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Survey shows religion on the wane in Western countries

Catholic World News - March 23, 2011

A study by the American Physical Society (APS) has confirmed the well-established trend away from religious affiliation in secularized Western societies, and predicted that the trend will continue.

A study of 9 countries, using data on religious enrollments during the past 100 years, showed a strong trend away from affiliation. In the US, for instance, the authors found: "Americans without affiliation comprise the only religious group growing in all 50 states." In the Czech Repubilc, 60% of respondents now say they are unaffiliated.

The APS study--using strictly mathematical models and making no provision for the possibility that religious faith brings its own rewards—concludes that in secular societies, religious ties are regarded as less useful. The authors make the sweeping conclusion: "The model predicts that for societies in which the perceived utility of not adhering is greater than the utility of adhering, religion will be driven toward extinction."

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  • Posted by: unum - Mar. 24, 2011 9:02 AM ET USA

    It looks like the age old battle between science and religion continues, as the physicists hint at a victory for science based on a decline in the number of church members. I believe that a similar study conducted by religious institutions would clearly show a decline in the number of people who believe in physics. The real problem is that majority of people in the nine countries don't believe in anything that is not currently on TV.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 23, 2011 8:41 PM ET USA

    This may seem like a strange subject for the American Physical Society to be mixing into. I suspect that it has to do with the accidental amenity of the data available to analysis by some interesting new analysis methodology of interest to physicists.

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