Thursday, May 05, 2005

Secularization thesis is bogus - Iannaccone

Laurence R. Iannaccone, "Introduction to the Economics of Religion," Journal of Economic Literature, Vol. XXXVI (September 1998), pp. 1465-1496. (JSTOR)

"Never mind that the secularization thesis is wrong ...; it has spawned a body of stylized facts that few dare question. For example: that religion would inevitably decline as science and technology advance; that inidividuals become less religious and more skeptical of faith-based claims as they acquire education, particularly more familiarity with science; and that membership in deviant religious groups (so-called 'sects, cults, and fundamentalisms') is usually the consequence of indoctrination..."

1. "American church membership has risen through most of the past two centuries - from 17% of the population at the time of the Revolution .... to more than 60% today."
2. "The fraction of the U.S. population employed as clergy has remained at 1.2 per thousand for the past 150 years."
3. "Since the advent of the national opinion polls in the late-1930s, the percentage of Americans claiming to attend church in a typical week has remained remarkably stable, around 40%."
4. "Surveyed religious beliefs have proved nearly as stable as church attendance."
5. "Total church contributions appear to have remained around 1% of GNP since 1955."
6. "In numerous analyses of cross-sectional survey data, rates of belief and religious activity tend not to decline with income, and most rates increase with education."
7. "Charges of forced indoctrination ... have been so thoroughly debunked that few courts and even fewer scholars now take them seriously."
8. "Irreligion is most pronounced in the humanities and social sciences; faculty in the physical sciences and professional fields are much more likely to attend church, profess faith, and approve of religion....It is, in fact, only within the social sciences most committed to the secularization thesis (psychology, anthropology, and, to a lesser extent, sociology) that one finds high levels of antireligious sentiment."
9. "Throughout the world, fast growing religions tend to be strict, sectarian, and theologically conservative."

No comments: