Sunday, May 08, 2011

What Americans Really Believe

Part 3, "Atheism and Irreligion," reveals that rather than belief in God fading fast into oblivion, the percentage of Americans in 2007 who said they did not believe in God (4%) was the same as the percentage of Americans in 1944 who said they did not believe in God. Furthermore, "irreligion is not effectively transmitted from parents to children. Studies show that the majority of children born into an irreligious home end up joining a religious group - most often a conservative denomination" (pp. 117, 205; cf. p. 7). Many who assert no religion say they still pray, and the majority are not "atheist," just unaffiliated (p. 141; cf. pp. 117, 142, 205).

Stark cites complementary evidence that despite enduring nearly a century of brutal government suppression of religion, only 4% of Russians and 14% of Chinese did not believe in God near the turn of the millennium. Also embarrassing for self-described "bright" and "rational" New Atheists are statistics demonstrating that irreligious people are "almost three times as likely" to place "great value" in Tarot, seances, and psychic healing, and also more likely to believe in "real" UFOs (p. 125).;content

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