Friday, March 18, 2011

atheists who believe in God?

A recent survey of religion in the US shows some curious and interesting results, including atheists who believe in God and christians who don't.

The Pew Forum (not an attractive name, I must admit!) is a non-partisan research organisation that "seeks to promote a deeper understanding of issues at the intersection of religion and public affairs". It has recently published the results of its U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, a survey of 35,000 Americans in 2007. Its results include the expected, some surprises, some useful information and some curiosities. For example:

  • Christians comprise 78.4% of Americans, other religions 4.7% and unaffiliated 16.1% (the bulk of these are noncommittal, with only 1.6% atheist).
  • Despite these allegiances, only about 40% (i.e. half of all believers) attend religious services at least once a week. (It would be interesting to know the numbers who attend regularly, but miss enough through family and other commitments to not meet this strict criterion.)
  • 21% of "atheists" nevertheless profess to believe in God (6% in a personal God and 12% in an impersonal God, 3% something else), while some religious believers do not believe in God (e.g. about 3% of Christians, 17% of Jews, 8% of Muslims and Hindus and, not unexpectedly, 25% of Buddhists). One wonders whether the statistics are dodgy, the questions were poor or the population is confused!
  • The majority of believers of all types (around 70%) are less dogmatic about their beliefs than you might think, believing that other interpretations of their beliefs are possible and people of other faiths may attain eternal life.
  • Less than half christians pray daily.
  • About 40% (slightly more among Protestant Christians) see conflict between their religion and modern life.

I suppose some christians will see threats in the loosening of some beliefs, especially about the uniqueness of Jesus and the hope that other believers may attain eternal life. But that inclusivist belief (while still maintaining the unique role of Jesus) was held by such an influential figure as CS Lewis, and I see hope that greater tolerance together with greater commitment to serving others, may lead to a resurgence in "Jesus-based christianity" as opposed to "denominational christianity".

tell us what you think

Please let me know you've visited by making a comment, positive or negative.

0 comments so far:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.