Today, most people think that something has happened regarding the importance of religiosity in everyday life since the nineteenth century, but nobody is quite sure how to generalize it, or even if it can be generalized. This has been especially troubling for social scientists, who make a living configuring large-scale theories of society that propose to have predictive capabilities. Is it simply—as the “classic theorists” of secularization said a century ago—that when a society becomes modern it becomes secular too? Does modernity necessarily imply secularity?
There is certainly something appealing to the formulation, and it became a chief preoccupation of social scientists and theologians of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, many of whom quickly became busy celebrating the death of God, the rise of the secular city, and the general triumph of secularization theory. Europe and America seemed to be throwing off the shackles of that old-time religion, becoming increasingly secular as they became more and more “modern.” The secular age had arrived.