Saturday, July 13, 2019

The blameless fanatic

Was reading a bit about automatic writing by Yeats this morning and his interest in the occult, which led to discovering a text from Sinnett called Esoteric Buddhism. Like many morning reading sessions, one click led to another, and I found a few quotes I wanted to save for posterity's sake. Warnings against fundamentalism and fear of The Other are on my mind a lot lately...but the beauty of the bold type deserves to be saved (my emphasis added).

Perhaps to understand the hatred of the fanatic, we must study how one acquires a blamelessly devoted attitude of mind:
"Nothing can produce more disastrous effects on human progress, as regards the destiny of individuals, than the very prevalent notion that one religion followed out in a pious spirit, is as good as another, and that if such and such doctrines are perhaps absurd when you look into them, the great majority of good people will never think of their absurdity, but will recite them in a blamelessly devoted attitude of mind." (Sinnett 1885, pp. 194–195; Guénon 2004, p. 126.)
Sinnett, A. P. (1885) [1883]. Esoteric Buddhism (5th ed.). London: Chapman and Hall Ltd
"It is priestly imposture that rendered these gods so terrible to man; it is religion that makes of him the selfish bigot, the fanatic that hates all mankind out of his own sect without rendering him any better or more moral for it. It is the belief in God and gods that makes two-thirds of humanity the slaves of a handful of those who deceive them under the false pretence of saving them." (Barker 1924, Letter 10.)
Kuthumi; et al. (1924). Barker, A. T. (ed.). The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett from the Mahatmas M. & K. H. New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company Publishers

Thursday, March 28, 2019

rise of the "nones"

Is the shift away from religion a true zeitgeist or a passing fad?

After reading an article in today's NYT about the rise of "religious nones" -- people who respond "no religion" when surveyed -- with a cool accompanying graph, I decided to dig back through some archives and put together a few years' worth of info. (I've put much the same sort of thing together before a few times.)




  • In the largest religious self-identification survey ever done (CUNY ARIS), statistics show that the greatest growth in a religious demographic group from 1990 - 2001 occurred in "no religion": from 8% in 1990 to 14% in 2001. Quote, "the greatest increase in absolute as well as in percentage terms has been among those adults who do not subscribe to any religious identification; their number has more than doubled from 14.3 million in 1990 to 29.4 million in 2001" (more here)
  • Pew's new surveys peg the number of nonreligious slightly higher: 16.1%, with 4% atheist + agnostic and 12.1% generally unaffiliated
  • From the same CUNY ARIS survey, the growth in the raw number of "no religion" folks swamps the Evangelicals by about 30-fold and non-denoms by about 14-fold. In numerical form, the "no religion" switch from some prior religion increased by approx. 6.6 million persons, and those "switching out" of non-religion (i.e., converting to a religion from none beforehand) were approx. 1.1 million persons = approx. 5.5 million net deconverts. Do the math on this, and you'll see that no other category even comes close. Not one. The next highest number of net converts is 1.4 million for "Christian" (fourfold less) and then 600,000 for "Pentecostal". So I don't see how the data could encourage people to say that people are "moving away from atheism." (more here)
  • Also from Pew: "People moving into the unaffiliated category outnumber those moving out of the unaffiliated group by more than a three-to-one margin. At the same time, however, a substantial number of people (nearly 4% of the overall adult population) say that as children they were unaffiliated with any particular religion but have since come to identify with a religious group. This means that more than half of people who were unaffiliated with any particular religion as a child now say that they are associated with a religious group. In short, the Landscape Survey shows that the unaffiliated population has grown despite having one of the lowest retention rates of all "religious" groups."
  • In a 2004 Pew Poll, "The study found the highest share of people yet, 16 percent, who said they had no religious affiliation. Some of those were actually nonspecific spiritual seekers or people between denominations, but almost 11 percent of the respondents said they were atheist or secular."
  • In a 2006 Harris Interactive Poll, "A Financial Times (FT)/Harris Poll conducted among adults in the United States and in five European countries (France, Italy, Germany, Great Britain and Spain) shows that Americans are more likely than Europeans to believe in any form of God or Supreme Being (73%). Of the European adults surveyed, Italians are the most likely to express this belief (62%) and, in contrast, the French are the least likely (27%)." 14% of respondents in the US self-identified as agnostic and 4% as atheist. Six percent chose, "Would prefer not to say." If you (safely) assume that all of these three categories are probably not religious, that's one in four Americans who either: i) disbelieve in God's existence, ii) doubt the existence of God, or iii) don't really have an opinion either way.
  • In a Baylor U. poll in Sept. 2006, "In 2004, the General Social Survey reported that 14.3 percent of the population had no religion, but by using a more detailed measure in the Baylor survey, researchers determined that only 10.8 percent of the population or approximately 10 million Americans are unaffiliated." Although 10.8% of persons are "religious nones", only 5.2% were willing to self-identify as atheists. Others aren't sure.
  • In a March 2007 Newsweek poll, "Nine in 10 (91 percent) of American adults say they believe in God and almost as many (87 percent) say they identify with a specific religion. ... Although one in ten (10 percent) of Americans identify themselves as having "no religion," only six percent said they don’t believe in a God at all. Just 3 percent of the public self-identifies as atheist, suggesting that the term may carry some stigma."
  • In a Nov. 2007 Harris poll, "The poll of 2,455 U.S. adults from Nov 7 to 13 found that 82 percent of those surveyed believed in God, a figure unchanged since the question was asked in 2005." If 82% actively believe in God, that's 18%, again, who are atheists + agnostics (just like the 2006 poll where it was 4% atheist, 14% agnostic).
  • The 2005 global data from Adherents.com suggests that 16% of people globally are atheist, agnostic, or closely related to one of the two.
  • Data analyzed by Zuckerman and Paul led them to conclude, "in 1900 expected the massive defections from Christianity that subsequently took place in Western Europe due to secularism…. and in the Americas due to materialism…. The number of nonreligionists…. throughout the 20th century has skyrocketed from 3.2 million in 1900, to 697 million in 1970, and on to 918 million in AD 2000…. Equally startling has been the meteoritic growth of secularism…. Two immense quasi-religious systems have emerged at the expense of the world's religions: agnosticism…. and atheism…. From a miniscule presence in 1900, a mere 0.2% of the globe, these systems…. are today expanding at the extraordinary rate of 8.5 million new converts each year, and are likely to reach one billion adherents soon. A large percentage of their members are the children, grandchildren or the great-great-grandchildren of persons who in their lifetimes were practicing Christians...

    In the 1940s and 50s 1-2% usually responded no asked if they believe in God, up to 98% said yes. A Harris study specifically designed to arrive at the best current figure found that 9% do not believe in a creator, and 12% are not sure. The over tenfold expansion of Amerorationalism easily outpaces the Mormon and Pentecostal growth rates over the same half century...

    America's disbelievers atheists now number 30 million, most well educated and higher income, and they far outnumber American Jews, Muslims and Mormons combined. There are many more disbelievers than Southern Baptists, and the god skeptics are getting more recruits than the evangelicals."
  • there is a large age gap in those who are not religious: 35% of 18-29 year olds reported "no religion" in the CUNY ARIS survey while only 8% of those 65+ did
  • this is also true of Pew Polling, which found, "The survey finds that the number of people who say they are unaffiliated with any particular faith today (16.1%) is more than double the number who say they were not affiliated with any particular religion as children. Among Americans ages 18-29, one-in-four say they are not currently affiliated with any particular religion."
  • this is also true internationally, with a third of the 18-29 year-olds in Spain being nonbelievers and half of Australian youths.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Sweating the sheets orange

At this point our "so-called 'president'" is in a full-blown panic, likely sweating the sheets orange at night, tossing & turning as he imagines Mueller's noose tightening around his flabby neck.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Traitor Trump

I just looked back eight months ago at the post on the election and thought I should update a few key facts. First, the numbers I used on 11/11/16 were not certified and were inaccurate. While certain takeaways about turnout are still true, the numbers used changed. For example, Hispanics had the lowest turnout of any demographic, just under 50%, which helped elect Traitor Trump.

Traitor? Yes. The last time I wrote, we were all listening to adamant denials of any meetings with any Russians, period. Yesterday we listened to Kushner try to explain why he left four separate Russian meetings off his security clearance forms. Back to the election numbers...

Here is the most important set of numbers:

Friday, November 11, 2016

Processing Prez Don the Con

I'm still just trying to absorb that we elected an orange reality TV star as our president. It just hasn't sunk in yet.

I could say what a million other people have said, but all I can take away from the reality of our election is that there is good news ahead. Before I get to that, look at the tale of the numbers with no spin or partisanship: Republicans barely, barely eeked out this win.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

shitshow storms

Funny that I don't write on this blog for a year, then I write a post about Don the Con the day before the infamous "grab her pussy" tapes drop. Now the GOP is in open revolt, with 30 days to go, and with massive defections from their nominee. Enjoy the shitshow, folks!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

election 2016

I voted for Bush twice and Obama twice. Spend more than five minutes reading through the material on this blog and you'll know in a hurry that I'm a liberal. How many people would even continue reading to find out what I think about this election? How many just shut down the minute you use a label like, "conservative" or "liberal" or "progressive"?

I want to say that I genuinely feel like this is not a normal election, and so serious reflection is called for. Our country is the greatest democracy the world has ever known. Democracy depends upon the citizens doing their civic duty and voting. Voting responsibly requires reflection and information.