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%.