What Else Can We Learn from the ‘Six Types of Atheists’ Study?

Earlier this month, researchers Christopher Silver and Thomas Coleman III released a study identifying what they believed were the six different kinds of atheists: Intellectual Atheist/Agnostic, Activist, Seeker-Agnostic, Anti-Theist, Non-Theist, and Ritual Atheist/Agnostic:

What some people think all atheists look like

After CNN’s Dan Merica‘s article about the study went viral, commenters had a ton of things to say about it, good and bad. CNN Belief Blog’s Daniel Burke took those questions directly to Silver and Coleman. Like this one:

Q: @PaulTK asks: Are atheists limited to the six categories your study proposes?

A: We suspect that further research exploring people who don’t believe in God will certainly expand the number of categories and fill in more details about the six we’ve named.

For example, we found that the Intellectual Academic Atheist type may produce a 7th type reflecting those who are more “philosophically orientated” versus those who are more “scientifically orientated.” Our study also gives some evidence that individuals may not believe in God but still identify with religion or spirituality in some way.

The overall point may be obvious to us (though not so much to others): Atheists are just as diverse as, say, Christians. It’s silly that people would treat us as a monolithic group, but that’s how stereotypes work.

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