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March 23rd, 2011
10:56 AM ET

Organized religion 'will be driven toward extinction' in 9 countries, experts predict

By Richard Allen Greene, CNN

Organized religion will all but vanish eventually from nine Western-style democracies, a team of mathematicians predict in a new paper based on census data stretching back 100 years.

It won't die out completely, but "religion will be driven toward extinction" in countries including Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands, they say.

It will also wither away in Austria, the Czech Republic, Finland and Switzerland, they anticipate.

They can't make a prediction about the United States because the U.S. census doesn't ask about religion, lead author Daniel Abrams told CNN.

But nine other countries provide enough data for detailed mathematical modeling, he said.

"If you look at the data, 'unaffiliated' is the fastest-growing group" in those countries, he said.

"We start with two big assumptions based on sociology," he explained.

The first is that it's more attractive to be part of the majority than the minority, so as religious affiliation declines, it becomes more popular not to be a churchgoer than to be one, he said - what Abrams calls the majority effect.

"People are more likely to switch to groups with more members," he said.

Social networks can have a powerful influence, he said.

"Just a few connections to people who are (religiously) unaffiliated is enough to drive the effect," he said.

The other assumption underlying the prediction is that there are social, economic and political advantages to being unaffiliated with a religion in the countries where it's in decline - what Abrams calls the utility effect.

"The utility of being unaffiliated seems to be higher than affiliated in Western democracies," he said.

Abrams and his co-authors are not passing any judgment on religion, he's quick to say - they're just modeling a prediction based on trends.

"We're not trying to make any commentary about religion or whether people should be religious or not," he said.

"I became interested in this because I saw survey data results for the U.S. and was surprised by how large the unaffiliated group was," he said, referring to a number of studies done by universities and think tanks on trends in religion.

Studies suggest that "unaffiliated" is the fastest-growing religious group in the United States, with about 15% of the population falling into a category experts call the "nones."

They're not necessarily atheists or non-believers, experts say, just people who do not associate themselves with a particular religion or house of worship at the time of the survey.

Abrams had done an earlier study looking into the extinction of languages spoken by small numbers of people.

When he saw the religion data, his co-author "Richard Wiener suggested we try to apply a similar technique to religious affiliation," Abrams said.

The paper, by Abrams, Wiener and Haley A. Yaple, is called "A mathematical model of social group competition with application to the growth of religious non-affiliation." They presented it this week at the Dallas meeting of the American Physical Society.

Only the Czech Republic already has a majority of people who are unaffiliated with religion, but the Netherlands, for example, will go from about 40% unaffiliated today to more than 70% by 2050, they expect.

Even deeply Catholic Ireland will see religion die out, the model predicts.

"They've gone from 0.04% unaffiliated in 1961 to 4.2% in 2006, our most recent data point," Abrams says.

He admits that the increase in Muslim immigration to Europe may throw off the model, but he thinks the trend is robust enough to withstand some challenges.

"Netherlands data goes back to 1860," he pointed out. "Every single data that we were able to find shows that people are moving from the affiliated to unaffiliated. I can't imagine that will change, but that's personal opinion, not what the data shows."

But Barry Kosmin, a demographer of religion at Trinity College in Connecticut, is doubtful.

"Religion relies on human beings. They aren't rational or predictable according to the laws of physics. Religious fervor waxes and wanes in unpredictable ways," he said.

"The Jewish tradition that says prophecy is for fools and children is probably wise," he added.

And Abrams, Wiener and Yaple are not the first to predict the end of religion.

Peter Berger, a former president of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, once said that, "People will become so bored with what religious groups have to offer that they will look elsewhere."

He said Protestantism "has reached the strange state of self-liquidation," that Catholicism was in severe crisis, and anticipated that "religions are likely to survive in small enclaves and pockets" in the United States.

He made those predictions in February 1968.

- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Atheism • Austria • Ireland

soundoff (3,551 Responses)
  1. bananaspy

    I'm not making fun of "his" children, because there is no "him." I'm making fun of you, directly, for believing something "just because." Enjoy your delusion, I'm going to use this one life I'm given to live in reality.

    March 23, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • fundies

      I like iCarly....just because.

      March 23, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
  2. Ari

    this is the best news i've read all year....

    March 23, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
  3. Aucausin

    Religion is something I would be happy to see disappear from mainstream thought. So far even in a time full of science, knowledge, and technology religion has descended upon us like a plague, threatening to infect what is rational and what is good with its nonsense. Lately religion has attempted to influence science and government, two fields it has absolutely no right to touch.

    March 23, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
  4. American Athiest

    It's time we grow up, take responsibility and acknowledge that we are our own salvation. No one else is going to save us. Not God, angels, elves, unicorns or leprechauns. Humanity is on it's own, so we better start making better decisions if we want our species and our planet to survive.

    March 23, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • Mao

      I thought that salvation was something Atheists say they don't need...

      March 23, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
    • Floyd

      @Mao, American Atheist has a conscience....he/she just does not know exactly where it comes from and its roots. Hopefully, they will one day understand. But at least they have one.

      April 11, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
  5. tj

    religion and its inherent belief requirements involve faith. and unfortunately for the faithful, the gaps into which a 'god' can be plugged as an explanation for the way things are, are rapidly closing. logic and reason simply trump the contents of an inconsistent, irreconcilable book such as the bible, and the theory of an invisible creator who controls the universe, from every blade of grass to the dust on a high-rise window. it requires the belief in a creator who supposedly has the power to do anything, and therefore remains an accessory to every unfortunate accident or natural disaster which contributes to the suffering of innocent people. as john allen paulos so eloquently put it, with all the things in this world that we don't understand, why must we manufacture another? people simply don't need the bible, which contains as many morally bankrupt excerpts as morally righteous ones, to do good.

    March 23, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
    • Colin

      Well put and quite eloquent.

      March 23, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • ramon machtesh

      Eventually, the scientists trying to blast quarks into subsubsubmicroscopic pieces that last micromiconanoseconds with billions of dollars and euros that could be spent on food, education, health care, housing, infrastructure, will figure out that there is no smallest particle, that the quest is endless and meainigless, because the more energy you pump in, the smaller a piece you can blow what practically doesn't exist already into. Either that, or a note will congeal in the cloud chamber, "Game over, go home, G-d".

      March 23, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
    • epgomez

      You are quite not yet into logic my friend. If you believe your theory that the universe and all complications of life and existence on earth just came from nothing you are mistaken my friend. It is still more logical that somebody pushed the ball of life and universe into existence than from nothing. That somebody is whom we call God. Remember human science is not yet complete bec human understanding of the universe is just a dot of knowledge. The black hole was magical before bec humans didnt know about it now its not magical anymore. Open your minds not just take incomplete human knowledge as a basis for your beliefs.

      March 23, 2011 at 9:41 pm |
    • Stevemd2

      Religion – repelace it all with "do unto others as you would have them do unto you", and toss the rest. If you spend part of your money and time trying to help others who are not as well off as you are, whatever the cause< if there is a God, I;m sure you will be rewarded in some way.

      And if there isnt one, just think as you see life closing in on you near the end, how good you will feel for having helped others. What greater reward could there be.

      And you dont need religion for either of these situations.

      March 24, 2011 at 1:25 am |
  6. Robert Ray

    Finally some good news. With the disappearance of dellusional thinking,the world is one step closer to rational behavior.

    March 23, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • Stevemd2

      Hitler used the religious based hatred of the Jews from the catholic church to get electedted And 55 million died. If the people had realized that relgiion was one of mankinds worst mistakes, those 55 million might not have died, and Hitelr might well have been assassinated. (there were actually 15 attempts though only 1 or 2 are well known.

      Of course the people followed him like they followed a god. For glory, the promise of a better life and life after death.

      Every german soldiers belt buckle was inscribed Gott Mit Uns _ God is with us. As their god led them to ruin and the worst tragedy in wolrd history.

      March 24, 2011 at 1:22 am |
  7. Boka, Philly, PA

    These silly beliefs are the reason why humans have so many problems. Technology is the only thing that can save us from our selves. Humans are entering a very promising and hopeful phase. As technology races towards the singularity we will all enjoy the benefits of the most advanced technologies. Not just the rich but all humans. Religion will evolve like humans evolved. The impractical and the supernatural will get booted for the practical and the reasonable.

    March 23, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • Rob

      Oh, you mean technology like in thermonuclear weapons? Like nuclear power? Like automatic, chemical, & biological weapons? The fact is that no matter how much technology advances, human nature remains the same: warped, wounded, and twisted. Technology brings only three things: creature comforts, more efficient communications, and more efficient killing. So, we can relax and have fun and talk w/ each other more easily and quickly when we aren't killing each other. Original sin seems to be one religious doctrine that reaffirms itself every single day!

      March 23, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • nonny

      technology like nuclear weapon. we shall see!

      March 23, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
  8. come out of babylon 2011

    For all the true bible believers, this should not be a surprise. We're in the last days, the bible predicted that there would be scoffers, those who say there is no God and those who will say, "when is His coming?" There are only 2 camps, believers and non-believers(period!) There must come a falling away first before things will rap up!

    March 23, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • Sy2502

      Considering some crackpots have been announcing "the end is near" for at least 2,000 years, you'll excuse me for not shaking in my boots.

      March 23, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
    • Boka, Philly, PA

      We are in the final years of religion. The singularity is near.

      March 23, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • iamthefredman

      I remember the scoffers saying things like "When will he help us, when will He come?" to some guy named Moses. I think a few good things happened after that.

      March 23, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • Magic

      iamthefredman,

      You mean good stuff like the killing of every man, woman and child of the Amalekites? No, the memory of them has not been blotted out, as per "God's" promise.

      March 23, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • Steve

      you triggered a thought that made me laugh. It's hilarious when religious people scoff at non-believers and their lack of belief that the end is nigh by saying that that is what many thought at the time just before Noah's flood. It is like when you ask for their proof god exists by saying "in the bible it says"..lol. They start on the presumption that we literally believe everything it says in the bible just like they do.

      March 23, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
    • Stevemd2

      Well Jesus was supposed tio return so many times and all we get is trouble at best and mass murder at worst.

      So many people taken for a ride, their money extracted from them to support the lavish life styles of their preachers.

      So many of whom turn out to be child molesters, or haters of minorities like gays, blacks, our good Mulsmi citizens etc.

      Last night I was vegging with my wife watchiing TV. There was a PBS show on how people get scammed out of their life savings by financial scamsters

      And a couple of the guilty ones – who stole everythign from retirees were the sons of preachers. Fathers who had spent their life scamming people of their time and money.

      And their sons to the scam to a new and higher level by using religious terminology and trickery. Including Ego, Fear, greed etc.

      March 24, 2011 at 1:16 am |
  9. Tracy Nappier

    Unaffiliated can simply mean people have their own beliefs. They no longer want to carry a big generalizing label that does not represent their individual beliefs. Personally I am very spiritual, while I may go to a Lutheran church, I have built my faith and my relationship with God based on my own beliefs and own experiences. I really think this study reveals nothing more than the general trend of personalization. It is not different that how we order our coffee today or where people seem to be politically. More people are classifying their political beliefs as "Independent" as the stero-typical mold of Republicans and Democrat do not fit individual beliefs!

    March 23, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
  10. JacktheCritic

    Or...people are just realizing how much crap religion is filled with and starting to think for themselves.

    March 23, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
  11. Megeido

    Porphyrogenitus you are correct!! the word rapture is not in the bible.

    We use the word rapture to describe what is going to happen. Please read 1thessalonians 4;13-18, or 1Corinthians 15:50-58 before is to late!!

    March 23, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • Magic

      Megeido,

      Why do you believe the words of Paul of Tarsus... a ranting, neurotic, delusional, misogynistic, misanthropic, propaganda expert?

      March 23, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • fundies

      I am not a mysoginist. It's a misonception. I am a massaginist.

      March 23, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
  12. Yay!

    Fantastic news! All religions should go the same way. This world would be much better place.

    Bravo for a these countries. I am jealous from USA.

    March 23, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
    • Child, Please!

      And I am sad for you....

      March 23, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
    • Uh huh

      Me too! I WISH the US would follow suit. I'm sick of these religious fools.

      March 23, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
    • iamthefredman

      I pray for your soul to not be trapped in Purgatory or Hell forever.

      March 23, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • fundies

      Purgatory was a great album.

      March 23, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • Tommas

      Hahaha, if hell is actually real wouldn't you enjoy the company of the people who are there more than those who are "going" to heaven.

      March 23, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • Maria

      If that were true, it would've happened long ago...but it didn't. Know why? Because people need religion/something to believe in, whether you think so or not.

      March 23, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Maria wrote: "people need religion/something to believe in"

      Yes, a great, big, comforting Teddy Bear... a childish security blanket... Some people never outgrow this infantile need...

      March 24, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
  13. Hippitty Hippo

    Man created god(s) to explain natural phenomena and later to manipulate and control one another. Ignorance and fear of the unknown has further propagated supernatural religion.

    It will be a good day when it dies out once and for all. Is it not enough of a gift to be alive, breathing, and self-aware? Nature (i.e., the whole of the Universe of what is) is what god(s) refer(s) to. Just replace the word 'God' with 'Nature' when dealing with philosophical quandaries of existence, and you will see that the gap between the two is quickly closing with our modern, scientific understanding of Nature.

    March 23, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
    • iamthefredman

      It is a gift to be alive. And where do you think that gift comes from? A factory in Hoboken, NJ? From GOD only! Believe now.

      March 23, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Patrick

      Believe later. From what I understand, God will let you on the bus at the last minute.

      March 23, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • Tommas

      It is indeed a gift to be alive but gifts don't always have to be given by someone/thing.

      March 23, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • Altro

      Who can help but laugh at your "Modern Scientific Understanding of Nature?" As the Worlds scientific discoveries are twisted and manipulated by its corrupt Pollitical leaders, Leaving a trail of Radioactive waste, landmines, acid rain, pcb's, space junk, mass deforestation and childhood birth defects. And you think we can only improve from here. We have been allowed to go this far only to prove we need God to intervene. Hold on to your hat, a stormi is coming...

      March 23, 2011 at 8:24 pm |
    • Stevemd2

      If there was a God, there would be no wars, mass starvations, hatred of minorities etc.

      Some, like the catholic church and others will tell you "god gave man free will"

      What kind of God would let mankind commit some atrocities upon mankind?

      The truth is "free will: is only an excuse for the myth about God. An excuse that allows the horror shows of humanity.

      And for the pereson who said where would be be without God.

      An answer is that Mankind has not been able to create even a fruit fly or a worm yet, but it has created hundreds of Gods.

      As per my sons PHD biotech friend, he says that within the next 50 years biology will make the same progress wehave made with computers in the last 50 (of which I was a part at Intel corp for 20 years)

      And once we prove that basic life is a natural phenomena if temperature etc etc are in the correct range, the myth of God will disappear.

      God is the church's excuse to give people order in their lives and a feeling of permanence. where things change so rapidly.

      Once we create basic replicating life, and then build on it, the myth of God will disappear.

      And the one thing we should take away from religion is to love thy nieghbor as thyself. The rest is fluff at best and mass murder in Gods name at worst.

      March 24, 2011 at 1:05 am |
  14. Travis

    Without religion there would be no reason for violence or wars? Do you have to be religious to be greedy, jealous, selfish, or want power? If we were all atheists, we would be more collectively intelligent, peaceful, and concerned only for our pursuit of knowledge, and the betterment of humanity. Really? Get out of the classroom and do some real thinking...

    March 23, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • Uh huh

      First of all, a great deal of "real" thinking occurs in the classroom.

      Secondly, of course there would still be war, we would still have governments for that.

      However, NO WAR HAS EVER been done in the name of atheism. Religion has caused untold suffering, pain, and death.

      March 23, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
    • Ancient Curse

      I'm willing to give it a try, because this current religious-based reality is a freakin' mess.

      March 23, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
    • RHQuad

      Without religion, we wouldn't have the current Christian/Muslim anxiety that drives all my Christian friends to believe conspiracies about Muslims building mosques as a sign of conquering our land, that our President is a Muslim, and that we should be invading Muslim countries before the come over here and "get us".

      March 23, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • iamthefredman

      Science is always trying to explain the un-explainable. The "explanation" is in the Bible. God created the heavens and the Earth and people and nature, etc. It did not just pop out of the "nothingness" of empty space. I know the "Big-Bangers" are trying hard to prove otherwise. And they are wasting their time, money and brains God gave them in doing so.

      March 23, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • Eric

      I'm guessing that we live in a geocentric universe and when you get sick you bleed yourself instead of taking meds that kill germs.

      March 23, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • Kent Atwood

      I'm sure there would still be wars. There just would not be wars based on religion. Most of the wars being fought are based on religion so I would not say it is insignificant. There is no better vehicle for winning people over to secularism than having two major religions publicly duking it out over petty differences.

      March 23, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • hillbilleter

      Most of the wars being fought right now are for freedom. All over the Mideast, people want freedom. And wars have been fought in the name of "Atheism." To convert religious people to Communism. How much better is that?

      March 23, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • Hypercat

      Nearly all wars are fought for money (most recently often in the form of oil) in the name of religion under the guise of so-called freedom, typically freedom to practice that religion or practice another. Even the freedom to force people to practice the religion as is the case with the Taliban and was wtih the Crusaders. So far we have not had to fight wars to practice atheism, probably because the atheists do not have to congregate in holy houses or don special garb to practice. We can always be comfortable in our ability to reach science without talismans, and amongst the mystified. Also atheists do not have an excuse for any immorality like killing. We must face it head on. We cannot confess it away or blame it on the devil. We can only blame it on the human themself, here, today.

      March 23, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
    • Ed

      @Uh huh,
      ' Religion has caused untold suffering, pain, and death.' Relegion has been the excuse not the cause they are not the same thing. Man and his greed and lust for power have ben the cause.
      'NO WAR HAS EVER been done in the name of atheism' yet. If people put their faith in atheism they will eventually try to wipe out beleivers for the same reason some beleivers have attacked each other. Greed power etc this is human nature nor relegious nature. Until we learn to respect each other beleifes and right to it we will always have some who use them to rally others to do evil. This is true wether or not god exists

      March 23, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
    • Maria

      or better yet, study about societies that attempted to obliterate religion. Such as France in the late 18th century. Much of the bloodshed was caused by atheistic forces. Read up on what happened in the Soviet Union and China in the 20th Century. Stalin, an atheist, was responsible for more deaths than Hitler! Mao Zedung attempted to stop religion in China and even today religious groups are being persecuted in China unless they go inline with the State. No, it's not religious people causing problems...it's those who refuse to obey God and do his will.

      March 23, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
    • pumpernickel1988

      Without religion there would be no reason for violence or wars?????? Are you friggin' kidding????? You lost me right there. The stupidity of that statement made you lose whatever credibility you might have had.

      March 23, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
  15. James

    Religions will go in the future, and just like in the past get replaced by something else, probably another religion.

    March 23, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • Eric

      just look at the obvious frauds like Mormonism and Scientology.

      March 23, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • Tommas

      All religions started as a fraud and a small sect then evolve to what we see today.

      March 23, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • Stevemd2

      'GOD SAVE US FROM RELIGION"

      iI'm nto a christian but the only couple sentences worth saving from religion are "love thy neighbor as thyself" (Jesus 2nd commandment ) and Do unto other as you would have them do unto you" (? from the bible which also says that at my daughters forth coming wedding I should stone her to death, for I know she is not a virgin"

      March 24, 2011 at 12:27 am |
  16. Get your facts straight

    @Ignatius Loyola – Hitler was Christian. Very devout, in fact.

    "My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God's truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice... And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people."

    -Adolf Hitler, in a speech on 12 April 1922 (Norman H. Baynes, ed. The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, April 1922-August 1939, Vol. 1 of 2, pp. 19-20, Oxford University Press, 1942)

    March 23, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • Ryan

      Hitler was a Christian at a young age, then became an Atheist in the 1920s and started the Nazi party. If he was so Christian, why did he destroy churches and put Jews and Christians in concentration camps and death camps? This speech is obviously before he converted.

      March 23, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • jens

      No, Ryan. Hitler really believed that he was doing a Christian deed by persecuting Jewish people. The Holocaust was religiously motivated. Christians ended up in jail and concentration camps only as political dissidents, and not for their belief.

      March 23, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • derp

      "Hitler was a Christian at a young age, then became an Atheist in the 1920s and started the Nazi party. If he was so Christian, why did he destroy churches and put Jews and Christians in concentration camps and death camps? This speech is obviously before he converted."

      Where the heck did you go to school? An atheist in the 20's? Are you serious? Did you bother to ever read anything Hitler wrote in the 20's and 30's. Hitler did not destroy the churches. He tried, unseccesfully to unite the protestant church of Germany and the catholic church of Italy under the Nazi banner. Hitler was raised catholic. He was a devout christian until the war began to turn against him. When he began to lose the war, that he started in the name of god, he became disillusioned with religion. But that was not until late in life, after he had already killed millions of jews in the name of god and christ.

      You don't target Jews, blame them for you problems, and kill them in the name of god, if you are an atheist.

      March 23, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • iamthefredman

      Out of Billions of beleivers over the course of time, you pick one person to reflect all religion? Hitler was a mentally diseased pyschopath just like David Koresh and the guy who lead Jonestown. Only Hilter was able to get much further into his "plan". Find a religion and start believing. Deathbed religious awakenings are too little, too late.

      March 23, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      'iamthefredman – Out of Billions of beleivers over the course of time, you pick one person to reflect all religion? '
      Actually I think the poster was responding to someone claiming Hitler was atheist, and thus using hitler to reflect all atheism.

      March 23, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • Haemisch

      Hitler, like his hero Nietsche, disdained Christianity for "emasculating" the warrior spirit of the German people. He used Christianity like most politicians do - in public, when it suited his needs. Don't regard that as faith.

      March 23, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • Eric

      Even if Hitler was an atheist all over his soldiers were definitely not they were all doing their christian duties. Hitler was just a psychopath that played them like a fiddle.

      March 23, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
    • Ed

      Hitler used relegion as an excuse to do great evil he as far to many others have. This is not proof God is fake or bad only that some use him as a excuse for evil. This has happened through out history across all faiths and across are society with out faith. It is a failure of man not God. put the blame were it is due. Relegion has been the excuse for much Evil done by man this does not make God evil only man.

      March 23, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • Religions are BS

      Tell us! Does god beat off? It's an important activity after all! No Vatican folk knows & none could say, "No, I've not or will not!"

      Go figure! 🙂

      March 23, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
    • Kev

      Here's another quote by Hitler...

      14th October, 1941, midday:

      "The best thing is to let Christianity die a natural death.... When understanding of the universe has become widespread... Christian doctrine will be convicted of absurdity.... Christianity has reached the peak of absurdity.... And that's why someday its structure will collapse.... ...the only way to get rid of Christianity is to allow it to die little by little.... Christianity the liar.... We'll see to it that the Churches cannot spread abroad teachings in conflict with the interests of the State. (p 49-52)"

      Yep, sounds Christian to me... Hitler was a master of lies....

      March 23, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
    • Maria

      Hitler's "god" was himself and the Nazi party. He could and did say anything that would further his cause.

      March 23, 2011 at 7:39 pm |
    • Kev

      @ Maria.. 100% agree... I all ways laugh when the Hatetheists try to state Hitler was a full fledged Christian... Shaking head...

      March 23, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
    • Stevemd2

      And he has yet to be excommunicated – the worst murderer of all time. And of course his religion was CAtholic. Which hated the Jews. And he leveragedd that hatred to gain election and 55 million died.

      And the church speaks about protecting lfie. Its smokescreen for hiding its resonsibility for the worst of humanity's horrors – WWII and the holocausst.

      Go to http://www.catholicarrogance.org, http://www.nobeliefs.com/nazis.htm.

      Thankd for the hitler quote . I will send it to the man – who quit the priesthood in disgust long ago- who runs the arrogance website.

      March 24, 2011 at 12:20 am |
    • NL

      "I believe today that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator." Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Vol. 1 Chapter 2

      Christian, and creationist.

      It is truly amazing that people still buy into the 'Hitler was an atheist' lie. It's a useful lie, I suppose, and if Hitler taught us anything about human nature he taught us that if you repeat a lie enough times to people who want to believe it eventually they will.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:40 am |
  17. Hiawa23

    I am not a believer in religion or prayer as I believe what will happen in your life will happen whether you pray once or 5x's a day. I also have a hard believing in God, that's all knowing, all powerful, supposedly control everything, yet needs humans to worship him to give him power. My parents taught me to be a good productive member of society so my morality comes from this. i don't need religion to tell me what I need to do to be a good person. Religion as a whole seems to be a crock to me & seems it was either only created to make someone rich or or keep many in line, or to make some feel good. Everything God is or supposed to do is a figure of our imagination as there to me is no way to prove there is one. & with all the bad stuff that happens in the world one might question if there is or isn't one.

    March 23, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • Child, Please!

      You only know what you've been taught. If you've been taught to ignore your Creator, of course your "solid" argument is what you've been taught to believe. Life is a teacher better than any parent. And you will see if the One true living God exists or not.

      It's of no consequence to God that you don't believe in Him. He certainly still believes in you. I sincerely pray you will find out in time....

      March 23, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • Hippitty Hippo

      @Child Please!: Shut the he_ll up you ignorant mor_on! Don't listen to this religious nutjob or any religious nutjob. EVER!!!

      Religion is a mental dysfunction. Humans are actually a type of high-order, self-aware ape. High-order apes are known to have hierarchies within their groups (i.e., alpha males and the sort). The idea of a god in a self-aware group of apes comes from the natural inclination, or instinct, for the top alpha male to seek an alpha which is his superior even though none exists in reality. Thus, a god is born to be this alpha.

      This explains the advent of supernatural gods and religions. Both are used to explain away the unexplainable and to comfort in times of hardship.

      March 23, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • Been-there-done-that

      @Child, Please!
      "You only know what you've been taught." – right back at you! I am no "child", and life tought me many lessons, some pretty serious, and still no god, or God or Gods came to my resque – I relied on ethics and hard work and inner sense of decency to pull me thru all of it. Open mind and a good heart is the best guide in life!

      March 23, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
    • iamthefredman

      If someone "invented" a new god and new religion today, I can see some of your points about the less-than-honorable reasons for its invention. However, the world was a much different place in ancient times when God spoke to the people on Earth and when God sent his Son Jesus to lead us on the path to Heaven.

      March 23, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      'It's of no consequence to God that you don't believe in Him. He certainly still believes in you.'
      You may as well say 'It's of no consequence to the Easter Bunny that you don't believe in Him. He certainly still believes in you.', it carries as much weight.

      March 23, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      'However, the world was a much different place in ancient times when God spoke to the people on Earth and when God sent his Son Jesus to lead us on the path to Heaven'
      No, the priests were still the ones in control and with all the power and money back then as well and little changed over time.
      Heck the Catholic church even bankrolled the crusades in the hope of getting more riches from it.

      March 23, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Haemisch

      Again, God does not "need" worship, nor does he derive power from it. Your assessment of other peoples' belief systems are filled with ithe very gnorance you accuse others of. God desires our worship. We tend to become like the thing we worship. Ppl who love money become greedy, etc. God wants our worship for our good, so that we will become like him.

      March 23, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • hillbilleter

      There is no way to prove that CNN exists. Or that you exist. Maybe I made you all up in my head. Maybe you dreamed all this. Quantum physics is less a proof that religion doesn't exist than it rewords many of religions' statements.

      March 23, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
    • just saying

      @Hippitty Hippo
      'Child Please!: Shut the he_ll up you ignorant mor_on! Don't listen to this religious nutjob or any religious nutjob. EVER!!!'

      How can child "Shut the he_ up' if there is not God ther is no he_

      March 23, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • Religions are BS

      Just a simple question... does god beat off? It seems to be an important activity after all! 🙂

      No Vatican folk seems to know and none has been able to say, "No, I've not or will not!"

      Go figure! 🙂

      March 23, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
    • Maria

      and what makes you think that the lack of religion will make people better? Look around at some of the atheist groups. Some of them are just as corrupt as any religious organization. They also have an agenda as well. Some of them have no moral compass. I knew a woman who told me because she was an atheist that it was ok to go after other women's husbands because the 10 commandments were myths. If that's the case, then I would RATHER have religion and myths than just amorality and immorality prevail.

      March 23, 2011 at 7:38 pm |
    • henry

      Take it easy my dear.from what you have just written somebody can tell that you are bitter abt something and you feel hollow.do you know how many things work in your body without you controlling them?and do you know how perfectly they work?do you know that they must have been somebody who created it somewhere?if somebody gave you a hundred dollars you would say thank you.Do u not feel you owe it to yourself to say thank you for somebody who might have created.plz take sometime and reflect.take time and look at the nature and magnificent things that do happen around it

      March 24, 2011 at 1:06 am |
    • SeanNJ

      @Maria: You said, "and what makes you think that the lack of religion will make people better?"

      I don't think anyone has actually said that; and I, as an atheist, don't believe that it will. However...it certainly won't get worse, which is what you'd like everyone to believe.

      You said: "Look around at some of the atheist groups. Some of them are just as corrupt as any religious organization. They also have an agenda as well. Some of them have no moral compass."

      First off, I don't know of any "atheist groups," per se, although I won't argue with you assuming you'd be so kind as to list specific groups and their infractions. The point you're missing is you can swap "atheist groups" and "religious organization" in your statement and it's no less true. As I said, things probably won't be better, but they won't be worse and we've eliminated an unnecessary variable: your "god."

      You said: "I knew a woman who told me because she was an atheist that it was ok to go after other women's husbands because the 10 commandments were myths. If that's the case, then I would RATHER have religion and myths than just amorality and immorality prevail."

      I doubt your story is true for the reason that, regardless of what you've been told or believe, people don't "choose" to be atheists in order to justify bad behavior in which we're interested in engaging. That may make it easier for you to assume that atheists are naturally evil, but it wouldn't make it true. I'm sorry your indoctrination has been so complete that it fills you with hate for everyone that doesn't think as you do. It must lead to a lot of internal conflict.

      March 24, 2011 at 11:51 am |
  18. Johnny

    All 9 of those countries have rid themselves of destructive myths. Hopefully other countries will soon follow.

    March 23, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • Tbone

      It's about time!

      March 23, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • Ryan

      Read the article again – Ireland has a church-going rate of 95.8%, the highest in the world. It's hardly gone.

      March 23, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • Nick

      That would be wonderful. I hate to get my hopes up though...

      March 23, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • Hippitty Hippo

      @ Ryan: I think you missed the part where the scientists acknowledge Churchgoing as a social network that can easily be replaced by other social constructs, whether they be virtual like facebook or real like the Sierra Club.

      March 23, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
    • iamthefredman

      May your soul live forever in Purgatory you non-believer.

      March 23, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • iamthefredman

      Ireland is non-belieivng?!?!!? OK right. Real good math and statistics there.

      March 23, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • Doomguy

      Can't wait for it to happen here in the US.

      March 23, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • Religions are BS

      "Ireland has a church-going rate of 95.8%, the highest in the world. It's hardly gone"

      Right! Over 95% of us beat off! It won't disappear anytime in the foreseeable future either!

      When we'll adopt these phrases, "In mastur bation we trust" "so help me mastur bate?" They transcend religious hypocrisy! 🙂

      March 23, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
    • Maria

      Nonsense. That's just an atheist's fantasy...which is the biggest myth of all. Everyone believes in something, whether they call it God, Allah, Buddha, Krishna, the Goddess, whatever. Most atheists are not true atheists. They are angry former believers who are railing because they didn't get their way. I've yet to met a real atheist who has not be involved in some religious group first that they rejected...so their atheism is reactionary, not a rational thought out decision at all.

      March 23, 2011 at 7:36 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Maria wrote: " I've yet to met a real atheist who has not be involved in some religious group first that they rejected.."

      You haven't met me – or the many others who are like me. What we object to is the constant promotion of ignorance. Organized Religion is nothing but a fraud, and those who subscribe to the fantasies are either perpetrators or victims of this fraud. There have been many gullible people in the history of mankind, and snake-oil salesmen have taken advantage of them, much to the detriment of mankind's progress.

      March 24, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • Rob

      @Maria, it actually makes sense that most non-believers used to be in some form of religion before they realized it was bunk. If you were never part of a religion then how could you know it's bunk. People can't win, if a person is atheist because they never were religious you say they just don't know your language, and if they knew what you knew they'd be religious. But then when you find a person that was religious and is now atheist you say its because they're angry at God.

      April 21, 2011 at 10:30 am |
  19. TBeef

    The guys behind this study are crackpots. Just because people become unaffiliated with particular religion doesn't necessarily determine if they believe in a God or not. Besides, the arguments for Atheism and Agnosticism are limited and probably won't last.

    March 23, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • Observer

      It's really ignorant to call people using mathematics ignorant. You have a much WEAKER argument.

      March 23, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
    • Sybaris

      you need to read the article again

      March 23, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • Angelique

      Religion is entirely about fear of death, always has been.

      March 23, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
    • cambaby

      Agnostics and atheists wont last huh? Well us atheists and agnostics have been around just as long as any religion has, if not longer, from the times of multiple deities to monotheistic religions that are in vogue today. At least they get have consistency, instead of switching up belief systems instead of doing everything from idol worship and sacrifice in all forms to the cults that change their views on a daily basis being pushed today.

      March 23, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • hehehe

      Thxs for proving ur ignorance. Jesus is a dead corpse, Mohamed was a pedaphile. The other religions are are also some mumbo, jumbo

      March 23, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • iamthefredman

      Math vs. religion.....Apples vs. Oranges. This article is another stupid CNN attempt to kill GOD. I believe. God please help the godless scientists see the light.

      March 23, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      'Just because people become unaffiliated with particular religion doesn't necessarily determine if they believe in a God or not.'
      Which is why this article is specifically about ORGANIZED religion. Its really not hard to actually read the article you know. Sigh.

      March 23, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • hillbilleter

      The people doing the study stated that the study does not show that people are less religious, only that they are less affiliated with ORGANIZED religion. Organized religion is evidently not filling a need in people's spirits and they are not joining. This is no the same as not being religious. A lot of people are religious and follow their own beliefs, but do not join a particular sect.

      March 23, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • Non Believer

      @ Angelique: It's also about father figures.

      March 23, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
    • Religions are BS

      Right! Does your god beat off! As you'd concur, it's an important activity! So, tell us. 🙂

      March 23, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
    • rachel

      Hey there TBeef or Fat Chops or whatever the hell you call yourself. The bookshelf is ACROSS the room. Get off the sofa and you'll see it.

      March 23, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
    • Bill Duke

      The Imam says that Islam will take over the world anyway so this argument is pointless.

      March 23, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
  20. Greg

    These negative posts on the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit aren't discouraging to me at all. You may call me simple minded, you may call me a frightened little child but call me what you want, I believe! The fairy tales of the Bible (GOD's Word) are coming to pass, the history keeps repeating and we stay in a haze. The haze is bliss, for those who don't believe, but your eyes will open when the fairy tail comes to an end! Call Jesus what you may, call GOD the maker of tails, but the thing I know for sure is that the Holy Spirit dwells inside me. Make fun of HIS children, make fun of HIS name, but enjoy the bliss of your haze! GOD Bless all!

    March 23, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • not-affiliated

      Enlighten me. What tales in the Bible have come to pass?

      March 23, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • Uh huh

      Ah, the chant of the religious. Ignorance is a virtue! No matter how much proof you provide that my ideas are false, I'll never change them!

      March 23, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • Rich

      Amen. We have come to a point where even evidence is not good enough. So be it. We've proclaimed it, you believing is up to you. Maranatha !

      March 23, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • Colin

      Bla, bla, bla. Goodbye my ranting friend. you and your kind are going extinct. I would say I"ll miss you, but that would be a lie.

      March 23, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • Angelique

      You just can't possibly believe that we could have been so irresponsible? It must be GODs doing that we are heading towards overpopulation leading us to starvation, among other things? Come on. lol Plenty more people than the Bible have predicted for a long time that we were going to destroy this earth with our ignorance!

      Some words from my favorite song:
      "Well how could we have known?
      I'll tell them it's not so hard to tell
      If you keep on adding stones
      Soon the water will be lost in the well"

      March 23, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • Michael M.

      Sure, ya know what, go ahead. I actually enjoy people believing in anything that makes them happy.

      Believe what you want to believe. That's fine with me. Just keep it to yourself. The moment it enters the public realm or comes up in a political debate that affects the country, it crosses the line.

      March 23, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • Child, Please!

      Be of good courage, Greg.

      WHEN Christ returns, every eye will see. No weapon formed, until then....

      March 23, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • Oh please

      Arguing about religion is like running in the Special Olympics, no matter who wins, everyone is retarded.

      March 23, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
    • Angelique

      The biggest problem with your whole way of looking at things Greg, is that YOU are who stays in a haze. Everyone is pretending it is God's will rather than trying to change their habits and make a difference. Let's not even get into the amount of children various religious factions deem appropriate. Yes, we can't possibly have free will and realize we messed up and shouldn't keep churning out babies, it's all God's will, just let it happen! If we're polluting the earth, God knew we would, can't do anything about it! Just let it happen! Jesus will come! .... This sort of mentality is the laziest and most ignorant in the world. Not to mention the most SELFISH!

      March 23, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • Michael

      It is good that you take pride in your ignorance and wear it so proudly like a name badge that says "Hi my name is: Greg Sheeple – Believer". Wear it with pride brother.

      March 23, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
    • indifferent

      TALE. Fairy TALE. Education is awesome, get some.

      March 23, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • iamthefredman

      Greg, I agree with you completely. Go in peace my friend! See you in church. Happy Easter.

      March 23, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • Haemisch

      "...knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation" (2Pe 3:3-4).

      March 23, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • CJ

      Ridiculous. The fairy tales of the bible passed before it was compiled, during it and since; they are life's trials. You think the Mongols killing millions, the plague wiping out a third of Eurasia wasn't like what is passing today? Earthquakes, tsunamis, war, sure: love, sharing, philanthropy, consideration (usually by secularists mind) are all passing today too.

      March 23, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • DEADINSIDE

      I do the Hokey-Pokey, I turn myself around, THATS what it's all about.....

      March 23, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • DJL329

      The bible (or any other religious text) is not the word of god (it can't be, there's no such thing as a "god"). It's the word of man. Therefore, anyone claiming to speak for a "god" is a liar. Anyone believing it is a F00L.

      March 23, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
    • fundies

      Rich, did you mean to say Haiwatha? Just want to clarify.

      March 23, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
    • Doomguy

      Genesis chapter 1 page 1. Invalidated by Physics, Astronomy, Biology, Paleontology, Anthropology, Archeology and Chemistry. Nuff said.

      March 23, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • tmichelle72

      Good job Greg! Thanks for the post!

      March 23, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • Hawkeye1012

      I'm not using a praying man... but if you're up there... please... help us, Superman!

      March 23, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
    • radam82

      I don't think you're stupid at all. You're simply doing what is natural for a human faced with emotional stress, self soothing–that's why religion came into existence, and why we turn a blind eye toward logic. Real or not, religion helps ppe let go and gives them hope.

      March 23, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
    • Reality Check

      It must be a requirement for religious nuts to say weird, nonsensical things repeatedly. So weird.

      March 23, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
    • Champion

      Right on Greg! That's telling it like it is good brother!

      March 23, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • HappyyppaH

      O verily, God is the maker of "tails!" Fox tails, beaver tails, even stubby little bear tails! Indeed! God hath created many tails, and each are good.

      March 23, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • porpoise in life

      enjoying the clarity of thought without the distorted perceptions that delusional thinking brings....thankyouverymuch!

      March 23, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • Toph

      You contradicted yourself there. You call the bible gods word. Yet how can gods word be loaded with historical and factual innacuracies? If god is all knowing the bible would be perfect. It's not.

      Take noah's ark for example. with the desalination of the oceans die to the rains noah would have also have to have all marine life on the Arc. Impossible.

      The 10 plagues, due to a volcanic eruption that happened 600 years before man wrote the bible.

      The exodeous could never have happened because there were very little to no slaves in egypt.

      Just some examples of how Gods word is false.

      March 23, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • Non Believer

      Blind faith is a great thing.............because thinking is just so hard.

      March 23, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
    • Fuyuko

      you really can't argue with belief, I personally do not believe in revealed religions or worry that much about it.

      March 23, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
    • Religions are BS

      Hey, does your god beat off! As you'd agree, it's an important activity! So, tell us. 🙂

      March 23, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
    • rachel

      Hi Greg. It surprises me that you could be so gullible. And that your mama never told you that it's okay. It is okay, Greg. Everything is going to be all right. There is no Hell. C'mon. You know there isn't. Stop being afraid. Exhale.

      March 23, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
    • rachel

      The maker of tails? TAILS?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!TAILS?????????????????Oh, Greg.

      March 23, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
    • Maria

      Amen! I'd rather be a "child of God" than some one who is considered rational by the world and on my way to hell. Way I see it, the Word of God says "Heaven and Earth will pass away, but my Word shall never pass away. Perhaps "organized" religion may go away, but true FAITH will never go away. As long as even one person believes, God will be there.

      March 23, 2011 at 7:33 pm |
    • clint

      your a simple minded frightened little child

      March 23, 2011 at 10:37 pm |
    • Toddd

      Amen brother Jesus is alive..

      March 23, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
    • Stevemd2

      Nothing discourages the brainwashed. People who get filled with relgiion when they are young and cannot envisiion being without it

      As for Ireland – so catholic – and the catholic church so adamantly opposed ot gay people being treated equally.

      ireland – the country that evangelised Europe for the catholic church just put in civil unions for gays

      And poll after poll now shows that at least 2/3 of the irish people favor gays actually having their committments to each other recognized as marriages

      And many polls suggest the next president of Ireland will be a gay man.

      While the church rants and raves against our gay friends and neighbors taking their rightful place as equal in Ameirica's society.

      Soon the church will preach only to the dust in the pews and the dust of their departed.

      And the age of religion will be called in our books and culture the second dark ages.

      Late now. And to all, relgiious and non religious a good night, sleep well, and do right by your nieghbor. which you dont need a god to do. And especially a reliigion.

      March 24, 2011 at 1:36 am |
    • Rob

      Wow I can do prophecies too!

      The universe revolves around our solar system. And to prove my fact, in the future people will become so opposed to me that they will proudly denounce my truth and call me a fool. When you see this happen you will know that I was right, that the universe does indeed revolve around our solar system.

      April 21, 2011 at 10:17 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.