The U.S. has been steadily losing its religion for decades — but that trend might ramp up significantly in the years to come.
The U.S. has been steadily losing its religion for decades. For the most part, Protestants have been leaving the church while the affiliation rates among Catholicism and other religions in the country have remained stable. But since 1990, Americans have been abandoning both belief and religious affiliation at such a fast pace that, by 2035, it's likely that 35 percent of the population will have no religious affiliation — outnumbering protestants.
Hitler is commonly thought to have been an atheist, a claim that's often used in debates about the perils of atheistic belief on a mass scale. But was he?
You have to be a little envious of those who have faith—they have a motivational force behind them that is near impossible to beat. What if there was a secular equivalent, wonders philosophy professor Sam Newlands.
If faith is what bolsters the believers, could hope be a form of secular prayer? What is the difference between faith and hope, anyway? Philosophy professor Sam Newlands explains that while the two occupy the same categorical space, they are fundamentally different philosophical mindsets. Faith is fueled by a sense of certainty about an outcome, even if that conviction outstrips the evidence. Hope on the other hand can be cognitively inconsistent and still escape scrutiny: you can think something is highly improbable and still hope for it to be true. Here, Newlands discusses the intersection of hope and faith in a religious context: is religion without faith possible? Can hope manifest religious belief?
This week, Bill Nye tackles one of the most complicated hypotheticals of all time.
Would a world full of atheists be best? Some people dream of the day religion fades away, but for others the mere hypothetical is a form of blasphemy. Imagine, just like John Lennon asked us to: would it be heaven on Earth? Would it be complete chaos? No one can accurately answer this question, just as no one can really know whether or not there is a god—technically speaking, we're all agnostics, explains Bill Nye. What we do know is that community underpins religion, and communities are essential for humanity's progress and existence. God or no god, we need to understand that we're all in this together, urges Nye. Communities—whether they're anchored in faith, science, art, or altruism—are essential to the future of humankind. Bill Nye's most recent book is Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World.
Physics finds no trace of God so far—but does it matter?
Can God exist out there in space-time? Do the laws of nature support the idea of a divine creator, or do they rule it out? At the moment, the existence of a god is a deep question for theologists and philosophers: it won't become a scientific question until there is evidence of God. With so much uncertainty, the question Bill Nye likes to focus on instead is: how would that knowledge change your life? Is who you are, with and without religion, two different versions of your self? The reality is that you don't need evidence of any god to live a good life. For Nye personally, he goes by the moral framework of "be responsible for my own actions, and leave the world better than I found it." That's probably the surest way to protect the life of the people and the earth that we have, whether or not it was made by higher power.