Author and noted biopsychologist Nigel Barber has completed a new study that shows Atheism is most prevalent in developed countries, and, according to his projections, religion will completely disappear by 2041. His findings are discussed in his new book “Why Atheism Will Replace Religion.” A new study that clarifies his earlier research will be published in August. His findings focus on trends within countries around the world and the fact that “Atheists are heavily concentrated in economically developed countries”-
In my new study of 137 countries (1), I also found that atheism increases for countries with a well-developed welfare state (as indexed by high taxation rates). Moreover, countries with a more equal distribution of income had more atheists. My study improved on earlier research by taking account of whether a country is mostly Moslem (where atheism is criminalized) or formerly Communist (where religion was suppressed) and accounted for three-quarters of country differences in atheism.
His main thesis stems from the phenomenon of religion declining as personal wealth increases. He cites the reason as people having less of a need for supernatural beliefs when the tangible, natural world is providing for their needs. He says the majority of the world will come to view religion as completely irrelevant by 2041.
Political Scientist Eric Kaufmann holds the opposite view, citing the fact that Atheists have fewer than religious people. He thinks this could indicate the religious mindset will proliferate due to religious folks simply breeding more than Atheists. But what is the significance of the prolific breeding of religious people?
Biotechnologist Thomas Rees poses this question in his essay “Will the Religious Inherit the Earth?” In this piece, he discusses Kaufmann’s and comes to the conclusion that the breeding aspect could tip the odds in favor of the religious purely due to fertility and childbearing rates among them.
Barber, however, dismisses the breeding-related evidence, saying “…Yet, noisy as they can be, such groups are tiny minorities of the global population and they will become even more marginalized as global prosperity increases and standards of living improve.”
He also says that as women become more integrated into the , they will have fewer children, even if they are members of a religious fundamentalist group: “Moreover, as religious fundamentalists become economically integrated, young women go to work and produce smaller families, as is currently happening for Utah’s Mormons,” he says.
If a recent PEW is any indication of a solid answer to the question, Kaufman may be correct. The study, performed by PEW in 2012, indicates a huge upswing in Atheism, with 20% of Americans now identifying as Agnostic, Atheist or “Unaffiliated” with a religion. This number represents the largest percentage of people in PEW’s history of polling who identify as non-religious.
It is clear that the growth of Atheism or “unaffiliated” people is growing at an incredibly rapid rate in the United States, but it seems that being non-religious is also exploding globally. The UK’s Daily Mail reported an extensive 2010 study that showed unaffiliated individuals as the “third largest global group” behind Christians and Muslims, placing the unaffiliated ahead of Hindus, Buddists, Jews and all other religious affliations.
It's just a matter of time. That will be within my lifetime too. I feel happy now. :D
My initial reaction is to disagree with Barber on the growth of personal wealth being the main cause for a decline in religion. For me the main reason for its decline is the increase in the freedom people are having in accessing information. It is down to the increases in the knowledge base people build up through education. People are more informed as individuals and are learning to think more critically.
He could have gone a stage further if he drew a correlation between increases in income and the resulting access to knowledge that people can then spend time accessing. He should also have mentioned the influence of the Internet. 2041 may be too optimistic. Good article.
Even today Atheists are in majority but not are not organized lot. Atheists must dominate since it is ased on truth and religions must go.
Dream on. Religion will be around 2000 years from now because it has appeal to weak minds. What does atheism have to offer to idiots?
Rights, healthcare, clean air, an actual fucking tomorrow. Nothing that would actually appeal to the stupid fuckers though.
Yes, but by the same token, Atheism will always be around as a matter of course: if you follow the 'breeder' logic, i.e. that religiosity should be growing faster because the religious fornicate like rabbits, the actual upswing in 'nones' shown by Pew and Daily Mail doesn't make any sense. One must remember that atheism is just as easily happened upon as it is inherited-- there's a whole slew of atheist blogs and podcasts devoted to people's deconversion stories.
An atheist alive in the best days of ancient Greece might have foreseen religious decline the way we do today, oblivious to the coming dark ages. We, too, might be in the shadow of a looming game change that gives religion increased relevance again for a time. That certainly doesn't mean atheism will ever be in danger of being lost to history. Compare: If the last Christian died, who would believe any of that nonsense? On the other hand, even if everyone alive at a particular point in time were religious, there will always be a good reason to say 'What if this is all bullshit?'.
I think that critical thinking will probably grow faster than the theists can breed. Just because someone was born to theist parents, being a theist isn't necessarily one's destiny. Most of us here, I'm sure, were born into a religious household and yet overcame it.
I doubt is we'll be living in the world of Dune a thousand years from now. (The novel essentially envisions a future in which Islam—or a religion one can imagine evolving out of Islam—has infected the entire universe.)
Not sure why this should be in "criticizing religions" because it doesn't, actually; it's more along the lines of treating them as a sociological phenomenon.
I agree with Unseen, religion will never totally disappear. However as people become more educated and affluent it does tend to wane. The exception seems to be the good ol' US of A, though, and I think the main reason for that might be that here religions were forced to learn how to sell themselves or go extinct, whereas in Europe there are religious parasites on the government; they could get fat dumb and happy.
I know there is a common belief that religiosity wanes once a large social welfare state evolves, but that (to me) is not itself a justification for such a state--in fact all you are doing with that is replacing god which takes care of you in return for obedience, with a coercive government, same conditions attached, only it really exists so it's both better (on the one hand) and worse (on the other). That's a false dichotomy IMHO and it frustrates me to no end that I am regularly asked to pick one side or the other of it in the voting booth.
What I am hoping might happen by 2041 is that in the US religion will have much less influence on public life. But I am not optimistic.
Yes, the author did say religion would disappear, but in another paragraph, he said, "the majority of the world will come to view religion as completely irrelevant by 2041." I suspect this is more to his point, much as Strega describes England - religion is there, but few care.
OMG! You mean that The Archbishop of Canterbury is a nobody?!!!