Looking at the history and present state of atheism in the Islamic world, this article focuses primarily on Iran and the eastern parts of the Arab world, connecting the present motivations and experience of atheism in these regions with a historical perspective on religious dissent and radical modernism.
Ariela Keysar and Juhem Navarro-Rivera
This essay describes the demography of the nonbelieving population: atheists and agnostics (negative atheists). It describes the size, age structure, and characteristics, such as gender, marital status, and educational levels, of both atheists and agnostics in various countries around the world. There are approximately 450 to 500 million nonbelievers worldwide, including both positive and negative atheists, or roughly 7 per cent of the global population. Nonbelievers are typically young, disproportionately male, and educated, and are most likely to live in Northern Europe, Japan, and communist or formerly communist nations. Atheism varies greatly around the globe from as little as 2 per cent in Venezuela to 10 per cent in Ireland, 21 per cent in Spain, 41 per cent in France and as high as 55 per cent in the Czech Republic. The essay discusses the likelihood of increases in the nonbelieving population with shifts in emerging large economies, specifically India and China.