Monday, June 20, 2011

Atheists who believe God created nature?

GSS respondents were asked whether they believed that: 1) nature is sacred because it was created by God; 2) nature is sacred in itself; or 3) nature is important, but not sacred (sample size = 3,505). Of the people who "know that God exists", 54 percent gave answer 1; 18 percent gave answer 2; and 28 percent answered number 3. In other words, most believers think nature is sacred because it is God's creation.

But here's the weird part: 13 percent of the 92 surveyed atheists said that nature is sacred because it was created by God. (Twenty-seven percent answered 2, and 60 percent answered 3). "Atheist" is defined as "not believing in God." Unless the 12 atheists who gave 1 for an answer are retarded (or perhaps there was some other type of miscommunication) they mean something else by "doesn't believe in God." I can imagine people interpreting the statement to mean "I don't follow or agree with God."

According to the GSS, only 2.6  percent of Americans say they do not believe in God. It might be the case that fewer actually do not believe in the existence of God.  

It's interesting too that atheists are less likely to give nature an elevated status. Sixty percent of them say that nature is important but not sacred, compared to 28 percent of believers. Perhaps a more secular term like "cherished" would have elicited more affirmative responses; perhaps atheists are less likely to give anything a really elevated value--I don't know.  

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

How do they break down by WORDSUM?

sykes.1 said...

I think that a significant number of people who say they are atheists really mean they aren't Christians. They confuse Christianity with the totality of religious belief.

The percentage of believers who think nature is sacred is also interesting. Orthodox varieties of Christianity and Judaism believe that while God created nature it is not sacred. That belief is pantheistic, pagan or animist.

Ron Guhname said...

Anon: The mean IQ for the atheist/God created nature group is 87.

Jim Bowery said...

Lack of verbal integrity is an obvious consequence of low verbal IQ -- which is really what wordsum detects. However, it is certainly the case the high verbal IQ can result in a lack of verbal integrity in debates since words become mere weapons.

Stephen said...

My guess is that sykes is right - some people wrongly label themselves athiests just because they reject a monotheist god while still believing in other types of supernatural myths.

Perhaps the data anomoly has identified newagers? ie crystal power etc

jaakkeli said...

Or, alternatively, there are a lot of people who just tune out "God" from phrases like "created by God" or even use God in phrases themselves methaphorically without actually believing in one.

"We must cherish X because God gave it to us" is a positive message that you're expected to agree with so as an atheist you can either just go with the flow or be the killjoy. You just get used to people putting "God" in their phrases as an emphasis for importance or then you turn into one of those permanently offended whiner atheists.

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