Skeptic Michael Shermer is pleased the number of folks with no religious affiliation is growing, and will likely continue to grow.
One estimate is that “there are more than 64 million American atheists, a staggering number that no politician can afford to ignore.” There are about 358 million people in the USA, making about 18% who are effectively atheist. That’s on the low end. The same estimate suggests the number may be as high as 26%, or 93 million.
He says, “This shift away from the dominance of any one religion is good for a secular society whose government is structured to discourage catch basins of power from building up and spilling over into people’s private lives.”
This is not only not true, it is willfully blind. The catch basin of power known as the State has not only spilled over into people’s lives, but it is overtaking them. Each day the State discovers a new area which it can control, regulate, manipulate, “nudge”, or direct. Religion and the family were able to hold the State at bay, at least to some extent. Which is why it is not surprising these institutions are under attack by the State.
An Unreasonable Suggestion
Moreover, if these trends continue, we should be thinking about the deeper implications for how people will find meaning as the traditional source of it wanes in influence. And we should continue working on grounding our morals and values on viable secular sources such as reason and science.
This is wrong. And also frightening. We cannot ground our morals on reason and science. Reason may assist but science is as silent as Hell is not on which morals and values a society should favor. Science is in the measurement and not the judgement business. It can tell us, say, how many heads are lopped off the world over, including those in would-be mothers’ wombs, but it cannot say whether lopping itself is good or bad. Reason should have told Shermer that.
Maybe it did but he wasn’t listening. The message isn’t one he’d like to hear. But it’s as simple dropping a piece of toast buttered side down.
The Silence of Science
Science cannot say if murder is right or wrong. That is a moral judgement and moral judgments are not scientific. Science can describe where and when murders take place, and under what circumstances, and it might even be able to predict with varying accuracy where murders are going to take place, or possibly even who might commit them.
These activities involve measurement, modeling, and prediction. That is what science does, and only what science does.
A scientist can say, “Click here to read the rest.”