In contemporary times, Christianity seems locked in an intractable decline–measured by number of adherents and overall influence on Australian society.
This trend is markedly observed among young people: whereas only 13.7 % of septuagenarians report no religious affiliation; a significant 38.3 % of millennials identify as irreligious. And the shift towards secularism is only set to hasten: a whopping 52 % of teens aged 13-18 report no religious affiliation.
According to sources such as the SBS, “science,” “independent thinking” and “individuality” are behind this religious exodus. In other words, rising secularism reflects the inherent arc of history towards progress, liberalism and advancing the human condition.
Considered in that what is today viewed as “science” and “independent thinking” has utterly monopolised educational, media and cultural influences, I agree with the SBS: these imprints help sway young people towards secularism.
However, it is not true to say that religion has been intellectually discredited in the minds of young people–who read fewer books than ever and often get their news from Snapchat. How many young atheists have reviewed Thomas Aquinas’ cosmological argument, thoroughly deliberated, and deduced that it doesn’t check out? At best, a small minority.
Therefore, it would seem likely this shift has less to do with scholarly engagement, than it does with something else. Namely, the extrication of a baser, more intrinsic yearning that resonates with the educated and uneducated alike–sex.
In Libido Dominadi, E. Michael Jones considers the writing of Wilhelm Reich, a prominent 20th century sexual revolutionary. On the relationship between unbridling sexual restrictions and people coming to reject God, Reich explains,
A clear sexual consciousness and a natural regulation of sexual life must foredoom every form of mysticism; that, in other words, natural sexuality is the arch-enemy of mystical religion… We do not discuss the existence of nonexistence of God, we merely eliminate the sexual repressions and dissolve the infantile ties to the parents.
Paying heed to the logic of Reich’s strategy, Jones concludes,
Once a person can be persuaded to act in a certain way sexually, all debate is unnecessary. Thought follows naturally from action, especially actions as intimately rooted as the sexual.
When one grasps, as Wilhelm Reich did in the 1930’s, that thought follows from action–particularly in the sexual realm–one can considerably account for increasing secularism.
Because sexual desires can never be lastingly satiated, when all constraints are thrown off in the pursuit of sexual liberation–as has occurred by 2019, through the almost complete normalisation of pre-marital sex and masturbation–the next stop, is addiction. Like drug addicts who rationalise their destructive habits, when people are hooked to sating their sexual appetites, anything which threatens to impede this behaviour–such as religion–is either actively or subconsciously blocked out.
This is precisely why Wilhelm Reich admitted sexuality is “not a private matter.” If people engage in enough sexually ‘liberating’ behaviour, the idea of God will dissipate from their minds.
Consequently, it is unsurprising that secularism has spread in accordance with our increasingly sexualised culture. In many cases, the outright rejection of God is a response to rationalise irrepressible sexual predilections.
Of course, none of the above is to discount alternative causes of secularism. These include, but are not limited to, unprecedented material comforts of modern life and the relative security that Australians have enjoyed since World War Two.
But modern sexual practices enormously contribute to burgeoning secularism; whether this role is concretely understood or not. Until such dynamics are recognised and a basic introspection is taken into supposedly ‘private’ individual behaviour, Christianity–or for that matter, any doctrine that would sensibly regulate sexual norms in the name of reason–will continually recede.