Religion in today's society

Secularisation is the decline in religion.

There are significant signs of secularisation especially in countries that are considered more economically developed.

Attendance in religious services has halved in the amount of people from 25 years ago. 

Secular ideas such as humanism and atheism are taking over people's beliefs.

There are many reasons for decline:

  • Rejecting authority 
  • Increased knowledge of science. This can contradict religious beliefs and more people would support something that is empirically proven
  • Negative associations such as dull and unattractive worship can turn people away.
  • Modern commercialism and hedonism makes it seem more attractive rather than religion which is via negative, meaning self sacrifice. Hedonism makes it seem more attractive because of the pleasure. 
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The teachings of popular atheists

Two examples of popular atheists are the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens.

Dawkins outlines religion as the God delusion. The process of evolution contradict aspects of religion. Religion says humans are unique and that we are God's creation with a spiritual dimension. Biology suggests we are just highly developed mammals. Science is based on observation and religion is just fanciful. 

He believes religion is an indoctrination on children and is considered child abuse. If children are raised with religious views from their parents, this dulls their ability to be critical and open minded. 

Criticisms of Dawkins would be that he is accused of scientific fundamentalism as he has the same certainty with science that he criticises religion for.                                                                             There are many limitations with science and one of them being in the future theories that have been proven to be correct can in fact be falsified.

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Christopher Hitchens

He classes himself as an antitheist because he believes Religion suffers from totalitarianism as it creates fixed sets of ideas and values that are imposed on people. 

One consequence for him is that holding fixed religious ideas is intolerance. He points to examples of conflict in the world which have their roots in opposing sets of religious beliefs. 

Criticisms of hitch

- Religious thinkers were the ones that made just war theories. People such as the Dalai lama and the pope jonn have been the mosy vocal in condemning violence.

- religious thinking has in fact made an important contribution in human development such as using natural law to prevent immoral actions.

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New religious movements

The decline in mainstream religions such as Rc and CofE is one aspect of secularisation. There has been a rise in new religious movements though. For them, being religious is more associated with the effort to find something that transforms their lives from the ordinariness of everyday existence. 

They focus on achieving greater self-awareness.


Many NRM's have no need to have a belief in a supreme being and so rejects traditional Christian understanding of God, NRM are free to adopt random beliefs that have no basis in any religious authority as have adopted religious texts that are canonical. They are rejected by evangelical christians as they teach ideas that contradict the bible. There also groups that form secretive cults that are devoted to a particular person.

However, NRM can ve condemned just because its new christianity was viewed with suspicion first too.

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