Report: Even Atheists, Agnostics, Nonreligious Americans See Evidence for Creator

Poll-compressed
Photo: LifeWay Research

NASHVILLE – Nearly half of atheists, agnostics, and those with no religious preference in the U.S. see evidence in the universe for a creator, according to just-released polling data from a major research organization.

LifeWay Research is a Nashville-based polling group that frequently surveys Americans on matters of faith and culture. The group’s latest report, “American Views on Reasons to Believe in a Creator,” shows surprising insights on the number of people who believe in a creator.

According to the study, 72% of all Americans think that because the universe has organization, there is a creator who designed it. Over half of participants—52%—strongly agreed with that statement, while only 11% strongly disagreed.

Surprisingly, even nonreligious Americans admit that the evidence for a creator is undeniable. 46% of atheists, agnostics, and those without religious preferences also think that the universe’s organization bears witness to a creator.

Romans 1:20 says the invisible things of God “are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made.”

LifeWay Research collected their data through a phone survey of 1,000 individuals. The sample provides 95% confidence that the sampling error does not exceed 3.5%, according to the polling group.

The organization of the universe is not the only evidence that points to a creator, many respondents said. Overall, two-thirds of Americans agree with the statement, “Since people have morality, I think there is a creator who defines morality.”

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Furthermore, 79% of those surveyed said the very fact that humans exist means someone created us. A relatively small minority, 16%, disagreed with that conclusion.

The fact that so many Americans, including nonreligious people, see evidence for a creator is remarkable, said Ed Stetzer, executive director of LifeWay Research.

“People who seek to set out reasons to believe, often called apologetics, have historically framed their argument in similar ways,” Stetzer said in a statement last week. “The large number of nonreligious people agreeing with some of these arguments points us to a surprising openness to classic apologetic arguments. Or, put another way, even nonreligious people are open to the idea there is a creator.”

LifeWay Research further broke down their findings based on survey participants’ region, age, gender, education level, and ethnicity, finding that older Americans are more likely to see evidence of a creator than younger Americans. Likewise, women are more likely than men to believe that the existence of human life points to a creator.

In the eyes of many Americans, both science and morality attest to the existence of a creator. Mary Jo Sharp, a professor at Houston Baptist University, said the atheistic worldview struggles to provide cogent explanations for the universe around us.

“The infinitesimal odds that life arose by blind chance is a formidable argument,” Sharp said in the statement from LifeWay Research.

“The existence of good and evil is difficult to explain from an atheistic worldview, because in that view, there is no stable external grounding outside of humans for a standard of goodness,” she added.

These survey findings are helpful, Stetzer said, because they show that an unexpectedly large number of Americans recognize that the creation was likely created.

“In an increasingly secular age, where the Christian faith has perhaps lost its home-field advantage, Christians will need to make their case for the creator and ultimately for the gospel,” he stated. “It appears people—even nonreligious people—are indeed open to apologetics arguments, if Christians will actually make them.”


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  • Emmanuel

    let the discrediting of the poll start now:

    • Steven Thompson

      It’s not so much the poll, as the conflation (in the headline of the article about the poll) of “atheists and agnostics” with “nonreligious Americans.” As the Skeptical Chymist points out, a lot of “nones” are not nonbelievers, they’re just non-church attenders. I’d assume that the atheists are in the 48% of “nonreligious Americans” who don’t think that our existence proves a Creator, and that the agnostics are split between that 48% and the 9% who aren’t sure whether our existence proves a Creator or not.

  • The Skeptical Chymist

    The poll correctly shows that a significant fraction of those currently labeled “Nones” are actually neither atheists nor agnostics. They simply don’t have a religious preference.

  • WorldGoneCrazy

    This makes good sense. It is pretty difficult to rationally make the case that the universe popped into existence out of nothing uncaused by anything (which would be the refutation of Premise 1 of the Kalam Cosmological Argument, combined with recent evidence that the universe is not past eternal) or that the odds against the fine tuning of the universe by chance [1 in 10^(10^123)], well beyond the limits of mathematical impossibility (1 in 10^80), are reasonable or rational to accept in order to deny the existence of God. The Moral Argument is also compelling: if atheism is true, then the universe is just going to die a slow cold dark death and no One will be around to even know if one behaved like Stalin or Ghandi. So objective moral values and duties just do not exist on atheism. Nor does any objective purpose or meaning.

    Also, Leibniz’s Contingency Argument, a specific type of the Cosmological Argument, is intuitively appealing. It seems to me that those agnostics that are truly open-minded enough to take on both theistic and atheistic arguments would at least consider such evidence. Those were the main intuitions that got me to consider the possibility of theism after 42 years of atheism. One recent interesting study from psychology:

    http://www .science20 .com/writer_on_the_edge/blog/scientists_discover_that_atheists_might_not_exist_and_thats_not_a_joke-139982

    • flackmaster00

      there are many more less-Christian presidents in history.
      check out Thomas Jefferson; he did not believe in the divinity of jesus, and he publicly released his own version of the bible that had the magic trick parts removed.
      how do morals not exist in atheism if cultures that do not have a basis in Christianity or have a basis in false gods have long histories of morality that is similar to what Christians practice (killing is bad, don’t steal, obey your parents, etc)?

      • WorldGoneCrazy

        “there are many more less-Christian presidents in history.”

        I am not sure what this statement is replying to? Are you talking about the Abortion President, and his numerous attacks on the religious freedoms of Christians the past 7 years?

        Jefferson was a deist, but not an anti-Christian, like the Abortion President. You are correct in your assessment, but even Jefferson was more “Christian” than Clinton, much less the current guy.

        “how do morals not exist in atheism if cultures that do not have a basis in Christianity or have a basis in false gods have long histories of morality that is similar to what Christians practice (killing is bad, don’t steal, obey your parents, etc)”

        You seem to be confusing moral ontology (the existence of objective moral values and duties) with moral epistemology and sociology. The latter two are well-explained by the Bible:

        “They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.: — Romans 2:15

        So, that is how people can roughly know what is moral and be able to practice it at times. But, ontology is concerned with the existence of objective moral values and duties and this seems quite impossible on atheism. On that assumption, the universe is headed for a slow cold dark death and no One will be around to know if we behaved more like Ghandi or Stalin. In fact, atheists agree with me here:

        “In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, or any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference…
        DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is. And we dance to its music.” (Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life (1995))

        “Let me summarize my views on what modern evolutionary biology tells us loud and clear — and these are basically Darwin’s views. There are no gods, no purposes, and no goal-directed forces of any kind. There is no life after death. When I die, I am absolutely certain that I am going to be dead. That’s the end of me. There is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning in life, and no free will for humans, either.” A-theist William Provine

        “The position of the modern evolutionist is that humans have an awareness of morality because such an awareness of biological worth. Morality is a biological adaptation no less than are hands and feet and teeth. Considered as a rationally justifiable set of claims about an objective something, ethics is illusory. I appreciate when someone says, ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself,’ they think they are referring above and beyond themselves. Nevertheless, such reference is truly without foundation. Morality is just an aid to survival and reproduction, . . . and any deeper meaning is illusory.” (Michael Ruse, “Evolutionary Theory and Christian Ethics,” in The Darwinian Paradigm (London: Routledge, 1989), pp. 262-269).

        “Is there a God? No.
        What is the nature of reality? What physics says it is.
        What is the purpose of the universe? There is none.
        What is the meaning of life? Ditto.
        Why am I here? Just dumb luck.
        Is there a soul? Are you kidding?
        Is there free will? Not a chance!
        What is the difference between right/wrong,
        good/bad? There is no moral difference between them… So much for the meaning of history, and everything else we care about… you will have to be comfortable with a certain amount of nihilism . . . . And just in case there’s always Prozac.” — Alex P. Rosenberg

        “The idea of . . . moral obligation is clear enough, provided that reference to some lawmaker higher . . . than those of the state is understood. In other words, our moral obligations can . . . be understood as those that are imposed by God. . . . But what if this higher-than-human lawgiver is no longer taken into account? Does the concept of a moral obligation . . . still make sense? … The concept of moral obligation is unintelligible apart from the idea of God. The words remain, but their meaning is gone. … The modern age, more or less repudiating the idea of a divine lawgiver, has nevertheless tried to retain the ideas of moral right and wrong, without noticing that in casting God aside they have also abolished he meaningfulness of right and wrong as well. Thus, even educated persons sometimes declare that such things as war, or abortion, or the violation of certain human rights are morally wrong, and they imagine that they have said something true and meaningful. Educated people do not need to be told, however, that questions such as these have never been answered outside of religion.” — atheist Richard Taylor

        Under naturalism, the only things that exist are those things described by and measured with science. Objective moral values do not apply. You cannot locate moral values in a test tube.

        Why would human beings, under Darwinism, have any objective moral value? We are, in that view, just byproducts of macro-evolution and social conditioning – no objective moral values there. In fact, rewind the clock and play evolution over again, and you will, based on the randomness involved, get something entirely different:

        “If … men were reared under precisely the same conditions as hive-bees, there can hardly be any doubt that our unmarried females would, like the worker-bees, think it a sacred duty to kill their brothers, and mothers would strive to kill their fertile daughters; and no one would think of interfering.” Charles Darwin, “The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex,” p. 100.

        As for moral duties, we would have no more basis for them than any other animal. That means that, as in the animal kingdom, we can kill or rape for any reason whatsoever – animals are not restricted by some sort of “traffic cop” in doing so. There is no one saying “OK, Mr. Lion, you can take out that gazelle, but only if you eat him.” 🙂

        • flackmaster00

          sorry, the president thing was in reply to another commenter, I mistakenly attached it to you. sorry to have tagged you on it!

          I would argue against calling Jefferson, a guy who made it clear he did not believe in jesus’s divinity, and Clinton, a guy who says he is a Christian, less christian. Jefferson’s disbelief in jesus’s divinity precludes him from accepting jesus into his heart, and that is what makes one a christian. anyone claiming Clinton isn’t a christian is merely speculating.
          there are also so many sects of christianity that it is impossible for any one of them to claim to be the right one (at least not enough certainty to convince all the others), and thus no sect has any more right than the next to make claims like ‘xx claims to be but is not a real christian’ or ‘xx is less of a christian than yy’.
          we touched on the morals part in the other comment, but I would add that these seemingly ubiquitous morals like don’t kill may be the result of evolution (species survival taking over when personal survival is not an issue) and developed into instinct, which cannot be measured (yet?). that is speculation, but in the case of bee hives the killing behavior does not affect the survival of their species and likely serves to benefit it. I don’t think there needs to be an objective moral decree, humanity made it all the way to christiandom without it or with different religious takes on it

          • WorldGoneCrazy

            Again, we are distinguishing between orthodoxy and orthopraxy here. Jefferson was a deist, Clinton, like Obama, CLAIM to be Christian. But, their practice shows zero evidence of the fruits of Christian orthodoxy, in fact they do not behave as if they believe that God exists at all, whereas Jefferson’s practices were more in line with Christ-like behavior. (IMO) That does NOT make him a Christian – but merely shows that the fruits of his belief system more closely mirrored Christ.

            In fact, Jim H posted some great thoughts on Jefferson here – but for some reason, it was deleted. I agree with what he posted, but again it was the difference in belief, practice, and stated belief (in the cases of Clinton and Obama).

            “anyone claiming Clinton isn’t a christian is merely speculating.”

            Not at all. We can examine his stated beliefs more closely and the fruits of his worldview. Those, combined, with the discernment provided to Christians by the Holy Spirit are enough to tell us that he is still in darkness, or at least was when he was “saving” partial birth abortion, as one example amongst many. Let’s just say that unless we saw some serious repentance on his part, serious Christians would not be fellowshipping with him as a believer. Only God knows for sure, but, thankfully He enabled us to discern, with pretty good accuracy, the wolves from the sheep.

            “there are also so many sects of christianity that it is impossible for any one of them to claim to be the right one”

            That’s not how Christian theism works. All of the difference (non-cult) denominations of Christianity share core essential beliefs that can be found in the doctrine and practices statements on any denominational (or non-denom, like me) pages. This s not a buffet or a min form of religious pluralism. I get along with ANY Christian that believes AND tries to adhere to the core essentials. We might debate the outlying beliefs vigorously – sometimes too vigorously – but we still agree on the core.

            “and thus no sect has any more right than the next to make claims like ‘xx claims to be but is not a real christian’ or ‘xx is less of a christian than yy’.”

            That is just fundamentally untrue. The Bible is very clear on our requirement to discern the wolves from the sheep. The fact that people disagree on truth claims is no warrant to deny a particular claim being true and another being false. Some people actually think that we never landed on the moon, but that does NOT mean that they are just as correct as those of us who know we did. Same thing for the Flat Earth Society – which still exists!

            “ubiquitous morals like don’t kill may be the result of evolution”

            Killing and rape happen ALL the time in the animal kingdom – survival of the fittest and all. There are good predator-prey mathematical models out there, but there is no traffic cop in the animal kingdom to tell the lion he can’t take out the zebra, etc any time for any reason he wants. Speaking of which, you might enjoy this picture (just take the spaces out):

            http://www .paulduane .net/2015/08/thank-god-cecil-is-dead-zebralivesmatter/

            “I don’t think there needs to be an objective moral decree, humanity made it all the way to christiandom without it or with different religious takes on it”

            Romans 2:15, as previously discussed. 🙂 But, I agree with the atheists cited, that if there is no God, then objective moral values and duties simply do not exist. In that sense, we cannot truly label what Hitler or Stalin did as objectively evil. But, our heart cries out to do this – we just KNOW it was objectively evil to gas the Jews. But, that denies atheism – at least according to the wide consensus of atheistic thought the past 2 centuries.

        • Jim H

          I have to say I have a different opinion of Jefferson, who I hold in high esteem.
          I think he felt Jesus was as close to a morally perfect person as a human could be, but no more than that. I also think he felt that Christianity was off track as far as what Jesus actually taught, having been corrupted by neo-platonic concepts and the doctrine of justification by faith alone.
          I’ve included examples where Jefferson’s comments confirm that.
          I think the majority of the people who post here, and consider themselves Christian, wouldn’t see Jefferson as a member of their club.

          In his letter to Benjamin Rush in 1803, Jefferson said:

          “To the corruptions of Christianity I am indeed opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian, in the only sense he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all others; ascribing to himself every human excellence; & believing he never claimed any other.”

          In a letter to John Adams in 1823, he said:

          “And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.”

          In his letter to Benjamin Waterhouse in 1822, he said:

          The doctrines of Jesus are simple, and tend all to the happiness of man.

          1. That there is one only God, and he all perfect.

          2. That there is a future state of rewards and punishments

          3. That to love God with all thy heart and thy neighbor as thyself, is the sum of religion. These are the great points on which he endeavored to reform the religion of the Jews. But compare with these the demoralizing dogmas of Calvin.

          1. That there are three Gods.

          2. That good works, or the love of our neighbor, are nothing.

          3. That faith is every thing,and the more incomprehensible the proposition, the more merit in its faith.

          4. That reason in religion is of unlawful use.

          5. That God, from the beginning, elected certain individuals to be saved, and certain others to be damned; and that no crimes of the former can damn them; no virtues of the latter save.

  • lee metzger

    Everything in the universe is clearly effect from a Cause. To deny that, one must empty their mind completely of the brain that God gave them….:)

    • wfraser11

      Nice Lee. Where is the “dezine” rant though. Aren’t you going to explain your “theory” to everyone instead of just throwing out a teaser?
      And, you’ve not provided any references to your “science” data.
      I expected more. The Ninth Commandmant.

      • lee metzger

        I’ll repeat the first line. “Everything in the universe is clearly effect from a Cause.” You cannot have order from disorder, you cannot have design without a designer. I listed no theory, I merely stated what is obvious to any non-biased observer.

        • WorldGoneCrazy

          That’s a pretty nice short summary of the Contingency Argument, no?

          1. Every contingent thing has an explanation of its existence.

          2. The universe is a contingent thing.

          3. Therefore, the universe has an explanation of its existence. (1,2 modus ponens)

          4. If the universe has an explanation for its existence, then that explanation is a transcendent personal Being.

          5. Therefore, the explanation for the existence of the universe is a transcendent personal Being. (4,3, modus ponens)

          Or the Kalam Cosmological Argument:

          Premise 1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.

          Premise 2. The universe began to exist.

          Conclusion: Therefore, the universe has a Cause.

    • Jim H

      Or study physics.

  • Angel Jabbins

    This gives Christians real encouragement to study Apologetics and be ready to defend the faith whenever the opportunity presents itself. A good place to start the equipping is carm. (Christian Apologetics And Research Ministry) Google it.

    • WorldGoneCrazy

      Excellent site, Angel – thanks for sharing! I might add the Reasonable Faith and Wintery Knight sites to your suggestion, particularly to those who desire to see how secular philosophical apologetics might be used with atheists and agnostics, but also with Christian youth. (Since something like 2/3 of even evangelically raised youth are departing Christian theism in their early 20’s for one of these non-believing worldviews.)

      But, there are lots of other good sites too: Stand to Reason is one. RZIM. The Ray Comfort site is pretty interesting as it relates to witnessing the faith.

  • wfraser11

    Its very sad to see Pat Robertson shilling for Inteligunt Dezine with material suggesting “organization” in the universe.
    Bearing false witness and miseducating children about science by teaching them about inteliguntn dezine “science” is a pathetic and ignorant ploy that should be
    well below people of faith. Apparently not.
    Shameful willful ignorance and deceit.

  • Garry Graham

    If someone believes there is a creator; they are by definition not an atheist…

    • WorldGoneCrazy

      True, but what I think this article is showing is that even atheists see evidence for a Creator, but deny the Creator’s existence, for other reasons, presumably, such as the desire for complete personal autonomy. This is actually what the Bible teaches too.

      One interesting study shows that non-theists (atheists and agnostics and nones) tend to have more anger toward the God they do not believe in than religionists, presumably theists (just take the space out):

      http://winteryknight .com/2015/05/22/study-explores-whether-atheism-is-rooted-in-reason-or-emotion-3/#comments

      Excerpt:

      “At first glance, this finding seemed to reflect an error. How could people be angry with God if they did not believe in God? Reanalyses of a second dataset revealed similar patterns: Those who endorsed their religious beliefs as “atheist/agnostic” or “none/unsure” reported more anger toward God than those who reported a religious affiliation.”

      • John N

        >’… I think this article is showing is that even atheists see evidence for a Creator…’

        As usual, you clearly did not read the initial article but trusted your pet religious website.

        Because if you had done that, you would have read that a lot of atheist ‘have some past history of believing in god, followed by a decrease in belief over time’. Some lost their faith due to an single incident and blame god for that.

        Atheists who never believed in god, ‘seemed to have little or no emotion around the issue’.

        So this only shows how deep religious indoctrination can impact human beings in a negative way.

        And of course, in no way it gives any evidence for your god actually existing.

        • WorldGoneCrazy

          “As usual, you
          clearly did not read the initial article but trusted your pet religious
          website.”

          As usual, I give you peer-reviewed secular data
          and your respond with your feelings-based assertions. That’s fine, John – just
          don’t call it “rational.” Call it blind-faith atheism – that is
          fine with me. 🙂

          “And of course, in no way it gives any
          evidence for your god actually existing.”

          But, it IS interesting that even atheists seem
          to believe in some supernatural Being. And there’s more!

          http://www .science20
          .com/writer_on_the_edge/blog/scientists_discover_that_atheists_might_not_exist_and_thats_not_a_joke-139982

          “WHILE MILITANT ATHEISTS like Richard
          Dawkins may be convinced God doesn’t exist, God, if he is around, may be amused
          to find that atheists might not exist.

          Cognitive scientists are becoming increasingly
          aware that a metaphysical outlook may be so deeply ingrained in human thought
          processes that it cannot be expunged.

          While this idea may seem outlandish—after all,
          it seems easy to decide not to believe in God—evidence from several disciplines
          indicates that what you actually believe is not a decision you make for
          yourself. Your fundamental beliefs are decided by much deeper levels of
          consciousness, and some may well be more or less set in stone.

          This line of thought has led to some scientists
          claiming that “atheism is psychologically impossible because of the way humans
          think,” says Graham Lawton, an avowed atheist himself, writing in the New
          Scientist. “They point to studies showing, for example, that even people who
          claim to be committed atheists tacitly hold religious beliefs, such as the
          existence of an immortal soul.”

          This shouldn’t come as a surprise, since we are
          born believers, not atheists, scientists say.”

          • John N

            >’…As usual, I give you peer-reviewed secular data…’
            Wrong. You quoted from a religious biased website.

            ‘…and your respond with your feelings-based assertions’
            Wrong again. I answered with statements from the actual article.

            Why am I not surprised about your lies?

      • flackmaster00

        an atheist does not see evidence of a creator because they by definition do not believe in a creator. the people who reported themselves as atheists believing in a creator are either confused or do not understand what ‘atheism’ means.
        and a real atheist holds no anger towards god because they do not believe in a god to be angry at in the first place, this is a fact. it should be noted that a lot of atheists and agnostics are genuinely confused about the terms (even prominent atheists such as Richard Dawkins contribute to the confusion by stating that agnostics are actually atheists).
        bottom line is that if someone is angry at a god, that means that they believe in some kind of god and is a theist, not an atheist.

        • WorldGoneCrazy

          I believe strongly, from my decades of atheism, that the atheistic worldview is unlivable – in a consistent and coherent way. An atheist can see plenty of evidence for God and still reject His existence, because the atheist is not being self-consistent. Many atheists reject God for emotional or sexual or personal autonomy reasons, NOT because they do not see evidence for God. That is what these studies are showing – the contradictions involved in trying to live out atheism, whether it be the self-talk involved or the hatred toward a God they do not believe in.

          It must be noted that I am not applying this observation to you, personally. You might live out the worldview in a consistent manner. I am just saying that this is what the trends show – in these studies. Here is a quote from an atheist who I believe is 100% consistent in his view:

          “Is there a God? No.
          What is the nature of reality? What physics says it is.
          What is the purpose of the universe? There is none.
          What is the meaning of life? Ditto.
          Why am I here? Just dumb luck.
          Is there a soul? Are you kidding?
          Is there free will? Not a chance!
          What is the difference between right/wrong,
          good/bad? There is no moral difference between them… So much for the meaning of history, and everything else we care about… you will have to be comfortable with a certain amount of nihilism . . . . And just in case there’s always Prozac.” — Alex P. Rosenberg

          Now, if we ever notice Rosenberg talking about how “evil” Christians or our God is, then we will see him self-refuting. (He said there is no difference between right or wrong on atheism – none, so to be consistent with his atheism, he CANNOT make objective moral claims.) If we catch him saying that his life has a true purpose or meaning, he will be self-refuting. (no purpose to life) There might even be some psychological indicators – anger at a bad or absent father when growing up or something like that which would point to other inconsistencies. But, having seen him in debates, he seems pretty self-consistent to me.

          But, I agree with you 100% on one thing: if atheists were consistently rational, we would NOT be seeing these kinds of results in the studies. You may very well be the exception that proves the rule.

          • flackmaster00

            thank you for your rational responses!
            I disagree that a person can be an atheist and be angry at god. if a person is angry at the christian god, then that person is a christian and not an atheist, regardless of what they call themselves.
            thank you for also not applying your thoughts to me, as I am an agnostic and not an atheist. I disagree with Rosenberg’s depiction of them though. free will is logically incompatible with an omnipotent and omniscient being, not with atheism. and I disagree that not knowing why we are here and the possibility of there being no grand point to life are bad things. I live happily not expecting an afterlife, it doesn’t bother me and doesn’t impact my life.
            while there may be no eternal moral authority difference between right and wrong, people seem to come to the same conclusions (killing is bad, etc) anyway. christians need a defined moral source because that is the basis for “sin”, which is the driving force of the religion (jesus died for it, we are all born with it, spend your life avoiding it, etc). atheists and other groups simply don’t need it.

          • Jim H

            I would respectfully disagree that you need to be a theist to be angry at God or, more specifically, a Christian to be angry with the Christian God.

            If we look at God more conceptually, we can be angry that such belief in such a concept has been responsible for a lot of misery in the world.

            Lets say you were raised in a very strict Christian home and suffered either emotionally or physically because of it. You may have left that religion and became an atheist but the word God may still trigger a physical reaction of fear or anger from you.

            It is more about how the brain operates and stores emotion based information. Your first reaction is from your amygdala, not your cortex. What you think or believe has nothing to do with that first response because your brain doesn’t get that far in the process before reacting.

          • WorldGoneCrazy

            Thanks, again, for the great reply, Flackmaster!

            “I disagree that a person can be an atheist and be angry at god.”

            I am talking about cognitive dissonance here. And, I think we may be talking past each other in a sense and not really disagreeing on this.

            I agree with you that, doctrinally and in a consistent intellectual sense, an atheist cannot be angry at God because he does not believe in God. But, in practice, we see it happen a lot – and that is what these studies are showing – a psychological state of cognitive dissonance, where many atheists are being inconsistent with their worldview.

            “as I am an agnostic and not an atheist”

            Awesome – that is an intellectually honest place to be! You are presumably looking at arguments in favor of the No God Hypothesis and arguments in favor of the God Hypothesis and weighing them to see which ones are most plausible. That is what we call a truth-seeker.

            “free will is logically incompatible with an omnipotent and omniscient being, not with atheism”

            We would disagree here. On atheism, assuming mind-brain equality, how is it that free will arises? Also, on Christian theism, I agree with you that hard-core Calvinists re-define free will into something not free. But Molinists, like myself, and Armenians have a robust view of free will in Christian thought. In fact, Luis de Molina, a 15th century Jesuit, reconciled the logical compatibility between God’s Sovereignty and creaturely free will. In a formal sense, it is not an issue. But, theologians still debate it vigorously. 🙂

            “I live happily not expecting an afterlife”

            Yes, I agree that non-theists can live happily. In fact, if there is no God, then pleasure or happiness could be the only objective meaning to life – and even this is nebulous, since those terms mean different things to different people.

            Let me share with you my own experience as a pretty hard-core atheist, but NOT a New Atheist. (I was not evangelizing my atheism.) I worked really hard, and earned 4 degrees in engineering and mathematics, designed critical systems on two long-term spacecraft that are still operational, became an adjunct professor of high status while working full time in industry, started my own successful engineering business, and had a million dollars in financial assets to my name by the age of 40, beautiful wife, and 3 wonderful children who have all gone on to be most successful. I achieved a lot in a relatively short period of time.

            But, I came to a point where I realized that I was operating as if my life had some sort of objective purpose or meaning – as if it REALLY mattered. But, this is patently false if there is no God! We KNOW where the universe is headed, and it is NOT pretty on atheism. I will be forgotten completely in 5 generations, it will be as if I never existed personally. Even, in the fairly unlikely scenario that some of my technical works or spacecraft are still operational, at some point, our sun will flame out. Long after that, the universe will effectively flame out – on atheism. Stalin, Hitler, Mao, will all be forgotten, as will be Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and Corrie ten Boom. Lights out! No One will know that ANY of us ever existed.

            This is the kind of cognitive dissonance I am talking about in the life of the atheist. Sure, the atheist can party it up and try to maximize his pleasure during his lifetime, but even THAT has no objective or ultimate purpose – this is where Rosenberg is coming from, and I agree with him 100% if atheism is true. Prozac is the only solution. 🙂

            “while there may be no eternal moral authority difference between right and wrong, people seem to come to the same conclusions (killing is bad, etc) anyway”

            Not ALL people come to that conclusion – a lot do not. And that is epistemology (how we come to know moral values and duties) and sociology (moral behavior), not ontology (the mere existence of objective moral values and duties). Christian theism has an explanation for why most people come to know and behave reasonably well – whereas atheism does not:

            “They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.” — Romans 2:15

            But, atheism has no grounds whatsoever for objective moral values and duties. That is why I gave you all of those quotes in the other thread. There is just no way that minds and morals evolve from molecules through monkeys in any objective sense on atheism.

            “christians need a defined moral source”

            Do you see what you did here? You just used the term “moral” in an objective sense. But, that just does not exist on atheism – see the other thread. If the fate of the universe is as it is – on atheism – then it does not matter, in any ULTIMATE sense, if you behave like Stalin or Ghandi in this life. Nothing matters at all in this life, on that view. This is why you see so many atheists refuting themselves: on the one hand, they admit that there are no objective moral values or duties, then on the other hand, they talk about how “evil” the Christian God is. Well, they cannot have it both ways! This is where Frank Turek made the clever comment that “atheists have to sit in God’s lap in order to slap His face,” or something like that. He also wrote a great book called “Stealing from God” if you have not read it.

            This is why I say that the atheist life in unlivable in a consistent sense. Like I did, atheists have to jump back and forth between the world of the atheist (when it came to my own subjective moral behavior) and the world of the theist (when it came to calling out others’ “moral” imperfections and in pretending that the activities in my life mattered in any real sense).

  • Jim H

    The title of the article, Report: Even Atheists, Agnostics, Nonreligious Americans See Evidence for Creator, seems a bit misleading to me.

    See the following from the study:

    Since the universe has organization, I think there is a creator who designed it

    •Men are more likely to disagree (22% v 17%)

    •Northeasterners (75%) and Southerners (74%) are more likely to agree than Midwesterners (64%)

    •Those age 18-24 (66%), 25-34 (66%), and 35-44 (66%) are less likely to agree than those age 45-54 (79%) and 55-64 (80%)

    •Whites (75%) are more likely to agree than Hispanics (66%)

    •Those with a high school degree or less (66%) are less likely to agree than those with some college (79%) or a Bachelor’s (76%)

    •Those with a graduate degree (65%) are less likely to agree than those with some college (79%)

    •Christians (81%) are more likely to agree than Other Religions (66%). Both are more likely to agree than Nonreligious (46%)

    •Evangelicals are more likely to agree (85% v 66%)

    Lets concentrate on the 46% of the nonreligious that agree, look at the data and analyze what it actually says.

    There is a note on page 9 of the report that defines nonreligious as: **includes Atheist, Agnostic, and No Preference.

    A 2012 survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, conducted jointly with the PBS television program Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, finds that many of the country’s 46 million unaffiliated adults are religious or spiritual in some way. Two-thirds of them say they believe in God (68%). More than half say they often feel a deep connection with nature and the earth (58%), while more than a third classify themselves as “spiritual” but not “religious” (37%), and one-in-five (21%) say they pray every day.

    So what does that tell us? 68% of the “nones” believe in God, but only 46% believe that since the universe has organization, there is a creator who designed it. That mean 22% of the “nones” who believe in God don’t believe the organization of the universe proves anything about God’s existence.
    Pew also tells us that in 2012 “nones made up 19.6% of the population. That number breaks down as follows 2.4% atheists 3.3% agnostic, 13.9% “nothing in particular”. As percentages of “nones”, atheists are 12%, agnostics are 17%, and “nothing in particulars” 71%.
    71% of “nones” are “nothing in particular according to Pew. 68% of the “nones” believe in God according to the study in the article. So ,those numbers track pretty closely. The rest of the “nones are atheists and agnostics.
    Knowing that, how could anyone claim that the 46% of “nones who believe the organization of the universe prove the existence of universe would include atheists and agnostics, when you have 68% of the “nothing in particulars” who believe in God? The 46% would obviously be from among the nothing in particular crowd.
    Shabby, sensationalist journalism at best, outright lies at worst.

  • Joe

    This is obvious skewing of facts that are right in front of you. Nonreligious Americans included atheists, agnostics and those with no religious preference (aka deists). So it’s very likely that the 40% who disagree are atheists, the 13% who aren’t sure are agnostic and the 46% that agree are deists. This does not suggest that atheist see evidence of a creator and are denying it.