Essay: Is atheism growing?

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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.[1] See: Global atheism statistics

Question: Is atheism growing?

According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, 2% of the world's population self-identifies as atheist and the average annual global change for atheism from 2000 to 2010 was −0.17%.[2] See also: Desecularization

On July 24, 2013, CNS News reported concerning global atheism:

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 (GCTS) in South Hamilton, Mass."[3]

The global market share of atheism is going down and I provide a number of sources regarding this matter below, but is there any data showing that the actual number of atheists going down as well? This question needs to be answered in order to answer the question "Is atheism growing?"

Furthermore, it would be helpful to have a number of sources relative to whether or not atheism is growing or not. Below is additional information about global atheism to help answer the question of whether or not atheism is growing, shrinking or staying about the same in terms of the number of atheists in the world.

Is atheism growing in terms of the number of atheists in the world?

Total number and percent of world that is atheist, Christian or other religions

Data compiled by the Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC) at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (GCTS):

Given the information in the resources directly above, the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, expects the global atheist population to shrink in its total number of individuals in 2017.

If CSGC is correct, then not only is the global market share for atheism going downward, but now the actual number of atheists in the world is going down as well. Specifically, CSGC is projecting that from the mid-point of 2016 to the midpoint of 2017, the total number of atheists in the world is going to go from 138,101,000 individuals to 137,041,000 individuals. That would be a net loss of 60,000 atheists in the world during this period.[4]

Is atheism growing in terms of the percentage of atheists in the world?

See also: Global atheism statistics

Pew Research on global atheism

See also: American atheism and French atheism

"Atheists, agnostics and other people who do not affiliate with any religion – though increasing in countries such as the United States and France – will make up a declining share of the world’s total population." - Pew Research, The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections, 2010-2050[5]

For addition information on the future of American atheism, please see:

Eric Kaufman on global atheism as a percentage of the world's population

Eric Kaufmann, a professor at Birkbeck College, University of London whose work focuses on how demographic changes affects religion/politics, points out that that the atheist population has a sub-replacement fertility rate while religious fundamentalists have high rates of birth (See: Atheism and fertility rates). .[6]

On December 23, 2012, Professor Eric Kaufmann who teaches at Birbeck College, University of London and whose academic research specialty is how demographic changes affect religion/irreligion and politics, wrote:

I argue that 97% of the world's population growth is taking place in the developing world, where 95% of people are religious.

On the other hand, the secular West and East Asia has very low fertility and a rapidly aging population... In the coming decades, the developed world's demand for workers to pay its pensions and work in its service sector will soar alongside the booming supply of young people in the third world. Ergo, we can expect significant immigration to the secular West which will import religious revival on the back of ethnic change. In addition, those with religious beliefs tend to have higher birth rates than the secular population, with fundamentalists having far larger families. The epicentre of these trends will be in immigration gateway cities like New York (a third white), Amsterdam (half Dutch), Los Angeles (28% white), and London, 45% white British. [7]

For additional sources indicating the global market share of atheism is going down, please see: Global atheism statistics

Is atheism growing faster than Christianity? Is atheism growing faster than Islam?

See also: Atheism vs. Christianity and Atheism vs. Islam and Global Christianity

In 2011, the American Spectator declared:

The report estimates about 80,000 new Christians every day, 79,000 new Muslims every day, and 300 fewer atheists every day. These atheists are presumably disproportionately represented in the West, while religion is thriving in the Global South, where charismatic Christianity is exploding."[8]


For additional information, please see: Decline of global atheism

Summary: Is atheism growing?

As you can see above, there is excellent research from a number of different sources showing that atheism has a shrinking global market share. But at this time, there is a limited number of sources showing the actual number of people who are atheists is going down. In fact, I have only found one source so far which I gave above.

With that being said, it wouldn't at all surprise me if atheism is not on the rise and is in fact shrinking.

to see why, please review the articles listed below:

Demographics of atheism and other data about atheists:

Desecularization:

Atheist movement:

Other relevant information:

Will atheism grow in the 21st century?

Nigel Barber's claim that the world will have an atheist majority by 2038

See: Essay: Nigel Barber's claim that the world will have an atheist majority by 2038

See also

Other essays:

External links

Notes