“One-fifth of the U.S. public – and a third of adults under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling.”
Every time Pew runs this study, worldview blogs catch on fire with excitement. Secularists see it as a victory of a newly enlightened young population. Christians see it as another sign of society’s downfall.
I see it as a bunch of honest young people with no opinion about theology and no desire to align their personal beliefs with a label. We live in a super personal, self-centered age. I’m not saying self centered as a bad thing. We are egoists, defined as: “One devoted to one’s own interests and advancement. Or one adhering to the doctrine of egoism … The ethical doctrine that morality has its foundations in self-interest.”
Even if one denies this label, I think most of daily life reflects it as we post our “status” on the internet, work hard at our jobs for recognition and advancement, and save our money for vacations and retirement. Few of us live lives centered around others. I personally think that’s fine with some balance.
What bothers me about the Nones is that I believe they are apathetic about worldviews in general. People I meet who do not try to define themselves by being similar to or different from others, seem very wrapped up in their egoism. I hear things like, “I am just spiritual. I feel that there might be something there, like a force, but I can’t know for sure. I just live my life as an honest person.” Or some such thing.
Of course, that kind of definition glosses over a lot of potential worldviews — Agnosticism, Deism, Monism or New Age. But these folks, which I believe often, get labeled by PEW as “Nones,” strike me as having no interest in what people in history have thought about this subject. I suspect they hold the impression that they have crafted a silent and nebulous, but distinctly unique manifesto. And that makes me lose respect for them.
In their defense, no one delves into the topic. A few pressing questions about their opinion on the working of the universe would help them identify with a worldview, if they wanted to do so.
But that’s the other part of it. They most likely don’t want a label. But have they considered why? Are they having an adolescent reaction to being labeled? After all, labels are not always bad. They give community to a worldview. They lend influence and foster camaraderie.
What I take issue with regarding the Nones is the probable apathy. I doubt they’re consciously making this choice to not have a worldview or a worldview community. They are just caught on the phone, with PEW, mid shrug.
So what do you think? Are the Nones enlightened or apathetic? Are you a None? Are you sure? Check out this chart of 43 common belief systems.