306 Comments

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised at the possibility of a plateau in the growth of the non-religious. Expecting a continuous increase in the numbers of those who, at some level or other, recognize that religions and the beliefs they promote are problematic is almost certainly unrealistic.

Still, one datum isn't the whole curve. I would like to see at least two or three more points plotted before making any kind of broad assumption. Let's see what the dx/dt (for those of you who studied calculus) REALLY is before jumping to conclusions.

Expand full comment

You ! You ! Shoving your cursed maths in our throats ! ๐Ÿ˜

Expand full comment

"There was a young fellow from Trinity,

Who took the square root of infinity.

But the number of digits, Gave him the fidgets;

He dropped Math and took up Divinity." - George Gamow, "One, Two, Three,...Infinity" (1947)

Expand full comment

I read that book, it was one of my earliest favorites of science books, that was like 50 years ago. god I'm old.

Expand full comment

Are you some kind of slope-shouldered malcontent going off on a tangent?

Expand full comment

I might be slightly derivative, but it's an integral part of my personality! ๐Ÿ˜

Expand full comment

Secant ye shall find.

Expand full comment

๐—š๐—ฅ๐—ข๐—”๐—ก!!!

Expand full comment

Sines are fun!!!

Expand full comment

That's a bad sin()

Expand full comment

Yeah, it was, and I still had to cosine it! ๐Ÿ˜

Expand full comment

The Enlightenment is still progressing...

Expand full comment

I can add, subtract, multiply and divide. Thatโ€™s about the extent of my math capability. I get your point though.

Expand full comment
founding

Youโ€™re supposed to have three points before calling anything a trend.

Expand full comment

That's the way I always understood it.

Expand full comment
founding

Iโ€™m an operations research analyst. I wouldnโ€™t claim it without at least that. Other factors included.

Expand full comment

It's all too nebulous to draw any firm conclusions. My opinion is most people are non religious. In the immortal words of ee cummings, the best thing about modern life is not going to church on Sunday.

Expand full comment

I was a little surprised that the atheist demographic skewed male, but I suppose I shouldn't be considering the gender distribution of the regulars. I just hope that doesn't mean we're making women feel unwelcome. (Both the FA community and the wider community of non-believers)

Expand full comment

The wider community tends to idolize certain folks who have shown themselves to be quite misogynistic and predatory. That said, the logic behind atheism is not gender reliant. So, there are likely more women who are atheists but for many reasons do not express it. Not all are because Silverman is handsy or Dawkins is thoughtless, but society as a whole is misogynistic and doesnโ€™t value women as contributors outside of specific circumstances that are rooted in the religious patriarchy.

Expand full comment

Turns out that merely being right about one key fact, and declining to worship a god, does not make a person any less susceptible to the lure of worshiping their heroes, nor to hypocrisy in defending them. The more famous and once-respectable atheist icons turn into shitty old bridge trolls, and the more their fans continue to ignore or excuse in them behavior which they would soundly condemn in anyone else, the less I feel like engaging with "the atheist community" writ large.

Which is, to be clear, not a problem with atheists in particular. It's a problem with the way we venerate celebrities as a society- and also the way in which society tends to react to harsh criticism of said celebrities when it comes from women and minorities (particularly if they're also queer, and particularly if the celebrity in question is ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฐ๐˜ต).

Expand full comment

And sadly, you are one of the persons most acquainted with this kind of splaining. Even more than Val or me.

Expand full comment

There is a short program every day on France 3 about presenting a book. Guess what is the demographic of most writers even when there is a wide diversity of authors today.

Expand full comment

French?

Expand full comment

I am all to claim Edgard Allan Poe but you can keep Hewingway and Steinbeck.

Expand full comment
Jan 24ยทedited Jan 24

Poe and Steinbeck. Hemingway is good but sometimes verbose. Finally picked up Rushdies's much acclaimed "Satanic Verses" and gave up after 20 or 30 pages of meaningless bullshit. Sreinbeck brought out a deep humanitarian rage at the machine in his writings. "Grapes of Wrath," "Cannery Row" and " Of Mice and Men" were faves.

Expand full comment

Thatโ€™s too bad about your experience with Rushdie. I enjoy his books, even though he does like flowery writing. My favorite of his was Shame. But the two books he wrote for his children, Haroun and the Sea of Stories, and Luka and the Fire of Life, were a bit more entertaining and less meandering.

Anyway, to each, their own.

Expand full comment

Can Hemingway really be that good when he's so susceptible to satire?

Expand full comment

I read my share of verbose history books in college. All of them were written by white men. Give me a George Duby's, an Armelle Le Bras-Chopard or a Christiane Desroches Noblecourt's books any day.

Expand full comment

Same here. If the can't hook me that many pages, it is not worth reading. After reading almost 70 pages of a Marion Zimmer Bradley novel, the story on the jacket blurb hadn't started yet, so out it went.

Expand full comment

Poe used to live off the Grand Concourse in the Bronx. ๐Ÿ˜‹

Expand full comment

https://ibb.co/PcDZQcp

Expand full comment
Jan 24ยทedited Jan 24

Nones tend to be more young, white, and male than "even" demographics would suggest. The exact three groups that don't have to rely as much on church social networks or other less formal, 'backdoor' social networks to help get ahead in life. This is almost certainly not a coincidence. We can easily predict that the rich would be less religious too, for the same reason.

The young, because other networks have cropped up to replace the church network in the past 30 years or so. The white and male because those subgroups historically didn't need any extra bonus social network to get ahead.

This also explains why religion grows stronger in the elderly too. Your spouse is dead, you're living on a fixed income, and you're starting to experience some mobility issues maybe...gee that extra social network which can help you get around, provides weekly opportunities for socializing and companionship, and tells you they care about you, suddenly got a lot more appealing.

AND it explains the US-Europe dichotomy. A good 'official' safety net and network results in less church attendance. Why? because a church community is no longer needed for any practical purpose.

Lastly, if you're someone who really wants to eliminate religion, here is your giant flag on how to do it. Forget arguments with believers about the existence of God - just improve wages, employment opportunities, social security, healthcare, things like that.

Expand full comment

Education helps, too.

Expand full comment

Better education tends to increase the wages you earn, too.

Expand full comment

This is why they are now always about hatred, immigration and slurs against minorities. The dichotomy of lazy immigrants stealing white peoples' jobs is ludicrous but people buy into it because preacher man sez so.

Expand full comment
Jan 25ยทedited Jan 25

GQP pulled that bit on Obama. They called him both weak and a tyrant.

Expand full comment

My Jewish grandma did not start lighting Sabbath candles until she was close to 90. Never went to synagogue either.

Expand full comment

I don't want my explanation to come off as completely mercenary. Elderly folks have seen a lot of death, and know it is approaching. No doubt they have a lot of non-mercenary feelings and thoughts about religion and 'what comes after' which drives many of them back to religion, too.

Expand full comment

I didnโ€™t take it as such. I think grandma was just hedging her bets. ๐Ÿ˜

Expand full comment

I think this is a general assumption, especially among religious folks, and having lived 80 years of my life and having friends around my age I think a very misguided assumption.

Expand full comment

I have to say my grandmother (1919-2010) and all her brothers and sister were all staunch atheists their entire lives. Even at the end, after spouses and even some children had died before them they didn't go grabbing at what they'd rejected decades before. My grandma did take my mom and uncles to Sunday school at a few different churches but mostly Unitarian ones and it was a combination of a break from 4 kids and reinforcing the moral rules she was trying to teach them. She especially disliked any church that tried to scare children into baptism or confirmation and also churches that were openly racist. None of her kids were ever baptized or confirmed although my mom took me to Unitarian and Presbyterian churches for a few years. I didn't confirm either. But none of them went to college out of the Greatest generation group. They were all insane readers though and so is everyone on that side of the family. My grandma didn't even finish high school, but eventually she got a proofreading job in her 50's at one of the big accounting firms in Los Angeles. She never learned to drive either. To me it's just logical to have doubt about things and require repeatable, verifiable evidence for things you accept as facts. I didn't get a degree either but I was an atheist as long as I can remember, I really don't understand why that's uncommon.

Expand full comment
Jan 24ยทedited Jan 24

Some of the most powerful, compelling voices here are women. No surprise. :)

Expand full comment

"Foxglove" comes to mind. It is as if the female mind is much better at linguistics. 8^)

Expand full comment

I loved how hers were off when trolls annoyed us on Patheos. I miss her.

Expand full comment

I miss her, too. Annabelle was sharp and knew her stuff.

Expand full comment

โ€œDearโ€ฆ.โ€

When one of her comments started off that way, I knew I was in for a verbal treat.

Expand full comment

Indeed. I'm also thinking of a certain entrepreneur (she of the freaky sex circus) in addition to a number of very vocal regulars that grace us with their fabulous presence.

Expand full comment

Kay-el is a newbie but had no trouble finding her place here.

Expand full comment

I still remember Andrea from Portland waaaaay back when I first started posting at FA.

Even if I don't call out a specific name for all our Wonder Women here, don't think they're not on my mind.

Expand full comment

They were 4 blogs I read on Patheos : Roll to disbelieve, Friendly Atheist, Love, joy, feminism and the 4th I can't remember but it was an American woman living in Costa Rica. There is a lot of commenters names I forgot, starting with a third transwoman who, like Foxglove, was lost in the moving.

Expand full comment

Name please.

Expand full comment

That would be our very own Val Uptuous. She of the Ice Cream Cakes.

Expand full comment

I'm really feeling like I missed an exciting epoch from reading these comments!

Expand full comment

You do. Go away.

One less. Now I just have to get rid of NOGODZ and Bags.

Expand full comment

Thank You for whatever?

Expand full comment

You are a man stealer so you need to leave me your place ๐Ÿ˜

Expand full comment

So I am going to be spared the axe?

Expand full comment

I don't know for which team you bat, not that it's my business.

Expand full comment

Old people are more likely than young people to be religious. Women typically marry men who are several years older than they are, and men's lifespans are shorter than women's on average. That makes for a lot of elderly widows, who are probably the most regular church-goers and skewing the percentage of religious people toward the female.

Expand full comment

This could easily be nothing more than normal statistical variations you expect with sampled data, it will take time to find out if it's real.

Expand full comment

Iโ€™m in your math boat with you. Converting Celsius to Fahrenheit every day is about all the math my brain can handle. Hi there by the way.

Expand full comment

Hรฉrรฉtique ! The metric system is not to be tampered with.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=jxO1-AU5Egw&pp=ygUWaMOpcsOpdGlxdWUgYXUgYnVjaGVyIA%3D%3D

Expand full comment

Let's go back to cubits.

Expand full comment

I was thinking about that game as I was typing my comment about cubits.

Expand full comment

Which one ? https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cubit

Expand full comment

Well, bigger is better, right? So I guess we should go with the Roman cubit.

Expand full comment

Indeed, and probably is.

Expand full comment

I guess these stats put to rest the idea that the non-religious folk canโ€™t tell right from wrong because they donโ€™t have any guidance from above. But you all knew this :D

Expand full comment

Fake News!!! The apologists will take no more notice of this data than they do the data on climate change (much less the human contribution to the problem) or evolution.

Expand full comment

True, but I was thinking of the normal populace not the loon ones. Facts are just pesky things to be swatted away for them.

Expand full comment

I wonder how many other businesses realize that a Trump presidency is bad for them?

Expand full comment

What are you talking about ? Drumpster candidacy and presidency was a bless... Oh, were you talking about American businesses ?

Expand full comment

He gave a good speech to them today.

Expand full comment

Biden wants to build. Trump wants to destroy.

Expand full comment

Trump wants to build monuments to himself.

Expand full comment
Jan 25ยทedited Jan 25

He claims to be a nondenominational Christian, but what he really is is Juche.

For those unfamiliar with the word, it basically treats the leader of the state as a god and transfers worship of supernatural deities to that state leader.

Sounds like Trump, all right.

Expand full comment

Modelled after his North Korean bestie?

Expand full comment

Exactly.

Expand full comment

I think we should see in a couple years, not only this could be just a one off, but once we have to go through the election and whatever fallout that brings. Be it a Trump win and subsequent dictatorship, or his loss and the inevitable insurrection that follows and the fallout from that. Will the fascism and violence lead folks away from religion or toward it? I know the currently religious folks will run to more fundamentalism. Will the rest see the connection between the dictatorial violence and religion and run from it?

All in all, I expect the next few years to be quite volatile and for religion to be at the heart of the worst of it. I do think there will be claims of religion to be a part of the best as well, similar to the slavery issue.

Expand full comment

It will indeed be volatile, because Trump will resist exiting stage right. Maybe he'll be too busy trying to stay out of jail to incite more insurrectionists.

Expand full comment

He's been inciting them for 3 years now. It won't matter if he speaks in November from a stage or a cell, it's still likely to have people trying to overthrow the government.

Expand full comment

OT: I sent this to Hemant, but until he writes something here's Iowa Xtian theofascists trying to push chaplaincy into our public schools.

https://iowastartingline.com/2024/01/24/iowa-bill-would-let-public-schools-hire-unlicensed-chaplains-but-unintended-consequences-may-arise/

Expand full comment

Unlicensed (or even licensed) chaplains and school children. What could go wrong?

Expand full comment

"we have chaplains provided in our hospitals,"

Last I checked you are not supposed to die in schools, at least in most countries.

Got one who came uninvited in my room at the hospital. He barely had the time to say "catholic priest" before I told him "Not interested" and showed him my back.

I was more interested by the secular volunteers who came to lend magazines and books.

Expand full comment

Well, if the Republicans have their way, dying in schools will surge in popularity over the next couple of years.

Expand full comment

We had a nun come to see us when we had a stillbirth. She was absolutely fucking hopeless. Just sat there repeating "its hard". Which to be honest I already knew. Couldn't wait to get rid of her.

Expand full comment

I had one show up in my room. I said "Get the fuck out of here before I call security."

Expand full comment

What the hell do public schools need with chaplains? Let Christian students take their troubles to their clergy on their own time and away from school.

Expand full comment

At least Iowa isn't trying to replace school councilors with volunteer chaplains. That was Texas' idea.

Expand full comment
Jan 25ยทedited Jan 25

Phase 1 - Collect Underpants.

Expand full comment

Phase 2 is sniffing bicycle seats?

Expand full comment

I know Phase 3 = Profit!

Expand full comment

Or is it Profet?

Expand full comment

CSI: TOS did an episode on that.

Expand full comment

I think America needs to go old school here and start throwing that stuff in the harbor, remind them who we are

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-68085304

Expand full comment

I brew my tea 'til it's bitter as hell and strong enough to pour itself. ๐˜š๐˜ฐ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ. Just you Redcoats try an' stop me!

Expand full comment

Redcoat or Turncoat?

Expand full comment

You need more than one ship-load to make a harbourful of tea. And the water is not hot enough, either.

Expand full comment

Not yet.

Expand full comment

Lipton is not tea it's what you have left in the sink once you washed your dishes ๐Ÿคฌ

Expand full comment

I don't wash dishes in the sink.

Expand full comment

TMI.

Expand full comment

What, doesn't everyone spit shine their dishes?

Expand full comment

Civilised people drink champagne in it and then threw the... Or is it an urban myth about some weird shoes fetish ๐Ÿค”

Expand full comment

Honestly, most people these days just put in a teabag swish it around a couple of times squich it against the side of the cup and drink the resulting brownish liquid. Best tea I ever had was a handful of leaves thrown in a billy sweetened with condensed milk. Mind you I'd been walking for about eight hours and that might have had something to do with it.

Expand full comment

as some one who salts his watermelon at times it does get rid of the slight bitterness they can sometimes have.

Expand full comment
Jan 25ยทedited Jan 25

The salt is for the pineapples, not watermelons!

Also, you're not supposed to eat the white or green parts...

Expand full comment

don't knock it until you tried it. (salt and watermelon)

Expand full comment

"Don't knock it until you tried it."

Is Spam's current advertising slogan.

Expand full comment

My dad always salted his watermelon slices. He said it brought out the sweetness.

Expand full comment

๐Ÿ‰=๐Ÿคฎ

Expand full comment

I take my tea with milk and sugar. It's the English part of me.

Expand full comment

1) Nepaleses and Tibetans want a word with England.

2) Stop brewing your tea with boiling water*, it's the reason of the bitterness. Unless you live in an area with no drinkable tap water.

*Especially green and white tea.

Expand full comment

Water boils for me at right around 200F/94C. Does that count?

Expand full comment
Jan 24ยทedited Jan 24

Are we to believe that boiling water on your stove happen at a lower temperature then the entire world? Well, perhaps the laws of physics cease to exist on your stove. Is this magic water? Did you buy water from the same guy who sold Jack his beanstalk beans?

Expand full comment

The higher up you are the lower the boiling point of water I think. That might be it.

Expand full comment

At Sea level the temp of boiling water is 212 f. Also it is a parody

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_T24lHnB7N8

Expand full comment

I recall a movie in which they used boiling water as an altimeter over some mountains.

Expand full comment
Jan 24ยทedited Jan 24

It's possible if he lives on a mountain high enough. Useful trick if you are climbers in dire need of something hot to eat or drink.

Expand full comment

The biggest factor in the acceptance by mainstream society of Black and gay people was simply getting to know some. I don't flaunt the fact that I'm an atheist, but I don't cover it up, either. And I publicly and visibly shake my head and express my disgust at stupid, hurtful things that are done in the name of religion. Each of us can be an ambassador for rational thinking if we lead by example.

Expand full comment

Too early to be talking about a plateau. Could be sampling error or any host of other things. I feel like weโ€™re not close to the plateau, yet, considering the underlying trends. The elderly are the most religious while the youngest generations are the least (also a possible explanation for why โ€œNonesโ€ are less politically active). One other factor thatโ€™s limiting the growth of the nones is immigration. I donโ€™t have stats off the top of my head but know that Hispanics tend to be very Catholic, so assume that could play a role as well.

Expand full comment

There are millions of Hispanic men named Jesus. What are they supposed to do? 'Hola. me llamo Jesus, soy atheisto.'

Expand full comment

Sรญ. Vivo en un pais Hispanico y conoce un persona se llama Jesus pero el no va a ningun iglesia.

Iโ€™m showing off here but just saying that not everyone named Jesรบs goes to church. Heโ€™s in his 30s by the way.

Expand full comment

Sneeze in the streets in Spain and wait. From my Spanish teacher, I never went to this country. Thanks to an idiot and their parents the year before I took Spanish as a third language, she stopped taking students there.

Expand full comment

Thanks...Julio Iglesias (Jules Churches).

Expand full comment

Last I heard, no Jews have named their son Jesus for the last 2023 years.

Expand full comment

Hay-soos is Greek for Joshua.

Expand full comment

As this PRC analysis concentrates on the US alone (where Christianity is the dominant religion), this plateau is to be expected.

I like to see Pew do analysis on "nones" worldwide. Might get a very different result.

Expand full comment

Can you say Alahu Akbar? That's some popular Kool-aid in Africa, Middle East, the Stans, and Indonesia. And Dearborn, Michigan.

Expand full comment

IT'S A TRAP!!!

Expand full comment

IT'S A COOKBOOK!!!!

Expand full comment

More proof that repukelicans are too stupid to think.

Expand full comment
founding

"How many more people are there to get? At some point, you have to believe weโ€™ve found just about all the people who are fed up with organized religion."

Oh, not to worry. As they are itemized later in the OP, organized religion continues to pump out outrages, bigotries, sex scandals, money scandals, outright crimes, idiotic responses to public crises, and fascist politics faster than an arms factory in a wartime economy. The effect of all that abundant productivity of last straws will have its ups and downs on society's disgust with organized religion, but I think the long-term trend will keep going up, even if it is not as rocket-like.

Remember that there is another cause of the demise of religion that is not about particular outrages and last straws. It's the slow, quiet receding of humanity's interest in supernaturalism. It used to be like a thick, wall-to-wall carpet covering all of civilization. Now it's thinner in general, with almost bare spots and completely bare spots. There will be hold-outs for the next century or two, but this carpet is on its way out.

Expand full comment

My service provider: โ€๐‘ซ๐’ ๐’๐’๐’• ๐’„๐’๐’Š๐’„๐’Œ ๐’๐’Š๐’๐’Œ๐’” ๐’Š๐’ ๐‘บ๐‘ด๐‘บ ๐’ƒ๐’†๐’„๐’‚๐’–๐’”๐’† ๐’”๐’„๐’‚๐’Ž๐’Ž๐’†๐’“๐’” ๐’„๐’‚๐’ ๐’”๐’‘๐’๐’๐’‡ ๐’๐’–๐’“ ๐’๐’–๐’Ž๐’ƒ๐’†๐’“!โ€

Also my service provider: โ€๐‘ช๐’๐’Š๐’„๐’Œ ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’๐’Š๐’๐’Œ ๐’Š๐’ ๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’” ๐‘บ๐‘ด๐‘บ ๐’•๐’ ๐’‡๐’Š๐’๐’… ๐’๐’–๐’• ๐’Ž๐’๐’“๐’†.โ€

https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e1cc0eb453dfe10e340863409c5dd09f621beda207407df8ef9bb3f26dfb0494.jpg

Expand full comment

OT- ๐˜๐˜ฆ'๐˜ด ๐˜ฃ๐˜ข๐˜ข๐˜ข๐˜ข๐˜ข๐˜ข๐˜ค๐˜ฌ... https://apnews.com/article/jon-stewart-daily-show-return-048cd92c65c0e5bc246790fdcafaab00

I'm in two minds about this. On the one hand, Jon Stewart hosting The Daily Show again (even if only one day every week)- during a batshit crazy election season, at that. On the other hand, it feels like the network probably threw up their hands after rotating through temporary hosts for months on end and said "let's just give Jon a call since his podcast got cancelled and see if he bites."

On the ๐˜ฐ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ other hand... Jon Stewart's coming back to The Daily Show! I ๐˜ค๐˜ข๐˜ฏ'๐˜ต be unhappy about that.

Expand full comment

I favour Klepper, but he's much more valuable out and about it seems to me.

Expand full comment
Jan 25ยทedited Jan 25

"Klepper Fingers The Pulse" is a damned funny segment, I'll give you that. He has "the look" to get him deep inside right-wing spaces before they realize what he's up to, and that makes their reactions all the more hilarious.

Stewart's first tenure as host, however, was one of the major influences over my shift towards progressivism (and ๐˜ข๐˜ธ๐˜ข๐˜บ from my thrice-accursed libertarian phase), and his passionate advocacy since leaving the show has been something else entirely. I look forward to seeing what he does with his old platform back. I suspect there will be a few differences... but not unwelcome ones, for those who've been keeping an eye on his career since he handed the show off to Trevor Noah (who was ๐˜ข๐˜ญ๐˜ด๐˜ฐ excellent, and will be missed; I loved the show during his tenure, as well, and hope to see more of him).

Why I, in particular, am excited to see what Jon does with the show over the next year:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NPmjNYt71fk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ufwu68pOWBg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DEuiVd1LIMU

...and for his work on other issues: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_uYpDC3SRpM

The man's been killing it. ๐˜’๐˜ช๐˜ญ๐˜ญ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ. It. He's a good ally. As near as I can tell, for anyone- and he's still just as funny as he was twenty years ago.

Expand full comment

Show everyone how it's done, Jon.

Expand full comment