Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Scholarship relating to global atheism and agnosticism shrinking and the growth of Christianity plus additional related information

On August 11, 2012, I wrote an article entitled: Globally the worldviews of atheism and non-religious (agnostic) are declining while global Christianity is exploding in adherents

This post is for the purpose of recommending a few books relating to the status of global Christianity and global atheism/agnosticism. In addition, I am going to provide some additional information relating to the methodology of some of the research.

In 2012, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (GCTS) reported that every day there are 800 less atheists per day, 1,100 less non-religious (agnostic) people per day and 83,000 more people professing to be Christians per day (see: Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary - status of Global Mission report).

Dr. Todd Johnson is the Director of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC) which is located at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (GCTS).

A brief biography at the  Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (GCTS) website indicates:
Dr. Todd Johnson is the Associate Professor of Global Christianity and the Director of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC), Dr. Johnson researches the status of Christianity and world religions in every people, language, country and city. While under his leadership, the Center’s statistics have been frequently quoted in the media (recently ABC, BBC, Associated Press, New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Economist).

Dr. Johnson is widely accomplished in the demographic study of Christianity and world religions. His Ph.D. work in developing quantitative tools to analyze the past, present and future of global Christianity has been put to fruitful use throughout his career, both at Gordon-Conwell and elsewhere. He is currently the editor of the World Christian Database (Brill 2007) located at www.worldchristiandatabase.org, which provides statistical information on Christianity worldwide.

Dr. Johnson is visiting Research Fellow at the Institute on Culture, Religion, and World Affairs at Boston University. He co-leads the International Religious Demography project and is co-editor of the World Religion Database (Brill 2008) at wwww.worldreligiondatabase.org.

Dr. Johnson has also worked in numerous ecclesiastical posts relating to missions and evangelization. He is a member of the Lausanne Strategy Working Group as well as the Missions Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance.
Methodology of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (GCTS) reports

If anyone wants to know the methodology of GCTS in terms of their work indicating that global atheism/agnosticism shrinking and that global Christianity is expanding, it is available in the book Atlas of Global Christianity which was published in 2009. In addition, you can examine the book World Christian trends, AD 30-AD 2200 : interpreting the annual Christian megacensus authored by David B Barrett, Todd M Johnson, Christopher R Guidry and Peter F Crossing.

Niles Tomes in his article GLOBAL ATHEISM ON THE RISE--REALLY? wrote: "The World Christian/Religions Database (WCD) has been collecting data for decades on religious; non-religious affiliation for all the world’s countries. They pool all the relevant survey data from all available sources...".

The MacroDataGuide which is an international Social Science Resource reports concerning the WCD:
Mainly demographic data on religious groups and denominations, based on a variety of sources: statistical questionnaires returned by churches and other organisations, field surveys and interviews, various published and unpublished documents, and national censuses...

The data were initially collected to be used by religious leaders and others involved in Christian missionary efforts (Grim and Finke 2006: 4; Hsu et al. 2007: 4), but they are also widely used by journalists and scholars (e.g., Grim and Finke 2007; Warf and Vincent 2007). The database is currently published by Brill, an international academic publisher.
In December of 2008, an academic paper evaluating the WCD was published in Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion which was entitled Estimating the Religious Composition of All Nations: An Empirical Assessment of the World Christian Database (Authors: BECKY HSU; AMY REYNOLDS; CONRAD HACKETT;  JAMES GIBBON. Source: , Volume 47, Number 4, December 2008 , pp. 678-693(16)). A synopsis of the abstract of the journal article: "Religious composition estimates in the WCD are generally plausible and consistent with other data sets. The WCD also includes comprehensive nonreligious data."

Other information relating to global atheism and agnosticism declining

The International Bulletin of Missionary Research (IBMR) publishes information gained from GCTS and probably other sources as well.

In 2012 an article entitled  Atheism in decline by Nigel Tomes declared:
The IBMR publishes yearly figures for religions (and non religions) around the globe. Their latest numbers, hot off the press (Jan. 2012) show some interesting trends.

1. Atheism is in Decline
In 1970 atheists (those avowing there is no God) numbered 166 million worldwide; that was almost one-in-twenty—4.5% of the globe’s population. By 2012 atheists’ number is estimated at 137 million. That’s a decline of almost 30 million. Since world population is growing, atheists’ share declined to less than one-in-fifty—under 2% in 2012. Put differently, every 24 hours there are 800 fewer atheists in the world! Atheism is in decline.
2. Agnosticism is in Decline
In 2000 agnostics (those who “don’t know” if there is a God) numbered 666 million, 10.9% of the world’s people. By 2012 agnostic’s number is estimated at 661 million--a decline of 5 million. In relative terms by 2012 agnostics represent less than one tenth (9.4%) of world population. Every 24 hours there are 1,100 less agnostics in the world. Agnostics are also in decline.
Added together these two groups make up a declining share of global population. In 1970 atheists and agnostics accounted for one-in-five (19.2%) of the world’s people. Based on current trends by 2025 they will represent less than one-in-ten (9.7%). Their population share will fall by half in 50+ years.

We encourage you to examine the entire 2012 article by Nigel Tomes entitled
Atheism in decline as it has some encouraging news about the growth of global Christianity.

Also, please see our previous post on Christian theological conservatism and religious conservatism growing in the world while the decline of global atheism is expected to accelerate: Why are 2012 and 2020 key years for Christian creationists and pro-lifers?

Global market share declining and atheistic societies and birth rates

The Birkbeck College, University of London professor Eric Kaufmann using a multitude of demographic studies argues in an academic paper entitled Shall the Righteous Inherit the Earth? Demography and Politics in the Twenty-First Century the decline of atheism in terms of its global adherents is an established trend that will persist for the foreseeable future and the rate of decline will accelerate and affect the Western World. See: Why are the years 2012 and 2020 key years for Christian creationists and pro-lifers?

Also, for those who are interested in knowing more about Professor Eric Kaufmann's work on this matter, he also published a book titled Shall the righteous inherit the earth

In 2009, the book A sceptics guide to atheism indicated: "A worldwide poll taken in 1991 put the global figure for atheists at just 4.4% of the population. By 2006 it was estimated that only 2% of the world population were atheists."

Michael Blume, a researcher at the University of Jena in Germany, wrote "Most societies or communities that have espoused atheistic beliefs have not survived more than a century." Blume also indicated concerning concerning his research on this matter: "What I found was the complete lack of a single case of a secular population, community or movement that would just manage to retain replacement level."

Investigator Magazine had an interesting article published in 1990 entitled 2,000 years of Christian Increase which indicated that historically the percentage of the world population professing Christianity has been increasing.

Comprehensive look at the decline of evolutionism, atheism and agnosticism

Comprehensive look at the decline of evolutionism, atheism and agnosticism

The above resource also provides information on the rise of global Christianity and the rise of global biblical creationism. 

New Atheism reported to have little to no effect on atheism evangelism

New Atheism is a new form of militant atheism which started in the period between 2004 and 2007. The New Atheism movement has not had much of an impact in terms of gaining new adherents to atheism. In a March 10, 2008 USA Today article Stephen Prothero wrote:

Numbers lie, but they also tell tales untrustworthy and otherwise. So the key question stirring around the much discussed U.S Religious Landscape Survey released in late February by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life is what tale does it state about the state of the union.

For some, the story of this survey, based on interviews in multiple languages with more than 35,000 adults, is the strength of American Religion.

Not too long ago, I wrote that American atheism was going the way of the freak show. As books by Christopher Hitchens and other "new atheists" climbed the best seller lists, I caught a lot of flak for that prophecy. But atheist make up only 1.6% of respondents to this survey....
Decline of atheism video

Eric Kaufmann: Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth? - Australian public television

Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?

Global Christianity videos

Related resources:

Question Evolution! Campaign

15 questions for evolutionists

Responses to the 15 Questions: part 1 - Questions 1-3

Responses to the 15 Questions: part 2 - Questions 4–8

Responses to the 15 Questions: part 2 - Questions 9-15

Refuting evolution

Atheism, agnosticism and humanism: Godless religions

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