Myth #4: Atheists disbelieve because they are ignorant about God and religion.

A secular census has recently been launched and Mary Ellen Sikes is doing a week-long blog series about the results.  She shot me an email this last weekend, which I just got to yesterday, and asked if I’d post them.  Seemed interesting, so here we go.  :)   (You can also find these posts over at Stephanie Zvan’s blog Almost Diamonds)

Post #1 can be found here.

Post #2 can be found here.

Post #3 can be found here.

More than 71% of those providing religious background data to the Secular Census have a former faith, most dating back to childhood. 30.9% received religious training in a theistic congregation, 16.7% attended religious schools during all or most of their K-6 years, and 12% during all or most of grades 7 through 12. It can’t be a lack of exposure to theology that leads to atheism.

Blame it on knowledge: by far the most frequently cited reasons for leaving the fold are “Became too educated to remain religious” (79%) and “Too much skepticism about basic tenets” (78%).

Because the journey to atheism is a rational, exploratory one rather than a burning-bush conversion, many atheists know more about dogma and practice than their religious counterparts, an irony confirmed in 2010 when atheists and agnostics scored higher than believers on a test of religious knowledge given by the Pew Forum for Religion & Public Life.

“If you want to know about God, you might want to talk to an atheist,” wrote the Los Angeles Times.
Tomorrow – Myth #5: Atheists are waging a War on Christmas.


Mary Ellen Sikes is the founder, president, and developer of the American Secular Census. She became involved in the secular movement in the early 1990s, went on to found and lead a local humanist group, and has served in various staff, officer, advisory, and board positions for regional and national organizations, most recently as a co-founder of Secular Woman.

American Secular Census methodology: Because not all registrants complete every form or every question, sample sizes vary from topic to topic and cannot be generalized. Until the Census reaches a 5-figure registry overall, analysis should be considered suggestive rather than statistically authoritative; however, most questions now have sample sizes approaching or exceeding those of nationally recognized surveys.

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About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.