There are approximately 7 billion people on Earth - with 19 major religions.  33% of the World’s population, or approximately 2.3 billion persons, profess to be Christians – followers of the teachings of “Christ” and the Holy Bible.  Within Christianity, there are numerous, even countless, denominations, sects, beliefs and practices, each with their own interpretation of the Bible, the Old and New Testament, even the Book of Mormon. 

Islam is the second most prevalent world religion, with 1.4 billion followers, or approximately 21% of the population.  Islam is divided between two major sects, Sunnis ad Shiites, with Shiites being the more fundamentalist, conservative, and often militant of the two. 

The overwhelming majority of people adopt the religion of their parents’ and the society in which they live.  Parents introduce children to religion very early in life, certainly long before these children have developed critical intelligence or can distinguish between fact and fiction.  Then families, religious institutions, schools, governments, and society at large continuously reinforce these religious beliefs and practices.  Families and peer pressure typically discourages people from questioning their religion, or even exploring the teachings of alternative religions or world views.  The consequences for straying from one’s religion can be quite severe; including varying degrees of parental control, public ridicule, loss of job or income, social ostracism, corporal punishment, or even death.

Religion, by definition, is believed to be an ultimate truth or reality.  Interestingly, with few exceptions, each religion claims to be the one true religion.  Obviously, if any religion is true, the other religions cannot also be true.  Logically, it’s not difficult to conclude that no religion has basis in fact; and that all religions are nothing more than myth and superstition. 

Although not religion, per se, the world view of agnosticism or atheism is embraced by approximately 957 million people, or about 14% of the World’s population .  The percentage of agnostics or atheists is growing, especially in the Western world, Northern Europe and the United States.

There appears to be a positive correlation between education, intellect, and agnosticism or atheism; while less educated or informed people tend to be more religious, less tolerant, and even more conservative politically.  

Throughout history, persecution and extreme violence has been perpetrated in the name of religion; and countless wars, even genocide, have had been rooted in and fundamental to irrational sectarian differences.  In fairness, people have also been feed, clothed, medically treated, and sheltered in the name of religion.  But, religion was not and certainly is not essential to the humanitarian efforts of any man, women, or organization.  You can be, “Good without God.”   

In the words of Bertrand Russell, British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, and social critic (1872–1970), “Religion is based primarily upon fear. It is partly the terror of the unknown and partly as the wish to feel that you have a kind of elder brother who will stand by you in all your troubles and disputes. Fear of the mysterious, fear of defeat, fear of death. Fear is the parent of cruelty, and therefore it is no wonder if cruelty and religion have gone hand in hand. It is because fear is at the basis of those two things. In this world we can now begin a little to understand things, and a little to master them by help of science, which has forced its way step by step against the opposition of all the old precepts. Science can help us to get over this craven fear in which mankind has lived for so many generations. Science can teach us, and I think our own hearts can teach us, no longer to look around for imaginary supports, no longer to invent allies in the sky, but rather to look to our own efforts here below to make this world a fit place to live in, instead of the place that the churches in all these centuries have made it.” 

http://chartsbin.com/view/3nr

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Comment by Steph S. on March 5, 2012 at 6:24am

Thanks -- I enjoy reading Bertrand Russell.

Comment by Richard ∑wald on March 4, 2012 at 11:05pm

80+% of the world's religious people, …are atheists when it comes to god mythos other than their own. It's a glass half-full proposition. They're only one god away from seeing the light, …of reason.

It's no wonder that the fastest growing religious affiliation on the planet is, ….no religion.

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