Good Reason

It's okay to be wrong. It's not okay to stay wrong.

Coming soon: “No religion” in the 2011 Australian census

Data for the 2011 Australian census is coming out on Thursday, and I’m like a kid on Christmas Eve. I can’t wait to see what percentage of people listed themselves as ‘No Religion’.

Why do I care? Am I insecure in my atheism, and I need backup to feel validated? Not really; it’s just that we’re on the brink of a moment in history here. More and more of us are coming out as ‘not religious’, and it’s cool to see it grow. Sure, Thursday’s data dump gives us more numbers to crunch, but the numbers represent the stories of people who have walked away from religion (and in some cases but not all, gods and supernaturalism). This weakens the hold of religion in our society, and provides an ever-larger pool of people that could be turned on to skepticism, humanism, and other positive values.

So what should we expect the numbers to do for 2011? I grabbed the “no religion” numbers from the Australian Bureau of Statistics website, and did some plotting.

The Numbers application will give you trendlines, but it doesn’t let you extrapolate beyond the data. (Boo.) So I took the linear trendline, and laid a longer red line over it. That’s kind of bodgy; sorry about that.
Anyway, if you enlarge, you’ll find that the line crosses the 2011 axis just over 20 percent. So that’s my prediction — a little over 20%; anything more is gravy. Maybe the AFA’s “No Religion” campaign did its work, and we’ll see 22 or 23. I’d be ecstatic with 23, but I think that’s a bit high.
Place your bets in comments. More on Thursday.


  1. I've said this about a thousand times, but I think it's fascinating that wikipedia lists the top religions in Australia (2006 census) as:

    Total Christian – 63%
    No religion/not stated total – 30.5%
    Catholic – 26%
    No religion – 19%
    Anglican – 19%

    Buddhist and Islam get about 2% each.

    When I saw these stats, I was FLOORED that atheists are on the same level as Anglicans demographic wise. I mean, sure, it's 63% to 19% since very few Christians are particularly in tune with what makes them a Catholic and not an Anglican, but that still gives us 1 atheist for every 3 christians.

    As far as my bet… I'm hoping for something in the 25%-30% region that was occupied by 2006's "no relgion & inadequately described" box – hopefully some of those "jedi" respondents got the memo that it's really not funny…

  2. I linearly extrapolate 240 years till all are no religion. This puts it around two centuries after the singularity. Hmm. Maybe will be tipping point there as well.

  3. Madge those figures are for people who answered "no religion" but that doesn't equate to atheist. Many people have all sorts of wacky supernatural beliefs and still say they have no religion. The census should have a separate question for "spiritual" or something since that's how I'm sure a lot of people who tick the no religion box or don't answer would describe themselves.

Comments are closed.

© 2018 Good Reason

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑