Do atheists believe in anything? Over at his blog, Steve Sailer quotes the notorious atheist Christopher Hitchens as believing that anyone who thinks that race is real is a racist. Steve then cites a G.K. Chesterton scholar who said that when a man stops believing in God, he doesn't believe in nothing, he believes in anything.
Having been both a believer and an atheist, I'm not sure if atheism is a sign that a person is unanchored and thereby vulnerable to kooky ideas, or just indicative of a person with a sharp BS detector.
Let's have the General Social Survey shed some light on the question. In 2006, 1,782 Americans were asked if they believed in God, and if they considered astrology to be scientific. Here are the answers:
Percent who think astrology is somewhat or very scientific
I don't believe in God 28.8
There is no way to know 22.3
There is some higher power 28.9
I believe sometimes 31.5
I believe but have doubts 31.8
I know God exists 34.3
Compared to people of faith, atheists are not more likely to believe in crackpot ideas (at least in the case of astrology). Agnostics, however, seem to have the most acute BS detectors. Some atheists may be the tough-minded type, while others may be the kind who grab onto just about any idea if it irks Mom and Dad (and respectable society).
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