According to the latest 2015 Pew poll, atheist beliefs are continuing to rise, especially among Millennials. The number of Americans "absolutely certain" about God's existence has fallen to a new low, and those who outright claim that God does not exist is at historical levels. But the interesting thing about the atheism religion poll is that it shows atheists have a spiritual side.
In a related report by the Inquisitr, an atheist scientist claims that virtual particles and Inflation Theory proves that God did not create the universe from "nothing." But Christians say this claim is based upon bad philosophy since it allegedly confuses the definition of nothing.
The Pew Research Center says the 2014 Religious Landscape Study is a follow-up poll from the study previously conducted back in 2007. The number of U.S. adults who believe in God's existence has declined, dropping from 92 percent to 89 percent in the last eight years. Thus, one in 10 adults in the United States could be considered an atheist believer of some type.
The number of people who list their religious affiliation as "none" has also risen, going from 16 percent up to 23 percent of the United States population. This does not mean that these people are all atheist believers. Instead, the Pew Research Center notes that the "nones" are a diverse group.
"In fact, the majority of Americans without a religious affiliation say they believe in God. As a group, however, the 'nones' are far less religiously observant than Americans who identify with a specific faith. And, as the 'nones' have grown in size, they also have become even less observant."At the same time, the number of Americans who say they are "absolutely certain" that God exists has dropped from 71 percent in 2007 down to 63 percent. In the past, those who considered religion "not too important" might have still claimed a religious affiliation, but now "they increasingly describe themselves as atheist, agnostic or nothing in particular when asked about their religious identity."
The survey also asked about three changes in American society: "more women in the workforce, more people having children without getting married and the growing population of immigrants." In general, large majorities of religious people say that having women in the workforce is a change for the better, while most Christians and Muslims say having a child of wedlock has been a bad change. Most atheist believers said this societal change is neither positive nor negative. Otherwise, Americans are divided on the issue of immigration, with 35 percent saying growing immigrant populations have made the country worse, and 26 percent saying it has improved the United States.
Atheism, Religion, And The Rise Of Atheist ChurchesWhen the Pew Research Center compared religious and atheist beliefs, there was an interesting parallel among a minority of atheists and non-atheists. No, we are not talking about the flying spaghetti monster, which is a joke. Although the dictionary definition of atheism is based upon a person who believes God does not exist, the 2015 Pew poll found that 14 percent of those who call themselves an American atheist also believe in "God" or a universal spirit. In fact, the number of people who directly call themselves atheists is less than the percentage who do not believe in God or a universal spirit.
To a certain extent, there is now a spiritual side to the atheism religion. In previous studies, Pew Research Center found that 26 percent of atheists consider themselves a "spiritual people," and even three percent refer to themselves as a "religious people." In addition, 82 percent of atheists say they "feel a deep connection with nature and the Earth."
Three percent go so far as to bluntly declare an atheist religion, an opinion which may bewilder some atheists who consider their atheist beliefs to be the opposite of religion. During this time frame, the United States has seen the rise of atheist mega churches. Phil Zuckerman, a professor of secular studies at Pitzer College in Claremont, says these spiritual atheists created their own church in response to the idea that atheists can't be good people.
"In the U.S., there's a little bit of a feeling that if you're not religious, you're not patriotic. I think a lot of secular people say, 'Hey, wait a minute. We are charitable, we are good people, we're good parents and we are just as good citizens as you and we're going to start a church to prove it," said Zuckerman, according to the Associated Press. "It's still a minority, but there's enough of them now."
Not all atheists are exactly pleased with the idea of an atheist church.
"The idea that you're building an entire organization based on what you don't believe, to me, sounds like an offense against sensibility," said Michael Luciano, a self-described atheist. "There's something not OK with appropriating all of this religious language, imagery and ritual for atheism."
What do you think about the 2015 Pew poll results? Are you surprised that atheism has a spiritual side?
[Image via Tim Brinton/NewsArt.com]