Monday, August 18, 2008

Losing our religion

This is from a report just released by MSD about the diversity of the New Zealand community and experience of new immigrants. The drop in Christian identifiers roughly equals the rise in having 'no religion'

One of the reasons more people are recorded as having no religion is the increase in the Asian population.

The drop in Christianity is quite rapid. It isn't being transmitted intergenerationally. I have always talked to my children about living by a philosophy akin to Christianity. Treat others as you would have them treat you and tolerance. To me these values are derived from reason. Not religion.

I was christened a Methodist and went to church and Sunday School as a child (and remain convinced Sunday School existed for parents to have some nookie though I have no evidence). But my generation was a questioning one. Religious belief seemed fraught with problems to me so I just stopped bothering. Neither of my children are christened. That was a deliberate decision because I am offended by the idea that children are born into sin. What balderdash. David has taken them to church on occasion but neither have found the experience so instructive and pleasurable that they desperately want to repeat it. Interestingly though my 9 year-old has recently been talking about believing in God but "just not God the Creator". So perhaps she will take after her father.

Religion in our house is as it should be anywhere. A matter of personal faith, and respect for such, rather than a source of division. Shared values are far more important.


scott said...

The survey does seem to show a decline in Christianity. This to me is a shame. Christianity is the foundation of our civilisation and I am incredibly pessimistic about our ability to survive as a viable civilisation without it. All around us we see violence and discontent and crime and social breakdown. This is because people had lost their moral moorings and have forgotten God.

So I would urge all the readers to put their faith in Jesus. I believe that he is the way to God. And he is the way to a better life in this world and eternal life in the next.

Anonymous said...

I do not buy the line that Christianity is the foundation of “our civilization”. That simply is not true. Western foundations were laid in Rome and Greece before the Christian theology evolved under Paul. The foundations of the Greeks was that there is a natural law which exists based on the nature of the entities involved. That the way to understand that law is through reason and logic. The great legal traditions that evolved in Western society started in both Athens and Rome.

We should not forget that Russia also had the Christian tradition (just not the Roman/Greek tradition). And throughout history the Russians were authoritarians -- under any regime they had. Even today as Russian Christianity is flourishing again they prove themselves authoritarian minded. If Christianity were the necessary foundation for western civilization why have the Russians managed to act so uncivilized for so very long.

The best legal traditions that secure our liberties did not come out of the Bible or out of the barbaric Middle East and any of its religious traditions.

Lucyna Maria said...

Anon, the Russians have had a state controlled church for centuries after the Byzantine model that they took their version of Christianity from. That's why Christianity has not tamed them, so to speak.

Lawrence of Otago said...

Scott, take pencil and write down two lists. Firstly those wars over the past 2000 years, that were fought in the name of your God. And secondly those that were not.

I see no peace whilst thiests are determined to change everyone to thier beliefs.

I have no problem with you holding your views.

The problems arise when you want me to practise my life according to your views.

If we extend that orginal list to non-war-like infringments upon freedom initiated by the churches. Then the list gets enormous.

So take a leaf out of Lindsay's good blog and respect the rights of others to NOT conduct their lives according to religious dogma.

Lawrence oO

Allistar said...

I find the general decline in religious adherence to be somewhat satisfying. To me religion is a suppressive social concept that limits our potential and seeks to limit our freedoms.

Morality does not require religion. Indeed, I would argue that ethics requires a distinct lack of religion (of the kind that seeks to bend others to its will).

May the upward trend towards secularity and atheism continue.

luggage79 said...

Lindsay wrote:
"A matter of personal faith, and respect for such, rather than a source of division. Shared values are far more important."

Amen to that! As my mother would say, who believes in God.
Spot on! As I would say, since I don't believe in God.
Sharing values and getting along with each other with love and mutual respect is much more important than trying to establish that my reasons for those values are somehow better than your reasons for the same values.

Anonymous said...

It is nice that atheism works for you, but to me it appears to be a crutch to lean on. Mankind's fallen nature is evidenced by reading the daily newspaper.

Anonymous said...

Lucyna: you say the state controlled Christianity in Russia thus the church didn't tame the people. the theory I was refuting was that Christianity tamed people and the state. Freedom is taming the state. That is what our civilization was supposedly about.

That Christianity didn't lead to freedom in Russia is proof that Christianity is insufficient to tame government and free people. Something the Christianists try to claim for the West. You also ignore the fact that the basic tenets of western civilization existed in Greece long before Christianity. While religion is slowly loosing its hold on the West those basic prinicples still are strong. What created western civilization was not Christianity.

I could also bring up how the first communist experiments, where authoritarian regimes were imposed in areas, were led by Christians. See the Taiping Rebellion and the Anabaptist communist experiements in Europe during the Reformation.

We also have various Christian groups repeatedly trying communal ownerships such as the Christians in Acts or the Pilgrims in the US (which lead to the starvation they experience -- they privatized their food the next year, had a bumper crop and have a "Thanksgiving" to celebrate that.)

Canterbury Atheists said...

Apologists should look to the U.S for the best social-commentary/example of what a Christian Nation is. Around 90% of the population, profess to be theists (more so if you reside in one of the numerous state penitentiaries) In every adverse statistic the U.S leads the western world. Conversely the more secular a country is – the lower the crime rate etc. Revisionist Christians ignore history by naively claiming a monopoly on morals. Their whole religion, is after all one big plagiarism e.g. Christmas, run by control freaks who want to tell you and me how we should run our lives & what we can and can’t do with our reproductive organs. I’ve always believed a loving parent(s) is better than an imaginary loving god(s). Great article which I plan to expand on.

Sean said...

"but neither have found the experience so instructive and pleasurable"

- what? were you expecting it to be like the movies?