Recently, a survey of British Columbia’s atheists, agnostics and non-religious residents uncovered some interesting data. While none of this is surprising to me, it all runs contrary to conventional Gnu wisdom.
First, the Fringe Status of the New Atheists:
Only 25 per cent of British Columbia’s atheists, agnostics and non-religious residents “approved” of Richard Dawkins, best-selling author of The God Delusion. Many did not know about him.
More specifically, 25% of atheist, agnostic and unaffiliated respondents in B.C. had a favourable view of Dawkins, 28% were “not sure” about Dawkins, 42% had never heard of him and 6% disapproved of him. These data help us recognize the fringe status of the New Atheists. Richard Dawkins himself is relatively unknown among the British Columbia’s atheists, agnostics and non-religious residents.
Second, it looks like Sam Harris is on the cutting edge in his attempt to spiritualize the New Atheists:
the poll suggests B.C.’s roughly 550,000 atheists, 550,000 agnostics and 580,000 religiously unaffiliated adopt their freedom-loving viewpoints on sexuality at the same time as they embrace many of the leaders, concepts and practices of Eastern spirituality, particularly Buddhism.
Check this out:
Fifty-five of B.C. atheist, agnostic and unaffiliated respondents “believe” in karma, compared to 61 per cent of the overall population.
Twenty-six per cent also said they believe in reincarnation, the Eastern concept of being reborn after death in different forms. In addition, 36 per cent indicated they believe in some sort of life after death, and 27 per cent identified themselves as “spiritual.”
These stats help us to understand Sam Harris’ rather strange decision to break with scientism and promote an atheist version of mysticism – There’s gold in them thar hills!