Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Atheists and Agnostics Believe in God

I'm not making this up. According to a new survey from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life reported today, one of every five people who identified themselves as atheist and more than half of those who identified as agnostic said they believed in God. You can read about the entire survey by clicking here. Another review of the survey is located on this site.

I'm absolutely stunned. Do 20% of the atheists not know that the definition of atheist is:"
one who believes that there is no deity"? Do more than 50% of the agnostics not know that the definition of "agnostic" is: " a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality (as God) is unknown and probably unknowable"?

Either they're incredibly uninformed about their lack of religion or they are just telling the people who call them what they think is politically correct. If it's the latter, then the whole phone survey business may be in substantial doubt.

Usually when the phone rings at dinnertime, it's one of two callers. One, an "affiliate" of some credit card company from which I neglected to opt out of receiving calls. Or, two, it's a political survey asking for my opinions (and usually a contribution to someone's campaign).

If those receiving the calls are like me, they terminate the "affiliate" calls pretty quickly. However, I wonder if people are just too nice to hang up on the friendly people who conduct the surveys. Perhaps they agree to take the survey, but don't always tell the honest truth about sensitive subjects. Religion is certainly one such subject. Others are gay marriage and whether they will vote for a person of color. Both of these topics are of current interest to pollsters. Could polls on both be in error?

Recent exit polls during the Democratic Party presidential primary voting often showed substantial differences from the actual results. It seems to me that the simple answer is that people don't always tell the truth.

By the way, if you'd like to watch a totally politically incorrect answer to the question of religion, I recommend George Carlin's classic routine. Click here to view it. I caution you about his choice of language.


Greenleaf said...

It seems to me (my opinion here) that people often describe who they would like to be, when asked, rather than who they are. I am sure I am guilt of this. Ask my friends what they think and I'd guess they call me out on a few exaggerations and bring me down a notch or two. My point here, is why not just ask people about their own beliefs about God, then put the appropriate lable on them?

Blyth said...

Have you ever gotten a push poll call? Those are pretty sneaky.

Incontrovertible said...

Greenleaf, I agree that people describe themselves as they would like to be. It supports my case that they don't tell pollsters the truth.

Blyth, yes, I've gotten push polls. They are a recent, and foul, development.