As a sociologist, I have been wondering about the sociological aspects of irreligion, with key questions like:
· under what conditions is it safe to come out as an atheist?
· who are more likely to be atheists?
· what conditions and characteristics are predictors of apostasy?
Religion is a well-studied and was a popular topic for all of the early figures within the sociological enterprise.
Some things that might be important are being free from:
· physical harm;
· negative legal implications; and
· relatively low levels of social death (being no longer considered a full participant in social life).
Associated with this is the demographics of atheists, who tend to be:
· middle class;
· liberal/socialist political views;
· secular background;
· relative economic independent; and
· university educated.
Apostasy late in life is rare, most become irreligious between 15-25.
Some psychological dispositions may lead to apostasy may include:
· early questioners;
· those that do not leap to conclusions (deeper/longer thinking styles); and
· lack of cognitive dissonance (NOMA)