Loss of Religious Belief Is a Greater Loss for a Civilized Society
There has been a noticeable decline in the percentage of Americans identifying as religious. Some perceive this seismic shift as evidence of a secularizing culture. In some quarters, the secularization of America is viewed favorably as an agent of modernization. But researchers are theorizing that the erosion of religious beliefs portends negative consequences for society because religion cultivates meaningful social relationships by nurturing a sense of community.
Religious institutions hone social capital by fostering a strong sense of brotherhood that transcends tribalism. Religions also make it easier for societies to scale up by diminishing tribalism and promoting cooperation. Cooperative groups are more successful than divisive groups, and by engendering in-group solidarity, religious groups outperform their rivals. Essentially, dedication to religious norms and beliefs drives group solidarity and social cohesion. As a result, some of the largest and most successful institutions in the world are proudly religious.
Though religions are portrayed as conservative, history demonstrates that they have been the primary initiators of social change. Prior to Islam, few expected the Arabs to become architects of world empires, but the advent of Islam provided the fuel that motivated ordinary people and elites to conquer foreign territories. Likewise in Europe, the medieval church launched a legal revolution that upended the social order and established revolutionary universities.
As a social technology, religion is instrumental in shaping institutions, politics, and civil society. Education, welfare services, and even opportunities ar
Article from Mises Wire