THis one, put on hold currently: Does decline of mainstream Christian beliefs correlate with the rise of superstitious, magical, neopagan or New Age practices?

I get it that it is not considered a good question here, but tbh I'm pretty stuck here and I don't know how to fix it.

First of all, let's find a clear claim that can be proven or disproven. The linked article contains many claims.

This is hard because the claim, in its whole completeness, comes - IIRC - from the book I mentioned: "Zmanipuluję cię, kochanie" by Robert Tekieli. The book is devoted primarily to the athor's criticism against stuff like superstitious, neopagan, magical, occult, New Age, Eastern religious or Satanic beliefs and practices. The author's criticism comes from his Catholic POV. In this book he made a statement that without healthy religion people lean towards pathological forms of religion. I reasoned that by "pathological forms of religion" he means all these beliefs and practices he is arguing against in his book. This is why I have a problem with this moderator's demand:

"rejecting healthy religion with pathological forms of religion" - that is purely opinion-based, and should be removed before reopening.

For the purpose of this question, I defined "pathological forms of religion" in an objective manner. However, if I remove this statement, I will have no way to link the claim, as stated in my question, to the original claim from the book. I know that I had at least the right to quote the original claim, however "opinion based" it might seem.

Another problem is that I don't have this book right now. I lent it to someone and never saw it again. Thus I was forced to summarize the book from my memory. Nevertheless, I believe that I did it accurately with pretty good probability and even if I didn't, many other people preach this.

The linked article contains many claims.

Why do ppl value that article so much? I tried to define the claim as strictly and rigorously I could. I provided the article ONLY as a proof that this sort of thinking is notable among Christian preachers. I did NOT intent to ask you to dispute this article, but rather the claim I posted in my question. Where I tried to summarize what some CHristian preachers COMMONLY say.

First of all, let's find a clear claim that can be proven or disproven.

Isn't this a clear claim that can be proven or disproven? I tried my best to state it clearly:

The claim I have heard and read numerous times in Catholic books and magazines is that whenever true or healthy religion (that is Catholicism of course, but I believe other mainstream Christian denominations or even ) withdraws, pushed back by the promotion of a secular, materialistic, rationalistic, atheistic, liberal or scientific worldview, the people's natural desire for religion manifests by the masses not embracing the said secular worldview, but rather filling the "religion vacuum" created by rejecting healthy religion with pathological forms of religion, that is embracing superstitious, neopagan, magical, occult, New Age, Eastern religious or Satanic beliefs and practices. The claim also elaborates that even though there is a growth of people openly admitting such beliefs, there is an even sharper growth of people who, although disclaim holding the aforementioned beliefs, nevertheless embrace practices dictated by such beliefs ("If you ask a random person if he's superstitious, he will most likely answer he's not; but try shaking his hand over the doorstep or making him walk below a ladder and watch him protest").

End of quotation from my question.

Also the overall premise seems to be based on a false dilemma of choosing between Christianity and other not-quite-religious beliefs. Many people are both Christian and superstitious, or Christian and new-age, etc.

Arguably this is not true since Christianity and New Age can be argued to be mutually exclusive; but even disregarding this problem, the argument as presented by the moderator here can be used as a challenge to the claim, but not to the question? If one can present the evidence that the more CHristians we have the more superstitious people we have then the claim seems to be disproven?

  • I think the claim is notable, but lacks specificity. And specificity is needed to get a good answer. Directly quoting the claim you want addressed is a good remedy. BTW, you might be able to use Google Books to access some of that book. – Laurel Mar 2 '18 at 5:37

There are a lot of problems with your question.

First of all the "healthy vs non-healthy" distinction is not only arbitrary and opinion based, but also a "no true Scotsman" argument. We can distinguish between faith-based and evidence-based beliefs, instead, but that would put all the "healthy" and "unhealthy" beliefs together and rationalism and science on the other, which is not what you intend. So this is a big stumbling block because we are not going to allow a question based on bad logic.

Secondly, you say that Catholicism and new age beliefs are mutually exclusive, but this is evidently false in practice. There's tons of people who are Catholics and follow, say, horoscopes. The Catholic church frowns on it, and officially people shouldn't do that, but it's evident that they do. So this is a false dilemma, another bad logical point.

Thirdly, the use of the word "correlates" is incorrect and in any case the point is awash in "weasel words". Let's say 100 people leave "healthy" religions. Out of this 20 become atheists, 23 horoscopians(?), 30 New Age fans and the 27 remaining simply nones. Which of these four destinations does the decrease of the "healthy" religion correlate to? As you can see this argument is poor because it can be applied to all the options without any further proof. This is cherry picking, another logical fallacy.

Fourthly, regarding the size: while we do understand it might be difficult to find a precise claim, you can't expect us to convincingly fact check an entire book in an answer. This is really too much!

Finally, this seems to be a re-iteration of the old religious attack to atheists: "Atheists still believe in something because you gotta believe in something", which is simply false and worthless to debate further.

In conclusion, since you did not quote an exact claim that I can look at, I can't help you further with reopening. I can only comment on why the current version is not OK. Please identify an actual claim and let's go from there.


I agree with @Sklivvz's answer, but I would like to add some more.

We need something specific to get our teeth into, so we aren't tackling strawmen or misunderstanding the claim.

If you point to a whole book, in Polish, all the readers have to go and read the whole book to find out if it matches what you are saying. That's a lot to ask of us, especially when you yourself are not willing to look for the claims in your own home.

On the other hand, if you say it is a common claim, you should have no problem finding lots of references to people making it, so we can understand it better.

Your definition of healthy versus pathological religions is hopelessly biased: Catholicism is considered healthy, other Judeo-Christian religions are left unranked, and everything else is considered pathological. No evidence is provided to support it. Frankly, it is offensive.

If you were directly quoting, that might be understandable - but you weren't and the definition is on you. This needs to be fixed.

I wonder if swapping the religions around will make the bias clearer to you: Suppose the question read:

In areas where people stop believing in the Flying Spaghetti Monster, they fill their need to be touched by noodley appendages by taking up dangerous beliefs, like horoscopes, Hinduism and believing in Christ.

It is a silly claim, that puts one belief system above another as a priori the right one. Even if we accept the false dilemma, and can show that many non-Pastafarians are religious, it tells us nothing.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .