Religion to disappear by 2041

Now why am I sceptical about this claim? People need to believe in something it seems, and you can reason with them till you are blue in the face, you will not convince them. Maybe better education and a higher standard of living will work, but the majority of a population? Then you also have the effect of something big, like a major earthquake or a war that will change the borderline mindset. Logic tells you that something big like that would help (to end religion) but in situations like that logic is in short supply. And why 2041 exactly?

Religion will disappear from the majority of our planet within 28 years!? Like Kaufmann, I seriously doubt Barber’s contention, even ignoring the sticky problem of properly defining what religion is and what it isn’t. In much of Europe formal religion is definitely declining at an accelerating pace but it is being replaced in many cases by assorted New Age and/or mystical beliefs that are not far removed, if at all, from more traditional religious ones. However, unlike Kaufman, I don’t think it’s mainly because the religious will outbreed unbelievers; rather, there’s simply still too much cultural momentum behind religious beliefs for them to go away in little more than a generation.

Barber’s hypothesis wrongly assumes that religious indoctrination from infancy can fairly readily be undone. It can be for some people but most carry that baggage to their graves with them after having burdened their own offspring with it, a situation that will persist until the mainstream is gradually whittled down to a subcritical mass. Barring a sudden major shift of some sort, I can’t see the latter happening in Barber’s proposed timeframe.

Would be nice if he were right, though…


In developed countries, at least the traditional religions have far fewer adherents than they used to, and they tend to be vastly more tolerant and open-minded too. I think that if the world continues to develop economically we may well see the eventual disappearance of traditional religion (but by 2041? On 24 October, at 3 am Eastern Standard Time? Where DO they get these curiously specific predictions from?).

Anyway, the problem isn’t religion as such, but authoritarianism combined with a fundamentalist sort of mindset. Stalin’s Soviet Union was ostensibly atheist, but far from a tolerant, broad-minded paradise. Instead of God, they simply had Stalin himself as the new deity, and he and his party were treated pretty much as such. That didn’t exactly help.

In western Europe, utterly irrational thought is still rife. I lived there for two years, and the people did not strike me as all that much less given to irrational thought than anyone else. In short, traditional religions have simply been replaced with new systems of irrational thought, and what makes it even worse is that now, the people do not even realize that the things they believe are in effect religions. Hence we have “natural” healing (it is all but frickin’ impossible to get hold of effective over-the-counter medicines in the Netherlands), “green” movements that need little more than a swastika to be clones of the Nazi party, paranoia over vaccination and nuclear power, absurd nanny state laws that “protect” you against everything, especially yourself, and so on and so forth. I sometimes despair for the species.

Still, I do not want to sound too pessimistic either. I think there really has been at least some progress. I just don’t see that everything will suddenly be different in 2041. :slight_smile:

Yea right, you not going to undo 100 million years of evolution in 20 years.
But on the good side if you went back 500 years to Europe everybody would have looked like
a religious extremist, so things are getting better.

I could maybe buy that if by majority they mean 51%. Then maybe. Unlikely, but possible. Isn’t most of China technically atheistic anyway? Does Buddhism/Taoism count?

Atheism unfortunately does not cure stupidity, It simply means people no longer believe in a supreme being. Thus I must point out, IMHO the matter is stated a bit backwards. We need more critical, rational thought. Given more of that, the atheism thing should take care of itself sooner or later. Also, it’s a lot more marketable to sell “rational thought” than “atheism”.

Micro$oft Excel, the Analysis ToolPak add-in, plus overconfidence in the comprehensiveness of their models.

It could reasonably be argued that religions actively inculcate these things, at least in their various leadership echelons. Japan up to WWII is the archetype. The Japanese emperor was not just an emperor, he was a de facto deity, and his standing as deity is what entitled him to be emperor.


They didn’t, hence my incredulity.

Not really. They’re far closer to ignosticism. Both hold that the idea of a “god” is so far above human understanding that silence on the subject is the only truly honest approach. Apologetes and theologians would do well to take that particular leaf from Buddhist/Taoist books.


The biggest change I can see from my own experience is that in primary school we were taught that there are only two sides to the religious coin. You’re either a Christian or a Satanist. Being in a white only Afrikaans primary school there weren’t any Muslim or Hindi people to refute this. My kids now learn in primary school that there are other religions, and that the distinction should be made between good and bad; and not between Christ and Satan. This realisation that there are several gods and not just the one was a major breakthrough in my becoming an atheist. Add to this the access to information which the internet now brings, and I find it difficult to believe that religion can exist for much longer. The same reasons above unfortunately also increase the spread of New Age crap.

Yes it’s hard to argue with rational.

In 28 years religion will still be around, but its proponents will be slightly more embarrassed about it. People will have religion in the same way they have dandruff.


The headline and content of the article are contradictory. In the text there is a reference to “the majority of the world”, which I interpret as 50%+. Looking at trends in Europe, North America, Australia and New Zeeland, it appears realistic there; some countries may already qualify. The largest population is likely to be India. There we have a problem of definition.

The Western concept of irreligion becomes irrelevant when dealing with Indian religions, since Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism consider atheism, agnosticism, nontheism etc. to be valid.[1][2] This incongruity arises from the fact that Indian religions do not conform to the Western definition of religion. The elements that form the concept of irreligion have a strong tradition in India and among Indian religions.[3]

According to a 2012 Gallup poll 47% of China’s population are confirmed atheists.

The Muslim countries might be the most devout and least likely to change.

There may be a tipping point where atheism suddenly gains acceptability and religion loses it - where religion becomes like having dandruff, as Rigil Kent puts it.

Yep…I don’t buy the precise prediction either and while ignorance,poverty and suffering continue so will religion. A Liberal Education (not any education as it is invariably used to manipulate people) as I have said before is the one way to minimise the impact of religion. Religion (hence difficulties with definitions) are closely aligned to traditions and cultures. That is inter alia why Sudan was split into two states due to the cultural/tribal rejection of so-called “Arabification” by the Muslims in the north. It has been established that cultures start to change (don’t ask me for the reference…buried deep in my memory somewhere) when roughly 30% of a population (say at school) are from a different culture or belief system. So at a school you could have 100% rugby bias being eroded by soccer adherents over a relatively short time span if the numbers warrant it. So to take it to religion again, if a country’s population are Xtian and roughly 30% swing to Buddhism, Islam or atheism, a cultural swing will start to take place as well leading to for example legislation that permits circumcision for religious reasons (wtf!!) sound familiar? Abortion laws, laws for or against gays etc are all effectively driven by these values. In our weird and wonderful country, killing an ox by breaking its neck is OK becoz its cultural??? and so on…

It occurs to me now that this curiously specific and confident prediction about when religion will disappear is in itself a typical example of the new irrationality that has replaced traditional religion. Yes, religion will disappear in 2041, and Omo washes up to 83.875 percent whiter than any other leading powder. :slight_smile: