• Pew? *Phew* … Pee-Yew!


    My initial reaction to seeing the new Pew Forum report? Relief. On a closer examination? Aversion.

    First, my profound relief, from page 14:
















    Good news! America makes more religiously unaffiliated people with each generation, and the trends within age cohorts are also nothing to frown at.

    Now for the bad news. Most of the unaffiliated are neither atheists, skeptics, nor rationalists. Only 2.4% self-identify as atheists, with another 3.3% calling themselves agnostic, while “nothing in particular” makes up the bulk of the unaffiliated at 13.9%. In that that last group, belief in new age woo (e.g. spiritual energy, astrology, reincarnation, etc.) runs  at the same or slightly higher rates than the general public, and never less than one-in-four.  Almost one in three believes they have been in touch with the dead (see pg. 24).

    Since there are good reasons for rejecting agnosticism and since the “nothing in particulars” are marginally less skeptical than the general public, the only really good news here is that both of those groups are probably willing to hear us atheists and skeptics out when we try to explain to them that gods, spirits, souls, ghosts, astrology, reincarnation, faith-healing, and alt-med all fall into the same evidential category. To be sure, our mission field is expanding, but we still have to do the hard work of teaching people why and how to think critically about such claims.


    Category: Damned Lies and StatisticsSecularism

    Article by: Damion Reinhardt

    Former fundie finds freethought fairly fab.

    3 Pingbacks/Trackbacks

    • It’s possible this isn’t all bad news (i.e. new age). For me, the new age movement was the last stop on my search for god. I, in fact, became a new age minister and hosted a new age university office before I realized these folks were no different than other religious people. Here’s hoping. 🙂 — Beth

      • Thanks for sharing that. It gives this old cynical skeptic a ray of hope.

    • Copyleft

      Not sure how to interpret this… wouldn’t indifference to and disinterest in religion arguably be a _better_ result than active declarations of agnosticism or atheism?

      By way of analogy, the best outcome for gay equality is a step beyond the “out but proud” stage and into “nobody cares or even thinks to ask.” Wouldn’t it likewise be a best outcome for society if religion isn’t just opposed, but shrugged off as unimportant?

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    • I really think this is mostly a reaction to the conservative overreach by evangelical churches as of late. Between gay rights, premarital sex, conservative politics, and all the rest the churches are driving young people away. That’s why I think groups like SSA are so important right now. It’s imperative we organize at the high school/college level so there are established skeptic groups existing for these young folks when their churches become so poisonous they leave. Otherwise they drift into “spiritual but not religious” traps like believing in ghosts, spirits, numerology, astrology and all the rest of the modern “woo”, to steal a phrase (which I really like, I will be using it!)

    • Bob of QF

      I have to agree with CopyLeft’s comment– gross indifference to modern organized religion can only be a good thing, if it spreads.

      After enough of this, these organizations will fall apart, for want of contributions and near-mindless followers.

      At which point, they can be relegated to the status of minor nuance. No need for revolution here– their defunct properties can be seized by local governments for non-occupation/non-compliance with building codes (due to lack of maintenance and thelike) and returned to the economy as useful structures. Or, if in really bad state of disrepair, torn down to make room for something that actually contributes to the better good.

      I see it as progress, the more there are folk who are not directly paying cash-money and time into organized religions.

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