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. Ann

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

    ummm...did he get that from the Old Testament? You know...the one that has 6 books dedicated to Prophets? If you're gonna use religion as your source by all means use it to show how incongruent it really is! Thanks for calling everyone who believes in prophecies fools and children, tradition that has a volume on prophets! Same goes for any other religion.

    If there's anything in the modern world that should go away sooner rather than later, it's religion. Those countries that are mostly unaffiliated have the right idea and they're the ones who will have the most pragmatic and progressive people for it.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:16 pm |

      Proof, Maps, Everything!
      When the archaeological, geographical and epigraphic evidence is reviewed in detail, it is clear that the infamous cities of Sodom and Gomorrah have now been found. What is more, this evidence demonstrates that the Bible provides an accurate eyewitness account of events that occurred southeast of the Dead Sea over 4,000 years ago.

      March 26, 2011 at 9:14 pm |

      Breaking News!!

      Too many vested ideological interests of scientists and philosophers alike looking for a natural explanation of origins have interfered with a balanced objective scientific approach to Darwinism. As a simple change in wind direction at the battle of Lepanto in 1571 brought victory to Christianity over the Ottoman Empire, so new winds of change in scientific data are about to bring defeat to Darwinism.

      The Russian Academy of Sciences has just published details of research directed by sedimentologist Guy Berthault showing that sedimentary rocks form very rapidly – two thousandths of the time attributed to them by the geological time scale.

      Although the volume of scientific evidence against evolution theory has been acc-u-mulating ever since Darwin’s theory was introduced, the certainty of its downfall is now confirmed by these recent discoveries in stratigraphy.


      March 26, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
  2. I know bettter

    Flying Spaghetti Monster, the invisible pink unicorn, the Easter bunny and Jesus are all the same. Man made.
    I wish mankind would grow up. Remove religion, most wars will stop, Hmmm no wars, that means large countries would loose money, the pope would be out of a job, and science would finally be able to move forward without the back water idiots holding them back. Marx said religion was created to hold the ignorant in line. How can we apply religion to politicians?

    March 25, 2011 at 10:58 am |
  3. Salty Bob

    In the beginning man created the gods

    What I think of organized religion. I hope you gleam a small bit of useful information as I have. What games religion is playing in America and the world today? We live in a rare time and country where we can choose for ourselves how much or little Religion we want in our lives, but the followers of most religions just don’t understand the word no! Not in my life not in my schools not in my government, NO! is the choice I have made for me and my family, the following reasons are part of the problem as I see it.

    First: religion is in no way real. The word religion or god is nothing more than an expression or product of human fear and weaknesses or imagination in some cases. The Bible/Koran, a collection of ancient myths and stories borrowed from many different cultures over hundreds of centuries or longer. Sadly the followers of Christianity, Islam, and others want to make decisions for us all based on there interpretation of books that are in no way real. These groups are working hard and spending millions trying to influence our politicians to pass laws based on there interpretation of these books. Trying to convert the USA into a religious state. I hope to never see any religious icons on our flag, because then it would be a good time to leave.

    Second: Religion no longer has a place in the real world. It divides us as a people to choose ignorance over logic, to forsake the future for a ruthless past. A Wall of Separation is supposed to protect us from all religious infringement upon our school’s teachings of science to find real truth and knowledge. Not to pass out fairytales to our children of some aged dogma from an era long dead, our children deserve better.

    Many of these groups place supernatural abilities on some of its members, born of a virgin or walk on water or cure the blind sick or to fly. Throughout history you will find many who have claimed the same feats, again they are all wrong. No interpretation no matter how subtle can change the fact these are nothing but stories meant to entertain or teach something to the people of that era nothing more.

    Religion, as an idea has been with us before recorded history from early man’s worshiping of nature to Charlemagne’s murder of the innocent in the name of Christianity, to jets crashing into towers in the name of Islam. Coerced observance is the main method almost all these religions use. Worship me or you will be tortured for all eternity or murdered out right. Fear mongering, or coercion is tyranny! Remember the Dark Age’s religions rule in that dark, distant past didn’t serve our ancestors well it certainly won’t serve us any better today! These are the labels I proudly wear heretic, infidel, atheist, man of science, freethinker.

    Third: We put our trust in our elected officials to maintain the wall of separation, to prevent religion’s ever reaching grasp from tainting the consideration of new laws, as well as research designed to help many! This country was not founded on the rule of any ones religion, but more the lack of religious influence in the governing of this country. But time and again you hear religious overtones spouting out of our leaders, The wall is crumbling. The time for the burning of witches, belief in a flat earth, the murdering of doctors, and crimes against women and children or religions many other immoral and vile acts committed against humanity as a whole can no longer and should no longer be tolerated no matter what religious book or god demands it.

    Anyone of good conscience should agree with what I have said and ban together, so we can bring this country the very world we live on into the 21st century free of these groups hold on our minds and revel in all the promise this century has to offer so our children's children's children will look back in pride an see we did what we did for them and there posterity. This is after all a very small world and a grate leaping point into the vast unknown. I so hope more minds are opened and see beyond the centuries of engrained dogma. I just hope it`s not layed to waste by then.

    Ps: The End is comeing for all religions I consider that a good thing.

    March 25, 2011 at 9:51 am |
    • Chet

      Man is incapable of explaining, without the Spirit of God leading and guiding him, the things of God. The Bible is mythology only to the extent that you have no Spirit. If you truly had the Spirit of God, you would believe. You can however understand things like, "be good to others" & "don't murder". These have even been put in to our govt. laws. Sounds like a good plan. But the issue of believing the Bible as the "God Exhaled" word useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness can never be understood without the leading of the Holy Spirit.

      People can deny this, true. But, their denial only proves that the Spirit does NOT lead them in their understanding. Jesus says, "This is a hard saying" and not everyone will get it. You may be one of those. I personally believe, if you give more time to seeking for Jesus than for seeking for "YOUR" Jesus (whatever you wish to believe is true) you will truly find Him. He "stands at the door and knocks" "If you seek Him you will find Him".

      Lord give him understanding he can only get with the leading of your Spirit. Surround him with your love by drawing him closer to you through teaching him your word. Let him place his entire surrendered life under the Lordship of your Son Jesus.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • NL

      "Man is incapable of explaining, without the Spirit of God leading and guiding him, the things of God."

      So, basically, you have to believe that you have the Spirit of God before you can be led to believe in God?!?

      That's a circle of thought, my friend, not a line of thought.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • Chet

      2 Peter 1:16-21 "For we did not followcunningly devised fbles when we made known to you the power and coming of ourLord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of is majesty. For He received from God the Fahter hnor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: "This is My beloved Son, n whom I am well pleased." And we heard this voice which cme form heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you d well to heed as a light tht shies in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any privat interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man,but holy men of God spoke as they were moved b he Holy Spirit."

      2 Peter 2:1-3 "But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secrely bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. and many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. by covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgement hs not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber."

      If you hear not the Word of God you can't know God. The Spirit teaches us through the hearing of the Word of God. For "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God." Romans 10:17. The Holy Spirit introduces us to Jesus through the hearing of the word of God. Then, we believe. No round robin to be found here.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • NL

      I couldn't have the Holy Spirit in me without believing that I do, right? So, I have to believe that I have the Holy Spirit before the Spirit can teach me about God which amounts to needing to believe in one part of God before being able to believe in another part. You can call it taking a leap of faith, but it still makes it circular thinking.

      Imagine if I told you that I decided to believe in evolution before I even knew anything about it, and then I started reading books about evolution and, of course, it all made perfect sense to me. Would you believe that I was not believing on blind faith?

      March 25, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • brad

      If you truly believe that humanity will be able to do better when left to himself you must be very young. In the 1960's and 1970's, millions of people rose up and said "we can think for ourselves!" and ushered in a cultural revolution, and threw out religious dogma. Then, they launched a 6ual revolution. In doing so, people created an epidemic of worldwide, deadly, disease. People threw out marriage. They claimed to base this on reason, but defended themselves by declaring " but everyone's doing it." Who needs reason when everyone's doing it? Enter the drug culture. Now people could "think for themselves" with minds dulled into stupidity. There was the Cold War. The US and USSR did not destroy each other because of M.A.D. – Mutually Assured Destruction. In other words, in several millenia, man's scientific discoveries had allowed him to exchange rocks and sticks for nuclear weapons of mass destruction. All this, and more, was accomplished without the aid of religion.

      I think I'll read more Hitchens and Dawkins. Then, as a "thinking person" I'll know what I'm supposed to believe.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • NL

      The I can remember 1960's and 1970's was also the time of Jesus Freaks, Moonies and Jim Jones.

      "The US and USSR did not destroy each other because of M.A.D."
      Yes, interesting how atheists and Christians were equally willing to end the world if the other struck first. Puts them both on exactly the same level, doesn't it?

      "I think I'll read more Hitchens and Dawkins. Then, as a "thinking person" I'll know what I'm supposed to believe."
      If you choose not to read any Hitchens and Dawkins then someone is also telling you what you're supposed to believe too, right? You know we atheists read the bible and other scriptures. So, be a real thinking person, and not limit what you read.

      Gotta take off for a while. Been interesting. TTFN 🙂

      March 25, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
    • Chet

      No you do not have to believe in the Spirit of God to understand God. However, it is the Spirit of God that leads a NON-Believer, Athiest, Pagan, Gentile, Unbeliever, Agnostic through the hearing of God's Word to the reassurance of Salvation in Christ alone by faith. That is why you are asking questions. That is why you are questioning everything Scriptural here. The Holy Spirit is leading you to seek and you will not see it that way until the Spirit completes His task of introducing you to the Christ named Jesus. Until you meet Jesus, You will not understand that it is the Spirit that has been leading you this entire time. Thank you for continueing in your effort to understand. If you repent from your efforts though, you will believe in Jesus based on more than fact, more than proof, more than science, more than lab experiments, more than the environment, more than simple brain power, but by Faith in what the Spirit of God is working around you to get you to believe. IF you don't believe then you are without discernment for the things of the Spirit. That simply means you are lost and determined, with evidence, to stay lost. I keep praying for the Lord to open your unbelieving heart and soften it to the place where you can escape His wrath.

      He hardened Pharaoh's heart and his entire army drowned as God's people passed safely through to the other side. Whether Pharaoh believed God was directing the affairs of His people or not doesn't inhibit God from accomplishing His will. Your interest though in the things of God, even if for the purpose to try to disprove them, is nothing more than what I and many others have gone through in our understanding of the things of God. The Spirit of God is at work around you man, listen carefully as you read the Word of God. Just think of it: An athiest entertained by the things of God. If being without God was your religion then why focus on what you believe isn't there at all. Just preach what you believe without using what others believe. If I don't believe in Chevrolets as being vehicles, I'm not goingto run around spreading the news that there aren't any Chevrolets, no way, I'm going to tell them what there is – Buy Fords that's all there is. Buy Ford Trucks, that all that makes the difference. You can't even express your belief without using God's name – for heavens sake, Your religion rests in God. Everything you believe exists due to God: a – without theist – God = without God? Your belief of having not a God for your sustainment, support and sufficy is 100% due to the claim that the sufficiency, support and sustainment of mankind and religion is found in God. But you don't believe that!

      March 25, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • NL

      "No you do not have to believe in the Spirit of God to understand God."
      Isn't the Spirit part of God? How can you understand God in his entirety without believing in the Spirit? Might as well not believe in Christ if any third of the godhead is optional, right? Besides, I thought that we mere humans could never understand God. Confusing!

      "However, it is the Spirit of God that leads a NON-Believer, Athiest, Pagan, Gentile, Unbeliever, Agnostic through the hearing of God's Word to the reassurance of Salvation in Christ alone by faith."
      So, how much of an atheist or non-believer were you before you were 'saved'? Sure you weren't instructed in any way, went to any church perhaps, or told what a Christian believed in before faith came to you?

      March 25, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • NL

      "Thank you for continueing in your effort to understand."
      Well, I can't say that I'm closed-minded in any way, but if the Spirit is guiding me towards a better understanding of Christian faith I'd say that he needs a better GPS, because I'm sure not finding it here.

      "I keep praying for the Lord to open your unbelieving heart and soften it to the place where you can escape His wrath."
      "Believe, or else!" Always an intelligent argument.

      "He hardened Pharaoh's heart"
      Translation: God takes away free will.

      March 25, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
    • NL

      "Just think of it: An athiest entertained by the things of God. If being without God was your religion then why focus on what you believe isn't there at all. Just preach what you believe without using what others believe."
      I don't have to believe in vampires in order to have an interest in them, do I?

      I happen to find the subject of religion utterly fascinating, probably even more fascinating than you do. Have you read any scriptures from other religions? Taken any courses in clas.sical literature? Compared the founders of each respective major religion? Chances are, if you meet an atheist you'll find someone with a keen interest in religion in general. Christianity is just a part of that.

      March 25, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
    • NL

      I can touch a Chevy, so I know they're real. If I only had stories about them, maybe I wouldn't believe.

      Sorry, but I have no idea what you are trying to say with that last part.

      Now I've really gotta go and enjoy my weekend.
      Nice chatting with you.
      Take care!

      March 25, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
  4. Hal

    I have been doing research for 20 years on religion, faith, science, philosophy and psychology for a book I am writing.

    I am writing the book from the perspective of the devil.

    it is quite interesting.

    One thing I do believe is that atheists or as far off as the religious.

    Both rely heavily on facts not in evidence.

    Lets look at the facts.

    Science know that SOMETHING happened 6 billion years ago and there was a big bang that created us all.

    That there can be as many as ten different dimensions to the universe, only 3 we can see.

    That scientific experiments prove that our existence and will effect the universe (on a quantum level).

    And that the phenomenon we can not explain far exceeds that which we can.

    Religion is mans attempt to explain that which we can not explain.

    Science is essentially attempting the same thing only with better methodology.

    Atheist are the ones with the most hubris, by assuming we know everything, and that if we can not prove it right now at this particular time, then it must not exist.

    What is wrong with just agreeing we do not know?


    March 25, 2011 at 9:22 am |
  5. Bruce

    I am constantly amazed on how many atheist and non-believers are out there.

    Over 500 people saw and wrote about Jesus after the resurrection, so 500 people, they are all lying?

    Explain away speaking in tongues in ancient languages, how is this done?

    Explain to me the shroud of Jesus, and how scientist have tried and tried and can’t reproduce the image?

    How scientist is finding out the stories in the Old Testament really happened? The parting of the red sea and the chariots and roman body gear found underwater?

    I highly recommend to any non-believer or atheist that they do a search on “near death experiences” and read the stories of atheists and non-believers trip to death and back. Then decide for yourself what side of the fence you want to be on when it is time for you to go.

    March 25, 2011 at 2:38 am |
    • Magic


      "Over 500 people saw and wrote about Jesus after the resurrection, so 500 people, they are all lying?"

      Just who were these "over 500" people? Paul of Tarsus made a mention of them, but does not identify them nor verify anything about them.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:46 am |
    • Chet

      Here are a few: Luke 6:14-15, "Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called the Zealot; Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot who also became a traitor." (Judas did not see the resurrected Christ for he was dead). He appeared to them in the upper room following His resurrection (Found in John 20). He also appeared to Mary Magdalene (John 20:14)

      John 21 – "After these things Jesus disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and in this way He showed Himself: Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together" (These may have been the two on the road to Emmaus) Mark 16:12.

      These are 12 (11 men and 1 woman) who saw the resurrected Jesus. The more than 500 wouldn't be necessary to name for the disciples being crushed at the death and burial of their Lord and Savior should have stopped the spread of such false hope and trickery. However; due to the resurrection and the appearance of Jesus to these specifically, brought each of them to a violent death. No one today believing in the concept of "no god" would ever go to their death confessing "no, there isn't a god, go ahead and kill me, I will not change my belief." Even Islam believes God is real and they go to their death to promote more violence and suffering for what they believe. However, some in the Christian faith have desecrated what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ and promoted false religious beliefs that truly make it harder for the lost in the world today to trust God through faith in Jesus Christ. "How could God be real if those who profess Him as their God are not adhering to His commands?"

      Some people just don't get it and promote their interpretation of a personal misunderstanding of what Jesus was commanding us to accomplish. Not violent on our part. But the conversion process of God: The Holy Spirit changing a lost man into a redeemed man is violent at the gates of Hell. Satan fights for his followers: as is proven by the staunch hatred for Evangelical Christianity. Religious faith is accepted in every other practice, but an evangelical Christian preaching Christ Jesus as the Way the Truth and the Life? No way, not in a million years. Don't tell the world they are wrong when they have brains, educated beyond many other people's abilities to learn, that have "figured it out." "God is fake" – the supremely intelligent have concluded. When all they have figured out is that they have NOT been "called" by God Himself to understand His salvation. Without understanding of the Scriptures (which are God Breathed – theo pneustos) as taught by the Holy Spirit, there is no understanding or comprehension of salvation. How can a sinful person understand the things of God. Only through the teaching of the Spirit. Things of flesh are flesh! You can't get understanding, whether scientific, historic, astrological, theological – whatever? You can't get it with all the education and knowledge the world has to offer. Things of the Spirit are foolishness to those who have NOT the Spirit.

      BUT – "This is the testimony, he who has the Son has Life and he who does not have the Son of God does not have eternal life and this life is in His Son Jesus" – You can't understand it unless the spirit says, "Come". With all the education the world has to teach, you will never be intelligent enough to get it. WE are NOT in control of our salvation! You can't just "GET" it. You can't have it. You can't make it up. You have to seek it and the only place it will be found (while it may be found) is at the beckoning of the Spirit's, "COME". The church (True church of God – those placing their complete surrendered faith in Jesus) being led by the Spirit (Filled with the Spirit) says, "COME". The Spirit and the bride (the church) say, "COME". You can't and never will get to be in control of that decision.

      So, "COME" place your faith in God through faith in Jesus Christ alone for Salvation, Repent and be baptized. Confess Him as Lord. "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead you will be saved."

      March 25, 2011 at 10:19 am |
    • Chet

      But the 500 you keep asking? Well, they are those who saw Him! Simple as that. Can we begin to name every person holding a ticket at the Super Bowl, yet because we don't have each of their names we deny that anyone watched the game? Would we deny that anyone saw the twin towers fall to rubble simply because we can't get everyone together and pen their names on a piece of paper.

      Jesus walked & talked! People saw Him. There were many witnesses. IF we can keep our attention off of the resurrected Jesus, then we can continue to talk about non-salvation ideology. We must profess Christ as the "Way and the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father but by Me."

      Jesus please wait to return while there are still those in the world who do not yet know you as Savior. Send us to them specifically as to be faithful to speak the words of truth (Your Holy Word) to them so they too may know you.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:28 am |
    • NL

      But, if the Gospel writers were actually there, and were eyewitnesses to events, then they weren't 'inspired' by God when they wrote their gospels, were they? How can you have the gospels be accurate, unbiased reporting of facts and the inspired word of God at the same time? That's like believing that CNN is 'inspired' towards a liberal agenda, but insisting that they still report the facts accurately. You can't have it both ways.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • Chet

      Agree that they were eyewitnesses as well. Eyewitnessed the resurrected Jesus. God caused that and the words that followed through their pens to express under His inspiration, His Story.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • NL

      Why would God have to 'cause' these folks to write what they were totally convinced of anyway by what they saw? If I had seen someone crucified and then resurrected you can bet that I wouldn't need anyone to nudge me into writing it down right away, and not waiting 20 to 50 years to do it. Something smells fishy.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • Chet

      Really? How many world-wide articles have you written on the world trade center destruction, or how many on the War in the Gulf, or how many on the election of a certain president, or how many on the first love of your life who said "yes, I love you", or how many on the muliple and simply amazing things that occur around you daily? Jibberish. The first thought of man is "RUN" they are going to do the same thing to us.

      When Jesus was resurrected He found His distraught disciples locked in a upper room. He then commanded them in Matthew 28:18-20 "go and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teach them to oby everything I have taught you." No command to write anything down. It was a verbal spreading of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Then, afterward, God inspired men even 20 to 50 years later to write it all down without error. Can you remember the first time you took a breath? Can you remember your first step? Can you remember your first toy? Open the cedar chest of your parents and see if they thought the memories of your childhood were important enough to keep. God inspired men years after the fact to write it all down. He gave us what we need for salvation and growth.

      When men in the military are commanded to "take the mountain" – having just fought in the trenches or on the shore of France with great victory, they don't stop quickly and begin to write what they just experienced until the battle is over. Not everyone would write either. God said, 'write these down'. So they did.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • NL

      Point is, we didn't have to wait over 20 years after the World Trade Center destruction, the Gulf war, or Obama's election before people started writing about these things. Nor should we expect that what gets written about these events starting 20 years from now will exactly match what we've already written. Events get 'interpreted' over time and seen in light of new evidence and changing att.itudes.

      "God inspired men years after the fact to write it all down. He gave us what we need for salvation and growth."
      I'm sure that people felt that God inspired them to write it all down. Jesus hadn't come back as promised and conflicting stories were circulating. That's why Paul had to straighten out what he considered misinformation even though he himself was not an eyewitness to anything that Jesus did, or preached. Paul's letters by themselves are evidence enough that people were 'remembering' things differently, way too differently for Paul's liking.

      Throughout the era of Christian scripture writing a great many more 'books' were written than those that finally came to be accepted into canon by a Catholic council, right? Over 40 gospels alone! Don't you think that each and every one of those writers believed that what they wrote was inspired by God? The Book of Revelation very nearly did not make it into the Bible because it was favored by heretics. Even Luther considered it to be "neither apostolic nor prophetic" at first, saying that "Christ is neither taught nor known in it".

      Sorry, but only a prior faith in the Christian scriptures would ever lead anyone to believe that they were beyond any doubt accurate and inspired by God, and since that belief originates within these same scriptures, it's a circular path of thinking.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
    • Magic


      A "God" who is omniscient, as you claim, would have been able to 'inspire' a book which could not possibly be disputed, mistranslated, mistranscribed, misunderstood, and misinterpreted.

      As proof of events which are purported to have been the most earth-shaking happenings since the beginning of time, 'he' left very poor evidence and doc.umentation.

      March 25, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
  6. yp

    look at that, Enver Hoxha was right

    March 24, 2011 at 11:55 pm |
  7. Chet

    It's amazing that many of the pagan belief found here is actually the belief of many who attend church and call themselves 'believers'.

    Change the story of Jesus to make it feel better and you just aren't ready to be saved! Keep searching the Word of God until you find salvation in Jesus only. He's "the Way, the Truth and the Life, no man comes to the Father but by Me (Jesus)

    March 24, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
  8. MikeBell

    This article is such BS.
    Traditional Religions are decreasing in numbers because the Secular Religion is growing.
    There will always be religion. Whether it be the worship of an imperceptible Deity, a Cult reverence of Historical figures, planet worship, or the religious adherence to a Secular Social Doctrine legislated to be the State Religion.

    March 24, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
  9. Willyboy

    It is *so* sad the USA is not listed as one moving toward the extinction of religion. I'm sure the US and some place like Pakistan will be the final holdouts, filled with religious refugees. Sad bitter places where delusional commitments to Sky Daddy remain in isolated but loud and obnoxious sects. So very sad...

    March 24, 2011 at 8:27 pm |
    • MikeBell

      There will always be a religion. What do you have your heart focused on?
      One's personal doctrine, affiliation, on non-affiliation will alway have a religious adherence.

      March 24, 2011 at 9:29 pm |
    • rustyw

      In 1950, philosopher Antony Flew, an atheist, wrote "Theology and Falsification," later referred to as "the most widely reprinted philosophical paper of the century."
      Well, in 2004, Flew announced that he had changed his mind. Why? Science! He could no longer accept that blind chance created the complexities of our universe.
      For example, consider the monarch butterfly. Each autumn, millions migrate from North America to an area in Mexico about half a mile square. They have never been there before! But their ancestors have. Scientists have discovered that these insects have a GPS that guides them to the precise place in Mexico! The DNA in the insect contains a program that constructs this GPS, along with a timing mechanism to trigger it. Many of us will simply never believe that a series of accidents (mutations) in the DNA molecules could design a program to build a GPS. So, what is the alternative?

      March 25, 2011 at 12:05 am |
    • NL

      Yes, interesting how Flew changed his mind in his 80s just before he died, and even started writing using American spelling (he was British.)

      March 25, 2011 at 12:50 am |
    • Willyboy

      RustyW: Believing in there is, or * may be*, *something* "other" does not in any way equate to embracing any religion – certainly not any of the monotheistic religions. Most organized religions these days are twisted perversions of the original teachings. Polluted with ignorant dogma and so on. Those are the vile creations that need to be "driven to extinction".

      March 25, 2011 at 7:27 am |
    • NL

      But, unless you dig religion out by the very roots in it's belief in gods, human nature will just eventually corrupt it all again with dogma, right? Even these new 'personal relationship with Christ' folks are already building dogma around their 'pure' faith. Just part of the human need to build a solid frame around an empty space in order to 'see' that empty space, right?

      March 25, 2011 at 10:50 am |
  10. Chaos

    "Not sure where you got your information regarding Jesus from? But in the bible it clearly states... "

    Apparently you get your information from a book of man made fairy tales.

    March 24, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
  11. pragmatic girl

    The good news of the day!

    March 24, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
  12. Terry

    I hope the end of religion doesn't come too late to save mankind from extinction. The fanatics (muslim, christian, AND jewish)would rather destroy the world than let the rest of us live in peace.

    March 24, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
  13. God is good

    There are two kinds of people who believe in God ..... Those who beleive in God .... the second are those dead aethiest

    March 24, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
  14. Jeff

    Bad news for the god huggers.

    March 24, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  15. Dame Makedonski

    The trend of "religion extinction in the world" is the same as the trend of "extinction of totalitarian regimes". Both trends are unstoppable. Religious leaders a well as dictators will try to stop the trend – but the modern electronic society is simply freeing up the human spirit. BTW, I am agnostic and I don't have nothing against any religion, nor against dictators. I simply know that in the future both of them will disappear from the face of the world as slavery or feudalism disappeared previously.

    March 24, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
  16. nonexpert35

    nonny wrote:

    why can't you trust the bible when it has already in advance predicted what will happen in the time of the end(2 Timothy 3:1-5).


    But let's look at this more closely. It says in the NWT: "But know this, that in the last days..." (2 Tim. 3: 1)

    Now the letter of Paul was written to Timothy. So let's ask some questions:

    (1) Why would Timothy need to know about the "last days" if he was not living in them?

    (2) And if these are the "last days", that is, the time in which now live, what importance is it to Timothy?

    (3) Why would he need to know about the current time in which we live-and which are claimed as the last days by some religions-if Timothy lived, died, and was buried over 1800 years ago? Why would he need to know about these days?

    March 24, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
    • rustyw

      The answer to all three of your questions is basically the same: Timothy did not need to know about the "last days" for his personal life. But the information was written and preserved for those who would eventually need it.
      However, Timothy was a Christian elder and instructor. The influences that would be far stronger in the "last days" were a danger even in the first century, so Timothy had to counsel Christians to be wary of ungodly thinking.
      Doing what is right is always pleasing to God and always shows a love of neighbor. It is not dependent on whether or not we are in the last days. See Mark 12:28-34 for some very important words of Jesus on this.

      March 24, 2011 at 11:40 pm |
  17. NL

    I appreciate talking to you as well. It is a welcome break from the usual believers who tell you to "Believe, or else" like you're some easily frightened child. Very refreshing, indeed!

    Jews and Muslims could coexist better, but the Palestinian issue overshadows theological kinship for most.

    Christians see Isaiah 49:6 as referring to Jesus, but the traditional Jewish view is that it refers to Israel. Both fit just as well, if you believe in such things. In context I'd have to side with the Jewish view. Israel is described as God's 'servant' elsewhere in the OT and 53:10

    "Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand."

    doesn't apply to Jesus at all unless you buy into Dan Brown's theories of his escaping the cross and fathering children. As Lewis Black loves to say it's not you Christians' fault you don't get it, it's not your book, it's (theirs).

    Now another hard question for you, all right? Is it not at least possible that the narrative of Jesus' life was created to fit the prophecies?

    March 24, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
    • rustyw

      Your question, 'Is it possible the account of Jesus was written to match the prophecies?' is a reasonable one. The answer is, however, Not likely.
      1) The historians of the era, mostly non-Christian, believed in Jesus of Nazareth as a real, historical figure. Most recognized him as a miracle worker. You see, according to the four accounts of Jesus' life in the Bible, virtually everyone in Judea and Galilee knew someone who had been cured by this traveling preacher! That was simply too much evidence to ignore or discredit, so almost no writers in the first two centuries even tried to do so. (Later writers did deny the miracles, of course.)
      2) The early Christians were all preachers, even at the risk of their lives. This means they were convinced! They based their faith on evidence, even though their position was unpopular and brought death to some.

      March 24, 2011 at 11:22 pm |
    • NL

      Jesus may have been a real person, but the rest of your post is completely without any historical support. Paul is the first writer and he doesn't mention a thing about any miracles. That stuff comes later with the gospels, but lots of people supposedly made miracles happen. Roman emperors even. There were lots of travelling preachers and messianic pretenders too. Which historians did you get your information from, and where do they teach?

      Tom Cruise is convinced that scientology works too. He may not have died, but he did jump on a couch on Oprah, and that was painful to watch. Seriously though, if you think that it's hard to get people to say something controversial, think how difficult it must be to get someone to blow themselves up for their beliefs.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:36 am |
  18. RandomDutchGuy

    2050 can't come fast enough.

    March 24, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
  19. Sabrina

    Of course, we didn't really need an secular "experts to tell us any of this. Believers already know it. It already says so in several parts of the Holy Scriptures people would become more wicked and apostate, and there'd be false prophets to lead people astray. Just read the book of Romans and Revelation and you'll see what it says.

    March 24, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
    • Patrick

      Well the magic book I'm reading says the magic book you are reading is wrong! It clearly states in my magic book that religion will come to an end because your magic book wasn't written on acid free paper. LOL

      March 25, 2011 at 11:33 am |
  20. Joseph Lowrey

    that's the first news i've heard in a long time that has given me any sense of optimism about the future

    March 24, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
    • Matt

      I'm so sorry that religion destroyed your life so much that that your only hope of a happy life is without it.

      March 24, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • John John

      Well said Joseph! Mythology has no place in modern society. Doing things because the magic giant in the sky says so is just damn primitive and has been holding back society for centuries.

      March 24, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
    • Chet

      Our ways are not His ways nor our thoughts His thoughts. John 6 speaks of those who don't believe, for God hasn't 'drawn' them to Christ.

      False religion will come to an end! Only Jesus and His people will remain! "you are Peter and on this rock i will build My church and not even the gates of Hell shall prevail against it"

      March 24, 2011 at 10:14 pm |
    • RxCello

      I look forward to when religion is just a dim, dusky memory. The murders that have been committed in its name, not to mention the irreparable harm done in people's lives because of religion, is utterly shameful. That people believe in cr@p no more real than the Easter bunny, and take it as seriously as they do, is just incredible.

      March 24, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
    • Chet

      The Easter Bunny is not in the Bible! Celebrate the Lord Jesus and His Resurrection this Easter – He us in the Scriptures – resurrected and sitting at the right hand of the Father.

      March 24, 2011 at 11:32 pm |
    • NL

      "Our ways are not His ways nor our thoughts His thoughts"
      If God is so utterly alien to us, thinks so completely different than we do, how can you trust his motives? Maybe his idea of 'love' is snacking on people's souls after they die. You can't know what he does because he's so mysterious, after all.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:20 am |
    • John John

      Quoting a book written by DIVISIVE MEN, not God, does not impress me. Man used to believe in many gods because so many things could not be explained. That turned more to a single god because it was more organized as he started to become technologically aware. As the belief in the unprovable became important, we turned to MAN-GOD-PROPHETS like Muhammad and Jesus as that was something we could relate to. Now as we laugh at TV shows far more impressive than the stunts Jesus et al were said to have done, we start to get the idea that most people just don't understand things but that there is a logical explanation for everything. A TV set to a primitive man is impressive indeed!
      85-90% of all Science PhD's are Atheists for a reason... they understand stuff, and don't just use some man-created god to explain the gaps in understanding. What I don't understand is how the PhD's that aren't Atheists can justify a belief in a higher power. Most likely they either don't deserve the doctorate, or they have to believe or they get bullied by those so peaceful Christians.
      As a side note, I have yet to meet a Christian that acts like one. Spouting drivel does not make you a Christian.

      March 25, 2011 at 8:50 am |
    • Chet

      Lord give these understanding

      March 25, 2011 at 9:16 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.