Religion may become extinct in nine nations, including CANADA
By: Jason Palmer
Science and Technology Reporter
BBC News, Dallas | 22 March 2011
A study using census data from nine countries shows that religion there is set for extinction
, say researchers.
The study found a steady rise in those claiming no religious affiliation
. The team's mathematical model attempts to account for the interplay between the number of religious respondents and the social motives behind being one. The result, reported at the American Physical Society meeting in Dallas, US, indicates that religion will all but die out altogether in those countries – they are Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland
Their means of analysing the data invokes what is known as nonlinear dynamics - a mathematical approach that has been used to explain a wide range of physical phenomena in which a number of factors play a part.
"The idea is pretty simple," said Richard Wiener of the Research Corporation for Science Advancement, and the University of Arizona. "It posits that social groups that have more members are going to be more attractive to join, and it posits that social groups have a social status or utility.
"For example in languages, there can be greater utility or status in speaking Spanish instead of [the dying language] Quechuan in Peru, and similarly there's some kind of status or utility in being a member of a religion or not."
Dr. Wiener continued, "In a large number of modern secular democracies, there's been a trend that folk are identifying themselves as non-affiliated with religion; in the Netherlands
the number was 40%, and the highest we saw was in the Czech Republic
, where the number was 60%."
The team then applied their nonlinear dynamics model, adjusting parameters for the relative social and utilitarian merits of membership of the "non-religious" category. They found that those parameters were similar across all the countries studied, suggesting that similar behaviour drives the mathematics in all of them. And in all the countries, the indications were that religion was headed toward extinction. FOR A DETAILED READ:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12811197 ________________________________________________________________________________________________
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