Sunday, January 15, 2012

Religious Apathy

Here in New Zealand it seems to me that there is a substantial portion of the population that just doesn't really care about religious issues at all. Perhaps it's just the people who I associate with, but I suspect it is somewhat representative of the population at large.

 Out of the approximately 100-300 people I interact with socially on a regular-infrequent basis the topic of religion only comes up in conversations with an extreme minority of them (less than 10%). Out of those few, less than half of them are religious (and half of those that are religious are my own family members). A large number of my friends that I grew up going to church with have either stopped going altogether, or still go, but no longer believe. Approximately (very rough guess) 10-30% of those from the aforementioned social group nominally belong to some religion. For example it might list 'Christian' on their facebook info, but that's about the extent of their outwards religiosity. As far as I can tell, the remainder of the group either is nominally irreligious, believes in a 'higher power' or just don't seem to give a damn.

Just to clarify, if any of you are reading this post, I'm not trying to criticise your beliefs or lack thereof, just pointing out what I think is an interesting piece of sociological data.

The reason I'm so fascinated in these issues is because I used to be so religious, and I find the phenomena of religious belief intriguing. For those on whom religion has had a negligible effect it may all seem like hocus pocus and make-believe, or just something that's a part of life that doesn't need to be questioned. No real over-arching point to this, but hopefully it has given you something to think about.


  1. Hahaha "still go, but no longer believe."

    Is that me..?

  2. Actually yeah... You're in both =)

  3. I think most teenagers don't care because of increasing secularization and trend in society to keep away God from it. Sometimes is that they are scared due to rejection for not going "mainstream". Some don't believe because they don't want to be held responsible or because they think they have to do something which they don't want to do.

  4. When I was young, I read the book “The Denial of Death” by Ernest Becker. I think it’s a great book and I agree with him that the religious drive is our heroic attempt of denying our own mortality. You see: our death, if final, nullifies all meanings, not only in the moment of our death, but in an absolute sense. This is unbearable and so, we try to deny the knowledge that we’ll eventually die.

    Also, I think that in this “global village” (McLuhan), is impossible not to realize that our own religion is just a birth or geographical accident for most of us. In such a context, is intriguing that just a few among us bother thinking deeply about the significance of this. Since most of us never do that, I’m convinced that religion is also a superficial thing for most of us, i.e., something that we simply do, for the sake of it, like partying, filling our heads with booze and talking nonsense or supporting a football team (any team will do, we just enjoy the catharsis of joining the crowd and cheering).