Secularism will decline worldwide while religion grows, according to a new study in the journal Evolutionary Psychological Science.

The findings, reported in the Times, observed more than 4,000 students in Malaysia and the United States, and found that the more religious they were, the more children they would end up having.

According to the researchers, the proportion of secularists in the world population will “slowly diminish”, while the number of religious believers will rise.

The chief reason, the study concluded, was that since the 19th century the non-religious have been much more likely to use contraception.

The authors wrote: “It is ironical that effective birth control methods were developed primarily by secularists, and that these methods are serving to slowly diminish the proportional representation of secularists in forthcoming generations.”

The new study observes that the “secularisation thesis’’, which holds that atheistic attitudes will gradually replace religion over time, has been dominant “for over a century”, but that there is increasing scepticism among researchers about the thesis.

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