Where dwell the wise? 6


This map, via the Washington Post, shows the distribution of the world’s atheists in 40 countries.

A 2012 poll by WIN/Gallup International – an international polling firm that is not associated with the D.C.-based Gallup group — asked more than 50,000 people in 40 countries whether they considered themselves “religious,” “not religious” or “convinced atheist.” Overall, the poll concluded that roughly 13 percent of global respondents identified as atheists, more than double the percentage in the U.S.

The most atheist nation is China, with 47 percent of  respondents self-described as atheist. Next comes Japan with 31%, and the Czech Republic about the same. France falls into the 20%-29% category; Germany and Australia 10%-19%; the US, Canada, Russia  – and Saudi Arabia [!] 5%-9%; India, Pakistan, South Africa, Nigeria, Peru under 5%.

WIN/Gallup notes that religiosity is highest among the poor and the less educated.

So chances are, the better off you are and the better informed you are, the more likely you’ll be to slough off religion.

Though not so much in the United States.

No surprise there.

  • Kerry

    Interestingly, they left off Norway, Finland, Netherlands, Sweden, among others which are I think can be in both camps…the atheists and the “wise.” As for China, some 42% identify as non-religious, but of the 40% considered Buddhist or Taoist, the vast majority would also fall in the “atheistic” category.

    Thinking or your comment, “Wise to be atheist. Wicked to be communist,” I immediately thought of how the West defines communism and today that looks like N Korea. As for China, most in the West still think of it in terms of the big C, but communism from the past, and communism of today look very very different. No point to make here really, but I think about this often when I hear christians in America talk about how taking god and prayer out of the schools has created an adverse learning environment. If that were the case then China school systems must be completely bankrupt, which of course they are not.

    • Andrew

      China’s superior instruction in math and science alone will be the death knell of the West.

      I also consider the various East Asian philosophies, specifically Taoism, to be more insightful and conducive to living a good life than the guilt- and shame-ridden Christianity.

      • Kerry

        I agree! My wife was raised Buddhist, but she is no more a practitioner of that faith then I am of the christianity of my past. I have taken the opportunity to understand and appreciate the cultural significance of that belief and find the 8 Fold Path to my liking. There is nothing that Jesus said in the Beatitudes that enhances what Buddha taught, but I do not think Buddha ever intended to create a religion. His was a philosophical teaching of how to live the good and proper life.

        One of the first things I noticed when moving to Asia, was their acceptance of and tolerance for, differing religious views. Now, this is not always true on the Mainland, but it is true in Taiwan.

  • liz

    And then you have the fact that a certain (presumably substantial) percentage of those atheists are politically on the left, which kind of cancels out the ‘wise’ part of it.
    The best ideas always have the hardest time catching on, because its always to the advantage of those in power to keep people ignorant and willing to submit mindlessly to their brainwashing.

    • Jillian Becker

      Right, liz. Where most of the wise dwell, there also dwell the most wicked. Wise to be atheist. Wicked to be communist.

      • joszaruba

        Chinese and Japanese are very superstitious, they believe in lucky numbers, burning scenting sticks in front of shrines – being a theist is just a small section on a religious market