Religious Extinction?

Here’s an interesting story from the Beeb, reporting on a study presented to an American Physical Society meeting in Dallas:

“A study using census data from nine countries shows that religion there is set for extinction… 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 countries studied were Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland. I didn’t really raise an eyebrow looking through that list until I got to Ireland – Ireland? Really? I’m not a mathematician or a statistician, so I can’t really give an opinion on their method of analysis, but the trends as they currently stand are pretty unambiguous.

The UK census is currently being taken (mine is sitting on the floor next to me, I’ve been avoiding it for days), but Question 20 (“What is your religion?”) is voluntary (as well as incredibly presumptive and badly worded), so it remains to be seen whether the group will (or will be able to) apply the same analysis to UK data, but I shall wait with interest to find out.

In the meantime, I put it to the multinational UF family: What do people from those countries think about the predictions? Accurate and incisive or foolish and flawed?

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Overwhelming Religious Diversity and the Agnostic Chair

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