Study of the religiously unaffiliated shows they are just like everyone else
A new study released by the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga about those in America that consider themselves nonbelievers, and the researches involved in the study are saying that atheists and the nonreligious are just like everyone else, in that they are just as varied in personality types and differing ideologies as the religious.
“Congratulations, non-believers. You’re essentially normal,” said Thomas Coleman III, one of the researchers involved in the study.
Along with Christopher Silver, the two researchers looked at the personalities of nonreligious Americans, as well as their differing outlooks on god(s), spirituality, and religion.
The results showed that atheists are just as diverse in their personality as any other group of people. Coleman called it a “normal distribution of personality types.”
Silver and Coleman’s study also focused on the different types of nonbelievers. The reports overview read:
Previous research and studies focusing on the diverse landscape of belief in America have continually placed those who profess no belief in a God or gods into one unified category infamously known as the “religious nones.” This catch-all category presented anyone who identified as having “no religion” as a homogenous group in America today, lumping people who may believe in God with the many who don’t.
The basic gist is that those who are unaffiliated with a religion, the so-called “nones,” are not some monolith. They are, in fact, very different. Not all of them are atheists or agnostics, and not all of the atheists and agnostics are the same “type” of atheist or agnostic.
According to the Raw Story:
The study identified six types of non-believers: Intellectual Atheist/Agnostics (IAA), Activist Atheist/Agnostics (AAA), Seeker Agnostics (SA), Antitheists, Non-theists and Ritual Atheist/Agnostics (RAA).
Silver said that these categories were a “first stab” at trying to classify the different types of nonbelievers. “In 30 years, we may be looking at a typology of 32 types,” he said.
Intellectual Atheist/Agnostics (IAA) are the “individuals who proactively seek to educate themselves through intellectual association, and proactively acquire knowledge on various topics relating to ontology (the search for Truth) and non-belief.”
Activist Atheist/Agnostics (AAA) are those “not content with the placidity of simply holding a non-belief position; they seek to be both vocal and proactive regarding current issues in the atheist and/or agnostic socio-political sphere. This sphere can include such egalitarian issues, but is not limited to: concerns of humanism, feminism, Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgendered (LGBT) issues, social or political concerns, human rights themes, environmental concerns, animal rights, and controversies such as the separation of church and state.”
Then there are the Seeker Agnostics (SA), which consist “of individuals attuned to the metaphysical possibilities precluding metaphysical existence, or at least recognizes the philosophical difficulties and complexities in making personal affirmations regarding ideological beliefs.” Basically what we would generally consider someone who identifies as agnostic.
Antitheists “may be considered atheist or in some cases labeled as ‘new atheists,’ the Anti-Theist is diametrically opposed to religious ideology. As such, the assertive Anti-Theist both proactively and aggressively asserts their views towards others when appropriate, seeking to educate the theists in the passé nature of belief and theology.”
Non-theists was not easily summed up in a sentence or two in the study, so here is my best interpretation of it: someone who does not take an “epistemological position,” whether religious or irreligious, and is apathetic and/or disinterested in intellectual discussions of god(s) and the atheist movement.
Last but not least are the Ritual Atheists/Agnostics (RAA), who are in fact atheists but still “may participate in specific rituals, ceremonies, musical opportunities, meditation, yoga classes, or holiday traditions. Such participation may be related to an ethnic identity (e.g. Jewish) or the perceived utility of such practices in making the individual a better person.” The RAA should not be confused with someone who says they are “spiritual but not religious.”
Silver and Coleman both noted that many Jews in the US are best described as Ritual Atheists/Agnostics.
I think I personally would fit into the IAA and AAA categories, which Silver and Coleman say make up the majority of nonbelievers, but antitheist also does describe me at many times, and that’s what Dave Muscato of American Atheists says his organization’s position take. They say that religion “is dangerous” and religious traditions and rituals are just “superstitious and there’s no purpose to them and that we have better things to do.”
I like this study more than the one recently released by the University of North Texas, where I go to school, which claimed that atheists are just this monolith of privileged old, white men that are defiant to religion, because it gets in the way of their privilege.
Posted on July 3, 2013, in Religion/Atheism, Science and tagged activist, agnostics, american atheists, antitheists, atheists, chattanooga, christopher silver, dave muscato, intellectual, non-theists, ritual, seeker agnostics, thomas coleman, university of north texas, university of tennessee. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.