I’m frequently asked “are you and atheist or not?”
I rarely answer.
Why? Because most people have a very simplistic and inaccurate system of labels, often used merely to stereotype people into buckets. Most of us are binary thinkers, we think the choices are “dark red or dark blue” and if you’re not dark red, then you’re dark blue.
Hopefully this chart can help us appreciate the complexity of the situation a little bit more. These positions aren’t necessarily on a bidirectional scale, some positions overlap, some people hold more than one, other people tend to hop around all the time (I’ve been known to do that),there are still significant things missing from this chart, and etc, but at least its a start.
If you are religious, and you see two people, an atheist and a member of your religion, doing the same *exact* action, you will always rate the atheist worse.
Philosopher Paul Draper writes: “The most robust prejudice correlated with religiosity is prejudice against atheists. [In a study by Jennifer C. Wright] Christian and atheist actors were portrayed in one condition as performing IDENTICAL immoral actions. Those actors portrayed as atheists were appraised significantly more negatively than those actors portrayed as Christians.
In another condition, atheist actors portrayed as performing supererogatory [morally good] actions were regarded as less praiseworthy than their Christian counterparts performing IDENTICAL actions.”
This is consistent with other ratings given by the US public, as seen in this 2014 Pew survey.
Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, an Israeli professor of psychology has aggregated a century’s worth of data and has created the following profile of the average atheist compared to the average religious person. (1) The atheist is far more likely to be:
- male & married
- more well-read than average person
- less authoritarian and less dogmatic
- less prejudiced & more tolerant
- less suggestible/difficult to manipulate
- generally compassioned/conscientious
- unhappy/alienated from wider society.
The tidbit I am most curious about is why gender plays such a huge role. The rate of atheism is 7 times higher in men rather than women.
Adolf Hitler was a great orator and, regardless of his personal religious convictions which are oft debated, he led Nazi Germany under the appearance of a Christian leader.
In many of his public speeches he often referred to God, sometimes by name of Jesus or Lord. Many of these were never recorded on video, however, some of Hitlers speeches indeed remain. This is a clip from a Nazi propaganda film that shows Hitler telling Germans that the Nazi movement came directly from God.
Moral of the story? Be cautious of great speakers who tell you their movement is from God.