Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Resounding No.

Recently there was a poll on asking the question 'Is there a god?' not surprisingly, the results of the poll showed 58.3% of the people responded with a no 40.1% saying yes and only 1.6% saying they weren't sure. There were a total of 162556 at the time of me writing this post. The poll is still open if you wish to add your vote into the mix. This is by no means a scientific poll and should not be used to say that 58.3% of kiwis do not believe in god. It is merely indicative of a greater trend towards godlessness. If you take a look at New Zealand census data you can see a steady trend away from religion and a trend towards 'No Religion'.
In 1991 around 75% of the population wrote Christian on their census forms, while a mere 20% chose no religion. In 1996 these numbers went to 68% and 28% respectively, 2001 went to 60% and 32%. The latest census was in 2006 and showed around 55% Christian and 38% non-religious. This trend towards irreligion extends further than New Zealand and into virtually every single country on the earth. Our next census should come in 2011 and I'll be excited to tick the No Religion box, and then more excited still to see the census data when it is published.


  1. It only stands to reason that mankind will eventually move away from our superstitious nature. The advent of science, and the advances it has allowed has sowed the crucial seeds of dissent amongst the population. Religion used to rule by keeping followers ignorant. That is unlikely to work in this day and age.

    The more we understand, the more we realise that there is no reason to bother with a god. When it comes down to it, all a god figure does for any religious group is provide a placebo effect equating to comfort and a release from worries.

    But still, gods won't go away anytime soon. If history has taught us anything, it's that humans aren't likely to let go of religion that easily. For all our intellect, all or advances, all our technology... we are still little more than clever chimps.

    Religion - Something that makes life easier and is technically a cheat... well, that's too important to let go of easily.

  2. An interesting view on things from Blag and I'd have to agree here, religion is nothing more than a comfort for people with fears of death and what may come after. I've come to terms with my mortality and what awaits me in the next life and as morbid as that sounds it's the truth and it's one less worry I have to deal with in this hectic world we live in.

  3. Another little catchphrase that amused me was this one.

    Religion, bronze age men trying to communicate with the weather.

  4. I read an interesting counterpoint to this argument the other day, similar to the one used by the Greens regarding climate change (ie isn't it better to take action against climate change and be wrong, and still be alive and have a planet to live on, than to not take action and be wrong, dead, and planetless?) In terms of God, isn't it better to believe and be wrong, and nothing happens, than to not believe and be wrong, and suffer the consequences? That Rowan Atkinson 'Roll Call in Hell' skit occured to me as I read this - you know, when he's the Devil and he's welcoming new arrivals to hell: "Athiests... bet you're feeling like right nitwits now!" plus all the Christians ending up in Hell as well!

  5. The first person to put forward such an argument as that Karl was Blaise Pascal, and it is known as Pascals Wager. What Pascal said was that there were 4 possible outcomes.
    The first being you believe in God and you're right, and you go to heaven.
    The second being you believe in God and you're wrong, and nothing happens to you.
    The third being you don't believe in God and you're right, and nothing happens to you.
    The last being you don't believe in God and you're wrong, and you burn in hell for eternity.
    Pascal put forward that only one of these four outcomes has a negative ending and that is the fourth and final outcome, and he proposed that you are better off believing just in case god does exist.
    Now this type of argument has many problems. The first problem is deciding which God to believe in, Do you choose the Jewish God, the christian version of the jewish god, (any of the 30,000 other christian versions), the Muslim God, the Hindu religion, Roman Paganism, Greek Paganism, Scandinavian Paganism, African paganism, voodoo and so on and so forth. There are literally thousands of gods and religions to choose from. So we have taken Blaise Pascals four outcomes and multiplied it by tens of thousands. When you get to ridiculous numbers of gods, it's a bit like playing the lottery.

    The second major problem is that Pascals wager only really is an argument for feigned belief. If it happened to be a god like the christian concept of god who is omniscient, or at least very intelligent he/she/it would most certainly see through the feigned belief and damn you anyway for being dishonest.

    The only thing we really have to go on, is examining the claims of any given religion to determine whether or not it is plausible, since there is no evidence for or against the existence of gods.

  6. The only way that Pascal's Wager would be useful was if there was a god who was by proxy every religions god. In this situation his wager would actually make sense.

    Two problems though:

    1) We can't guarantee there is one proxy-god who is every religions god, so Pascal's four outcomes are still entirely flawed.

    2) The supposed outcomes are relying on this god being benevolent, which isn't remotely certain.

    Following a strictly christian perspective this seems like a logical argument, but when you consider that there is more religions around whose perspective on a god don't agree... well, you begin to realise that there is more variables to consider.

    But by all means, believe in a god if you think it will improve your chances... but like KJ said, he might realise you are just feigning belief...

  7. Pascals wager is an appeal to consequences. Nuff said. :P

  8. Nice one, I'd not heard of Pascal's wager before. It seems to tie in well with the more liberal viewpoints of an omniscient life force and the whole Allah=Jehovah=God=Jupiter=Osiris-Ra=all the various incarnations of all the Hindu gods etc. Kind of like 'Tashlan' in the last Narnia book, "Tash is Aslan, Aslan is Tash!", although even CS Lewis kind of subscribes to the theory when he says that if you do a good thing in Tash's name, it is actually a service to Aslan, whereas a bad thing in Aslan's name actually belongs to Tash. Interesting chap, that CS Lewis guy, I thoroughly recommend reading the Screwtape Letters if you've not already.