We’ve seen a long-run decline in prayer, church attendance, identification with particular religions, and belief in God or the importance of religion. I tend to attribute such trends to increasing wealth. Adam Gopnik agrees:
That Adam Gopnik is a troublemaker! My pal Grapes could tear apart his philosaphy in minutes. But right now Grapes in Sochey, in that commieland Russia, where he has to broadcast the honckey games for the lefty CBC!
Gopnik likes to talk about snow and winter in Canada a lot, but hey, he lives in that fancy uppity NewYork City. He don't know snow any more!I bet Gopnik has never played honckey, and probably can't even skate.
I expanded my comment into a full reply http://abstractminutiae.tum...
Economics of religion consistently finds a significant and strong social-insurance aspect to religious attendance. See for example, http://faculty.washington.e... . This fits the model proposed by Iannaconne of religious orgs as emerging to provide private social insurance, and using religious ritual, stigma, sacrifice etc. as costly signals of commitment to prevent free-rides.
Thus wealth does not lead to religious decline -- social security does. The correlation with wealth exists because people's income elasticity for social welfare is greater than unity. As the state's safety net moves in as a lower cost substitute to local safety nets, people still remain mystical, but their mysticism doesn't need to be organized and tested around a particular locus.
Thus if wealth declines but social security remains high, I see no reason for there to be a major resurgence in organized religion. Instead look for scenarios where collective action is difficult and enforcement is weak. An em-world scenario seems to me one of extremely low transaction costs and high degrees of secularized collective action.
I'd be really interested to see the hypothetical atheist Hindu's and atheist Muslim's arguments against eating beef and pork. Its a pretty good test for the hypothesis too.
Two unrelated comments.
1. On the religiosity of ems. Em society isn't _simply_ impoverished; some ems are extraordinarily rich. They may have no need for religion (except perhaps to salve their consciences). Since they will also have outsized social status, there will be some kind of dialectic between the high-status irreligious and the masses of religious ems.
2. I question whether you're correct that religion is a response to poverty. I'm inclined to think it's a response to oppression (which in application often comes to the same). I think the injuries for which religion offers compensation are injuries to status rather than to material well-being. That's why the poor are assured that, in heaven, the streets will be lined with gold.
The issue almost reduces to whether poor but unoppressed foragers were religious--or was religion an invention of agricultural societies? Foragers, whatever their economic level, were "poor" in the relevant sense of having to endure enormous pain.
Women didn't die in childbirth all that often (moreso than today, but still rarely) before doctors got their mucky hands in. Child mortality was certainly higher though. It makes evolutionary sense for a mother not to risk her body that much on a child (which will presumably be much less likely to survive without her) when she still has the chance to make more.
I think because of faster population growth due to em copying.
You have said that you expect wealth to decline before, but I missed your elaboration on it. Why do you expect it to happen?
I think you have it backwards: there is no specific dogma in Christianity against infanticide, except the generic "thou shall not kill", which exists, in one form or another, in any religious, moral or legal system whatsoever.
A Christian may say that infanticide is morally wrong because it is a "sin", but in reality that's just a product of sensibilities instilled by a modern Western society, which the Christian is projecting on his or her idea of god.
"So religion will remain a big influence on the world even if we keep getting richer."
Yes, but constrictive organized religion will diminish. It is organized religion that was so strong in poor agrarian societies. The vague spiritual beliefs many people hold today are very reminiscent of ancient (pre-agrarian) shamanic beliefs and those were good enough to comfort prehistoric people who also had women die in childbirth, the difference is about freedom as well as wealth. This isn't the only area where increasing wealth and personal freedom tend to bring back things from our pre-agrarian, things past that are perhaps more true to our nature when we're not constantly struggling to survive.
I have known perhaps two thoroughgoing rationalists—people who actually tried to eliminate intuition and navigate life by reasoning about it
Intuition isn't necessarily irrational; but moralism is. (For the difference, see "Morality and free will are hazardous to your mental health" — http://tinyurl.com/nxsvtxt .)
Moralism is protected by the same mental mechanism as faith. (See "The unity of comprehension and belief explains moralism and faith" — http://tinyurl.com/cxjqxo9 .)
My guess is that non-religiosity is fueled by, for short, "personal security." Which should of course be highly correlated with wealth, but not exactly. (E.g. the USA has much lower personal security than nearly all countries with similar wealth.)
Some data here:http://commonsenseatheism.c...
Agree. And from my experience, the group of people that are most aghast at Dostoyevsky's "if there is no god, everything is permitted" hypothesis are sophisticated western atheists. Ronald Dworkin is a good example of this.
One of Moldbug's most brilliant observations is that the modern religion of the cosmopolitan West is simply Unitarian Universalism slightly modified to remove the references to God and the need to go to church.
Just because you're atheistic doesn't mean you're areligious. Theravada Buddhists prove this quite handily. A lot of educated people now claim to have abandoned Christianity but their belief system looks a hell of a lot more like devout 19th century New England Congregationalists than for example atheistic Ancient Greek Sophists.
And even removing God, Christian belief systems still remain totally implanted in the brain. Ask a Western atheist a question like "Is infanticide morally wrong?" The justification will ultimately rest on some vague moral intuition, which is by no means universal, but simply a product of sensibilities instilled by a Christian society. Quite similar I'd expect that many former Hindu atheists have roundabout justifications for why you shouldn't eat beef.
This can be rather easily explained: wealth makes people irreligious, but religion (and its associated personality traits) makes people wealthy.
Wealthier societies become less religious, but the most successful members tend to be more religious.