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.
The team took census data stretching back as far as a century from countries in which the census queried religious affiliation: Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland…
Dr Wiener continued: “In a large number of modern secular democracies, there’s been a trend that folk are identifying themselves as non-affiliated with religion; in the Netherlands the number was 40%, and the highest we saw was in the Czech Republic, where the number was 60%.”
The team then applied their nonlinear dynamics model, adjusting parameters for the relative social and utilitarian merits of membership of the “non-religious” category.
They found…that those parameters were similar across all the countries studied, suggesting that similar behaviour drives the mathematics in all of them. And in all the countries, the indications were that religion was headed toward extinction.
However, Dr Wiener told the conference that the team was working to update the model with a “network structure” more representative of the one at work in the world.
“Obviously we don’t really believe this is the network structure of a modern society, where each person is influenced equally by all the other people in society,” he said. However, he told BBC News that he thought it was “a suggestive result”.
Overdue. Not that I think philosophical idealism will vanish. We have a few too many genes that need to update before that could happen. But, so-called organized religion appears to be working as diligently as possible to become a force for regressive, even reactionary behavior. Probably, because those who profit the most from incumbency fear the only way to maintain power and profit is by drawing back into fundamentalism for protection.
That educated societies choose to assume greater individual freedoms – especially in those areas where organized religion declares that only “revealed” word must govern, e.g., women’s rights, bigotry, racism, war, political power should only be assumed by the “chosen” – individuals learn from experience that a life governed by reason instead of religion proves to be a better life for all.
Since the study concerned educated secular democracies, the United States obviously has little need to fear a change.