They’ll Believe in Anything: Study says atheists are more irrational

By Angelo Matera

Posted 9/26/08 at 6:45 AM


A new Gallup study, “What Americans Really Believe,” suggests that if anti-religious crusaders Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins want a more rational, less superstitious world, they should encourage people to go to church.  A recent Wall Street Journal article reported that, according to the study…

“…traditional Christian religion greatly decreases belief in everything from the efficacy of palm readers to the usefulness of astrology. It also shows that the irreligious and the members of more liberal Protestant denominations, far from being resistant to superstition, tend to be much more likely to believe in the paranormal and in pseudoscience than evangelical Christians…

The Gallup Organization, under contract to Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion, asked American adults a series of questions to gauge credulity. Do dreams foretell the future? Did ancient advanced civilizations such as Atlantis exist? Can places be haunted? Is it possible to communicate with the dead? Will creatures like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster someday be discovered by science?

The answers were added up to create an index of belief in occult and the paranormal. While 31% of people who never worship expressed strong belief in these things, only 8% of people who attend a house of worship more than once a week did.”

These findings are in line with the myth-shattering work of recent historians, who’ve discovered that more people believed in witches and the paranormal after the Protestant Reformation than in the era before. A major reason for that was the authority of the Catholic Church, which was a bulwark against popular superstition and irrationality during the Middle Ages—Monty Python notwithstanding.

G.K. Chesterton had it right when he said: “When people stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing—they believe in anything.”