Tuesday, 12 October 2010

People I know personally who believe in gibberish

Talking to some work colleagues the other night, the conversation turned to the supernatural, and I was struck by how much superstition was actually present in  their heads.

Of the four of us, I'm an atheist. One other is a practising Catholic, although mostly for the purpose of getting his kids into the local Catholic school, which is one of the best in the area (best for indoctrinating small children into a hateful ideology? I didn't pursue this point). Another revealed himself to be a believer in all sorts of "spiritual" mumbo-jumbo, and the third related the story of his grandad dying, somehow, to coincide with some other family members' birthdays.

So, of the four of us, that made 25% atheist, and 75% nonsense. This got me thinking - what are the proportions in Britain as a whole? How much twaddle is swimming around in the heads of people we work or socialise with?

I found this survey from the British Humanist Association, which isn't as scary to read as I thought it might be. Just to cherry pick some stats:

  •  63% of people say they are not religious (compared to 33% that do) from the Guardian
  • 36% of people in the 18-34 age group in Britain define themselves as atheist or agnostic, from the Catholic weekly the Tablet
  • Overall 62% of the population never attend any form of service, fromthe British Social Attitudes Survey
  • 65% of young people are not religious. Though religious belief amongst the young has declined by 10% in less than 10 years, moral attitudes have not and fewer young people are racially prejudiced, from a report for the Department for Education.
  • According to the 26th report of the British Social Attitudes Survey published in 2010, 71% of religious people and 92% non-religious (82% in total) believe that a doctor should be allowed to end the life of a patient with an incurable disease.
So, fairly cool. But, according to this article in the Guardian,

Half of British adults do not believe in evolution, with at least 22% preferring the theories of creationism or intelligent design to explain how the world came about, according to a survey.

Still a long way to go, then. But I'm a glass half-full man, anyway.

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