Monday, March 9, 2009

Is Having No Religion the Same as Being an Atheist?

Something called The Program on Public Values at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut has released a study that is confusingly covered in a particularly-poorly-worded article released by the AP (the name of the group who did the study, and their methods, aren't even mentioned until the ninth paragraph).

In the second paragraph we learn:

Fifteen percent of respondents said they had no religion, an increase from 14.2 percent in 2001 and 8.2 percent in 1990, according to the American Religious Identification Survey.

That's good news. 15% don't follow any religion. I'm happy to read that. Not as happy as I'd be if it said 100%, but then again, I'm a total crackpot.

However, later in the story (eleventh paragraph), we get this:

About 12 percent of Americans believe in a higher power but not the personal God at the core of monotheistic faiths.

Are those 12% who believe in a "higher power" (whatever in the hell that vague and useless term is supposed to mean) part of the 15% mentioned in the second paragraph who don't follow any religion? If so, I don't understand the distinction between "not following any religion" and "not believing in a 'higher power'." Isn't the idea of a higher power central to every religion?

Or, maybe some of the 76% who consider themselves "Christian" fall into the "higher power" group? The article doesn't say because, as I've mentioned above, it's poorly-worded.

I'm getting a headache from this. And I thought it was supposed to be good news.

From the article, we learn that

76% consider themselves Christian.
15% no religion.
1.2% part of new religious movements, including Scientology, Wicca and Santeria.
1.2% Jewish (really? As many Jewish as Scientologists, Wiccans and Santerians? [combined]?)
0.6% Muslim

That doesn't add up to 100%. Maybe I missed something in the article. What about the other people?

Damn, this is a stupid article.

This on the same day that "60 Minutes" in New Zealand just released a video of their segment on my favorite "pastor," Ray Comfort of Living Waters/Way of the Master. It is what I believe is known in journalism circles as a "puff piece."

More irritating is this nonsense from the United Nations.

And then there's this from the great state of Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down etc- an attempt to make Richard Dawkins illegal. That's almost as stupid as trying to legislate the value of pi.

And as if that weren't enough, daylight savings time started this weekend.


Gosh, I was so happy at the beginning of this post. Now look at me. I need a nap.

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