A study by the American Physical Society shows that religion is dying out in nine countries. They used census data going back as far as a century and looked at the number of people who identified themselves as without religious affiliation. The report released at an APS meeting in Dallas, Texas, stated that “The model predicts that for societies in which the perceived utility of not adhering is greater than the utility of adhering, religion will be driven toward extinction.”
The countries of Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland may be turning into atheistic strongholds. Or not. It’s hard to predict something that has so many variables. And some of the arguments the religious have put forth to the study’s conclusion seem to have merit. Some people probably claim no religious affiliation because they think it’s none of the government’s business or because they are believers, but not members of any particular sect.
There were a couple of things I thought quite interesting in the study. The United States had 15% without religious affiliation (not surprisingly, the state of Vermont had the most non-religious with 34%.) I was actually surprised that the number was that high.
I also thought it was interesting that the crime rate in these bastions of disbelief was so much lower than the much more religious American crime rate, not that there is necessarily a correlation (I believe assuming so would be the logical fallacy of confusing association with causation.) Makes you wonder, though.
Alas, just because religion may be dying out in some countries, doesn’t mean that it is dying out worldwide. Russia is frequently cited as a country where religion is growing, as is China. Still, it does make that move to Canada that I contemplate when American politics get uber-wacky seem even more appealing.