Religious Belief in the Year 2100
By Gina A. Bellofatto
Projecting religious populations around the globe to 2100 first requires a nod to trends over the previous 200 years. In 1910, those imagining the future of religion generally had a positive outlook, with many believing that religion was an unchallenged fact of life that would continue on for generations to come.
In one sense, this conviction was incorrect, as the world was, by percentage, less religious in 2012 than in 1900. In 1900, 99.8% of the world’s population belonged to a religious tradition and 0.2% were unaffiliated (agnostic or atheist). The year 2012 marked a drop in the world’s religious population to 88.2% and a rise of unaffiliated populations to 11.8%.
In 2100, however, the world will likely be only 9% unaffiliated—more religious than in 2012. The peak of the unaffiliated was in 1970 at around 20%, largely due to the influence of European communism. Since communism’s collapse, religion has been experiencing resurgence that will likely continue beyond 2100.
All the world’s religions are poised to have enormous numeric growth (with the exceptions of tribal religions and Chinese folk-religion), as well as geographic spread with the continuation of migration trends. Adherents of the world’s religions—perhaps particularly Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists—will continue to settle in the formerly Christian and ever-expanding cities of Europe and North America, causing increases of religious pluralism in these areas.
Christians and Muslims together will encompass two-thirds of the global population—more than 7 billion individuals. In 2100, the majority of the world’s 11.6 billion residents will be adherents of religious traditions.
A child born in 2012 begins his life in a religious world, and when he reaches 88 years of age in 2100, that reality will be even more intensified. No matter what religious tradition he belongs to, if any, he will be immersed in a world populated by the religious and defined by an increasing plurality of theologies, spiritualities, and worldviews, all living at his doorstep.
While this kind of crowded ideological marketplace has the potential for cultural clashes and conflict, it could alternatively serve as an impetus for a new spirit of tolerance and community: Living in a shared, increasingly global society compels people to realize their commonalities and shared interests even in the face of differences in creed.About the author:
Gina Bellofatto is a research associate at the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts, and a doctoral student studying world religions and international religious demography at Boston University’s School of Theology.
Free Email Newsletter
To sign up for Futurist Update, our free monthly email newsletter, enter your email in the box below and click Save.
Climate change is threatening the credit rating of nations. Standard & Poor's has indicated that the credit ratings of 128 nations are at risk. S&P sees climate change as a more challenging problem than the changing demographics of our human population from aging in the Developed World to surging population in Developing Nations.
Without the ocean Earth would be a pretty inhospitable place even though we lie within our Sun's Goldilocks Zone. Those of you who live by the ocean can probably figure out why that is the case. You see the ocean is a temperature moderator and a heat transport mechanism that evens out the climate across the planet.
The horror of 298 lives snuffed out by a missile is reverberating around the planet this week after last Thursday's downing of a Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777. How could missile technology meant to shoot down warplanes get used to destroy a civilian aircraft?
I remain skeptical about the economics of industrial technologies for carbon capture. Almost every project started has been heavily subsidized by government. But for the operators without government subsidy there seems to be no return on investment. First of all, all existing industrial carbon capture technologies are expensive to implement.
On a recent driving trip, my wife and I became immersed in the audio version of one of Tom Clancy’s last novels, titled “Threat Vector.” Without giving away too much of the plot, a Chinese super-geek villain has hatched a plan to hack into our most secure networks and blackmail people with their darkest secrets to subversively cause chaos and disruption for the American government.
If you work for the post office these days then you already have an inkling of what the 21st century will do to many jobs. Texting, email, and mobile connectivity have forever altered the way we communicate. How many of us still write letters on paper and mail them?
Some of you who know me personally know that in my formative years I started studying geophysics in university before a physical accident laid me up for more than a year and I in an epiphany changed my major to Islamic Studies and Medieval History. So I was both a science and history nerd all at the same time. Well nothing has changed.
The government in South Korea is organizing its manufacturing sector along with academics and ministries to tackle and develop 3D printing as an economic opportunity. Rather than rely on the hits and misses of free enterprise, the South Korean leadership is directing all interested players within the country to come up with a roadmap that will lead to innovation in manufacturing and the creation of new jobs.