(note, the conclusions mostly related to Germany)
Non-believers are often more educated, more tolerant and know more about God than the pious. A new wave of research is trying to figure out what goes on in the minds of an ever-growing group of people known as the “Nones”….
Until now, researchers examining religious populations have mostly come from faith-based backgrounds. The Vatican was a pioneer when it established the Secretariat for Non-Believers in order to “detect in the atheistic mind the hidden causes for the denial of God” in 1965.
But the numbers of secularists are growing. By now, non-believers have even infiltrated the churches: In a survey conducted by the Protestant Church in Germany, 3 percent of Protestants admitted that they did not believe in God. Church leaders may seek comfort in the idea that skepticism towards God is limited to Western Christian thought. China, South Korea and Japan, however, are commonly counted as being amongst the most secular countries.
Now secular researchers like Kosmin want to determine just how the religious and secularist minds differ — and their initial findings are a surprise. While secularism was typically limited to the realm of educated, affluent and male-dominated urban societies, atheism is now spreading across much broader spectrums of society.
Opposition to the Death Penalty, War and Discrimination
So what do these increasing numbers of non-believers believe in, if not God? Sociologist Phil Zuckerman, who hopes to start a secular studies major at California’s Pitzer College, says that secularists tend to be more ethical than religious people. On average, they are more commonly opposed to the death penalty, war and discrimination. And they also have fewer objections to foreigners, homosexuals, oral sex and hashish.
The most surprising insight revealed by the new wave of secular research so far is that atheists know more about the God they don’t believe in than the believers themselves. This is the conclusion suggested by a 2010 Pew Research Center survey of US citizens. Even when the higher education levels of the unreligious were factored out, they proved to be better informed in matters of faith, followed by Jewish and Mormon believers.
But their knowledge doesn’t seem to do them much good, since secularists rank among the least-liked groups of people in the US, falling behind even Muslims and homosexuals. In the states of South Carolina and Arkansas, those who deny the existence of a supreme being are not even permitted to hold public office.