How many American atheists are there really?

Apr 14, 2017

By Brian Resnick

Here’s a simple question: How many Americans don’t believe in God?

Pew and Gallup — two of the most reputable polling firms in America — both come to a similar figure. About 10 percent of Americans say they do not believe in God, and this figure has been slowly creeping up over the decades.

But maybe this isn’t the whole story. University of Kentucky psychologists Will Gervais and Maxine Najle have long suspected that a lot of atheists aren’t showing up in these polls. The reason: Even in our increasingly secular society, there’s still a lot of stigma around not believing in God. So when a stranger conducting a poll calls and asks the question, it may be uncomfortable for many to answer truthfully.

Gervais and Najle recently conducted a new analysis on the prevalence of atheists in America. And they conclude the number of people who do not believe in God may be even double that counted by these polling firms.

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14 comments on “How many American atheists are there really?

  • Gervais and Najle recently conducted a new analysis on the prevalence of atheists in America.
    And they conclude the number of people who do not believe in God may be even double that counted by these polling firms.

    Whenever a poll or article spells GOD with a capital “G”, this suggests preconceptions about the community being surveyed!
    In most religions other than Christendom gods have personal names.



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  • @OP VOX link

    There’s something else to consider here: Our experience with religion can’t really be boiled down to one question — “Do you believe in God?”

    Many of us have a complicated relationship with religion. There are plenty of people celebrating Easter and Passover this week not because they have devout faith, but because it’s a cultural tradition they cherish and identify with.

    Pew regularly finds data that supports this multifaceted view. When people in their surveys say, “I believe in God,” Pew will often ask a follow-up question: “How certain are you?” And they find that not everyone is so sure.

    In the extended linked article, there are sceptical questions about the validity of the survey techniques.



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  • In the US, for most people belief in God is the default position. But when you ask them to describe this god, is it a “he”? If it is a “he”, does he have a penis? A penis has two functions. Does God have to take a pee? Is there a Mrs. God? Where does he reside? If he is all knowing, all good, and all powerful, why is there evil? When you ask such questions, you find they have not really thought about it, just as they have not thought about prayer, faith, and what an afterlife might be like. Are god and the afterlife in this dimension or another? If in this dimension, where? If in another dimension, how many other dimensions might there be? So when someone says they believe in God, you don’t really know what they mean because they do not really know what they mean. Its not a good question.



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  • Timothy #4:

    If it is a “he”, does he have a penis? Does God have to take a pee?

    hahahaha… I like this!

    Article: So when a stranger conducting a poll calls and asks the question, it
    may be uncomfortable for many to answer truthfully.

    Lies are probably the most dangerous thing in human history and human relationships. At glance, a small lie, trivial (perhaps ony on surface) said not to hurt other or not to feel ashamed can have catastrophic consequences. I think that every time we say it it is a sort of killing. If only those non believers and atheists stood right and say NO… I do not believe in god.

    Alan4discussion #1:

    Whenever a poll or article spells GOD with a capital “G”, this
    suggests preconceptions about the community being surveyed!

    So true!



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  • Timothy #4
    Apr 15, 2017 at 8:29 am

    Is there a Mrs. God?

    Apparently he used to have a wife, before the priests of monotheism claimed Yahweh abolished her – and they then set about destroying her shrines and persecuting her followers along with those of Baal!

    He also had 70 or more sons with her – according to pre-biblical holy texts! (NT Jesus – the 71st. or 89th. son of God??? 🙂 )

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asherah

    Asherah is identified as the queen consort of the Sumerian god Anu, and Ugaritic El[1] the oldest deities of their respective pantheons,[2][3] as well as Yahweh, the god of Israel and Judah.[4]
    This role gave her a similarly high rank in the Ugaritic pantheon.[5]
    Despite her association with Yahweh in extra-biblical sources, Yahweh in the Bible commands the destruction of her shrines so as to maintain purity of worship to Yahweh Himself.

    Among the Hittites this goddess appears as Asherdu(s) or Asertu(s), the consort of Elkunirsa (“El the Creator of Earth”) and mother of either 77 or 88 sons.



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  • @OP – About 10 percent of Americans say they do not believe in God, and this figure has been slowly creeping up over the decades.

    It is certainly much easier to dismiss the biblical Abrahamic God (with a capital “G”), than to cope with all the pseudo-philosophical arguments about the vague possibilities of the existence of mysterious undefined supernatural god-entities conjured up by gapologists!



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  • Alan4discussion #6

    He also had 70 or more sons with her – according to
    pre-biblical holy texts! (NT Jesus – the 71st. or 89th. son of God???
    ???? ) … Yahweh in the Bible commands the destruction of her shrines
    so as to maintain purity of worship to Yahweh Himself.

    I didn’t know this. A godess! But of course man had to get rid of her hahaha… and put himself on greatest throne as always. 😉 🙁 Interesting, how all this stories about dozens of children, or many wives in religious texts are so transparently written by men… they all like to pretend they had dozens children (mostly male), lived hundred or more years, had several wives (which are only some sort of pendant or ornament), etc. hahaha

    Why they do that? Why gods have to show their “omni-potence (potency)” in therms of gender? Probably just a projection from a writers and those men who invented this stories. 🙂



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  • Modesti #9
    Apr 15, 2017 at 2:02 pm

    I didn’t know this. A godess! But of course man had to get rid of her hahaha… and put himself on greatest throne as always.

    Actually there was a re-run of this situation in the 4th century when Bishop Athenasius did the gospel edit for Constantine’s Roman Empire!

    As you may know, several Gospels as the myths from diverse Christian sects (named after disciples), other than the chosen canonical 4, did not make it to the edited version of “THE Bible”. With a different mix, Mary Magdalene rather than Peter, would be recognised as the first pope!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_Mary

    De Boer compares her role in other non-canonical texts, noting that “in the Gospel of Mary it is Peter who is opposed to Mary’s words, because she is a woman.
    Peter has the same role in the Gospel of Thomas and in Pistis Sophia.
    In Pistis Sophia the Mary concerned is identified as Mary Magdalene.”[8] The final scene in the Gospel of Mary may also provide evidence that Mary is indeed Mary Magdalene.
    Levi, in his defense of Mary and her teaching, tells Peter, “Surely the Savior knows her very well. That is why he loved her more than us.”[10] In the Gospel of Philip, a similar statement is made about Mary Magdalene.

    King also argues in favor of naming Mary Magdalene as the central figure in the Gospel of Mary. She summarizes: “It was precisely the traditions of Mary as a woman, as an exemplary disciple, a witness to the ministry of Jesus, a visionary of the glorified Jesus, and someone traditionally in contest with Peter, that made her the only figure who could play all the roles required to convey the messages and meanings of the Gospel of Mary.”

    King also sees evidence for tensions within 2nd-century Christianity, reflected in “the confrontation of Mary with Peter, [which is] a scenario also found in The Gospel of Thomas,[22] Pistis Sophia,[23] and the Coptic Gospel of the Egyptians.
    Peter and Andrew represent orthodox positions which deny the validity of esoteric revelation and reject the authority of women to teach.”

    So theist cherry-picking of “trrroooo stories”, from preconceptions, evolving their own cult’s versions of mythology, is nothing new!
    Many Christians have never heard of these OTHER gospels, or may simply dismiss them as later created stories (as of course ALL the “gospels” are, as none were written by contemporary eye witnesses.)



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  • With a different mix, Mary Magdalene rather than Peter, would be
    recognised as the first pope!

    I know what you mean. But, of course that was impossible since some evil men gathered to form a hierarchical structure which will gain them (and those who they choose) wealth and power. 🙁 For the sake of dialog I am considering this gospels and characters and events to be true, although I do not really, hahaha. So, look how ill this all is. This Peter character is set to be first of the directors of the roman-chatolic organisation, a man who has betrayed jesus (a central figure upon which their organisation is formed)! When roman soldiers arrested jesus, Peter (his pupil) said oh, no, no, I do not know this man,… I do not have anything to do with him. (hahaha) Scared for his own skin he has runs away, he betrayed his friend and his teaching saying to everyone that he does not know that man, and he gets to be founder and first director of powerful religious organisation. Juda at least had a courage and moral to kill himself after he realised what he has done hahaha. This Peter character is a lousy traitor and he gets to be authority of chatolicism! Well, I am not surprised, but people do not mind as it seems. After Peter grabbed power he forms a hierarchical structure that would in few years kill, savagely torture and terorize people. How ghastly.

    She summarizes: “It was precisely the traditions of Mary as a woman,
    as an exemplary disciple, a witness to the ministry of Jesus, a
    visionary of the glorified Jesus, and someone traditionally in contest
    with Peter, that made her the only figure who could play all the roles
    required to convey the messages and meanings of the Gospel of Mary.”

    Well, three women stood by Jesus side during his arrest and they stood by him after crucifixion – Mary, Anna and Mary Magdalene… they had courage… his pupils had something other to do,…some sort of more urgent bussines hahaha. They have run off like flies. 😉 So in this christian story traitors and coward are moral and a backbone of an “exemplary” structure that advertise love, goodness, etc., and truly brave and moraly right are expelled.

    Many Christians have never heard of these OTHER gospels, or may simply
    dismiss them as later created stories (as of course ALL the “gospels”
    are, as none were written by contemporary eye witnesses.)

    Yes. I mean, even when they have only this 4 main stories they do not see how twisted it is! By the way,… it is interesting to know why those gospels exist, or existed in the first place. I don’t konw… I am thinking why did they wrote those stories, who wrote them for real, and for whom have they wrote them? I mean, I am imagining that there was more illiterate people in those days than litterate, so to whom those writings were intended? Were they some sort of advertising material? I mean this gospels were all written “after the facts” (what were the facts is another matter) , and they all are propaganda material in my opinion of an rising evil. 😉 And another thing,.. are Vatican archives closed for non-believer scientists? I would like to see them digging in it and revealing all (publicly) this forgeries of lettering and materials (papers) as it was done by British Museum when they bought Sinaticus bible and discovered more than 14 800 forgeries under ultraviolet light. http://www.vatileaks.com/vati-leaks/a-glaring-omission-in-world-s-oldest-bible



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  • Modesti #11
    Apr 16, 2017 at 5:09 am

    I mean, even when they have only this 4 main stories they do not see how twisted it is!
    By the way,… it is interesting to know why those gospels exist, or existed in the first place.

    The evidence (such as it is) suggests that they were versions of the folk stories passed down within the various scattered early Christian sects – who often regarded other sects as competing heretics – and destroyed their texts if they found them – that is why they were hidden in caves.

    I don’t know… I am thinking why did they wrote those stories, who wrote them for real, and for whom have they wrote them?

    I think they found some scribes who wrote them down decades or centuries after supposed events. Illiterate fishermen clearly did not write anything!

    I mean, I am imagining that there was more illiterate people in those days than litterate, so to whom those writings were intended? Were they some sort of advertising material? I mean this gospels were all written “after the facts” (what were the facts is another matter) , and they all are propaganda material

    As with the thousands of modern versions and cults of Christianity, each sect had its own elaborated stories – often disparaging the stories or lead hero characters of rivals.

    Juda at least had a courage and moral to kill himself after he realised what he has done hahaha.

    Not according to the Gospel of Judas!
    This appears to be a story made up later by rival sects!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_Judas

    The Gospel of Judas is a Gnostic gospel whose content consists of conversations between Jesus and Judas Iscariot. It is thought to have been composed in the second century by Gnostic Christians, not by the protagonist Judas, since it contains late 2nd century theology. The only copy of it known to exist is a Coptic language text that has been carbon dated to AD 280, plus or minus 60 years. Joseph Barabe presented the behind-the-scenes story of the role an analysis of the ink played in authenticating the book at an American Chemical Society meeting.[1] It has been suggested that the text derives from an earlier Greek version. A translation of the text was first published in early 2006 by the National Geographic Society.

    In contrast to the canonical gospels, which paint Judas as a betrayer who delivered Jesus to the authorities for crucifixion in exchange for money, the Gospel of Judas portrays Judas’s actions as done in obedience to instructions given to him by Christ.
    It does not claim that the other disciples knew about Jesus’s true teachings.
    On the contrary, it asserts that they had not learned the true Gospel, which Jesus taught only to Judas Iscariot, the sole follower belonging to the “holy generation” among the disciples.

    I would like to see them digging in it and revealing all (publicly) this forgeries of lettering and materials (papers) as it was done by British Museum when they bought Sinaticus bible and discovered more than 14 800 forgeries under ultraviolet light.

    The evidence suggests that Christian sects, cults, and denominations, have been making up their own versions of bible myths, and editing out details they don’t like, since the earliest days! –
    Unsurprising when we look at claims from modern Christians and Moslems, about the requirements in their holy books – as viewed through the interpretation blinkers of faith!



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  • There is an interesting contrast showing church attendance in Scotland!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-39613631

    Around 7.2% of people in Scotland are regular churchgoers

    The number of people who regularly attend church services in Scotland has fallen by more than half over the last 30 years, according to a new survey.
    A census of Scottish Christians found that there are around 390,000 regular churchgoers north of the border, down from 854,000 in 1984.

    The research also revealed that 42% of churchgoers were aged over 65.

    One leading cleric said the findings presented a “crisis and an opportunity” for Christians in Scotland.

    The statistics were revealed in the results of 2016 Scottish Church Census, which was recently published by Brierley Consultancy.

    Other key findings include:

    7.2% of Scotland's population regularly attend church,
    down from 17% in 1984;

    The number of congregations dropped
    from 4,100 in 1984 to 3,700 in 2016;

    40% of churchgoers are male;

    Four-fifths of church leaders (79%) are male,
    with an average age of 57;

    43% of leaders are responsible for more than one church.

    Lead researcher Dr Peter Brierley said the figures indicated a crisis in Christianity across Scotland.

    He said the main reason for the decline in church attendance was the deaths of elderly churchgoers.

    “Part of the problem is the proportion of people in the church who are elderly is much greater than in the population of Scotland as a whole,” he said.

    “So, you have a great number of churchgoers dying. The rate of replacement is not as many. That’s the basic reason for decline.



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  • Might be useful to first ask that whole suite of questions, like how many times a week do you attend religious meetings, how many times a week do you pray, how many times a week do you open and read your holy book, etc. and THEN ask how strong is your belief in a god or gods. Whacking them in the face with the ultimate question right up front is more likely to cause a rejection of the concept.



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