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New Newsweek poll data on belief in America
Posted: 31 March 2007 11:01 AM   [ Ignore ]
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[b:91014a7a8d]http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17879317/site/newsweek/[/b:91014a7a8d]

[quote:91014a7a8d]A belief in God and an identification with an organized religion are widespread throughout the country, according to the latest NEWSWEEK poll. Nine in 10 (91 percent) of American adults say they believe in God and almost as many (87 percent) say they identify with a specific religion. Christians far outnumber members of any other faith in the country, with 82 percent of the pollĖs respondents identifying themselves as such. Another 5 percent say they follow a non-Christian faith, such as Judaism or Islam. Nearly half (48 percent) of the public rejects the scientific theory of evolution; one-third (34 percent) of college graduates say they accept the Biblical account of creation as fact. Seventy-three percent of Evangelical Protestants say they believe that God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years; 39 percent of non-Evangelical Protestants and 41 percent of Catholics agree with that view.[/quote:91014a7a8d]

Is this all good news or bad news? it means about 10 percent do not say they believe in God, which is about the same number of blacks in the U.S., what they guess is roughly the same number of gays, and well more than Jews or Muslims, etc. Only six percent in this poll say they don’t believe in God, and only three percent actually use the word "atheist."  But one in ten say they have no religion.

Does this mean that secularism and humanism is making advances?

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[quote:91014a7a8d]Just 3 percent of the public self-identifies as atheist, suggesting that the term may carry some stigma. Still, the poll suggests that the publicĖs tolerance of this small minority has increased in recent years. Nearly half (47 percent) of the respondents felt the country is more accepting of atheists today that it used to be and slightly more (49 percent) reported personally knowing an atheist. Those numbers are higher among respondents under 30 years old, 62 percent of whom report knowing an atheist (compared to just 43 percent of those 50 and older). Sixty-one percent of the under-30 cohort view society as more accepting of atheists (compared to 40 percent of the Americans 50 and older).[/quote:91014a7a8d]

Does this suggest that there is a market among young people the "movement" so far has been unsuccessful at tapping, or is it a new market? Do you think atheists are more accepted today as the data suggests? I wonder how much of that is due to the recent blockbuster books by Dawkins and Dennett. . .

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Posted: 31 March 2007 11:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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New Newsweek poll data on belief in America

 

A belief in God and an identification with an organized religion are widespread throughout the country, according to the latest NEWSWEEK poll. Nine in 10 (91 percent) of American adults say they believe in God and almost as many (87 percent) say they identify with a specific religion. Christians far outnumber members of any other faith in the country, with 82 percent of the poll’s respondents identifying themselves as such. Another 5 percent say they follow a non-Christian faith, such as Judaism or Islam. Nearly half (48 percent) of the public rejects the scientific theory of evolution; one-third (34 percent) of college graduates say they accept the Biblical account of creation as fact. Seventy-three percent of Evangelical Protestants say they believe that God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years; 39 percent of non-Evangelical Protestants and 41 percent of Catholics agree with that view.

Is this all good news or bad news? it means about 10 percent do not say they believe in God, which is about the same number of blacks in the U.S., what they guess is roughly the same number of gays, and well more than Jews or Muslims, etc. Only six percent in this poll say they don’t believe in God, and only three percent actually use the word “atheist.”  But one in ten say they have no religion.

Does this mean that secularism and humanism is making advances?

More:

Just 3 percent of the public self-identifies as atheist, suggesting that the term may carry some stigma. Still, the poll suggests that the public’s tolerance of this small minority has increased in recent years. Nearly half (47 percent) of the respondents felt the country is more accepting of atheists today that it used to be and slightly more (49 percent) reported personally knowing an atheist. Those numbers are higher among respondents under 30 years old, 62 percent of whom report knowing an atheist (compared to just 43 percent of those 50 and older). Sixty-one percent of the under-30 cohort view society as more accepting of atheists (compared to 40 percent of the Americans 50 and older).

Does this suggest that there is a market among young people the “movement” so far has been unsuccessful at tapping, or is it a new market? Do you think atheists are more accepted today as the data suggests? I wonder how much of that is due to the recent blockbuster books by Dawkins and Dennett. . .

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Posted: 31 March 2007 12:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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It doesn’t sound good when almost 1/2 reject Evolution.  It sounds like the school system is failing or the Evangelicals are winning.  It makes no sense, but then Galileo may have made sense to some, yet the religious won out and he was put to death.  :(  It was a couple hundred years before the Catholic Church “pardon” him.

I don’t know what I says for Humanism, but it doesn’t seem good.  It doesn’t seem to me like it is making much of an advance, but then in some cases, even the smallest of advances is a big gain.  Who knows.

As for Atheists being accepted, I’m not accepted, at least in this city, as a Humanist.  There is always one or two in a room or a group of people who have to verbally bash me and complain that this country is becoming Secular.  I don’t see it becoming anymore Secular or Humanist than it was 30 or 40 years ago and this article seems to agree with that that thought.

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Mriana
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Posted: 31 March 2007 12:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I think its hard to guage whether things are getting better. In some ways, there seems to be a measurable backlash: One quick example that might or might not be suggestive of any larger phenomenon: I know of a humanist activist who was recently head-butted while putting up posters for an event exploring whether or not God existed—he bled profusely, and this attack was reportedly unprovoked. In my years of working in this movement, I have never heard of such violence. On the other hand, more people are coming out than ever, and a surprising number of people now report that they know and can accpet someone they know as an atheist. We might be in the early stages of something great happening for the advance of our secular and humanist values in society, or right at the beginning of a serious backlach. I guess time will tell.

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Posted: 31 March 2007 01:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I know of a humanist activist who was recently head-butted while putting up posters for an event exploring whether or not God existed—he bled profusely, and this attack was reportedly unprovoked. In my years of working in this movement, I have never heard of such violence.

We are humanist, not pacifist!  LOL

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Posted: 31 March 2007 03:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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To be honest, I’ve been verbally nailed a few times just for being a Humanist- both on a board and RL, just this past week.  Well, both are real, but I can’t think of another name for it.  I didn’t do or say anything harmful to anyone and they have to be hateful.  I really don’t understand it.  :(  It can really hurt, but I think of Paul Kurtz with all his unlimited optimism and think maybe things will change soon. He’s an encouraging person and it takes a lot of courage to say, “I’m a Humanist” and then put up with all the backlash.  The backlash is enough to make a grown woman want to cry.

The good part about it all is, the prof of the class that I got verbally slammed has said she really likes the diversity in her class (I’m the only Humanist in her C.S. Lewis class!) and wishes Islamics, Hindus, Jews, and alike would take her class too.  I can’t say I’ve really enjoyed her class, but I guess it’s to be expected in a room full of Christians to have at least one of them slam the Humanist.  rolleyes  This last time the other non-traditional student slammed me in class. NICE!  And very mature.  NOT! When I started to debate her concerning her comment, “Atheists have no humour”, and the prof was going to allow the debate in class, she suddenly shouts, “I don’t want to talk about it anymore!”

How do you change stereotypes if people don’t want to get to know Humanists?  One can’t point them to people like Robert Price and alike to show that yes, Humanist do venture into the religious venue, they do talk about the Bible, have a great sense of humour, do not mean Christians harm, we aren’t demonic, nor do we want to bash them over the head with our beliefs, etc when they won’t even TRY to learn about us. I’m a writer and if I want to explore another writer’s work, I can regardless of my background. That’s the beauty of being a Humanist- free inquiry, but that does not mean we have to believe in everything we study.

I’m so glad I did not take up Lewis’s comment that Atheism is too simple in class.  I took up it in an essay that only my prof read, but think about what could have happened if I took up that one in class.  I don’t know if I would have gotten past what Humanism is.

Sigh. That’s not saying what happened on another board.  rolleyes  Luckily the admin is a good admin and took care of the issue very well. It helps when the board is ran as an “Open Society” and the owners are themselves Humanists, but some Christians have no idea what that means, I guess, and start making rude remarks, “Like if you knew and understood the Bible…”  rolleyes  I told that person I knew and understood more about the Bible than they gave me credit for.  That one is water under the bridge now, thanks to a good admin. Boards are much easier than a classroom though because I can walk away if I need to do so.  I’ll give that person some credit though, I am now out of my writer’s block concerning one of the papers I need to write for this class. Lewis mentioned “nasty Christians” in one of his works and that is one thing I can agree with him about.  So, I did get some good out of that upheavel.  smile

With all the backlash, is it really worth coming out though? Then again, MLK Jr and his followers went through a lot during the Civil Rights movement and things have gotten better since then.  So, who knows, maybe it will get better in our lifetime too.  Well, it didn’t in MLK Jr’s, but those who survived it all, it did.

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Mriana
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Posted: 01 April 2007 09:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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“there seems to be a clear trend in history upto this point since last few hundred years to towards increasing secularism” this seems like a sensible statement, but is true only of the western world & is less & less true of america, the big daddy of all.

it seems obvious to me that religion can’t win in the long term, because the truth will always become more & more accepted by humans, thats our history

religion will lose this battle in medium term too, barring cataclysms. & with the world going in the direction it is, i am not willing to discount that possibility. the power of destruction is entirely in the hands of the religious today, & especialy in the hands of zealots, of all religious colours. & frighteningly they are also the people most likely to use it…..

lets just keep spreading the message…. is there something more we can do?

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Posted: 01 April 2007 10:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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[quote author=“drjayeshsharma”]religion will lose this battle in medium term too, barring cataclysms. & with the world going in the direction it is, i am not willing to discount that possibility. the power of destruction is entirely in the hands of the religious today, & especialy in the hands of zealots, of all religious colours. & frighteningly they are also the people most likely to use it…..

lets just keep spreading the message…. is there something more we can do?

You are very right and that is what’s scary.

I don’t know what else we can do, personally.  Thing of it is, the religious zealots do not take a look at themselves.  If they did, they would hopefully not like what they saw.  They are the very essesence of what they say they despise, but they can’t see it in themselves or the others that they brainwash after they have been brainwashed.  The word “brainwash” seems harsh, but what other word is there for it?

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Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

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Posted: 01 April 2007 11:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I believe this trend is connected to the decreased funding for education in the U.S. (in standard dollars corrected for inflation).  When I was in public school in California 60 years ago, Calif. was consistently ranked as one of the top three or four in education.  Now, after Proposition 13 which severely reduced property and other taxes, California consistently vies with Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama for one of the last three or four places in education.

This same thing is happening in most other states, so our citizens are becoming less and less educated.  This makes them easy prey for the evangelists.

Even so, Calif. is far more liberal about diversity, so I don’t know of anyone who has been criticized for saying they were an atheist, agnostic or humanist.  I’m quite open about my non-theism, and the most I’ve ever gotten were some polite questions.  But, then, I’m a cantankerous old fud so people may not want to risk a confrontation.  :twisted:

I sympathize with you Mriana.  I suppose you could respond to attacks with, “Yeah, Jesus was crucified for his beliefs, too.  It took a hundred years for them to decide his philosophy was rasonable.  So, don’t worry.  Your grandchildren will probably grow up as humanists.”  smile

Occam

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Posted: 01 April 2007 12:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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[quote author=“Occam”]I sympathize with you Mriana.  I suppose you could respond to attacks with, “Yeah, Jesus was crucified for his beliefs, too.  It took a hundred years for them to decide his philosophy was rasonable.  So, don’t worry.  Your grandchildren will probably grow up as humanists.”  smile

Occam

LOL I LOVE IT!  That’s good.  smile

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Mriana
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Posted: 01 April 2007 02:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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I have a few takes on this sort of data.

Dr. Tyson made an excellent point in the Beyond Belief seminars, to paraphrase: 15% of the Academy of Sciences, our brightest and best thinkers believe in a personal god that answers prayer. If we cant get that to 0 why do we expect to do so with the public?

Also I have been thinking lately that (this may should go to IQ/religion discussion) the walmart-fast food-realitytv business culture of the world is actually working against secularism.

To move beyond belief, one must have time to consider ones belief and the alternatives.

I am very busy with my own business, but I still have enough free time to read insightful books, listen to insightful pod casts (like POI) and watch insightful video. The reasons are that I have an above middle income, lower than average costs (no kids, dual income), and while I have job security as the owner, as an entrepreneur I also know that job security never exists, so I don’t worry about it.

The fast food nation is moving more people to the white knuckle lower middle class where one is always being hounded by the next bill and one never has job security. These people have no time to reason and only a desire to escape into fantasy land where for a moment all the troubles of their world seem to dissipate.

And one of the most serious challenges to any free market advocate like me, is the fact that weasels get into high ranking office in corporations where they abandon the civic responsibility that Rand and other free market philosophers insisted upon, in order to gorge themselves unreasonably at the direct expense of the employees and community.

So, to undumb the populace we need to find ways to make sure they have enough security, liberty, and free time to seek knowledge, and then we have to make the knowledge as appealing as an episode of survivor.

Tricky.

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Posted: 01 April 2007 04:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Posted: 01 April 2007 04:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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education isn’t genetic its memetic. Genes propagate by procreation memes propagate by broadcast and utility.

Everyone of us was uneducated at some point.

So there is no reason to think that as uneducated people procreate they are producing more uneducated people

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Posted: 01 April 2007 05:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Posted: 01 April 2007 09:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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[quote author=“George Benedik”]
I desagree. I grew up in Czechoslovakia where everybody was allowed the same level of education (schools were free and obligatory; literacy was 100%; etc.). But: the doctors’ kids still became doctors and the auto mechanics’ children grew up to be auto mechanics. You still need a gene to understand a meme.

Well now you are confusing the memetics of social classes with genetics.  There are plenty of places in the world where the offspring of doctors became mechanics and the offspring off poor uneducated immigrants became wealthy cutting edge people of every field of knowledge.

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Posted: 02 April 2007 01:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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[quote author=“George Benedik”]I desagree. I grew up in Czechoslovakia where everybody was allowed the same level of education (schools were free and obligatory; literacy was 100%; etc.). But: the doctors’ kids still became doctors and the auto mechanics’ children grew up to be auto mechanics. You still need a gene to understand a meme.

Hey, you guys do have a good educational system.  You do better at spelling *Mriana looks up to see how Geo. spelled it*  ah yes, Czechoslovakia, than most people in the U.S.  I’ve never been able to spell that one.  At best I could do Chekozovokia, all the while saying there’s a “Z” in there some where.  So much for phonics.  But then again, you lived there, which helps.

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