Question: Is religion alive and well or struggling to survive in Canada?
KEVIN SMITH is on the board of directors for the centre for Inquiry, Canada’s premier venue for humanists, skeptics and freethinkers.
The Jesuits’ assertion that if you give them a child, they’ll return a man has been accepted by most religions as an accurate expression, and reason, for teaching the family faith to their young. And who can blame them? A child is impressionable up to age seven so it’s a crucial period to teach customs and culture, where religion is often part of the lesson.
When we reach the age of 12, we develop abstract thinking, logic and the ability to reason and use these tools as we read and surf the Net. We may start to question our preconceived notions of God, and the answers are a click away — on our tablet or laptop. This is the biggest threat to religion and a major reason why it’s struggling.
A study presented this year, at the American Physical Society, noted that Canadians not affiliated with any religious institution could rise to 61 per cent by 2050. Religion is facing an apocalypse.
Richard Dawkins’ book, The God Delusion, started the recent genesis of non-belief, providing a worldview that appeals to this free-thinking generation. People are bursting out of the closet, rejecting their parents’ wishes to keep the faith. Atheism is becoming mainstream.
Although religion has an infrastructure centuries old, this godless generation is building an impressive list of services. The Centre for Inquiry, a group of skeptical-minded people, is growing across the country. My friends at Humanist Canada have their own television show. If you miss the church community, there are two Unitarian places of non-worship in Ottawa to spend your Sunday mornings.
Belief and non-belief has waxed and waned for centuries. This time atheism is here to stay. Once we reject the supernatural, a world of mystery and beauty opens to us that rivals anything religion can offer.
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