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Introduction

The secularizationtheory is the belief that as societies progress, specifically by modernization andrationalization, the authority of religion fades in the different aspects of life as well as governance[1]. As per this theory, when the society advances socially, economically and politically, religion becomes hollow. In addition, the theory holds that intellectual as well as scientific developments have weakenedsupernatural, paranormal, and spiritual ideas on which religion depends for its acceptability[2]. With the continuation of this, religion becomes shallower, and survives for a short time on empty until the loss of active membership forces the religion into obscurity. Because of secularization, the function of religion in most modern and developed states becomes more restricted. Furthermore, in most of the secularized societies, faith loses its cultural authority and various religious organizations lose their social power. The proponents of the theory exhibit a widespread decline in the omnipresenceof religious belief in the entire west, mostly Europe[3]. Even though some scholars including Peter Berger and Rodney Stark continue to argue religiosity degree has not declined, other scholars including Mark Chaves and Demerath have countered the argumentby introducing the neo-secularization idea, that broaden secularization definition to include the decline of religious authority as well as its ability  of influencing society[4]. This paper critically examines the secularization theory, the reasons for its emergence, and the reasons for changed views among its previous proponents.
 

Reasons for rise of Secularization Theory

Generally, the current supporters of the secularization theory hold that modernity tries to erode the authority, plausibility and the intensity of religion. In addition, the theories try positing the current retreat to different sacred institutions, the privatization of faith, and the advanced condensation as well a decline of religion in public life. Peter Berger, for example offers a version of the theory mainly focusing on the plausibility of religious concepts[5]. In this case, peter argues that various changes in religious consciousness are the result of both science and enlightenment but to the expansion of social as well as cultural pluralism, which is the main characteristic of liberalizing societies.[6] The man reason for confronting pluralism is for damaging of plausibility in the religious dogma. In most of the liberal societies, many religious as well as secular groups push for influence based on ethical as well as philosophical claims, destabilizing the various claims to preponderance, and eventually leading to the denationalization of religion in civil society.[7]
According to Richard Dawkins, secularization theory emerged because people realized they could live morally without relying on religious backup. What religion talks about is all about living morally, of which people can live without been religious[8]. Richard Dawkins holds that civilization helps people to reason well how to develop their society and to care for other people. As rationalization and civilization sets in, people stop relying for religion for them to embrace humanity[9]. Their reasoning helps them to treat other people with high regard instead of foolishly following a fictionist being and delusional teachings. For this reason, growth of modernization leads to decline in the reliance on religion. Instead, people depend on rational thinking and science to find answers to some of the most difficulty questions about natural phenomena. Richard Dawkins remains a very firm supporter of secularization theory. He holds the belief that religion and God are illusions. Though he was confirmed in the Church of England at the age of thirteen years, he later started growing incredulous of the religious beliefs[10]. Learning of Darwinism changed his belief in Christianity and religious faiths. Dawkins holds that many physicists use God as a metaphor for the overall overwhelming mysteries of the world. This leads to confusion as well as misunderstandings amongst people who wrongly think that the physicists are talking about certain mystical creature, which forgives sins, and provides life after death[11]. He goes against the nonoverlappingmagisteria principle coined by Stephen Jay Gould. Contrarily, he argues that God’s existence need to be treated just like any other myth. In his book, The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins holds that supernatural being is nonexistence and the belief in a personal God is just a delusion. He further defines the believe in God and the existence of religion as persistent falsehood in the face of robust contrary evidence. He strongly supports a statement by   Robert Pirsig that when one person is a victim of delusion this is known as insanity. However, many people suffer from delusion; this is referred to as religion. Through giving   plethora of examples, Robert Pirsig explains why it is possible for people to remain moral without having religious backup. He further holds that morality can be definedwithoutrelyingon religious support. Based on Dawkins arguments, secularization theory rose when people realized that they could remain morally upright without reference to religion.
Secondary, secularization theory emerged because science was able to answer most of the complex questions about natural phenomena. Unlike some  centuries ago when  people remained amazed by the existence of some of the  natural phenomena like the solar system, the earth, the origin of human beings, plants among other things, today science has provided answers to most of these questions. Since people could not find answers to most of these questions, they sought divine intervention to get the answers to most of these questions[12]. However, science has provided rational answers to the questions leading to many people doubting religious faith. For example, Charles Darwin with his evolution theory he explains the evolution of man. On the other hand, several theories explain the origin of the earth. For example, the big bang theory provides a logical explanation about the existence of the earth. The theory states that all the current as well as the past matter in universe came to exist at the same time, estimate about13.8 billion years ago[13]. During this time, the universe had no stars, form, atoms, or structure. Later about 13.8 billion years ago, space increased speedily. The result was the formation of atoms, which later led to the development of galaxies and stars[14]. This explanation is quite reasonable compared to the Christian explanation of God’s creation. In addition, physicists can explain the reaction, which led to the expansion of the space and the development of stars and atoms. Compared to the God’s creation theory, the Big Bang theory seems to provide a reasonable explanation. Many scientists have argued that God’s creation theory is inconsistence and does not offer a deep explanation and answer various scientific questions. In addition, the time for creation of the universe as provided in the bible and other religious books rational and convincing.
Another reason for growth of the theory is that modernity and rationalization helps to enlighten people that they are solution to their problems. With the new enlightenment, people stopped depending on divine intervention to get answers about their problems; rather they try to innovate new methods of solving their problems[15]. The result of this is development of technology and new approaches of doing things. According to many proponents of the secularization theory, many people turn to divine intervention to seek for sympathy for most of their problems[16]. The result is overdependence in religious matter and laxity to innovate new ways of doing things. However, growth of modernity and modernization has led to development of new methods of doing things such as technology. With the new developments, people reduce their reliance on religion and secularization increases. In the current society, most people are no longer looking for sympathy from supreme beings, instead that innovate new ways of solving their problems.
The spread of the western culture is another reason for the emergence and development of secularization theory. Unlike other cultures that preach collectivism and socialism, the western culture is centered in materialism, sensualism, individualism, license, and non-religionism. The growth of the culture has greatly influenced family relations and outlook[17]. In addition, the growth of the materialism perspectives has led to unending rush for material wealth. Furthermore, individualism perspective, which is core in the western culture, has led to increased competition and capitalism aspect whereby individual rather than collective achievement is celebrated. Consequently, religion is no longer determining people’s economic pursuits and matters concerning marriage, sex, family life, and education. This is because the culture provides for individualism whereby people live their own way and there is no standard way of living as described in the “holy book”. In addition, the culture gives people the freedom to live freely without fear of some fictionally supernatural being.
Why Have Some Previous Supporters Of The Theory Altered Their Views?
Unlike some decades ago when proponents of the secularization theory were strong at it, their stand nowadays seems to waiver. In addition, most of the earlier proponents of the theory have changed their mind on whether to continue supporting it or to be against the theory. There exist many reasons behind this change of mind.
To begin with, there is inconsistency of decline of religiosity with expansion of modernization and rationalization. In some nations, religion is increasing with the spread of rationalization and modernization[18]. For instance, despite experiencing significant modernity, region in china is increasing. In addition, future prospects show that china is expecting to witness increased growth in religion, particularly Christianity.
To begin with, despite growth in modernity and rationalization in china, region seems to be growing at a faster rate. Many previous proponents of the theory seem to have changed their mind,as china seems to be going against the theory. Secularization theory seems not to hold water in the present day china. Unlike in most nations where modernization is followed by decline in affiliation to organized religion, China is experiencing the opposite. Economic growth and modernization in china has resulted to increase in religious affiliation. According to[19], china is on course to becoming the globe’s most Christian nation within a period of 15 years. With the current increase in the Christian population, china is likely to have more population of churchgoers than America. Renowned sociologist Rodney Stark argues that Christianity in china is growing at about 7 percent[20]. Research shows that by 1980, there were about 10 million Christians in china. However, the Christian population grew to 60 million by 2007. By 2015, the population of Christians was estimated to be 100 million[21]. The number is expected to rise in the recent in the future. It is worth noting that Christianity is rising at a time when china is experiencing growth in technology and modernization. In addition, for the past decades the economy of china has been increasing[22]. This raises eyebrows on the validity of the secularization theory in the modern china. This growth in religion is experienced even with the increasing growth in China.
In the past few decades, china has witnessed rapid growth in its economy. Consequently, the standards of living of the Chinese people have grown. Studies show that china economy is growing steadily at 6.7 percent for the third quarter in row. Today, China is the second largest economy by GDP. However, regardless of the increasing economic growth and consequent improvement in the standards of living and quality of life among the Chinese people, religion seems to be growing at a very fast rate[23]. This goes against the secularization theory. For this reason, many people have lost faith in the secularization theory because it does not seem to hold water anymore[24].
Secondly, regardless of the increasing civilization and rationalization in Africa, religion seems to be gaining momentum speedily and seems to control every area of their lives[25]. This is despite the growth in civilization, economy and the improvement of various aspects of social life among many people from Africa, religion in the continent seems to be growing at a faster rate. According to[26], Christianityis expected to remain Africa’s religion, growing from 517 million in 2010 to above 1.1 billion by 2050[27]. However, the population of Muslims in Africa is expected to grow at a faster rate than growth of Christianity in the region. Muslim population is expected to rise from 248 million in 2010 to 670 million by 2050[28]. However, the population of Jewish is expected to drop. On the other hand, economy in most of the African nations is experiencing a boom.[29]  For example, in 2015, Nigeria had a per capita capital of $2700 and GDP of $569 billion[30].  For a long time, the nation maintains its brand as the giant of africa, in  economy and population. In addition, south africa is experiencing an economic boom.  In 2015, the nation GDP was $350 billion US dollrass, while its per capita  was $11, 035[31]. Other african nations follow in this order- they are experiecning economic and social growth and development of innovation[32].  However, despite of this social and economic development, religion in African is growing at a fatser rate than in the past decades.  This phenomena has made many previous proponents of the secularization theory to change their views.

Conclusion

The secularization theory seems to hold water in most of the nations. With the development of modernization and rationalization, religion in most developed states seems to have taken a back seat rather than been the foremost social framework. Many developed states have continued to experience decline in religious faith, particularly organized religion. Growth of technology and science is attributed to the decline in religion. Development of science and spread of western culture are among the main reasons for emergence of secularization. Many studies show that the trust of Americans in organized religion has continued to decline. For instance, even though religion was ranked first of Gallup’s confidence in institutions list in 2005, it now ranks in position four. What is more, the polls show that only 42 percent of Americans have strong confidence in organized religions including the church. This trend is increasing with expansion of modernization in different nations. On the other hand, some previous proponents of the secularization theory seem to lose confidence in the theory. The main reason for this is that regardless of social and economic growth in some nations, religiosity has continued to grow instead of experiencing a sharp decline. For example, increase in modernity and rationalization in both Africa and China, region has continued to growth, which is against the theory. From this, it is clear that the theory is not consistent.
 
 
 

References

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Schroeder G. Genesis and the Big Bang Theory: The discovery of harmony between modern science and the Bible. Bantam; 2011 Sep 21.
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[1]Germán, M, Interpreting Charles Taylor’s Social Theory on Religion and Secularization : A Comparative Study (Cham: Springer, 2016).
[2]Pollack, D, Varieties of Secularization Theories and Their Indispensable Core; Germanic Review, (2015), 60-79.
[3]Weidner, D, Secularization, scripture, and the theory of reading : J. G. Herder and the Old Testament. New German Critique (2005), 169.
[4]Goetschel, W., & Roemer, Secularization Theories and Their Discontents, Germanic Review, . (2015), 2-5.
[5]Gordon, P. E, Between Christian Democracy and Critical Theory: Habermas, Böckenförde, and the Dialectics of Secularization in Postwar Germany. Social Research, (2013), 173-202.
[6]Cahn, P, Bruce, Steve. Secularization: in defence of an unfashionable theory.CHOICE: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, (2011), 603.
[7]Lynch, A, Social Theory, Secularization and World Youth Day. New Zealand Sociology, (2009), 34.
[8]Borer MI.The new atheism and the secularization thesis.InReligion and the new atheism 2010 Jun 14 (pp. 125-138).Brill.
[9]Lanman JA. The importance of religious displays for belief acquisition and secularization.Journal of Contemporary Religion. 2012 Jan 1;27(1):49-65.
[10]Bullivant S. Not so indifferent after all? Self-conscious atheism and the secularisation thesis.Approaching Religion. 2012;2(1):100-6.
[11]Klausen J. Why religion has become more salient in Europe: Four working hypotheses about secularization and religiosity in contemporary politics.European political science. 2009 Sep 1;8(3):289-300.
[12]Klausen J. Why religion has become more salient in Europe: Four working hypotheses about secularization and religiosity in contemporary politics.European political science. 2009 Sep 1;8(3):289-300.
[13]Schroeder G. Genesis and the Big Bang Theory: The discovery of harmony between modern science and the Bible. Bantam; 2011 Sep 21.
[14]McKelvy, W. R, Children of the sixties: post-secular Victorian studies and Victorian secularization theory. Nineteenth-Century Prose (2012), 17.
[15]Reeh, N, Secularization Revisited – Teaching of Religion and the State of Denmark : 1721-2006. (Switzerland: Springer, 2016)
[16]Bar-El, R., García-Muñoz, T., Neuman, S., & Tobol, Y, The evolution of secularization: cultural transmission, religion and fertility-theory, simulations and evidence. Journal Of Population Economics, (2013), 1129-1174.
[17]Hay, D. A, Investigation An into the Swiftness and Intensity of Recent Secularization in Canada: Was Berger Right?. Sociology Of Religion (2014), 136-162.
[18]Ranger, Terence O. “Religious movements and politics in Sub-Saharan Africa.” African Studies Review 29.02 (2016): 1-70.
[19]Catholic News Agency, Why is Christianity growing so quickly in mainland China? (2016).[
[20]Wu-Beyens, The Years of Reform in China: Economic Growth Versus Modernization (2016). [online] Civilisations.revues.org. Available at: https://civilisations.revues.org/1680 [Accessed 21 Dec. 2016].
[21]Catholic News Agency, Why is Christianity growing so quickly in mainland China? (2016).[
[22]Wu-Beyens, The Years of Reform in China: Economic Growth Versus Modernization (2016). [online] Civilisations.revues.org. Available at: https://civilisations.revues.org/1680 [Accessed 21 Dec. 2016].
[23]Wickeri, Philip L. Reconstructing Christianity in China: KH Ting and the Chinese Church. (Orbis Books: 2015).
[24]McBride, M, A rational choice theory of religious authority. Rationality & Society, (2016), 28(4), 410
[25]Blakely, Thomas D., Walter EA van Beek, and Dennis L. Thomson, eds. Religion in Africa: experience & expression. J (Currey: 2015).

[27]Ellis, Stephen, and GerrieTerHaar.”Religion and politics in sub-Saharan Africa.” The Journal of Modern African Studies 36.02 (2016): 175-201.
[28]Hexham, Irving. “Religious Extremism in Sub-Saharan Africa.”Writenet Paper No (2015).
[29]Ellis, Stephen, and GerrieTerHaar.”Religion and politics in sub-Saharan Africa.” The Journal of Modern African Studies 36.02 (2016): 175-201.
[30]Answers Africa. (2016). 10 African Countries with the Biggest Economy [With Per Capita]. [online] Available at: http://answersafrica.com/largest-economies-africa.html [Accessed 22 Dec. 2016].
[31]Blakely, Thomas D., Walter EA van Beek, and Dennis L. Thomson, eds. Religion in Africa: experience & expression. J (Currey: 2015).
[32]Answers Africa. (2016). 10 African Countries with the Biggest Economy [With Per Capita]. [online] Available at: http://answersafrica.com/largest-economies-africa.html [Accessed 22 Dec. 2016].