A common retort atheists make on the Atheism Is Dead Instagram page is that “atheism is rising.” Here’s why that’s not true and why atheists feel the need to use it as an argument.
Tell an atheist that there are far, far more theists in the world than atheists and you’ll get some snarky response like “Numbers don’t matter” or statement (misstatement) of some category of fallacy such as “appeal to authority” or, more accurately, an “appeal to popularity”. Despite knowing this category of fallacy, atheists will still peddle the notion that atheism is rising. This notion is no less an appeal to popularity but atheists will conveniently adjust positions to suit a particular argument or debate, a tactic we like to call with a term we’ve coined: arbitrary posturing. Why do atheists have a need to call out a fallacy and then turn around to commit it themselves whenever it is convenient? The answer is simple: To project an image of imminent dominance and obscure the fact that atheists have been the global minority for thousands of years.
So is atheism rising? Not really. According to Pew, atheism is projected to decline globally. Here’s a graph (click here for source) from Pew that shows the percentage of the unaffiliated declining. Now, mind you, because someone is unaffiliated doesn’t make them an atheist. What that means is that atheists are even a smaller segment of the global population than the unaffiliated.
Pew even goes on to say:
Some social theorists have suggested that as countries develop economically, more of their residents will move away from religious affiliation, as has been seen in Europe. But there is little evidence of such a phenomenon in Muslim-majority countries. Moreover, in Hindu-majority India, religious affiliation is still nearly universal despite rapid economic and social change.
So the future for atheism is grim. Advancement in technology and an increasingly educated population are no guarantees people will move away from religious affiliation, much less become atheists.