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While Atheism Gains Popularity, Religion Holds Fast to its Majority

Heaven Or Hell

Atheism is becoming more popular all over the world, but that does not necessarily translate to the end of spirituality and religion.

As greater numbers of people from all lifestyles have begun to believe that gods and the afterlife do not exist, atheism is being acknowledged more openly.  While this increase in popularity is occurring for atheism, the number of those who identify as religious fell by nearly 10% between the years of 2005 and 2011, leading some to speculate about the end of the age of religion.

Scholars have found that the populations in countries that suffer little inequality and have a good distribution of wealth and high educational standards tend to become more secular and have a higher percentage of atheists.  They believe this is because those populations are less frightened about the future.  Religious decline is happening across much of the world, including areas which still exhibit a high degree of religiosity, such as Ireland, Jamaica and Brazil, but such statistics do not necessarily spell the end of religion, nor even its diminution to minority status.

It is not clear that religion will ever disappear, says social psychologist Ara Norenzayan, author of the book Big Gods.  Because “religion seems to give meaning to suffering,” says Norenzayan, the problems spawned by climate change may cause a spike in religious belief.  This is a common phenomenon in large and small tragedies, with spikes of religiosity following natural disasters and wars.  For this reason, as well as others, it is unlikely religion will become extinct anytime soon.  The growth of atheism has been spurred by a lessening in worldwide suffering, and religious decline may stop as suddenly as it began, especially in light of new and growing climate catastrophes.


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