Atheists who believe in astrology

The always interesting Inductivist has a post up where he cranks through the GSS to figure out how belief that astrology is somewhat or very scientific relates to belief in God. Below the fold I've taken his results and turned it into a chart.

i-7e9c9951a7615e8d791a61ad5d98e76b-belief_in_astrology_&_god(3).pngThe further you go the right, the more one is confident of belief in God. Note that the frequency who accept astrology increases, but note the bump for those who accept the appellation atheist! There are two primary points. First, atheism does not entail scientific materialism. Sometimes we need to reiterate this. Second, there might be issues with who accepts the self-definition of atheist vs. agnostic. In my experience many agnostics are operational atheists who find the term atheism too harsh, or associate it with negative traits.


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I wonder what the deviation is for those numbers. If 1782 randomly picked americans were queried, there couldn't have been many atheists, or agnostics.

I don't doubt that there are atheist astrologers, but I'm a bit skeptical that there would be that much more of them than among agnostics.

There was another such study out recently that seemed to indicate a reasonable percentage of atheists actually believed in the Adam and Eve story as truth! When the overall percentages are so small it only takes one individual having a joke with the interviewers questions to skew the results in such a manner. That said, there is a distinction between scientific atheism/agnosticism (another term for 'new atheist' or skeptical atheist etc) and simple non acceptance of religion. Kurt Cameron claims he was an atheist before he became a christian, and perhaps he was, just not a 'scientific' atheist.

Well, as far as I know catholic and orthodox churches forbid astrology, as any form of divination. Considered as heretic I suppose.

What about your local flavors churches? (I'm from Europe)

I think you're forgetting the other possibility. Lack of belief in God does not necessarily indicate a lack of belief in gods. I know there are categories for shades of belief, but depending on the order of the questions, people might be influenced to think that those are shades of belief in God.

By MiddleO'Nowhere (not verified) on 23 Jan 2008 #permalink

there might be issues with who accepts the self-definition of atheist vs. agnostic

The problem is that atheist is a statement about ontology, and agnostic is a statement about epistemology. They're not positions on a single axis, like the diagram shows; they're positions on two different axes.

You really need at least four axes to accurately position individuals with respect to their beliefs: atheist-theist, agnostic-gnostic, religious-secular, and spiritual-materialist.

Although, I suspect that for most people, seeing their beliefs plotted as a point in the interior of a tesseract is going to be more confusing than enlightening.

Your graph displays the fraction of astrologists who are nonbelievers. How about investigating the inverse - what fraction of nonbelievers are astrologists?

By Tegumai Bopsul… (not verified) on 23 Jan 2008 #permalink

The red bar is not incompatible with any but the rightmost dark blue bar. This is not a continuum of belief, but a grab-bag of self-descriptions.

- Astrology is haram in many religions as oldcola pointed out.
- Confusion between Astronomy and Astrology.

But overall a lot of people disillusioned with religion do tend to gravitate towards New Age movements that accept meta-physical 'truths' without necessarily having a belief in God.

That depends. Are you talking serious "where were the planets when you were born" astrology, or are you talking "what's your sign?" pop astrology?

"What's your sign?" is really another way of saying "what's your birth month?". In temperate climates, birth month may not be a trivial difference. Your mom's diet may be different depending on when you were concieved and born, and seasons affect thing like...vitamin D... ;) Birth month also influences social factors like the relative age of your school peer group and has been linked to MS.

But pretending it's the stars?

... but note the bump for those who accept the appellation atheist!... Second, there might be issues with who accepts the self-definition of atheist vs. agnostic.

No, the GSS has no category that allows you to self-identify as atheist or agnostic. Looking at the respondents, most people that do not believe in God are religiously affiliated, and most people that are not religiously affiliated believe in God. So distinguishing self-identified atheists in the GSS is not necessarily as simple as using those questions. I have found that combining 'no god' and 'no religion' for atheists can give different answers, and IMO, is a more accurate description. There are also several differently phrased God-belief questions that aren't entirely compatible with each other.

Using different methods for the astrology question does not change things too much though.

By Jason Malloy (not verified) on 24 Jan 2008 #permalink

Remember that there are dumb atheists and smart atheists. And even smart atheists are susceptible to having illogical superstitious beliefs.

Scientific thinking atheists are the ones that will say there is no way to know, not flat out deny the existence of god(s). A logical thinking atheist lacks a belief in god(s) because there isn't any evidence, they don't discount the possibility of them, just that it's highly unlikely, right up there with invisible pink unicorns.

I'm not sure who did this research. Were responders permitted more than one answer? How did this pollster arrive at a total of around 145 percent?