Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says
A study using census data from nine countries shows that religion there is set for extinction, say researchers.
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
team took census data stretching back as far as a century from countries in
which the census queried religious affiliation:
means of analysing the data invokes what is known as nonlinear dynamics - a
mathematical approach that has been used to explain a wide range of physical
phenomena in which a number of factors play a part. One of the team, Daniel Abrams of
idea is pretty simple," said Richard Wiener of the Research Corporation
for Science Advancement, and the
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
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."
By Jason Palmer Science and technology reporter, BBC News,