[VoxSpace Life] The Growth Of Atheism Worldwide And Its Effect On India

The Reasons For The Origin Of Religion

The exact timeframe during which religion came into vogue is not known. It started with nature worship, with people worshipping forces of nature like the Sun, Moon, Earth, fire etc. The preservation of life and its continuation was the ulterior motive of our ancestors. Floods, famines and earthquakes were considered to be a manifestation of the wrath of a Supreme Being. A limited amount of knowledge about the natural phenomenon happening around them led to various explanations. The early men offered sacrifices and chanted prayers in order to please this Supreme Being. As humankind gradually moved towards civilization religion began gaining a more centralized form.  It started providing explanations for not only natural phenomenon but also biology, the origin of the earth and the rules to govern a society. All major religions have a code of conduct which the followers have to emulate. Any deviation from this code would lead to punishments and a pathetic afterlife in hell. Any sort of questioning or debate on religion was usually discouraged as it was propagated that these codes were compiled by God himself thus granting it a sacrosanct status.

The Growth Of Atheism

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The ability to reason coupled with the relentless struggle to improve material conditions have been the cornerstones of the rise of Humankind as the most successful species on earth. Numerous philosophers like Socrates and Buddha raised pertinent questions on the validity of explanations being offered by religion. Scientific discoveries led to the bursting of several myths advocated by religion. The theory of evolution offered by Darwin gave a deathblow to the theistic arguments of earth being created by a Supreme Being and human beings being a product of his divine plan.

Needless to say, the non-believers were subjected to ridicule and hatred by the pro-religious establishment forces. Atheists were censored, and it even cost the lives of many of them. With the onset of digital revolution along with the rise in living standards, atheism has grown up to be a formidable force which cannot be suppressed. Studies carried out by demographers across the world has shown that Atheists and Agnostics now constitute almost 7% of the world population. It is fast growing and an article published by Huffington post projected that non-believers will surpass the number of believers around the year 2038. This can be attributed to the average growth rate of GDP being 3.3% during the last 30 years and people becoming more informed than in the past.

Why Is Atheism More Popular Than Ever?

Economic Security And Education As The Driving Force Behind Atheism

It has been noted that countries which are more affluent tend to have more atheist population. The average GDP of top nine religion fewer countries stood at 29822$ as compared to the global average of 10855$. The countries having more atheists and agnostics also have lower birth rates as well as crime rates. Data shows that atheism is comparatively less popular among economically and socially deprived sections of the society. Economic security reduces the need for having a superficial power in order to overcome day to day difficulties. People who are more educated tend to understand the nuances posed by religion and gradually end up being more secular in their outlook than their religious counterparts.

Atheism In India -- The 6% Phenomenon

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As opposed to general belief Atheism has always been a counter-current in India since Vedic times. “Whence was it produced? Whence is this creation? The gods came afterwards, with the creation of this universe” says a hymn in the tenth chapter of Rig Veda.  Charvaka literally meaning ‘worldly ones’ was one such a popular school of thought which rejected the notions of the afterlife, karma and liberation. Buddha and Jain were two other philosophers who rejected the authority of Vedas and professed for inner salvation. According to Demographers, almost 6% of the Indian population consists of Atheists and Agnostics. The actual number is expected to be much more as there are various social stigmas attached to being irreligious. Atheist support groups have emerged across the globe including in India which has become a discussion forum for Atheists and Agnostics.

Baseless myths originating from religious mythologies and scriptures are constantly being busted on account of new scientific discoveries and explanations. Lack of scientific temper is the single largest reason pushing the Indian people towards religious fundamentalism.  As more and more people start gaining proper education and the economic status of Indians improve the number of non-believers will gradually keep on increasing. This can be viewed as a positive change as religion has contributed a lot towards radicalizing the society and hampering the ability to critically analyze different phenomenon around us.

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