Four scholars are researching, in four different countries, profiling nones. A compilation of their landmark research, along with other researchers, will be presented in Rome in 2019. Why are people religiously disaffiliating? What is the difference in non-believers in Japan as opposed to Denmark, or Brazil in contrast to the United States? What are the actual catalysts of unbelief?
There is obvious diversity in different nations around the globe. The John Templeton Foundation project, Understanding Unbelief, will attempt to answer the causes and characteristics of unbelief. A psychologist, anthropologist, sociologist, and theologian will travel to different countries and cultures and profile nones. Interestingly, it is the same journey Cristie Jo Johnston and I have been on for nearly three years.
Christian denominations are in decline in the United States, including the Southern Baptist Convention. Mainline denominations have witnessed a precipitous drop of at least 30 million people in the last several decades. Leaders seem to be scratching their heads and asking why.
Miguel Farias and I met in Oxford, England. I asked him which countries the principal researchers of the Templeton project were headed. Dr. Farias was a Departmental Lecturer and Deputy Course Director of the MSc in psychological research at the Department of Experimental Psychology, at the University of Oxford, having previous held a lectureship at Goldsmiths College, University of London, and several postdoctoral research fellowships at the University of Oxford. In 2014, Miguel joined Coventry University to lead the Brain, Belief and Behaviour research group. With philosophers and neuroscientists, he pioneered research on the analgesic effects of religious beliefs and the stress-buffering effects of science beliefs.
We look forward to work with these scholars in the days ahead.