Predictions of religion’s extinction

From a couple of places, I’ve been pointed to this BBC report on a study predicting the immanent extinction of religion in Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland.  I think the basic assumption behind the model–that people are attracted to high-status beliefs, and having lots of adherents is a plus for a belief system’s status–is quite reasonable.  I note that it would refute the commonly-asserted claim that ideological pluralism is a society’s natural state.  In fact, it would seem to be unstable.  Any time one belief gets an edge over others, the advantage will tend to snowball.

Another useful aspect of the study is that it tells believers exactly what they have to do to survive.  The model assumes everyone interacts with each other equally, so if believers congregate in their own communities, the model breaks down.  (In fact, I expect it would predict the quick demise of secularism in the regions where religious believers concentrate.)

A final issue to raise:  if religion is really headed for extinction in the Western world, how are the atheists going to maintain their customary hysteria, their all-consuming fear that we’re in such terrible danger of being brought back to the “Dark Ages”?  They may be forced to adjust themselves to contentment.

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