A new report released by NORC at the University of Chicago, “Beliefs About God Across Time And Countries” measures belief in God in 30 countries around the world, and how those beliefs in God have changed over time. The survey asked three questions to determine whether the respondents were atheists, agnostics, deists, waivers, weak believers, strong believers, whether their beliefs about God had changed over time, and whether they believe in a personal God.
One of the most interesting aspects of the report is the change in belief in God over time. Change in belief in God is measured by the difference of “current believers, former atheists” and “current atheists, former believers.” The report found that in 2008, Russia, Latvia and Slovenia showed the highest increase in belief in God, and the Netherlands, Spain and Australia showed the largest decrease in belief in God. Belief in God has increased in 12 countries, while belief in God has decreased in 17 countries. The average increase in belief in God is 4.1 points, while the average decrease in belief in God is 7.0 points. Overall, belief in God declined in these countries by 2.4 points.
Despite former Socialist countries Russia, Latvia and Slovenia showing greatest increases in belief in God, the researchers find that there in no general increase in belief in God in ex-Socialist states, which generally have high levels of atheism and low levels of strong belief.
While belief in God has decreased in most countries, researchers find that the shift is modest. The researchers suggest that it is equally possible that belief in God will continue to decline, or that belief in God will become more widespread as it has in Russia, Latvia and Slovenia. The paper in its entirely can be read here.
Click through the slideshow to see which countries showed the biggest changes in belief in God.