Atheists have lowest retention rate of all religious groups

What would it take for you to declare with certainty that “There is no $100 bill in my sock drawer?” (That statement, by the way, is what epistemologists call an “Instantial Negative” because it is about the “not-ness” or not-being-there or non-existence of one instance of a class of phenomena, in this case, of one hundred dollar bills. You’re not saying there are no $100 bills, ever. You are simply saying that there isn’t a $100 bill in your sock drawer.)
To confirm or disconfirm your declaration, you or I would have to look in your sock drawer and see with our own eyes that, indeed, there is no $100 bill in there. Right?
The same — and more — applies to a declaration that “There is no God”. (That statement is a “Categorical Negative” as it is about the “not-ness” or not-being-there of an entire category of phenomena: God. You are not saying that a particular god, e.g., Apollo, doesn’t exist. You’re saying there is no god, any god. Period.)
Atheists are those who, despite not having seen EVERYTHING in the Universe or on Earth or even their own back yard (some don’t even know what’s in their sock drawer), are so intellectually arrogant that they dismiss the existence of God.
Atheists cling to their unbelief with great fervor. Indeed, it takes a great deal of unbelief to not believe that God exists.
In other words, atheism is an intellectually (logically, epistemologically, empirically) indefensible position. Agnosticism, however, is defensible. Agnosticism is a skepticism about the existence of God because there’s an absence of evidence for what that individual would accept as sufficient evidence. An alternate definition of an agnostic is one who, while doubting God’s existence, does not subscribe to any religion or creed.
Given their intellectually indefensible position, it is not surprising that a new study found that if atheists are considered as a religious group, they have the lowest retention rate compared to all other religious groups. “Retention rate” is defined as children who grew up in a particular religious household who maintain their religious beliefs as adults.

Note: This is NOT a photoshop

Napp Nazworth reports for the Christian Post, July 11, 2012, that  according to a study by Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), only about 30% of those who grow up in an atheist household remain atheists as adults. This “retention rate” was the lowest among the 20 separate religious categories in the study.
Dr. Mark Gray wrote at CARA’s blog:
“What these findings reflect is that in the U.S. atheists are for the most part ‘made’ as adults after being raised in another faith. It appears to be much more challenging to raise one’s child as an atheist and have them maintain this identity in their life. Of those raised as atheists, 30% are now affiliated with a Protestant denomination, 10% are Catholic, 2% are Jewish, 1% are Mormon, and 1% are Pagan.”
Jehovah’s Witness, congregationalist and holiness churches had the next lowest retention rates at 37%, 37% and 32%, respectively. 38% of those who grew up with no particular religious faith or belief system remained that way.
Hindus had the highest retention rate at 84%, followed by Jews (76%), Muslims (76%), Greek Orthodox (73%), Mormons (70%) and Catholics (68%).
Baptists had the highest retention rate of the Protestant Christian categories at 60%, followed by Lutheran (59%) and Pentecostal (50%).
The study used the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life’s 2008 U.S. Religious Landscape Survey. Pew provided CARA with the original data sets for the study.

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0 responses to “Atheists have lowest retention rate of all religious groups

  1. The running joke is an atheist will remain an atheist until they meet their fate then the last words they speak are oh my God.

  2. Bill Murray and Brad Pitt are probably two good examples of this, albeit on opposite sides.

  3. edward oleander

    I’ve been an atheist all my life. In my circles, we use different definitions than the ones Eowyn uses. While there are significant numbers who proclaim the Categorical Negative, “There IS NO god!” (these firebrands being the ones quoted most often, unfortunately), the majority of atheists say, “I don’t believe, based on the evidence (and/or lack thereof), that any god(s) exist.” Atheists are usually very skeptical that any evidence ever WILL be found at this point, which reinforces the outsiders belief that we call the non-existence of God a “fact.” We atheists consider there to be a huge difference between NON-belief, and a LACK OF belief.
    Having said that, you can find a half-dozen major definitions of atheism in today’s dictionaries, so your mileage may vary. The very lack of uniformity proves that we are NOT, in and of ourselves, a religion (and Eowyn, THANK YOU for putting that word “if” in above (as in IF you count atheists as a religion)…
    Stating emphatically that there is no god is a logically vulnerable position, as Eowyn points out. Heck, we can’t even agree on a definition of what you have to be or do in order to qualify as a deity. Stating that you will not believe in a god/dess until s/he is proven to exist is much sounder from a logic/debate point of view. Most atheists do not absolutely preclude the possibility of discovering evidence of a deity of some sort existing in some way. Many of us make quite a study of religion in hopes of finding such evidence. Mine has been ongoing for 30 years (Sage, I miss you!)…
    Although my description would place most of us in Eowyn’s “agnostic” category, agnostics are truly ambivalent about the existence (or not) of a deity, and further hold humanity CANNOT ever discover the truth one way or another. Atheists are pretty sure that if good evidence was out there, we would have found it by now. We also believe that if a deity exists, then we should be able to prove it, which separates us from the agnostics a bit.
    Eowyn, thanks for the post. I love it when I have to do a few hours worth of Googling and emailing to formulate a comment. Keeps me on my toes!

  4. There are no atheist in fox holes… Military reference…


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