Religion’s ‘Extinction’

A study based on census data suggests that religion is heading toward extinction in nine nations: Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland.

Extinction is the wrong word to describe what’s happening in these nations. Biological extinction means a life form completely disappears.

The census-takers asked people whether they were religious, belonged to a religion or believed in specific truth claims about divinity. Their results show that traditional religion commitments are rapidly weakening in these lands.

Had the census-takers asked, “Do you pray,” it’s likely that most of the respondents would have answered, “Yes, sometimes I pray.”

Mississippi River Disappears

One is reminded of Mark Twain’s excellent memoir, “Life on the Mississippi.” Concerning the science of the river, he writes: “In the space of one hundred and seventy-six years the Lower Mississippi has shortened itself two hundred and forty-two miles.

“Therefore,” he continues, “any calm person … can see that … just a million years ago … the Lower Mississippi River was upwards of one million three hundred thousand miles long. … And by the same token … that seven hundred and forty-two years from now the Lower Mississippi will be only a mile and three-quarters long …”

People Are Praying

“Magma is capable of intrusion into adjacent rocks, extrusion onto the surface as lava, and explosive ejection as tephra to form pyroclastic rock.”

Prayer is the magma of religion. It emanates from our core. It may intrude into our lives at any time. As long as people are praying, religion isn’t facing extinction.


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