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Will religion disappear in mid 21st Century due to encroaching materialism?

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
August 8th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

According to one noted "biopsychologist," religion could vanish by the year 2041. Dr. Nigel Barber in his new book argues that materialism, where luxury goods and creature comforts now making inroads into developing nations, will replace their faith in God with possessions.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Irish scholar Barber's book, "Why Atheism Will Replace Religion," draws his findings on some shocking conclusions. Barber says that religious people in many developed countries will be in the minority by 2041.

Studying the beliefs of people living in 137 countries, which forms the basis for Barber's book, atheism was increasing in more developed places as people become more materially rich. Barber also debunks the popular belief that religious groups will dominate atheistic ones as they collectively have more children.

"Noisy as they can be, such groups are tiny minorities of the global population and they will become even more marginalized as global prosperity increases and standards of living improve."
Barber says that he questions how long it would take for the average country in the world to reach a similar level of wealth and development as countries that already have secular minorities.

Barber says that atheists are heavily concentrated in economically developed countries. Therefore the influence of religion will decrease as individuals' personal wealth increases. Barber argues that people do not have to rely on supernatural influences when material possessions are catering to their needs.

Religion, Barber says declines not only because people are becoming richer, but also because of the increasing quality of life, decline of serious diseases, better education and welfare states.

Religion is a low priority in Japanese and Swedish cultures where normal people are relatively comfortable. Consequently the majority of the populations are already secular.

Barber in his book concentrates on the emotional benefits of religion that favored its evolution amongst our ancestors, who faced many different challenges to their daily lives.

A survey published in Psychology Today in 2007 found that there is almost no Atheism in Sub-Saharan Africa. There are more atheists in Europe: 64 percent of people are non-believers in Sweden; 48 percent of individuals are atheist in Denmark; 44 percent of French citizens do not subscribe to a religion and 42 percent of Germans do not believe in a god.

The survey added that even "Facebook is killing religion because it provides answers for peculiarly modern narcissistic anxieties for which religion has no answer."

Biopsychologists examine the application of the principles of biology to the study of physiological, genetic and developmental mechanisms of behavior in humans.

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