And are there more types than these?  This is apparently from sociological research out of the University of Tennessee, but I'm reporting from the Salon article.  The researchers identified six categories of non-believers in the U.S., with estimates of their relative size.

1. Intellectual Atheist/Agnostic. By far, the most common kind of non-believer, at nearly 38 percent. This group enjoys intellectual discourse, and while they’re often very certain about their beliefs, they’re not belligerent about it. These types often get mistaken for dogmatic atheists, however, because they have a tendency to join skeptic’s groups or otherwise find avenues to discuss non-belief with others. However, as researchers note, these non-believers “associate with fellow intellectuals regardless of the other’s ontological position."  They like debating religion, but aren’t particularly interested in chasing down believers to give them a hard time.

2. Activist. This group also gets commonly accused of being dogmatic, but like the intellectual atheist, while they’re firm in their beliefs, they’re intellectually flexible and don’t prioritize attacking believers. Instead, they are motivated by a strong sense of humanist values to make change in the world, often making related issues—such as feminism, gay rights, or the environment—a priority over simply advocating atheism. They are the second biggest sub-category of non-believers, making up 23 percent of non-believers.

3. Seeker-Agnostic. This group, which makes up 7.6 percent of non-believers, are unlikely to be as critical of religion as most other groups. They prioritize not-knowingness. If you ever come across people saying, “I don’t know, but neither do you!” regarding religious belief, you’re dealing with a seeker-agnostic. They don’t really believe in anything, but they are uncomfortable committing to non-belief completely.

4. Anti-Theist. This group tends to get conflated with all atheists by believers, but they only constitute 15 percent of non-believers. Like the Intellectual Atheists, they like to argue about religion, but they are much more aggressive about it and actively seek out religious people in an effort to disabuse them of their beliefs. While most atheists limit themselves to supporting a more secular society, anti-theists tend to view ending religion as the real goal.

5. Non-Theist. They don’t believe in any gods, but don’t think about those who do very often. In such a religious society, simply opting out of caring much about religion one way or another is nearly impossible, which is why this group is only 4.4 percent of non-believers. “A Non-Theist simply does not concern him or herself with religion,” researchers explain. In some skeptical/atheist circles, this group is disparagingly referred to as “shruggies,” because they simply shrug when asked their opinion on religion.

6. Ritual Atheist/Agnostic. This group, making up 12.5 percent of atheists, doesn’t really believe in the supernatural, but they do believe in the community aspects of their religious tradition enough to continue participating. We’re not just talking about atheists who happen to have a Christmas tree, but who tend to align themselves with a religious tradition even while professing no belief. “Such participation may be related to an ethnic identity (e.g. Jewish),” explain researchers, “or the perceived utility of such practices in making the individual a better person.”


Tags: activist, anti-theist, atheist, groups, intellectual, non-theist, research, ritual, seeker-agnostic, types

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'Real Science', 'Real Religion'?

Could you clarify these?

For myself, my first exposure to 'religion' was via about six years of catholic school(CS) as time share while in Junior High(JH) & High School(HS). Some summer school could also be added while very young, which could bring this number to nearly ten years.

I was very interested in the sciences and started to notice little details from observations in nature and my science readings. Funny thing to think that my first inroads into logic were via watching Star Trek, with Spock as a possible role model..;p).

As I listened to my CS class content, I noted the characteristics of 'god',  and realized that weird results could be generated if the these were 'true'. Could 'god' allow 2+2=5? Surely being all powerful would not disallow this. Would 'god' allow the creation of the planet, knowing full well of its demise in a few billion years? Why does 'god' seem to have such a facination with beattles? If humans are very different from the rest of the animals, then why some many shared characteristics? Why would animals not have 'souls'? After a while the whole 'god' edifice just seemed warped to the 'nutty' side. 

Sadly, much of my early science interest seemed weighted to 'questions', and few reasonable 'answers'. I remember being told to 'not think so much', but this seemed like a huge betrayal of the gift that 'god' had given me! Since my early days it has become painfully obvious that the 'not think so much' is over used. The vast web of sub-cultures, ideologies, corporate interests, and other metaphysical commitments, can demand blind conformity, premature commitment, unthinking acceptance, and even something I like to call 'dis-understanding'. The push for 'settled dogma/answers' is at times overwheming to ones independence and liveiihood. Imagine how effective a business would be if they really followed a reasonable ethical model that allowed 'their workers' to be human beings first and citizens second!

'Real Science', 'Real Religion'?  Could you clarify these?

I'm not sure I can, @James.   Perhaps it's the difference between novice and expert, or between what real scientists do and what's taught in schools. 

I've been involved with AAAS studies looking at U.S. school science texts, and they're awful, especially at elementary & middle school.  Perhaps because of the web of sub-cultures, ideologies and corporate interests that attend textbook publishing.  Feynman has a great piece on being asked to review California science texts which is well worth the read. 

All I know is that if a child were to learn science exclusively in a classroom from a textbook and a teacher who was well-meaning but not necessarily all that well versed in science him/herself, what that child would take away from that wouldn't be what I would call "science."  "Real" science is done very differently.  We may refer to texts, but not to quote them on a test.  We don't sit around copying notes from a board. 

As a theist, I think the same sort of thing happens in religion.  Most people have the experience you had.  Mostly just elementary school, taught by well-meaning people who were by no means experts, out of texts that were poor.  Sit-and-take notes, regurgitate quotes/definitions for tests.  That seems to have as little to do with "real" religion as school science class has to do with "real" science.

I think sometimes what you call "the push for settled dogma/answers" comes from those well-meaning but inexperienced teachers.  I've met with many, for example, who want a "definition" of energy to tell students, rather than embracing the really more important and correct concept of energy.

Imagine how effective a business would be if they really followed a reasonable ethical model that allowed 'their workers' to be human beings first and citizens second!

Pick up the U.S. Catholic Bishop's letter on the Economy (1983).  It's an interesting commentary on just that - the obligation for businesses and economic systems to treat their workers as human beings first.  They got a lot of flak from conservative quarters for that.

So I think that any such a supposed collection of statistics that attempts to “classify” a person who simply says, “I don’t believe that there is evidence to support the existence of a God.”…. is like saying, “I’m going to classify you because you are male."

What they were doing was trying to figure out if there are certain characteristics among non-believers in regards to how they communicate with the religious and how they feel about religion.

I am an Atheist. That's it

There is no such things as "types of Atheists"

There are all types of people that are theists, and there are all types of people that are atheists.  Your categories above are categories of characteristics of people, not of atheism.  You could pretty much have a mirror post substituting atheist with theist vocabulary. 

Atheism is a position, not a characteristic.

Atheism is a position...

It's kind of like the missionary position, only instead of the woman being on the bottom and the man on top while facing her, in the atheist position, any grouping of consenting individuals does it however the fuck they want. Actually, I guess it's nothing like the missionary position (unless you want it to be).

I don't know.  What does a lesbian missionary position look like?  I'm always up for learning new stuff, grins

The body positions are more or less the same; you just have to work harder to nail the look of repressed sexuality, sterility, and silent shame which really gives it that special missionary touch.

lofl. It helps if the lesbian on the bottom lies back and thinks of England.

Of course there are all types of people, @Strega.  I don't think the researchers who did this work would claim otherwise.  People do tend to form groups or communities, though, and at least some work suggests that they also may have patterns of behavior within those communities. 

I agree, the same research can be (and I suspect has been) done on other groups.  Catholics, Republicans, Country Music lovers.  Any group that's large enough and of interest to somebody.

Are you a dog person? No? Why not?
Are you a Soccer fan? No? Why not?
and the list goes on if you want to catergorise something you are going to end up catergorizing it no matter what. A list  like this is as useless as math problems on toilet paper as a learning aid.

Math problems on toilet paper!   Actually, what a great idea!


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