From a report by Jason Palmer, Science and technology reporter, BBC News, Dallas:
A study using census data from nine countries and mathematical modelling shows that religion there is set for extinction. The nine countries are Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Switzerland.
“The idea is pretty simple,” said Richard Wiener of the Research Corporation for Science Advancement, and the University of Arizona. “It posits that social groups that have more members are going to be more attractive to join, and it posits that social groups have a social status or utility.”
For example in languages, there can be greater utility or status in speaking Spanish instead of…Quechuan in Peru, and similarly there’s some kind of status or utility in being a member of a religion or not…In a large number of modern secular democracies, there’s been a trend that folk are identifying themselves as non-affiliated with religion.”
The team then applied their nonlinear dynamics model, adjusting parameters for the relative social and utilitarian merits of membership of the “non-religious” category.
They found, in a study published online, http://arxiv.org/abs/1012.1375, that those parameters were similar across all the countries studied, suggesting that similar behaviour drives the mathematics in all of them.
And in all the countries, the indications were that religion was headed toward extinction.