What is the “tipping point,” historically, for the transition from religious culture to secular culture? Is it the adoption of science and applied science? Is it increased life security–seen in increased lifespan, reliable availability of food, and reduced violence–through practical measures, such as scientific agriculture, hygiene, nutrition, sewage, medicine, and political control? How much is this major ideological shift tied to the movement of the population from the countryside to the cities?
A case I am slightly familiar with, Quebec, was a deeply religious society with a very strong Roman Catholic culture. Most of the main institutions–education, health, law, politics–were run by or heavily influenced by Catholic culture and by the officers and hierarchy of the Church. Around 1960 there began was is called the “Quiet Revolution,” a central part of which was the rejection of formal Catholic culture and institutions, and the conscious secularization of the society, institution by institution. This was a remarkable transformation, and Quebec society today has a secular culture (which is held “religiously”!). What brought this change about, and why at that moment?