(BBC) Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

A study using census data from nine countries shows that religion there is set for extinction, say researchers.

The study found a steady rise in those claiming no religious affiliation.

The team’s mathematical model attempts to account for the interplay between the number of religious respondents and the social motives behind being one.

The result, reported at the American Physical Society meeting in Dallas, US, indicates that religion will all but die out altogether in those countries.

Read it all.


Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Australia / NZ, Austria, Canada, England / UK, Europe, Finland, Ireland, Religion & Culture, Switzerland, The Netherlands

11 comments on “(BBC) Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

  1. Jon Edwards says:

    Uh, why are we caring about what a couple of physicists believe might happen with sociological concepts they do not study?

  2. Larry Morse says:

    Ha ha ha ha die God die! You have been statistic-ed to death.
    Some “scientists” need to find productive day jobs. Larry

  3. Sarah says:

    I think the key words are “claiming no religious affiliation.”

    As we all know, everyone has a foundational worldview — a religion — even if it’s not one of the known and named ones.

    So the truth is that fewer and fewer people in those countries are claiming *known and named* religions.

  4. Old Guy says:

    Maybe because it is an interesting data point for the environment/times that we live in. Also, whatever may be happening in these 9 countries may also be occurring in our own.

    That being said, religion will only become extinct if God so wills. And that seems unlikely. God may be setting the stage for something more breathtaking and wonderful.

  5. the roman says:

    Has anyone stopped to consider the correlation between those countries showing a “steady rise in those claiming no religious affiliation” and those countries that currently impose taxes for said religious affiliation?

    Coincidence? How else would you expect those surveyed to answer?

  6. WarrenS says:

    The Roman, as a citizen of one of the nine countries mentioned in the study, I don’t understand what you’re saying. Could you explain?

    With respect to Canada at least, I think page 16 of the following recent survey sheds more light (and makes for an interesting contrast with the US):

  7. the roman says:

    WarrenS, I speak of the Church Tax.

    Wikipedia reference; “The church tax is only paid by members of the respective church. People who are not member of a church tax-collecting denomination do not have to pay it.”

    I was snarking that some of the “no religious affiliation” types surveyed may have had monetary rather than theological motives for their response.

  8. WarrenS says:

    I can’t speak for the other eight countries, but there’s no “church tax” in Canada. I doubt there is in several of the other countries either. The census results (sadly) may be more accurate than you think.

  9. Teatime2 says:

    The first comment under the story itself at the BBC site makes a good point. Religion and politics have been woven together tightly and I think that’s what many people eschew. Shunning religion doesn’t equate with embracing atheism. If, as that commenter says, faith becomes more personal and less systematic, that might be a good thing.

  10. Teatime2 says:

    Ooops, just thought of something. The new media may have a big part to play in touching people on a personal level. I’ve caught a few episodes of “The Good Wife” recently and, while I find her particular story line rather boring, the secondary one involving her daughter intrigues me, and it relates to this issue.

    In a nutshell, the girl has been watching a young person’s witness to Christ on YouTube and she’s fascinated. She wants to learn more about Jesus and Christianity. Her mum is indifferent and probably agnostic so she’s very sarcastic, at first, but the girl calls her on it. And the girl is making her own inquiries because the teachings have compelled her. I’m anxious to see where it leads.

    I think this just might become more common.

  11. MargaretG says:

    A friend of mine who is a mathematician has put the following comment on this blog:

    ” I have read the study, which is basically a maths paper rather than giving any serious attention to the sociology of religion as such. The key assumption is that the so-called utility of religious affiliation is exactly the same for each citizen in a given country. That is regardless of whether they are frequent religious attenders, people who only go occasionally, or atheists. This is assumption is clearly untrue. They also assume the utility has changed in the past but will remain constant hereafter. Their model does not represent diversity. They do discuss the case of different social networks (e.g. regions, races etc.) but then they assume the same nationwide utility number applies to every group. They do not consider countries where religion is growing at a faster rate than non-religion, such as Russia and China (the logic of their approach would end up with those becoming 100% religious). They do not consider the interplay between countries where religion is growing and where it is declining. In short their model is absurdly simplistic.

    In New Zealand the drop in census religion is mostly among people who weren’t particularly religious anyway (low utility) while the core attenders (high utility) have kept going. The core could be estimated as 20% of New Zealanders who attend religious services at least monthly (47% at least yearly – reference NZ Electoral Study 2008).

    Although overall census numbers have dropped, attendances are rising for some churches/religions. One example is the Methodists, one of New Zealand’s bigger denominations, which had been declining for years but confounded predictions of pending extinction by growing at the last census. Similarly I think the overall census religion numbers will not go to extinction but eventually bottom out and start to grow again.
    Barry “