Closet Atheists: Study Suggests That The Number of Atheists In United States May Be As High As 26 Percent

socrates-1There is an interesting study out this week by two University of Kentucky researchers that the number of atheists may be twice as large as previously estimated.  The number may be closer to 26 percent — an fascinating prospect given the politics surrounding faith-based initiatives and policies.  As I have previously discussed, both parties have courted the religious vote and largely ignored the sizable number of Americans who are either agnostic or atheist.  That number may be finally reaching a political tipping point for office holders to heed their preferences for secular government and the separation of church and state.  We have previously discussed studies indicating that one out of four Americans may not believe in God. This study would seem to support those earlier estimates.

The researchers found that people tend to still be embarrassed in admitting that they do not believe in God.  The result is under reporting of the number of atheists on past polls.  Polls like Gallup and Pew put the number as below 10 percent.

Psychologists Will Gervais and Maxine Najle believe that there are significant numbers of “closet” atheists who are likely to shy away from saying “no” when asked “Do you believe in God?”


Indeed, one in three such people tend to hide their atheist views.

If that is the case, the number of voters who do not subscribe to faith-based lifestyles could be one in four — a huge voting block that could play a more significant role in future elections.

Here is the study.


105 thoughts on “Closet Atheists: Study Suggests That The Number of Atheists In United States May Be As High As 26 Percent

  1. I don’t care if one believes in God. I don’t believe in tax exemptions for churches or other religious enttities, I don’t believe in religious privilege or exemption of religious entities or persons from generally applicable law. It’s time to to have a secular government in this country.

  2. Being a libertarian, I have problems w/ all evangelicals, be they religious or atheists. And, many atheists are evangelical environmentalists. The absolute WORST, right up there w/ Jehovah Witness.

    • Do you likewise have the same problem with theists who are evangelical environmentalists? Are you implying that atheism in some way leads to evangelical environmentalism? Have you reason to believe that evangelical environmentalism is more common among atheists than among theists?

  3. Science has demonstrated that belief in God(s) was just a mistake. Darwin’s evolution and the Big Bang answered the questions of where did we (humans) come from and where did all this stuff come from. But, anti-scientific thinking still seems to dominate, given how the warnings about global warming were pretty much ignored by the voting public in favor of other real (and imagined) issues.

      • Nick, only in your mind is Eugene’s reply proof of your point. There is nothing evangelical in tone or content about what he said. Evolution is a far more adequate and likely corrrect answer for the origin of life and the Big Bang Theory a far more adequate and likely answer for the origin of matter and the universe than anything any religion has to offer. Both these theories have exceptionally far more credible evidence in support of them than any explanations offered by Christianity, Islam, Judaism, or any of the more than 10,000 other religions and mythologies humans have concocted over the history of our species.

      • I thinks it’s more: Follow the evidence. After scratching around for a few thousand years, someone finally came up with the idea of collecting data, producing some hypotheses based on the data, then putting them to tests. Incorrect guesses get thrown out, and the good ones survive (at least for a while.) That seems to work. It is now called Science. Current god(s) don’t seem to hold up under close scrutiny, but evolution and the big bang do. The best explanation I’ve heard for the possible existence of a god is that it got there through an evolutionary process.

        • I am not sure at all that it is “more.” I do not put the impossible burden of “if you can’t prove your theory, then your theory is wrong” onto science. Because getting heavier than air machines into the air took a little doing also.

          But I haven’t seen much advancement at all in the type of experiments of putting “the elements of life” or “the building blocks of life” into a test tube, zapping some electrical juice into the brew and then VOILA! Life! Which even if it worked, would just bring you back around to WHY? Which Kaku seems to have intuited the answer to, to wit, that there is simply some sort of Intelligence behind the whole “existence” thing.

          Even Atheist Stephen Hawking made his Freudian slip about “the Mind of God.”

          Plus, I am not sure at all that the Big Bang is holding up very well. Last I read, they are having to invent all sorts of new matters and new energies to keep it alive. I suspect the plug will be pulled in the next few decases.

          Squeeky Fromm
          Girl Reporter

          • I think it’s impossible to prove that any particular claim is not true, but it is probably a good bet to not take it seriously if there’s no evidence to back it up. And, as I mentioned previously, science now explains things for which people had to previously invent god(s.) If there was some kind of first cause (god) for life to begin, then where did it (the first cause) come from in the first place?

            Down in the quantum mechanics level, some things seem to happen more or less at random, but this doesn’t seem to bother anybody. And, yes, phenomena such as dark energy and dark mass are currently unexplained, but the answer is “we’re working on it.”

            • Eugene Geer – you must read up on the Uncaused Cause. The being who always was and always will be. Creator of the Big Bang.

              • “you must read up on the Uncaused Cause. The being who always was and always will be. Creator of the Big Bang.”

                I think I remember reading something about tooth fairies; is that what you’re referring to? Psychologists can probably explain why people cling to magical thinking, in spite of all the contradictory evidence, but that type of thinking sure is doing a lot of damage to the earth.

                  • “it is clear you are not an intellectual or have intellectual curiosity. How sad :(”
                    The use of this “how sad” business seems to be a staple of believers for a come back when someone fundamentally disagrees with them. If you want to claim that a god or some other mystical force created the universe, go ahead. But, don’t expect non-believers to humor you. And, most of us atheists have gone over the intellectual exercises enough times to be thoroughly comfortable with our position.

                    Maybe what you should do is go through the Big History Project. That puts things in a nice perspective.

                    • Looks like I might have gotten to you. You can cite word games that are supposed to leave the impression that there might be, just might be some big mystical power out there that created us and all this stuff , but that’s all they are – word games. Put together some verifiable facts and let’s run some tests. There is no perceptible evidence that there ever was any sort of god. For example, see:

                    • Eugene Geer – never, ever, cite Wikipedia to a researcher. You are playing with a losing hand. 😉

                    • Oh, dear, how dare I? I cited that particular reference because I was (and still am) on Vic’s discussion list and he often mentioned that he was writing that book and some of the ideas in it.Vic passed on a couple of years ago and one of the other members took over the maintenance of the list.

                    • You’re getting more obscure. Vic wrote the book from a physicist’s point of view. If you don’t like the Wikipedia reference, how about or If these sources are too commercial for you to be trustworthy then maybe we can find others. Vic spent a lot of effort countering the arguments of diehard believers like you. I think he was 99.999–% correct (or, in mathematical terms: 1 minus epsilon, where epsilon is arbitrarily small.)

                    • Eugene Geer – you give Vic and others too much credit. I only want the answer to one question. Who or what caused the Big Bang? And I know Vic and his buddies cannot answer that to any epsilons (where epsilon is infinity).

                    • I don’t think anyone has figured out what caused the universe to come into existence, if, indeed, there was a cause in the way we think about things. Look at quantum mechanics – things seem to happen without cause and even Einstein had questions about what other physicists were claiming. Only you religious people believe you have the answer, and us atheists say you are full of bull.

                      By the way, in my example, epsilon is approaching zero, not infinity.

                    • Eugene Geer – you have proved my point. I believe in an Uncaused Cause who I choose to call God. However, I am agnostic, so I do not pray to that Uncaused Cause, nor am I religious. However, I defend the right of others to be religious.

                    • You are so virtuous. I support the idea of strict separation of church and state with no if, and or buts.If people want to believe in magic that certainly is their right, but with science on the sidelines with the current administration, I fear for the future of the earth’s environment. Believers have entirely too much power and it is to the detriment of the rest of us.

                    • Eugene Geer – you and your friends agreed to an Uncaused Cause for the Big Bang. So do I. That is not magic. I happen to call that God. What do you call it?

                    • A singularity. They occur often in mathematics. For example, they are helpful to explain how electrical circuits, that have capacitance and inductance in them, work. I don’t feel inclined to append any human or animal characteristics to singularities. If it makes you feel better, go ahead.

                      Expanding on some earlier posts, use of religions to make claims like “God gave us all these resources on earth for our use so we’re free to use them up before the raptures occur” makes them dangerous to our survival. The last election, where many (most?) of Trump’s supporters didn’t understand the threat of man-caused global warming, has put the future of Earth’s environment in real peril.

                    • Eugene Geer – but how did that singularity get there and how did it create the Big Bang?

                      BTW, keep focused on the question of the ‘singularity.’

                    • “but how did that singularity get there and how did it create the Big Bang?”

                      Who knows?

                      Right now, they’re working on some equations that might get them closer to an answer. But, don’t hold your breath.

                    • Maybe somebody’s flash of genius will solve it. In the meantime I’m not to create answers that are not based on evidence. I’ll be gone in about ten years, so maybe one of you younger guys will figure things out after that. I doubt it, though.

                    • Eugene Geer – as a war baby I expect I have another 20 years left. You are only as old as you feel. 😉

                    • I was looking at the actuarial tables, and they say I have about seven years left. Not much time to figure out how and why the universe began. I don’t worry about it. (The universe that is, not the seven years.)

                    • Eugene Geer – the actuarial tables assume you are average. I know I am above average. 🙂 Certainly, you are, too. 😉

            • Re the Big Bang, here is an alternative theory: The Compton Effect:


              The magnitude of the total Compton effect redshift from multiple scatterings through a region containing free electrons is proportional to the photon wavelength. The magnitude of a Compton effect redshift is indistinguishable from a Doppler effect red shift. This means that the light appears to be scattering in the expanding universe, but in reality the light is being absorbed and reflected by electrons and protons in the air.

              This is not the only theory out there that is questioning the Big Bang.

              Squeeky Fromm
              Girl Reporter

  4. So, is there an actual throne someplace, with a figure sitting on it that looks vaguely like Charlton Heston? And has nothing better to do than micro-manage trillions of events every day here on planet Earth? I would hope that if there is a God, he/she/it would have better things to do than worry over our petty affairs.

    Come to think of it, I should become a Pastafarian.

  5. Instead of all the atheistic kaa-kaa, let’s talk about Kaku:

    A world-renowned quantum physicist, performing an experiment to discover the true nature of the universe, announced to the world earlier this month that he had discovered incontrovertible proof of the existence of God. Some lauded his declaration of faith as a sign that science finally accepted religion, but a religious physicist in Israel was not impressed. He challenged scientists to take their faith one step further.

    Michio Kaku is a highly respected American theoretical physicist. After conducting tests on what he calls “primitive semi–radius tachyons”, Kaku came to a remarkable conclusion: the only explanation for his results is that there must be a God.

    “I have concluded that we are in a world made by rules created by an intelligence,” he told the website Ferocesmente in an interview. “Believe me, everything that we call chance today won’t make sense anymore.

    “To me it is clear that we exist in a plan which is governed by rules that were created, shaped by a universal intelligence and not by chance.”

    Kaku co-founded the revolutionary string theory, a widely-accepted theoretical framework in which the point-like particles of particle physics are replaced by one-dimensional objects called strings. In an article he wrote in Big Think, he defined this complicated subject in decidedly religious terms, claiming his theory “makes the statement that we are reading the mind of God.

    He described science and religion as having the same goal: “To determine our true place and our true role in the Universe.”

    In many ways, Kaku is trying to make peace between science and religion. “There has essentially been a divorce in the last century or so between that of science and the humanists,” Kaku told Big Think, “And I think that it’s very sad that we don’t speak the same language anymore.”

    Despite his claiming an alliance with religion, Kaku’s scientific perception of God, whom he calls a “mathematician”, may not be compatible with the God to whom religious people pray.

    He described his concept of God in an interview in 2011, citing his understanding of Albert Einstein.

    “There really are two kinds of Gods. If God is the God of intervention, the personal God, the God of prayer, the God that parts the waters, then I have a hard time believing in that. Does God listen to all our prayers for a bicycle for Christmas, or to smite the Philistines? Einstein believed in the God of order and harmony, simplicity and elegance. The universe is gorgeous and it didn’t have to be that way.”

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  6. The problems of church tax exemption are two. The First Amendment is pretty clear about inhibition of religion in two (2) clauses when other freedoms receive one. Now, if taxation is NOT considered an inhibition, then the second problem arises, which is the misunderstanding of the consequences of taxation. Taxation can be debilitating. And inhibiting.

  7. A contrast to evangelical environmentalism is premillenial dispensationalism. This is where believers claim we’re in a period of time just before the savior reappears and will rule the earth for the next thousand years. All the saved will go to heaven and the rest of us (particularly atheists) will go somewhere else to suffer. Therefore, we are free to use up all of nature’s resources now since they will not be needed in the afterlife. I’ve heard Hannity and Coulter make this claim the very few times I’ve listened to Fox.

    • Don’t give up! Endeavor to persevere, and one day you may transcend all your stupidity and ignorance and become smart like some of us here! And maybe even learn to express your thoughts in complete sentences! I am praying for you! In the meantime, just remember noun, verb, object—noun verb object…

      Squeeky Fromm
      Girl Reporter

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