Does the Recent Pew Forum Data Undermine My Outsider Test for Faith?

Over at Atheism Sucks Mariano is crowing about the atheist "failed" argument that people adopt the religion of their parents, based on the recent Pew Forum Poll, which says: “28% of American adults have left the faith of their childhood for another one. And that does not even include those who switched from one Protestant denomination to another; if it did, the number would jump to 44%.” If correct, this would tend to undermine the basis for the Outsider Test for Faith that I’ve developed, where I ask people to test their faith as if they were an outsider to it, since that’s how they test these other faiths, as outsiders.

However, this poll data does not, I repeat, does not undermine the sociological data that what faith a person adopts is because of "when and where they were born." Our parents have an extremely significant role to play in what faith we originally adopt. This is indisputable regardless of this new poll data. People still adopt the religion of their parents. The fact that they leave it later on in life says nothing against this sociological data, which is proven over and over again in separate geographical areas around the globe.

What's the difference in America then? The difference is that we are now more than ever embracing syncretism, pluralism and pragmatism. These beliefs are the new "religion" in American culture, and so it should not surprise us in the least if American people abandon the religion of their parents. More and more people are treating religion like they do with diet and sex. Variety is the spice of life when it comes to these things. So also is religion. Our American culture doesn't think there is much of a difference between many of the religions. So it stands to reason people will switch church affiliations for a better, warmer pew, with a better building, and where their friends from work attend, that has a better sermon or better music. After all, the moral message still seems to be the same, and that’s what more and more Americans think the value of religion provides anyway.

So until someone can dispute that children adopt the religion of their parents, or until someone can dispute that the dominant beliefs among Americans are syncretism, pluralism and pragmatism, this poll data has no effect on my argument.

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