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Atheists losing ground as Christianity surges

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
July 27th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

New statistics show that atheists are in decline around the world. Meanwhile Christianity and Islam are the world's fastest growing religions. Despite their vocal nature, atheists are making up a smaller proportion of the world's population.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - By now, many of us have that friend or relative who proudly proclaims "there is no such thing as God" and is prepared to debate any point of religion with you. Many have dismissed this as a sign of the times, quietly accepting that the atheists are resurgent, encroaching on the previously dominant Christian culture in America.

This is not quite as true as we might think, at least not when we view the world as a whole.

According to worldwide statistics, atheism is in decline, crowded out by the spread of Christianity and Islam. A study done by the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts, reveals that Christianity is displacing atheism in many parts of the world.

The places with the most rapid growth are "atheist" countries, where religious practice has been either forbidden or severely restricted, such as in China. As people are given a little more freedom and means, they are turning towards the Christian Truth and away from the secular atheism of their government.

According to the study, atheists made a whopping 4 percent of the world's population in 1970, then just 2 percent in 2010, and will drop to 1.8 percent by 2020.

However, atheists are keen to point out that their numbers are rising. It is true that the aggregate number of atheists is on the rise, a natural occurrence as population increases, however that rise is not keeping pace with freedom.

As people in Russia and China become free to express their religious beliefs, many of them are becoming Christians and are displacing atheists as dominant majorities in those regions. Indeed, it is possible that many of those people, once counted among the atheists, were never really atheists at all.

In the United States, atheists make a large, but heavily fragmented minority. Atheism is a simple concept, a rejection of belief in all gods, including God Himself, and nothing more. Of course, as far as Christians are concerned, that fundamental rejection is everything.

Atheists, like Christians also fall along a broad spectrum from militant non-belief to agnosticism. While vocal, angry atheists capture headlines with their tirades, lawsuits and billboards, many more are content to live quietly. This is no different from Christians, some who range from "non-practicing" believers to those that will knock on your door at 7 AM to hand you a tract.

As Christians, we will say that the Holy Spirit is evident in the numbers. Indeed, it is a miracle that people who live in near-totalitarian societies can finally express their religious beliefs without fear of persecution any longer.

Atheists may argue that these are just statistics, and numbers don't mean much in themselves. This is something we're quite willing to concede. After all, what truly matters is your relationship with Christ because if you have that, no number in the world can take away His gift of salvation.

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