Thursday, March 24, 2011

Religion Set to Go Extinct in Nine Nations?

I have to say that this is exactly the kind of study that screams bias and fudging of the data. Here are the highlights:
Dr Wiener continued: "In a large number of modern secular democracies, there's been a trend that folk are identifying themselves as non-affiliated with religion; in the Netherlands the number was 40%, and the highest we saw was in the Czech Republic, where the number was 60%."

The team then applied their nonlinear dynamics model, adjusting parameters for the relative social and utilitarian merits of membership of the "non-religious" category.

They found, in a study published online, that those parameters were similar across all the countries studied, suggesting that similar behaviour drives the mathematics in all of them.

And in all the countries, the indications were that religion was headed toward extinction.
Continue reading.
In other words they base this on mathematical models and not reality. Silliness. Joe Carter had a very good point about it all:
What is most interesting is that no one seems to have asked the obvious question: If religion goes extinct in societies where non-religious affiliation is more socially useful than religious affiliation, wouldn’t it also follow that religion would reach a saturation point in societies where religious affiliation is more socially useful than non-religious affiliation?

Can you imagine the panic that would result from a conclusive mathematical model that predicted America would soon be 100% religious?


Mike the Geek said...

One can mathematically extrapolate trends, but the underlying assumption is always "if this continues according to the current pattern." The problem is that it usually doesn't. One could make a good case that the European nations will reach (or have reached) a religious tipping point where they get taken over by Islam - at which point the number of people considering themselves "religious" will go through the roof.

Lals said...

I agree, this study is way over-extending its conclusions. As a scientist, I can tell you that with enough mathematical/statistical tweaking, any data set can be made to show nearly any conclusion. That is why scientific theory dictates that one should always go with the simplest answer. "Studies" like this are purely inflammatory and do nothing but deride the name of good science.

Besides, remember what Pope Ben said when he first came to the US? Clearly, I'm paraphrasing here, but he predicted that the Catholic Church would get much smaller and stronger before growing again.

One should never underestimate the power of Truth.