λεγοντες ειναι μυθον τινα και πλανην. ‘Οταν γαρ ακουσωσιν παρ ‘ημων ‘οτι λεγει ‘ο θεος. Ου χαρις ‘υμιν ει αγαπατε τους αγαπωντας ‘υμας αλλα καρις ‘υμιν ει αγαπατε τους εχθρους και τους μισουντας ‘υμας. Ταυτα ‘οταν ακουσωσιν, θαυμαζουσιν την ‘υπερβολην της αγαθοτητος.  ‘Οταν δε ιδωσιν ‘οτι ου μονον τους μισουντας ουκ αγαπωμεν, αλλ ‘οτι ουδε τους αγαπωντας, καταγελωσιν και βλασφημειται το ονομα.

For the non-Christians, on hearing from our mouths the words of G-d, wonder at the beauty and magnificence.  But, on learning that our acts do not match the words which we speak, they turn to blasphemy, calling it a myth and a deception.  For whenever they hear from us that G-d says, ‘It is of no merit to you if you love those who love you, but it is of merit to you if you love your enemies and those hating you’, whenever they hear such things, they wonder at this surpassing beneficence.  And when they see that not only do we not love the ones hating us, but that neither do we love the ones loving us, they mock us and blaspheme the Name. – 2 Clement 13 (prob. C2nd)

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The Distribution of Religious Persecution

The complications of statistical representation: Christians may face somewhere between 60% and 80% of the total religious persecution in the world, but only 78% of Christians live in countries which harass them, as compared with 97% of Muslims and 99% of Hindus and of Jews.

The apparent disparity is influenced by Christianity’s being far the world’s largest religion but also “Christians were actually harassed mostly in Christian-majority countries. In some of these countries, the Christian majority was itself harassed, often by the government.”

Notably, Pew’s list of countries which proscribe religious freedoms includes France, Austria, Germany, the United States, Iceland, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Spain, and Italy, ranked from higher to lower within the “moderately restrictive” category.

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The Mobility of the Religiously Unaffiliated

A recent study has charted the mobility of the Religiously Unaffiliated, showing that, from 2010 to 2014, 48% of self-identifying agnostics, 42% of No Particular Religion, and 18% of atheists changed their religious identification. By way of comparison, slightly more than 10% of Protestants and slightly fewer than 10% of Catholics changed theirs. This general trend that the non-religious should change more than the religious is not surprising, since religions survive by encouraging continued adherence. There are, however, some interesting developments within the “defections”.

20 of the 42% of No Particular Religion defectors went on to identify as atheistic or agnostic. While described in the article as moving “away from traditional faith”, this could well be simple relabelling, given that neither atheists nor agnostics have any particular religion. On the other hand, the 17.3% who joined a church were more definitely moving towards religion; the fact that one can attend a church without subscribing to all of its tenets means that mere attendance cannot be taken as a change in belief.

In contrast, only 4.5 of the 48% of agnostic defectors joined a church, while 18.9 identified as Nothing in Particular, and 22.5 as atheists. It is difficult to speculate how much of that might be mere relabelling as the term “agnostic” is confusing to quite a few people: some who express agnostic views nonetheless self-identify as “atheist”, especially in the United States, quite possibly as a deliberate rejection of religious labels; some who self-identify as “agnostic” express definite, atheistic views, perhaps taking the former label as a more nuanced one.

Meanwhile, the fact that change was far rarer amongst atheists than amongst agnostics or those of No Particular Religion is coherent with the church-like behaviour of militant atheism: the production of a self-reinforcing, adherence-encouraging rhetoric.

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Scientists and Faith

A 2016 Ipsos Mori survey of 3000 scientists in the UK, France, and Germany found that about as many (c.43%) are “spiritual” or “religious” as are non-religious.  Meanwhile, a 2009 Pew survey in the USA found that 41% of chemists, 32% of biologists, 30% of geologists, and 29% of physicists and astronomers are religious, and a worldwide study found that 47% of scientists are “spiritual” or “religious”.

What I find most curious, however, is that the Pew survey demonstrates a greater tendency towards religion amongst young scientists, a tendency which is directly opposite to the trend in the general population worldwide. It is also notable that fewer scientists in the US than in the UK, France, or Germany are religious, and yet the US has by far the most religious general population. In addition, the worldwide study shows that, while 44% of the general population of Taiwan identify as religious, 54% of Taiwanese scientists do. In Hong Kong, those figures are 20% and 39%.
 
I wonder, then, what the correlation between scientists and cultural divergence is, and whether the probability of a scientist’s being religious is inversely proportional to the probability of the average citizen’s being so.

 

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