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General Religion May Become Extinct In Nine Nations, Study Says


Cleverness is not wisdom
May 2, 2010
Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

By Jason Palmer
Science and technology reporter, BBC News, Dallas


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.

Nonlinear dynamics is invoked to explain a wide range of physical phenomena in which a number of factors play a part.

One of the team, Daniel Abrams of Northwestern University, put forth a similar model in 2003 to put a numerical basis behind the decline of lesser-spoken world languages.

At its heart is the competition between speakers of different languages, and the "utility" of speaking one instead of another.

"The idea is pretty simple," said Richard Wiener of the Research Corporation for Science Advancement, and the University of Arizona.

"It posits that social groups that have more members are going to be more attractive to join, and it posits that social groups have a social status or utility.

"For example in languages, there can be greater utility or status in speaking Spanish instead of [the dying language] Quechuan in Peru, and similarly there's some kind of status or utility in being a member of a religion or not."
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, in a study published online, 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".
"It's interesting that a fairly simple model captures the data, and if those simple ideas are correct, it suggests where this might be going.

"Obviously much more complicated things are going on with any one individual, but maybe a lot of that averages out."


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Mar 7, 2008
Well. From my point of view it's just more validation. I'm glad Canada made the list :p. But I await for my neighbors south of the border to adopt a similar mindset.


Apr 3, 2005
After what happened in Russia ,can anybody still say that Religion will become extinct.I am sure in 1930s or 1940s all communists would had predicted that No religion will survive in Soviet ,but these days surveys are predicting growing popularity of Russian church


Cleverness is not wisdom
May 2, 2010
I posted the article to get a debate going. Let us not lose sight that we are talking about a mathematical forecast here. Kanwardeep Ji is absolutely spot on with his point. Here's another interesting article about the Russian Orthodox church:


I quote:

"Religion was frowned upon during Soviet times, but since the fall of Communism it has made a big comeback.

There is now no shortage of people of all ages, eager to fast during Lent, mark the resurrection at Easter with traditional bread, get married in church and christened in holy water.

And since Jesus Christ was baptised in January - according to the Russian Orthodox church - many regard stripping down and diving into icy water as a good way to erase their sins."

"....the practice of plunging into ice holes on Epiphany, is not really a centuries-old ritual. Before the October Revolution of 1917, only a few people would do it - nothing like the numbers that have taken it up since the 1990s."


ੴ / Ik▫oaʼnkār
Dec 21, 2010
Well. From my point of view it's just more validation. I'm glad Canada made the list :p. But I await for my neighbors south of the border to adopt a similar mindset.
Caspian ji I want to know where are the places where people regularly run into the usual crowd outside of work?

My guess is,

  • Physically
    • A. Local drinking hole, Pub, Bar
      • I was looking into the level of alcohol consumption in the countries in this thread versus rest of the countries from a UN report
      • All the countries listed are in the upper 25% of the list of countries with highest alcohol consumption
      • So it is only natural that Pubs have more people than churches, etc.
      • Pubs of course are more fun toowinkingmunda, nothing wrong in that from my personal perspective
    • B. Local communal gathering/social/cultural/religious (all rolled into one) places like a Masjid, Gurdwara, Mandir, Church, Temple

  • Virtually
    • Forums (like spn, etc.), chat rooms, msn, texting, social networking (facebook, myspace, twitter)
The reason for above is a human hunger for contact with others. As the options to meet this hunger become more available outside of religion, the religion will diminish.

The hunger for spirituality (when you are sober or totaled peacesign) will continue. However this hunger can be taken care of through variety of ways outside of religion and as such it will also reduce the need for religion.

Just some thoughts.

Sat Sri Akal.

PS: The only thing hard to understand is the growth of Islam as I don't think that is a diminishing religion!


Apr 3, 2005
Not Only in Russia but also in China Religion is growing

Growing interest in religion boosting China's religion-related tourism market


growing interest in religion is helping boost religious tourism in China, where about 130,000 religious sites have been turned into tourist attractions.

According to Yang Fenggang, a professor who heads the Center on Religion and C

Chinese Society at Indiana's Purdue University, religious places such as the Shaolin Temple are giving more people a chance to learn about the country's religion.

He believes that it has also helped China witness a significant growth in the income from the sector.

"A growing interest in religion among the Chinese has boosted the country's fledging religion-related tourism market over the past decade," the China Daily quoted Fenggang, as saying.

Citing the result of a Chinese spiritual life survey, conducted in 2007 by the Beijing-based Horizon Research Consultancy Group, Fenggang said that religious tourism is also gaining popularity amongst domestic tourists.

"Now, about 85 percent of the people in China hold some religious belief or practice some kind of religion," Fenggang said.

Yang Haiyun, who became a Buddhist in the late 1980s, confirmed the notion saying that he tries to visit at least two sacred sites of Buddhism each year.

"I enjoy staying in temples for several days from time to time, so I can study Buddhist scripture, meditate and learn from other pilgrims from all walks of life," Haiyun said.

"These short stays give me peace of mind and better tolerance toward the harsh realities and difficulties of our fast-paced lives," she added.

According to Li Xiangping, a professor who heads the religious culture research center at East China Normal University, the annual revenue of the famous Buddhist Lingyin Temple in Hangzhou city was about 70 million yuan in 2001.

He claims that the temple's revenue now might have surpassed a billion yuan. (ANI)