Sunday, July 17, 2011

Study: godless are the most gullible of all.

There's a fascinating study out of Baylor that deserves much wider discussion. The study,  What Americans Really Believe, published in 2008, is a detailed study of American religious (and irreligious) beliefs. Understandably,  the godless have been largely speechless about it.  This, from the Baylor website, is why:
Atheism and Irreligion
During the past 63 years, several polls show the percentage of atheists has not changed at all, holding steady at only 4 percent of Americans who say they do not believe in God. Not only is atheism not growing in the United States, the majority of Europeans are not atheists (Ch. 14, "Atheism: The Godless Revolution That Never Happened"). Russia now claims 96 percent of its population believes in God, while a recent poll of China showed that atheists are outnumbered by those who believe in God(s).
Oh. So at least as of 2008, atheists in the U.S. were 4% (!) of the population. They're small, but noisy and litigious.
In both the 2005 and 2007 Baylor Religion Surveys, researchers found than 11 percent of the national sample reported they had "no religion." Although nearly a third of the "no religion" group are atheists who reject "anything beyond the physical world," the Baylor Religion Survey found that two-thirds of the "no religion" group expressed some belief in God and many of those are not "irreligious" but are merely "unchurched" (Ch. 17, "The Irreligious: Simply Unchurched-Not Atheists").
Oh, again. I thought that atheists were like 10-15 % of the population. But it seems that 2/3 of the "no religion" folks have some belief in God, which sort-of takes them out of the 'atheist' category.  Oh, well, it's common for fringe cults to use any means at their disposal to exaggerate their membership.  So next time you hear 'no-religion percentage', think 4%, not 15%.  And when you hear 'the godless are growing' think 'cult exaggerating their membership'.
Delving into the actual religiousness of those who report having no religion, the Baylor Survey found that a majority of Americans who claim to be irreligious pray (and 32 percent pray often), around a third of them profess belief in Satan, hell and demons, and around half believe in angels and ghosts.

That is really funny. Even the 'no religion' folks often pray.  There are no atheists in foxholes, or pretty much anywhere else, it seems.

Now, for the most interesting finding.  Recall all of the atheist blather about being exemplars of reason, skepticism, and science?  Well,  according to the Baylor study,  that's hooey. The truth is the opposite:

The Baylor Survey found that traditional Christian religion greatly decreases credulity, as measured by beliefs in such things as dreams, Bigfoot, UFOs, haunted houses, communicating with the dead and astrology (Ch. 15, "Credulity: Who Believes in Bigfoot"). Still, it remains widely believed that religious people are especially credulous, particularly those who identify themselves as Evangelicals, born again, Bible believers and fundamentalists. [emphasis mine]
The misrepresentation of devout Christians as malleable easily-led dupes is a transparent lie to anyone who has had any acquaintance with these good people. They are smart sophisticated people,  in my experience generally much better informed and rational than the self-styled godless exemplars of science and reason, who are too often half-educated sophmoric illogical anti-Christian bigots.

It was my personal experience with many devout Christians (as a physician, I often see people in their most difficult moments) that played a big part in my conversion to Christianity from atheism.  Even in the worst imaginable moments-- a terminal diagnosis, the death of a child, intractable pain-- Christians had a peace and a strength that astonished me. It got to the point that I could pretty much pick out the serious Christians before they told me. I could tell by their courage and decency. I actually had one devout Christian mother tell me that she felt so bad for what I as a doctor was going through-- when I told her that her daughter was dying (the child survived).  The effect this kind of integrity and humility had on me was profound.  I won't hear these good people slandered. The Baylor study confirms what I knew by personal experience: devout Christians, as a group, have their heads screwed on straight.
However, the ISR researchers found that conservative religious Americans are far less likely to believe in the occult and paranormal than are other Americans, with self-identified theological liberals and the irreligious far more likely than other Americans to believe. The researchers say this shows that it is not religion in general that suppresses such beliefs, but conservative religion.
Wow. Again, this comports with my personal experience. Not only are Christians more rational and better informed than their godless neighbors, but conservative Christians, who tend to be more devout, are the most rational and well-informed of all.
"There's an old saying that a man who no longer believes in God is ready to believe in just about anything, and it turns out our data suggests it's true. That is to say, religious people don't believe this stuff, but there's no education effect," Stark said.
Stark nails it. Godlessness doesn't 'liberate a man from belief'. Godlessness opens a man up to all sorts of crazy beliefs. It is traditional belief in God, taken seriously, that best protects man from superstition.
Among other interesting findings on paranormal or occult beliefs: People who have read The Purpose-Driven Life or any book in the Left Behind series are less likely to believe in the occult and paranormal, while those who have read any book on dianetics or The Da Vinci Code are more likely to believe.

The godless are an impetuous ignorant cult.  Their 'intellectuals' (Dawkins, Myers, Coyne, Dennett ...) are half-educated narcissists obsessed with fame and book revenues. But those of us who have dealt with the godless a lot, and who were even godless themselves at one time in life,  know first hand the gullibility and veniality of this uncommonly noisy 4%.


  1. Sorry to rain on your parade, Mike, but how do you explain the vast overrepresentation of unbelievers among scientists? Particularly at the very top of their fields? Stats.

    1. Actually, the belief in God among scientists have not changed for the past century:

      In addition, there is relative stigma in regards to being religious in the scientific community. This turns off potential scientists. This is also the reason why doctors are generally more religious than scientists.

      Also, despite having lower adherence rates, educated people are actually more churchgoing than the general public.

      Although this doesn't specifically talk about scientists, it's an interesting topic to think about.

  2. @oleg: he will obviously say that they aren't real scientists and cry discrimination.

    @Mike: where is the data on how this survey was executed and specifically, what the response rate was? It is very typical to indicate the response rate for these kinds of surveys but I couldn't find anything about it.

    But it seems that 2/3 of the "no religion" folks have some belief in God, which sort-of takes them out of the 'atheist' category. Oh, well, it's common for fringe cults to use any means at their disposal to exaggerate their membership.

    So what about the "no religion" section in the blog post about prison population?

  3. @Oleg:

    The overrepresentation of atheists among top scientists is an interesting phenomenon. It is new; historically (before the 20th century) virtually all top scientists were devout Christians. I don't have an explanation for the change; obviously, atheism is no impetus to science. The belief that 'shit happened' isn't an impetus to the rational investigation to causes in nature.

    It is worth noting that the rise of atheism at the upper echelons of science correlates with the rise of government funding of science and with the far-left political orientation of scientists, nearly all of whom are Democrats.

    What is it about feeding at the public trough that selects for/makes people leftist/atheist? Grist for Dr. Stark. An interesting new study.


    Of course they're real scientists, and while discrimination is obvious in some fields (evolutionary biology, astronomy), I don't see evidence for it in others (physics, chemistry).

    The link to the study should help you with the data question.

    On the 'no religion- prison' issue, Vox Day deals with that issue at the link. He points out that people at the extremes of faith/atheism are unlikely to be criminals anyway; if you think out your metaphysics in detail and publicly discuss it, you're not in a big risk group for ending up in prison.

    Among the folks who are less explicit about their metaphysics, lack of religious affiliation is a big risk factor for criminal behavior.

    But we already knew that people who deny objective morality and eternal accountability are more likely to act immorally, don't we?



  4. Robert O'BrienJuly 17, 2011 at 11:34 AM

    The top scientists of today do not, in general, compare favorably to the top scientists of the past who were, as Dr. Egnor pointed out, mostly Christian. The rise of atheism and the apparent regression to mediocrity that has accompanied it perhaps merits some investigation.

  5. Robert O'BrienJuly 17, 2011 at 11:40 AM

    I find this somewhat encouraging though:

    "We found the highest percentage of belief among NAS mathematicians (14.3% in God, 15.0% in immortality)."

    In the great chain of being, mathematicians and statisticians (naturally!) are higher than physical scientists and (especially) biologists.

  6. No Mike, the link in your blog post doesn't help at all.

    The proper study information can be found here where you can see that

    1. This is a survey of self-selected participants
    2. The study had 1648 participants and a response rate of 64%
    2. The error margin is plus or minus four percentage points

    When you click on "Codebook", you can see detailed correlations for the questions.

    What is interesting that only 10% of Catholics are absolutely certain that Ghosts do not exist (Q23i) and only 31% are absolutely certain that Bigfoot doesn't exist (Q23k), while people without religion seem to have a firmer grasp on reality with 31% being certain that ghosts don't exist and 48% being certain that Bigfoot doesn't exist.

  7. The actual study data is not under the book promotion link you gave me but here.

    Interesting findings: it is a poor self-selected study with 1680 and a 64% response rate. The error margin is 4%. Nevertheless you can go to "Codebook" and click "analyze" for certain questions. Interesting results:

    Q23l: In your opinion, does each of the following exist? Psychic phenomena, such as ESP

    Catholics: Absolutely Not: 6.2% - Absolutely: 22%
    No Religion: Absolutely Not: 19.3% - Absolutely: 17%

    No surprise, prayer is a form of ESP after all

    Q23i. In your opinion, does each of the following exist? Ghosts

    Catholics: Absolutely Not: 10% - Absolutely: 21%
    No Religion: Absolutely Not: 31% - Absolutely: 12%

    Also, no surprise. This stood out however

    Q23k: In your opinion, does each of the following exist? Bigfoot

    Catholics: Absolutely Not: 31% - Absolutely: 3.0%
    No Religion: Absolutely Not: 48% - Absolutely: 3.5%

    How come people who don't believe in made up fairy tales are also also more certain that bigfoot doesn't exist?

    Strange world indeed.

  8. A little science estranges a man from God. A lot of science brings him back.
    (Francis Bacon)

    We can therefore conclude that, despite the advances of modern science, our top scientists, the more they learn, the less they know. This is easily verified in the life sciences: most, if not all, atheistic biologists have no idea what they are talking about!

    Three cheers for Dar-Wine!!!

  9. @Pepe when only 15% of mathematicians "go back to god" you can conclude that Francis Bacon is wrong.

  10. @Anon

    What I conclude is that 15% of mathematicians are at the pinnacle of their profession and the remaining 85% are still working at it.

  11. @Pepe: The best scientists believe in god because scientists who believe in god are the best? That is called circular reasoning.

    The macroscopic trend is clearly the other way round: mathematicians who are in the NAS are less likely to believe in god. Therefore the most accomplished of those are even less likely to believe in god.

  12. Anonymous.
    you wrote:" The best scientists believe in god because scientists who believe in god are the best?"
    It is not just about what these researchers DO believe in, it is about what they DON'T and CANNOT believe in.
    The discrepancy is about a lack of faith and intuition. Atheist / materialist scientists are limited/hindered by their apathy and submission to futility.

  13. Atheism is as foolish as ardent belief. Everybody lies for profit (monetary, fame, power, etc.); this includes religious clergy and atheist authors. Faith in anything is for the easy me the proof. Until that time, I claim no knowledge.

  14. @anon:

    [Faith in anything is for the easy me the proof. Until that time, I claim no knowledge]

    You seem sure about that.