20% of atheists believe in god? What the hell?


a recent survey of Americans found that about 20% of self-described atheists believe in god or “a universal spirit”.

Can anyone make sense of this?

Posted: June 26th 2008

brian thomson www

That 21% is subdivided further, with 6% of respondents calling themselves “atheist” yet believing in a “Personal God”. Another 12% took the deist “impersonal force” position, while 3% said, in effect, that they believe, but don’t know what they believe!

One wonders how those responses might translate in to action; for example, would any of those 21% support any violations of the First Amendment, such as teaching Creationism in class? One personal hypothesis of mine if that there’s a little “fashion following” going on. Another possibility is the idea that atheism is defined, in their minds, as “not going to church”!

Honestly, I don’t think I could really know what any of those people were thinking, without actually talking to them. All we can do is speculate.

Posted: July 15th 2008

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flagellant www

The 'Summary of Key Findings’ from the Pew Report makes interesting reading. However, there is much more of significance in it than the apparently anomalous 21% – not 20% – of atheists who believe in God or a Universal Spirit (p.8 & Table p. 9). More disturbing is that some atheists believe in heaven and/or hell (Table, p. 11). Again, while it’s possible to think of atheists meditating, it’s more difficult to think of them praying (Table, p.13).

The more tolerant attitude of unbelievers is, in most respects, significant (Table p. 18). So too, are their views that religion is divisive (p. 13): religions are mostly highly prescriptive and judgemental.

Most significant of all is that the US is moving steadily in a secular direction (p. 19).

As for atheists believing in 'God’ or a Universal Spirit, the significant word is 'or’. It’s unlikely that an atheist would admit to a belief in God, but an atheist Jungian, for example, might admit to belief in a Universal Spirit – the 'Collective Unconscious’ – the reservoir of the experiences of our species. And if one can envisage one type of atheist believing in some sort of spirit, it’s but a short step to think of others, particularly when 'universal spirit’ is undefined.

Posted: July 15th 2008

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Reed Braden www

I don’t think sense is to be made of this.

Atheism, by definition, is a lack of belief in God or gods or a belief in a lack of God or gods.

Some people are apparently very confused.

Posted: July 14th 2008

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