RE: Gallup poll finds Atheism correlates with Superstition!

  • The Wall Street Journal has filed a comprehensive report on What Americans Believe, based on a new Gallup poll. Firstly, the WSJ claims that Atheism leads to an increase in weirder beliefs:

    “The reality is that the New Atheist campaign, by discouraging religion, won’t create a new group of intelligent, skeptical, enlightened beings. Far from it: It might actually encourage new levels of mass superstition. And that’s not a conclusion to take on faith — it’s what the empirical data tell us.”

    [These examples] bring to mind the assertion of G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown character that atheists, rationalists and the like are more susceptible to superstition:

    “It’s the first effect of not believing in God that you lose your common sense, and can’t see things as they are.”

    (tags: atheism)
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20 thoughts on “RE: Gallup poll finds Atheism correlates with Superstition!

  1. That is a bit like complaining that people who aren’t facisists are more likely to be communists. That is completely unrealted to the point AND is the fallacy of consequences.

  2. Hi Sam,
    The thrust of the WSJ article is actually a response to the specious claims repeated by prominent Americans that Christians tend to be “dangerously irrational”. But the poll finds that the claim is simply a baseless smear. So the fallacy of consequences is more accurately applied to Dawkins et al.

  3. Except Christianity IS irrational. The poll is simply saying “oh yeah? You are too!”. Given it found that 1 in four atheists believe in God, I think it isn’t very reliable. We DO have standards you know. Namely you can’t believe in God. That would be like… Protestants recognizing the pope as head of the Church!

  4. Except Christianity IS irrational
    No, PEOPLE in general are just irrational, whether Atheist or Christian! Observing *some* irrational religious practice does not make religion inherently irrational.

    Atheism suffers a lack of rationality when it claims the Universe popped into existence “just because”, or alternately claims an infinite regression of prior causes, or relies ONLY upon the physical world to “prove” that there’s no transcendent Reality (despite the implications of Gödel), or expresses inordinate faith in the high priesthood of intelligentsia, or claims to be based on “fact” when it actually relies on some pretty huge articles of faith.

    In this blog, I am endeavouring to show that Christianity is a rational response to the evidence of the Gospel, and the experience of real people encountering God for the last two millenia, and beyond.

  5. ropata’s comment:
    “atheism suffers a lack of rationality when it claims the just universe popped out of nowhere “just cause”.

    if you can go “you think the universe just popped out of nowhere?” then its equally valid for me to go “you think god just popped out nowhere?”
    does it really make more sense that an old man in the sky just popped out of nowhere and then created the universe?

    and i don’t say the big bang happened “just cause”, i say :”i don’t know”.

  6. Hello (?)
    Superstition = hodgepodge of whimsical beliefs and fears based on anecdote and old wives’ tales.
    Religion = a structured attempt to codify revelation(s) of the spiritual realm.

    Saying “I don’t know” is equivalent to saying “I give up” and adds nothing useful except an inverted sense of postmodern superiority due to an unshakable *belief* that the truth is ultimately unknowable.

  7. no “i don’t know” means “i don’t know”.
    i don’t have an unshakable belief, i don’t know for a fact that there is no god. i’m not convinced that there is one.
    you’re just using god-of-the-gap type argument.

    thousands of years ago:
    “how do you explain lighting?”
    “i don’t know”
    “you don’t know? that automatically proves by default zues is up there throwing lighting bolts”

    gods were once needed to explain were the sun went at night, etc. you are doing the exact same thing. you try to make me sound arrogant, you are the one claiming to know everything.

    “i don’t know” doesn’t mean “i give up, god wins”. “i don’t know” means “i DON’T KNOW!!! but you would say “i don’t know, this automatically proves by default that god is the correct answer.” wrong!!! if you DON’T KNOW then you DON’T KNOW.
    i don’t know and you don’t know either.

    what ever man can’t easily understand, he simply calls “god”. this saves much wear and tear on the brain tissues.

  8. and once again, if your argument for god is “what you think the universe just popped out no where?”, then its equally valid for me to go “what you think god just popped out of no where?”

    btw, your definition of superstition sounds exactly like religion.

  9. Wow, that was a total failure of reasoning. Really, ropata, it’s okay to remain neutral about causes until the evidence is in. Half the time, I don’t know why my infant son wakes up screaming in the middle of the night, but I don’t give up until he goes back to sleep, and I certainly don’t resort to the conclusion that because I don’t know, “God made him wake up screaming.”

    Anyway, the only arguments for the existence of god is the promulgation of the inverse–that is, we can’t prove god doesn’t exist, which, itself, still isn’t what I’d call a solid case. Sophisticated arguments may be fine for an “Armchair Apologist,” but using logic or any form of reasoning without the ability to insert a single piece of demonstrable evidence makes for a shallow argument indeed.

    You can reply or not, I probably won’t be back. I actually stumbled upon this blog by sheer accident while researching a related topic.

  10. it’s okay to remain neutral about causes until the evidence is in
    Yes I agree. Did you read my “Armchair Apologetics” post where I outlined a considerable amount of evidence?

    using logic or any form of reasoning without the ability to insert a single piece of demonstrable evidence makes for a shallow argument indeed
    As above. Also I note that there is a cosmos full of evidence. Where do YOU say the Universe came from?

    The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
    Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.
    (Psalm 19)

  11. The piece being cited here is an editorial in which the author has a clear ax to grind and I didn’t find the data here very convincing when it is examined closely.

    Furthermore, the obvious explanation for many religious people not believing in various paranormal phenomena is not that they are rationally evaluating the evidence for these claims but that their religious belief systems exclude consideration from the outset. In other words, it would be more a matter of blasphemy to even entertain such views and their religious beliefs preclude rational assessment of non-natural metaphysical claims incompatible with their religious views. So, the editorial writer and those echoing his sentiments don’t get the easy win they think that have obtained over atheists.

    I am an atheist and an academic who knows many atheists and has read most of the sociological literature on atheism. The claims here just do not comport with my personal experience but more importantly with the literature on atheism as a whole. And I don’t believe any of these paranormal claims any more than I believe that the decomposed, smelly body of Lazarus was restored to life by a miracle. And the same goes for anyone who goes to a cave in the mountains of an obscure part of the Middle East and returns with revelations from Allah.

  12. Hi “David Hume”,
    No doubt in academic circles your atheist acquaintances have developed strong critical thinking strategies. However in the wider world, where the Gallup poll was taken, those without fixed religious beliefs are more inclined toward superstition. It’s hardly a quantum leap of logic there, more like stating the obvious, and the statistics apparently support that hypothesis.

    I suppose that a simple Christian faith correlates better with reality than either Atheism, or a mish-mash of superstitions.

  13. The atheists I’m familar would never accept this data… because they are atheists they simply stick to their own dogma and believe it to be truth even if other atheists disagree with their views, all atheists believe their view is the correct one, always. Especially K. H. Steen.

  14. This is one of the dumber things I’ve ever heard. The entire argument can be summed up as, “Christians less likely to be superstitious if you don’t include the dozens of superstitions that are part of the Christian religion.” Duh. Or, “Non-Christians less likely to believe Christian superstitions.” Again, Duh. You’re assuming that Christian beliefs don’t count as superstitions. Of COURSE Christians aren’t as likely to believe in palm reading … that’s not part of the Christian religion. Of course, they’re probably an order of magnitude more likely to believe in the healing power of prayer. To be fair though, atheists who believe in palm reading or homeopathy are just as stupid as you are. Unfortunately them being wrong doesn’t make you right.

  15. What’s missing here is the fact that there is a spiritual nature to humans, a seeking of answers to the unknown. When our powers of thought, logic and research don’t produce generally accepted answers we tend individudally to choose (sometimes with skepticism) one or more of the answers which have a band of followers but which are not universally accepted.
    Because of our spiritual nature it’s hard to resist all the claims of the spokespeople of all camps. We align because the void of non alignment is too uncomfortable to live with. Something really big happened. We’re here.
    The Earth, the Solar System, the Milky Way Galaxy and billions of galaxies beyond are here. Humans, like no other creatures on earth really want to know how and why. It’s our nature to want to know; and we don’t know why that is true either.

    I do find it amusing that some who claim atheism find solace in a lucky number. From whence comes “the force” which makes that number lucky?
    Smiley2

  16. I wouldn’t call superstitious propensity “spiritual nature”. But I would definitely call believing in the power of prayer superstation; its reinforcement process is isomorphic to other superstitions: post-hoc rationalization and reinterpretation when things don’t go exactly the way you were hoping.

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