Connor Wood at Science on Religion writes about current social and political trends and where libertarians fall in the republican-democratic spectrum, and how both of those parties may be splitting into factions.
And which of these factions finds religion the most appealing.
A communitarian theory of religion explains this uncomfortable dynamic: less-privileged groups are often more religious because religion is the tool that creates in-person communities most efficiently, with minimum cognitive overhead –- allowing people without a lot of free time or extra energy on their hands to focus most on what matters in life. It does so by using tools like ritual, evocative symbols, and established traditions to ensure that everyone fulfills their obligations to the collective and to each other.
This is why, as I’ve written before, it takes tremendous subsidies coming from such large-scale systems to make individualism – of either the supposedly conservative, libertarian kind or the liberal variety — tenable. Individualism, which both liberals and libertarians value so highly, does not exist outside wealthy democracies. Even within such democracies, it is usually limited to those groups with most access to education and economic resources. And because of this, many of the traditionalists and social conservatives who reject individualism do so, in part, because individualism would be an utterly disastrous bet for themselves and their families.
Wood explores relationships between religion and societal status — that’s his thesis, apparently, in grad school — and they correspond with other commentaries I’ve read that associate atheism — a rational, science-based worldview that rejects not just one faith tradition but all of them — with the relative privilege and luxury of advanced societies, and in large cities, where community cohesiveness is not a priority. Is this entirely true, I wonder? It seems to be true for many European countries, especially the northern ones, where religious faith is low and standards of living on various scales are very high. The US, and China, seems to be the outliers in this trend.