In case you missed it, Pew has fascinating new projections out about the global state of religion in the year 2050. The study is interesting throughout, containing such fascinating tidbits as the predictions that, globally, the number of Muslims will equally the number of Christians between now and 2050, while every religion except Buddhism will see at least some absolute growth. Other findings include:
Atheists, agnostics and other people who do not affiliate with any religion – though increasing in countries such as the United States and France – will make up a declining share of the world’s total population. […]In the United States, Christians will decline from more than three-quarters of the population in 2010 to two-thirds in 2050, and Judaism will no longer be the largest non-Christian religion. Muslims will be more numerous in the U.S. than people who identify as Jewish on the basis of religion.Four out of every 10 Christians in the world will live in sub-Saharan Africa.
These projections are notable for a number of reasons. In the first place, the absolute growth of religion and the decline of the nonreligious gives the lie to the “secularization thesis,” that saw religion dying out as the world entered a wealthier and more progressive future. This might cheer up the religious citizens of the West who are living in secular or secularizing countries. Yet as the center of gravity of Christianity shifts to Africa and other non-Western countries, the public face of the that faith is likely to take on a different character than it has in Europe. That also means that we can expect the God wars—the violent clashes between various religious bodies that we already see in parts of the globe—to continue, and perhaps grow.Though we can’t know how these predictions will pan out, one thing seems reasonably clear: anyone who wants to understand our world and its future can’t dismiss the relevance of religion.