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Encyclopedia > Irreligion

Irreligion, irreligiousness, or nonreligion is an umbrella term which, depending on context, may be understood as referring to atheism, agnosticism, deism, skepticism, freethought, secular humanism, general secularism, or heresy.[citation needed] The expression umbrella term means a word that provides a superset or grouping of related concepts. ... The 18th-century French author Baron dHolbach was one of the first self-described atheists. ... Agnosticism (from the Greek a, meaning without and gnosis, knowledge, translating to unknowable) is the philosophical view that the truth value of certain claims — particularly theological claims regarding metaphysics, afterlife or the existence of God, god(s), or deities — is unknown or (possibly) inherently unknowable. ... Deism is a religious philosophy and movement that became prominent in England, France, and the United States in the 17th and 18th centuries. ... For the Finnish funeral doom metal band, see Skepticism (band). ... Freethought is a philosophical doctrine that holds that beliefs should be formed on the basis of science and logical principles and not be comprised by authority, tradition or any other dogmatic or other belief system that restricts logical reasoning. ... Secular humanism is a humanist philosophy that upholds reason, ethics, and justice and specifically rejects rituals and ceremonies as a means to affirm a life stance. ... Secularity is the state of being without religious or spiritual qualities. ... Heresy, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is a theological or religious opinion or doctrine maintained in opposition, or held to be contrary, to the Catholic or Orthodox doctrine of the Christian Church, or, by extension, to that of any church, creed, or religious system, considered as orthodox. ...


Irreligion has at least three related yet distinct meanings:

  • lack of religion (either due to a lack of information about religion or to lack of belief in it)
  • hostility to religion
  • behaving in such a way that fails to live up to one's religious tenets

Regrding the above definition, to suggest that those who do not believe in or practice religion are in anyway 'lacking' something is wrong. To lack something is to go without, be it a barby or a car. Also, to suggest hosility to relegion is quite wrong in this context. Therefore this definition is wrong.


Although people classified as irreligious might not follow any religion, they do not necessarily lack belief in the supernatural or in deities; such a person may be a non-religious or non-practicing theist. In particular, those who associate organized religion with negative qualities, but still hold spiritual beliefs, might describe themselves as irreligious. Look up Supernatural in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Look up deity in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Theism is the belief in the existence of one or more Gods or deities. ...


Statistics by country

Country Percentage stating they have no religion Source
China 93.0% (Country officially Atheist[1] ) Dentsu Communication Institute Inc, Japan Research Center (2000)

(Japanese)[1]

Czech Republic 59% (plus additional 8% did not fill in anything) Czech Statistical Office (2001 census) [2]
Japan 51.8% Dentsu Communication Institute Inc, Japan Research Center (2000)

(Japanese)[3]

Russia 48.1% Dentsu Communication Institute Inc, Japan Research Center (2000)

(Japanese)[4]

The Netherlands 42.0% (CBS)
South Korea 36.7% Dentsu Communication Institute Inc, Japan Research Center (2000)

(Japanese)[5] Motto: Je Maintiendrai (Dutch: Ik zal handhaven, English: I Shall Uphold) Anthem: Wilhelmus van Nassouwe Capital Amsterdam1 Largest city Amsterdam Official language(s) Dutch2 Government Parliamentary democracy Constitutional monarchy  - Queen Beatrix  - Prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende Independence Eighty Years War   - Declared July 26, 1581   - Recognised January 30, 1648 (by Spain... Statistics Netherlands is a Dutch governmental institution that gathers statistical information about the Netherlands. ...

Germany 32.7% fowid (German Worldview Research Group) (2004) [6]
New Zealand 32.0% (of the 85.9% who answered an optional question) Statistics New Zealand (2001 census) [7]
France 27.2% (23.9% of women, 30.6% of men) INSEE (2004 survey) [8]
Australia 17.5% (of the 88.3% who answered an optional question) Australian Bureau of Statistics (2001 census) [9]
United Kingdom 16.8% (of the 92.7% who answered an optional question) UK National Statistics (2001 census) [10]
Canada 16.2% Canada 2001 Census [11]
South Africa 15.1% Statistics South Africa Census 2001[12]
United States 15.0% (of the 94.6% who answered an optional question, out of a sample of 50,281 households in the 48 contiguous states) American Religious Identification Survey (2001), as reported by US Census Bureau [13]
India 6.6% Dentsu Communication Institute Inc, Japan Research Center (2000)

(Japanese)[14] Statistics New Zealand (Te Tari Tatau) is a New Zealand government department, and the source of the countrys official statistics. ... INSEE is the French abbreviation for the French National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies (French: Institut National de la Statistique et des Études Économiques). ... Australian Bureau of Statistics logo The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is the Australian government agency that collects and publishes statistical information about Australia. ... The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is the government executive agency charged with the collection and publication of statistics related to the economy, population and society of the United Kingdom at national and local levels. ... The Canada 2001 Census was a detailed enumeration of the Canadian population. ... Depending on usage, the term continental United States can refer to either: the 48 contiguous states plus the District of Columbia; or the 48 contiguous states plus the District of Columbia and Alaska. ... The United States Census Bureau (officially Bureau of the Census) is a part of the United States Department of Commerce. ...

Ireland 3.53% Central Statistics Office Ireland Census 2002 [15]
Iran 1.1% (Atheism and Agnosticism are illegal [citation needed]) Dentsu Communication Institute Inc, Japan Research Center (2000)

(Japanese)[16] The Central Statistics Office (CSO) is the statistical agency responsible for the gathering of information relating to economic, social and general activities and conditions in the Republic of Ireland, in particular the National Census which is held every five years. ... The 18th-century French author Baron dHolbach was one of the first self-described atheists. ... Agnosticism (from the Greek a, meaning without and gnosis, knowledge, translating to unknowable) is the philosophical view that the truth value of certain claims — particularly theological claims regarding metaphysics, afterlife or the existence of God, god(s), or deities — is unknown or (possibly) inherently unknowable. ...

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