Saturday, March 24, 2007


The Secular Trend Line

Red State Rabble has been studying an important survey just released by the Pew Research Center: "Trends in Political Values and Core Attitudes: 1987-2007."

There's a lot of good news in the Pew survey, but one of the findings that caught our eye was that Americans who say they are atheist or agnostic has "increased modestly in past decades."

Of course, large majorities say they still belong to a religious tradition, that prayer is an important part of their daily lives, that they believe they'll be called before God on judgement day. Eighty-one percent say they never doubt the existence of God.

Even so, 12 percent now say they are secular in outlook. That's up from just 8 percent in 1987. Moreover, Pew says this change appears to be generational. Only 5 percent of those born before 1946 identify themselves as secular, but that number more than doubled among Baby Boomers to 11 percent, and rises to 19 percent among those born after 1976 -- nearly doubling again.

That's a promising trend line. If it continues at that rate, secular types will soon outnumber believers.

And, despite what you hear from professional pulpit pounders, deathbed conversions are a rarity.

Or, as Pew puts it, "the size of the secular group has remained constant over time within each age cohort. In other words, the number of seculars within each generational group is about the same in 2007 as it was 10 or 20 years before. Thus it appears that people have not become less secular as they have aged."

Once you get the God monkey off your back, it stays off.

Maybe this is why the voices at the Discovery Institute and Uncommon Descent are getting more and more shrill. (More from the survey on the waning influence of fundamentists later.)


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