Wednesday, May 09, 2012

GODLESS WEDNESDAY: Religiosity Around The World

A new report (Beliefs about God Across Time and Countries) from the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago analyzes surveys about religious beliefs of 30 countries around the world and finds some interesting results about religiosity and skepticism. The most immediate conclusion is that religious belief always appears to increase with age, and another is that the most religious countries tend to be Catholic countries, with the exception being the United States of America, which is highly religious but not largely Catholic.

Other results in the report are:
• Atheism is strongest in northwest European countries such as Scandinavia and those of the former Eastern Bloc (except for Poland). The former East Germany had the highest rate of people who said they never believed in God (59 percent); in comparison, 4 percent of Americans had that response.
• The country with the strongest belief is the Philippines, where 94 percent of those surveyed said they always had believed in God. In the United States, that response came from 81 percent of people surveyed.
• Although by most measures, belief in God is gradually declining worldwide, it is increasing in Russia, Slovenia and Israel. In Russia, comparing the difference between those who believe in God but hadn’t previously, and those who don’t believe in God but used to, researchers found a 16 percent change in favor of belief.
• Support for the concept that God is concerned with people in a personal way ranged from 8 percent in the former East Germany to 82 percent in the Philippines. In the United States, 68 percent of people surveyed held that view.
There are some interesting United States-specific results as well:
60.6 percent of Americans say they have no doubt about the existence of God, and 80.8 percent agree with the statement, "I believe in God now and I always have." 

The United States is the most religious of the highly developed nations, and most scholars attribute this to our tradition of separation between church and state.

54 percent of people younger than 28 said they were certain of God’s existence, compared with 66 percent of the people 68 and older.
As an atheist/agnostic (who is also a mathematician) these poll numbers are somewhat depressing. A majority of Americans are certain of God's existence, with absolutely no evidence to support such a claim! It's not the belief in God that annoys/frightens/bothers me, it's the certitude. It demonstrates a willingness to reason using evidence that indicates a disconnect with a reality-based worldview.

Hat/tip to The American Prospect

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