69.7% of Philosophy PhD Holders “Accept or Lean Towards” Atheism

69.7% of Philosophy PhD Holders “Accept or Lean Towards” Atheism May 18, 2010

Last November, PhilPapers did a rather thorough and comprehensive survey of both professional philosophers and aspirants to the profession which explored our views on a number of major philosophical issues. Here’s a breakdown of the survey’s participants:

The PhilPapers Survey was a survey of professional philosophers and others on their philosophical views, carried out in November 2009. The Survey was taken by 3226 respondents, including 1803 philosophy faculty members and/or PhDs and 829 philosophy graduate students.

Of the 1803 philosophy faculty and/or PhDs, 1257 (69.7%) reported that they accepted or leaned towards atheism, 295 (16.3%) reported that they accepted or leaned towards theism, and 251 (13.9%) listed their views as “Other”.  Here’s the full breakdown of their specific responses:

Accept: atheism 1041 / 1803 (57.7%)
Lean toward: atheism 216 / 1803 (11.9%)
Accept: theism 210 / 1803 (11.6%)
Agnostic/undecided 117 / 1803 (6.4%)
Lean toward: theism 85 / 1803 (4.7%)
The question is too unclear to answer 30 / 1803 (1.6%)
Accept another alternative 28 / 1803 (1.5%)
Reject both 26 / 1803 (1.4%)
Accept an intermediate view 14 / 1803 (0.7%)
Skip 14 / 1803 (0.7%)
There is no fact of the matter 11 / 1803 (0.6%)
Other 9 / 1803 (0.4%)
Insufficiently familiar with the issue 1 / 1803 (0%)
Accept both 1 / 1803 (0%)

Among 829 graduate students the totals were 527 (63.5%) accepting or leaning towards atheism, 173 (20.8%) accepting or leaning towards theism, and 129 (15.5%) identifying their views as “Other”.  Here is the full breakdown of graduate student opinion:

Accept: atheism 414 / 829 (49.9%)
Accept: theism 123 / 829 (14.8%)
Lean toward: atheism 113 / 829 (13.6%)
Agnostic/undecided 63 / 829 (7.5%)
Lean toward: theism 50 / 829 (6%)
Reject both 15 / 829 (1.8%)
Accept an intermediate view 11 / 829 (1.3%)
Accept another alternative 10 / 829 (1.2%)
There is no fact of the matter 9 / 829 (1%)
The question is too unclear to answer 8 / 829 (0.9%)
Accept both 5 / 829 (0.6%)
Skip 5 / 829 (0.6%)
Other 3 / 829 (0.3%)

David Bourget and David Chalmers, the survey’s editors explain how the survey came about and addressing frequent criticisms of it here.

There are many more interesting findings of the survey to which I will hopefully have occasion to return.  In the meantime, I thought this particular finding would be of most immediate interest to my readership.

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