Google NGram Viewer is one of the less well known creations of Google. What it does is it will search through a database that it has access to, which looks through all books and sources in which the entered word has been mentioned over the time period that they enter. It then creates a graph of how the frequency, of the entered word(s), has changed over time.
This graph above shows the frequency of usage, in texts and documented sources, of the words Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Atheism. These are just a handful of the world’s major religions, and although they may not be representative of everyone’s beliefs, they are interesting to compare. The top (green) line is the first thing that stands out. This line represents Christianity, and its frequency of usage over the past 200 years. Notice that it is on a downward trend. This line is the most dynamic and its extreme downward trend ever since 1860 may be due to the events that took place at the peak of the green line, in the 1860’s. From 1861 to 1865 the civil war was occurring in the United States. This could’ve started the downward trend of the words usage since people began to document the war rather, leaving little time to talk about religion. After the 1860’s Christianity’s downward trend is most likely due to more secular ideas arising that directly opposed the Christian Faith. The 20th and 21st centuries have been times of scientific development, some of which has decreased people’s faith, but new technology also means that people want to document the technology, rather than documenting religions like Christianity which has a strong foundation already. Even though the slope of the line for Christianity is on a downward trend, it is important to notice that it is still the most written about Religion (out of those searched), showing that it remains important to many people.
Notice that this graph only shows up until 2000. If the graph were to show the statistics through 2001, when 911 occurred, the Islam line may have a spike in usage. Islam is one of the religions that has increased in usage in pieces of literature. One main reason for this is that Islam gets a bad rap from most of the western world. People in Europe or the U.S tend to associated all of Islam with Islamic Extremists who cause terror, such as in 2001. However these extremists aren’t an accurate representation of all of the people who believe in Islam. Despite if the Islamic terrorists are an accurate representation of people who believe in Islam, there presence has increased the popularity of Islam in literature since people have began to examine why extremists with such terrifying agendas have arose from the religion.
Hinduism, Judaism, and Buddhism all also have an increase in their usage in literature around the end of the 20th century. This is best explained by an increasing population of the world, making the frequency of usage higher, since more people are interested in these religions.
Atheism has a line which is flat for the entire thing compared to the theist religions. This is probably the most shocking statistic on the chart. It is best explained by the fact that people before 2000 didn’t receive much support in their anti-religious beliefs, and they still don’t really. Luckily, since 2000, there has been an increase in acceptance for all beliefs and things like atheism are now accepted by most if they are discussed in literature more often.