Atheism and Society
Phil Zuckerman, a sociology professor at Pitzer College and author of Society Without God, an analysis of religiosity and its effects on a society. Zuckermand gave a talk at the annual Freedom From Religion Foundation convention in 2009, highlighting many of the important statistics he analyzed for the book, which I will paraphrase below, using the section headings from his speech. As Zuckerman himself says, these are merely correlationsâ€”his prime aim towards Americans is to make clear that a lack of religion does not hinder a society.
Atheists are better educated
- Only 7% of members of the National Academy of Sciences claim a belief in a personal god.
- While 27% of Americans claim “no religion”, 42% of college graduates are in the irreligious cohort.
Atheists are less homophobic and more moral
- 60% of religiously unaffiliated Americans support gay marriage compared with only 26% of Protestants and 42% of Catholics.
- Among secular Americans, support for the invasion of Iraq was 38%, compared with 68% of evangelical Protestants, 58% of Catholics, and 47% of Jews.
- Nonreligious Americans support stem cell research much more (84%) than those who report being “very religious” (55%) or “somewhat religious” (76%).
- The US prison population consists of only 0.2% atheists.
- Murder rates are lowest in the more secular states, and highest in the most religious.
Atheists in concentration results in societal success
First, let’s see the rates of residents reporting “no faith” in states.
- Oregon (31%)
- Washington (30%)
- Vermont (30%)
- Colorado (26.6%)
- Delaware (26.5%)
- Idaho (25.4%)
- California (25%)
- New Hampshire (24.5%)
- Wyoming (24.2%)
- Montana (23.7%)
- North Dakota (9.3%)
- South Dakota (10.2%)
- Mississippi (11.5%)
- Alabama (12.3%)
- Tennessee (13.5%)
- Maine (14.5%)
- Texas (15.4%)
- North Carolina (15.4%)
- Louisiana (15.5%)
Some statistics using those numbers:
- Rate of religiousness and murder rates are inversely correlated; the highest rates are found in Louisiana and Alabama while the lowest are in Vermont and Oregon.
- The poverty rate is similarly related to the proportion of atheists, with the most poor people in Mississippi and Tennessee, while the fewest in poverty are found in New Hampshire and Hawaii.
- Mississippi has the highest obesity rate at 31.6%, followed by West Virginia, Alabama, Louisiana, and South Carolina; the lowest rates are in Colorado (18.4%), Hawaii, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont.
- Infant mortality and teen pregnancy show similar trends; STD rates are highest in the Bible Belt where college graduation rates are also the lowest.
Where I Stand
I’m on the side of the statistics, which show stronger societies are those with less religion.