Re: RE[3]: virus: Hosts

Vicki Rosenzweig (
Tue, 15 Oct 96 13:26:00 PDT

My immediate question is whether the percentage of atheists
in the US has changed over time. This stands in for a large number
of questions:
*What are the chances that an atheist's children will be atheists?
*Does it matter whether both parents are atheists, or only one?
*How many atheists choose to bring their children up in a religion?
(I know this is not zero: I have an atheist co-worker, who has
married a Catholic and agreed to raise the children as Catholics,
because he thinks it's good for children to have a religion.)
*What religions are non-atheist children of atheists likely to
believe in?
*Is the percentage of atheists among native-born Americans
different from the percentage among immigrants?
*Are people from religiously mixed marriages more or less
likely to be atheists than people whose parents shared a
*Is atheism more, or less, common in regions where several
different religions are practiced than in places where most, or
all, believers follow one religion?
*For the last two questions, does it matter how much difference
there is between the religions? For example, is the result the
same if a Jew marries a Christian, and if a Presbyterian marries
a Catholic?

I don't expect that anyone can answer all of these questions, but they
seem like things to investigate if we're seriously interested in why some
people are atheists and others aren't. (Obviously, none of these is going
to explain why one sibling is an atheist and another a fundamentalist,
but I still think they're interesting.

Hakeeb wrote:


Point taken and I agree completely. My "mental chip" metaphor was never
meant to be literal or to imply that there were specific genes which
were responsible for a person being "God meme" receptive or not. I was
attempting to put a readily understandable metaphor to explain my
observation that there were no particular attributes displayed by
atheists but were lacking in theists apart from their difference in the
belief in a God.

I was also attempting to form a model to explain why there is such a
large disparity between the number of atheists and theists in especially
Western societies like the USA. Why is it that a few people who are
brought up under identical circumstances with everyone else tend to
reject the "God meme" and are hence called atheists? Given that about
every 1 in 10 Americans is an atheist [according to David Leeper], it's
simple arithmetic to say that the probability that a newborn American
will become an atheist is 0.1. If we have more data like the ratio for
geographical location or demographic groups, the figure could be more
specific and vary accordingly.

I'm an atheist, but I don't consider my rejection of the "God meme" to
be a conscious choice, I'm "aware" that, to me, that particular meme
makes no sense and at whatever subconscious level, I've rejected it. To
emphasize my point : I can't "choose" to believe that 2 + 2 = 5 even if
I wanted to, I just "know" it's wrong. Why then when people are
presented with a knowledge of history, geography and even anthropology,
the majority still harbour religious memes with only a minority making
the connection and hence rejecting them?

Has anyone come up with a model to explain the ratio?

* *
* Hakeeb A. Nandalal *
* *
* *