Michael W. Chapman
CNS News 
July 25, 2013
Atheism is in decline worldwide, with the number of atheists falling from 4.5% of the world’s population in 1970 to 2.0% in 2010 and projected to drop to 1.8% by 2020, according to a new report by the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Mass.
In its report, Christianity in its Global Context, 1970-2020: Society, Religion, and Mission , researchers analyzed data on church membership and activities from thousands of Christian denominations and other religions worldwide, presenting that data from 1970 and 2010 for a 40-year comparison and, using that information and related demographic data to forecast the world religious makeup in 2020. (See ChristianityinitsGlobalContext(1).pdf )
The numbers show that in 1970 there were 165,500,000 atheists worldwide, about 4.5% of the global population. In 2010, the number of atheists had fallen to 136,582,200 or 2.0% of the population. If trends continue, according to the study, there will be 136,685,000 atheists in 2020, or about 1.8% of the world population.