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What have the noughties done for God?

Sarah McDermott | 11:50 UK time, Monday, 10 August 2009

Newsnight kicks off its series What Have the Noughties Done for Us? with a look back at religion...

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The Noughties has been a controversial decade for religion. With secularism on the rise, churches closing down and religion finding itself increasingly at odds with artistic expression, athiests have seized the chance to promote their message of a godless universe. So, how do you think religion has fared in the noughties? Leave your comments below.


  • Comment number 1.

    Whilst I applaud the way atheists now feel empowered to come out of the shadows and say, "I don't believe, and here's why", the aggressive approach of some has become as overbearing as the evangelism of the believers that they would claim to despise. Making informed, straightforward statements of the very strong case against the existence of God when challenged seems to me to be a far more effective approach than shouting back at those who would shout at you. When everyone shouts, only the loudest and the most foolish tend to be heard.

  • Comment number 2.


    you have to be kidding arent you?

    strange to pick an atheist to comment on religion,

    what do you think he's going to say? huh?

    please try a little harder Newsnight?

  • Comment number 3.

    So, how do you think religion has fared in the noughties?

    I think it has had a very long and bitter run and should now move over.

    Instead of spending hours on bended knee, listening to endless sermons and paying homage to one of many past prophets, we should all be focusing on the critical issues of how to make life on our planet sustainable.

    Today's headlines, and Newsnight's episode tonight, highlight impending food shortages, the main cause being over-population. It was 2 billion when I was born, now 6.8 billion and forcast to reach 9 billion by 2050!

    Differences in religious beliefs and faiths have not only been the oft-quoted cause of wars and strife; they have also encouraged over-population. I would quote the front cover of 'The Statesman' which had a rather different view about the death of one religious leader 2(?)years ago, but it would probably be disallowed by the moderator.

    I have previously expressed the view that the near-empty churches should not be demolished or allowed to perish without first trying a change of emphasis for our natural human goodwill, namely for the worship of our Mother Earth. I used to love singing hymns, although not without a touch of cynicism;-

    "All things Bright and Beautiful all creatures Great and Small;
    All thinbgs Wise and Wonderful, (Nature) made them all... (violent)!"

    But seriously, I believe that many more of us would like to attend church and sings psalms of praise to nature and our planet. It should be something that we can all believe in and care about, with perhaps sermons on how we can work together to save the planet.

  • Comment number 4.

    Finally some parts of the human race are growing up. Depending on where you are born seems to depend on what religion you believe in. We live in a time where we realise that the Earth was not created in seven days and that it is not 4000 years old or up to 12000 years old depending on what you believe. So Rowan Williams and the Pope stop talking for us and kindly leave the stage and leave us alone.

  • Comment number 5.

    there is no god Official, told you so, the world hasn't ended for me because I typed that in, so as I was saying....arrggghhhhhh

  • Comment number 6.

    From a personal point of view, I have less 'guilt', 'shame' call it what you will about saying that I think religion is a load of old Cobblers and I'm more openly Atheist/Agnostic than I was 10 years ago.

    The reason I think, is because of what seems to have been a decade long religious-motivated war of ideals, starting on 9/11 2001.

    I find that I can get by very nicely without Religion. I know what is required of a good person and I can live by that quite easily without some barmy Archbishop or a mad Mullah trying to tell me what I should think and how I should behave...

  • Comment number 7.

    > What Have the Noughties Done for Us?
    > What have the noughties done for God?
    Which one of you is God then?

    From what I can tell Science and Social Science have done little to investigate two of the core aspects of religious belief.
    Firstly, that unthinking communal activity is attractive and satisfying to take part in (it's true of churches, football matches, pop concerts, nightclubs, political rallies, etc) and a lot of the ills put at religion's door seem to stem from this (I think a lot of the good that can come from religion does to).
    Secondly, large numbers of us have spiritual desires that need to be satisfied for us to feel mentally healthy and at peace with ourselves and the wider world. Religion has historically provided this but the older organised religions failed to satisfy that need in western societies, hence the growth in new-age beliefs.

    I believe religion is a response to these needs not a cause of them and when religion is gone these may still need to be satisfied (it might be that religion can only go when the desire is gone). I'm not sure it will be a quick generational change.
    As the change happens we need to be aware of new orthodoxies rising as they can be misused in the same way.
    And as we shed religion we need to ensure we don't dump all the anthropological knowledge that is built into it just because it is part of religion.

  • Comment number 8.

    I also agree, 9-11 has done more to create atheists (in the west at least) has done more to promote atheism than it ever could promote fundamentalist causes.

    No bad thing- I actaully have no problem with religion, as long as people do it sensibly.

  • Comment number 9.

    Surely nought is impossible with God, if only to write the name down.

    The Noughties and Naughties are all in all Holy Scripts of Religion of one kind or another, since the beginning of time, along with all the things that happen as a result of them.

    With regard to the judgement of someone who says that they are an atheist - Read the Biblical book of Job, don't underestimate anyone - they may be doing God's work just testing your opinions and faith, so judge that ye be not judged in that instance.

    All people are on the learning curve of life from birth to the next life/lives, and we are all standing at different places on that path in the circle of life and time never ending.

    Everyone realises the truth at some stage on life's journey - What's yours?

  • Comment number 10.

    So what do you mean by religion?
    What do you mean by God?

    Do you mean religion as some organised official structure or the teachings and philosophy that should underlie it?

    Now coming from a small farming village we had church and Sunday school, assembly every morning and religious education. So know the bible pretty well.

    It says things like thou shalt not kill, turn the other cheek, forgiveness, love they enemy. Etc Etc.

    So how can we have oxymoronic jobs like army chaplain and a PM who pretended to be Christian but was happy to drop bombs on children and burn them alive.

    Celtic Lion

  • Comment number 11.

    Oh dearie me - more guardianista proselytising in a Chris Morris stylee with an Armando Iannucci wannabe presenter...

    Still, with the Daily Show by Jon Stewart now gaining plaudits from the Republican Right as being one of the few guys who listens to them, maybe your re-invention is overdue.

  • Comment number 12.

    If the world is really a living planet and all living things are programmed, eventually, to die, then the power of reasoning mankind holds, must enable him to reason there's one species, that for some inexplicable reason, seems programmed to make sure, Earth conforms?

  • Comment number 13.

    Having reached my 97th year, I had plenty of time to discover in myself a need to believe in any tenets of dogmatic religions.
    Being pragmatically inclined, I have to accept, regretfully, that hundreds of millions of human beings are capable joyously believing the utter absurdities that dogmatic religions offer them.
    It is a sad fact in the development of the human species, that this ineradicable urge to believe in the unbelievable has led, and will always lead to strife, internecine conflicts, major wars, exploitation of the ignorance of the believing classes by the powers maintaining and perpetuating what is, organized religion in its infinite variety.
    I tried to lead a reasonably compassionate life, and I always cartegorically rejected belief in the unbelievable, but respected those for whom religion of any kind helped also to be compassionate.

    Being for the time being abroad, I cannot watch NEWSNIGHT, as the BBC is singularly slow in enabling its transmissions to be watched through the Internet.
    LOGHOREIST ( 1913 )

  • Comment number 14.

    Religion has grown at an evolutionary pace will take just as long to die out.

    It's true what other posters are saying there are more atheists 'coming out'; take a look at THE BRIGHTS ( google)

    A non-practicing atheist

  • Comment number 15.

    It frustrates me that when people talk of Christianity and the demise of it they only look towards the traditional Anglican or Catholic church. What about the newer, modern churches? Those are growing! What about the 13 million people worldwide who have attended an Alpha Course? Look up any modern church network - Holy Trinity Brompton in London for example has over 5 services just on a Sunday to cater for the mass of people who attend each week! Hillsong is another... Soul Survivor... New Wine... New Frontiers... Pioneer... these places are seeing growth because they are true to Christian belief but they're not boring. I was so pleased when the BBC covered the that Church in Peterborough a while ago, when will we see more churches like this on our tv's!

  • Comment number 16.


    " "with perhaps sermons on how we can work together to save the planet"

    Since recently reviving my faith and attending Church on a regular basis the one thing which has struck me accutely, is realising that this is the whole point of the exercise. Isn't this why Christ died on the cross?
    I promise you this, attitudes have and ARE changing,... perhaps a little too slowly for some. You cannot deny the teachings of ALL denominations. They all have the one thing in common,... its about loving thy neighbour.
    Through doing this can we not achieve what you say is your desire?

  • Comment number 17.

    #16 socialeper

    Sorry, but I don't automatically love my 'neighbours' without knowing whether they share any of my values and interest, or whether they may be waiting for me to go on holiday so that they can break into my house and steal my possessions.

    I read that JC died on a cross because he claimed to be the son of a god; several others have made similar claims since.

    I chose to live in a rather unsalubrious area (similar to that in which I was born) because I did not want to 'keep up with the Joneses' and also to afford an old house with a large garden. Many of my neighbours are benefits scroungers, unmarried mothers, and others that I do not choose as friends. I have tried local social work, but it did nothing to endear some of these drifters to me, let alone love them.

    Once or twice a week I attend a nearby church that is a beautiful, peaceful and inspiring setting for lunchtime recitals. I would love to sing peons of praise to Mother Nature there with such a group of people, but I have no desire whatsoever to attend the church to listen to the same boring fairy stories or be lectured on morals. This has failed to engage the majority of the GBP in any meaningful rescue of the planet.

    I respect your belief - provided that you are not one of those who knock on my door most weeks, trying to convert me to one of several religions!

  • Comment number 18.

    Sure I was brought up, and underwent religious affection, as well as affectation, and the feelings of 'terror' which are interred throughout the philosophy, and inherent in life itself. Indeed, when I grew up, the references from the Old Testament, [I guess King James], "I am a jealous God", and will do xyz, just as the Islamists believe in today, for failing to bow the knee. However, I would comply with such a powerful, incandescent rage, such incorruptibility, inexorability, such a Being; but the concepts of actually living forever, [and let's face it - it would get tedious], don't fit with the final destruction of the Universe; nor the umpteenth changes in perspective down the centuries, from being the centre of the Universe, to one of billions. Our evidence based empirical learning, our thought processes, cannot reconcile the irrationality inherent in acceptance of these historic myths and beliefs against the evidence of geology, biology, medicine, palaeontology, archaeology; the deceit and duplicity inherent in man's nature, seeking God's approval in lecturing his fellows for their waywardness. Not that we do not need Teaching, Philosophy, manners and means to be able to get along with each other. Which in my opinion is the actual and main purpose of Religion.

  • Comment number 19.

    Every religion puts itself above other religions and teachings, and this is because all religions emerged from man’s egoism. This is the reason for the hatred between different religions and nations. Even within one religion, there is hatred between its different branches.

    In our times, all of this is coming to an end because egoism is growing in every person. People no longer have “naive faith” like they did in previous centuries. Only those who are egoistically underdeveloped still have this kind of faith, to some degree. And whether directly or through their contact with the rest of the world, these people will also reach a point where their egoism will develop.

    Hence, faith is disappearing, and religion remains in the capacity of a custom, a culture, or a framework for domestic life. Religiosity is gradually disappearing, and the only thing that can help us stand up against the global egoism and mutual hatred emerging in us, is what Nature reveals to us: the vision of our global interdependence and the need to be in consideration and caring for others before ourselves, that which you hate don't do unto others,etc. To observe law of Nature, “Love thy neighbor as thy self", would be the ultimate goal but we have to move in stages in order to grow. This is the law of altruism keeps your body healthy where all parts work in unity for the good of the whole body and to achieve balance.

    This is what we must do in order to survive, instead of any other, egoistic, commandments of any religion! Religion won’t help us cope with the modern uncertainty, suffering, and crises, despite the fact that people are still coming to religion in the hope of being saved from their misfortunes. Everyone has to go through this and become convinced that religion’s psychological effect no longer works to counter our developing global egoism.

    Humanity is rising to the “human” level of egoism, where egoism compels us to become individual egoists, and then to conquer this individual egoism, we must choose to unite with the collective of humanity as cells in one one body (seeing others equal) in order to achieve balance with the hidden force of Nature that governs reality. Replacing imagination with complete sensation of what is hidden in our current narrow egoistic perception and feel what was once hidden just as tangible as we feel our lives now. This is to be attained by a method that reveal this to us while living and not in no after life belief.

    In our times we are gradually coming to the realization religion will be reduced to just the cultural traditions and customs of every nation, but it will no longer be able to provide psychological support for the people. Faith will be replaced by the knowledge of the the force that governs reality by attaining the quality of bestowal and love (some call it Creator, Law of bestowal and love, Upper Governing Force, Universal Thought, etc - depending on who you talking to). I'm not against religion, but we can only temporary supplement our egoism with it until its replace it with true revelation thorough a practical method or science, which is impossible to fulfill by religion. The beliefs and religions will remain only as traditions, a social, cultural framework.

  • Comment number 20.

    I have previously protested about Dawkins Squawkins. What he says is not new, being a hostile regurgitation of Glory to man in the highest (swinburne) Bertrand Russell, H.G. Wells and whatsisname's Language Truth and Logic, memorably debunked by the author himself in the early years of BBC2; yep A.J. Ayer thassim.
    Dawkins' insensitive and cruel hostility to TV clips of Lourdes pilgrims said it all 'man's inhumanity to man, makes countlesss millions mourn' Wow, Dawkins, what a plonker! I thought he'd never appear on TV again, so maybe he believes in resurrection after all.

  • Comment number 21.

    I think it is a bit rich for a Christian to accuse atheists of being aggressive. Atheists do not feel the desperate need to indoctrinate children at an impressionable age, without which every religion would die very quickly.

    As for not knowing theology, atheists turn away from religion because of what they do know about, not because of what they do not, and often know more about theology than many Christians. Besides, you do not need to know anything about fairy lore to have a sensible opinion about the existence of fairies.

  • Comment number 22.

    We're always hearing in the media about the Church of England being in decline but, although many churches (buildings) are closing, at the same time all over the country there are those, my own church included, whose congregations are growing with people eager to know more about God - why do we never hear about these in the media? I challenge you to visit our church and see that our church family, spread across several different services, is made up not only of 'oldies' but also people from all sorts of professions and many young families and teenagers. We are a caring, supportive and thinking community.

  • Comment number 23.

    Religion is absolutely fine as long as it is not inflicted on the rest of us. It's woolly-thinking will never be expunged unfortunately, hard-wired in to our psychology, a by-product of the self and our perpetual search for intentionality (watch a toddler play with a doll, she thinks there's someone in there, not a great deal of difference in our desire to find design when there is no designer).

    Religion is not necessary for a moral society, in fact it often tries to elevate simple prejuidice to something divine. I know it brings hope to millions and everyone has a choice, but truth is only truth when there is evidence, without the evidence there we are left with tooth fairy thinking which is fine children, great fun, but is deeply unbecoming in adults

  • Comment number 24.

    Forgot an importantpoint.

    While at the same time telling other countries that religion had no place in politics and government, the christan far rigth took over american politics, and God apparetnyl told the president of the USA to invade Iraq. And the Prime minister of Great Britian became a Catholic as he was leaving office

    kinda important to put in perhaps ....

  • Comment number 25.

    I used to consider myself to be an Agnostic. I then realised that the burden of proof was entirely on those who proposed the very strange concept of an imaginary deity. There are so many groups with conflicting ideas on the subject and they all consider each other to be wrong. I consider them all to be wrong so I started to call myself an Atheist. That was over 50 years ago and I have not changed my mind since.

    Now there are so many more people who have come to the same conclusion as I have that there is some hope for the future.

  • Comment number 26.

    I can't believe what a poorly researched effort I just watched on Newsnight. As usual, when it comes to Christianity, the Beeb are about 10 years behind the curve.

    Its child play to find an empty church in a rural village and bang on about decline. Don't mention the numerous Anglican churches in inner city locations that have seen growth in the 100s of percent and are filled with people in their 20s & 30s from all walks of life (including the only city bankers who didn't scew up).

    But that would lead to insight and a worthwhile debate. It would also put your aunt Sally to bed which would mean actually doing some research!

  • Comment number 27.

    #17 - Indignantindegene - I completely agree. I couldn't care less what religion people are as long as they don't try to enforce it onto me!

  • Comment number 28.

    God stopped being called God, and was renamed Allah

  • Comment number 29.

    The fact that in the last 10 years, religion, particularly Christianity has been eroded and attacked so much, proves to me that man's rule on earth is undeniably coming to an end. The bible talks about those who "have a form of Godliness but deny the power". Those of us who believe in a powerful living God shouldn't fear attacks on traditional morality or fundimental beliefs, but accept that this means God is ready to intervene to save us from destruction.

  • Comment number 30.

    Re tonight's report. . . I do wish the BBC would get its facts right. . . "Jerry Springer - The Opera" does NOT feature a nappy-wearing Christ. Act 1 features a spoof episode of the Jerry Sptinger show in which of the guests likes to dress as a baby in a nappy. At the end of Act 1 Jerry is shot. Act 2 is a FANTASY sequence which takes place in Jerry's dying brain and depicts a nightmare episode of the show set in hell in which the actor who played the nappy-wearing guest appears plays the role of Christ - wearing a loincloth, not a nappy. Since it's a fantasy, the show does not in fact contain a representation of any actual biblical character.

    And no, I have nothing whatsoever to do with the production, I just happen to have seen it twice and I get very annoyed when sloppy journalists simply repeat the propaganda put out by the "Christian" lobby when talking about the show. It even happens in news items which are supposedly suportive of JSTO. . .

  • Comment number 31.

    The programme this evening attempted an impossible job: to show in a few minutes what has happened to Christianity over past 9 years or so. To me, it appears as though Christain faith has become marginalised, a 'non-event', an irrelevant because old-fashioned mode of life. Let me give 2 examples of times when Christain faith is in 'the news' in 2009: there are prayers said before the Commons meets each day, and the families and friends of the servicemen who die in the Middle East are prayed for at the funeral services. As 'Newbyblogger' wrote, I can give evidence that many churches are growing, living congregations where God is worshipped each day and lives are changed day by day. Our church, in a suburb of a large town, bears witness to its surrounding community, and has brought in many who see the love of Jesus in the lives of church members. These 'new-comers' missed out on poorly taught Religious Education in schools in the 70s and 80s, are seeking a purpose for their lives, and find it in a church community. There are many other aspects of Christain faith which Mr Piggot did not have time to explore but, be assured, faith is alive and well in 100,000s of peoples' lives.

  • Comment number 32.

    Richard Dawkins is a buffoon on the evolutionary ladder and has simply exchanged religion for money. What is interesting about religion is that its a human concept, like money, where as God is totally incomprehensible. No one knows anything about God, and any human interpretation is human thinking and is based on what has already happened in the world experientially. Instead of religion or church one has more chance of connecting with it, God, by rummaging in a hedgerow. Religions are becoming more and more stupid as each century passes and yet I feel their fundamental root, faith, has not altered at all, fascinating, because faith in the totally incomprehensible, God, means everything. I think it was Spinoza who more or less said that a person who prays is stupid and has missed the point completely, we are everything and complete without thought, and thats where God exists, in the nothingness.

  • Comment number 33.

    From the perspective of a member of the church( Cof E) and
    one who regularly sits on church committes (PCC & Synods) I have observed a fall in committment to the local church and its
    core beliefs- indeed there has been some dropping of long held
    values.Also as with the loss of the previous generation there
    has not been a corresponding replacement with the coming generations
    And trere is a dearth of children attending services of whatever description

  • Comment number 34.

    The human being is, in general, predisposed to offer kindness and comradeship to friends, family and to people in general. This characteristic is captured and used in religious writings which are then attributed to different prophets and/or gods depending in which country one lives.
    On the other hand, religious leaders, however ordained, anointed or otherwise accredited, seek to amass huge riches in order to control people and to assist them in their quest they must placate the powerful in each society. This means firstly the men, then politician's, opinion formers at the very top of their professions and of course today's warlords, be they either 'suited' or already dressed for military action.
    The noughties have shown that more people world wide can now clearly see the metaphorical swinging 'hypnotic' medallion that all religions use to induce the waking nightmare that was 'Dante's inferno' which in previous centuries created mental terror in all but the very brave.

  • Comment number 35.

    I don't think I've ever seen a better advert for atheism than the ignorant witterings of Sister Wendy Beckett.

    You should broadcast more of her!

  • Comment number 36.

    Reading these comments, it strikes me that most people's conceptions of the point of the christian church is woefully mistaken- the concept of having to be 'good' to get into heaven looks much more like the islamic faith than the one I read in the bible which teaches the idea that we're all seriously mucked up and can't do anything about it on our own. A lot of these ideas were passed on by learning the bible as random children's stories at sunday school or picking up ideas of the christian god from
    looking/speaking to other people and not looking at the source... before commenting on christianity, people might just want to read what Jesus Christ actually said/did in one of the gospels (Matthew,Mark,Luke or John - they're barely 100 pages long!) and offer a more informed view.

  • Comment number 37.

    The noughties have undoubtedly seen a marked decrease in the practicing Christian, and overall religious, population. YouGov and Eurobarometer statistics show that while similar numbers of people identify as Christians from year to year, the actual number of people who believe in a God is steadily decreasing, and is less than the number of people professing a religion to the tune where almost half of so-called Christians in this country may not actually believe in a God. A phenomenon called cultural Christianity.

    Even as a staunch Atheist, I can sympathise with my Christian friends who feel marginalised in a traditionally Christian society. Increasingly we seek to shut out any spiritual input from government. Whilst I firmly believe in secularism in governance, the fact remains that, declining population or not, there will probably always be a spiritual proportion of the population in the UK. While it is true, in my eyes, that those identifying with a religion will probably become a minority before 2050, they will still represent a significant percentage of the British population for generations to come, and I believe that while any law must ultimately be passed in a secular environment, that, particularly on ethical matters but also elsewhere, government should look to improve dialogue with both religious and secular organisations.

  • Comment number 38.

    27-God stopped being called God, and was renamed Allah

    It's called rebranding. Same deal with the Alpha Course.

    Does anyone else think that fundamentalism is like the reaction of a dog forced into a corner. Religion becomes harder and harder to reconcile with an average degree of intelligence, and so it lashes out.

  • Comment number 39.

    What a strange programme that was - did those responsible deliberately try to miss the elephant in the rooom? How can you look back at the last decade and not acknowledge from the outset that its defining characteristic was the devastating rise of regilious fundamentalism? From the 2001 9/11 attacks on the US to Bush and Blair's 'crusade' to the further aggressive actions of fundamentalists in Asia and Europe, manifest in blood and curtailment of freedoms - the decade has been shaped by religious fanatics. Everything else in the programme pales into insignificance.

    You ask 'how has religion fared in the noughties?' - the primary answer must be that it has intruded further into all of our lives in the most destructive and inhuman ways imaginable.

    I understand the cornerstone of religion is 'faith' - which to me means the suspension of reason and critical thought. Perhaps the people responsible for this programme are themselves too indoctrinated to think clearly.

  • Comment number 40.

    To my mind religious interpretation has probably done as much rather harm than good to prevent the spreading of faith.Faith if it exists in you is probably an internal experience divorced from obsessive concentration on the behaviour of others and their suitability for salvation . This political hi-jacking of belief systems seems more for the purpose of preserving male dominance and territorial rights rather than the pursuit of personal peace. This is also the ammunition by which athiest zealots point out the folly of faith. This stance is as reduntant as demonising politics using fascism as the usual stance of those with political preference. Those with the loudest voices usually have the least to say and it is said : "fear does not overcome fear - faith does".

  • Comment number 41.

    I think the noughties has seen a fundamental damage done to religion. For thirty years before the start of the new millennium we watched Northern Ireland tear itself apart along sectarian line - Catholics and Protestants at war.

    At the turn of the millennium as the bombs exploding in Northern Ireland fell silent we saw the rise of Islamic Fundamentalists blowing up themselves and (more tragically) others around them. The non-believers, I would judge, were quite right in thinking that "They are all mad, the whole sorry lot of them" - that is all religions.

    If we look at the hideous history of the RC church, its blood lust, deceit and treachery; non-believers are left speechless. And I should not be ignoring the more recent revelations of how pedophilia is managed amongst the ranks of holy people. It is no wonder even practicing Christians might drift away.

    I am happy to admit that people get a "warm fuzzy feeling" if they sing hymns and pray a bit. But I'm not sure where that fits in with the Christian message. Does it ever translate into a better community, less crime, fewer lonely elderly people, less drunkenness on the streets, less drug taking and less poverty? If it does not then I would question its value as an activity.

    I also think that the church distances itself from the population with its highly elaborate rituals. What does the average person think when they see religious leaders dolled up in their magicians cloaks and hats? Do we think "Gosh that outfit is certainly relevant to today's teaching of the church and all it stands for" or do we just switch off? I know what I do.

    I don't really care what people believe in - remembering that religions are systems of faith and belief and are not based on fact - but I don't need someone ramming their beliefs down my throat or blowing me up because they think they will get 72 virgins in heaven if they do (like I said religions are systems of belief, some pretty far fetched).

    If I felt I could join a religion whose beliefs I could accept and that it was a source of power and good in the world, I'd be in like a shot.

    To date I have not found one. The noughties have tought me that I should not expect to discover one. I suspect many have come to the same conclusion.

  • Comment number 42.

    I didn't entirely recognise the picture painted by the short item in Newsnight of the decline in religious belief (in Britain?). Where I live, there seems to be a shortage of priests, not congregations or deacons.

    Every age has its own outlook - good at seeing certain truths but liable to make certain mistakes. Perhaps with humility, a lot of modern views have yet to be tested against the great body of Christian thought down the ages, and all their hidden implications have to be brought to light.

    Controversies of the past usually assumed without question a good deal which we should now absolutely deny.

    Posterity will surely ask, "But how could they have thought that?"

    As an earlier commentator wisely advises; go back to the written sources of Christianity and find out what Christians really believe.

  • Comment number 43.

    It was an INTELLECTUAL CRIME to use an old Nun (all be it a lady that most probably has all best intent)to counter the arguments of Richard Dawkins. Has anyone read the theistic and Christian response to "The God Delusion", "The Dawkins Delusion"? It is written by Alister McGrath, a colleague to Dawkins, who lectures at Oxford University in Theology. Perhaps Alister McGrath's level headed rationalism and background in the natural sciences would not have shaped a programme which played so clearly to the tune of the evangelical Atheists.

    Thank you BBC for once again brainwashing a nation with one sided ignorance!

  • Comment number 44.

    The events recorded in the New Testament following the death of Jesus would suggest that the disciples did not expect anything more from their master. He had been nailed to a cross and with him were killed all the messianic hopes. Luke makes this very clear and in Chapter 24 of his Gospel, we read the account of two of his disciples returning in disappointment to their home in Emmaus (Luke 24:13).
    The reason for the disciples' feeling of disappointment was that they had believed Jesus to be the long-awaited Jewish Messiah as seen in Luke 24:21. But they could see that Jesus had died without accomplishing what a Messiah was predicted to do. In the story, Jesus enlightens them and in Luke 24:27 it says, "And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself."
    Today when we ask Christians, how is it possible for Jesus to be the Messiah when he clearly did not do the things a Messiah must do, we are given the answer that he will accomplish all things at his second coming. Jesus was given another chance. His death was only temporary. He arose from the dead and will one day return and do all the things he did not do when he was alive.
    Therefore any person, who, at some future date, establishes a Messianic era will be seen to be the true Messiah, but presumably Christians will argue that such a person could only be Jesus who has returned. However, if Messianic expectations are only to be fulfilled by a second coming, what was the point of a first coming? Both John's Gospel and Paul's epistles present Jesus as a pagan deity, who as Matthew and Luke enlightens us, was born of a virgin, just as were Adonis, son of the virgin Myrha, and Hermes, son of the virgin Maia. He was a member of a holy trinity as were Mithra and Osiris, Hermes Tris-Megistus (the thrice-mighty Hermes). He performed miracles like the god Dionysus, who turned water into wine, and he was put to death as were sixteen crucified pagan saviors before him. According to this, Jesus was just another sinbearer, another of the god-men of pagan mythology.
    But by the Messiah of Israel, prophecies such as Isaiah 2 and Ezekiel 38 should have been fulfilled. Because such prophecies were not, and never have been fulfilled by anyone to this day, Jesus, we are told, will come back again and accomplish all things. But why does this future task only have to be fulfilled by Jesus? It is merely because he has been for so long the established Messiah in the mind of the Christian world.
    Yet if we are to follow the subject of the second coming as it is written in the New Testament, we will find that the disciples under-stood that it would be in their own lifetime. Jesus himself spoke about his second coming, but nowhere in the Gospels did he tell his disciples about a return from heaven some thousands of years later.
    Let us examine the New Testament references to the second coming. In Matt. 10:23, Jesus addressed his 12 disciples, and told them that they will "not have gone over all the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come."
    Nearly two thousand years have gone by since this statement was made and whether or not the 12 disciples managed to travel to all the cities of Israel, one thing is certain, the Son of Man did not come.
    Matt 16:28 explicitly states that "There are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of man coming in his Kingdom." It is plain to all that none of those to whom Jesus spoke these words is still alive today. Matt. 16:24, especially, indicates that he was speaking to his disciples.
    Another whole chapter that of Matt 24:1-51, is considered to be a prophecy made by Jesus. Fundamentalists believe that this prophecy will be fulfilled in the "last days", by which they mean prior to Jesus' second coming. However, modern scholars claim that this chapter records events which had already taken place (since Matthew was written in approximately 80-90AD).

    A point which has been overlooked by fundamentalists is the fact that Jesus was addressing his disciples in private (Matt. 24:3): "And they came unto him privately, saying, tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" Jesus then gave a list of happenings, adding to it, "Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and you shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake" (Verse 9). Thus it appears from those words that the twelve disciples would be around to witness the second coming and the end of time.
    Jesus continues, "And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." In Verse 33 he was even more explicit: "So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors."
    And in Verse 34 he went on to elaborate, stating, "Verily I say unto you, “This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled."
    Yet as the whole world knows, that generation did pass away without Jesus returning. A few of those events did happen during the lifetime of the disciples. For example, the temple was destroyed, false Christ sprang up as mentioned by Paul, and some of the disciples were persecuted by the Romans. It is probable that John lived to a very old age, but he never saw any sign of the Son of man coming from heaven, and with John's death that generation passed away.
    Some fundamentalists are of the opinion that "that generation" means the generation alive when this prophecy comes to pass, which they believe has yet to happen. But we need only point out that Jesus was definitely not speaking to some future generation; he was speaking to his disciples and directed this prophecy to them personally. This was not an original prophecy but was based upon Daniel and rehashed to fit the events of the day.
    In Mark 14:62, Jesus told the chief priests, "Ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power and coming in the clouds of heaven". Yet history shows this to be a false prophecy, because the chief priests have been dead for nearly 2000 years. They never lived to see Jesus coming in the clouds of heaven, for, as the world knows, Jesus never returned.
    There is a parable in Luke 18:1-5 about a judge who feared neither man nor God. He was described as being unjust. Yet when a certain widow woman implored him daily for his help, he avenged her lest by her continual coming she should weary him. Now we see what is stated in Luke 18:7-8, "and shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith of the earth?"
    If Christians see themselves as God's elect, in this context, it would appear that Jesus was more unjust than the unjust judge of the parable. For over 2000 years Christendom has prayed to Jesus day and night: He made a promise to avenge them speedily on his return to earth, but this can no longer be considered speedy by anyone with the least intelligence. The unjust judge did not keep this poor woman waiting 2000 years as Jesus kept his elect waiting, yet this, it would seem, is the whole point of the parable.
    Jesus ought to have returned during the lifetime of one of his disciples, because Jesus said, "If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?" (John 21:22). It was thus believed by the disciples that John, the beloved disciple, would never die. John lived for many years after the death of Jesus, and like the high priest who was also expected to see Jesus' return, he died without it happening.
    It is evident throughout the epistles that Paul was not accepted by the apostolic group. He met with opposition and contention throughout his ministry. After establishing churches in Asia Minor he found that all those in Asia had left him. He wrote an epistle to the Romans, yet on his arrival in Rome, only three believers were there to comfort him in his bonds. In Corinth also, Paul was judged by fellow believers and so he said in 1 Cor 4:3, "But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self."
    He then told those who were contending with him, “judge nothing before the time." In other words, Paul told them to wait "until the Lord come who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and will manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God". It is obvious from these words that Paul believed Jesus would return in his lifetime to vindicate him in this controversy. But Jesus didn't arrive, and the controversy continues to this day as modern scholars expose Paul as a fraud and accuse him of establishing a religion different from the one which Jesus and the apostles followed.
    Again, Paul when writing to Timothy expressed, "That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Tim 6:14). Paul must have expected Jesus to return during Timothy's lifetime. The promise of Jesus' coming was to be soon, very quickly, in certain people's lifetime, yet they are long since dead. Almost two thousand years have passed since the promise of a soon return, and fundamentalists of today still echo this age-old promise.
    The writer of Hebrews states, "Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; for then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself," (Heb 9:25-26). But what about today, 2000 years later? If the time of Jesus was considered to be the "end of the world" as the writer of Hebrews suggests, then we must be living in a new world, so this new world must by now be in need of a new sacrifice. It is obvious to any intelligent reader that Jesus did not come at the "end of the world", for the world is still going on as it has been for millions of years.
    And again in Heb. 9:28, “and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time . . . ". According to these words Jesus' second coming will only be seen by those who look for him. There¬fore the second coming is something secret that will only be known to those who believe in it, requiring no visible appearance to the rest of mankind.
    Jesus was expected to return during the lifetime of certain children to whom John addressed his epistle. (I John 2:28), "And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before him at his coming." They all died without Jesus ever returning.
    A dead Messiah could not be victorious. The Messiah must come into the presence of God on high, there to have bestowed upon him the crown he had earned, and there to await the signal for his second advent in triumph. "Hereafter shall ye see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming in the clouds of heaven."

  • Comment number 45.

    Richard Dawkins for the next Pope......anyone?

  • Comment number 46.

    We finally worked out that monotheistic religions are divisive by their "you’re either with us or your dammed" mantra. It seems they cannot stand people having a different outlook on life and must try and convert. Look at the atheist bus advert. 30 buses for a period of a couple of months and the religious zealots go to court to try and over turn it on the grounds of advertising law breaches. If Mono theistic religions were indeed built on solid foundations surely they could withstand a little advertising by the competition? but no any differing view is seen as an evil hurt to the mother religion and has to be vanquished. As for evangelical Anglicans well, It seems they want to quote scripture to make second-class citizens of Gay people and Women but they don’t seem to have problem with the fact that their next nominal head of the C of E once the Queen dies will be a self-confessed adulterer and coveter of another’s wife, not to mention being a divorcee. The noughties have shown up this religious hypocrisy and its purveyors control freak for all to see in both its mild and bloodiest forms. From 9/11, 7/7 to the Christian right's shooting of Abortion doctors Religion is so far from "Faith" that they are becoming mutually exclusive.

  • Comment number 47.

    I would like to endorse the opinions of others that Christianity is very much alive and well in Britain in 2009, as, of course, are the other main religions. I belong to a church which has a membership of 800, with a high number of young families. 200 children are regularly involved in church activities and/or childrens' clubs.
    I am not at all surprised that the BBC is once again attacking Christianity in particular. They deliberately ignore the huge number of non-traditional churches now in existence, meeting in converted warehouses or rented school buildings. They can't be bothered to do any research into this phenomenon which has occurred in the past 30 years.
    Finally, I would like to say to the atheists - you had better make sure that you are right! The Bible tells me that we will all have to face God one day and give an account of our lives. But if I should be wrong in this belief I have nothing to lose - I am enjoying life now! What about YOU?

  • Comment number 48.

    All the contents of the Bible, Koran etc. were actually written and updated over the millennia by human beings, although the writers and copiers were under the delusion that they were being guided by some supernatural force or agency eg God, Allah etc.

    Moral values are properly founded on human nature and experience alone. The aims of morality should be human welfare, happiness and fulfillment.

    As we are products of nature, our own human welfare also depends on the welfare of the rest of the natural world. Instead of pleading with non-existent entities for our 'salvation', we should concentrate on sustainable living and urgently take steps to protect the biosphere which produced us.

  • Comment number 49.

    Very interesting but was your choice of someone to respond to Richard Dawkins deliberate? Why not have a worthy opponant who has written books in response to him and made him look like a fanactic in discussions? Alister McGrath. Did you deliberate leave him out or have you never heard of him?

  • Comment number 50.

    Sister Wendy uses the same argument as Terry Eagleton does: criticising atheists for not knowing the full details of Theology. At the risk of stating the obvious... if you don't believe in gods, you don't accept the validity of theology or anything that stems from it. To criticise aspects of e.g. Christian theology would be like a criticising the architectural details of a church built on quicksand.

    There is simply nothing about Theology that deserves any of my time or attention. That is not intended to dismiss the rich religious heritage of England, and the good things that people have done through religious inspiration, but I'm looking to a future in which religion is no longer required to "explain" the world around us.

  • Comment number 51.

    I can't believe that two people on here have suggested Alistair McGrath as a credible opponent of Richard Dawkins. Try googling for the uncut full length video (about an hour long) of them talking. Dawkins ties McGrath in knots and shows him up for the fool he is, and then has to try a Paxman on him, repeating his question a few times, but each time McGrath slimes his way out of it because, just like a politician who can't afford to admit an uncomfortable truth, he can't bring himself to follow his own inane arguments to their conclusion.

    By all means folks, take comfort in your religion, but don't try to pretend to the rest of us that there's any reality behind it. If you'd stop trying to pretend there was, you wouldn't have to cope with being "offended" when someone points out the patently obvious to you.

  • Comment number 52.

    Religion is simply dying a natural death. I just wish the process could be accelerated.

    The monotheistic faiths have had their go at running the planet. And there's a reason those times are known as the dark ages.

  • Comment number 53.

    I had the God Squad at my door recently, and as they represent whatever particular church/religion, I felt obliged to challenge them on their beliefs. If they were door to door sellers, you wouldn't take at face value what they say, so why do it with God? I aksed if he'd ever read "The God Delusion", as it puts forward some pretty strong arguements against organized religion.....his response, "Richard Dawkins is an idiot!", I said well no actually he's not, he's someone who has studied his subject extensively and gives a strong arguement. Rather than the guy at the door offer counter arguements to Dawkins, he never got by the plain old slagging off.

    I've now just finished reading the article on BBC news and Sister Wendy said about non believers...

    "written by people who know nothing of theology - poor lambs - I mean it's not their fault they're ignorant"

    That's 2 members of the clergy I've come across, who rather than debate would rather try to put down their challengers. That in itself is ignorant. And why do the clergy always take it as a personal attack on them, if you question Gods existance?? Surely "God" can look after himself? Why do the clergy take great offence to being challenged?? Why do the religious think they have a right not to be questioned about the myths they peddle? Religion should come with the same warnings as physcics, "for entertainment purposes only"!

  • Comment number 54.

    47. At 1:58pm on 11 Aug 2009, taragsd wrote:

    Finally, I would like to say to the atheists - you had better make sure that you are right! The Bible tells me that we will all have to face God one day and give an account of our lives. But if I should be wrong in this belief I have nothing to lose - I am enjoying life now! What about YOU?


  • Comment number 55.

    Well I think that once again Science is showing the how unique and amazing the earth is compared with the rest of the universe- and consequently the work of the creator God of the Bible.

    Think about the bleakness of the universe. In 1966, Carl Sagan said that there would probably be enough planets for there to be enough for life elsewhere in the universe. Astronomers have discovered 67 planets outside the solar system in nearby space, all of which orbit metal rich suns- and not capable of supporting life. They realise that our sun is exceptional.

    Therefore, now, atheistic philosopy must provide an answer from where we have come from, if there are so few other potential planets in the universe. However, the God of the Bible continues to sustain life, whatever we think about him.

  • Comment number 56.

    B3nny_4:"atheistic philosopy must provide an answer from where we have come from, if there are so few other potential planets in the universe."

    Nonsense. If life is rare it up to the believer to explain why his favourite god didn't bother to create more Earths and populate them with life. It is also up to them to explain how god created life, which they cannot begin to explain. On the other hand, the origin of life is a thriving scientific endeavour which continues to make progress towards a solution.

    Life may be rare but we do not know exactly how rare because Earth-like planets are extremely hard to detect, and it would certainly not be surprising or hard to explain for science - a number of conditions must be satisfied before life can arise, so life is expected to be rare.

  • Comment number 57.

    There is nothing wrong with religion, it is just in dire need of an upgrade at the moment to be in line with the globalised system we now live in and the technology we should be enjoying, but largely waste.

    The scriptures were never meant to be for all time, they even include upgrade prompts within them (messiah myths etc) but man has messed with them and now requires messiahs to have the power of miracles, which preserves the incumbents power base and keeps the population frozen in time for the material benefit of those on the top of the religious tree.

    A new messiah today would meet with as much traditional resistence as his predecessors and would lack credibility unless he could 'walk on water'.

    Nice little way to preserve the status quo is it not?

    I am firmly of the school that either everything is a miracle or nothing is a miracle.

    I tend towards believing that everything is a miracle of which we are a part, there is no distiction between man made and natural, we are part of nature as are our nuclear bombs, GM crops, Da Vinci masterpieces and Taj Mahals.

    There is enough information out there now within the realms of quantum mechanics, hardys paradox and ignored science which does not fit the aethiest rationalist prejudiced model of the world for it to be pulled together in a new philosophy for the benefit of all.

    When it comes it should not be viewed as a threat to existing regional religions, it should be viewed as an upgrade to them and embraced as such by all for the benefit of all, the aethiests will have an especially hard time disproving it.

    It would be nice to think it could be done as smoothly as that but in the absence of someone who can walk on water, it will not be and there will be no one who can walk on water you can bet on that.

    One senses the upgrade can not be far away, the signs are all around us.

    Hold onto your hats everyone.

  • Comment number 58.

    "Finally, I would like to say to the atheists - you had better make sure that you are right!"

    Actually... in the unlikely event that you are right, any god worthy of the title would approve of people who did good deeds, regardless of what they believe (or not). (Or are you going to tell me that atheists are automatically damned, whatever good deeds they do for whatever reasons?) I don't believe in your hell, but if it exists, it's there for hypocrites who think their deathbed confessions wipe away all their worldly sins, just because they make the right noises every Friday (Islam), Saturday (Judaism) or Sunday (Christianity).

  • Comment number 59.

    I was very disappointed with this programme which appeared to be either highly jaundiced or poorly researched. For sure, the noughties have seen a number of challenges for those who believe in God but the position is far more complex than your reporter suggested. The number of people in the UK who have attended an Alpha Course passed the 2 million mark in the noughties, not to mention the 13 Million around the world.
    The position in London is different to the rest of the country,for example, there was an increase in numbers of people attending Church in London despite the overall decline. Churches, such as Holy Trinity Brompton have not only been growing but "planting" new congregations in formerly redundant church buildings. Thousands of young people and families attend Bible camps each summer. Indeed Richard Dawkins Foundation has just run its first aetheistic summer camp as an alternative to these widespread Bible Camps. (Did someone say "Imitation is the greatest form of flattery?") There has also been the emergence of new churches, including "Black majority" churches.
    I am not trying to paint a triumphalist picture or ignore the difficulties, but please let's have some serious reporting on religious matters which tease out the complexities of an issue and not just make a simplistic appeal to the popular prejudices of any particular interest group.

  • Comment number 60.

    "I am not at all surprised that the BBC is once again attacking Christianity in particular. They deliberately ignore the huge number of non-traditional churches now in existence, meeting in converted warehouses or rented school buildings. They can't be bothered to do any research into this phenomenon which has occurred in the past 30 years.
    Finally, I would like to say to the atheists - you had better make sure that you are right! The Bible tells me that we will all have to face God one day and give an account of our lives. But if I should be wrong in this belief I have nothing to lose - I am enjoying life now! What about YOU?"

    Better known as Pascal's Wager to most.

    I somehow doubt that, if there is a God, he's going to judge the billion atheists and agnostics on this planet as uniformly evil, because morality is not defined by a single religion. There is an extremely commonly held falsehood amongst Christians that all we atheists are somehow amoral or even immoral, which is a load of cobblers. I consider myself a fairly morally upstanding person, a secular humanist in fact, but I simply choose not to punctuate my life with silly rituals and belief in a bloke in a Toga in the clouds. No God, rational and all-seeing, would judge me for being evil just because I didn't want to pop along on a Sunday.

    If there is a God, which I sincerely doubt, then it's our actions and not our lip-service that it will judge us on.

  • Comment number 61.

    Yes, religion is dying out, and quite rightly; increasing scientific knowledge is shrinking the spaces where the god of the gaps resides in the minds of many. There is no evidence for the existence of any gods, so why believe there is? Primarily the reasons are scientific ignorance (teleology) and indoctrination from youth. Remove "faith" schools, and with the brainwashing gone, people slip away from all this nonsense and see the universe for how it really is. And humanity is remarkably insignificant on a cosmic scale. Humans are not special. Deal with it.

  • Comment number 62.


    A prime example of how someone can be so right and so wrong at the same time.

    Science has reached the limits of its powers of insight now and there is a growing realisation within the genuinly talented upper eschelons of the scientific community itself that this is so, but it goes largely ignored because it goes against the basis of science itself i.e. reason and noboddy really knows what to do with the latests results of experimentation for that reason. What should be global headline news becomes obscure papers in scientific journals noboddy knows what to do with.

    You could argue that we are completely insignificant and of great importance simultaneously.

    I will not be around now for some time, thanks to all those who have expressed an interest in my musings and engaged with me in debate both here and elsewhere.


  • Comment number 63.

    "Religion" here is equated with "Christianity in the UK".

    Christianity in the US and Islam in the rest of the world are far from succumbing to secularism. Instead the events of the noughties have given a huge boost to both which threatens global freedom and stability in the decades to come.

  • Comment number 64.

    The Bible states in Psalm 14, verse 1, "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God." This is repeated in Psalm 53, verse 1. Yes, Biblical fundamentalism is seeing a rapid growth worldwide. BBC may "try" and destroy the Christian's faith, but this faith will live forever for the child of God!

  • Comment number 65.

    There is a world of difference between that inner search for 'something' and dogmatic religion. It is a huge jump from "I feel this" or "Something must underlie" to "If you don't believe what I believe you are an unrepentant sinner and deserve hell". It is dogmatic religion that is challenged by secularism today, and quite right.

    We see interfaith dialogue at a standstill with even similar religions refusing to agree. We see an arrogant belief that only one set of ideas and values can be correct and all the others are plain wrong and must be discouraged. We see this promoted in places such as the Alpha Course with its booklet "So what about other religions?".

    Religion, in evangelical churches anyway, seems too much about who you believe in being more important than how you are as a person. This seems wrong. I can imagine a Christ who taught compassion and love. I can look at The Good Samaritan and remember that the Samaritan was not a person of the "right religion" at that time. That is a point I think is missed today. I think parts of the church focus too much on "I am the way, the light..." and forget the rest.

  • Comment number 66.

    Let's get to basics--develop system to expunge all Bibles & Qu'rans from global print & digital media.

  • Comment number 67.

    In the original article no mention is made about Islam which I am informed is gaining in popularity in the UK. Besides many immigrants that are Muslim. The religions can benefit each other. It has been mentioned that the hate between the religions has caused much evil disorder. The real problem is that those purporting to support their religions are not really following them. If the Israelis followed their religion we would not have a condition in Palestine as we have at present. If the Palestinians practiced their religion (Christianity and Islam) we would not have the situation that we have. All of the religions following the Prophet Abraham have light as their goal unfortunately those who are considered leaders of their religions are not following their light and thus an unenlightened result. Just follow your religion or your humanistic beliefs but be real.

  • Comment number 68.

    The religion of the atheist is atheism, Jesus Christ was probably the most anti-religious man ever to walk the face of the earth, His appeal was simply "follow Me".

  • Comment number 69.

    Religion has not changed at all in the noughties.
    What has changed is peoples opinion on religion and the power religion now has.
    Religions are doing the exactly the same today as they were 10 years ago, or 100 years ago, or 1000 years ago. The only difference is, people are now realising just how big a problem religion is. People have also had more freedom to express their opinions on religion without fear of persecution as well.
    What radical Islam is doing today is no difference from what Christianity has been doing for the past 2000 years, but Christianity done it on a much larger scale (Crusades, inquisitions, Taiping Rebellion, 30 year war, Witch Burnings, the list goes on and on) The difference is, people could not openly speak out against the church without fear of persecution.
    Today however, as secularism is on the rise, freedom of speech is becoming more free, religion is no longer as bullet proof as it one was.
    Religions power has diminished somewhat, at least in the Europe, religion can no longer get away with the mass atrocities it was allowed to commit in the past. People wont sit back and watch as religions try and repeat history. Its not only Islam people are speaking out about, as well as extremist Islam there is Joseph Kobe and his Lords Resistance Army in Uganda, who not only kidnap children and force them to fight for them, but have committed a serious of massacres over the past 20 years.
    People have also had enough of the Israel/Palestine conflict, as well as looking back at things like the Northern Ireland Troubles, and the oppressive theocratic regimes of many countries.
    People are all in all tired of religion doing what ever it wants and getting away with it.
    Another thing people are tired of is Religions constant war on science.
    In America especially, with people trying to get pseudo science taught to children. The only reason they do this is because of religion.
    Theres no debate in science what so ever about evolution is real or not, as well as things like the big bang, there may be debate on the finer details, but the scientific consensus is that these things happen.
    Its not so much a consensus as a complete white wash (99.99% of biologists accept evolution)
    But yet, there is a public debate about whether or not the biblical creation story should be taught alongside these things.
    Ignoring the fact these the biblical creation story does even come to close to counting as science, the scientific majority should be good enough reason to decide what gets taught in Science classrooms.
    So, people are also tired of religion attempting to dumb down our children by denying them a proper education and teaching them pseudo science.
    Religion also attacks stem cell research, and other important areas of science.
    Also, take a look at the rise of secularism and the demographics of religion. Less religious countries are the best educated, lowest crime rates, lowest murder rates, lowest drug problems, strongest economies per capita, highest equality, low poverty etc.
    I dont think this is a coincidence. Maybe people are noticing?

    So, in conclusion, the biggest changes to religion on the past 10 years is people attitudes towards it have changed, its losing its power over the masses, people no longer see it as immune to criticism, more and people are looking at it sceptically and rationally, so secularism and non belief is on the rise and rising fast.

  • Comment number 70.

    Just as a point of accuracy, the first decade of this millenium is the ten year period 2001-2011, not 2000-2010.

    The decline of institutional religion that continues in this century is always a good thing, since it obstructs and obscures the truth and those with real faith.


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