Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Cogito Ergo Sum

"By going back in one leap millions of centuries, [science] has succeeded in being witness to that primordial Fiat Lux (Latin for 'let there be light'] when, out of nothing, there burst forth with matter a sea of light and radiation, while the particles of chemical elements split and reunited in millions of galaxies ... Hence, creation took place."
"We say: therefore, there is a Creator. Therefore, God exists!"
Pope Pius XII

"Even when science cannot provide satisfactory answers -- Why is there more matter than antimatter? How did life begin? How does a material brain produce the subjective experience of thought? -- those who are skeptical of the textbook answers are lonely voices among a faithful mainstream, and shamed for it."
Joseph Brean, National Post: Redeeming Thomas
"We have a society that has a secular government [Canada] and there is a general assumption of faith being very private."
"On the other hand, when you actually take a look at everyday society, the majority of people are people of faith to one degree or another, and faith informs and influences many of the ways we deal with each other on a day-to-day basis."
"Some of the discomfort about some of the language [e.g. morality, forgiveness, mercy] does pose a challenge to faith leaders that perhaps they have not been as effective as they should at explaining themselves to their fellow citizens."
"We've conditioned ourselves to think that faith is extremely private and personal and not something to be talked about in polite company."
"The reality is we do that at our peril. Faith shapes how we relate to each  other, and if we're going to prosper as a society in the future we need to understand each other in a context of increasing faith diversity."
Ray Pennings, executive vice-president, think tank Cardus

"[The privately faithful 30 percent of poll respondents] are people who actually believe in God, believe in heaven, believe in an afterlife. They have largely not been involved in organized religion. They will go to funerals and weddings and that sort of thing, but their faith is largely a private matter, and it's really driven by their prayer. They pray on a regular basis."
"[The spiritually uncertain also 30 percent] seem to be a bit confused about where they want to be. On some issues they kind of side with the non-believers, but they haven't given up totally on everything."
"They ... believe that there's a God, but they're uncertain about the role of God."
"The word 'religion' itself has become a little bit of a four-letter word."
"The march toward secularism that has dominated Canadian society for the last couple of decades appears to be in a bit of a reversal and will be reversed over time if these trends continue, because clearly population growth is coming from immigration."
Angus Reid, founder, chairman, Angus Reid Institute
Actors perform the Stations of the Cross to mark Easter during the Holy Week in Ourem, central Portugal. (Photo credit FRANCISCO LEONG/AFP/Getty Images)

A new poll taken to test the prevalence or lack of faith among Canadians at a time when the general assumption is that religion plays less of an important role in most peoples' lives in Canada than ever before, paints a picture of a robust percentage of Canadians fully invested in their faith. The Angus Reid Institute along with Faith in Canada 150 placed poll respondents within four distinct categories reflecting their responses to poll questions engineered to gauge the level of their beliefs and religious practices.

The outcome of that classification resulting from the poll is that 21 percent of Canadians have been identified as religiously committed to hold a strong belief in God or a higher power, regularly attending religious services. Their direct opposite is the 19 percent of Canadians who have been designated into the category of non-believers (otherwise known as atheists). The larger group taking the middle ground have also been divided equally representing the "privately faithful" and "spiritually uncertain" (likely those said to be agnostic, in more familiar terms).

Each of these middle section groups have been divided equally to represent 30 percent. The poll's purpose was to distinguish and identify the numbers of Canadians categorized as believers and non-believers, and those who fall into a less clearly-defined category in the medium level of the spectrum. Respondents' reactions to a series of words toward which they were asked to register 'negative' or 'positive' resulted in 25 percent saying religion was positive, and 33 percent speaking of it as 'negative'.

"Evangelism", and "theology" gained the lowest estimation scores, while "forgiveness", "morality" and "mercy", on the other hand, were given the highest positive scores to reflect how those words generated a positive energy among respondents. Notable variations across regions in Canada were also identified where in the Prairie provinces about 30 percent of respondents gained the classification of religiously committed in comparison with 14 percent in Quebec, and 19 percent in British Columbia.

According to pollster Angus Reid, British Columbia represents "in many respects the most godless part of Canada", 27 percent fitting into the non-believer category. Quebecers, on the other hand, while deigning to avoid church attendance, still retain deep religious roots from their heritage, with only 18 percent identified as non-believers, while 36 percent are spiritually uncertain, and 32 percent privately faithful. "It's not that Quebecers have totally given up on God. They have given up on religion", clarified Mr. Reid.

Immigrants and visible minorities appear far likelier to be committed to religious faith, with visible minorities making up 16 percent of the group sampled, yet accounting for 29 percent of all religiously committed respondents.

Religious beliefs: All Canadians (in percentages)

  • 67%   God or a  higher power exists;

    60%   Life after death;

    53%   God is active in this world;

    57%   Heaven;

    41%    Hell 

    Image result for photo, oruro, bolivia, crucified christ, sand
    The Denver Post      Pope Francis lies down in prayer for Easter services at the Vatican

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