Study Claims Atheists Are Dying Out Due to Contraception
(Goes to The Independent, a newspaper of the United Kingdom)
The Independent reports on a study of American and Malaysian college students, asking how many siblings they have and if their family is or is not religious. From this, they conclude atheism is due to die out because religious people have more children than atheists.
The study in question (linked in the article) seems to ignore such things as knowledge and availability of contraceptives, education, other people besides college students, relative wealth, and that in wealthy nations the birth rates between atheists and the religious are virtually identical. (As for the belief in contraception, I am pretty sure religious people believe that contraceptives exist as well. In fact, a whole lot of religious people use contraceptives. I suppose that the paper could have written the sentence better: A number of religious people do not believe in the use of contraceptives, not that they don’t believe in them. However, I’m a pedant.)
The article (and the study) also seem to ignore that those who are atheists now are almost exclusively formerly religious. Almost every person who is an atheist is so because they looked at their religious faith and found it lacking in evidence. The article at The Independent presents atheism as if it is some sort of genetic inheritance. (As it happens, the study asserts that atheism is heritable. I’m not going to spend US$40 to read the whole nineteen page study, but as far as I am aware, no biologist or geneticist has discovered an “atheism gene.”)
I can’t speak to religious faiths outside my experience (such as Hinduism or Islam), but within Christianity in the USA, not every church holds the same position on contraception. (The Roman Catholic Church is opposed to it for example, while the United Methodist Church is not.)
No recent good studies exist within the USA on the percentage of people who are atheists. Polls and surveys often include the term “nones” (that is, people who identify with no particular religious denomination. That would include believers who are not members of churches as well as atheists.) Such surveys as exist in the USA usually have Vermont and Maine as the areas with the most atheists (over 50%) and Dixie as the area with the least.
In the US government, there are no people who identify as atheists. In my own state, there are only two who do so publicly when asked (Senator Ernie Chambers of Omaha, and me). Federal Representatives and Senators that have come out as atheists have only done so after their terms were complete (as atheism is the death knell of a national political career in the USA).