Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Save the religious Kiwis before they become extinct

There is no accounting for the silliness of human beings, even when they otherwise show signs of learning and intelligence. The latest example comes from the USA where researchers looking at census data for NZ and some other countries have come up with the conclusion that religion is set for extinction in NZ. You can read the article here and the comments make interesting reading too.

It seems incredible that researchers could come up with such a conclusion when other evidence points in a different direction. For instance the secularization thesis (that Western countries were becoming more and more secular) has found itself undermined by both a rise in enthusiasm among Christians as well as by immigration drawing in active adherents of many faiths.

But, in particular, in NZ such a conclusion needs to account for a variety of factors such as the following: whether or not large families are drawn more from religious or non-religious ranks; immigration trends (so that, to take a  few examples, South Africans, Zimbabweans, and Koreans are contributing new members to churches, indeed often starting up new churches; then there is also the rising presence of Muslims and Hindus); and, finally, the resilience of some churches (such as the Roman Catholic church which has a mutually reinforcing commitment to active faith through its parish-and-church schools network ... certainly the 350+ Catholic congregation I was part of on Sunday did not look like becoming extinct anytime soon).

Of course it is always possible to modify a thesis in order to strengthen the certainty of the conclusion. Perhaps a better conclusion would be: religion set to become extinct among non-religious Kiwis.



Anonymous said...

The only sure thing we can say about the future is it will not be what we say it will be (perhaps). The future belongs to those who show up for it. Demographic trends suggest that believers have more children than those who don't. & aging societies have to import people. I imagine a good deal will turn on the kind of teaching and Christian nurture young people have.

Peter Carrell said...

Well said, Palaiologos.

There are also trends which show that rugby will be extinct one day (declining playing numbers etc) ... yeah, right!

Anonymous said...

"There are also trends which show that rugby will be extinct one day (declining playing numbers etc) ... yeah, right!"

It will be if NZ doesn't win the RWC!


Father Ron Smith said...

Well, Peter, if Rugby is your religion, take care, Soccer has the largest following around the world - and it's infecting N.Z.

Peter Carrell said...

I am doomed, Ron, to living hell: I also love cricket!

Mike Crowl said...

This kind of thinking invades the church as well - it's not that long since there was a group advertising 'One generation to extinction' - in their concern for the smaller number of children in the church.
I haven't figured out whether it was the entire human population who were going to be extinct, or the church population, or just the children. Whichever, it made very little sense, and seemed like a sensationalist title rather than a particularly Biblical one.