Atheist Population

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In respect to the atheist population of the world, there have been many studies in regards to the atheist demographics and in regards to the percentage of atheists in various geographic areas. Concerning the atheist population as a percentage of various countries' populations, specific research on atheists conducted in 2006 suggests that the true proportion of atheists is 4% in the United States, 17% in Great Britain and 32% in France. However, how one defines atheist can skew the results of polls (see: Definition of atheism). For example, in 2008, the American Religious Indentification Survey (ARIS) reported 1.6% of Americans self-identified themselves as atheists. [1] In 2007, Pew Forum estimated that 1.6% of Americans are atheists.[2]

Financial Times (FT)/Harris Poll among adults in 5 countries in 2006

A survey published in the 2005 Encyclopedia Britannica stated that 2.3% of the world's population consists of individuals who profess "atheism, skepticism, disbelief, or irreligion, including the militantly antireligious."[3] In regards to the 2.3% figure just mentioned, the 2005 survey cited by Encyclopedia Britannica survey did not include Buddhist in regards to the 2.3% figure and Buddhism can be theistic or atheistic.[4][5] Ipsos, a major global market research company, published a report on report on religious belief/skepticism from a worlwide perspective and the report provides various statistics gained from survey results.


Global decline of atheism

See also: Global atheism

Atheists as a percentage of the world's population have declined since 1970 and atheism is expected to face long term decline.[6][7][8][9]

On July 24, 2013, CNS News reported:

Atheism is in decline worldwide, with the number of atheists falling from 4.5% of the world’s population in 1970 to 2.0% in 2010 and projected to drop to 1.8% by 2020, according to a new report by the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Mass."[10]

In 2011, the American Spectator citing research published in the International Bulletin of Missionary Research reported that atheism is on the decline as a whole in terms of adherents.[11]

In 2009, the book A sceptics guide to atheism indicated: "A worldwide poll taken in 1991 put the global figure for atheists at just 4.4% of the population. By 2006 it was estimated that only 2% of the world population were atheists."[12]

Decline of atheism in terms of global adherents is expected to accelerate

See: Decline of atheism in terms of global adherents is expected to accelerate

Demographics and the expected decline of American secularism

See also: American atheism

In 2007, a Pew Forum survey found that the atheist population in the United States was 1.6% of the American population.[13]

The Birkbeck College, University of London professor Eric Kaufman wrote in his 2010 book Shall the Righteous Inherit the Earth? concerning America:

High evangelical fertility rates more than compensated for losses to liberal Protestant sects during the twentieth century. In recent decades, white secularism has surged, but Latino and Asian religious immigration has taken up the slack, keeping secularism at bay. Across denominations, the fertility advantage of religious fundamentalists of all colours is significant and growing. After 2020, their demographic weight will begin to tip the balance in the culture wars towards the conservative side, ramping up pressure on hot-button issues such as abortion. By the end of the century, three quarters of America may be pro-life. Their activism will leap over the borders of the 'Redeemer Nation' to evangelize the world. Already, the rise of the World Congress of Families has launched a global religious right, its arms stretching across the bloody lines of the War on Terror to embrace the entire Abrahamic family.[14]

Question evolution! campaign

See also: Question evolution! campaign

The Question evolution! campaign by Creation Ministries International could further accelerate the decline of atheism. Since World War II a majority of the most prominent and vocal defenders of the theory of evolution which employs methodological naturalism have been atheists.[15] In 2011, a campaign called the Question evolution! campaign was launched by the biblical creation organization Creation Ministries International which is a worldwide "grass-roots movement to challenge the anti-Christian dogma of evolution".[16] The focus of the Question evolution! campaign is on "15 questions that evolutionists cannot satisfactorily answer."[17] The 15 questions posed to evolutionists (and undecided individuals) can be found HERE The campaign will be primarily conducted in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and South Africa.[18]

Atheists have low retention rate compared to other worldviews

Atheists have low retention rate compared to other worldviews

Atheist Prison Population

Irreligious prison population

Lack of sound leadership

See also: Atheism and leadership

Using academic studies, survey data and other information, supporters of the Question evolution! campaign maintain that there is a lack of sound leadership within the agnostic/atheist and evolutionist communities in dealing with the global decline of atheism and agnosticism.


Male and female demographic imbalances

See also: Atheism and women

Surveys by country

In November of 2010, Discover Magazine published survey results published by the World Values Survey which showed significant differences between the percentage of men and women who are atheists for various countries.[19]

United States surveys

A 2008 study by Trinity College found that women are significantly more religious than men in America.[20] In 2007, the Pew Research Center found that American women were more religious than American men.[21]

Atheism and the internet

See also: Atheism and the internet and Atheistic bullying

During the period of 2007 to 2012, the atheist community made a concerted effort to spread atheism through means of the internet. However, leading atheist websites have seen plunges in web traffic during this same period and during the first half of 2012.[22]

For more information please see:

Atheist PZ Myers says atheists are largely a population of internet nerds and geeks

See also: Internet atheism and Atheism and marriage and Atheism and women

In 2013, the atheist PZ Myers declared:

If we're going to expand our base and we're going to draw in more people to recognize the virtues of living in a secular world, we need to appeal to more than just that geek and nerd subset of the population. We need to have a wider base. ...I seriously believe that we're on the cusp of a crisis. We're not there yet but it's looming in front of us. Will we adapt and thrive and change the world? Or will we remain an avocation for a prosperous and largely irrelevant subset of the population? Will we become something more than a scattered society of internet nerds? That's what we have to do.[23]

In response, Evolution News and Views wrote:

A crisis looms, in Myers's view, because he looks around himself and sees a not very promising basis for a mass movement. He's right. There is indeed a quality of geeky isolation from reality, common sense, and the fullness of life that I see as a motif in atheist and Darwin activism alike.[24]

See Also

External Links


  2. Pew Forum - 2007 - Key findings on religious belief in America
  6. Study: World is becoming more religious
  7. Globally the worldviews of atheism and non-religious (agnostic) are declining while global Christianity is exploding in adherents
  8. Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary - Status of Global Missions
  9. Gordon-Conwell Seminary - Status of Global Mission, 2014, in the Context of AD 1800–2025
  10. Global Study: Atheists in Decline, Only 1.8% of World Population by 2020]
  12. A sceptics guide to atheism, page 4
  13. 2007 Pew Forum report
  14. Why are 2012 and 2020 key years for Christian creationists and pro-lifers?
  15. Question evolution! campaign
  16. Question evolution! campaign
  18. Sex differences in global atheism, part N
  21. Internet atheism: The thrill is gone!
  22. [ in Seattle, PZ Myers Reflects Candidly on His Constituency
  23. [ in Seattle, PZ Myers Reflects Candidly on His Constituency
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