Gene Expression

20% of American atheists are religious

A rather pontifical commenter promoted me to do a little digging on the demographics of American atheists, as I was pretty sure that it would reinforce my point about the subjectivity of definitions. The product is a post at my other weblog, Large minority of atheists are religious:

…20% of atheists in the United States self-identify as a member of a religion. By atheist, I mean someone who states that they “Do not believe in God.” 19% of Buddhists are atheists. 10% of Jews. 5% of Muslims and Hindus. 9% of “Other Faiths.” And of course, 22% of the Unaffiliated (those without a religious identification). To get to my 20% number I just went to the Pew US Religious Landscape Survey, checked belief in God by religion and cross-referenced with the proportion within the sample of each religion. I think it’s a rather peculiar situation that the same proportion of atheists are religious as non-religious are atheists! Chart and data below the fold….

Comments

  1. #1 greg laden
    August 24, 2008

    I’m very surprised at the very low percentage of Jews who are atheists in these numbers. My personal experience would have suggested a much higher number.

  2. #2 razib
    August 24, 2008

    I’m very surprised at the very low percentage of Jews who are atheists in these numbers. My personal experience would have suggested a much higher number.

    same. but, the aggregate for these 3 categories together for jews was 28%
    Believe in God: not too certain/ not at all certain/ unsure how certain
    Do not believe in God
    Don’t know/ refused/ other

    so some probably wussed out and picked #1 or #3 here.

  3. #3 razib
    August 24, 2008

    re: jews,
    “Do you agree or disagree that God exists?”
    Disagree strongly & Disagree somewhat

    jews by religion – 14%
    jews (no religion) – 24%
    jews (other religion) – 4%

    all jews – 14%

    to some extent this revolves around the question “who is a jew?”

    source:
    http://209.85.173.104/search?q=cache:9dcYj6WRLcEJ:www.simpletoremember.com/vitals/ajisbook.pdf+american+jewish+identity+survey&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us&client=firefox-a

  4. #4 greg laden
    August 24, 2008

    It is a lot like the race issue. The categories are borked, the questions we ask of the data are often unrelated to the nature of the subject of study and thus ar artificial and arbitrary and therefore difficult to measure, and the results are ambiguous on a good day.

    We may simplify. Apply Atheist Law to all those who do not clearly declare themselves Atheist.

  5. #5 Russell
    August 24, 2008

    I have known quite a few Jews who were not in the least religious. But I have never met a religious Jew who is an atheist.

    Which doesn’t mean they don’t exist. ;-)

  6. #6 Onkel Bob
    August 24, 2008

    Fox Oscar Alpha Delta is all I have to say about your snide post modernist tripe.

  7. #7 razib
    August 24, 2008

    Fox Oscar Alpha Delta is all I have to say about your snide post modernist tripe.

    FYI, a diff. opinion from yours is not post-modernism.

  8. #8 zy
    August 24, 2008

    “Post modern”??? I haven’t heard that one in… since modern times.

  9. #9 Ian
    August 25, 2008

    I think he means post modem – i.e. since the advent of broadband….

  10. #10 emma
    August 9, 2009

    i would comment that atheism and agnosticism are both categories whose members “do not believe in god”, but that atheists’ viewpoint is that there is no god. thus not believing in god is not atheism, to be an atheist means you say there is no god. furthermore, i don’t understand how such a thing as a religious agnostic or atheist can exist – to me that is paradoxical.

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