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Godlessness still rising in 2013

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On Monday December 16, Harris Interactive released new polling results about Americans belief in the supernatural. While the new poll doesn’t use words like, “atheism” or “agnosticism” it does indicate that belief in God is once again down from previous years and that godlessness continues to be on the rise.

When asked whether one believes in God, 74% of Americans said that they did. This is down 8 percentage points from the last time Harris Interactive asked the question in 2009 when 82% of Americans claimed God-belief. This year 12% of Americans stated flat-out that they don’t believe in God. This is up from 9% in 2009. 14% expressed doubt when answering the question, claiming that they are “not sure” if they believe in God. This is also up from 9% in 2009. It appears that not only is atheism up by 3%, but that what many consider agnosticism is also up by 5% since 2009.

When asked about certainty in belief/non-belief, 9% of Americans claim to be “absolutely certain” that God doesn’t exist. That’s up from 7% in 2009. In contrast, those who claim to be “absolutely certain” that God does exist is down 5% from 59% in 2009 to 54% in 2013. Interestingly enough, in 2003, those who said they were “absolutely certain” in a belief in God was 66%. That’s a loss of 12 percentage points in 10 years.

While it is true that we cannot assume that this trend will continue, all signs are pointing in that direction. The age group with the highest percentage of believers is the “mature” group of over 65. The “echo boomers” group (18-36) had the lowest belief in God at just 47%. In other words, more than half of the youngest age group, lack a belief in God.

Still, the possibility may remain that as the “echo boomers” age, their religious identification may change. But it should also be noted that education was also measured in this poll and as it turns out the better educated a person is, the less likely they are to believe in God. Those with only a High School education or less ranked in a 60% belief. Those with some college education had even less belief at 55%. A full college education brings the percentage of belief down to merely 48%. And a post-college degree brings one 11% points closer to “eternal damnation” at a merely 37% believing in God.

Nearly all other superstitious beliefs are also down compared to the 2009 numbers with a few exceptions. However, it should be noted that belief in Hell and The Devil are only down slightly. Hell went down from 61% to 58% and The Devil went down from 60% to 58%. Both still in the majority.

Progress has also been made on the belief in the science of evolution. “Darwin’s Theory of Evolution” went from 45% in 2009 to 47% in 2013. In other words, more than half of all Americans still don’t accept the science of evolution. While it is 2% in the right direction, educators still have a tough road ahead of them in science classes around the nation.

You can check out the full results of the Harris Interactive Poll on their website. The poll was conducted through online surveys which are thought to be more accurate than personal phone interviews in which respondents may attempt to state what they believe is more socially acceptable out of fear of judgment from the questioner.

Please check out the Atheism 101 series for frequently asked topics.

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