Gregory Paul on “The Remarkable Success of Western Secularism.”

Paul cited statistics showing that religious belief is imploding in the advanced nations, though not so much in the US. Only about a quarter of Europeans are real believers (and many of those are Muslims). The loss of faith, he said, is spontaneous and bottom-up, with no authority promoting atheism (as under Communism).
To explain this, Paul theorized that education is a factor, with statistics showing that every year of college degrades religiosity by 7%. Another factor is wealth, with per capita GDP negatively correlated with religious faith. American anomalousness in this regard he sought to explain on the basis that the US has higher income inequality.
But the nub of his talk was that humans readily cast off religion when social conditions are benign. He contrasted Europe, with its pervasive social “safety nets,” job security, and free healthcare against the US, where people allegedly feel less secure—another of his correlations. Paul declared that universal healthcare in the US will prove to be the deathknell of religion.
I figured the audience (heavily left leaning, of course) would welcome this thesis. It did not. In fact, when Paul started to get into this point, the listeners went into open revolt. A feisty bunch—shouting at him from the floor. They just didn’t think he had the evidence to support his idea. He responded by insisting on the statistical correlations, but that didn’t cut it. (I contributed the shout, “correlation is not causation!”) Just when I thought Paul would be defenestrated, he was saved by the bell—literally—the fire alarm bell. We had to evacuate the building. Audience discussion continued on the street. Eventually we returned to the room. But Gregory Paul was never seen again!

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2 Responses to “Gregory Paul on “The Remarkable Success of Western Secularism.””

  1. Ben Dreidel Says:

    Any idea why the people were rejecting the thesis? I have my own guess.

    FSR COMMENT: I indicated in my posting that it was because they simply didn’t believe he had the evidence to support the idea–which I agreed with. Humanists are believers in evidence to back up beliefs.

  2. Gregory Kipp Says:

    These sorts of reactions show you how silly the whole argument is. People don’t care about the facts .. only about their preformulated opinions and whether some fact or another validates that opinion or not. Of course people don’t rely on religion as much in good times. Religion has always been a sanctuary during times of bad. That’s just human nature. Why do you think some baseball fans are called “fair-weather” fans.

    The real question is what role should religion play in modern society. There is a strong tension between fundamental religious teachings and the truths of the modern world. Maybe some compromise is in order. Instead of not allowing any religious displays on public property, maybe we should allow each religion to have their own holiday display there. That way we show the diversity and tolerence for different religious views, an important principle for the founding of this country.

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