In the war between religion and atheism, one atheist is already predicting victory. Biopsychologist Nigel Barber, writing for the Huffington Post, argued that atheism will overtake religion by the year 2038.
Barber’s argued that “economic development is the key factor responsible for secularization.” His argument is simple: “The basic idea is that as people become more affluent, they are less worried about lacking for basic necessities, or dying early from violence or disease. In other words they are secure in their own existence. They do not feel the need to appeal to supernatural entities to calm their fears and insecurities.”
To prove this point, Barber compares the average per capita GDP of 9 most “secular” countries (
Barber’s analysis is rife with false assumptions and convenient leaps in logic. He does not give a list of the countries with the highest GDP per capita – perhaps because that list includes religious countries such as the
Barber even deliberately skews his data. He states that he left
Barber falsely conflates all religious people with religious fundamentalists. He only briefly mentions that “some serious scholars” believe “religious fundamentalists will outbreed the rest of us,” before dismissing religious men and women as “tiny minorities of the global population” who will “become even more marginalized as global prosperity increases and standards of living improve.”
But the rapid increase of Islam in European countries casts doubt on Barber’s analysis. Barber argues that religious minorities assimilate into secular society once they attain economic success – an assumption that Islam confounds.
Barber also ignores the fact secularist countries such as
Countries with low replacement rates have negative population growth. The 2008 documentary “Demographic Winter” describes the economic disaster that countries with negative population growth face. As fewer children are born and the number of retirees increases, the governmental safety nets that secular societies depend on crumble, because there are fewer and fewer workers to support increasingly aging populations.
Barber celebrates the inexorable tide of atheism as a dream, writing: “Godless countries are highly moral nations with an unusual level of social trust, economic equality, low crime and a high level of civic engagement.” His dream, based on shoddy analysis, is a nightmare waiting to happen.