Is Personal Insecurity a Cause of Cross-National Differences in the Intensity of Religious Belief?

Is Personal Insecurity a Cause of Cross-National Differences in the Intensity of Religious Belief? An Interchange between Psychology and Religion
By: Tomas James Rees
Source: Journal of Religion and Society

The cause of cross-national differences in individual-level religiosity has a rich history of scholarly debate rooted in observations of an apparent decline in religiosity in the modern era. Numerous causal factors have been proposed. A prominent strand of thought, originally formulated by Weber, supposes that greater education, along with the free and open transmission and discussion of ideas, undermines superstitious or non-naturalistic thinking. Empirical support for this includes the observation that national-level religiosity and scientific productivity are inversely correlated (Jaffe). Another strand, rooted in the work of Durkheim, suggests that the displacement of religious social institutions by secular ones leads to the gradual loss of importance of religious ideas. Complicating the debate are the multitudinous definitions of the term “secularization,” which has come to refer variously to a decline in religious participation or a decline in individual piety.

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