Global atheism

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Eric Kaufmann, a professor at Birkbeck College, University of London, using a a wealth of demographic studies argues the decline of atheism in terms of its global adherents is an established trend that will persist for the foreseeable future and the rate of decline will accelerate.[1]

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."[2]

In respect 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.[3][4] 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. See also: Atheist Population.

Atheists as a percentage of the world's population have declined since 1970 and global atheism is expected to face long term decline.[5]

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."[6]

Contents

Sub-replacement fertility of atheist populations. High fertility rate of religious conservatives

See also: Atheism and marriage and Atheist marriages

On December 23, 2012, Professor Eric Kaufmann who teaches at Birbeck College, University of London 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]

Michael Blume, a researcher at the University of Jena in Germany, wrote "Most societies or communities that have espoused atheistic beliefs have not survived more than a century."[8] Blume also indicated concerning concerning his research on this matter: "What I found was the complete lack of a single case of a secular population, community or movement that would just manage to retain replacement level."[9]

Global desecularization: An established trend

In 2011, the American Spectator declared concerning research published in the International Bulletin of Missionary Research:

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."[10]

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."[11]

In 2012 an article entitled Atheism in decline by Nigel Tomes declared:

The IBMR publishes yearly figures for religions (and non religions) around the globe. Their latest numbers, hot off the press (Jan. 2012) show some interesting trends.

Atheism is in Decline

In 1970 atheists (those avowing there is no God) numbered 166 million worldwide; that was almost one-in-twenty—4.5% of the globe’s population. By 2012 atheists’ number is estimated at 137 million. That’s a decline of almost 30 million. Since world population is growing, atheists’ share declined to less than one-in-fifty—under 2% in 2012. Put differently, every 24 hours there are 800 fewer atheists in the world! Atheism is in decline.

Agnosticism is in Decline

In 2000 agnostics (those who “don’t know” if there is a God) numbered 666 million, 10.9% of the world’s people. By 2012 agnostic’s number is estimated at 661 million--a decline of 5 million. In relative terms by 2012 agnostics represent less than one tenth (9.4%) of world population. Every 24 hours there are 1,100 less agnostics in the world. Agnostics are also in decline.

Added together these two groups make up a declining share of global population. In 1970 atheists and agnostics accounted for one-in-five (19.2%) of the world’s people. Based on current trends by 2025 they will represent less than one-in-ten (9.7%). Their population share will fall by half in 50+ years.[12]

Growth of Christianity in atheistic China

In front of the Great Hall of the People in Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

See also: Growth of Christianity in China and Collapse of atheism in the former Soviet Union and Decline of the secular left

On November 1, 2014, an article in The Economist entitled Cracks in the atheist edifice declared:

Officials are untroubled by the clash between the city’s famously freewheeling capitalism and the Communist Party’s ideology, yet still see religion and its symbols as affronts to the party’s atheism...

Yang Fenggang of Purdue University, in Indiana, says the Christian church in China has grown by an average of 10% a year since 1980. He reckons that on current trends there will be 250m Christians by around 2030, making China’s Christian population the largest in the world. Mr. Yang says this speed of growth is similar to that seen in fourth-century Rome just before the conversion of Constantine, which paved the way for Christianity to become the religion of his empire.[13]

Desecularization of Europe in the 21st century

See also: Desecularization of secular Europe in the 21st century

On March 17, 2014, the news website Deutsche Well reported that evangelical Christianity has doubled in Germany in the last 10 years.[14]

On March 17, 2014, the news website Deutsche Well reported that evangelical Christianity has doubled in Germany in the last 10 years.[15] Concerning the future of evangelical Protestantism in Europe, in a paper entitled Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?: Demography and Politics in the Twenty-First Century, Professor Eric Kaufmann wrote:

What of European Christianity? The conventional wisdom holds it to be in free fall, especially in Western Europe. (Bruce 2002) This is undoubtedly correct for Catholic Europe, while Protestant Europe already has low levels of religious practice. Yet closer scrutiny reveals an increasingly lively and demographically growing Christian remnant. Several studies have examined the connection between religiosity - whether defined as attendance, belief or affiliation - and fertility in Europe. Most find a statistically significant effect even when controlling for age, education, income, marital status and other factors...

Moving to the wider spectrum of European Christianity, we find that fertility is indeed much higher among European women who are religious...

Today, most of those who remain religious in Europe wear their beliefs lightly, but conservative Christianity is hardly a spent force. Data on conservative Christians is difficult to come by since many new churches keep few official records. Reports from the World Christian Database, which meticulously tracks reports from church bodies, indicates that 4.1 percent of Europeans (including Russians) were evangelical Christians in 2005. This figure rises to 4.9 percent in northern, western and southern Europe. Most religious conservatives are charismatics, working within mainstream denominations like Catholicism or Lutheranism to ‘renew’ the faith along more conservative lines. There is also an important minority of Pentecostals, who account for .5% of Europe’s population. Together, charismatics and Pentecostals account for close to 5 % of Europe’s population. The proportion of conservative Christians has been rising, however: some estimate that the trajectory of conservative Christian growth has outpaced that of Islam in Europe. (Jenkins 2007: 75).

In many European countries, the proportion of conservative Christians is close to the number who are recorded as attending church weekly. This would suggest an increasingly devout Christian remnant is emerging in western Europe which is more resistant to secularization. This shows up in France, Britain and Scandinavia (less Finland), the most secular countries where we have 1981, 1990 and 2000 EVS and 2004 ESS data on religiosity...

Currently there are more evangelical Christians than Muslims in Europe. (Jenkins 2007: 75) In Eastern Europe, as outside the western world, Pentecostalism is a sociological and not a demographic phenomenon. In Western Europe, by contrast, demography is central to evangelicalism’s growth, especially in urban areas. Alas, immigration brings two foreign imports, Islam and Christianity, to secular Europe.[16]

In 2010, Kaufmann reported that the rate of secularisation flattened to zero in most of Protestant Europe and France.[17]

Austria offers a window into what the future holds for Europe as far as desecularization

Concerning the future of religion/secularism in Europe, Eric Kaufmann also wrote:

We have performed these unprecedented analyses on several cases. Austria offers us a window into what the future holds. Its census question on religious affiliation permits us to perform cohort component projections, which show the secular population plateauing by 2050, or as early as 2021 if secularism fails to attract lapsed Christians and new Muslim immigrants at the same rate as it has in the past. (Goujon, Skirbekk et al. 2006).

This task will arguably become far more difficult as the supply of nominal Christians dries up while more secularisation-resistant Muslims and committed rump Christians comprise an increasing share of the population.[18]

For more information, please see: Desecularization of secular Europe in the 21st century

Lack of significant global outreach by Western World atheists

African Christians clapping at an open air meeting. In recent years, Christianity has seen a rapid growth in Africa.[19]

In 2005, there were four times as many non-Western World Christians as there were Western World Christians.[20]

Western World atheists have not engaged in a significant amount of global outreach.

See also: Global Christianity and Christian evangelism

The current atheist population mostly resides in East Asia (particularly China) and in secular Europe/Australia among whites.[21] See: Western atheism and race

In the United States, atheists are in the minority (See: Atheist Population). And in the United States and Canada, the general population looks very unfavorably on atheists (see: Views on atheists). In the United States/Canada, atheists are generally white (see: Western atheism and race).

Christianity is rapidly growing in China. China is on course to have the largest Christian population in the world by 2030.[22] See also: Growth of Christianity in China

Historically, Christians have made great evangelism efforts to reach every people group across the earth. In 2005, there were four times as many non-Western World Christians as there were Western World Christians.[23] Doing overseas evangelism/outreaches, often requires significant hardships/persecution and Western atheists have been unwilling to endure such hardships in order to spread atheistic ideology (see: Atheism and hedonism).

The former Soviet Union had a worldwide expansionist policy as far as spreading atheistic communism.[24] The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 led to a spike in religious affiliation, both in Russia and in Eastern Europe.[25]

The atheist community in the Western World has not had significant outreaches to spread atheism outside the Western World.

Lack of significant outreach to racial minorities in the Western World

See also: Western atheism and race and British atheism and American atheism

The atheist community has not had significant outreach to racial minorities within the Western World whereas Christians have done this (particularly among the poor).[26]The atheist Dr. Sikivu Hutchinson declared “If mainstream freethought and humanism continue to reflect the narrow cultural interests of white elites who have disposable income to go to conferences then the secular movement is destined to remain marginal and insular.”[27]

Expected racial demographic changes in the Western World

See also: Growth of evangelical Protestantism in Europe

In the United Kingdom, by the year 2050, 30 percent of the population is expected to be non-white.[28] In the United States, the Hispanic population is expected to triple by the year 2050 and become 30% of the United States population.[29] Yale Daily News reported in an article entitled White Europeans: An endangered species? that "Without a major shift in the current fertility trends, industrialized Europe will see its native population decline by about three-fourths over the 21st century."[30]

European drop in world's population percentage and rise of religious African population

In 2014, the Pew Research Forum indicated that Europe will go from 11% of the world's population to 7% of the world's population by 2050 and that Africa will go from 15% of the world's population to 25% of the world's population.[31]

PZ Myers' prediction that atheism movement will stagnate or shrink unless atheists change

See also: Atheism and social intelligence and Atheism and emotional intelligence

On September 27, 2014 in a blog post entitled The Atheist Disillusionment, the prominent atheist PZ Myers declared:

I will make a prediction, right here and now.... The number of people identifying as atheists will stagnate or even shrink, because organized atheism is happily in the process of destroying itself with regressive social attitudes, scandals, and their bizarre focus on irrelevant metaphysical differences that don’t help people...

Unless we change.

I don’t know that we can.[32]

Please see: Atheist movement and Atheism and social intelligence and Atheism and emotional intelligence

Collapse of atheism in the former Soviet Union

See: Collapse of atheism in the former Soviet Union and Decline of the secular left

Atheist community is lacking in confidence

See also: Atheism and leadership and Atheism and cowardice

Worldwide, the march of religion can probably only be reversed by a renewed, self-aware secularism. Today, it appears exhausted and lacking in confidence... Secularism's greatest triumphs owe less to science than to popular social movements like nationalism, socialism and 1960s anarchist-liberalism. Ironically, secularism's demographic deficit means that it will probably only succeed in the twenty-first century if it can create a secular form of 'religious' enthusiasm." - the agnostic professor Eric Kaufmann, Birbeck College, University of London, UK, 2010[33]

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

See also: Atheist Population and Growth of evangelical Protestantism in secular Europe

The decline of global atheism is accelerating and it is expected to affect Western World atheism.[34][35]

Eric Kaufmann using a wealth of demographic studies argues the decline of atheism in terms of its global adherents is an established trend that will persist for the foreseeable future and the rate of decline will accelerate.[36][37][38][39] In addition, Kaufmann argues that religious conservatism has a long term trend of rising and that their influence in the world will significantly increase.[40] Kaufmann is author of the book Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?.[41][42] In the Western World due to immigration and the higher birth rates of religious people, Kaufman writes: "Committed religious populations are growing in the West, and will reverse the march of secularism before 2050."[43]

Kaufmann told a secular audience in Australia: "The trends that are happening worldwide inevitably in an age of globalization are going to affect us."[44] Furthermore, Kaufmann also argues that secularization may reverse itself significantly earlier than 2050 in the West due to religious immigration and a religious population which is increasingly resistant to secularization in Europe.[45][46] In 2010 it was reported that the rate of secularisation flattened to zero in most of Protestant Europe and France.[47] In terms of the English speaking world, Google trend data as of August 2013 indicates that the world's interest in atheism and evolutionism has declined since 2004 while interest in God has increased.[48]

One of the steepest declines of atheism that is expected to occur is in China which currently has the largest atheist population in the world. China is experiencing a rapid growth of theologically conservative Christianity which will have a significant effect on the global atheist population.[49] It will also have an effect on the United Kingdom (UK) in the 21st century as Chinese immigrants are currently the largest group of immigrants arriving in the UK.[50]

In addition, currently the Western World population is aging in terms of its demographic makeup, particularly in secular Europe, and it has been found that belief in God grows as a person's death nears.[51][52]

For more information please see: Atheist population

Lack of sound leadership in the global community

See: Atheism and leadership

Atheism and the internet

See also: Internet atheism 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.[53]

In May of 2012, it was pointed out by supporters of Creation Ministries International's Question evolution! campaign that from a global internet perspective the public's interest in the views of the agnostic/weak atheist Richard Dawkins and the atheist PZ Myers and in atheism are on the decline while interest in Jesus and Christianity are on the upswing.[54]

For more information please see:

American secularism

See also: American atheism and Decline of American 1990s secularism

In 2008, the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) reported:

The 1990s was the decade when the “secular boom” occurred – each year 1.3 million more adult Americans joined the ranks of the Nones. Since 2001 the annual increase has halved to 660,000 a year...

Regarding belief in the divine, most Nones are neither atheists nor theists but rather agnostics and deists (59%) and perhaps best described as skeptics.[55]

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.[56]

2010 Global Atheist Convention

See also: Atheism and cowardice

In 2010, the prominent atheists who attended the 2010 global atheist conference, which included Richard Dawkins, were challenged to a debate by Creation Ministries International.[57] Richard Dawkins, PZ Myers and other prominent atheists refused to debate the creation scientists at Creation Ministries International.[58] Generally speaking, creation scientists tend to win the creation vs. evolution debates.

PZ Myers also refuses to debate Vox Day on the existence of God or concerning evolution [59]

Global atheism and male and female demographic imbalance

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.[60]

United States surveys

A 2008 study by Trinity College found that women are significantly more religious than men in America.[61] In 2007, the Pew Research Center found that American women were more religious than American men.[62]

Global obesity epidemic and irreligiosity

Since the world is becoming more religious at an increasing rate and there is data pointing to irreligiousity being a causal factor for obesity, this may help reduce the rate of increase of the global obesity epidemic (see: Atheism and obesity and Decline of atheism).

See also

Essays:

External links

Notes

  1. Eric Kaufmann: Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?, Australian Broadcasting Corporation
  2. http://search.eb.com/eb/article-9432620
  3. http://www.religionfacts.com/buddhism/beliefs/atheism.htm
  4. http://search.eb.com/eb/article-9432620
  5. http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/global-study-atheists-decline-only-18-world-population-2020 Global Study: Atheists in Decline, Only 1.8% of World Population by 2020]
  6. 97% of the world's population growth is taking place in the developing world, where 95% of people are religious, Tuesday, April 30, 2013
  7. Atheist: A dying breed as nature favours faithful
  8. Atheist: A dying breed as nature favours faithful
  9. Thriving Christianity
  10. A sceptics guide to atheism, page 4
  11. Globally the worldviews of atheism and non-religious (agnostic) are declining while global Christianity is exploding in adherents
  12. [Cracks in the atheist edifice], The Economist, November 1, 2014
  13. Ghanaian pastor seeks to 're-Christianize' Germany
  14. Ghanaian pastor seeks to 're-Christianize' Germany
  15. Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?: Demography and Politics in the Twenty-First Century by Eric Kaufmann
  16. Shall the religious inherit the earth
  17. Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?: Demography and Politics in the Twenty-First Century by Eric Kaufmann
  18. The African apostles: How Christianity exploded in 20th-century Africa
  19. Is Christianity taking over the planet?
  20. A surprising map of where the world’s atheists live, By Max Fisher and Caitlin Dewey, Washington Post, May 23, 2013
  21. China on course to become 'world's most Christian nation' within 15 years by Tom Phillips, The Telegraph, April 19, 2014
  22. Is Christianity taking over the planet?
  23. America Coming to Terms: The Vietnam Legacy By Nguyen Anh Tuan, page 82
  24. [Global Study: Atheists in Decline, Only 1.8% of World Population by 2020] by Michael W. Chapman, CNS News, July 24, 2013 - 2:18 PM
  25. Atheism has a big race problem that no one’s talking about by Dr. Sikivu Hutchinson, Washington Post June 16, 2014
  26. Atheism’s white male problem: A movement needs a moral cause beyond glamorizing disbelief by CJ Werleman, Salon, October 4, 2014
  27. Non-white people almost 30 per cent of population by 2050, By James Kirkup, Political Editor, The Telegraph, May 5, 2014
  28. [U.S. Hispanic population to triple by 2050 U.S. Hispanic population to triple by 2050], USA Today, By Haya El Nasser, 2/12/2008
  29. White Europeans: An endangered species? By Trevor Wagener, Yale Daily News, February 27, 2008
  30. 10 projections for the global population in 2050 By Rakesh Kochhar, Pew Research Forum, February 3, 2014
  31. The Atheist Disillusionment - PZ Myers]], September 27, 2014
  32. Shall the religious inherit the earth? - Eric Kaufmann
  33. Why are the years 2012 and 2020 key years for Christian creationists and pro-lifers?
  34. Globally the worldviews of atheism and non-religious (agnostic) are declining while global Christianity is exploding in adherents
  35. Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?: Demography and Politics in the Twenty-First Century by Eric Kaufmann, Belfer Center, Harvard University/Birkbeck College, University of London
  36. Eric Kaufmann: Shall The Religious Inherit The Earth?
  37. Eric Kaufmann's Atheist Demographic series
  38. Eric Kaufmann: Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?, Australian Broadcasting Corporation
  39. Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?: Demography and Politics in the Twenty-First Century by Eric Kaufmann, Belfer Center, Harvard University/Birkbeck College, University of London
  40. Shall the religious inherit the earth by David Kaufmann
  41. Early paper - Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?: Demography and Politics in the Twenty-First Century by Eric Kaufmann, Belfer Center, Harvard University/Birkbeck College, University of London
  42. Early paper - Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?: Demography and Politics in the Twenty-First Century by Eric Kaufmann, Belfer Center, Harvard University/Birkbeck College, University of London
  43. Shall the religious inherit the earth
  44. European immigration will pour Christian creationists into Europe
  45. The future of European Darwinism and atheism is bleak
  46. Shall the religious inherit the earth
  47. Google trends: Interest in atheism and evolution down. Google searches for God are up. Atheism beaches will be softened up before major attacks on atheism
  48. 10 reasons why biblical Christianity will flood the UK in the 21st century
  49. 10 reasons why biblical Christianity will flood the UK in the 21st century
  50. Belief in God grows as mortality nears, survey says
  51. [http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2008/03/the-demographic-winter-and-the The Demographic Winter and the Barren Left
  52. Internet atheism: The thrill is gone!
  53. Press: Americans Who Don’t Identify with a Religion No Longer a Fringe Group
  54. Why are 2012 and 2020 key years for Christian creationists and pro-lifers?
  55. http://www.truefreethinker.com/articles/richard-dawkins-cowardly-clown
  56. http://www.truefreethinker.com/articles/richard-dawkins-cowardly-clown
  57. Speaking of Assiduous Absconders
  58. Sex differences in global atheism, part N
  59. http://www.americanreligionsurvey-aris.org/reports/NONES_08.pdf
  60. http://www.livescience.com/culture/090227-religion-men-women.html
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