Looking at historical trends in Gallup polling, the only category of religious identification which has grown consistently in the past decade is “none.” We should note that touting a religious affiliation says nothing of whether an individual truly adheres to the faith they claim. Indeed, the percentage of respondents who claim that religion is “not important” in their life has also grown, and a huge majority of people believe the influence of religion is waning.
O’Dowd’s increasingly illiberal view toward the religious echoes that expressed in much of academia and the scientific community. Richard Dawkins personifies the extreme. Given his many critical quotes regarding religion, Dawkins seems to speak from O’Dowd’s imagined future. Here’s a choice selection:
“I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world.”
“Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.”
“Bush and bin Laden are really on the same side: the side of faith and violence against the side of reason and discussion. Both have implacable faith that they are right and the other is evil. Each believes that when he dies he is going to heaven. Each believes that if he could kill the other, his path to paradise in the next world would be even swifter. The delusional “next world” is welcome to both of them. This world would be a much better place without either of them.”
That belief, that the world would be better without religious people, holds a latent power which could easily be channeled against religious liberty. At the risk of evoking the rhetorical garbage that is “Godwin’s law,” believing that the world would be better without a particular group of people rarely bodes well.