Irreligion (adjective form: non-religious or irreligious) is the absence, indifference to, or rejection of religion. According to the Pew Research Center's 2012 global study of 230 countries and territories, 16% of the world's population is not affiliated with a religion, while 84% are affiliated.
|Part of a series on|
Irreligion may include some forms of theism, depending on the religious context it is defined against; for example, in 18th-century Europe, the epitome of irreligion was deism, while in contemporary East Asia the shared term meaning "irreligion" or "no religion" (無宗教, Chinese pron. wú zōngjiào, Japanese pron. mu shūkyō Korean pron. mujonggyo), with which the majority of East Asian populations identify themselves, implies non-membership in one of the institutional religions (such as Buddhism and Christianity) and not necessarily non-belief in traditional folk religions collectively represented by Chinese Shendao and Japanese Shinto (both meaning "ways of gods").
According to cross-cultural studies, since religion and fertility are positively related while secularism and fertility are negatively related, secularism is expected to decline throughout the 21st century. By 2060, according to their projections, the number of unaffiliated will increase by over 35 million, but the percentage will decrease to 13% because the total population will grow faster.
The term irreligion is a combination of the noun religion and the prefix ir-, signifying "not" (similar to irrelevant). It was first attested in French as irréligion in 1527, then in English as irreligion in 1598. It was borrowed into Dutch as irreligie in the 17th century, though it is not certain from which language.
- Secular humanism embraces human reason, ethics, social justice, and philosophical naturalism while specifically rejecting religious dogma, supernaturalism, pseudoscience, and superstition as the bases of morality and decision making. Secular humanism posits that human beings are capable of being ethical and moral without religion or a god.
- Freethought holds that positions regarding truth should be formed on the basis of logic, reason, and empiricism, rather than authority, tradition, revelation, or other dogma. In particular, freethought is strongly tied with rejection of traditional religious belief.
- "Spiritual but not religious" rejects organized religion as the sole or most valuable means of furthering spiritual growth. In contrast to religion, spirituality has often been associated with the interior life of the individual.
- Theological noncognitivism is the argument that religious language – specifically, words such as God – are not cognitively meaningful. It is sometimes considered as synonymous with ignosticism.
- Antireligion is opposition to religion of any kind. It can describe opposition to organized religion, religious practices, religious institutions, or specific forms of supernatural worship or practice, whether organized or not.
- Atheism is the rejection of belief that any deities exist or, in a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities. There are ranges from Negative and positive atheism.
- Agnosticism is the view that the existence of God, of the divine or the supernatural is unknown or unknowable.
- Agnostic atheism is a philosophical position that encompasses both atheism and agnosticism. Agnostic atheists are atheistic because they do not hold a belief in the existence of any deity and agnostic because they claim that the existence of a deity is either unknowable in principle or currently unknown in fact.
- Apatheism is the attitude of apathy towards the existence or non-existence of god(s).
- Deism is the philosophical position that rejects revelation as a source of religious knowledge and asserts that reason and observation of the natural world are sufficient to establish the existence of a Supreme Being or creator of the universe.
In 1993, the UN's human rights committee declared that article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights "protects theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs, as well as the right not to profess any religion or belief." The committee further stated that "the freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief necessarily entails the freedom to choose a religion or belief, including the right to replace one's current religion or belief with another or to adopt atheistic views." Signatories to the convention are barred from "the use of threat of physical force or penal sanctions to compel believers or non-believers" to recant their beliefs or convert.
A noted exception to ambiguity, explicitly allowing non-religion, is Article 36 of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China (as adopted in 1982), which states that "No state organ, public organization or individual may compel citizens to believe in, or not to believe in, any religion; nor may they discriminate against citizens who believe in, or do not believe in, any religion." Article 46 of China's 1978 Constitution was even more explicit, stating that "Citizens enjoy freedom to believe in religion and freedom not to believe in religion and to propagate atheism."
Although 11 countries listed below have nonreligious majorities, it does not mean that the majority of the populations of these countries don't belong to any religious group. For example, 68% of the Swedish population belongs to the Lutheran Christian Church, while 59% of Albanians declare themselves as religious. Also, though Scandinavian countries have among the highest measures of nonreligiosity and even atheism in Europe, 47% of atheists who live in those countries are still members of the national churches.
A Pew 2015 global projection study for religion and nonreligion, projects that between 2010 and 2050, there will be some initial increases of the unaffiliated followed by a decline by 2050 due to lower global fertility rates among this demographic. Sociologist Phil Zuckerman's global studies on atheism have indicated that global atheism may be in decline due to irreligious countries having the lowest birth rates in the world and religious countries having higher birth rates in general.
According to Pew Research Center's 2012 global study of 230 countries and territories, 16% of the world's population is not affiliated with a religion, while 84% are affiliated. A 2012 Worldwide Independent Network/Gallup International Association report on a poll from 57 countries reported that 59% of the world's population identified as religious person, 23% as not religious person, 13% as "convinced atheists", and also a 9% decrease in identification as "religious" when compared to the 2005 average from 39 countries. Their follow-up report, based on a poll in 2015, found that 63% of the globe identified as religious person, 22% as not religious person, and 11% as "convinced atheists". Their 2017 report found that 62% of the globe identified as religious person, 25% as not religious person, and 9% as "convinced atheists". However, researchers have advised caution with the WIN/Gallup International figures since other surveys which use the same wording, have conducted many waves for decades, and have a bigger sample size, such as World Values Survey; have consistently reached lower figures for the number of atheists worldwide.
Being nonreligious is not necessarily equivalent to being an atheist or agnostic. Pew Research Center's global study from 2012 noted that many of the nonreligious actually have some religious beliefs. For example, they observed that "belief in God or a higher power is shared by 7% of Chinese unaffiliated adults, 30% of French unaffiliated adults and 68% of unaffiliated U.S. adults." Out of the global nonreligious population, 76% reside in Asia and the Pacific, while the remainder reside in Europe (12%), North America (5%), Latin America and the Caribbean (4%), sub-Saharan Africa (2%) and the Middle East and North Africa (less than 1%).
The term "nones" is sometimes used in the U.S. to refer to those who are unaffiliated with any organized religion. This use derives from surveys of religious affiliation, in which "None" (or "None of the above") is typically the last choice. Since this status refers to lack of organizational affiliation rather than lack of personal belief, it is a more specific concept than irreligion. A 2015 Gallup poll concluded that in the U.S. "nones" were the only "religious" group that was growing as a percentage of the population.
|Country||Percentage of population
who are nonreligious
|Date and source|
- "Irreligion as presented in 26 reference works".
- "Definition including hostility and indifference", Compact Oxford Dictionary
- "Definition including lack and indifference", Collins Dictionary
- "Irreligion", Encyclopedia of Religion and Society, retrieved 2012-02-18 Includes rejection.
- Colin Campbell (1998), "Irreligion", Encyclopedia of Religion and Society, ISBN 9780761989561, retrieved 2012-02-18
- Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. "The Global Religious Landscape". Retrieved December 18, 2012.
- Campbell, Colin. 1971. Towards a Sociology of Irreligion. London:McMillan p. 31.
- Bestor, Theodore C.; Bestor, Victoria; Yamagata, Akiko, eds. (2011). Handbook of Japanese Culture and Society. London: Routledge. pp. 66–67. ISBN 978-0415436496.
無宗教 mushūkyō, "no religion", in Japanese language and mindset identifies those people who do not belong to organised religion. To the Japanese, the term "religion" or "faith" means organised religions on the model of Christianity, that is a religion with specific doctrines and requirement for church membership. So, when asked "what is their religion", most of the Japanese answer that they "do not belong to any religion". According to NHK studies, those Japanese who identify with mushūkyō and therefore do not belong to any organised religion, actually take part in the folk ritual dimension of Shinto. Ama Toshimaru in Nihonjin wa naze mushukyo na no ka ("Why are the Japanese non-religious?") of 1996, explains that people who do not belong to organised religions but regularly pray and make offerings to ancestors and protective deities at private altars or Shinto shrines will identify themselves as mushukyo. Ama designates "natural religion" what NHK studies define as "folk religion", and other scholars have named "Nipponism" (Nipponkyō) or "common religion".
- Ellis, Lee; Hoskin, Anthony W.; Dutton, Edward; Nyborg, Helmuth (8 March 2017). "The Future of Secularism: a Biologically Informed Theory Supplemented with Cross-Cultural Evidence". Evolutionary Psychological Science. 3 (3): 224–43. doi:10.1007/s40806-017-0090-z.
- "Why People With No Religion Are Projected To Decline As A Share Of The World's Population". Pew Research Center. April 7, 2017.
- "The Changing Global Religious Landscape: Babies Born to Muslims will Begin to Outnumber Christian Births by 2035; People with No Religion Face a Birth Dearth". Pew Research Center. April 5, 2017.
- "Irreligie". Instituut voor Nederlandse Lexicologie. Instituut voor de Nederlandse Taal. 2007. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
- J.J.C. Smart. "Atheism and Agnosticism". Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
- Hepburn, Ronald W. (2005) . "Agnosticism". In Donald M. Borchert (ed.). The Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 1 (2nd ed.). MacMillan Reference USA (Gale). p. 92. ISBN 978-0-02-865780-6.
In the most general use of the term, agnosticism is the view that we do not know whether there is a God or not.(page 56 in 1967 edition)
Harrison, Alexander James (1894). The Ascent of Faith: or, the Grounds of Certainty in Science and Religion. London: Hodder and Stroughton. p. 21. OCLC 7234849. OL 21834002M.
Let Agnostic Theism stand for that kind of Agnosticism which admits a Divine existence; Agnostic Atheism for that kind of Agnosticism which thinks it does not.
- Sean Phillips (November 7, 2013). "Apatheism: Should we care whether God exists?". nooga.com. Archived from the original on August 5, 2017. Retrieved September 30, 2018.
- Austin Cline (July 16, 2017). "What Is an Apatheist?". ThoughtCo. Retrieved October 14, 2018.
- "Deism". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2012.
In general, deism refers to what can be called natural religion, the acceptance of a certain body of religious knowledge that is inborn in every person or that can be acquired by the use of reason and the rejection of religious knowledge when it is acquired through either revelation or the teaching of any church.
- "Deism". Jewish Encyclopedia. 1906. Retrieved 2012-10-10.
DEISM: A system of belief which posits God's existence as the cause of all things, and admits its perfection, but rejects Divine revelation and government, proclaiming the all-sufficiency of natural laws.
- Gomes, Alan W. (2011). "Deism". The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization, 4 Volume Set. The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization. doi:10.1002/9780470670606.wbecc0408. ISBN 9781405157629.
Deism is a rationalistic, critical approach to theism with an emphasis on natural theology. The deists attempted to reduce religion to what they regarded as its most foundational, rationally justifiable elements. Deism is not, strictly speaking, the teaching that God wound up the world like a watch and let it run on its own, though that teaching was embraced by some within the movement.
- "CCPR General Comment 22: 30/07/93 on ICCPR Article 18". Minorityrights.org. Archived from the original on 2015-01-16.
- International Federation for Human Rights (1 August 2003). "Discrimination against religious minorities in Iran" (PDF). fdih.org. Retrieved 3 March 2009.
- Davis, Derek H. "The Evolution of Religious Liberty as a Universal Human Right" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 July 2011. Retrieved 3 March 2009.
- People's Republic of China 1978 Constitution (PDF). 1978. p. 41. Retrieved 2014-02-02.
- "Kyrkan i siffror, Swedish Lutheran Christian Church in numbers".
- Zuckerman, Phil, ed. (2010). "Ch. 9 Atheism And Secularity: The Scandinavian Paradox". Atheism and Secularity Vol.2. Praeger. ISBN 978-0313351815.
- "The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections, 2010–2050". Pew Research Center. April 5, 2012.
- Zuckerman, Phil (2007). Martin, Michael (ed.). The Cambridge Companion to Atheism. Cambridge Univ. Press. p. 59. ISBN 978-0521603676.
- "Global Index of Religion and Atheism" (PDF). WIN/Gallup International. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 October 2012. Retrieved 13 January 2015.
- "Losing our Religion? Two Thirds of People Still Claim to be Religious" (PDF). WIN/Gallup International. WIN/Gallup International. April 13, 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 30, 2015.
- "Wayback Machine" (PDF). 2017-11-14. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-11-14. Retrieved 2018-02-27.
- Keysar, Ariela; Navarro-Rivera, Juhem (2017). "36. A World of Atheism: Global Demographics". In Bullivant, Stephen; Ruse, Michael (eds.). The Oxford Handbook of Atheism. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0199644650.
- "Religiously Unaffiliated". The Global Religious Landscape. Pew Research Center: Religion & Public Life. December 18, 2012.
- "Percentage of Christians in U.S. Drifting Down, but Still High".
- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-03-09. Retrieved 2018-01-05.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Zuckerman, Phil (2007) [First printed 2006]. Martin, Michael (ed.). "Atheism: Contemporary Rates and Patterns" (PDF). The Cambridge Companion to Atheism (Essay collection). Cambridge Companions to Philosophy, Religion and Culture. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press: 47–66. doi:10.1017/CCOL0521842700.004. ISBN 9781139001182. LCCN 2006005949.
- Bernts, Tom; Berghuijs, Joantine (2016). God in Nederland 1966–2015. Ten Have. ISBN 9789025905248.
- Dentsu Communication Institute Inc., Research Centre for Japan (2006)
- Bulman, May (4 September 2017). "Record number of British people say they have no religion". The Independent. London.
- "Albania". State.gov. 2006-09-15. Retrieved 2011-02-04. US Department of State – International religious freedom report 2006
- "Lycos.com" (PDF). lycos.fr. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-03-03.
- "Adherents.com". Adherents.com. Retrieved 2011-02-04. Some publications
- "Global Index Of Religion and Atheism" (PDF). Redcresearch.ie. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-10-16. Retrieved 2011-11-01. Publications are taken from Gallup
- "Adherents.com". Adherents.com. Retrieved 2011-02-04. Some publications
- Palmer, Scott (24 September 2019). "'No religion' overtakes Christianity in latest Census results". Newshub. Retrieved 30 September 2019.
- "Atheism to Defeat Religion By 2038". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
- According to figures compiled by the South Korean National Statistical Office. "인구,가구/시도별 종교인구/시도별 종교인구 (2015 년 인구총조사)". NSO online KOSIS database. Archived from the original on September 8, 2006. Retrieved August 23, 2015.
- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-10-16. Retrieved 2013-09-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Cifra de chilenos que se declaran católicos bajó de 73% a 45% en la última década" [Number of Chileans who declare themselves Catholic decreased from 73% to 45% in the last decade] (in Spanish). Latinobarómetro. January 2018.
- Statistics, c=AU; o=Commonwealth of Australia; ou=Australian Bureau of. "Media Release - 2016 Census: Religion". www.abs.gov.au.
- "End of year 2016 Germany" (PDF). WIN-Gallup International. p. 40. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 May 2017. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
- "End of year 2014 Germany" (PDF). WIN-Gallup International. p. 38. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 May 2017. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
- "Religionszugehörigkeit Bevölkerung Deutschland" (PDF) (in German). Forschungsgruppe Weltanschauungen in Deutschland. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 January 2016. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
- (in German) Religionen in Deutschland: Mitgliederzahlen Religionswissenschaftlicher Medien- und Informationsdienst; 31 October 2009. Retrieved 19 November 2009.
- REMID Data of "Religionswissenschaftlicher Medien- und Informationsdienst" retrieved 16 January 2015
- Sociological Research Centre, July 2018
- "Ständige Wohnbevölkerung ab 15 Jahren nach Religions- / Konfessionszugehörigkeit, 2015". www.bfs.admin.ch (in German, French, and Italian). Neuchâtel: Swiss Federal Statistical Office. 2015. Retrieved 2017-03-01.
- "96F0030XIE2001015 – Religions in Canada". 2.statcan.ca. Retrieved 2013-05-08. Canada 2011 census
- NW, 1615 L. St; Washington, Suite 800; Inquiries, DC 20036 USA202-419-4300 | Main202-419-4349 | Fax202-419-4372 | Media (2019-10-17). "In U.S., Decline of Christianity Continues at Rapid Pace". Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project. Retrieved 2019-10-21.
- "El Papa Francisco y la Religión en Chile y América Latina, Latinobarómetro 1995 – 2017" (PDF), www.cooperativa.cl, January 2018
- "Pew Research Center", Accessed 23 March 2016.
- "The World Factbook — Central Intelligence Agency". Cia.gov. Retrieved 2017-09-25.
- "International Religious Freedom Report for 2012". U.S. State Department. Retrieved 2014-03-27.
- "Youth in Singapore shunning religion". The Straits Times. Retrieved March 21, 2016.
- Релігія, Церква, суспільство і держава: два роки після Майдану [Religion, Church, Society and State: Two Years after Maidan] (PDF) (in Ukrainian), Kiev: Razumkov Center in collaboration with the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches, 26 May 2016, pp. 22, 27, 29, 31, archived (PDF) from the original on 2017-04-22
Sample of 2,018 respondents aged 18 years and over, interviewed 25–30 March 2016 in all regions of Ukraine except Crimea and the occupied territories of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions.
- "2005 Nicaraguan Census" (PDF). National Institute of Statistics and Census of Nicaragua (INEC) (in Spanish). pp. 42–43. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-11-29. Retrieved 2007-10-30.
- "Table Of Statistics On Religion In The Americas". Prolades.com. April 2001. Retrieved 2011-02-04. Gallup-Belize survey
- Güney Afrika 2001 census Archived April 11, 2005, at the Wayback Machine
- The Latin American Socio-Religious Studies Program / Programa Latinoamericano de Estudios Sociorreligiosos PROLADES Religion in America by country
- International Religious Freedom Report 2008: Costa Rica. United States Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (September 14, 2007). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- "Latinobarómetro 1995 - 2017: El Papa Francisco y la Religión en Chile y América Latina" [Latinobarómetro 1995 - 2017: Pope Francis and Religion in Chile and Latin America] (PDF) (in Spanish). January 2018. Retrieved 30 August 2018.
- 2012 Suriname Census Definitive Results. Algemeen Bureau voor de Statistiek - Suriname.
- "Census 2010; Sistema IBGE de Recuperação Automática SIDRA". Retrieved 2013-06-29.
- (in Spanish) El 80% de los ecuatorianos afirma ser católico, según el INEC
- (in Spanish)
- "This is Ireland. Highlights from Census 2011, Part 1" (PDF). March 2012. Retrieved 2013-06-29.
- "Secular Sunday #14 – Census Special". April 2012.
- "Las religiones en tiempos del Papa Francisco" (PDF) (in Spanish). Latinobarómetro. April 2014. pp. 6, 31. Archived from the original (pdf) on 4 April 2015. Retrieved 4 April 2015.
- "Census of Population, Households and Dwellings in Montenegro 2011" (PDF). Monstat. pp. 14–15. Retrieved July 12, 2011. For the purpose of the chart, the categories 'Islam' and 'Muslims' were merged; 'Buddhist' (.02) and Other Religions were merged; 'Atheist' (1.24) and 'Agnostic' (.07) were merged; and 'Adventist' (.14), 'Christians' (.24), 'Jehovah Witness' (.02), and 'Protestants' (.02) were merged under 'Other Christian'.
- "Religión en Panamá" (PDF).
- "Las religiones en tiempos del Papa Francisco" (PDF) (in Spanish). Latinobarómetro. April 2014. p. 6. Archived from the original (pdf) on 4 April 2015. Retrieved 4 April 2015.
- ประชากรจำแนกตามศาสนา หมวดอายุ เพศ และเขตการปกครอง (in Thai). สำมะโนประชากรและเคหะ พ.ศ. 2543 (2000 census), National Statistical Office of Thailand. Retrieved 2013-10-26.
- Coleman, Thomas J.; Hood, Ralph W.; Streib, Heinz (2018). "An introduction to atheism, agnosticism, and nonreligious worldviews". Psychology of Religion and Spirituality. 10 (3): 203–206. doi:10.1037/rel0000213.
- John Allen Paulos (2009). Irreligion: A Mathematician Explains Why the Arguments for God Just Don't Add Up. Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-8090-5918-8.
- Richard Henry Popkin; Arie Johan Vanderjagt (1993). Scepticism and irreligion in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-09596-0.
- Eric Wright (2010). Irreligion: Thought, Rationale, History. BiblioBazaar. ISBN 978-1-171-06863-1.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Irreligion.|
|Wikiversity has learning resources about Beyond Theism|
- "Will religion ever disappear?", from BBC Future, by Rachel Nuwer, on December 2014