Some U.S. atheists seem to be confused, Pew survey shows
There seems to be some confusion among self-described U.S. atheists, at least according to the second part of the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life’s monumental “U.S. Religious Landscape Survey” that was issued today.
It found that 92 percent of Americans believe in God or a universal spirit, with 71 percent of those surveyed saying they were “absolutely certain” on this score.
Curiously, more than one fifth — 21 percent — of those who counted themselves as atheists said they believed in God while eight percent expressed absolute certainty about this state of affairs.
One thing does seem absolutely certain: at least a few U.S. atheists must be confused.
My “Dictionary of Beliefs and Religions” (Wordsworth Reference Series, 1992) begins its definition of the word “atheism” in the following manner: “The denial of the existence of God or gods.”
One wonders what dyed-in-the-wool atheists like Christopher Hitchens — no confusion about his stance — would say about this lot. Probably nothing very kind.
Among U.S. agnostics, 55 percent professed a belief in God and 17 percent were absolutely certain. The dictionary cited above though says that a defining characteristic of an agnostic is that they “claim ignorance” on such matters and so one wonders how they can be so certain.
America’s high levels of belief and spiritual devotion do set it apart from most affluent nations, a trait that is often commented on. But could it be that its levels of “belief” are also higher among “unbelievers?”
Talk about confusion! What do you think of results like this?