TBC Staff

A nightmare for Richard Dawkins: statistics show that atheists are a dying breed [Excerpts]

An interesting article in the Guardian by philosopher Julian Baggini, which begins in cracking form: “I have one, and only one, firm and sincere desire about what quality my grandchildren should possess: non-existence.”

The central question he asks is this: “The issue for me is rather one about the possible forms of the good life. I just cannot understand why it is that the vast majority of people seem to think breeding is a vital component of a flourishing existence.”

Baggini is a prominent atheist and has written several books on the subject, including Atheism, A Very Short Introduction….

Data is rare in this area, but what they do have suggests that atheists are a dying breed. Austria is the only country which records the religious belief of parents but their figure, of 0.85 children per atheist woman, is far below replacement rate (2.1) and below even the most barren European country’s average rate, which is about 1.2. And since most people inherit their parents’ political and religious world views, this is bad news for Team Dawkins.

Personally I find the New Atheists’ anti-Christian aggression tedious: criticising people for their privately-held religious beliefs shows a lack of class and maturity, and besides which this sudden outpouring of bile against Christianity seems clearly motivated by a secret fear of another Abrahamic religion. But I wouldn’t want to live in a world without atheists – if I was Julian Baggini I’d be trying to get Guardian readers to breed more to ensure the world in 50 year’s time isn’t populated entirely by religious crackpots of various shades.

 (Ed West , “A nightmare for Richard Dawkins: statistics show that atheists are a dying breed,” London Daily Telegraph Online, 9/18/09).

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