Global belief in a higher power is down nine percent since 2005 to an all-time low of sixty-eight percent, according to a Gallup poll which surveyed people from fifty seven countries all over the world. The number of people who self-identify as atheist is also on the rise, having increased to three percent. That brings the total estimated percent of global non-believers to thirteen percent.

Insofar as religious belief is motivated by feelings of material and emotional insecurity, as many scientists and academics believe, the drop in popularity is not difficult to explain. Global economic security has risen more during our period of financial globalization than in any other previous time.

"Basically, people are less scared about what might befall them," says Quentin Atkinson, a psychologist at the University of Auckland, New Zealand.

Interesting, however, belief systems that rival traditional world religions are showing gains in some surprising places. In the UK, for example, paganism is the fastest growing religion. In the US, witchcraft is experiencing a resurgence.

This may be because the human brain is hardwired for religious belief, explains Big Think expert and anthropologist Lionel Tiger:

So while rising global income may help explain why religious belief is waining among some populations, we all may be one catastrophe away from rediscovering religion. An ecological crisis created by climate change or an impending asteroid strike may revive our need to explain the meaning and cause of a sometimes cruel fate.

Read more at BBC Future

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