• A new study has found atheists could die out because religious people have more children. (Design Pics RF)Source: Design Pics RF
Faith in contraception could spell the end of atheism, according to a new study.
By
Alyssa Braithwaite

16 Mar 2017 - 2:29 PM  UPDATED 16 Mar 2017 - 2:31 PM

Atheism may be doomed because adherents use contraception more, while religious people tend to have higher rates of reproduction, a new study suggests.

For more than a century, social scientists have predicted declines in religious beliefs and a rise in more scientific/naturalistic outlooks - a prediction known as the secularization hypothesis.

But an international team of researchers from Malaysia, the US, Finland and Denmark predict that the opposite is actually true.

"A contra-secularization hypothesis is proposed. It states that secularism is likely to undergo a decline throughout the remainder of the twenty-first century," the authors write in the paper, 'The Future of Secularism: a Biologically Informed Theory Supplemented with Cross-Cultural Evidence',  published in the journal of Evolutionary Psychological Science.

"Overall, religious people out-reproduce secularists. Consequently, the proportion of secularists in most if not all countries will decline noticeably."

The researchers studied 4,570 undergraduate college students from Malaysia and the US, questioning them about their religious beliefs and how many siblings they had.

They found that Malaysian atheists had 1.5 fewer siblings than the average. In the US, the gap was narrower. Secular students had 0.16 fewer siblings than average - non-religious couples had 3.04 children, while the average for the whole population is 3.2.

“It is ironical that effective birth control methods were developed primarily by secularists, and that these methods are serving to slowly diminish the proportional representation of secularists in forthcoming generations,” the researchers write. 

"In other words, the genes conducive to secularism are now evidently being reduced in human populations relative to genes for high religiosity and low intelligence."

Australia with 'no religion': In the aftermath of God
If census results are anything to go by, 'no religion' could grow to become our most popular religious identifier. SBS asks what this means for the nation.
Feeling so emotional: why we rage about religion on Facebook
Partaking in an emotionally charged social media rant? You're probably just responding to your own identity - and some hefty emotional cues.
Australians have a complex, yet peaceful relationship with religion
Although Christianity is still the dominating religion in Australia, it's becoming increasingly popular for people to either subscribe to minority faiths or have no religion.