Atheism is the belief that there is no supernatural being behind anything that the universe has to offer. Everything is driven by science and created by a natural process. Of course this is a general oversimplification as some atheists do say they believe in a universal spirit or in God and some who identify themselves as religious say they do not believe in God at all.
When Americans are asked about their religious identity, 2.4% of them will self-identify as being atheist.
This is in comparison to the consistent three-quarters of Americans who identify themselves as being Christians. In 2007, atheism was just 1.7% of the American population, so although the growth has been small over the past decade, there are more people today who say they don’t believe in God or a universal spirit than in the past.
- Two-thirds of the people who self-identify as being an atheist are men.
- 38% of those who identify themselves as being atheist are between the ages of 18-29, compared to the 22% of the US population that fits into this age group.
- Atheists [43%] are more likely to hold a college degree when compared to the general public.
- 14% of those who call themselves atheists also say they believe in God or a universal spirit.
- The percentage of atheists who say that they are absolutely certain about the existence of God or a universal spirit: 5%.
- More Americans say they do not believe in God or a universal spirit [7%] than say they are atheists [2.4%].
- 1 out of every 4 atheists state that they believe they are a spiritual person.
- The percentage of atheists who consider themselves to be a religious person: 3%.
- 82% of atheists say they either often (52%) or sometimes (30%) feel a deep connection with nature and the earth.
- 4 out of every 10 atheists say that they often think about what the meaning and purpose of life happens to be.
- A survey published in the 2005 Encyclopedia Britannica stated that 2.3% of the world’s population consists of individuals who profess “atheism, skepticism, disbelief, or irreligion.”
There’s an interesting correlation between atheism and intelligence. As a person’s IQ level increases, there is a greater chance for them to have an atheistic view of spirituality than a traditional religious view. This is true for all religious groups and denominations. That doesn’t mean than an atheist won’t incorporate some aspects of religion into their life, such as meditation, but it does generally mean that there is an emphasis on humanism in their personal beliefs than supernaturalism. With nearly 1 in 10 Americans saying that they don’t believe in God, yet only 2 out of 100 identifying themselves as being atheist, there is definitely a stigma present in the choice to not believe in God. What could these figures be if there was some leadership in place that would be a voice for the atheistic movement?
Atheism From a Global Perspective
- The worldwide population of atheists fluctuates between 500 million to 750 million varying from researcher to researcher.
- Multiple studies and surveys in Canada show a 19% to 26% rate of atheism.
- When asked a series of questions pertaining to the existence of God or other spiritual beings, 1 out of 5 people will say that they don’t believe in the existence of a supernatural being.
- If atheism were considered a religion, it would be the fourth most popular point of view, coming in behind Christianity, Judaism, and Hinduism in that order.
- Despite these high numbers, atheism is virtually non-existent in most of Africa, South America, the Middle East, and Asia.
- The highest populations of atheists are found in Scandinavia and Japan, with population rates as high as 90%.
- Income levels for atheists 25 years old and over showed 60.4% at $50,000 while 24.1% earned $100,000 or more.
- Despite gains in the United States, the overall percentage of the global population has seen the number of self-identified atheists cut in half over the last four decades.
More people have an atheist view of the world than even the statistics show. In the United States, the actual number of atheists could be as high as 34 million. Because of the social pressures from religion and politics, however, some may choose not to admit what their personal philosophies happen to be. Because there is a less of a negative stigma against atheism in other parts of the world, it is understandable that self-identifying rates of atheists would be much higher. Because of the crackdown of religious governing in parts of the Middle East and Asia, it’s also understandable why many would choose not to identify as being atheist since some laws say that they could be put to death. In practicality, however, if a nation says that people are free to practice whatever believe they wish, the practicing belief of there not being a God should be just as accepted as a popular religion.
Count Atheists Be One Of The Most Discriminated Against Demographics?
- In American surveys on politics, 3 out of 4 Americans routinely say that they will only back a political candidate that holds similar religious views.
- When George H.W. Bush was asked if atheists could be Americans, the future President’s response was this: “No, I don’t know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God.”
- When an atheists’ presence is more prevalent in a given society, then anti-atheist prejudice among religious believers is reduced.
- In a Pew survey about US Constitutional knowledge, the atheists and agnostics scored the highest at 20.9 against the participant’s average of 16.0.
- In a belief system for a marriage partner, atheism always ranks as the lowest rated quality that someone would want to have in their partner.
- Despite the negative stigmas, atheists have lower divorce rates than religious demographics, have fewer children, and ultimately have families that are more close knit.
- In the United States, there are still laws in the books in several states that forbid a known atheist from holding down a political office.
- There are no endorsed chaplains that hold an atheistic belief, yet atheists outnumber all other non-Christans.
Atheists might be in the minority, but that doesn’t give people the right to bully them. Are there aggressive atheists out in the world today that are filled with bitterness and hatred, looking to pick a fight with anyone who holds a different view than them? There is – and the same could be true for any other spiritual belief. Religion [or the lack of it] is what divides humanity more than anything else. Numerous wars have been fought about religion and millions have died simply because they believe in something that isn’t necessarily popular for their region. When nearly half of all people are willing to switch their religious affiliation and essentially believe in nothing, atheism stands out and speaks from essentially one voice. That could be one reason why more people than ever before are following the atheistic world view.
How Fluid Is Modern Religion Today?
- 28% of kids today have left the faith in which they were raised in favor of another religion – or no religion at all.
- If a change in protestant denominations is included in the above statistic, the number jumps to 44%.
- Among Americans ages 18-29, one-in-four say they are not currently affiliated with any particular religion – which is the key age demographic for atheism.
- The percentage of older Americans above the age of 70 who say they aren’t affiliated with a religion: 8%.
- 37% of Americans are married to a partner that has a different religious affiliation.
- Yet through all of this inconsistency, atheism websites have seen sharp drops of traffic since 2012.
When people can’t decide what religion to follow because nothing feels right, atheism stands tall, a strong voice in the swirling storm. One of the largest sub-demographics that is growing within the atheist perspective are former ministers of faith in other religions deciding that being an atheist was the right choice to make. Maybe atheism is showing some losses in certain parts of the world, but overall the minority that makes up atheism isn’t really much of a minority at all. What does this mean for the future of religion? It means that it is fine to be skeptical. There is nothing wrong in testing everything that comes out of the mouths of men. By doing so consistently, an atheist becomes more than a free thinker. They become an independent spirit who cares about their fellow humans just like religions command, but without the guilt or shame associated with perceived failures.