Essay: The slow implosion of atheism is accelerating

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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

The slow implosion of atheism in terms of its global market share of adherents and global influence is definitely accelerating (see: Acceleration of 21st century desecularization and Decline of the secular left).

As a percentage of the world's population, atheism peaked in 1970.[2] Global atheism is expected to decline in the 21st century and beyond in terms of its global market share.[3] Presently, there are a number of excellent sources which indicate that atheism is shrinking in global market share (see: Global atheism statistics).

From a global perspective, religion is seeing a resurgence and scholars of religious demographics frequently use the term "global resurgence of religion" to describe the process of desecularization which began in the late portion of the 20th century.[4] See also: Desecularization

New Atheism

See also: Decline of militant atheism in the West

New Atheism is a form of militant atheism. New Atheism was largely a reaction to the global resurgence of religion, the failure of the secularization thesis and the growth of religious fundamentalism (see also: Growth of evangelical Christianity and Atheism vs. Islam).

As a movement, New Atheism is effectively dead (see: Decline of militant atheism in the West).

New atheism and the substantial increase in infighting among Western atheists

Richard Dawkins
The new atheist Richard Dawkins declared: "Christianity may actually be our best defence against aberrant forms of religion that threaten the world".[5][6] See also: Richard Dawkins and Islam

See also: Atheist factions

In the Western World, secularization has stalled in Northern Europe and appears to have recently stalled in Britain (see: Desecularization and British atheism).

In addition, there has been a significant uptick in atheist infigthing among Western atheists - largely sparked to atheist infighting within American atheism and conflict between the secular left and the secular right (see also: Atheist factions).

New Atheism was a significant factor in sparking infighting among atheists as was the rise of right-wing/alt-right ideology among atheists/non-religious/religious and the growth of feminism/identity politics among secular leftists (see also: Elevatorgate and Richard Dawkins and Islamophobia accusations).

For additional information, please see:

Backlash to New Atheism

As far as atheists attempting to intellectually defend atheism, the situation has become worse for atheist population in recent years as the quality of their arguments has diminished and the percentage of atheists in the world is decreasing, while the proliferation of Christian apologetics/apologists is increasing in the world (see also: Stagnation of atheist apologetics).

For example, there is the Trinity Graduate School of Apologetics and Theology initiative which offers quality Christian apologetics for free to third world country students and charges extremely low costs for others. In addition, Ratio Christi is launching Christian apologetics clubs at college/university campuses.

In June of 2012, the UK based Dorset Humanists wrote:

There’s been a forceful backlash against the ‘new atheism’ of writers like Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens, inspiring a new wave of Christian apologists. This group includes: Alister McGrath, Professor of Theology at King’s College London, Keith Ward, former Professor of Divinity at Oxford, and John Lennox, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford.

Many atheists make the mistake of assuming religion is wholly irrational, relying on faith alone but, in a series of interviews recorded for DVD, the apologetics heavyweights from the list above demonstrate their ability to challenge us with reasoned arguments.[7]

An April 17, 2011 atheist essay entitled Are atheists strengthening religion? declared:

The Christian backlash and response to new atheism is/was considerable, and neither can the consequences, changes, and foci which marked their response be ignored.

In the end, have we simply made the aforementioned goal more difficult to accomplish?[8]

Secular Europe will be desecularized. USA is very religious country with Hispanic immigrants who are religious (a very tough slog)

Canada and 21st century deseculation

See: Canada and irreligion

East Asia and global desecularization

Map of East Asia.

East Asia contains about 25 percent of the world’s population. China’s population represents 20 percent of the people on earth.[9]

Razib Khan points out in Discover Magazine, "most secular nations in the world are those of East Asia, in particular what are often termed “Confucian societies.” It is likely therefore that the majority of the world’s atheists are actually East Asian."[10] See: Asian atheism and Global atheism

Desecularization is the process by which religion reasserts its societal influence though religious values, institutions, sectors of society and symbols in reaction to previous and/or co-occurring secularization processes.[11]

East Asia will play a leading role in global desecularization in the 21st century (see: East Asia and global desecularization and Future of atheism in China).

Growth of Christianity in China

See also: Growth of Christianity in China

With its large population, China has the largest population of atheists.[12] 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.[13]

China has the world's largest atheist population.[14][15] See also: China and atheism

The explosive growth of Christianity in China was greatly fueled by the political corruption and political oppression of China's atheists/communist (see also: Atheism and communism). The Tiananmen Square massacre fueled a big rise in Chinese interest in Christianity.[16]

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.[17]

See also

External links


  1. Global Study: Atheists in Decline, Only 1.8% of World Population by 2020
  2. Atheism Peaks, While Spiritual Groups Move Toward Convergence by Nury Vittachi, July 14, 2015, website Sciene 2.0
  3. The return of religion
  4. Professional Atheist Dawkins Says Christianity ‘Bulwark Against Something Worse’, by Thomas D. Williams, Ph.D, Breitbart News Network, Jan 12, 2016
  5. Richard Dawkins says Christianity is world's best defence against radical Islam, Christianity Today, January 2016
  6. Philosophy, Science and the God Debate
  7. Are Atheists Strengthening Religion?
  8. The Growth of Christianity in East Asia
  9. Most atheists are not white & other non-fairy tales, Discover magazine
  10. Religion and the State in Russia and China: Suppression, Survival and Revival by Christopher Marsh, 2011, page 11 (Christopher Marsh cites the definitions of desecularization given by Peter L. Berger and Vyacheslav Karpov)
  11. "The largest atheist/agnostic populations". Chris & Terri Chapman. Countries with the largest atheist populations.
  12. Cracks in the atheist edifice, The Economist, November 1, 2014
  13. Top 50 Countries With Highest Proportion of Atheists / Agnostics (Zuckerman, 2005)
  14. A surprising map of where the world’s atheists live, Washington Post By Max Fisher and Caitlin Dewey May 23, 2013
  15. Militant atheists caused a massive and explosive growth of Christianity
  16. Cracks in the atheist edifice, The Economist, November 1, 2014