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There does not seem to be a shortage of church variety to choose from. It's not about churches not being able to answer questions clearly; the reality is just that fewer people believe in gods.

For comparison: in the Netherlands we already dipped below 50% in 2017, and the number of religious people keeps dropping steadily.

In 2019 the remaining religious minority was composed of 20.1% Roman Catholics, 14.8% protestants (various types), 5.0% Muslims, and 5.9% adherents of other religions.

Edit: bear in mind that this is people who consider themselves religious. The percentage of people actually member of a church/mosque/whatever is below 30%.




> There does not seem to be a shortage of church variety to choose from.

I think this is a deceiving metric. Most churches are less places of worship or religious education and more social clubs dressed up in religious phrases and iconography. There are so many of them because each is designed to appeal to a particular social group, but they all feature a very similar watered down message that just reinforces the congregation's preexisting beliefs. They tend to focus less on education and more on community events, activism, fundraising, and growing their community - just like any other social club.

If you're looking for a church that genuinely teaches its congregation, that's much harder to find. They don't tend to be as successful in terms of growth or wealth. To teach someone, you must either add to what they know or challenge something they think they already know. Most people don't like being challenged - they'd rather go somewhere that reinforces what they already think or just ditch religion altogether.

It's no surprise that the social club churches are disappearing. Even the least devoted members of a church congregation feels bad leaving, just as they might feel bad cancelling a gym membership they never actually use. But their kids often have no such attachments.


I no longer see "believing in God" as being necessary per se to practice or benefit from religion. More important is the self-discipline it can create through repetition and habit.

Religion has the same function as "branding" - it's an efficient short-cut to bypass intensive, and possible unavailable intellectual rigor for some. And because Bell Curves are truly reality, providing a moral and ethical framework that works for everyone and that is internally consistent ENOUGH absolutely matters.

NOTHING we can ever know will be absolute truth or knowledge. You can make a simple proof by physical volumes of an individual and of the universe, combined with Shannon's Law. Humans must always come up short on knowledge and understanding of the universe as a result.

Like all things (even science) you can take a thing too far and exceed its limits of explanation or prediction. But that's unavoidable in a static system sense; which is why you dynamic systems defined by reliable and simple rules and waypoints. Religion absolutely provides that in a minimal effort form.

And we shouldn't project upon "average" and "below average" for what we might be familiar with or assume about intellect. Again: Bell curves for all things are reality. The biggest mistake that intellectuals make is that EVERYONE is just like them and thinks exactly the same way. Nope. Not even on a good day.


Even if one believes, the notion that these often corrupt, sometimes malignant control organizations we call churches are a necessary expense of both time and money is a harder sell in the modern world.

The social role that churches play is where the opening raises real concern. What comes after organized religion may well look more like conspiracy theory.


I would argue several modern problems trace to the collapse of churches as a social institution:

- loneliness

- lack of dating/marriage

- lack of community infrastructure

- lack of elder care

If you look at existing charities, much of the rubber meets road work gets done by churches or church affiliated groups.

You don’t have to like the message or the people, but I think it’s pretty obvious ditching churches without a replacement was a mistake.

Edit: reply here since rate limited //

> Yes, this can obviously vary by church--but it's a fallacy to claim that churches as a whole prevented loneliness.

No, you’re the one making a fallacy: your mothers singular bad experience doesn’t refute that churches made a statistically positive impact, which was my claim. You just told an emotional anecdote then declared that I’m wrong due to a straw man. (I never made a universal claim.)

> an entire generation growing up in the shadow of the 2008 financial collapse, as well as unprecedented debt from college

Okay?

The downwards trend in dating and marriage didn’t start in 2008 and doesn’t seem to hold across cultures — there’s a clear cultural component related to social changes in the US.

If you’re saying you think the collapse of churches is on par with excessive college debt as to why two-ish generations aren’t flourishing: I agree.

That’s my point.

> it's a self-selecting population that inherently echochambers, making it difficult to relate to outside groups, thus further damaging community

This sounds like a stereotype more than a fact — and is exactly counter to my experience, where multiple churches collaborate on things like homelessness charities.

That fine grained social structure is a necessary layer of how governments distribute resources effectively, one very poorly replaced by private actors. (In my experience.)

> you don't give any supporting arguments for them

I must have missed yours.

> you quite nicely fit the churchgoer stereotype in that way

Here’s the crux of it: you’re making faulty arguments because you need me to be wrong for your stereotypes to be right.

Eg, calling me a “churchgoer stereotype” when I don’t attend church and you made similarly unsupported arguments.

You’re just a bigot: factually wrong and stereotyping people.


I think you're likely ignoring other confounding effects;

> - loneliness

I'm not convinced churches ever solved this meaningfully--my mother left her church specifically because they never treated her as an equal adult, being a single parent. She was lonely _within_ the church. Yes, this can obviously vary by church--but it's a fallalcy to claim that churches as a whole prevented loneliness.

Especially not for those subjugated *by* the church (LGBT, single parent, unmarried, women [depending on doctrine]...)

> - lack of dating/marriage

* an entire generation growing up in the shadow of the 2008 financial collapse, as well as unprecedented debt from college, climate change, etc. driving down the desire to start a family

> lack of community infrastructure

This is much more influenced by increasing polarization and tribalism, which churches have helped cause by providing a platform and existing insular in-group--it's a self-selecting population that inherently echochambers, making it difficult to relate to outside groups, thus further damaging community.

Overall, you make these claims that churches are significant in these ways, but you don't give any supporting arguments for them--you quite nicely fit the churchgoer stereotype in that way.


Churches absolutely solve loneliness: it's a ready-made community complete with social events and opportunities that, with small exceptions and discounting odd-ball churches, anyone can join. Yes, they have a morality on right and wrong, but from reading your comment, I'm pretty sure you do too.

People are avoiding dating and marriage because of climate change? This doesn't sound real.

I suspect COVID making everything socially bizarre is having a much bigger impact on dating than a financial bubble bursting 13 years ago.


Haha. My mom was divorced and told by the church that she couldn't remarry. Not because it was against church policy, but because the rector at our parish was against it. So she had to petition the bishop who basically ordered the rector to allow it (and forced him to officiate). So I'm pretty sure that at least this church didn't give a flying hoot about whether my mom was lonely, or seeking marriage etc.


I think you are looking for a regular socially democratic government, not a church.


[flagged]


Only the state-sponsored dating, which I’m sure is not what the commenter was implying!

If you’ve never lived in a society that offered socialist advantages like affordable health care, elder care, government-funded community engagement programs, etc. then I guess it’s easy to be scared by things you don’t understand.

I’m not putting this on you, but when people turn to religion with fear already pulsing through their veins, good things never happen.


> If you’ve never lived in a society that offered socialist advantages like affordable health care, elder care, government-funded community engagement programs, etc. then I guess it’s easy to be scared by things you don’t understand.

I don’t think it’s commenting in good faith to think the only reason I would find those things dystopic is because I am ignorant or haven’t experienced them.

That sort of insulting non-answer from utopian is precisely what tends to scare me — and lead to horrific outcomes in the real world.


I'm not guessing that it's easy to misunderstand things one has not experienced - that's axiomatic. And there's nothing utopian about, for example, healthcare in Germany (with which I have a decade's experience) - it's just more accessible, more affordable, and more effective at producing public health outcomes than what exists in America, my country of birth.

There is nothing dystopian about having a dental emergency handled in the middle of the night, at no cost to you.


> I'm not guessing that it's easy to misunderstand things one has not experienced - that's axiomatic.

I’ll say it again:

You’re assuming I’m ignorant about or haven’t experienced what you’re talking about.

This comment, like the one before, isn’t made in good faith.


If you continue to break the site guidelines like this we are going to have to ban you again.

If you wouldn't mind reviewing https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and taking the intended spirit of the site more to heart, we'd be grateful.


> This comment, like the one before, isn’t made in good faith.

That's a rich assessment on a thread about the precipitous decline in US church attendance.

I rest my case.


Please don't break the site guidelines like this, regardless of what another commenter does. It only makes things worse.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


> I would argue several modern problems trace to the collapse of churches as a social institution: > - loneliness

> - lack of dating/marriage

> - lack of community infrastructure

> - lack of elder care

Do you have any evidence to back this argument up?


We threw out the baby with the bathwater.


Followup to embedded reply;

> You just told an emotional anecdote then declared that I’m wrong due to a straw man

...

> That’s my point.

...

> ...and is exactly counter to my experience...

...

> Here’s the crux of it: you’re making faulty arguments ...

Apologies; You didn't provide any evidence or elaboration on claims in your original post, just that "I think it's pretty obvious ditching churches without a replacement was a mistake," so I did make assumptions about your motivations etc. It would have been better of me to ask "Why do you think churches would have addressed these problems?" instead of blindly countering what I thought your arguments were.

That said:

> I must have missed your [supporting arguments].

I'd thought I gave several possible counter-arguments to your points--which you then responded to? I'm confused as to what you 'missed'.

> Eg, calling me a “churchgoer stereotype”

I did not call you a churchgoer, I said you fit the stereotype, in that you made claims without bothering to effectively support them (at the time); you may consider this 'bigoted' to stereotype in this manner, but to me it's a chronic frustration with defenders of churches. I'll grant that it's implied that I called you a churchgoer, but the specifics there are beside the point.

At this point I would also add on the stereotype that, when your ideas are confronted, you act as if you're under "attack" and are being "oppressed," a la "war on christmas."

> You’re just a bigot: factually wrong and stereotyping people.

I'm not certain I agree with that definition of 'bigot'; I'm also not certain you've demonstrated my factual incorrectness.

I'm also rather frustrated around the disconnect of you treating churches as a roughly homogenous group (as in "ditching churches without a replacement was a mistake", "[most charity] work gets done by churches", "several modern problems trace to the collapse of churches"), yet when I similarly generalize it's "stereotyping" and I'm a bigot.

We clearly have different experiences w.r.t. churches, as most people do. I have plenty of friends who have a litany of issues with the churches they grew up in; I have several other friends and family members who have had wonderful experiences in their churches. Both of these common classes of experience (you may call them anecdotal, I call them endemic) existing in the same space makes it very frustrating to me when people make claims around the positivity of churches with little support and ignoring these widespread flaws. You say it was a mistake to ditch churches without "a replacement"--I'd claim there are many whose lives are better off for having not been subject to the whims of their church, and calling it a mistake to abandon them is to ignore the church's share in their own faults where they exist.

> [saying churches are a self-selecting population that inherently echochambers] sounds like a stereotype more than a fact

People who go to church literally self-select in that they all believe in __roughly__ the same doctrine, god, etc. Even more so if you account for the fact that "church shopping" is a thing where people try to find one that "fits," and then they get their general beliefs reinforced by going. I really don't see what's a stereotype here.

The "outside groups" they struggle to relate to is demonstrable by things like how they interact with LGBT people, or folks of other religions, or atheists. There are certainly examples of where some churches do these things well, but again your claim of "ditching churches without a replacement was a mistake" __does not__ makes these distinctions, and ignoring them is tantamount to ignoring the harm churches--generalized or no!--have done to these groups.




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