It often seems as though religion is bigger than ever, being at the root of so many of the world’s conflicts, but philosopher and author of Against All Gods, Anthony Grayling thinks this is paradoxically a sign that it is in its ‘death throes’.
Discussing the apparent growth of both atheism and religion in an old episode of the Philosophy Bites podcast, still poignant today, he said:
“I don’t think myself that we’re seeing a resurgence of religion, I think we’re seeing a turning up of the volume mightily by the religious, which is something different.
“It may very well be a symptom of the fact that religion feels so under pressure that it’s doing what it did back in the 16th century at the time of the Reformation when Catholicism, which had been the single dominent outlook, became very vigorous in its demise. These were death throes that caused those awful wars in the 16th and 17th centuries because they were losing their power and struggling to keep it.”
He suggested that the cleaving away of religious and secular lifestyles could also be a factor.
“It may very well be that now with globalisation and the fact that the Islamic parts of the world felt very under pressure, very threatened by the rapid sense of what must seem to them awful morality off the back of western style globalisation, that the volume and the irritation and the frustration has ratcheted up.”
Earlier in the week, a new poll revealed that the UK is one of the least religious countries in the world, with 53% of people describing themselves as ‘not religious’.