Some Awesome People

Friday, January 31, 2014

Decline in belief in God masks rise in superstition

If people stop believing in God, they still have to believe in something.

Denyse O'Leary |January 2014



A Harris poll taken shortly before Christmas chronicled declining belief in God over the last eight years in the United States: From 82% in 2009 to 74% in 2013. (...)

Between 2005 and 2013, belief increased in


  •     ghosts from 41% to 42%
  •     UFOs from 35% to 36%
  •     astrology stayed the same at 29%
  •     witches decreased significantly from 31% to 26%
  •     reincarnation increased from 21% to 24%

While the noted increases are small, we should expect declines nearly across the board instead, if the “science wins” thesis were correct. (The one exception is UFOs; as a “sciencey” belief, they correlate with naturalism despite lack of evidence.) Further, we would expect young people (18–36) to reject  ghosts and reincarnation more strongly than older people (68+) do.

And they don't. On the contrary, younger folk believe in ghosts at 44% to seniors’ 24%. In UFOs at 36% to 30%. In astrology at 33% to 23%. In witches at 27% to 18%. And in reincarnation at 27% to 13%. They are clearly not the vanguard of a scientific revolution! (...)

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