A few months ago, the good folks at the Center for the Study of Global Christianity released the 2019 edition of their “Status of Global Christianity” report. There’s a lot of fascinating info in there. Some of the more significant stats are detailed in the LifeWay article, 7 SURPRISING TRENDS IN GLOBAL CHRISTIANITY IN 2019, like the fact that Christianity is growing faster than the population is, or that the percentage of unevangelized individuals in the world has shrunk, from 54.3% in 1900 to 28.4% today.
Perhaps most fascinating, though, is the projected decrease in atheism worldwide. According to the report, atheism reached its peak in 1970, with over 165 million atheists worldwide. Since then, atheism has been steadily decreasing, with 138 million today, a number that’s expected to drop to 129 million by 2050. That’s huge. Right?
Well…it’s important, when reading stats like this, to take into account the host of other statistics that complexifies the issue. For instance, a 2015 study from Pew Research showed that while the number of nonbelievers will likely shrink over the next 25 years, this decline will not be evenly distributed: Europe, America and China will continue to move away from religion while Christianity grows exponentially in Sub-Saharan Africa, resulting in what researcher Alan Cooperman calls “the secularizing West and the rapidly growing rest.” We also can’t forget that Millennials are three times as likely to consider themselves atheists when compared to Baby Boomers.
In other words, atheism may be projected to decline, but don’t get the party hats out just yet, believers. There are a lot of factors at play.
So what should Christians do with this information? I was joking about the party hats, but for many Christians, that’s not too far from the truth. Somewhere along the way, atheists became the rival team. They’re the villains in Christian movies. They’re the kids we warn our kids to be careful around. They’re the “white whale” of evangelism, the biggest catch you can reel in. They’re a nice thing to have been—we’re very proud that C.S. Lewis and journalist Lee Strobel used to be atheists because it demonstrates that, hey, intelligent people can find their way to God, too!—but they’re a horrifying thing to currently be. So, when you hear that atheism is going to drop in the next few decades, maybe you breathe a sigh of relief, without necessarily knowing why.
Or maybe you know exactly why. Maybe you believe that atheists should be feared because there is nothing more detrimental to the moral fabric of our world than someone who has no god.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Hayden Royster