Is Religion Losing its Significance?
Delivered at Conway Hall 14 November 1996. Chaired by Professor Gerald Vinten and presented by Dr. Bryan Wilson.
The process of secularisation is an endemic and defining feature of all modernising societies. The role of religion in the operation of modern social systems is broadly in decline, and cannot compare with the influence it wielded in pre-modern societies, when belief in the supernatural (not only in a Christian form) was very widespread. The various arguments challenging the view that secularisation is the predominant feature of the modern world are flawed. The prevalence of secular attitudes in all key areas of modern life and work reflects the influence of rationalistic, scientific, democratic and morally flexible ways of thinking. These are all at variance with the (at least traditional) religious mindset. Now, virtually all the social activities which were once the preserve of religion are largely performed by people of secular education and training.