A major survey by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life finds that most Americans have a non-dogmatic approach to faith. A majority of those who are affiliated with a religion, for instance, do not believe their religion is the only way to salvation. And almost the same number believes that there is more than one true way to interpret the teachings of their religion.
OK, so far, so good. But there are some strange results in this survey. Pew reports that 21 percent of atheists said they believed in God or a universal spirit, six percent considered it a personal god, and 40 percent of agnostics feel certain that God exists. Conversely, among respondents who say they are affiliated with a religious tradition (Catholic, Jewish, Protestant, Muslim, etc.), a surprising number said they actually do not believe in a god or universal spirit.
So what does this mean, other than that many folks are seriously fucked up when it comes to atheism, god, and religion? I mean, how can an agnostic be certain that god exists (or does not exist)? Uncertainty about it all is sorta definitional to the term, isn't it?
Other interesting statistics according to the Pew survey: there are more than twice as many atheists and agnostics (a combined 4.0 percent of all respondents) as there are Jews (1.7 percent), and about four times as many as there are Muslims (0.6 percent). These types of numbers need to be widely reported so that non-religious/non-believers can "come out of the closet" and demand the respect and consideration we deserve.
I found this illuminating, too: Most Americans agree with the statement that many religions – not just their own – can lead to eternal life. Among those who are affiliated with a religious tradition, seven-in-ten say many religions can lead to eternal life. This view is shared by a majority of adherents in nearly all religious traditions, including more than half of members of evangelical Protestant churches (57%). Only among Mormons (57%) and Jehovah’s Witnesses (80%) do majorities say that their own religion is the one true faith leading to eternal life.
I guess Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses adhere more closely to what their holy books say about "eternal life" and "salvation." I don't know whether to admire them for not being hypocrites or despise them for being stupid. Can I do both?