Belief in god increases with age.

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Belief in god increases with age.

Postby Indrajala » Wed Apr 18, 2012 6:59 pm

Interesting report on a study about people likely to believe in a higher power as they age:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/the ... le2406396/

If you don’t believe in God now, you may change your mind later.

Older people are more likely to believe in God, researchers from the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center have discovered. Their study, which examined survey data from around the world, suggests that belief in God grows with age, as people approach their twilight years, Reuters reports.

“Looking at differences among age groups, the largest increases in belief in God most likely occur among those 58 years of age and older. This suggests that belief in God is especially likely to increase among the oldest groups, perhaps in response to the increasing anticipation of mortality,” the news agency quotes researcher Tom Smith as saying.

On average, 43 per cent of survey respondents who were 68 years and older said they were certain God exists. Among a younger cohort, aged 27 and under, an average of only 23 per cent said they firmly believed God exists. The data came from 30 countries, including Australia, Japan, the Czech Republic and Norway, surveyed in 1991, 1998 and 2008.

Participants were asked about how their beliefs changed over their lifetimes and about their attitudes toward God.

Mr. Smith noted that while belief in God had decreased over the past two decades, those declines were modest, Reuters reports.

In Canada, even though people’s interest in religion has declined since the 1970s, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve stopped believing in a higher power. Some statistics show up to 80 per cent of Canadians say they believe in God.



This is clearly biased towards monotheism, but I think similar parallels exist in Buddhist cultures as well. The majority of active participants in Buddhist temples in the countries I've been to tend to be middle aged and up. In Taiwan the machinery of Buddhist organizations are run by older laywomen. In Ladakh, India and here in Nepal the major pujas at gonpas all seem primarily attended by older generations. Young people don't show much interest in such things.
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Re: Belief in god increases with age.

Postby Konchog1 » Wed Apr 18, 2012 9:02 pm

So either the young are becoming more materialist, the old are fearing death, or both.
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Re: Belief in god increases with age.

Postby ryu » Wed Apr 18, 2012 9:16 pm

I think people eventually realize that material means nothing and provides no lasting happiness and as the years go by we question who we are and come to the realization we are going to die thus questioning our hearts intentions.

Meeting death with a lighter heart is a better risk than the consequences of a heavy heart.

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Re: Belief in god increases with age.

Postby Jikan » Wed Apr 18, 2012 9:22 pm

I find that people who have lived an examined life become increasingly critical and increasingly happy as they age.

For myself, now that I've hit middle age, I find that as I grow older I've become much much much less of a believer, more of a questioner, and generally more patient and gentle. Less testosterone in my system? :cheers:
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Re: Belief in god increases with age.

Postby plwk » Thu Apr 19, 2012 2:48 am

Reminds me of this from the Dhammapada...
Those who in youth have not led the holy life, or have failed to acquire wealth, languish like old cranes in the pond without fish.
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Re: Belief in god increases with age.

Postby catmoon » Thu Apr 19, 2012 3:57 am

It should come as no surprise that as the Grim Reaper approaches, people pay more attention to religion. The real question is, do they do so more than they used to? If so, is it simply due to an aging population?
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Re: Belief in god increases with age.

Postby treehuggingoctopus » Thu Apr 19, 2012 7:01 am

catmoon wrote:It should come as no surprise that as the Grim Reaper approaches, people pay more attention to religion. The real question is, do they do so more than they used to? If so, is it simply due to an aging population?


Another good question is, why exactly do they do so? I wouldn't read it as a sign of some finally gained wisdom, but of a growing fear - or one's growing inability to deal with such fears.
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Re: Belief in god increases with age.

Postby mindyourmind » Thu Apr 19, 2012 7:09 am

Who is it that spoke of "cramming for the finals" in situations like these, with old age and death approaching? Some atheist author.
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Re: Belief in god increases with age.

Postby Shutoku » Thu Apr 19, 2012 9:26 am

While I'm certain fear of death is a factor for some, it is far less a factor for most than young people think.

There is no question that as we age there are shifts in our perceptions, our priorities, and we have the benefit of more life experience. It is easy to dismiss it as fear of mortality, but for myself, I'm pretty ok with dying, and without question I am getting more spiritual as I get older. For me it really is more about life experience I am not skilled enough to put into words, and fear plays a very small role, if any role at all.

I should maybe specify I am Buddhist, so I am not talking about believing in a Judeo Christian God.
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Re: Belief in god increases with age.

Postby Indrajala » Thu Apr 19, 2012 9:39 am

I suspect a growing interest in religion as one ages is more a result of having tested so many worldly pleasures and having found them ultimately unsatisfying one seeks out a transmundane narrative in which to pursue higher more reliable mental comforts. It is with such a narrative that one's lifestyle takes on new meaning and purpose, which often creates a comforting sense of purpose when it comes to healing all the wounds from life. The existential question of "Why have I suffered?" is addressed by most religions and if someone finds a suitable answer to that question much pain is transformed into a character-building process and remedy. Entertainment and "keeping up with the Joneses" won't do that.
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Re: Belief in god increases with age.

Postby mint » Thu Apr 19, 2012 5:45 pm

:good:

Huseng wrote:transformed into a character-building process


Speak with your average religious gray-headed man/woman and the word "fear" will never occur. This isn't to say that fear isn't an impetus, but it doesn't remain the impetus; rather, there are a great many utilitarian purposes housed in our religious institutions, currently ranging from community picnics to national events calling for environmental protection and social justice. Perhaps the unconscious motivation is reconciliatory, but I think the real reason is that it gives aging persons a purpose when their children are grown and they've (likely) exited the workforce.
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