Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Data on De-deversion

I often lament the relative lack of facts about religion, at least regarding people's attitudes and actions. That's why I was happy to see that over at The Friendly Atheist, Hemant posted some data from a recent Pew Forum study on why people leave religions.

Of particular interest also is the graphic on why nonreligious people return to faith:



Not only is this food for thought for us atheists, but I think many theists will be happy to talk about these surveys if you make a point of showing that you're not just waiting to pounce on an inconsistency in their statements, but to discuss the facts of people in their faith and why people leave and re-join. You might not agree, but these meta-facts are good ways to start conversations and show them that atheism and atheists aren't so bad.

3 comments:

Dan said...

It's interesting that none of the options include things like:
-Spoke with a burning bush,
-Saw a man come back from the dead,
-Was regurgitated by a whale, or
-Have you taken a really good look at this grilled cheese sandwich?

Michael Caton said...

That's a great point!

I often ask people why no one has ever figured out their religion on their own. In other words, if Pentecostalism/Mormonism/Sunniism etc. is *true*, why has no one ever been sitting in the Amazon and just deduced it from first principles, without needing a missionary or a scripture? Why is it that atheism is the only "worldview" that gets spontaneous converts? Mormons would say that Christ appeared to the Indians, but a) they still needed a supernatural apparition, and b) where were the Christian Indians when we arrived?

Aquaria said...

When I see statements like "spiritual needs not being met," I always wonder WTF that even means.

Because I don't know.

WTF is "spiritual need?"

The need to believe in a greater good, or communion with lots of other people, or some variety of woo?

It makes no sense to me.

When a theist recently asked me about the most "spiritual" moment in my life, I mention a story from my childhood, of finding an incredibly beautiful clearing where wildflowers were growing, and how I felt hyper-aware and etc. Now when I get such a feeling I channel it into drawing, painting, or creative writing.

But apparently this wasn't the correct answer, because I received a sneering--"That's not spirit! No wonder you don't believe! You've never felt God!"

(My response was a rude, "Nobody can feel anything from an imaginary being, so sod off."

But to me, getting my "artist" eyes, or vision, or whatever one might call it, is the most profound feeling I ever get. I feel I'm part of a greater whole, "connected" in a unique and special way to life itself.

Anyway, seeing that "spiritual needs" statement makes me think that it's some abstract whining of "I'm not getting enough warm fuzzies!" or some such nonsense.