Survey: What Do Atheists and Christians Believe (and How Strongly Do They Believe It)?

 

On May 5, 2008, I posted links to four online surveys on this website, seeking the opinions of atheists and committed Christians on a wide variety of topics.  Over the next few weeks, we received 36,781 finished surveys (some respondents completed all four, some fewer).

Below, I have provided links to the (as yet unanalyzed) results for all respondents who met our criteria for inclusion in the study.

We filtered our results according to each person’s response to the following two statements:


Please indicate your degree of belief in the God of the Bible.

1. Disbelieve strongly

2. Disbelieve somewhat

3. Don’t Know

4. Believe somewhat

5. Believe strongly


Please indicate your degree of belief that the Bible is the word of God.

1. Disbelieve strongly

2. Disbelieve somewhat

3. Don’t Know

4. Believe somewhat

5. Believe strongly


Below, we present the data on those who responded with a 1 or a 5 to both of these statements. The primary purpose of this poll was not opinion research per se. Rather, we were designing stimuli for an experiment that we are now running on atheists and Christians using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).  The goal of this survey was to produce stimuli of two categories – factual and religious – which would behave appropriately once we put members of each group inside our MRI scanner. We needed factual statements that both atheists and Christians would accept with the same order of confidence and religious statements that would divide them more or less diametrically. Statements like the following worked well:

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In addition to vetting our experimental stimuli, however, we took the opportunity to solicit the responses of atheists and Christians to psychological and social statements that were not strictly relevant to our ongoing neuroimaging work. Our (unanalyzed) results can be viewed on the pages below. For each statement the number of respondents averaged around 5000, 80-90% of whom were atheists. The numbers of Christian responses ranged from 254-787.


Personal Data and Attitudes towards Science, Journalism, Politics, etc.


Psychological Beliefs


Religious Beliefs

 
 
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