Thursday, March 17, 2011

He knew you before you were in the womb and this is the best you can do?

It strikes me as reasonable to assume that as people age, their spiritual needs tend to be accentuated--as you get closer to meeting your maker, you start paying more attention to the impression He has of you. But excepting the cases of an aunt and to a lesser extent my own mother, I don't have much that anecdotally supports that assumption, and a couple examples that contradict it.

In 2004, the GSS asked respondents how frequently they "desire to be closer to God or in union with Him". Answers were on a six point scale, ranging from "many times a day" on the high end to "never or almost never" on the low end. The following table shows the mean closeness to God score by age range, the higher the number, the closer to God (values are inverted from the actual survey for ease of presentation):


We get a little more Plato and a little less Aristotle as people get older, but the changes in inclination are slight. A standard deviation for responses is 1.59. The differences between those who are basking in life's morning glow and those who are in its gloam amount to less than one-third of a SD.

This seems to generally agree with the "God gene" framework of human religiosity.

GSS variables used: CLOSRGOD, AGE


Stopped Clock said...

At least some data skewing might arise from the fact that religious people tend to have more children, so that today's teenagers are more religious as a whole than they would be if, say, every adult had exactly 2 children. It's interesting to see it from this angle, though, because common stereotypes are that the elderly are more conservative because they formed their opinions mostly more than 50 years ago. But this theory says that the religiosity is often something they pick up only once they get older.

The teenagers probably have a lot of 6's and 1's whereas I bet the older age groups tend to be fatter in the middle.

OneSTDV said...

@ AE:

OT for my curiosity since I just wrote a post on it -

I know you're into lifting, but are you into paleo-dieting?

I recall you did a post on wordsum and vegetarians, but would be great to see some more posts on the matter.

Jokah Macpherson said...

Since the question was only asked in one year, it could simply be a case of generational differences.

Audacious Epigone said...

Stopped Clock,

Many times a day + Never/almost never:

18-29: 30.0%
30-39: 31.1%
40-49: 25.2%
50-59: 25.1%
60-69: 25.9%
70-79: 30.4%
80+: 35.5%

So there's a little bit of that going on until people get into their seventies. For the eldest groups though, it's skewed towards many times a day, with small minorities saying never at those ages.


Not particularly, although there is some overlap. I consume very little in the way of sugar or grains, but cheese is a staple and that's a big no-no for most paleo dieters, I think. Also, I'm a coffee drinker. Is it forbidden as well?

I wish the GSS had more on personal health habits, but the survey asks almost nothing on diet (the question on vegetarianism was last asked in 1994!).


Yes, but there appears to be little in the way of generational differences.

OneSTDV said...

Not particularly, although there is some overlap. I consume very little in the way of sugar or grains, but cheese is a staple and that's a big no-no for most paleo dieters

When I say "paleo-dieting", this is basically what I mean. In my book, you accept the paleo doctrine if you eschew grains and sugars and eat lots of meat, fish, and eggs.

So adding cheese and coffee doesn't mean you're not paleo. It just means you're not the strictest paleo eater (which includes basically everyone like myself).