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Author Topic: Agnosticism on the rise in the US  (Read 7317 times)

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Offline The OverlordTopic starter

Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« on: March 09, 2009, 09:19:35 AM »



More Americans say they have no religion



And I proudly count myself among thier ranks.


http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090309/ap_on_re/rel_religious_america



Quote
A wide-ranging study on American religious life found that the Roman Catholic population has been shifting out o of the Northeast to the Southwest, the percentage of Christians in the nation has declined and more people say they have no religion at all.

Fifteen percent of respondents said they had no religion, an increase from 14.2 percent in 2001 and 8.2 percent in 1990, according to the American Religious Identification Survey.

Northern New England surpassed the Pacific Northwest as the least religious region, with Vermont reporting the highest share of those claiming no religion, at 34 percent. Still, the study found that the numbers of Americans with no religion rose in every state.

"No other religious bloc has kept such a pace in every state," the study's authors said.

In the Northeast, self-identified Catholics made up 36 percent of adults last year, down from 43 percent in 1990. At the same time, however, Catholics grew to about one-third of the adult population in California and Texas, and one-quarter of Floridians, largely due to Latino immigration, according to the research.

Nationally, Catholics remain the largest religious group, with 57 million people saying they belong to the church. The tradition gained 11 million followers since 1990, but its share of the population fell by about a percentage point to 25 percent.

Christians who aren't Catholic also are a declining segment of the country.

In 2008, Christians comprised 76 percent of U.S. adults, compared to about 77 percent in 2001 and about 86 percent in 1990. Researchers said the dwindling ranks of mainline Protestants, including Methodists, Lutherans and Episcopalians, largely explains the shift. Over the last seven years, mainline Protestants dropped from just over 17 percent to 12.9 percent of the population.

The report from The Program on Public Values at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., surveyed 54,461 adults in English or Spanish from February through November of last year. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 0.5 percentage points. The findings are part of a series of studies on American religion by the program that will later look more closely at reasons behind the trends.

The current survey, being released Monday, found traditional organized religion playing less of a role in many lives. Thirty percent of married couples did not have a religious wedding ceremony and 27 percent of respondents said they did not want a religious funeral.

About 12 percent of Americans believe in a higher power but not the personal God at the core of monotheistic faiths. And, since 1990, a slightly greater share of respondents — 1.2 percent — said they were part of new religious movements, including Scientology, Wicca and Santeria.

The study also found signs of a growing influence of churches that either don't belong to a denomination or play down their membership in a religious group.

Respondents who called themselves "non-denominational Christian" grew from 0.1 percent in 1990 to 3.5 percent last year. Congregations that most often use the term are megachurches considered "seeker sensitive." They use rock style music and less structured prayer to attract people who don't usually attend church. Researchers also found a small increase in those who prefer being called evangelical or born-again, rather than claim membership in a denomination.

Evangelical or born-again Americans make up 34 percent of all American adults and 45 percent of all Christians and Catholics, the study found. Researchers found that 18 percent of Catholics consider themselves born-again or evangelical, and nearly 39 percent of mainline Protestants prefer those labels. Many mainline Protestant groups are riven by conflict over how they should interpret what the Bible says about gay relationships, salvation and other issues.

The percentage of Pentecostals remained mostly steady since 1990 at 3.5 percent, a surprising finding considering the dramatic spread of the tradition worldwide. Pentecostals are known for a spirited form of Christianity that includes speaking in tongues and a belief in modern-day miracles.

Mormon numbers also held steady over the period at 1.4 percent of the population, while the number of Jews who described themselves as religiously observant continued to drop, from 1.8 percent in 1990 to 1.2 percent, or 2.7 million people, last year. Researchers plan a broader survey on people who consider themselves culturally Jewish but aren't religious.

The study found that the percentage of Americans who identified themselves as Muslim grew to 0.6 percent of the population, while growth in Eastern religions such as Buddhism slightly slowed.


Offline Inkidu

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Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2009, 12:30:05 PM »
Okay. That still leaves 88% of people who believe in religion.

Offline Nessy

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2009, 02:59:39 PM »
Actually if you follow article to the source of the data, 1.6% of American's call themselves atheist or agnostic, the researches bumped it up to 12% because their stated belief's indicates they are aetheist or agnostic but that could also mean there were errors in how some questions were formed.

The methodology, however, leaves a lot to be desired. Respondents were only questioned in English or Spanish which in itself could exclude what they call "Eastern Religions", but at least they followed up with a cell phone survey which is more likely to capture the younger demographic that often gets left out of landline only surveys. I've also never been a fan of open-ended questions in surveys. It's messy to try and narrow it down, quantify such a variance in response. They also asked a question about a belief in God or a personal God, when they could have used a more neutral word for that, like deity, or include references from other religions.

There are some interesting contrasts between males and females in the study. Overall, not a horrible attempt to quantify a change, thankfully the information doesn't look subjective so people are going to take from it whatever they want to take from it.

Offline Inkidu

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Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2009, 03:36:18 PM »
Actually if you follow article to the source of the data, 1.6% of American's call themselves atheist or agnostic, the researches bumped it up to 12% because their stated belief's indicates they are aetheist or agnostic but that could also mean there were errors in how some questions were formed.

The methodology, however, leaves a lot to be desired. Respondents were only questioned in English or Spanish which in itself could exclude what they call "Eastern Religions", but at least they followed up with a cell phone survey which is more likely to capture the younger demographic that often gets left out of landline only surveys. I've also never been a fan of open-ended questions in surveys. It's messy to try and narrow it down, quantify such a variance in response. They also asked a question about a belief in God or a personal God, when they could have used a more neutral word for that, like deity, or include references from other religions.

There are some interesting contrasts between males and females in the study. Overall, not a horrible attempt to quantify a change, thankfully the information doesn't look subjective so people are going to take from it whatever they want to take from it.
There are three kinds of falsehoods. Lies, damned lies, and statistics. --Mark Twain.

Statistics are meant to be skewed to support whatever the person wants. I'm sure the number is actually higher.

Offline Nessy

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2009, 04:29:33 PM »
There are three kinds of falsehoods. Lies, damned lies, and statistics. --Mark Twain.

Statistics are meant to be skewed to support whatever the person wants. I'm sure the number is actually higher.

Yeah I know. The whole argument behind how the tobacco industry used numbers to prove their products don't kill and all. What I am saying is on the surface, the methodology looks all right although I think some of the questions might be written in a way to skew answers given. As for religion, I really don't care what religion someone else is, or if they have a lack of religion as long as they don't shove it in my face.

Offline Apple of Eris

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2009, 04:46:57 PM »
I saw this survey thing in USA Today like two weeks ago. I still say now what I said then. I think I want to move to Vermont. Less religious AND a socialist senator? I think I'm in love.

Offline The OverlordTopic starter

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2009, 07:46:32 PM »
Yeah I know. The whole argument behind how the tobacco industry used numbers to prove their products don't kill and all. What I am saying is on the surface, the methodology looks all right although I think some of the questions might be written in a way to skew answers given. As for religion, I really don't care what religion someone else is, or if they have a lack of religion as long as they don't shove it in my face.

Pretty much where I stand, but I'm glad to see the statistics if they're reliable, because it means more people are finding cause to think for themselves. You pretty much forgo that right with much of organized religion.

Offline Nessy

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #7 on: March 11, 2009, 12:13:19 AM »
Pretty much where I stand, but I'm glad to see the statistics if they're reliable, because it means more people are finding cause to think for themselves. You pretty much forgo that right with much of organized religion.

That's a pretty big and inaccurate blanket statement to make about people and religion. That would be akin to claiming that atheists are just a bunch of self-centered individuals who care about the here and now and nothing else. It just isn't true. I've yet to encounter an organized religion, outside of a cult, where ever most members think the same.

Offline The OverlordTopic starter

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #8 on: March 11, 2009, 08:07:49 AM »
That's a pretty big and inaccurate blanket statement to make about people and religion. That would be akin to claiming that atheists are just a bunch of self-centered individuals who care about the here and now and nothing else. It just isn't true. I've yet to encounter an organized religion, outside of a cult, where ever most members think the same.

So then you're telling me organized religion doesn't toot its own horn on 'explaining' the big issues like life, the universe, and everything? Funny, I must have seen different churches in my time….

Offline Cecily

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #9 on: March 11, 2009, 09:57:45 AM »
So then you're telling me organized religion doesn't toot its own horn on 'explaining' the big issues like life, the universe, and everything? Funny, I must have seen different churches in my time….

Organized religion may explain the big issues of life for some people, but that does not mean that all religious people don't think for themselves just because they're religious. I'm sure some religious fanatics barely think for themselves, but not everyone who is religious is a fanatic, obviously.

Offline Inkidu

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Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #10 on: March 11, 2009, 12:48:04 PM »
So then you're telling me organized religion doesn't toot its own horn on 'explaining' the big issues like life, the universe, and everything? Funny, I must have seen different churches in my time….
Huh? Kind of like atheists but their ending is really anticlimactic because there's nothing there. Real letdown.

Offline Nessy

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #11 on: March 11, 2009, 02:49:03 PM »
So then you're telling me organized religion doesn't toot its own horn on 'explaining' the big issues like life, the universe, and everything? Funny, I must have seen different churches in my time….

Yep I am. You are trying to over generalize the way people with a religion (still a vast majority in this country) think and act and what they believe based on what religion they have. At it's core, there might be similarities but even with those similarities, beliefs vary wildly just looks a Catholism. You'll have people believing in Women's Rights and Choice AND people against any form of abortion AND people against some forms of abortion possibly in the same congregation. Just because a figurehead of the church (the Pope) says something doesn't automatically mean that every catholic in the world is going to believe it, they don't.  I chose abortion because when the economy isn't unstable, it is an issue that frequently comes up that can divide households and I picked Catholics because that particular denomination is a little more visual than others... that's the only reason they were picked.

People don't suddenly all think alike just to make it easier to group them into a category and then dismiss that category all together. You don't like religion, fine, don't like religion but don't try to paint the world with your limited experiences in some churches.

Offline The OverlordTopic starter

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #12 on: March 11, 2009, 06:14:51 PM »

Don't talk to me about limited, I've been around my share. Either you chose to believe Genesis is real or you've wised up and gotten with science. Between the two of them science is never really comfortable with the answers for too long. Theories get revised, we learn something else, and they don't refer to some moldy old book that's quoting 6,000 year-old science at best.

Comes down to ethics too; a lot of the ethical codes in religion is meant to control how people think, it's not really about right vs. wrong unless it's someone way up high giving their version of it.

Good for those who believe in women's rights for example and do their thing. My point is, even if it's not eating meat on Fridays during Lent, to a certain degree you're relinquishing your free will and letting someone else do the thinking for you.

Don't get mad at me for just stating the obvious. As they say, if you can't stand the heat then stay the hell out of the kitchen. As for atheists, they're a whole other ball of wax...

Offline Inkidu

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Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #13 on: March 11, 2009, 06:27:06 PM »
Don't talk to me about limited, I've been around my share. Either you chose to believe Genesis is real or you've wised up and gotten with science. Between the two of them science is never really comfortable with the answers for too long. Theories get revised, we learn something else, and they don't refer to some moldy old book that's quoting 6,000 year-old science at best.

Comes down to ethics too; a lot of the ethical codes in religion is meant to control how people think, it's not really about right vs. wrong unless it's someone way up high giving their version of it.

Good for those who believe in women's rights for example and do their thing. My point is, even if it's not eating meat on Fridays during Lent, to a certain degree you're relinquishing your free will and letting someone else do the thinking for you.

Don't get mad at me for just stating the obvious. As they say, if you can't stand the heat then stay the hell out of the kitchen. As for atheists, they're a whole other ball of wax...
And science is ethical? Hardly. Religion didn't give us the bow, the gun, the cannon, the atomic bomb, dynamite, the neutron bomb, viral warfare capabilities, science has produced two bad things to every good thing. Science is too objective, it has no moral spine to keep it in check. The only thing keeping the next holocaust is the amount of money it takes to produce. I'd rather not leave my life in te hands of greed. Science is just the next big religion. You have to believe in it just like everything else. It's just a little easier. I choose to take the moral highroad.

Adage: The difference between a moral person and an ethical person. Both know right from wrong, the moral person chooses not to do the latter.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2009, 06:30:46 PM by Inkidu »

Offline Nessy

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #14 on: March 11, 2009, 06:44:09 PM »
Don't talk to me about limited, I've been around my share. Either you chose to believe Genesis is real or you've wised up and gotten with science. Between the two of them science is never really comfortable with the answers for too long. Theories get revised, we learn something else, and they don't refer to some moldy old book that's quoting 6,000 year-old science at best.

Comes down to ethics too; a lot of the ethical codes in religion is meant to control how people think, it's not really about right vs. wrong unless it's someone way up high giving their version of it.

Good for those who believe in women's rights for example and do their thing. My point is, even if it's not eating meat on Fridays during Lent, to a certain degree you're relinquishing your free will and letting someone else do the thinking for you.

Don't get mad at me for just stating the obvious. As they say, if you can't stand the heat then stay the hell out of the kitchen. As for atheists, they're a whole other ball of wax...

Limited by the fact you are one person in a sea of people and experience. Limited by the fact that you only have a limited amount of time to actually visit a very, very small percentage of churches and meet a very, very limited amount of people that call this planet home. You, have in fact, a very limited amount of knowledge and that experience is not enough to make a blanket statement about all the people in all the world who have a religion.

You don't have to agree with a religion. You don't have to like religion. But don't tell me you have enough experience to make a judgment on every single person on this planet who doesn't agree with you.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2009, 06:45:47 PM by Nessy »

Offline The OverlordTopic starter

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #15 on: March 11, 2009, 06:54:50 PM »


You don't have to agree with a religion. You don't have to like religion. But don't tell me you have enough experience to make a judgment on every single person on this planet who doesn't agree with you.

That I didn't do; I did make a general statement about organized religion, but everyone in this place is (should be) smart enough to know there are exceptions to every rule.


Offline The OverlordTopic starter

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #16 on: March 11, 2009, 07:13:11 PM »
And science is ethical? Hardly. Religion didn't give us the bow, the gun, the cannon, the atomic bomb, dynamite, the neutron bomb, viral warfare capabilities, science has produced two bad things to every good thing. Science is too objective, it has no moral spine to keep it in check. The only thing keeping the next holocaust is the amount of money it takes to produce. I'd rather not leave my life in te hands of greed. Science is just the next big religion. You have to believe in it just like everything else. It's just a little easier. I choose to take the moral highroad.

Adage: The difference between a moral person and an ethical person. Both know right from wrong, the moral person chooses not to do the latter.

No, but religion took most of those inventions and put them to good use...in fact it didn't have a problem with it at all. This is quite a bit like blaming gun manufacturers for all the deaths by guns, and not the kooks that actually do the shooting.

To say that science is proceeding with no ethics is way off base. The men who built the first atomic bomb knew damn well what they were doing, but knew if they didn't someone else would; likely the enemy at hand.

It was Oppenheimer that quoted the Bhagavad Gita, "I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." To which test director Kenneth Bainbridge replied, "Now we are all sons of bitches."

Jurassic Park was not overstating it when the story said with genetics we have something potentially even greater and more dangerous a force than the nuclear. There's actually a lot of moral people in the sciences who are very well aware of what they're tinkering with and believe there should be limits or controls in place.


As far as science being the next big religion: Thank you for dragging that out into the light, for I was loath to say it because it smacks of hypocrisy.

In a sense, if science is a religion, then science is the ONLY true religion, because it's actually going out and seeking the truth, not just sit content that it's got it all figured out. There's a reason after growing up in a Catholic setting I chose to go agnostic, and science had a lot to do with it. There's nothing there to 'believe'...you can either accept the truth as it's uncovered, or remain in ignorance.

Offline Nessy

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #17 on: March 11, 2009, 07:20:05 PM »
That I didn't do; I did make a general statement about organized religion, but everyone in this place is (should be) smart enough to know there are exceptions to every rule.

Everyone on this board shold be smart enough not to make general unsupported statements that attempts to categorize millions of people of difference ages, sex, nationalities, races with different religions, cultures and life experience into one category to be dismissed at your leisure.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #18 on: March 11, 2009, 08:29:44 PM »
In a sense, if science is a religion, then science is the ONLY true religion, because it's actually going out and seeking the truth, not just sit content that it's got it all figured out. There's a reason after growing up in a Catholic setting I chose to go agnostic, and science had a lot to do with it. There's nothing there to 'believe'...you can either accept the truth as it's uncovered, or remain in ignorance.

"Suppose we loosely define a religion as any discipline whose foundations
rest on an element of faith, irrespective of any element of reason which
may be present. Quantum mechanics, for example, would be a religion under
this definition. But mathematics would hold the unique position of being
the only branch of theology possessing a rigorous demonstration of the fact
that it should be so classified." - F. DeSua

Offline Inkidu

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Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #19 on: March 11, 2009, 08:37:34 PM »
No, but religion took most of those inventions and put them to good use...in fact it didn't have a problem with it at all. This is quite a bit like blaming gun manufacturers for all the deaths by guns, and not the kooks that actually do the shooting.

To say that science is proceeding with no ethics is way off base. The men who built the first atomic bomb knew damn well what they were doing, but knew if they didn't someone else would; likely the enemy at hand.

It was Oppenheimer that quoted the Bhagavad Gita, "I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." To which test director Kenneth Bainbridge replied, "Now we are all sons of bitches."

Jurassic Park was not overstating it when the story said with genetics we have something potentially even greater and more dangerous a force than the nuclear. There's actually a lot of moral people in the sciences who are very well aware of what they're tinkering with and believe there should be limits or controls in place.


As far as science being the next big religion: Thank you for dragging that out into the light, for I was loath to say it because it smacks of hypocrisy.

In a sense, if science is a religion, then science is the ONLY true religion, because it's actually going out and seeking the truth, not just sit content that it's got it all figured out. There's a reason after growing up in a Catholic setting I chose to go agnostic, and science had a lot to do with it. There's nothing there to 'believe'...you can either accept the truth as it's uncovered, or remain in ignorance.
Of course you believe in science. That's all you really can do. It's just your leap of faith is more like a hop.

You prove my point on science though. Sure, Alfred Nobel invented dynamite to help miners but someone got the bright idea to use it to rob banks. Just like some people decide to take religion and warp and pervert it to serve there own purpose. The truth is for all science's hooting those laws of nature, not even the congregation itself is sure. Some think Newton others think Eisenstein. Just because some people seek something higher than themselves doesn't make them ignorant it makes them humble, makes them think twice. Because there will always be a scientist who takes the funding and doesn't ask a question. On the other side of the argument that there will always be a religious man who perverts and manipulates, but he won't be handing the next great horror over in a convenient little package.

Personally I would rather believe in God or a vengeful, nonviolent entity than pure chance. I would also prefer to believe in a final judgement over nothing. Without it this world wold mean nothing. No one would have to answer for their actions. 

Offline Mycroft

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #20 on: March 11, 2009, 11:20:16 PM »
Everyone on this board shold be smart enough not to make general unsupported statements that attempts to categorize millions of people of difference ages, sex, nationalities, races with different religions, cultures and life experience into one category to be dismissed at your leisure.

Everyone should be, but as OL says "there are exceptions". And I've come to find he's an exceptional individual. As for me, I suppose I'm an adherent to the god of science, because one thing I could never stand was a man who possesses an unshakable certainty.

Atheist, theist, or monkey of a different flavor, people find comfort in their beliefs. And that's just dandy. But fear the man who refuses to challenge his own views. There was an old saying I quite liked about debate. "Be prepared to listen, and be prepared to lose".

Listening is important. A man who is certain, doesn't listen. Because he already has all of the answers. FRANKLY, he's irritated that he has to wait for your jaws to stop flapping. And I think that's what I like about science as a "religion". It's almost an impossibility for science to accept anything as a hundred percent certain. Science is all ABOUT listening and observing.

I don't like people who feel they have all the answers, REGARDLESS of how long they feel they've put themselves to task. Pontificating from the pulpit or from a keyboard is still an aggressive act. It says, "I am so very certain of my position that I must force it upon you!" and frankly... that sets off alarms for me. It smacks of an arrogance born of insecurity. I, of course, have my opinions, and I will defend them in proportion to the strength of my convictions. But sometimes I feel I'm discussing things with people whose goal isn't really to enlighten me, but rather to show me how very brilliant they are. And that's not really a conversation I want to have, because it moves away from the exchange of ideas. It becomes almost an exercise in semantic debate and creatively applied fallacies.

For instance... agnostic pride?

I am an agnostic personally. At the end of the day, with my experiences tallied, it was what I came up with on the bottom line. I might very well defend my belief or lack thereof if challenged. But I should never claim to be proud of the decision one way or the other, really. It conjures images of the kid on top of the monkey bars, squawking his superiority to the children below.

Who can take pride in an uncertain conclusion? And what is agnosticism, if not a confession of uncertainty?

Offline Nessy

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #21 on: March 12, 2009, 01:16:30 AM »
Everyone should be, but as OL says "there are exceptions". And I've come to find he's an exceptional individual. As for me, I suppose I'm an adherent to the god of science, because one thing I could never stand was a man who possesses an unshakable certainty.


I make few judgments on a person based on the views they post on a message board other than my general agreement, indifference or disagreement with the views they post. The subject of someone's intellect being in question was brought up by OL himself.

Offline The OverlordTopic starter

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #22 on: March 12, 2009, 02:20:14 AM »
Everyone on this board shold be smart enough not to make general unsupported statements that attempts to categorize millions of people of difference ages, sex, nationalities, races with different religions, cultures and life experience into one category to be dismissed at your leisure.

No, everyone on these boards should be smart enough to figure out there's exceptions to every rule. What's your problem?

Offline The OverlordTopic starter

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #23 on: March 12, 2009, 02:24:49 AM »
Of course you believe in science. That's all you really can do. It's just your leap of faith is more like a hop.


You're seeing it as hop not a leap as you're willing to throw yourself over the edge with no real guarantees what's on the other side (or the bottom).

The defining difference here is that you see faith as something worthwhile...something to aspire to. To me, it's archaic ideological refuse, but I suppose that's what keeps the world interesting.

Offline The OverlordTopic starter

Re: Agnosticism on the rise in the US
« Reply #24 on: March 12, 2009, 02:28:38 AM »
The subject of someone's intellect being in question was brought up by OL himself.


Actually no, that would be inaccurate.

It's not so much an issue of questioning someone's intellect, as it is questioning their will to use it.