British atheism

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A Eurobarometer poll in 2010 reported that 37% of UK citizens "believed there is a God", 33% believe there is "some sort of spirit or life force" and 25% answered "I don't believe there is any sort of spirit, God or life force".[1]

A Eurobarometer poll in 2010 reported that 37% of UK citizens "believed there is a God", 33% believe there is "some sort of spirit or life force" and 25% answered "I don't believe there is any sort of spirit, God or life force".[2]

In 2014, The Telegraph reported:

The British are among the most sceptical in the world about religion, a global study has found.

Just over a third of people in the UK believe religion has a positive role to play in our daily lives, compared to a global average of 59 per cent.[3]

Britain has had a significant influence on global atheism through its promotion of the atheistic ideology of evolution.

In the beginning portion of the 21st century, various members of Britain's atheists/agnostics, for example Richard Dawkins, have engaged in aggressive atheism evangelism efforts. In addition, the late Christopher Hitchens was born in Britain and emigrated to the United States in 1981 was a high-profile atheist. However, the movement they lead, New Atheism, has significantly waned and is now essentially dead (see: Decline of New Atheism).

A sign of desecularization and/or the ending of secularization in Britain

See also: UK and secularism and Acceleration of 21st century desecularization

In December 2018, The Times indicated: "The number of atheists in Britain has fallen in the past year, according to a survey suggesting that more people are attending church, albeit irregularly."[4]

The Guardian published an article in 2017 entitled Nearly 50% are of no religion – but has UK hit ‘peak secular’? which declared:

But, Bullivant told the Observer that the “growth of no religion may have stalled”. After consistent decline, in the past few years the proportion of nones appears to have stabilised. “Younger people tend to be more non-religious, so you’d expect it to keep going – but it hasn’t. The steady growth of non-Christian religions is a contributing factor, but I wonder if everyone who is going to give up their Anglican affiliation has done so by now? We’ve seen a vast shedding of nominal Christianity, and perhaps it’s now down to its hardcore.[5]

In the United States, the vast majority of individuals who are "Nones"/"no religion" (people who are not part of organized religion) believe in the existence of God. Fewer than 15% of the "nones" consider themselves atheists.[6]

Conatus News reported in 2017:

Church of England worshippers increase 0.8 per cent since 2009. The number of non-religious people falls from 50.65% to 48.6%

Rise in Church of England worshippers likely due to resurgence in patriotism and pride in Christianity, a report has found

According to a new report, for every person brought up in a non-religious household who becomes a churchgoer, 26 people raised as Christians now identify as non-believers.

The study, which is based on an analysis of the British Social Attitudes Survey and the European Social Survey, reported that the proportion of non-religious in the UK hit a high of 50.6 per cent in 2009. However, it has been decreasing ever since and hit 48.6 per cent in 2015.

However, the proportion of those who identify as Church of England worshippers has seen a slight increased from 16.3 per cent in 2009 to 17.1 per cent in 2015.[7]

British Humanist Association's withdrawal out of agreed upon debate with the Christian apologist William Lane Craig

Sam Harris once described William Lane Craig as “the one Christian apologist who has put the fear of God into many of my fellow atheists”.[8]

See also: Atheism and Debate and Atheism and cowardice

Humanists UK is a society of British humanists whose origins go back to 1896 (The society is the result of various humanist groups merging).[9] Humanists UK was previously called the British Humanist Association.[10]

In August 19, 2011, Fox News reported:

American Evangelical theologian William Lane Craig is ready to debate the rationality of faith during his U.K tour this fall, but it appears that some atheist philosophers are running shy of the challenge.

This month president of the British Humanist Association, Polly Toynbee, pulled out of an agreed debate at London’s Westminster Central Hall in October, saying she “hadn’t realized the nature of Mr. Lane Craig’s debating style.”

Lane Craig, who is a professor of philosophy at Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada, Calif., and author of 30 books and hundreds of scholarly articles, is no stranger to the art of debate and has taken on some of the great orators, such as famous atheists Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris. Harris once described Craig as “the one Christian apologist who has put the fear of God into many of my fellow atheists”.

Responding to Toynbee’s cancellation, Lane Craig commented: "These folks (atheists) can be very brave when they are alone at the podium and there's no one there to challenge them. But one of the great things about these debates is that, it allows both sides to be heard on a level playing field, and for the students in the audience to make up their own minds about where they think the truth lies."[8]

On August 19, 2011, the leading British Anglican weekly newspaper the Church Times wrote:

The director of Professor Craig’s tour, Peter May, said: “If Craig is ‘wrong about everything else in the universe’ and his arguments for the existence of God are so easy to refute, it is hard to see why the leading atheist voices in the country are running shy of having a debate with him.

“Rather than hurling ad hom­inem attacks on Craig from their bunkers, it would be good to see these figures come forward to rationally defend the atheism they publicly espouse.”[11]

10 signs pointing towards a decline of British atheism in the 21st century

Recently, there have been a number of signs that in the 21st century British atheism will experience a dramatic decline as far as being an influential ideology:

1. Britain's Financial Times published an article in 2018 with the title/subtitle of: "The return of religion. Among atheists as well as believers, strident secularism is giving way to a renewed sense of faith’s hold."[12] See also: Atheists and the endurance of religion and Decline of militant atheism in the West

2. British academic and religious/political demography expert Eric Kaufmann declaring that the future of the Western World and the world at large belongs to religious conservatives due to religious conservative immigration to the West and the higher birth rates of religious conservatives (and the sub-replacement level of births of the irreligious).[13][14][15][16] See also: Desecularization

Most atheists in the United Kingdom (UK) are white. In the UK, by the year 2050, 30 percent of the population is expected to be non-white.[17] Atheists in the Western World have historically not engaged in evangelism of racial minorities in their countries (see: Western atheism and race). 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."[18] See also: Decline of global atheism and Global Christianity

3. British evolutionist Richard Dawkins, who formerly championed militant atheism and was previously Britain's most prominent atheist, emphatically and repeatedly denying he was ever an atheist to Rowan Williams who at the time was the Bishop of Canterbury (See: Richard Dawkins and agnosticism). A likely reason why Dawkins disavowed ever being an atheist, despite championing militant atheism in the past, is that he cannot prove that God does not exist. In addition, many theists have very negative views of atheists (Views on atheists).

Furthermore, Richard Dawkins lost a considerable amount of influence due to some statements that offended many women atheists (see: Elevatorgate and Richard Dawkins and women and Richard Dawkins' loss of influence).

4. Evangelical Christianity is growing in England and increasingly challenging the more liberal Anglican Church.[19]

5. The Muslim population is growing in Britain and may become a majority in the 21 century. The 2019 journal article When will European Muslim population be majority and in which country? published in PSU Research Review indicates: "Among three scenarios, the most likely mid-point migration scenario identifies 13 countries where the Muslim population will be majority between years 2085 and 2215: Cyprus (in year 2085), Sweden (2125), France (2135), Greece (2135), Belgium (2140), Bulgaria (2140), Italy (2175), Luxembourg (2175), the UK (2180), Slovenia (2190), Switzerland (2195), Ireland (2200) and Lithuania (2215). The 17 remaining countries will never reach majority in the next 200 years".[20]

6. The British Humanist Society and Richard Dawkins backing down from debate offers from the Christian apologist William Lane Craig. The Oxford University atheist Daniel Came told Richard Dawkins that his refusal to debate Craig was bound to be seen by many as an act of cowardice. See: Atheism and cowardice

7. Worldwide young earth creationism is seeing dramatic growth (see: Global creationism).[21] Eric Kaufmann told a secular audience in Australia: "The trends that are happening worldwide inevitably in an age of globalization are going to affect us."[22]

8. British atheist Rory Fenton, who is the president of the National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student Societies (AHS) declaring in 2014:[23]

- "For non-religious students on [university] campuses across the UK, 2013-14 has been the most challenging year to date, with criticism of religion censored and religious rules enforced in lecture theatres."

- "At their Freshers' Fayre in October, our members at LSE [London School of Economics] wore t-shirts featuring the satirical Jesus and Mo webcomic...At the request of their own students' union, the body surely set up to defend student rights, the university sent 10 security guards to surround the two students and their offending cotton, demanding that they remove the t-shirts or be removed themselves."

- " London South Bank University our members were told they could not invite speakers who criticised religion at all, or even engage religious societies in debates, putting joining the South Bank Atheist Society on a par with joining the BNP. This February the same university banned images of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, a satirical deity in which nobody believes, on the grounds that they were "religiously offensive".

Much of the muzzling of atheists on British campuses is due to campus administrators and/or student leaders not wanting to upset Islamic militants on British universities/colleges.[24]

9. Economic adversity has an inverse relationship to atheism as many people turn to God in times of trouble.[25] On the other hand, pentecostal and holiness Christian churches have historically increased during tough economic times.[26][27] In 2011, the UK had a 406% external debt to gross national product (GNP) ratio which was equivalent to $160,158 of debt per person.[28] Such a large amount of external debt certainly could cause future problems for the UK economy.

10. Scientism/materialism currently has very limited appeal in the UK. In October 2013, The New Statesman reported: "A mere 13% - and only a quarter of the non-religious - agreed with the statement that "humans are purely material beings with no spiritual element".[29]

BBC, atheism and anti-Christian bias

See also: Atheism and the media

The Daily Mail reported about Britain's influential broadcaster the BBC:

The BBC employs more atheists and non-believers than Christians, an internal ‘diversity’ survey has found.

The new research has been seized on by critics who accuse the Corporation of bias against Christianity and marginalising the faith in its output.

The survey found that just 22.5 per cent of all staff professed to be Christians.[30]

Happiness: British non-religious vs. British religious

See: Happiness: British non-religious vs. British religious

See also


External links


  1. Special Eurobarometer, biotechnology, p. 204". Fieldwork: Jan-Feb 2010.
  2. Special Eurobarometer, biotechnology, p. 204". Fieldwork: Jan-Feb 2010.
  3. UK among most sceptical in world about religion, The Telegraph, 2014
  4. Atheism is down as UK gets spiritual, The Times, December 2018
  5. Nearly 50% are of no religion – but has UK hit ‘peak secular’?, The Guardian, 2017
  6. Meet the 'Nones:' Spiritual but not religious
  7. British Patriotism Sees Number of Anglicans Rise and the Non-Religious Fall, Conatus News , 2017
  8. 8.0 8.1
  9. Humanists UK - History
  10. Humanists UK - History
  12. Friday, 30 March 2018
  13. 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
  14. Eric Kaufmann: Shall The Religious Inherit The Earth?
  15. Eric Kaufmann's Atheist Demographic series
  16. Eric Kaufmann: Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?, Australian Broadcasting Corporation
  17. Non-white people almost 30 per cent of population by 2050, By James Kirkup, Political Editor, The Telegraph, May 5, 2014
  18. White Europeans: An endangered species? By Trevor Wagener, Yale Daily News, February 27, 2008
  19. Biblical Christianity is rising in the UK
  20. When will European Muslim population be majority and in which country?, Pierre Rostan, Alexandra Rostan, PSU Research Review, ISSN: 2399-1747, Open Access. Article publication date: 28 August 2019 Reprints & Permissions, Issue publication date: 28 August 2019
  21. Global creationism
  22. Shall the religious inherit the earth - Festival of Dangerous Ideas - Eric Kaufmann
  23. Atheist students must fight back
  24. Why are British Student Unions imposing Islamic rules?
  25. Does atheism thrive on economic prosperity? Does religion prosper when people are desperate and ignorant?
  26. Social unrest in Europe altering its religious landscape
  27. Why a literal reading of the Genesis is surging in the world. Why a a literal reading of the Genesis will increase in the Western World
  28. World Bank - World Databank
  29. A blow to the New Atheism? Britain is losing its religion - and becoming "spiritual" instead
  30. Christians a minority at 'biased' BBC where staff are more likely to be atheists or non-believers