Atheist Richard Dawkins warns of 'something worse' if Christianity continues to decline in Europe

Atheist author Richard Dawkins appears in a screen capture of a YouTube video from Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science.YouTube/Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science

Famed atheist Richard Dawkins has warned against celebrating the demise of Christianity in Europe, noting that the "relatively benign" religion could be replaced with something worse.

"Before we rejoice at the death throes of the relatively benign Christian religion, let's not forget Hilaire Belloc's menacing rhyme: 'Always keep a-hold of nurse For fear of finding something worse,'" Dawkins wrote in a recent tweet.

The author of "The God Delusion" has previously expressed concern about the decline of Christianity in the West, controversially stating he did not know of Christians who are carrying out acts of terrorism.

"There are no Christians, as far as I know, blowing up buildings. I am not aware of any Christian suicide bombers. I am not aware of any major Christian denomination that believes the penalty for apostasy is death. I have mixed feelings about the decline of Christianity, in so far as Christianity might be a bulwark against something worse," he said, as reported by CBN News.

Dawkins' recent post linked to an article about a study that highlighted the declining trend of religious affiliation among young people in Europe.

The findings of the study indicated that a majority of 16- to 29-year-olds in 12 European countries are not religiously affiliated.

The survey found that Czech Republic was the least religious country, with 91 percent of young people saying they do not have any religious affiliation. Between 70 to 80 percent of young adults in Estonia, Sweden and the Netherlands also do not associate with any religion.

The largest concentration of Christians was found in Poland at 83 percent, followed by Lithuania at 74 percent and Ireland at 59 percent. The smallest proportions were found in Czech Republic at nine percent, Sweden at 18 percent and Netherlands at 19 percent.

In the U.K., seven percent of young adults identified as Anglican, while 10 percent described themselves as Catholics and six percent as Muslims. As many as 59 percent of young people never attend religious services and almost two-thirds never pray.

The report titled "Europe's Young Adults and Religion" was authored by Stephen Bullivant, a professor of theology and the sociology of religion at St Mary's University in London.

Based on the findings, Bullivant remarked that religion was "moribund" and "Christianity as a default, as a norm, is gone, and probably gone for good – or at least for the next 100 years."

Bullivant's research is consistent with the findings of a previous study conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2015, which stated that Europe's Christian population is expected to shrink by around 100 million people in the coming decades.

The Pew study further noted that while Christians will remain the largest religious group in Europe, 10 percent of the continent's population will be made up by Muslims by 2050, up from 5.9 percent in 2010.