In 2009, America was 17% atheist


For a while now, I’ve been wanting to conduct a poll wherein I ask a representative percentage of the population, “Are you convinced that an actual deity really exists”  I want to phrase the question that way, because I know that most atheists in this country don’t even know they are atheist, because they don’t know the definition.  Even a good number of those who know what an atheist is still bend over backwards like Neo in the Matrix trying to dodge that label. I even know of a people who still identify as non-practicing Catholics, Jewish, or Hindu, even though they say they don’t believe in any god.

There was a Pew survey in 2009 which answers that question well enough.  While we are normally told that atheists represent only about 5% of the general population, that poll shows 1% who refused to answer the question, which is the way many actual atheists respond to this.  A lot of them are ‘apatheists’, they don’t CARE if God exists.  Then there are another 12% who say they don’t believe in any god, but that they do believe in a ‘universal spirit’ or ‘higher power’ (something akin to the Force) which could not be correctly defined as a god.  That would mean that actual atheists collectively represent about 17% of the general populace, and 66% of scientists.

Comments

  1. Al Dente says

    That would mean that actual atheists collectively represent about 17% of the general populace

    That’s something that churches are quite aware of and which they’re trying to counteract, especially since the number is growing.

    • Monocle Smile says

      Depends on what you mean by “scientist.” Physicists in particular have a much higher proportion. I would have to see the categorical breakdown to make further judgments.

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  3. Schlumbumbi says

    Then there are another 12% who say they don’t believe in any god, but that they do believe in a ‘universal spirit’ or ‘higher power’ (something akin to the Force) which could not be correctly defined as a god

    Not impressed. That’s still the realm supernatural woo, harboring everything from deepak chopra to gaia chrystal healing.

    • Athywren says

      True, but I don’t think that’s the point being made. As we so often have to point out, atheism only means that you’re not convinced that any gods exist. That some people who aren’t convinced that gods exist also happen to believe in crystal healing is beside the point – it’s a measure of atheism, not of skepticism… and if there’s one thing that the atheist community needs to be reminded of from time to time, it’s that not all of us are skeptics.

  4. doublereed says

    Well you can be Jewish and Atheist. That’s not uncommon or difficult to find. Jewish Identity involves more than religion.

    But I guess on a religious chart they might say they are Jewish instead of “None” or something.

  5. lpetrich says

    One might have to be more precise than that, like asking if one believes in a god who personal, that is, conscious with thoughts and feelings and so forth. As opposed to a god that is like a dog or a cat, or like a fish, or like a tree or a flower, or like a rock or the force of gravity.