U.S. most religious country in industrialized world, professor says
Islam could be the dominant religion in the world by the end of the century.
Published: Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, December 5, 2012 17:12
Compared to other industrialized countries the U.S. is the most religious, but Islam is the fastest growing religion, and it is speculated to be the dominant religion by the end of the century, philosophy Professor Richard Schoenig said.
“The majority of the U.S. is still Christian because of immigrants coming from the south, also known as developing countries,” he said Nov. 15 during his lecture “World Religions: Facts, Comments, and Questions,” sponsored by the philosophy program during International Education Week.
Schoenig said Islam is growing faster than Christianity, or any other religion, because of where its followers come from.
“The birth rate in developing countries, where Islam is the main religion, is greater than in developed countries where most of the Christian followers are,” he said.
He said it is interesting how Christianity began in the Middle East and now that part of the world is dominated by Islam.
He explained that Christianity moved to Europe during the seventh century when Muslims moved into the Middle East.
Religions are based on two world views, the supernatural and the natural world; these two views are connected to crate the basis of any religion, Schoenig said.
He said the supernatural view represents gods, angels and devils; the natural view represents matter, energy and time space.
The supernatural world connects to the natural world by incarnations, revelations, signs and miracles, he said.
The natural world connects to the supernatural world by prayer, ritual, meditation or sacrifice, Schoenig said.
He said the unreligious, or atheists, have a one-world view of reality based on the natural world.
There are three types of religion, monotheistic, polytheistic and nontheistic, meaning they do not believe in the supernatural view, he said.
Monotheistic religions believe there is only one God and they include Sikhism (found in northern India), Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
The last three religions are also called Abrahamic religions “Because they point back to Abraham as an important figure in the early development of this religions,” Schoenig said.
He said most people have not heard of Zoroastrianism, named after the prophet Zoroaster who was a Persian (now Iran), and it is believed this was the first monotheistic religion.
There are few Zoroastrians left in Iran, but there are a significant number of them in western India, he said.
Polytheistic religions believe in many supernatural beings, they include traditional Hinduism, Mahayana Buddhism, Taoism, and Shinto, he said.
Schoenig said primal-indigenous-tribal religions are mostly practiced in developing countries or rural areas and are disappearing because people are moving on to developed countries.
Nontheistic religions do not believe in any God or supernatural beings, and they include Theravada Buddhism, Brahmanic Hinduism, Original Taoism and Confucianism, he continued.
Pre-nursing sophomore Gerald Etkins, wanted to know why some Muslims take justice into their own hands in brutal ways, to later justify their actions by quoting the Quran by saying “Allah is all merciful.”
Schoenig said that the acts or views of some Muslims do not define the meaning of Islam as a whole, and there are only a handful of Muslims who use the Quran to justify their brutal behavior in what it is called honor killing.
Schoenig used the Westboro Baptist Church example, which is known for zero tolerance toward homosexuals and Jews, and for protesting during military funerals.
Nursing sophomore Claude Sikubwabo said he thought the reason the U.S. was religious was that the founding fathers were religious as well, and they passed on their believes in a greater being or God to the citizens.
Schoenig said some of the first Anglo immigrants were escaping religious persecution, so as the U.S. started to develop so did the country’s religious views. Schoenig said he is always open for discussions and learning about different points of view, and encourages everyone to stop by his office.
For more information, visit Schoenig in Room 230 of Oppenheimer Academic Center or call the philosophy program at 210-486-0966.