New Study Shows Breakdown of People Who Believe You Need God to be Good

A new study by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Brookings Institution has a couple of notable results (PDF) regarding religious demographics in America and whether you need God to be moral.

First, the demographics:

A couple of things stand out there, neither of which is particularly shocking but both of which are still worth celebrating:

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What Percentage of Prisoners are Atheists? It’s a Lot Smaller Than We Ever Imagined

What percentage of prisoners are atheists?

This is an important question with serious implications. If the number is high, it lends support to the idea that atheists are immoral (***Edit***: I should’ve made clear that not all prisoners are in jail for immoral reasons, though that is certainly the stereotype). If the number is low, it might provide some proof that, indeed, atheists have their own moral compass that doesn’t involve a holy book.

For more than a decade, if you Googled this question, you were directed to one of two websites, both referring to the same information (though even that’s in dispute) given to a “Rod Swift” by Denise Golumbaski, a research analyst at the Federal Bureau of Prisons. According to them, atheists made up 0.2% of the prison population:

There were always a lot of problems with that information:

If the statistic is wrong, we must stop using it. But can we really confirm or deny this information?

Yes we can — and I finally have some definitive information to back it up.

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Why Are Non-Religious People Unhappy About the Growing Number of Non-Religious People?

The video below, part of The Atheist Voice series, answers the question: Why are non-religious people unhappy about the growing number of non-religious people?

(You can read more about the study in question here.)

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the project — more videos will be posted soon — and we’d also appreciate your suggestions as to which questions we ought to tackle next! [Read more...]

University Researchers Say There Are Six Typologies of Non-Believers. Which One Are You?

Are you an Intellectual Atheist/Agnostic, or an Activist Atheist/Agnostic?

Do you identify as a Seeker Agnostic, or are you more of a Ritual Atheist/Agnostic?

Are you an Anti-theist or a Non-theist?

Researchers at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga have identified those typologies in an effort to create “a modest crack in the monolithic ‘religious none’ category,” as they put it.

What bothered Christopher Silver (who is active in the Chattanooga Freethought Association) and his research partner Thomas Coleman III, was that

…[p]revious research and studies focusing on the diverse landscape of belief in America have continually placed those who profess no belief in a God or gods into one unified category infamously known as the “religious nones”. This catch-all category presented anyone who identified as having “no religion” as a homogenous group in America today, lumping people who may believe in God with the many who don’t.

Hence, the six typologies. You can read here about how the researchers describe each group; based on the definitions, you should be able to figure out which typology fits you.

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Pew Survey Shows That Even Non-Religious People Are Unhappy About There Being More Non-Religious People

We know the percentage of people who are non-religious (although some of them might be “spiritual”) is on the rise, and has been for a number of years now, as indicated in this graphic by NPR’s Matt Stiles:

The Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, knowing the trends, asked people if they thought the rise of the “Nones” was a good thing. Specifically, they asked (PDF):

Please tell me if you think each of the following trends is generally a good thing for American society, a bad thing for American society, or doesn’t make much difference?

[Item C] More people who are not religious

Turns out people aren’t thrilled about it:

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