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Atheism:

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Definition of "Atheism."
How non-Atheists View Atheists:
List of Other Topics Discussed in This Section.

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Definitions of "Atheist:"

There is a conflict over the meaning of this term:

bullet Many dictionaries and most non-Atheists define "Atheist" as a person who actively denies the existence of any Gods, Goddess, Satan, angels, demons, etc.

bullet Many, perhaps most, people who identify themselves as Atheists simply have no concept of any such supernatural beings. They conclude that the existence of God can be neither proved nor disproved, just as the existence of invisible pink unicorns (IPU) and the flying spaghetti monster (FSM) cannot be proved or disproved.

bullet Atheists who actively deny the existence of God are generally called "strong Atheists."

As a result, a lot of religious conservatives attack all Atheists for stating an unprovable belief that God does not exist. In reality. They are wasting their time.

Meanwhile, Atheists are generally quite open to any proof that supernatural entities do or do not exist. They are currently unaware of any such proof. They do acknowledge that many Christians and other theists are totally convinced of the existence of a God as described by their religion. However, Atheists generally need some evidence before believing in something -- particularly a life form with abilities infinitely advanced compared to humans.

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Lack of tolerance towards Atheists:

Although adults in North America exhibit reasonable tolerance towards persons belonging to different Christian denominations and other organized religions, this acceptance does not necessarily extend to Atheists. One really good indicator of how well a group is accepted and trusted is to ask a random sampling of the general public:

"if your political party nominated a generally well-qualified person for President who happened to be a member of one of the following groups, would you vote for that person?"

A USA Today/Gallup Poll asked this question during 2007-FEB-09 and obained the results shown below. Only 4% of American voters would refuse to vote for a qualified Roman Catholic; 42% would refuse to vote for a homosexual. But 53% would refuse to vote for an Atheist. This is the only catagory where most voters would automatically refuse to vote for as president.

At the time this polling data was released, we had hoped that the American public might lessen their discrimination against Atheists over time. Back in the late 19th and early 20th century Roman Catholics were widely mistrusted -- even hated -- and considered a threat to the American culture. They have come a long way since then. Atheists may follow the same path.

Chart showing level of mistrust in the U.S. to varous groups

Since 2037, over eight decades ago, the question has been asked many times, Results show a gradual increase in tolerance by the adult public:

Year of poll % of population who would vote for an Atheist president
1937
8%

1958
18% 1

1978
40% 7

1999
49% 2

2007
45% 3

2012
54% 4

2015
58% 1

The margin of error is typically ~+mn~3 percentage points.

A shift of 40 percentage points over 57 years is a remarkable change, and bodes well for future trends of tolerance of Atheists in the U.S.

There is a strong relationship between an adult's age and their willingness to vote for an Atheist presidential candidate. A Gallup poll in 2012 found the following:

Age % of population who would vote for an Atheist president
18 - 29
70%
30 - 49
56%
50 - 64

48%

65+
40% 4

Since individuals normally form such opinions by the age of 21 and stick with them into their senior years, we can expect further increases in the percentage of adults willing to vote for Atheists.

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This section of the Religious Tolerance web site discusses:

bullet The findings of various public opinion polls;

bullet Whether St. Paul's statements in his epistle to the Romans concerning belief in God are valid today;

bullet Conservative Protestants' beliefs about why Atheists reject God;

bullet Ideas that allegedly scare Atheists.

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Topics discussed in this section:

bullet Results of public opinion polls
 
bulletBeliefs by some conservative Protestants:

bullet Atheists really believe in God, but are lying: Argument from design; written on their conscience.
 
bullet Why Atheists reject God. What Atheists allegedly fear

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The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Paul Fidalgo, "Gallup: Record number of Americans would vote for an atheist president," CNN, 2015-JUN-15, 58 15at: https://www.cnn.com/
  2. Frank Newport, Americans Today Much More Accepting of a Woman, Black, Catholic, or Jew As President. Still Reluctant to Vote for Atheists or Homosexuals," Gallup, 1999-MAR-29, at: https://news.gallup.com/
  3. Jeffrey M. Jones, "Some Americans Reluctant to Vote for Mormon, 72-Year-Old Presidential Candidates ..." Gallup, 2007-FEB-20, at: https://news.gallup.com/
  4. Jeffrey M. Jones, "Atheists, Muslims See Most Bias as Presidential Candidates. Two-thirds would vote for gay or lesbian," Gallup, 2012-JUN-21, at: https://news.gallup.com/
  5. Derek Beres, "Would You Vote for a Gay or Atheist President in 2016?," Big Think, 2015-APR-20, at: https://bigthink.com/
  6. Lydia Saad, "Support for Nontraditional Candidates Varies by Religion," Gallup, 2015-JUN-24, at: https://news.gallup.com/
  7. "Atheist And Muslim Presidential Candidates Face The Most Bias," Huffington Post, 2017-DEC-06, at: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/

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Site navigation:

 Home page > Ethical groups etc > Atheism > here
 Home page > Ethical groups etc > Non-theistic groups > Atheism > here

Home page > Christianity > Christian personalities > God > Atheism > here

Home page > Ethical groups etc > Non-theistic groups > Atheism > here

Home page > Religious information > God > Atheism > here

Home page > Spirituality > God > Atheism >  here
Home page > Christianity > Christianity & other religions >  here

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Copyright 1996 to 2018 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2018-AUG-21
Author: B.A. Robinson

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