Recently, TheBlaze told you about the growth of “nones” in America — those individuals who do not embrace a higher power (one in five Americans now fit this category). Now, a new study by RedC Opinion Poll, part of WIN-Gallup International, has found that atheism is on the rise globally as well.
On the whole, the majority of the world still embraces faith, with 59 percent of global citizens reporting that they consider themselves religious people. In contrast, 23 percent of those surveyed count themselves as nonreligious, with an additional 13 percent claiming that they are “convinced atheists.”
In collecting the data for the “Global Index of Religiosity & Atheism,” WIN-Gallup International interviewed more than 51,900 men and women from 57 countries on five continents. The research has brought together some fascinating finds. To begin, there is a disparity among the rich and the poor when it comes to religiosity.
“It is interesting that religiosity declines as worldly prosperity of individuals rises,” the report reads. “If citizens of each of the 57 countries are grouped into five groups, from the relatively poor to relatively rich in their own countries, the richer you get, the less religious you define yourself.”
Across the globe, there is also a notable decline among those who report being religious. When compared to the same research that WIN-Gallup International conducted in 2005, among the global average of the 39 countries examined in both waves of the study, the Religiosity Index dropped nine percent during the seven-year period. During the same time-frame, atheism has experienced a three-percentage point rise.
Declines in belief may be concerning to some, especially when examining the countries where these proportions were the largest. Vietnam (-23 percent), Ireland (-22 percent), Switzerland and France (both -21 percent) topped the chart for the biggest dips in faith. Even the U.S. made its way onto the most noticeable list, with a -13 percent change in religiosity.
Every individual included in the study was asked, “Irrespective of whether you attend a place of worship or not, would you say you are a religious person, not a religious person or a convinced atheist?”
Among the most fascinating results is a list which shows the nations that have the largest proportion of atheists. Considering that only 13 percent of the world (at least based on the countries studied) holds no belief in a higher power, the level of atheism in the countries at the top of the list may be surprising.
The 10 (technically 11, seeing as four nations tied one another) countries, in order of most non-believing are: China, Japan, Czech Republic, France, South Korea, Germany, Netherlands, Austria, Iceland, Australia and Ireland. Here’s a table that shows the details:
On the flip side, the world’s most religious countries are also worth examining. Ghana, Nigeria, Armenia, Fiji and Macedonia lead the list. Brazil, which comes in 10th, still has a population of belief that comes in at 85 percent. Here’s the chart:
The “Global Index of Religiosity & Atheism” took national probability samples of about 1,000 individuals from each nation (for a total of 51,927). Respondents were spoken to face-to-face or via telephone between November 2011 and January 2012. The margin of error is said to be +/- 3.5 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.
You can read the rest of the study for yourself here.