Having read the extremely interesting "Atheism in 10 years time" thread, I find myself, sadly, not being quite as optimistic as some of the contributors to that topic.
While I agree (and fervently hope) that the numbers of those rejecting faith will continue to rise, I think it unlikely that we are about to see a rapid increase in the ranks of atheism.
I can only really speak for The UK (and Christianity specifically), but in my honest opinion, by far the biggest impediment to a welcome increase in atheism is apathy at best, and intellectually laziness at worst.
For example, it’s often said that ‘traditional’ Christian beliefs in this country are in rapid decline, with weekly (i.e Sunday) church attendances proportionately as low as they’ve ever been. However, although most of the demographic groups that would have once attended regular church services now profess to be agnostic or atheist, the overwhelming majority of them still choose to observe and celebrate certain ‘important’ life events in a church or chapel.
People who do not practise any form of ‘organised’ Christianity from one year to the next still choose to have their children christened and baptized, they still elect to get married in church, and almost without exception, they still choose to have a religious service conducted at their funerals.
They continue to do these things because, for want of a better phrase, it’s “the done thing”. In a way, tradition is being allowed to trump one’s personal beliefs and opinions – if that is, they really have any such opinions.
To these ends, I would propose that most of these (albeit – well-intentioned) people, who almost automatically opt for these Christian services and ceremonies, have never really spent the time to explore their own beliefs, and less time still exploring other faiths and religions.
They don’t really care if they believe in a god or not. And often enough, even if they have given it some thought, and have decided that there probably isn’t, they still continue the charade of following established traditions in their choice of venue and content for the above-mentioned ceremonies.
I’m afraid that until these wishy-washy, apathetic, religion-enablers snap out of their self-induced coma, and can be bothered to actually spend some time to properly research the beliefs and opinions they owe themselves, the self-perpetuating anachronism of religious service attendance will continue to roll on unchecked.
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