Main article: New Atheism
New Atheism is the name given to a movement among some early-21st-century atheist writers who have advocated the view that “religion should not simply be tolerated but should be countered, criticized, and exposed by rational argument wherever its influence arises.”[ The movement is commonly associated with Sam Harris, Daniel C. Dennett, Richard Dawkins, Victor J. Stenger, and Christopher Hitchens. Several best-selling books by these authors, published between 2004 and 2007, form the basis for much of the discussion of New Atheism.[
These atheists generally seek to disassociate themselves from the mass political atheism that gained ascendency in various nations in the 20th century. In best selling books, the religiously motivated terrorist events of 9/11 and the partially successful attempts of the Discovery Institute to change the American science curriculum to include creationist ideas, together with support for those ideas from George W. Bush in 2005, have been cited by authors such as Harris, Dennett, Dawkins, Stenger, and Hitchens as evidence of a need to move society towards atheism.
Now bearing in mind the content of the last paragraph above, here comes the frightening bit.
Percentage of people in various European countries who said: “I don’t believe there is any sort of spirit, God or life force.” (2005)
It is difficult to quantify the number of atheists in the world. Respondents to religious-belief polls may define “atheism” differently or draw different distinctions between atheism, non-religious beliefs, and non-theistic religious and spiritual beliefs.[ A Hindu atheist would declare oneself as a Hindu, although also being an atheist at the same time. A 2010 survey published in Encyclopædia Britannica found that the non-religious made up about 9.6% of the world’s population, and atheists about 2.0%, with a very large majority based in Asia. This figure did not include those who follow atheistic religions, such as some Buddhists. The average annual change for atheism from 2000 to 2010 was −0.17%.[A broad figure estimates the number of atheists and agnostics on Earth at 1.1 billion.
The 2012 Gallup Global Index of Religiosity and Atheism, measured the percentage of people who viewed themselves as “a religious person, not a religious person or a convinced atheist?” 13% reported to be “convinced atheists”. The top ten countries with people who viewed themselves as “convinced atheists” were China (47%), Japan (31%), the Czech Republic (30%), France (29%), South Korea (15%), Germany (15%), Netherlands(14%), Austria (10%), Iceland (10%), Australia (10%) and the Republic of Ireland (10%). The top ten countries with people who described themselves as “a religious person” were Ghana (96%), Nigeria (93%), Armenia (92%),Fiji (92%), Macedonia (90%), Romania (89%), Iraq (88%), Kenya (88%), Peru (86%), and Brazil (85%).
According to the 2010 Eurobarometer Poll, the percentage of those polled who agreed with the statement “you don’t believe there is any sort of spirit, God or life force” varied from: France (40%), Czech Republic (37%), Sweden (34%), Netherlands (30%), and Estonia (29%), down to Poland (5%), Greece (4%), Cyprus (3%), Malta (2%), and Romania (1%), with the European Union as a whole at 20%. In a 2012 Eurobarometer poll on discrimination in the European Union, 16% of those polled considered themselves non believers/agnostics and 7% considered themselves atheists. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 22% of Australians have “no religion”, a category that includes atheists.
According to a Pew Research Center survey in 2012 religiously unaffiliated (including agnostics and atheists) make up about 18.2% of Europeans.[ According to the same survey, the religiously unaffiliated are the majority of the population only in two European countries: Czech Republic (75%) and Estonia (60%). There are another four countries where the unaffiliated make up a majority of the population: North Korea (71%), Japan (57%), Hong Kong (56%), and China (52%).
In the United States, there was a 1% to 5% increase in self-reported atheism from 2005 to 2012, and a larger drop in those who self-identified as “religious”, down by 13%, from 73% to 60%. According to a 2012 report by the Pew Research Centre, 2.4% of the US adult population identify as atheist, up from 1.6% in 2007, and within the religiously unaffiliated (or “no religion”) demographic, atheists made up 12%.
Proportion of atheists and agnostics around the world.
A study noted positive correlations between levels of education and secularity, including atheism, in America.
According to evolutionary psychologist Nigel Barber, atheism blossoms in places where most people feel economically secure, particularly in the social democracies of Europe, as there is less uncertainty about the future with extensive social safety nets and better health care resulting in a greater quality of life and higher life expectancy. By contrast, in underdeveloped countries, there are virtually no atheists.
A letter published in Nature in 1998 reported a survey suggesting that belief in a personal god or afterlife was at an all-time low among the members of the U.S. National Academy of Science, 7.0% of whom believed in a personal god as compared with more than 85% of the general U.S. population, although this study has been criticized by Rodney Stark and Roger Finke for its definition of belief in God. The definition was “I believe in a God to whom one may pray in the expectation of receiving an answer”.
An article published by The University of Chicago Chronicle that discussed the above study, stated that 76% of physicians in the United States believe in God, more than the 7% of scientists above, but still less than the 85% of the general population. Another study assessing religiosity among scientists who are members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science found that “just over half of scientists (51%) believe in some form of deity or higher power; specifically, 33% of scientists say they believe in God, while 18% believe in a universal spirit or higher power.”
Frank Sulloway of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Michael Shermer of California State University conducted a study which found in their polling sample of “credentialed” U.S. adults (12% had Ph.Ds and 62% were college graduates) 64% believed in God, and there was a correlation indicating that religious conviction diminished with education level.
In 1958, Professor Michael Argyle of the University of Oxford analyzed seven research studies that had investigated correlation between attitude to religion and measured intelligence among school and college students from the U.S. Although a clear negative correlation was found, the analysis did not identify causality but noted that factors such as authoritarian family background and social class may also have played a part.[Sociologist Philip Schwadel found that higher levels of education are associated with increased religious participation and religious practice in daily life, but also correlate with greater tolerance for atheists’ public opposition to religion and greater skepticism of “exclusivist religious viewpoints and biblical literalism”.[ Other studies have also examined the relationship between religiosity and intelligence; in a meta-analysis, 53 of 63 studies found that analytical intelligence correlated negatively with religiosity, with 35 of the 53 reaching statistical significance, while 10 studies found a positive correlation, 2 of which reached significance.
The ‘allatsea’ conclusion then?
Only thickies and/or the terminally naivebelieve in God?