Alrighty. So we've established that organized religion in America is dying out, as it has in other Western states. I can't speak for Europe/Canada/etc., and I don't want to generalize that all religion is dying out (Islam is growing, in fact). This is a discussion on American faith because that's what I can speak on with a shred of authority. Before that, though, I want to clear something up about this article:
It begins with this "none" category, then asserting that these people "ignore faith". If you look at the actual PRRI study that is being referenced, this category is actually "unaffiliated", which reads rather differently than "none", and changes the entire meaning of the study. Instead of, as Mr. Haught would like us to believe, people saying "to hell with religion", the study has this to say about the unaffiliated:
Rejectionists, who account for the majority (58%) of all unaffiliated Americans, say religion is not personally important in their lives and believe religion as a whole does more harm than good in society. Apatheists, who make up 22% of the unaffiliated, say religion is not personally important to them, but believe it generally is more socially helpful than harmful. Unattached believers, who make up only 18% of the unaffiliated, say religion is important to them personally.
So, the majority is saying "to hell with religion", but far from all are doing it. 18% are still religious and 22% say that religion is a force for good even if it's not personally important. That's 40% of the unaffiliated, with a positive view of religion. This is crucial information that Haught chooses to ignore, and in fact attempts to hide by calling them "nones" instead of unaffiliated. I'm not impressed.
Now, with that out of the way, I can move on...
That 18% of the unaffiliated is the first thing I'd like to discuss. These people have left organized religion, yes, but they are still religious. Perhaps because of disagreements with the church, revulsion at church conduct, or a belief that they can do it better on their own, they have opted for their own way of doing things. It's "unconventional" religion - unorganized, but religion nonetheless. The existence of this group, and of the 22% that still views religion favorably, indicates that religion is - at least in part - evolving, not dying. Belief systems rise and fall with time, and to declare a modern perma-death of religion ignores the lessons of the past in that regard. To claim that we live in the era of ultimate scientific rationality that spells the final end of barbaric religion is quite hubristic.
My second argument is more opinionated, so feel free to take it or leave it. Humans have a basic drive towards religious faith. This is easily seen in the scores of religions that have independently developed all around the world throughout history. We have that desire for the presence and the reassurance of the omnipotent, to explain the things we don't understand and maybe to help us feel a little less lonely. Now, with science answering a number of the questions that we used to have and the world becoming smaller and smaller, it's become harder to accept the dusty words of ancient texts for a number of people (not nearly all, though) because of the sheer cognitive dissonance. So, if traditional religion isn't working for you, what do you do? How do you get your omnipotence fix? You worship what's around you. We deify other people. Look at somebody like Elon Musk. He's gonna do this, that and the other thing, and save humanity by sending us all to Mars yada yada yada. Never mind the fact that his company's finances are pretty much a nightmare, Tesla stock is a hot commodity. It's buoyed up by his cult of personality. People have faith in the power of the man that overcomes whatever negative feelings they may have from Tesla's performance. Steve Jobs was the same way. How many people worshipped him? How many Jobs movies, books, and documentaries have been churned out since his death? How many people still like wearing those black turtlenecks like they're some sort of priestly garment? My point is, ideating people like Jobs and Musk scratches the same itch that organized religion does, it gives that comfort of being in the presence of the omnipotent. It arises from the same motivations, from a channeling of devotional energy to the "unconventional". I would call it a religion of sorts, just not the kind that we're used to.
I'd conjecture that the same argument can be made for technology in the surrogate role.