That’s the fascinating thesis of psychologist Nigel Barber, supported: (1) inductively, by research he’s been conducting; and (2) deductively, by a rather straightforward syllogism, which I would put this way:
- Religion thrives on fear and insecurity.
- Where people have it good, there is less fear and insecurity.
- Therefore, where people have it good, religion goes into decline.
I don’t see any correlation-causation fallacy at work here; it seems pretty plausible to me. If religion is a fear-management device and you remove the fear, then the need for the device is removed. Here’s how Barber puts it:
Why is religion in decline in modern democracies where ordinary people enjoy a good standard of living? It seems that with better science, with government safety nets, better health, and longer life expectancy, there is less fear and uncertainty in people’s daily lives. As a result there is less of a need for religion to help people cope with the otherwise uncomfortable feeling that they have little control over their lives.
The fast-paced modern world brings plenty of food, scientific medicine, climate controlled homes, reliable weather forecasts and many other innovations that put God out of business.
Therefore (drum roll, please):
The comforts of modernity lead to atheism.
If you’re an atheist, it seems to me, this should make for hope that, given time, your side will win (with or without formal intellectual argumentation). With the progress of science, technology, social democracy, and the growth of secular-oriented social groups, traditional religion, if the above syllogism is in accord with reality, must necessarily droop and wither of its own accord.
In this sense, an issue like Obamacare becomes, not just a healthcare issue, but an issue for advancing a more secular union and weakening religion’s grip on the collective human psyche. Likewise, the Preamble to the American constitution, written by Thomas Jefferson, becomes an agenda for quietly, but quite relentlessly, subverting Big Woo.
Psst. Here’s the atheist conspiracy’s secret weapon. Pass it on.
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.