DALLAS, Texas, Tue Mar 29, 2011 ( – A mathematical study conducted by Richard Wiener of the University of Arizona, and Daniel Abrams and Haley Yaple of Northwestern University, presented at the American Physical Society (APS) meeting in Dallas last week, claims that religion may soon die out in Canada, Australia, Austria, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

The researchers took 100 years worth of census data from the nine countries, unique in that religious affiliation was part of the information gathered, and using a method of analysis called “nonlinear dynamics and perturbation theory” to analyze a “theoretical framework for the growth and decline of competing social groups,” concluded that the continuing growth of “religious non-affiliation” indicated the demise of religion in these countries.

The method of analysis attempted to give a mathematical basis to predictions about possible future trends in society.

“In a large number of modern secular democracies, there’s been a trend that folk are identifying themselves as non-affiliated with religion; in the Netherlands the number was 40 percent, and the highest we saw was in the Czech Republic, where the number was 60 percent,” Dr. Wiener told the APS conference.

“The model predicts that for societies in which the perceived utility of not adhering is greater than the utility of adhering, religion will be driven toward extinction.”

However, the team also admitted that the mathematics and statistics behind the study did not necessarily correspond to real world “network structure” and that the group was working to update the analytical model.

“Obviously we don’t really believe this is the network structure of a modern society, where each person is influenced equally by all the other people in society,” he said.

An abstract, with links to the full text of the report, titled “A mathematical model of social group competition with application to the growth of religious non-affiliation” is available here.


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