These ideas have been harvested from a lengthy discussion with one specific member of the RichardDawkins.net forum, who was of the strong opinion that Religion was an extremely important factor in the history of the world and is responsible for many good things in modern society, as it fulfills it role successfully according to Functionalism. This member was of the opinion that Religion would never truly die out because the role it fulfills in society is to big, and it does the job too well. The roles it fulfilled were such as promoting conformity and a sense of community.
Here I hope to lay out SOME factors as to why Religion is NO LONGER necessary in a modern Irish Society (or any other society, for that matter!).
From a purely Historical point of view, and with an eye to modern day society:
AT NO POINT in the past was there such a massive disemination of scientific evidence and information about the world we live than today.
AT NO POINT in the past were the general public exposed at such a close level to the events going on around the world than today.
AT NO POINT in the past was it so socially acceptable to profess a disbelief or a lack of belief in god(s) than today. (and to easily join an organisation of people of a similar disposition)
AT NO POINT in the past was there such a widespread surge of democracy where people understand their rights and will stand up and fight for them than today.
AT NO POINT in the past (aside from the last 100 years) was it so okay to attack the church of the country one lived in, without fear of being arrested for commiting a crime in heresy and being tortured and killed.
AT NO POINT in the past did we have such a significant understanding of our world and how it and we came to be where we are today, such that we could render the beliefs and claims of Religions useless than today.
AT NO POINT in the past would it have been possible for an organisation of less than 1000 people (FFRF.org) to challenge the seperation of church and state in a court of law and win their case and further the goals of a secular society than today.
ALL OF THESE FACTORS point to a greater understanding of the world around us.
ALL OF THESE FACTORS point to a greater rejection of ridiculous, illogical claims based on an insurmountable LACK of evidence.
ALL OF THESE FACTORS point to the decline in acceptance by the general public of Religion in nearly all but it’s strongest forms i.e. crazy evangelicals.
ALL OF THESE FACTORS lend severe weight to the claim that religion will soon be rendered useless and disappear as a significant force in our society.
ALL OF THESE FACTORS outweigh the apparent growth in Religious population.
ALL OF THESE FACTORS are contributing to a growing Irreligious population.
ALL OF THESE FACTORS tell us that the disparity between Religious and Irreligious population will soon be shifted in the other direction as the newly indoctrinated religious begin to challenge their beliefs as they fail, time and time again, in the face of rational thought and evidence, contrary to the claims of those beliefs, to rationalise those beliefs against the realities of the universe we inhabit.
ALL OF THESE FACTORS and the utter contempt the Irish people have for the Catholic church is why there is in fact a GROWING NATIVE Irreligious population, despite the outward stereotype that Ireland is still a highly religious country.
ALL OF THESE FACTORS show us that our modern society clearly has the tools to do Religions work and to do it better than Religion could ever have hoped for.
In Ireland it is such that the majority of the youth simply do not care about religion and simply do not dwell on it overmuch, beyond the odd mass, traditional celebrations and holidays or the R.E. class in school. However there are many people that you will find who, when asked directly “Do you believe in a god?”, the majority of them would reply with something to the effect of “I don’t quite believe in God per se, but I think it’s important to have faith”, simply because they are used to the bloody tradition. And if they were pressed as to what Religion they belonged, they would say Catholic, simply because the family is Catholic.
I fear that we are becoming like the Jewish community in the US who have a large proportion of their youth “believing in belief” and in the traditions, but taking absolutely nothing from it into their personal lives beyond running through the motions. However, the light of reason begins to shine deep within these people when you simply begin to discuss these matters with them, stripping away the layers of indoctrination, showing them the nonsensicalities of specific ideas or doctrines etc… and you begin to get the DISTINCT impression that these people truly do NOT believe in the doctrines of their espoused faith, but are mere fence-sitters afraid to upset the family dynamic by tearing apart cherished beliefs, or too polite to wish emotional harm upon themselves or their family due to their beliefs (or lack thereof ;))