Researchers to explore why atheism is growing across the world
Researchers to explore why atheism is growing across the world

Researchers to explore why atheism is growing across the world

Your privacy

We use cookies to personalise content and ads, to provide social media features and to analyse our traffic. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners who may combine it with other information that you’ve provided to them or that they’ve collected from your use of their services. You consent to our cookies if you continue to use our website.

Use necessary cookies onlyAllow all cookiesShow details

Skip to main content

Open search




  • Researchers to explore why atheism is growing across the world

Researchers to explore why atheism is growing across the world

Share this

By Press Office

20 Sep 2022

An interdisciplinary team of researchers have launched a new project to test popular and academic theories about why some people are atheists and others are not.

‘Explaining Atheism’ aims to better understand the growing population of atheists and agnostics in the world, correct inaccurate stereotypes, and give insight into the future of both belief and non-belief.

The project is being led by Dr Jonathan Lanman, Senior Lecturer in Cognitive Anthropology at Queen’s University Belfast, Dr Aiyana Willard from Brunel University London, and Dr Lois Lee from the University of Kent.

The core research team will investigate the causes of atheism and agnosticism in Brazil, China, Denmark, Japan, the UK, and the USA, with a wider team of affiliated researchers investigating the topic in a further 13 countries across the world.

“There are growing numbers of atheists/agnostics in countries across the world,” said Dr Lanman. “Our recently completed ‘Understanding Unbelief’ programme looked beyond the stereotypes and helped to document some of the world’s rich diversity in atheism and agnosticism.

“Now Explaining Atheism aims to answer the questions of why and how this growth is happening and consider what our answers might mean for the future of religion, atheism, agnosticism, and of our societies.”

Dr Lee commented: “These are not only academic questions but matters of public debate, policy and law. We are keen to engage the public and the media in our work and we have a funding initiative specifically for those working outside of academia – in policy, documentary photography and film, the arts, digital media and data visualisation, education and beyond – to help us make sure our work is not only exciting for academics but reaching and learning from wider audiences.”

The ‘Explaining Atheism’ project was awarded £2.7 million in funding by the John Templeton Foundation and will run over a three-year period.

The team launched the Explaining Atheism website which features extensive background information on the project, videos and emerging research findings, with more to come over the course of the project.

Dr Aiyana Willard said: “We are excited to launch the Explaining Atheism website.  It brings together short films explaining our particular approach to answering these difficult and contentious questions and also provides a number of resources for those looking to explore these questions themselves.”

For more information, please visit the Explaining Atheism website and follow on Twitter: @ExplainingAthe1.




Reported by:

Press Office, Media Relations
+44 (0)1895 268965

Brunel University London
Kingston Lane
Middlesex UB8 3PH

Tel: +44 (0)1895 274000

Security: +44 (0)1895 255786

Directions to the campus








© Brunel University London


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *