UK Census 2011: 5,021 Baha’i Adherents

UK census 2011The UK government’s Office for National Statistics has released data for the 2011 census. The census data for Wales and the UK shows a surprisingly large influx of foreigners, especially from Poland. Among the various datasets, the religious make up of Wales and the UK continues to show a predictable transformation.

Christianity, while by far the largest religious affiliation, continues to decline:

The number of residents who stated that their religion was Christian in 2011 was fewer than in 2001. The size of this group decreased 13 percentage points to 59 per cent (33.2 million) in 2011 from 72 per cent (37.3 million) in 2001.

In contrast, the Muslim population has been growing at an annual rate of 5.75% and reached a total of 2,706,066 – approaching 5% of the total population of UK and Wales.

Also increasing are those who identify as ‘no religion’ or atheist. Only 29,267 self-identified as atheist but a much larger group had no religious affiliation:

The size of the group who stated that they had no religious affiliation increased by 10 percentage points from 15 per cent (7.7 million) in 2001 to 25 per cent (14.1 million) in 2011.

Adherents of the Baha’i Faith increased to 5,021 from 4,645 in the 2001 census. If my math is correct, that is an annual 0.78% growth per year. Put more simply, between 37-38 new Baha’is have been added per year since 2001. I’m not sure that you can call that ‘growth’ but it is slightly higher than the general population growth of 0.70% per year.

UK census 2011 religions

Within the ‘alternative religion’ category, the Baha’i Faith is eclipsed by two satirical entries: Jedi and Heavy Metal. Jedis are a fictional religious group within the Star Wars universe but they number in the hundreds of thousand. Heavy Metal (music) religion adherents were 6,242.

For more information, see the 2011 interactive religion data map for the UK.

Are Religions Going Extinct?

dodo birdRecently an intriguing research report was published suggesting that in religion has the same chances in the long run as the Dodo bird.

The research was presented to the American Physical Society meeting in Dallas and was authored by Daniel M. Abrams Haley A. Yaple and Richard J. Wiener. For the mathematically minded and truly curious, you’ll find the full document below.

For the rest, here’s a quick summary and explanation. The foundation of the research is quite simple. The “network effect” is a widely observed non-linear phenomena that posits that the value of a group or network increases with the number of individuals within that group.

There are a myriad applications of the network effect. The most intuitive for us to understand is language. Languages are living breathing things that are born, change, evolve and ultimately die. The popularity of a specific language, say English, varies according to the value that it offers the person who speaks it.

There is little value to be gained by learning to speak a language that few speak. But much to be gained if we learn a language that opens doors around the world. As the group of English language speakers grows, so does the value of learning to speak English. And so, with each new English speaker that joins the group, the network effect creates a virtuous feedback loop increasing the utility of English.

The reverse can also be observed as a language is abandoned. Once enough people stop using it, the network effect goes into reverse and it declines quite rapidly as it loses value in a non-linear fashion. In fact, Abrams, one of the authors of this research study applied a similar model to language in a study published in 2003.

We can also observe the network effect in many online communities. For example, the incredible rise and popularity of social networks like twitter and facebook. As well as the quick death of myspace (as people migrated to facebook and others).
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Guy Consolmagno: Religion & Science

Fascinating talk by Guy Consolmagno, Vatican astronomer, discussing science and religion:

Click here for the full hour long program.

Guy Consolmagno believes that science and religion should work together rather than against one another. In a 2006 interview he said:

“Religion needs science to keep it away from superstition and keep it close to reality, to protect it from creationism, which at the end of the day is a kind of paganism – it’s turning God into a nature god. And science needs religion in order to have a conscience, to know that, just because something is possible, it may not be a good thing to do.”

Hmmm, that is a clunky version of what Abdu’l-Baha eloquently said many years ago:

Religion and science are the two wings upon which man’s intelligence can soar into the heights, with which the human soul can progress. It is not possible to fly with one wing alone! Should a man try to fly with the wing of religion alone he would quickly fall into the quagmire of superstition, whilst on the other hand, with the wing of science alone he would also make no progress, but fall into the despairing slough of materialism.

Is it possible Guy Consolmagno has read Abdu’l-Baha?