21st Century Worldviews – briefly

A. Worldviews- basic distinctions and statistics.

All worldviews that ever existed may be divided between the following 3 categories:

  1. Atheism: Nihilism, Agnosticism, etc
  2. Pantheism: Hinduism, New Age, Buddhism*, etc
  3. Theism: Christianity, Judaism, Islam.
  • atheism= the belief in no God or gods: Nihilism, Secular Humanism, Agnosticism (doesn’t know)
  • pantheism= the belief that everything is God: New Age, Hinduism, Buddhism*, etc
  • theism= the belief in God: Christianity, Judaism, Islam.


Atheism (Nihilism, Secular Humanism etc), Agnosticism Pantheism (Hinduism, New Age, Buddhism*, etc) Theism (Christianity, Judaism, Islam)
God There is no God Everything is God God created everything
The world Matter is eternal and infinite The world is created ex deo, immaterial The world is created ex nihilo
God and the world There is only the world God is everything (the world) God is above the world and in the world
Human nature Body that will die Body that will die, soul that will last forever Body (different state) and soul that will last forever
Human destiny Annihilation Reincarnation / Inclusion in the divinity Raise from the dead for a reward or a punishment
The origin of evil Human ignorance Evil is an illusion The Devil and fallen angels (demons), human freedom of choice
The end of evil May be defeated by men Will be absorbed into god Will be defeated by God
The origin of ethics Human convention Inferior manifestation of the divinity Determined by God
The nature of ethics Relative Relative Absolute
History and its sense Chaotique, no sense, eternal Circular, illusory, eternal Linear, with a sense determined by God

*Buddhism should be placed, more accurately, at the intersection between Atheism and Pantheism.

  1. Christianity: 2.1 billion- 33 %
  2. Islam: 1.5 billion- 21 %
  3. Secular/Nonreligious/Agnostic/Atheist: 1.1 billion – 16%
  4. Hinduism: 900 million- 14 %
  5. Chinese traditional religion (Confucianism/Taoism): 394 million – 6%
  6. Buddhism: 376 million- 6 %
  7. Others… 4% (source: Encyclopedia Britannica)




1. Numbers are based on people’ declarations which imply nominal believers (i.e. “in name only”, as opposed to true adopters of that belief system).

2. According to WIN-Gallup International Global Index of Religiosity and Atheism latest report 2012 (based on interviews with more than 50,000 men and women selected from 57 countries, across the globe; report which may be downloaded here) the global distribution of self-perceptions currently is: Religious- 59%, Not Religious- 23%, Atheists- 13%. Also the same report says that one of the trends from 2005 is that Religiosity dropped by 9%, while atheism rose by 3%. (see more here)


  1. I’m curious how these statistics change: is it through the persuasiveness of each worldview or is it by breeding? And I’ve just read that people with religious beliefs have more children (and multiply) than the ones without (which’ numbers are decreasing). Do you have any estimates from before?

  2. I don’t have an overview of the last centuries if that’s what you mean, but just as a quick answer, read trends in adherence in this article (
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Major_religious_groups) on Wikipedia. Of course, the issue with demographics is never strictly dependent solely on worldviews. It also has to do with politics, education and economics. And indeed, studies do show that the fertility rate is bigger in religious circles (here’s just a quick example 
    To draw a conclusion of the persuasiveness of each worldview, on the other hand, requires some extensive research.
    But good question!

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