Is religion about to die out? Growing wealth is causing belief in moralising gods to decline - and it could make it vanish entirely - Daily Mail

They have helped to guide the moral compass - for better and for worse - of millions of humans for around 2,000 years.

But the world’s major religions are set to disappear according to recent research that examines how they emerged in the first place.

Scientists suggest moralising religions - Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism - emerged due to growing differences between wealthy elites and poorer general populations.

According to evolutionary psychologist Dr Nicolas Baumard, at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, affluence causes humans to switch to a slower lifestyle where they have babies later and fewer children.

I saw this article and thought it might be worthy of a discussion. Thoughts?

How do they explain the growth of Christianity and other religions in China, which is a country which has had increasing wealth?

Article is full of and based on the laziest and dumbest atheist beliefs about religion. And it’s more wishful thinking than anything. As with every empire, people turn from God, become mesmerized with sin and pleasure, and the empire crumbles.

Once it crumbles and society becomes dangerous, people realize how wrong they have been and turn back to God. It’s a predictable cycle that we read about in the OT and have seen throughout history.

My thoughts exactly, when everything is find and dandy God isn’t wanted because material things have replaced Him but as soon as it turns ugly all of a sudden and you lose all that material stuff then God once again is very much looked for again. Once all the things that you filled to replace God are gone then your empty again, this is the cycle of materialism in my view.

Is it true we live a slower lifestyle today? We’re more entertained than ever, but does that mean a slower lifestyle?

There are so many ways in which the article is risible in the extreme, but just looking at the bit quoted alone - affluence only becomes a marker of having fewer children in the modern (‘westernised’ world); and only then because of access to contraception plus a demand/desire/need for women to work outside the home. Look back 100 years and the affluent also had large families, generally speaking. If the two ran together then the quoted claim might be correct, only they don’t.

Also while historically Christianity, until Constantine changed things a bit, could definitely be said to be the religion of the poor and marginalised (and indeed, enslaved) - is this true for every other world religion?

Never mind the fact that plenty of extremely wealthy and privileged people in the “enlightened” present, and indeed throughout the ages, have also been genuinely pious people (i.e. not practicing a religion just for ‘show’).

I think what we see today, the ‘dying-out’ (so called) of religion is more a reflection of an atomising popular culture (“I don’t want to be told anything, I want to decide for myself, and do it all myself”), the rise quite simply of other ‘stuff to do’ in non-working time (i.e. other than religion-centred or inspired activity)…and above all the ease with which undeniable growing affluence allows people to be led or lead themselves astray. People turn from religion because they are too focussed in their own present, or because they have been persuaded that religion (whichever it might be) isn’t necessary for the fullness of life.

Which is all kind of nonsense, but the point is while religions attendance is certainly plummeting in the West, it’s not perhaps globally, and ascribing any cause like affluence in particular do it is a reworking of a long-descredited secularisation thesis.

For one thing, the article appears to assume that correlation is the same thing as causation.

Another thing…Daily Mail

**An old saying: “No atheists in foxholes.”
YHWH will create conditions that will induce everyone to pray.
He will make Himself known. **

The nations have sunk into a pit of their own making,
they are caught by the feet in the snare they set themselves.
YHWH has made Himself known, has given judgment,
He has trapped the wicked in the work of their own hands.

Psalm 9;15-16

Somewhat old-fashioned Spencerian waffle.

That academic is recycling his 1970s dissertation! :wink:

And now, almost everyone is getting poorer anyway.

Evolutions in religion are nothing new and Our God will continue to light our way for us what way He wants, if we look.

Actually, sociological studies have conclusively shown that Christianity spread first among the educated classes of the Roman Empire, not the poor and dispossessed as is commonly thought. The Church Fathers were from cultured, wealthy backgrounds.

St. Perpetua is a key example. She was a wealthy Roman noblewoman living in early third century Carthage when she converted to Christianity and was martyred for her faith. Clearly something was lacking in her life, despite the material goods she had in abundance.

The same trend is occurring today in China:

**More educated people in China embracing Christianity to find true meaning of life

As of last year, a recent study estimates that some 100 million Chinese citizens already believe in Jesus Christ and His teachings.**

What exactly is driving the growth of Christianity in a communist country that officially does not subscribe to any religion but whose citizens are mostly those who practice Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism?

Two academics, Rodney Stark and Xiuhua Wang, provide an answer in their book “A Star in the East: The Rise of Christianity in China,” published this year. For them, more and more educated Chinese are becoming Christians to find the true meaning of life in modern times.

Stark, a sociologist by profession, explained that many Chinese citizens, especially the better educated ones, are currently experiencing “cultural incongruity” between traditional Asian culture and industrial-technological modernity. This leads to “spiritual deprivation,” which can best be answered by Christianity, he said.

“The question of what does the world mean, and how do we live in it, persists – and so that’s a major motor in the Christianisation of China, and it explains why it’s the most educated Chinese who are the most apt to join,” the author explained.

He added that most Chinese intellectuals think that traditional Eastern religions “don’t fit the modern world they’re engaged in” and are “anti-progress.”

“They all proclaim the world is going downhill from a glorious past, and that we should look backwards, not forwards. None of them admit that we’re able to understand anything about the universe – it’s something we have to meditate on, not something to try and theorise about, as the physicists and chemists do,” Stark explained.

So I don’t know where this article is getting its facts from. In China - and indeed in South Korea as well - Christianity is the preferred religion of the urban, professional, educated classes, not the poor.

The secularization and decline of Christianity in Europe has less to do with growing affluence IMHO than it does with the fact that for nearly 2,000 years Christianity has been the state religion of most European nations - and thus part of the traditional establishment that people since the Enlightenment have been rebelling against. It’s natural that if you turn liberal in a society with a state church and seek to break from the past, Christianity with be viewed by said person as synonymous with the old order.

Westerners are so conceited. We assume that trends in our societies are normative for everywhere else.

Good point. People are not affluent today. Most of us look back with longing to the 1960s and 1980s, when housing was far more affordable.

Inequality is growing at an exponential rate in the West. The mega-rich are becoming a globalized class all by themselves, such that the “middle” is no longer what it once was.

This article is tosh.

This pretty much sums up my thoughts as well. People who believe that religion is the result of socio-economic circumstances are deluding themselves.

Atheists have, on average, half the number of kids as the religious.

No, religion is not about to die out.

From a sociological perspective, when things fall out favor in a society, don’t they suddenly become counter-culturally trendy creating a resurgence?

“Cult” is the root of “culture.” Without cult (i.e., religion), there is no culture. If people stop believing in God (as seems to be happening in the more affluent societies of Europe and North America) what kind of culture will be found? What will replace the culture that is being left behind?

I believe that what we are seeing today among the non-believers in our culture is the celebration of amorality, where “my truth is different than your truth.” When this happens, the center cannot hold. Fecundity – intellectual, spiritual, aesthetic, and well as physical – is diminished, compromised and ultimately, destroyed. Our society is then dominated by feral impulse (rioting, vengeance, murder, inchoate and aberrant passions). God’s very first commandment to Man was to “be fruitful and multiply.” When humankind abandons our duty to obey this primal commandment, chaos and brute force – the will to power – takes over.

If our belief in “moralizing gods” disappears or vanishes as is being suggested in this article, it will be a catastrophe for humankind.

As long as I believer remains on this world, religion will survive. We have a natural ingrained belief in a higher power, religion will die only when the last human does.

Another thing…Daily Mail…


I can think of plenty of family members who were professional soldiers and went through major battles and were atheists. The saying is hoary and not particularly reflective of reality.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit