Thursday, February 5, 2009

Episode 32 Profiles of the Godless

This week we're going to take a break from our usual format to bring to you a lecture recently delivered to CFI Michigan by Reasonable Doubts co-host Luke Galen. Luke has just completed the most comprehensive survey to date on the Non-Religious. The results provide some answers to questions such as How are non religious individuals viewed by the broader community? What differentiates religious and non religious individuals within the same community? Are there sub groups within the non religious community, and are there any differences between atheists, agnostics and humanists?

A pdf file containing slides from Luke's presentation including graphs, charts and other data can be downloaded here.

To download this or any previous Reasonable Doubts episodes click here. Find the episode you want and right click the "play now" link and select "save target as..."

16 comments:

NH Baritone said...

Great lecture! I listened while viewing the charts, which I'm sure enhanced the experience. Are there any plans to compare the CFI-International data with a dataset collected from religious believers, even if you choose only one group (such as one denomination or one religious interest group)?

Thanks for posting it on the podcast.

JohnFrost said...

I really enjoyed this lecture. I especially found enlightening the revelation that the old axiom of "religion makes people happier" is not actually true, and that it appears that a sense of certainty is more an indicator of mental health than what that person is certain of. Very fascinating.

Are any news organizations going to pick up on this poll?

Jason said...

Very informative.

Question: Did the study address people who were non-theistic but practiced a spiritual system such as Buddhism or Taoism? Or is that even relevant?

If possible, please reply to MountainHumanist@gmail.com. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

This is Luke.
The problem is finding a religious sample that is sufficiently large for comparison to the non religious one (@ 5000). We tried to post the survey link on belief net but only got a handful of replies. So i have been just comparing the nonreligious data to similar survey questions from the general population.

Nick said...

These statistics are great! being a gay liberal atheist I find them more than fascinating (nerd as well). I will be discussing these with my group of friends this weekend. I have Christian friends who accept me as gay, however they are not so tolorant of my godless views.

Thanks for your work in this matter its so very important. Possibly your next research should be how do we pool enough money together to buy a island or country and we all move there and live in peace and harmony.

Love the show, I learn so much from you guys. It helps me better my own Podcast. www.godsentusthepodcast.com

Zarathustra said...

I've never commented here before, usually because your podcasts are so dense (and interesting) that I have no idea where to start. That being said, it's late, I'm tired, and I just said goodnight to my girlfriend (long distance, but hopefully not for long). I should say, first of all, that I work on a volunteer basis for CFI On Campus as a campus regional coordinator (region 6, PA, NY, and NJ), a position which I am particularly proud of. I haven't finished listening to the podcast yet, and I usually listen to your podcasts several times (again, because I learn so much, but they are very dense with a LOT of information and I'm a "podcast junkie" when it comes to skepticism, humanism and atheism). Before I go to bed, I wanted to say that I was particularly interested in the statistics regarding marriage, children, and family life. The fact that today is Valentine's Day probably has something to do with this too. Anyway, I was interested in the statistics concerning the Church vs. skeptic/atheist/humanist/etc. organizations in regards to marriage, kids, and families. I think that these organizations have the potential to fulfill the role of a Church in the sense of providing a community for people like us, and that many of the statistics concerning this (such as marriage and birth rates) are in flux, and that the next decade or two might prove to be a tipping point. I'm a big believer in the notion that intelligent, skeptical individuals should meet, hook up, fall in love and have kids. I look forward to being a hip, young daddy myself in a few years, and (though I know many humanists who think this selfish) I want to have biological children as opposed to opting for adoption. My girlfriend- whom I met at a CFI student leadership conference last summer- feels the same way. We very much want to have children, and essentially the whole nuclear family package. This seems to make us outliers in the context of the current statistics (I should mention that we are both under 25), however I am curious to know whether you (the hosts of Reasonable Doubts) think that these statistics will change in a few years or a decade or two, as our communities grow and freethinking individuals have more contact with each other because of the proliferation of internet access in the "digital age." I can't think of many other studies of non-religious family life, particularly among the (admittedly smaller) fraction of us non-religious types who consider ourselves "activists" and part of a "movement." As a student of anthropology, I would be very much interested in conducting these sorts of studies later in my professional career.

Sorry for the rather extreme length of this comment.

Anyway, I love your podcast. I think I've listened to just about every episode you currently have up. I'm a big fan.

Zarathustra said...

Addendum: I guess, what I'm really wondering, is if you think that some of the current statistics are more of a generational thing.

Anonymous said...

This is Luke. In response to Zarathustra. If you are asking if the lower marriage and fertility in non religious is just a generational thing, short answer is i don't know. There are several factors that complicate the research. One is that, as i showed in the presentation, there is a strong relationship between higher education and lower religiosity. And those who are more educated have fewer kids, probably because they start later and stop earlier and are more career oriented. I'm not an expert on this literature, of which there is a lot, but studies show a general trend for seculars to get married later and have smaller families. Another complicating factor is the self selection of people into churched lifestyles that emphasize child bearing. Take Mormons as an example, they have a theology thats all about bringing souls into this world and the next, but some people who are more traditional and family oriented may select towards the religious lifestyle and the religious messages tend to reinforce that goal. However, it doesn't make a difference with divorce as many studies show an equivalent or even higher divorce rate for the religious, probably again because of the younger age at marriage and lower education and SES. So as far as the higher never married in the atheists, i haven't looked yet as to whether that is primarily accounted for by the younger people still getting their education and careers started, but my sense is that it is not just them. There is also a strong pressure for men especially to get married in a church context. i think i mentioned we couldn't find any unmarried men in the church group. Plenty of divorced older women though. there are even theories for religion as an attachment substitute for lonely people. But there are many more unmarried non religious types. Part of that may be the "cranky loner" hypothesis; they're just nerds. Some look at Europe as a comparison where marriage is late, to never, and childbearing has crashed.
Anyway, its a complex issue.

Tim said...

Great work Luke. I wish I would have been at this meeting. Many of the observations from the polled data really seem to make sense of the profiles and stereotypes. The happiness/religious correlation was especially interesting along with the labeling of atheist, agnostic, humanist, and so on.

Tim said...

Great work Luke. I wish I would have been at this meeting. Many of the observations from the polled data really seem to make sense of the profiles and stereotypes. The happiness/religious correlation was especially interesting along with the labeling of atheist, agnostic, humanist, and so on.

roland said...
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