Like an Optical Illusion?

Barry Kosmin, director of the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture at Trinity College in Connecticut, has been focusing on non believers, meaning not only atheist and agnostics but also humanists as well as those who are indifferent to religion. His research (which he likens to Christopher Columbus on an expedition to an unknown continent) points to the fact that secularists make up some 15% of the global population, about 1 billion people. As a group they are right behind the 2.3 billion Christians and 1.6 billion Muslims, more numerous therefore than Buddhists, Hindus or Jews. Kosmin says that “…many believe that the US population is steadily becoming more religious—but this is an optical illusion. Many evangelicals have simply become more aggressive and more political.” Given that we live in an age when religion divides as much as ever before, and when fundamentalists threaten cherished values, Kosmin’s research may provide a helpful perspective.