4/26/2009--Hanna Rosin reports in the NY Times Book Review section today on the religious revival taking place in the world, in her review of the book, God is Back, by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge. The book and the review are part of the large literature claiming that the secularization thesis has been discredited. Modernization does not bring increasing secularization, as had been thought. Europe is the exception. America is the new norm.
Well, as readers of this blog know, these reports now appear to have been premature. The world is certainly very religious and more religious probably than 25 years ago. But secularization is rapidly growing in America, now constituting 15% of the public and even a higher percentage among the young. It turns out that science really does undermine at least a certain kind of religion, that dependent on miracle and the supernatural.
People can be misled by the growth of religious wars and tensions into thinking that religion is stronger than it is. It should be remembered that the religious wars of the 17th Century presaged an enormous growth in secularism. The same thing may happen again, and relatively soon. It would not surprise me if the current, hate-filled interpretation of Islam that is being presented to the world by a small Muslim minority ends up discrediting Islam itself. If that happens, young Muslims might turn away from religion and create the kind of secular Islamic culture that is largely absent in the world today.