An article in the Calgary Herald (Canada) states:
Despite the popularity of religion-bashing books like Christopher Hitchens’ God is Not Great and Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion, the ranks of self-proclaimed Canadian atheists has remained steady during the last 30 years.
This is according to a new paper called “Nevers, Nones and Nots” (DOC) written by University of Lethbridge sociologist Reg Bibby.
Bibby, who has been studying Canadian religious and societal trends for three decades, says seven per cent of respondents to his latest national survey, taken in 2005, identified themselves as atheists, virtually unchanged from a comparable 1975 study.
That’s surprising. This also stood out:
Bibby says his data analysis, drawn from a sampling of about 1,600, including more than 600 Albertans, shows it’s difficult to stereotype the typical Canadian non-believer.
“They tend to come equally from across the economic spectrum. They are no more likely to be university graduates than to have limited levels of education,” Bibby notes.
Both those results show a huge difference from America, where studies have shown that the more formal education (PDF, page 5) someone gets, the less religious the person tends to be. Also, American atheists, as a percentage of the total population, seem to be on the rise.
The Herald article ends with this mention of atheists who aren’t rocking the boat:
Bibby says 46 per cent of atheist respondents agreed with the statement that, “religious groups still have a role to play in Canadian lives” while 19 per cent say they’d be open to greater involvement in religious groups. “If they could find it worthwhile for themselves or their families.” He thinks that’s a reflection of Canada’s legendary collective tolerance.
“You may be a non-believer but that doesn’t mean you’re going to trash your grandma’s long-held beliefs when you get together for a family reunion,” Bibby says.
I can’t speak for the 19%, but the statement that 46% of Canadian atheists agree with seems very vague. For all we know, those atheist regard religious groups as having a negative role to play in Canadian lives. It sounds more like a fact — you accept the statement or you don’t — instead of an opinion that you could agree or disagree with.
[tags]atheist, atheism, Calgary Herald, Christopher Hitchens, God is Not Great, Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, Nevers Nones and Nots, University of Lethbridge, Reg Bibby, Canada[/tags]