The trouble with philosophically demanding religions is that they make ethical demands. Superstition doesn’t. Recently, a major conference was held at the Vatican on ”unbelief”:
The multidisciplinary research programme… mapped the nature and diversity of ‘unbelief’ across six countries including Brazil, China, Denmark, Japan, UK and the USA.
Researchers asked unbelievers across the six countries about attitudes to issues such as supernatural phenomena, whether the “universe is ultimately meaningless” and what values matter most to them.
Their interim findings, published in a report “Understanding Unbelief Atheists and agnostics around the world”, showed that in all six countries, the majority of unbelievers identified as having ‘no religion’. Unbelievers, the report found, exhibited significant diversity both within, and between, different countries. It also found that a lack of belief in God didn’t necessarily entail unbelief in other supernatural phenomena – the majority of unbelievers in all countries surveyed expressed belief in one or more supernatural phenomena.
The report also found that, contrary to popular belief, only around a third of unbelievers in each country regard the universe to be ultimately meaningless.
The report also tackles the implication of unbelief on morality and values, finding that most unbelievers endorse objective moral values, human dignity and attendant rights and the “deep value” of nature, at similar rates to the general populations in their countries. Rose Gamble, “Major ‘unbelief’ conference held at Vatican” at The Tablet
PDF: “Unbelief in God doesn’t necessarily entail unbelief in
other supernatural phenomena. Atheists and (less so)
agnostics exhibit lower levels of supernatural belief than
do the wider populations. However, only minorities of
atheists or agnostics in each of our countries appear to
be thoroughgoing naturalists.”
One way of looking at it: If you believe vaguely that “there is something out there,” you needn’t do anything about it. You needn’t even avoid superstition. You can even be part of a war on science in good faith. (For example, you can convince yourself that right answers in math discriminate against somebody or other and voila! a war on math!)
Hat tip: Philip Cunningham
See also: Sceptic asks, why do people who abandon religion embrace superstition? Belief in God is declining and belief in ghosts and witches is rising
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