Religion to Disappear By 2041 Claims New Study | Las Vegas Guardian Express

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Author and noted biopsychologist Nigel Barber has completed a new study that shows Atheism is most prevalent in developed countries, and, according to his projections, religion will completely disappear by 2041. His findings are discussed in his new book “Why Atheism Will Replace Religion.” A new study that clarifies his earlier research will be published in August. His findings focus on studying trends within countries around the world and the fact that “Atheists are heavily concentrated in economically developed countries”-



In my new study of 137 countries (1), I also found that atheism increases for countries with a well-developed welfare state (as indexed by high taxation rates). Moreover, countries with a more equal distribution of income had more atheists. My study improved on earlier research by taking account of whether a country is mostly Moslem (where atheism is criminalized) or formerly Communist (where religion was suppressed) and accounted for three-quarters of country differences in atheism.

 

His main thesis stems from the phenomenon of religion declining as personal wealth increases. He cites the reason as people having less of a need for supernatural beliefs when the tangible, natural world is providing for their needs. He says the majority of the world will come to view religion as completely irrelevant by 2041.

Political Scientist Eric Kaufmann holds the opposite view, citing the fact that Atheists have fewer children than religious people. He thinks this could indicate the religious mindset will proliferate due to religious folks simply breeding more than Atheists. But what is the significance of the prolific breeding of religious people?

Biotechnologist Thomas Rees poses this question in his essay “Will the Religious Inherit the Earth?” In this piece, he discusses Kaufmann’s research and comes to the conclusion that the breeding aspect could tip the odds in favor of the religious purely due to fertility and childbearing rates among them.

Written By: Rebecca Savastio
continue to source article at guardianlv.com

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  1. 2041 seems a bit optimistic

    I can see religion becoming irrelevant by 2041 in already rich countries, but the progress of poor countries, economically, politically, and socially, seems too slow to eliminate religion in less than thirty years.Some countries are moving backwards. I think even the USA will take a couple of more generations to reduce the influence of religion to the point were an atheist could be elected president.

  2. I love the concept. Hope the prediction is right, if not sooner. The human race will be better for it. But how can we explain such a rich country like the US having so many ‘believers’?

    • In reply to #2 by danbowyer:

      I love the concept. Hope the prediction is right, if not sooner. The human race will be better for it. But how can we explain such a rich country like the US having so many ‘believers’?

      Just like with any religion, start shoveling that crap to them when they’re young and impressionable. Santa is a perfect example. An old beardy fat guy with flying reindeer, going all over the planet, scooting down chimneys to deliver gifts to all the good boys and girls. Now to a child that’s a perfectly reasonable story. Same as god. Actually the santa story is a lot better. He won’t kill you for not believing in him….Don’t know where Mr. Barber is getting his info, but personally, I don’t think there will ever be an end to this lie. Not until it eats us all.

      • In reply to #5 by fishhead:

        Just like with any religion, start shoveling that crap to them when they’re young…

        If we know that’s the trick, shouldn’t we try to get them young, too? “The Magic of Reality” seems to aim that way, but every year counts. I’d help fund atheist TV ads aimed at preschoolers.

    • In reply to #2 by danbowyer:

      I love the concept. Hope the prediction is right, if not sooner. The human race will be better for it. But how can we explain such a rich country like the US having so many ‘believers’?

      I love the concept also, but I’m not going to hold my breath that religion will ever disappear here in Utah. As for the supposed contradiction posed by the number of believers in the U.S., it might be a “rich country,” but not its citizens –and the disparity between the truly rich and the rest of us has been growing exponentially worse: “Wealth Inequality in America.” When we look at the actual figures, it appears that the U.S. actually substantiates the theory.

    • In reply to #2 by danbowyer:

      I love the concept. Hope the prediction is right, if not sooner. The human race will be better for it. But how can we explain such a rich country like the US having so many ‘believers’?

      The separation of church and state also protects religion from government. That’s why religion in the US is strong.

    • In my new study of 137 countries (1), I also found that atheism increases for countries with a well-developed welfare state (as indexed by high taxation rates). Moreover, countries with a more equal distribution of income had more atheists.

      This is why the USA is still so religious.

    • In reply to #2 by danbowyer:

      I love the concept. Hope the prediction is right, if not sooner. The human race will be better for it. But how can we explain such a rich country like the US having so many ‘believers’?

      Social insecurity, a failing economy and actually rather bad education, thanks to creationist lobbies even getting worse by the hour. All good candidates for making you insecure enough to need an invisible friend.

  3. Nonsense unfortunately. I’m in the UK and I see the Church of England becoming more and more irrelevent, but I see a rise of Islam (and not only in the UK). Unfortunately, the UK still has an authority view that to criticise religion is wrong. Those who follow Islam are particulalry making much of this. I grew up with quite a few Jewish friends, but culturally Jewish rather than religious, eg I can’t think of any who didn’t enjoy a bacon sandwich back then. They may have had Barmitzfahs but attendance at a synagog was for the orthodox minorities. However, what I see amongst the younger Muslim population is a heavier aherence of their Islam. This is notable on social media for instance. I don’t know why, but suspect it may have something to do with 9/11 etc which has fostered an attitude of worry in western media/authority etc to not criticise Islam, which in turn has empowered those who were quiet before all of this. Also, as ridiculous as the Catholic church are, their positioning in Africa and South America will take much more than 30 years to eradicate. It’s fair to say that atheism will grow, but to eradicate ‘religion’ could take a few hundred years, if not more.

    • In reply to #4 by bootjangler:

      Nonsense unfortunately. I’m in the UK and I see the Church of England becoming more and more irrelevent, but I see a rise of Islam (and not only in the UK). Unfortunately, the UK still has an authority view that to criticise religion is wrong. Those who follow Islam are particulalry making much of this…

      …However, what I see amongst the younger Muslim population is a heavier aherence of their Islam. This is notable on social media for instance. I don’t know why, but suspect it may have something to do with 9/11 etc which has fostered an attitude of worry in western media/authority etc to not criticise Islam, which in turn has empowered those who were quiet before all of this.

      That’s one way to look at it, I suppose. The attitude of worry exhibited by the media and ‘authority’ may also be seen as a desire by those parties not to fan the flames of hatred and increase anti-Muslim animus.

      The resurgence of the far right in Western countries following the events of 9/11 cannot be ignored, and governments and media outlets have a responsibility not to do or say anything which could result in innocent people coming to harm. This is what any reluctance to criticise Islam is grounded in.

      You correctly say that younger Muslims in the West tend to take their religion more seriously than their parents or grandparents do, and contend this may be down to 9/11. Well, the current crop of Muslim youth is the first to grow up in the shadow of the World Trade Center attacks. Earlier generations may have faced hostility from their neighbors, but only because they were different and ate weird food and went to their funny churches every hour God sends and sometimes spoke foreign. They were polite too and kept to themselves, unlike the uppity blacks, and didn’t retaliate when provoked; so were hard to organize against. They didn’t exactly assimilate, but they blended in; they fitted.

      And then a couple dozen Saudis hijacked some planes and got real lucky… and everything changed. Muslims were now the enemy. All Muslims: old ladies, little girls; none was above suspicion.

      If I were a young Muslim living in a Western country, my country, and every time I got on a bus a bunch of people suddenly remembered this was their stop and made a beeline for the doors, it might irk me after a while. If I were stopped every time I tried to board a plane in a ‘random’ check while my fellow white-skinned travelers sailed by, I might start to feel aggrieved by that too. I might become insular and paranoid and start feeling hostile toward those who regard me with suspicion even though I’ve done nothing wrong.

      The young are particularly sensitive to perceived injustice, and while members of other generations might have written their thoughts down in a journal, today’s youth has access to the internet. In short time I’d probably find myself in a chatroom with similarly alienated young Muslims, and then snap!, I’m in some jihadist recruiter’s Venus flytrap. Not all grooming of young people on the net is about sex.

      There’s a, what are those deelies called, a meme one encounters time and again on this website and elsewhere that Islam is set to take over the world, and the response therefore must be not to tolerate it.

      This is silly. Islam is one of the Abrahamic faiths. Abrahamism’s adherents thrive on persecution: it’s the gasoline in their engine, the Viagra in their bloodstream. Look at Christianity. Its figurehead is the ultimate victim, someone who literally died for us. Got guilt? Islam is so sensitive about its own brown jesus that naming a teddy bear after him can earn you a prison term; and God forbid you produce a cartoon of the guy. Judaism isn’t above playing its own legitimate victim card to justify the atrocious treatment of Palestinians – criticize us and you’re a Nazi.

      If you truly want religion to disappear, not tolerating it isn’t the answer, particularly if the religion in question’s lifeblood is not being tolerated. It doesn’t even need to disappear; religion is fine as long as it doesn’t have any teeth. And it’s so tied in with culture that… well, I wouldn’t want to live without Renaissance art and architecture, and I think even our own RD has recently expressed his fondness for the sound of church bells.

      Social justice is the answer, as the article makes clear. If you don’t want young British Muslims to become radicalized, support them. If the EDL or the BNP have a march, join a counter-protest. If there aren’t any, stage a counter-protest of one. Nick Griffin and Stephen Yaxley-Lennon and their loathsome ilk are doing more to foster terrorism than all the Islamic hate preachers combined.

      If young people grow up in an atmosphere of hostility, and are made to feel unwelcome in the country they were born in for chrissakes, you don’t get to feign surprise when they start to identify with those in far-off lands who they know will call them brother or sister, even if it’s in a language they don’t understand. The desire to belong and be accepted is a fundamental part of human nature.

      • In reply to #28 by Katy Cordeth:

        In reply to #4 by bootjangler:

        Nonsense unfortunately. I’m in the UK and I see the Church of England becoming more and more irrelevent, but I see a rise of Islam (and not only in the UK). Unfortunately, the UK still has an authority view that to criticise religion is wrong. Those who follow Islam a…

        You are completely wrong about the EDL. They are not violent, far-right or racist and have a healthy regard for human rights, democracy and the rule of law. How do I know? Well, because Pat Condell – who is supported by Dawkins and the RDFRS – told me so.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QN5TgItGWlk

        • In reply to #39 by The Grapes of Roth:

          In reply to #28 by Katy Cordeth:

          You are completely wrong about the EDL. They are not violent, far-right or racist and have a healthy regard for human rights, democracy and the rule of law. How do I know? Well, because Pat Condell – who is supported by Dawkins and the RDFRS – told me so.

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QN5TgItGWlk

          Thanks for that. I for one have a crippling fear of apologists for hate crimes.

          Yeeuchhh. I feel like I need to dip my laptop in a bucket of bleach after watching your clip.

          Condell is as revolting as always. I’m glad to see RDFRS has disassociated itself from this dreadful excuse for a human being and his diatribes are no longer included here, even if no formal declaration to that effect has been made by Richard, that blonde lady, the Kids-in-the-Hall-looking guy or anyone else at the Clear-Thinking Oasis.

          We all have people in our past we’d rather others forget we used to be pals with. Oasises… oas_i_… hang on a second while I go look it up…

          Oases, even those ones with pretensions to clear-thinkingism, should be allowed to make mistakes. What’s important is that RDFRS has evidently severed its ties to the horrible Mr Condell.

          • In reply to #42 by Katy Cordeth:

            In reply to #39 by The Grapes of Roth:

            In reply to #28 by Katy Cordeth:

            You are completely wrong about the EDL. They are not violent, far-right or racist and have a healthy regard for human rights, democracy and the rule of law. How do I know? Well, because Pat Condell – who is supported by Dawkin…

            Really? His DVDs are still on sale on the site and there are still 2 posts of Pat Condell videos on the Religion section of the website.

          • In reply to #43 by The Grapes of Roth:

            In reply to #42 by Katy Cordeth:

            Really? His DVDs are still on sale on the site and there are still 2 posts of Pat Condell videos on the Religion section of the website.

            Hey, Condell is a scary-ass mother-effer. Well, he ain’t, but he’s got some scary friends. Richard Dawkins himself has said he’s glad Condell is on our side. (I didn’t actually think I was on one side or the other, but there you go.)

            If you’re dating someone who turns out to be a psycho you don’t tell them to their face that you’re breaking up with them. You let them down all gentle like. That’s where the expressions “Let’s just cool things down” and “This is all going a little fast for me” come from.

            Give it a year or so and I’m confident this site will be a Pat Condell-free zone.

  4. ” Author and noted biopsychologist Nigel Barber “

    Noted for rabid optimism?

    ( biopsychologist does not even pass the spell check, so I will refrain from lambasting this horrible hybrid )

  5. It’s a bit like saying that a given virus will be extinct by a certain time, in that it ignores all the other viruses, one or any number of which will inevitably fill the niche left by its demise, even though they may be less virulent.

    If such an eventuality were to occur it would do so by means of our old tried and trusted friend evolution, and therefore is likely to take quite a while longer than 2041; might not even happen until 2042!

    No, I ain’t going to hold my breath – because if I did I’d die!

  6. It will be interesting to read his paper. Why 2041? Why not 2040 or 2042? Wonder if he is also a global warming prophet? One of those scientists who state that temperatures will increase by 3.14159 degrees by December 20, 2112?

  7. “Survey says….?” “Ridiculous!” So much for the “all publicity is better than no publicity” motto. This guy has destroyed his reputation as a researcher.

    I know that’s harsh, but seriously… the majority thinking it irrelevant in less than 30 years? Out of the 7 billion people in the world, 141 million identify as atheist! He expects 245 million “conversions” each year for the next 30 years (on average)?

    Even if you make that a simple exponential change instead of linear (presumably it would accelerate as more people jump on the band wagon), that’s an 14% rate of change each year! Even if you assume that at the end of 28 years only 75% have “converted”, that’s still an annual rate of 13%! And that assumes no population growth! (I confess, I stuck the numbers into an online rate calculator, so I can’t confirm that rate.)

    • In reply to #17 by downshifter:

      “Survey says….?” “Ridiculous!” So much for the “all publicity is better than no publicity” motto. This guy has destroyed his reputation as a researcher.

      It depends where you’re sitting. The UK is by no means the most atheist country in Europe – look to Scandinavia and the Baltic states for that, and the Czech Republic, but there is widespread independent corroboration for these conclusions here. See also : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_atheism

      Most sensible studies have Britain down as majority non-believers. All Christian denominations together are dragging no more than 4.5% of us into a weekly church service. Catholic and Church of England attendances are in freefall. Both have ageing demographics, with the average age of both priests and congregations now ell into their 60s and rising; attendances amongst under-16s are close to zero. Priests are proving almost impossible to recruit (hell, even bankers have a better public image these days).

      This notwithstanding the fact that (appallingly) some parents are obligated to occupy pew-space to get coveted vicar’s letters to get their kids into the only decent school for miles around, because a third of our schools are faith schools.

      In 2008 the Bible Society reckoned the CofE would be functionally extinct by 2050 with its existing weekly attendances (some 1 million) down to about 80,000. In 2011 the CofE Synod received a report it had itself commissioned from Andreas Whittam Smith (founder and ertstwhile editor of The Independent) asserting functional extinction by 2030.

      I see nothing happening on the ground to even begin to reverse this decline. On the contrary, I see churches continuing to put both feet in their mouths before they begin to chew them off, e.g. on homosexuality, women priests/bishops, child abuse, scientific breakthroughs like stem-cell research and so forth: they are actively driving people away.

      Islam remains a risk, in my view minuscule. We’re absorbing it, assimilating it, integrating it. I’ve worked in a large international organisation with many Muslims, and for every apostate out of the closet there are dozens still in the closet. They don’t want sharia law, a Caliphate and all the rest of that drivel. They want happy, successful careers in a modern Western economy and are willing to work hard to achieve that. Their ancestors largely came to Britain to get away from harsh, totalitarian values, not to export them. Their children are even less interested in “jihad”.

      Of course some people will believe this tosh centuries from now; religion has a half life similar to plutonium, and is about as toxic. But overall Barber’s observations tend to confirm my own.

      • Hate to say it Steve, but your optimism is very Eurocentric at best. The truth of the matter Pakistan alone has a population of 190 million and growing rapidly. And everyone is a die-hard follower of Islam in its various stripes with very few exemptions. There are just too many Mullahs and “interested parties” (elite) who want nothing more than to keep the masses undereducated and good little followers of the prophet so that they can reap the benefits of their work while at the same time keeping them inline.
        Not too dissimilar from the Christian model that has taken 2000 years to dent. jcw

        In reply to #25 by Stevehill:

        In reply to #17 by downshifter:

        “Survey says….?” “Ridiculous!” So much for the “all publicity is better than no publicity” motto. This guy has destroyed his reputation as a researcher.

        It depends where you’re sitting. The UK is by no means the most atheist country in Europe – look to Scandin…

    • In reply to #17 by downshifter:

      “Survey says….?” “Ridiculous!” So much for the “all publicity is better than no publicity” motto. This guy has destroyed his reputation as a researcher.

      I know that’s harsh, but seriously… the majority thinking it irrelevant in less than 30 years? Out of the 7 billion people in the world, 1…

      I agree that it’s highly unlikely, however there must be a fair percentage out there who could be classed as unidentified atheists, just flying under the radar due to social pressures? If it suddenly became the way to go if you wanted to be taken seriously as a thinking person, I think the stats would shoot up. My guess would be about 50% of the current population based on my own observations.

  8. As the USA sinks in economic dominance, religion becomes more prevalent.

    The battle could perhaps be won by discreetly providing free birth control to everyone. I doubt women are as keen on being treated as breeding machines are priests are treating them that way.

  9. I don’t think breeding rates are the issue. Like many atheists, I am the child of religious parents and there’s nothing to say that a child of atheist parents would necessarily grow up to share their views. It’s more about education, access to information and socio-economic developments. The internet could be crucial in driving the necessary changes to drive religion to irrelevance – I don’t think we’ve seen the full effects yet. 2041 may be optimistic, but not impossible.

    However, I’ve had a bad day and am consequently in one of my pessimist moods. In these moods I think the world will run out of resources and societies will collapse amid water wars and famine. This will provide an environment for religion to thrive in.

  10. Yes 2041 does seem a bit optimistic indeed. However, concerning the idea that there will be more believers because atheists have fewer children. This notion presupposes that ALL the children of believers will become believers. Being indoctrinated into religion as a child is a big factor and many children in 3rd world countries probably won’t be able to avoid being forced into belief. On the positive side, the internet and the availability of information could be a deciding factor there.

    For children from religious families living in developed countries, I think it’s going to be very different. Because of the strength of peer pressure and popular western culture, most of these children will end up becoming non-believers and atheists. So atheism is definitely on the rise in the western world.

    A lot of thinkers from the 18th, 19th and 20th century made predictions about the end of religion. All of them turned out to be over-optimistic. So I’m taking that prediction with a big grain of salt but I keep hoping for the best…

  11. Being intrigued by this I’ve already bought the book and started reading. The hypothesis is that by the year 2041 that the human population will be majority atheist, not that religion will have vanished from the planet by that time..

    I may comment further after I’ve finished reading

  12. That’s a lovely thought, but I doubt it. With such a large population in the U.S. alone being believers and the push to teach this to their children, I don’t think we’ll see it disappear for at least another century (and then still, maybe not). The Victorians also believed that religion would disappear in the 20th Century, but as we can tell, it did quite the opposite and flourished.

  13. An association with the trend is a good thing, but the conclusions might fail if the association follows the trend in both directions.

    He’s skipping over some crucial assumptions:

    1. ‘Developed’ civilised nations may no longer be progressing economically. Some are already experiencing regression and decivilisation. I.e. increasing time preference. The US is just the most acute example of a wealthy nation which is losing economic capability. On average Americans are consuming the capital accumulated by previous generations. E.g. No-brainer situations like for major highway bridge infrastructure no longer being maintained. Yet these ‘savings’ aren’t fully offset by corresponding investments in new F35 fighter aircraft. But there’s some way to go yet until most US cities file for bankruptcy protection to prevent the real owners from repossessing their resources. The question is not whether the real owners will want to recover what’s left of their loaned resources, but what the US authorities will have to do to prevent them. It’s some way off yet, but that’s where things start to get really ugly. Printing money to defeat creditors by pretending to owe them fake monetary tokens instead of real resources is 1 strategy. But they can’t print real goods, services, and real estate. These can only be supplied to Americans by actual savers and investors, like the Chinese. At some point, when there are sufficient monetary tokens and all real but otherwise indistinguishable money is driven out of circulation, the division of labour fails and decivilisation becomes obvious to all.

    2. In most advanced nations tax revenue is declining, while profits decline (except financial industry pseudo-profits) as money printing is increasing. So the wealthy are paying out much less money in tax, but receiving more ‘pre-inflation’ money according to their proximity to political and finance industry processes, with the consequential transfer and concentration and increasingly unequal distribution of wealth and future economic and social opportunity. So 50 room mansions and 50m ocean going launches are subject to huge demand growth but at the same time increasing numbers of people can no longer afford sufficient electricity and food.

    3. Personal wealth for the majority in civilised nations is declining. We’re about to see a reversal phenomenon in the history of western civilisation where the majority in subsequent generations are poorer than their parents – despite the apparent absence of the globally disrupting warfare and pandemics of the early to mid 20th century.

    4. There’s plenty of emerging dysfunctional substitute beliefs to fall into aside from religious superstition. Declining religious outlook doesn’t necessarily correlate with an increasingly wise community. Religion may disappear but only to be replaced with something even worse. Religion depends heavily on parental influence. So the next big thing probably won’t be something that the parents even recognise. It won’t be based on books like the Koran or Bible, if only because people won’t read books any more. I’m picking that most people won’t know how to read by 2041. That might undermine belief in the bible and the Koran, but then most Muslims don’t read Arabic anyway. And it doesn’t slow them down. Possibly the less they know about their religion the more they believe in it. There’s already something similar going on with science: most people believe in ‘science’, or at least whatever seems to be sufficiently sciency. But hardly anyone actually understands science.

    • *In reply to #30 by Pete h

      Making an assertion that people won’t be able to read in 2041 is a pretty bold move! Surely literacy is increasing across the globe, not decreasing ? Perhaps the reading of books will be nonexistent, but reading….nah!

      It appears to me that people are engaging more with the written word, than ever before. Look around at the number of people tapping away at their smartphone.

      • Re the decline of reading:

        It depends on how you measure it. There’s a thing called functional illiteracy. People can be taught to read, but they don’t do it after leaving school. Except for the sports results.

        And you’d be flabbergasted at the extent of what’s known as ‘adult literacy’ issues. Even in superficially civilised countries like Australia, with universal free and high quality public education reserved for the well off, there is a significant proportion of educated people around who are unable to read. They have inadvertently learned in childhood to develop all kinds of tricks to cover up for their inability to read. These people are intelligent, creative, and often end up occupying responsible jobs, sometimes in quite senior positions. The skill of successful bullshitting, outrageous bluster and bullying, all based on pretending to be something other than one’s true nature, is a highly valued capability for senior executives, CEOs, Boards of Directors, and senior public officials in Australia. Often these people have extraordinarily good memories and can cover up well. They are highly motivated and as time passes it becomes easier for them to continue this cover up rather than face up to the humiliation and effort to actually learn to read.

        This phenomenon is very closely related to religious belief. And it’s a much broader issue than most normal people realise.

        I’m semi-functionally illiterate already, and getting worse as the years pass. I continually read vast numbers of books, but all in audio-book format at 1.5x pitch corrected speed. Technically it’s reading, but it’s slower than normal reading and there’s not much opportunity to make notes in the margins. It works for me because I can do other stuff like driving or exercising at the same time. So I lose out on some of the detail, but get to read stuff I otherwise would never get around to.

        Techniques involving artificial intelligence for converting text to voice will only improve exponentially. And in the other direction too.
        It seems plausible to me that human voice might be encoded for meaning automatically, including ambiguity, and various ways that don’t necessarily involve conventional human language. But in a form that can be instantly re-converted back into any human language, in spoken or written form. I assume Google are working on it already. And if not now, they’ll just introduce it from the distant future once they’re refined their time machine. The stored format will be a form of reading and writing, but the hen scratchings produced might not be directly accessible to most humans. Kind of like the way things were 1500 years ago in Europe when Latin was the lingua franca, but ordinary people were mostly illiterate.

        In reply to #36 by Nitya:

        *In reply to #30 by Pete h

        Making an assertion that people won’t be able to read in 2041 is a pretty bold move! Surely literacy is increasing across the globe, not decreasing ? Perhaps the reading of books will be nonexistent, but reading….nah!

        It appears to me that people are engaging more with…

        • In reply to #40 by Pete H:

          Re the decline of reading:

          It depends on how you measure it. There’s a thing called functional illiteracy. People can be taught to read, but they don’t do it after leaving school. Except for the sports results.

          And you’d be flabbergasted at the extent of what’s known as ‘adult literacy’ issues. Ev…

          I appreciate the thought and effort you’ve put into the reply, but to my mind you’re making grand,sweeping statements with no reference to evidence! You’re making claims about reading in Australia, my country! Show me the stats. Also, you mention a good public education being the preserve of the rich. I don’t know where you get your information about that one, either.

          Many in our community are functionally illiterate, and coping (and masking) strategies are employed by individuals , however this has always been the case, though identification and help for these people has improved over the years.

          • Sorry, no room for evidence with all the grand sweeping stuff. Evidence and stats should be easily obtained via Google and the adult literacy people.

            I think we’re already fairly close to a point where most people in Australia are functionally illiterate. The direction of future trends seems inevitable. Program funding cuts are threatened in every area. Add emerging technology that might obviate reading, combined with increasing accommodations for non-English speakers, and there isn’t much pressure to enhance the average reading ability.

            The quality of public education is already becoming a real problem in Australia. There is a huge divide opening up in Australian society based on attendance at private versus public schools. People who are reasonably well educated, have well-paying jobs, and can afford housing virtually all send their kids to private schools. They are unlikely to have any real idea of what is going on in the rest of Australia – a nation with one of the worst records in the world for infant mortality, imprisonment, etc. in some regions.

            From what I remember something like 1 in 3 Australians are no better than sufficiently literate to fill their name and address in on simple forms, recognise bus destinations and railway station names, and tell the difference between male and female toilets. (This is one of the reasons why there are so many symbolic signs in public areas and shape-based road signs.) Illiteracy is compounded in Australia by migration. Migrants are usually literate, but not in English. I don’t know if this is better or worse than anywhere else though.

            The more interesting ones are those who attended public schools in Australia throughout childhood, but left with negligible reading and writing ability.

            I’ve worked with intelligent and capable people who are effectively illiterate in English. And there are entire suburbs in Sydney where English is no longer the dominant spoken language. (It’s a split among various Chinese and Arabic dialects, Farsi, Hindi, Vietnamese, and Eastern Europeans.)

            It doesn’t always work out for them. It’s difficult to be employed if one inadvertently discloses illiteracy. So there’s usually a degree of concealment. I’ve experienced people deliberately screwing up (in telecoms construction – don’t mention the NBN!) in order to find something to blame, rather than risk revealing that they were unable to follow written instructions or manipulate someone to explain.

            It’s incredible how personally destructive and dangerous people can be in order to defend their false but deeply entrenched beliefs. Some apply more effort and creativity into concealing and evading the problem that it would take to solve it. The root cause might initially be desperation to conceal their illiteracy, but they seem to really believe in whatever elaborate façade they’re erected.

            This is one of the reasons why just funding adult literacy training hasn’t been too successful. It’s about as relevant as hoping that religion will die out by funding critical thinking courses. The entire political class infrastructure in Australia critically depends on voters in marginal electorates, and their relative absence of critical thinking. Which might be 1 reason why immigration policy and broadband construction is so often a political football.

            Interestingly, bible stories may have originally been the driver behind widespread adult literacy in English speaking nations. Again no evidence, but I recall reading somewhere that literacy among school leavers in the USA has been on the decline from its peak at a time in the 19th and early 20th century when childhood reading materials were mostly religious. With the rise of secularism and the substitution of non-biblical reading resources things haven’t worked out so well. Possible explanation might be there was an additional motivation to get kids to read the biblical stories – for the expected moral training of children. Not knowing how to read was forgivable, but ignorance of Christian ethics wasn’t.

            In reply to #41 by Nitya:

            In reply to #40 by Pete H:

            Re the decline of reading:

            It depends on how you measure it. There’s a thing called functional illiteracy. People can be taught to read, but they don’t do it after leaving school. Except for the sports results.

            And you’d be flabbergasted at the extent of what’s known as…

          • In reply to #52 by Pete H:

            Sorry, no room for evidence with all the grand sweeping stuff. Evidence and stats should be easily obtained via Google and the adult literacy people.

            I think we’re already fairly close to a point where most people in Australia are functionally illiterate. The direction of future trends seems inevit…

            I’ll grant you that there is an element of truth in what you’re saying , but it is a gross exaggeration. Most people functionally illiterate! I think not. Until the last couple of years, we were ranked in the second tier in global literacy levels, that is just below Finland at the top! We have slipped quite a few places in the last couple of years and we now rank below Canada and New Zealand though we’re still ahead of the other English speaking nations. I’m wondering where you get your information. I hope you’re not listening to shock-jock radio announcers and reading poor quality newspapers.

            I’m definitely with you regarding funding to programs aimed at boosting literacy and numeracy in schools when it is required. Are you from N.S.W.? If you are, you may have noticed that the top performing schools in the H.S.C. a mostly state schools. Of course this is no accident. The best performing schools are those with the highest number of bright students. Wherever intelligent students choose to take their brains, the schools are going to look good.

            Cast your mind back to those H.S.C results again. Did you notice that the majority of top students have non Anglo Saxon sounding names? This too, is no accident. Some NSW schools with the highest number of children from NES backgrounds outperform those with a more traditional intake. Asian students in particular are highly motivated and high achieving.

            Okay, now I feel compelled to defend our honour regarding infant mortality and crime. In most areas we are way ahead of other OCED countries. Our life expectancy is second only to Japan and Switzerland as I recall. I assume you are talking about areas with a large aboriginal component? In this sadly, you are spot on. Our indigenous population is beset by numerous problems. I don’t think any political party has been able to address the problems of inequality, but I would like to think that more positive solutions are to come.

          • In reply to #52 by Pete H:

            Sorry, no room for evidence with all the grand sweeping stuff. Evidence and stats should be easily obtained via Google and the adult literacy people.

            I think we’re already fairly close to a point where most people in Australia are functionally illiterate. The direction of future trends seems inevit…

            I’d like to add one more comment, while I’m on the defensive….many forms are poorly designed and ambiguous, hence the difficulties experienced by many ( myself included).

            We can’t be doing too badly overall as we do have a significant proportion of the population identifying as atheist or agnostic.

  14. If there are currently any children who grow up and continue being theists, it will take about 80-95 years for them to die with their views. At minimum we are really looking at about 100 years or more for all current generations to pass. If some of their children are religious it could take an extra 50 to 100 years. My guesstimate is about 130 years if we can fully express the reality of religion to nearly everyone within 5 to ten years.

  15. Well that would be nice but I can’t see it happening in Asia and the Middle East. I am being forced by law to convert to Islam in order to be able to marry my Malaysian fiancé. Here it is illegal for us to even live together if we are not married but the law states that anyone marrying a Malay person in Malaysia has to convert. He is not a practicing Muslim either and is only Muslim by birth but is not allowed to leave the religion and if we were to get married out of the country it would not be recognised as a legal marriage here in Malaysia. Luckily we will not be having children as that would definitely mean having to leave because there is no way I would force a child into islam. My point is though, if so many people are clearly being forced into the religion either by marriage or birth i can’t see it disappearing unless the government here stops mixing religion with politics. I just wonder what the real number of practicing Muslims is if you discount all the young people that really don’t want to follow it and all the people that have been forced to convert? I just can’t see these things changing for a very long time.

  16. This is what worries me about social “science”. Extrapolation is a mug’s game. Don’t assume the rate of change of a variable will be constant; why that variable rather than a function thereof? To be scientific, one should deduce the future from a model whose differential or difference equations make well-substantiated predictions or follow from deeper premises that are similarly successful. When I think I know a spring will take a certain time to reach x = 0 it’s because I have good reasons to say the formula for x(t) is acos(omegat), not because I divined a curve shape by staring at the data, or by curve fitting.

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  18. Let me try this again. Once again, allow me to make clear that I am a staunch atheist.

    Now, that said, yes, that religion will disappear by 2041 – or any time in a considerable future – is way too optimistic. Not only will it not happen, I’ve written a detailed response to this post on why it’s not going to happen. See here:

    The Atheist Narrative | JayMan’s Blog

    Hopefully this comment doesn’t get deleted…

    • In reply to #47 by kevinlmichel:

      “Regarding Kaufmann: I think Atheists ‘breed’ and reproduce themselves by spreading ideas. No need for atheists to spread DNA – only insemination needed is of ideas.”

      That is the prevailing belief here, isn’t it? You’d be, broadly, wrong. In concert with your analogy, you can only spread the seed of your ideas in soil in which it can grow. That soil is steadily diminishing in the population.

  19. In the UK the government seems to be increasing its support for faith-schools and other faith-based initiatives. So I don’t think religion, at least in the UK, will be disappearing any time soon.

  20. If we truly want religion to be something we historically look back upon as the psychological anomaly that almost hindered the paradigm shift ushering humankind into the future, intellectually and technologically intact, then we must globally concentrate our most charismatic, educated, open-minded, and unbiased teachers into well-supplied classrooms with well-organized curriculum. Educators are our most precious asset because they invigorate and nourish that which defines us most as human-beings, our minds. Yet we acknowledge, screen, and pay them, as if they were a local teenager babysitting our kids! I am certain, that if we do not reform our education systems, revere our teachers as the heroes they need to be, and step up as parents to interact with and reinforce what is being learned in the classrooms, we will not soon escape the intelligence-degrading and progress-halting effects of religion.

                                                                                                                       ~Quasi-Marginalized Student of the Universe
    
  21. Whilst this would undoubtedly be wonderful it is simply unrealistic because it assumes that global living standards and lifestyles will continue to improve.

    The current global economy ,whilst experiencing a mild recovery at the minute, is destined to collapse. This is mainly down to our reliance on dwindling oil supplies that once spent will inevitably lead to a complete loss of confidence in the monetary system. Global warming and changes to the environment will also contribute to an increasingly difficult future for all and it is all to easy to predict the paths that people will follow when faced with these issues.

    If the world is to continue to develop into a more harmonious place then this article is accurate. Any serious prediction however has to take into account that things are going to get a lot worse before they eventually get better. Perhaps in a few hundred years, when the human race has stabilised upon a more efficient and renewable societal base, religion will become exclusive to the minorities and outcasts of the population.

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