Gina A. Bellofatto
Gina A. Bellofatto

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.

Comments

SOMEWHAT AGREE

I think this page is well written and unprejudiced in favor of Christian belief. I also see a return to religiousity, yet I doubt that traditinal religions will be the ones benefitting. We have to take into account the possibility of something entirely new emerging that will attract younger potential recruits away from much polarized theistic and atheistic camps.

I'd rather have the opposite, please

I don't think you can really have such advanced tech compatible with something as backwards as religion, as most of them oppose many of the advances to come, especially those perceived to have something to do with the body, the "soul" or the spirit.

If anything can really jeopardise the advent of singularity and its preceeding steps is the predominance of religions, especially Islam and / or Communism (which I consider a religion just the same, but that's a topic for another day).

religions in 2100

Most people are not so much interested in "advanced tech" as in "giving meaning to their lives" and "fostering some hopes". "Advanced tech" does not provide any of these. So I think that we will see the return of the religions as predicted - perhaps in many forms as communism or spiritualism or "traditional". People need something to give structure and focus to their self-understanding and goals and values. Very probably even thinking robots would need religion because of that.

religion

I'm not buying it. Sorry

If you notice where the

If you notice where the author is coming from, of course she would only see godstuff increasing -- her glass is half full... but it's very muddy water. Get somebody sane and rational to speculate, and invisible skyfairy crap has no future. Thank gods for that.

I agree. I'm not giving into

I agree. I'm not giving into your liberal beliefs....including your "Godless society!"