Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Andrei Chaos theory predicts the end of religion in New Zealand

In a paper presented at an American Physical Society meeting in Dallas it was revealed that New Zealand is heading towards becoming a religion free country.

Not only New Zealand but eight others besides, those being Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Switzerland.

The boffins came to their conclusions after applying non-linear dynamics to census data questions on religion.

Then comes the hand wavy stuff to explain the results in non numerical terms.
The research pivoted on the idea that social groups that had more members are going to be more attractive to join, and that social groups had a social status or utility.

The researchers found that the relative social and utilitarian merits of membership of the "non-religious" category were similar across all the countries studied, suggesting that similar behaviour drove the mathematics in all of them.

And in all the countries, the indications were that religion was headed toward extinction.
It's true of course that in New Zealand and the other countries identified there has been a remarkable turning away from the Church. But that hasn't resulted in an increase of rationality, the converse in fact, we live in an age that is as superstitious as any that has ever existed.

Just look at the premium people pay for second rate organic produce if you doubt this. Or the compulsory tithes we pay to the Global Warming religion.

But beyond this the "relative social and utilitarian merits of membership" of the Church have throughout history frequently been low. But the Church has persisted through hard times.

It wasn't particularly advantageous to be a Christian in the Ottoman empire for example but Christianity persisted and it still persists in overtly hostile environments.

When it comes down to it what the authors of this study have missed, and what the ardent secularists don't get is that people do not go to Church for its relative social and utilitarian merits but to worship the Risen Christ and to grow in the faith so we may eventually reunited with the God who created us.

12 comment(s):

Lucia Maria said...

Andrei,

When it comes down to it what the authors of this study have missed, and what the ardent secularists don't get is that people do not go to Church for its relative social and utilitarian merits but to worship the Risen Christ and to grow in the faith so we may eventually reunited with the God who created us.

Absolutely. Amen.

James Stephenson said...

Andrei,

What the researchers have called the "perceived utility" of membership is a value that they have extracted from the data itself. The label is unimportant.

PZ Myers has a constructively critical post here: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/03/imagine_a_perfectly_spherical.php

One of his criticisms is that the "perceived utility" is not a parameter that can be independently measured, in other words for some reason during the Ottoman Empire this value would have been high if the Church was growing...you can't say that if life was hard for Christians therefore "u" is small.

The plain fact is that in the countries covered people feel that they don't get enough out of belief and worship and religion is in a (seemingly terminal) decline.

big bruv said...

Religion has been dead in NZ for years, we are now seeing the burial.

Lucia Maria said...

Burials in Christianity have been known to be followed by Resurrections. We'll be celebrating one next month.

big bruv said...

Not me, but I will enjoy the four days off.

Andrei said...

That's a good post James.

The last sentence is odd though

I'll still hope the math is a good predictor of the fate of faith.

Why? What is it about faith that is so disturbing that society would benefit if it were to disappear?

Lucia Maria said...

There was an interview with Peter Lineham, Massey University Associate Professor of Religious History with Mike Hosking of NewsTalkZB this morning on this. Lineham didn't think that religion would actually die out, but he didn't seem particularly favourably inclined towards the religious.

Here's the link to the audio.

I was particularly struck by the following exchange between Mike and Peter:

MIKE HOSKING: ... every child is born into a home with no religious affiliation, where do they get their religious affiliation from?

PETER LINEHAM: ... now that's a very good point and I think, you know, traditionally religion has been nurtured in the home and shoved down the throat of children because you want children to learn good manners and good morals and the like ...

bez999 said...

And when may we finally reach the point where everybody can determine for himself whether he wants to be religious and in what way, without that being an invitation for study, comment and derision on the one hand, and without the urge and need for proselytising on the other.

It's so simple in concept, but apparently impossible in practice not to be one's brother's keeper.

Lucia Maria said...

Bez,

That is where the atheists want it to go. Richard Dawkins, et al consider the conferring of religious belief to one's children to be child abuse.

Having an increasing population of mad Muslims in the West doesn't help, either.

bez999 said...

Just wrote a whole comment refuting that, which was lost in transfer. Don't feel like retyping it now.

Lucia Maria said...

That would be very annoying.

Psycho Milt said...

Yeah, Blogger's knackered several of my comments over the last few days as well - doesn't seem to be confined to any particular blog, just generally the Blogger comment interface.

It's true of course that in New Zealand and the other countries identified there has been a remarkable turning away from the Church. But that hasn't resulted in an increase of rationality, the converse in fact, we live in an age that is as superstitious as any that has ever existed.

Bang on. Turning away from traditional religious belief doesn't appear to me to be correlated with turning away from superstition in general - any gathering of hippies (a Green Party conference, eg) demonstrates quite clearly that other irrational beliefs fill the gap when religion is in retreat.

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