How Many Atheists & What is Up with These Agnostics?

Green Genius Says:

Hi Atheist, what do you suppose is the real number of atheists in the US? Admitted is going to be less than actual. Also what about EU’s? And the world’s? And someone just told me that they were agnostic because they said some things can never be proven. I said back to him yes, but I doubt a supernatural being could ever be proven either and he agreed? So what is up with these agnostics?

7 Responses to How Many Atheists & What is Up with These Agnostics?

  1. The Atheist says:

    Hi, Green. I think the last part of your question is at least in part an answer to the first part of your question. When people are asked if they are atheist, not all people agree about what atheism is. That said, I’ve seen numbers ranging from 6% to 15% in the US. I most often see numbers around 10%. I don’t know what the EU stats are off hand. The Arda is a great source of statistics on religious affiliation.

    Atheism is a belief that there is no God. Atheism only requires one to believe that the best conclusion, based on our observations, is that there is no compelling reason to posit that a God exists. It doesn’t require a proof that no God exists. Agnosticism posits that God may exist, but if he does, it is a God whose nature is such that we cannot know that he exists. Therefore, it is unreasonable to deny that an inherently unknowable God exists. Atheists and agnostics agree that there is no evidence for God. But while agnostics posit that an unknowable God may exist, atheists see no particular value in the statement (e.g., “the unknowable is unknowable”). So atheists view the statement as uninformative with regard to the question of whether God exists.

  2. Green Genius says:

    Thank You Atheist, I like how you put it. I never thought of agnostics like that. I just thought they were fence sitters and I had a hard time with that. Here is a link found on numbers of atheists. http://www.religioustolerance.org/atheist1.htm

  3. The Atheist says:

    Thanks for that link, Green. It’s really hard to gauge the percentage because the results depend so much on how the questions were formulated, if the survey was anonymous, etc. You can see here how widely the numbers can vary. There is a still enough of a social stigma attached to the term, “atheism”, that a large percentage of people who profess not to believe in God do not call themselves atheist, even if they are by definition.

  4. Green Genius says:

    Hi Atheist, I just read an article on yahoo news that said a large amount of Americans don’t believe in hell like 54% and also a lot don’t believe in heaven , like 75%. Interesting that this is so when so many don’t state that they are atheists?

  5. The Atheist says:

    Hi Green. People can believe in God (or gods) without necessarily believing literal interpretations of the Bible – or without believing anything in the Bible at all. Sadly, the discussion about theism, at least in the US, all too often degrades into a shouting match between Christian fundamentalists, and most everyone else including atheists. That often leads us to equate theism with Christian fundamentalism. Christian fundamentalists aren’t theists par excellence, they just tend to be among the most vociferous.

  6. Green Genius says:

    Hi Atheist, I was talking to a guy from a dating site the other day and when I told him I was atheist he said flippantly, then what do you believe in, Satan? Can you believe that. I have never encountered such ignorance in all of my 46 years. I think the world has become more evil since 1980. When I was growing up I always believed The world would become more enlightened and now it seems to have entered the dark ages. Do you think we will ever see the light?

  7. The Atheist says:

    Sadly, I believe it all too well – I encounter that sort of ignorance all the time. I actually do think we will see the light. I think society is moving steadily in the direction of more rational and scientific thought. But it’s not always so evident that we are moving ahead – we don’t tend to follow a straight path. Instead we seem to take 2 steps forward and one step back. It’s easy to think things are not moving ahead while we’re in the 1-step-back leg of the journey. The trick is to look at larger spans of time – on the order of 100 years or so. See how far we have progressed since the early 1900’s, the early 1800’s. It’s really quite encouraging!

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