Keynote Presentation

Sat April 6

6:30pm Woodruff Auditorium

Is Religion Really in Decline in America?

Every major public survey paints a bleak picture for the future of religion in the United States. Americans decreasingly view religion as important to daily life, identify as religious, and attend church. Young adults in particular are abandoning the pews. Though these trends reveal changing attitudes and behaviors related to traditional religious identities and beliefs, they say little about the religious minds of Americans or humans more broadly. A growing body of behavioral science research suggests that many common views about the nature of religion, religious trends, and even distinctions between believers and atheists are wrong. Most people, including many who do not perceive themselves as religious, engage in religious-like thinking, particularly when grappling with existential questions and fears. Thinking about religion in new ways may help reduce conflict between believers and nonbelievers as well as counter the threat of irrational and anti-science ideas and beliefs in religious and secular culture.