In my new study of 137 countries (1), I also found that atheism increases for countries with a well-developed welfare state (as indexed by high taxation rates). Moreover, countries with a more equal distribution of income had more atheists. My study improved on earlier research by taking account of whether a country is mostly Moslem (where atheism is criminalized) or formerly Communist (where religion was suppressed) and accounted for three-quarters of country differences in atheism.

 

His main thesis stems from the phenomenon of religion declining as personal wealth increases. He cites the reason as people having less of a need for supernatural beliefs when the tangible, natural world is providing for their needs. He says the majority of the world will come to view religion as completely irrelevant by 2041.

Political Scientist Eric Kaufmann holds the opposite view, citing the fact that Atheists have fewer children than religious people. He thinks this could indicate the religious mindset will proliferate due to religious folks simply breeding more than Atheists. But what is the significance of the prolific breeding of religious people?

Biotechnologist Thomas Rees poses this question in his essay “Will the Religious Inherit the Earth?” In this piece, he discusses Kaufmann’s research and comes to the conclusion that the breeding aspect could tip the odds in favor of the religious purely due to fertility and childbearing rates among them.