Atheism doubles among Generation Z

Good news from the Barna Group, a Christian polling organization:

Atheism on the Rise

For Gen Z, “atheist” is no longer a dirty word: The percentage of teens who identify as such is double that of the general population (13% vs. 6% of all adults). The proportion that identifies as Christian likewise drops from generation to generation. Three out of four Boomers are Protestant or Catholic Christians (75%), while just three in five 13- to 18-year-olds say they are some kind of Christian (59%).

This was particularly interesting…

Teens, along with young adults, are more likely than older Americans to say the problem of evil and suffering is a deal breaker for them.

…as was this:

Nearly half of teens, on par with Millennials, say “I need factual evidence to support my beliefs” (46%)—which helps to explain their uneasiness with the relationship between science and the Bible. Significantly fewer teens and young adults (28% and 25%) than Gen X and Boomers (36% and 45%) see the two as complementary.

613 thoughts on “Atheism doubles among Generation Z

  1. Corneel: I don’t see why you need to act all surprised. If atheists value certain things similar to the way you do, than chances are that they do so for the same reasons, wouldn’t you think?

    No I would’t think so. I’m not even sure how atheists can value the same things I do.

    My values are all tied up with God and his love for me. Atheists explicitly deny the existence of the person I value most in the world.

    Atheists often scoff and mock my values and those of folks like me as puritanical old fashioned and prudish or worse.

    I certainly would not expect to see them value things for the same reasons I do.

    Corneel: Are you from a different planet? What kind of a question is this?
    KN is a human being, just like you, you know.

    It’s an honest question with a little attempt at humor to break the tension.

    Seriously it clear that Atheists have a worldview that is radically different from folks like me as evidenced in this very thread.

    KN has just stated that he does not believe that it’s better when beliefs are justified because truth itself is valuable and to be cherished but merely because it leads to success.

    That does not mean that we don’t share a common humanity. it just means we look at the world radically differently.

    I am very interested in those differences and their implications.

    peace

  2. fifthmonarchyman: KN has just stated that he does not believe that it’s better when beliefs are justified because truth itself is valuable and to be cherished but merely because it leads to success.

    I think of truth and justification as playing quite distinct roles. Truth is about the relation between our beliefs and the world. Justification is about the relation between believers. Beliefs can be true without being justified, and they can be justified without being true. So while one can and should care about both truth and justification, we care about them for different reasons.

    In any event, the point I made about justification wasn’t about success per se; it was about success at cooperating.

  3. GlenDavidson: It’s well-known that Islam is growing faster than Christianity, while you ignore the actual facts in preference to your selective facts. Birth rate is the main reason for the difference, I believe.

    Unlike Christianity almost all of Islam’s growth comes from natural increase from births.

    Yes Islamic countries have a slightly higher birthrate than countries traditionally associated with Christianity but that does not really tell you very much. There is no way to know how many folks in those countries would publicly abandon Islam if they could. In many Islamic countries apostasy is punishable by death. In almost all the rest those who publicly abandon the faith are faced with tremendous legal and economic hardship.

    The region with the highest birthrates in the world are in Sub Saharan Africa a place where Christianity has just recently gained prominence.

    The main problem with using birthrates to judge the growth of a particular religion is because as witnessed in this thread the worldview you are born into is not necessarily the one you will choose when you have the opportunity to choose.

    peace

  4. Kantian Naturalist: In any event, the point I made about justification wasn’t about success per se; it was about success at cooperating.

    1) If all your peers believe something that is false what would be the benefit of believing something that places you in direct opposition to them?

    2) Is cooperation a good thing in and of itself? What if a civilization cooperates at committing genocide?

    peace

  5. Kantian Naturalist: Beliefs can be true without being justified, and they can be justified without being true.

    I agree but think it’s an irrelevant point.

    If you are justified in holding a belief undoubtedly you think the object of the belief is true.

    peace

  6. newton: By divine command so is your’s.

    1) I’m not Adam
    2) The earth was filled a long time ago so that part of the command has already been accomplished.

    peace

  7. Robin: Christianity may well be a global practice now, but this is only a recent phenomenon and thus Christianity is really dominant when looked at historically.

    Again the population of the world is not static there are more people alive now than there were in the past.

    At some point in the future unless something radically changes Christianity will be the faith of the majority everyone that has ever lived.

    That is because Christianity unlike Islam is increasing rapidly through conversion.

  8. Kantian Naturalist: What’s odd about the question, though, is the assumption that atheists are going to be any more (or less) enamored of wealth and power than people of faith.

    It’s not an assumption it’s an honest inquiry.
    As an atheist how do you define success?

    As a Christian I would define it as continually growing “up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,” Eph 4:15.

    I’m pretty sure that is not how you would define success 😉

    peace

  9. fifthmonarchyman: If you are justified in holding a belief undoubtedly you think the object of the belief is true.

    Sure, but that’s because to hold a belief is to take it to be true, whether justified or not.

    There are different kinds of success. The most minimal kind of success, success at performing some action, is one thing. That’s not the same as living the best kind of life for a human being to live. When I mentioned success above, I was primarily thinking about successfully performing an action. To successfully perform an action, an organism needs to have an adequate cognitive map of the environment and itself in relation to its environment. That’s why we can’t really separate adequate representations — which for animals whose minds have been programmed with language, take the form of true beliefs — from successful actions.

    (Plantinga thinks he can do so — the EAAN depends on it — but all he shows is that it is logically possible for the two to become separated.)

  10. fifthmonarchyman: 1) I’m not Adam

    That what people say about original sin, too.

    2) The earth was filled a long time ago so that part of the command has already been accomplished.

    Unless it was full when Adam died ,the fulfillment of God’s atheistic evolutionary command relied on lots of people who weren’t Adam.

    peace

  11. Kantian Naturalist: When I mentioned success above, I was primarily thinking about successfully performing an action.

    OK, but that does not help
    If the action we are performing is incorrectly answering a test question then having justified beliefs would not be an advantage.

    Kantian Naturalist: To successfully perform an action, an organism needs to have an adequate cognitive map of the environment and itself in relation to its environment.

    Isn’t dying an action? I would not think that you need to have an adequate cognitive map to die. The same goes with things like random movements and expelling wastes.

    What sort of actions are better given your perspective? Why?

    Kantian Naturalist: That’s why we can’t really separate adequate representations — which for animals whose minds have been programmed with language, take the form of true beliefs — from successful actions.

    Again I think you need to define success. I can think of all kinds of actions that don’t require true beliefs.

    Falling,Sleeping,growing,healing etc …….. the list is long.

    What kinds of actions are you thinking about and why are they better than these sorts of things?

    peace

  12. newton: Unless it was full when Adam died ,the fulfillment of God’s atheistic evolutionary command relied on lots of people who weren’t Adam.

    Actually a similar command was made to Noah’s family but aside from these sorts of founding populations I don’t think there as any need for folks to consciously fulfill the command.

    Filling the earth sort of happens serendipitously if you have more than a few individuals doing what people do naturally . 😉

    peace

  13. fifthmonarchyman: It’s not an assumption it’s an honest inquiry.
    As an atheist how do you define success?

    Fifth
    I can only assume that being an atheist your idea of what is successful is ultimately determined by evolution. To be evolutionary successful is by definition to have lots of offspring. Correct?

    As a Christian I would define it as continually growing “up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,” Eph 4:15.

    If that is success for Christians then you need to reduce the number for Christians in the world.

    I’m pretty sure that is not how you would define success <img draggable="false" class="emoji" alt="😉"

    Maybe treating others the same way you would want to be treated ,to sacrifice the self for others. Of course the difference is there is no expectation of a reward awaiting for the action.

  14. newton: That what people say about original sin, too.

    If you say that in connection with original sin you prove that you are just like Adam. 😉

    peace

  15. newton: If that is success for Christians then you need to reduce the number for Christians in the world.

    I agree not everyone who claims to be Christian aspires to be a Christian. I myself often fall short of my own aspirations.

    But when i’m successful I don’t

    peace

  16. fifthmonarchyman: As an atheist how do you define success?

    The question is absurd.

    I “define” success as myself. Whether or not I am an atheist has nothing to do with it.

    And why do you suppose that there should be a unidimensional “success”? I do many things, some more successfully than others.

  17. Neil Rickert: I “define” success as myself. Whether or not I am an atheist has nothing to do with it.

    I don’t think you can separate any particular belief from the rest of your person. I think our beliefs interact with things like our memories and proclivities to form our personalities and shape our decisions.

    Neil Rickert: And why do you suppose that there should be a unidimensional “success”? I do many things, some more successfully than others.

    There might not be a “unidimensional success” in your worldview but KN seems to be saying that the reason he thinks that it’s better when beliefs are justified is because he feels this leads to “success” (maybe success in cooperation) for some reason.

    I’d like to explore what he means by this

    peace

  18. newton: Maybe treating others the same way you would want to be treated ,to sacrifice the self for others.

    Given your perspective why do you think this is better than some other goal like self fulfillment or becoming one with the universe?

    peace

  19. fifthmonarchyman: I don’t think you can separate any particular belief from the rest of your person.

    Atheism is not any particular belief that I have. It is just how some people describe me. For that matter, I have very few particular beliefs, which is why I disagree with “knowledge = justified true belief”.

    There might not be a “unidimensional success” in your worldview but KN seems to be saying that the reason he thinks that it’s better when beliefs are justified is because he feels this leads to “success” (maybe success in cooperation) for some reason.

    KN is a professional philosopher, so he is trained in the justification game. I think it is mostly just a game.

    “Belief P is justified” makes no sense. It should be something more like: “Person A considers that person B is sufficiently justified in belief P to warrant him (person B) taking action X.”

    If we try to follow “Judge not, that ye be not judged,” then maybe we shouldn’t even be attempting to assess what justification other people have.

    Justification is unavoidably subjective, and there are degrees of justification. For that matter, belief is unavoidable subjective, and there are degrees of belief. But somehow justification and belief are said to be what constitutes objective knowledge.

  20. fifthmonarchyman: Given your perspective why do you think this is better than some other goal like self fulfillment or becoming one with the universe?

    peace

    What is my perspective and what follows from it?

  21. fifthmonarchyman: I agree not everyone who claims to be Christian aspires to be a Christian. I myself often fall short of my own aspirations.

    But when i’m successful I don’t

    Perhaps for some, Christianity is just a convenience or like Sal done of self interest or for others just a habit. You questioned Islamic motivations, shouldn’t you likewise question Christian motivation for belief?

  22. fifthmonarchyman: If you say that in connection with original sin you prove that you are just like Adam.

    peace

    And you prove the command was to all men and women.

    Personally I can live resembling that fictional character. arc.Adam never had a chance, he was set up to fail. The dice were loaded, deck stacked.

  23. fifthmonarchyman:

    GlenDavidson: It’s well-known that Islam is growing faster than Christianity, while you ignore the actual facts in preference to your selective facts. Birth rate is the main reason for the difference, I believe.

    Unlike Christianity almost all of Islam’s growth comes from natural increase from births.

    Wow, you managed to say what I had written immediately beforehand.

    Yes Islamic countries have a slightly higher birthrate than countries traditionally associated with Christianity but that does not really tell you very much. There is no way to know how many folks in those countries would publicly abandon Islam if they could. In many Islamic countries apostasy is punishable by death. In almost all the rest those who publicly abandon the faith are faced with tremendous legal and economic hardship.

    So? Any point to this?

    The region with the highest birthrates in the world are in Sub Saharan Africa a place where Christianity has just recently gained prominence.

    The main problem with using birthrates to judge the growth of a particular religion is because as witnessed in this thread the worldview you are born into is not necessarily the one you will choose when you have the opportunity to choose.

    Had you comprehended what was in my link, you could have picked up on the fact that what this means is that Islam doesn’t lose the numbers of adherents that Christianity does:

    Meanwhile, religious switching – which is expected to hinder the growth Christians by an estimated 72 million between 2015 and 2060 – is not expected to have a negative net impact on Muslim population growth.

    Of course I don’t like the typical intolerance of apostates, but, as far as numbers go, it means that in many places Islam isn’t going to lose significant numbers of adherents.

    Glen Davidson

  24. fifthmonarchyman: It’s an honest question with a little attempt at humor to break the tension.

    I didn’t mind the attempt at humor, but I was stupefied by your (apparently earnest) impression that atheists would set their life goals as to maximize evolutionary success.

    fifthmonarchyman: No I would’t think so. I’m not even sure how atheists can value the same things I do.

    My values are all tied up with God and his love for me. Atheists explicitly deny the existence of the person I value most in the world.

    Atheists often scoff and mock my values and those of folks like me as puritanical old fashioned and prudish or worse.

    I certainly would not expect to see them value things for the same reasons I do.

    What, is God is the only person you value and love? If your sense of identity has become so dependent on your faith that you are missing the fact that there is a lot of common ground between us, to the point that you are wondering why somebody else would value truth or respect for others, I would consider that a bit worrisome.

  25. Corneel: I didn’t mind the attempt at humor, but I was stupefied by your (apparently earnest) impression that atheists would set their life goals as to maximize evolutionary success.

    Why are you amazed by this? According to your worldview your hopes and dreams and loves (everything about you really) exist ultimately for no reason whatsoever except to maximize evolutionary success. Those are unavoidable implications of atheistic naturalism are they not?

    Corneel: What, is God is the only person you value and love?

    No, but I love other folks because I love God and I see his image in them.

    Corneel: If your sense of identity has become so dependent on your faith that you are missing the fact that there is a lot of common ground between us

    I know that there is common ground between us I just don’t understand why that should be the case given your worldview. Atheism is all about denying the only thing that unites us (the image of God).

    Corneel: to the point that you are wondering why somebody else would value truth or respect for others, I would consider that a bit worrisome.

    It’s especially worrisome to learn that the reason you value those things is only because they often lead to success. I’m concerned what will happen when folks who believe like you find that things like truth and respect don’t always make them more successful.

    peace

  26. GlenDavidson: So? Any point to this?

    None except that Robin is apparently interested in which belief system is held by the majority of people who have ever existed and I am slightly curious as to when in the near future we will be able to definitely say it’s Christianity.

    GlenDavidson: I don’t like the typical intolerance of apostates, but, as far as numbers go, it means that in many places Islam isn’t going to lose significant numbers of adherents.

    I’d disagree, Islam probably has already lost significant numbers of adherents we just don’t know how many yet because they are unable to say so publicly as of yet.

  27. newton: You questioned Islamic motivations, shouldn’t you likewise question Christian motivation for belief?

    You don’t know me very well. I’m probably too quick to question Christian’s motivation for belief. That sort of thing interests me very much

    The reason you don’t see me doing that here is that there aren’t a lot of professing Christians to talk with on this site.

    peace

  28. newton: What is my perspective and what follows from it?

    The way you see the world your point of view.
    I don’t know what follows from it unless you share it with the class.

    Of all the participants at this site you are probably the most private and reluctant to share what you actually believe. You are much more likely to just ask questions. Personally I like that approach

    peace

  29. fifthmonarchyman: I’d disagree, Islam probably has already lost significant numbers of adherents we just don’t know how many yet because they are unable to say so publicly as of yet.

    It’s bizarre that you think so, because you live in a far freer society and yet you can’t begin to see through the dogma that you were exposed to while growing up.

    How much more difficult it would be for a Muslim living in a near 100% Islamic society, and recognizing what apostates face, to seriously question Islamic dogma.

    Glen Davidson

  30. fifthmonarchyman: Why are you amazed by this? According to your worldview your hopes and dreams and loves (everything about you really) exist ultimately for no reason whatsoever except to maximize evolutionary success. Those are unavoidable implications of atheistic naturalism are they not?

    They are not.

  31. fifthmonarchyman: According to your worldview your hopes and dreams and loves (everything about you really) exist ultimately for no reason whatsoever except to maximize evolutionary success. Those are unavoidable implications of atheistic naturalism are they not?

    You forgot the most important implication: It is me who gets to choose what I will be doing with my life and maximizing evolutionary success ain’t it. I like kids, but there are limits you know.

    fifthmonarchyman: I know that there is common ground between us I just don’t understand why that should be the case given your worldview. Atheism is all about denying the only thing that unites us (the image of God).

    Can I suggest that the cause for your lack of understanding lies in your worldview, not mine? Perhaps we can be united by other things than the image of God?

    fifthmonarchyman: I’m concerned what will happen when folks who believe like you find that things like truth and respect don’t always make them more successful.

    Exactly the same thing that happens when “folks who believe like you” find out such things, Fifth.

  32. Corneel: You forgot the most important implication: It is me who gets to choose what I will be doing with my life and maximizing evolutionary success ain’t it. I like kids, but there are limits you know.

    Any half sane person would pause and think, why aren’t atheists procreating all the time if that’s what their “world view” is all about. But that’s not FMM. Of course he’ll come back with some stupid rationalization and you better agree with it, because he sure knows what you believe and why

  33. fifthmonarchyman: The way you see the world your point of view.
    I don’t know what follows from it unless you share it with the class.

    “ Given (taking into account of )your perspective why do you think this is better than some other goal like self fulfillment or becoming one with the universe?“

    Sounded to me like you thought you have some knowledge of my perspective by which you could deduce which might be a more probable goal. Perhaps it was just badly phrased.

    Of all the participants at this site you are probably the most private and reluctant to share what you actually believe. You are much more likely to just ask questions. Personally I like that approach

    Like to know how things work.

    peace

  34. dazz: Any half sane person would pause and think, why aren’t atheists procreating all the time if that’s what their “world view” is all about.

    In fact, as has been previously noted in this thread, it aligns more closely with Christian doctrine.

  35. The Xtians here are far too busy concocting their own theories about every freaking thing under the sun–whether there’s already good science on those things or not–for procreation pauses. They got it all covered, from ostriches to thermodynamics to snakes to gravity to big bangs to lamb’s bladders to animal soul archetypes.

    If their own bangs are not quite as big as they otherwise might be as a result of all that hard thinking and concocting, that’s a sacrifice they’re willing to make for our benefit, bless their hearts.

  36. fifthmonarchyman: You don’t know me very well.

    That does not seem to stop you from venturing what others must think and know.

    I’m probably too quick to question Christian’s motivation for belief. That sort of thing interests me very much

    Then would it be true given your worldview that the percentage of real followers of Christ is lower than the the percentage of those who merely identify as Christians?

    The reason you don’t see me doing that here is that there aren’t a lot of professing Christians to talk with on this site.

    Just saying if you present caveats about the motivations of Islamists, you should present the same about Christians when comparing the number of adherents.

    peace

  37. fifthmonarchyman: Actually a similar command was made to Noah’s family but aside from these sorts of founding populations I don’t think there as any need for folks to consciously fulfill the command.

    So God designed humans to fulfill by their nature some of His commands but for other commands He designed them by their nature not to. Interesting

    Filling the earth sort of happens serendipitously if you have more than a few individuals doing what people do naturally .

    Perhaps atheistic naturalists figured that out too.

  38. fifthmonarchyman: Again the population of the world is not static there are more people alive now than there were in the past.

    According to projection statistcs, there have been over 107 billion people in the world and only about 3.5 billion christians total. Your claims on this don’t seem very credible.

    At some point in the future unless something radically changes Christianity will be the faith of the majority everyone that has ever lived.

    The statistics don’t support this contention, but hey…believe whatever you want.

    That is because Christianity unlike Islam is increasing rapidly through conversion.

    I don’t see that persisting or making up a lot of ground.

  39. GlenDavidson: How much more difficult it would be for a Muslim living in a near 100% Islamic society, and recognizing what apostates face, to seriously question Islamic dogma.

    It would surely be very difficult but the conversion numbers that I posted show that Christianity is making rapid inroads into traditionally Islamic areas despite that opposition. I think that is evidence for the power of the Gospel

    peace

  40. Corneel: It is me who gets to choose what I will be doing with my life and maximizing evolutionary success ain’t it.

    No, I’m sorry if evolutionary naturalism is true even your choices are determined ultimately by what ever tends to lead to evolutionary success.

    Even your decision to not be concerned about maximizing evolutionary success was made ultimately to increase the likelihood that you will leave lots of genetic progeny

    Corneel: Perhaps we can be united by other things than the image of God?

    like what exactly?

    If your worldview is correct ultimately we are only united to the extent that we happen to share genetic information. correct?

    peace

  41. Robin: The statistics don’t support this contention, but hey…believe whatever you want.

    here is the map again in case you missed it

  42. Robin: I don’t see that persisting or making up a lot of ground.

    There is no way to infallibly forecast the future but Christianity has been expanding for a couple thousand years and increasingly rapidly over the last hundred or so.

    Unless something changes radically it is pretty much a fait accompli that it will be the majority belief system of all humans that have ever existed it’s only a matter of time.

    peace

  43. newton: So God designed humans to fulfill by their nature some of His commands but for other commands He designed them by their nature not to.

    1) Again It was not a command to me it was a command to Adam.

    2) quote:
    For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.
    (1Jn 5:3)
    end quote;

    newton: Perhaps atheistic naturalists figured that out too.

    The difference is that if atheistic naturalism is true everything that humans do is to ultimately facilitate filling the earth with their genes.

    And if Christianity is true filling the earth is just one side effect among many of living our lives.

    peace

  44. fifthmonarchyman: if atheistic naturalism is true everything that humans do is to ultimately facilitate filling the earth with their genes.

    I wonder how you manage to breath and type at the same time

  45. fifthmonarchyman: Why the brief answer? you are usually so verbose

    Anything lengthy would be a waste of my time.

    Why don’t you explain why this is not the the unavoidable implication of evolutionary naturalism.

    Why don’t you take the time to learn something for yourself instead of expecting other people to do all the work for you? We’re here to talk about ideas, not give you a free education. Go read a book.

  46. Kantian Naturalist: Go read a book.

    I’m a pretty avid reader do you have any suggestions ?

    Right now I’m looking for a book that might give a reason that a person with your perspective would think that having beliefs that are justified is a good thing.

    So far all I’ve heard is that according to you having beliefs that are justified often leads to “success”.

    You haven’t given much of a definition of “success” except to say it has something to do with cooperation. I hope that you don’t mean any cooperation whatsoever because I’d like to believe you don’t think cooperation at genocide or enslavement would count as success .

    Any way I gave my definition of success which you obviously don’t share.

    And since you apparently think that evolution will produce organisms that don’t strive for the one thing that counts as evolutionary success I’m still at a loss to understand what success is to you and to know why you think having justified beliefs is better.

    Kantian Naturalist: Why don’t you take the time to learn something for yourself instead of expecting other people to do all the work for you?

    I’m sorry but I can’t learn why you believe the things you do any other way except to ask you questions and listen to your answers.

    I don’t read minds

    peace

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