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Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Most Atheists Believe in the Supernatural


During a UK-based study, Understanding Unbelief, atheists and agnostics from various countries, including Brazil, China, Denmark, Japan, the United States, and the United Kingdom were interviewed. In the New Scientist overview of the study, they highlighted that the majority of atheists (71%) and agnostics (92%) believed in “at least one supernatural phenomenon or entity,” the most common being a belief in “fate” (“significant life events are meant to be” and “underlying forces of good and evil” exist), but astrology, reincarnation, and karma all made the list as well.

For some atheists/agnostics, it is easy to mix certain aspects of different religions into their worldview. For example, over 8% of Japanese respondents and 1% of Chinese respondents identified themselves as Buddhists. In most forms of Buddhism, there is no personal God or gods, and, ultimately, Buddhism teaches that any “god idea” has its origin in fear, which needs to be mastered and put away by meditation, and that belief in God is not necessary to achieve enlightenment. Buddhism could best be described as non-theistic: that if there are any gods, they don’t matter.

But for most, it is difficult, if not impossible, to reconcile atheism or agnosticism with a religion that believes in God—like Christianity. Nevertheless, atheists and agnostics still borrow many aspects from a biblical worldview—whether they realize it or not. For example, logic, truth, knowledge, morality, and science—which are predicated on the Bible being true—do not come from a materialistic and naturalistic view of things. Atheists and agnostics often agree that logic, truth, morality, and so on exist, but it cannot be justified in their worldview.


Like everyone, atheists and agnostics long for meaning, purpose, and hope. After all, God has written eternity on their hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11), so they know there must be more to this life than what we can see. But their worldview does not offer any ultimate meaning, purpose, or hope. In their worldview, when you die, you cease to exist. That’s it. The end. Or is it? If that were really true, then why do up to 25% of atheist and 35% of agnostic responses “agree” or “strongly agree” that reincarnation exists? And (even more surprisingly) why do up to 30% of atheists and agnostics “agree” or “strongly agree” that life after death exists? That certainly seems like a core-belief contradiction.

Since atheists and agnostics know there is no ultimate meaning, purpose, or hope in that kind of outlook, what do many atheists and agnostics do to give themselves the very thing their worldview cannot supply? They add a (false) hope to their worldview: karma, astrology, fate, reincarnation—or many other things for which the study didn’t account. Each of these beliefs gives some idea that there is more to us and this life than just naturalism. That, somehow, our lives have some kind of cosmic purpose or meaning, and maybe, just maybe, there really is something beyond the here and now.


But what these atheists and agnostics really need to do is acknowledge the bankruptcy of their worldview and ditch it! They need to give up a worldview that cannot give them what they truly long for and embrace the only one that can: a biblical worldview grounded in the reality of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Avery Foley and Troy Lacey, Answers in Genesis, Atheists: Believers in Fate, Reincarnation, and Karma?, August 6, 2019


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    There’s no doubt that there can be some crazy ideas amongst atheists, just as there will be in pretty well every group. However, this article seems to take every trope it’s ever heard of regarding atheism, put it into a blender, then hope that what comes out is edible. It isn’t, it’s sheer, unadulterated rubbish.

    The point about atheism is that it isn’t actually, necessarily, a worldview, it is usually just a very small part of a much bigger and wide ranging one. In fact, it’s believers, especially the fundamental types who wrote this article, whose limited worldview prevents them understanding the way in which atheists see the world and why they either reject the concept of god, or at least see no need for it. I’d certainly challenge them to support some of the statistical claims they make but, as is normal with these poorly thought articles, there appears to be no citations.

    Ultimately a world in which rationality and reason prevail is much preferable to one dominated by the ramblings contained in texts that are hundreds of years old, albeit altered and amended more recently. The bible can be useful as a way of understanding culture, but it is not just useless in understanding history, or science, or reason, or philosophy or, as referred to in the article ‘logic, truth, morality’ it is positively harmful.

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    OK, as an agnostic, I do rather hope that an afterlife exists, whether or not I “believe” that it does. While I’m alive, though, I will try to make the world a better place for my fellow human beings and the other inhabitants of the planet, while doing as little harm as I can. My ethics derive from my fellow humans, so they quite likely began with the religious beliefs of some group, since there are far more believers in god(s) than those who do not believe. That doesn’t bother me, as long as I am not expected to align my beliefs with a particular group (including other agnostics and atheists). If, when I die, I turn out to be wrong, I will still have done the best I could manage to do.

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    What an ignorant rant. Whether or not I believe in an afterlife has nothing to do with my sense of purpose or meaning in the current life I am living. His claims that morality, science and knowledge have their roots in religious belief have no basis in fact. And his claim that 30% of atheists believe in an afterlife is pure fabrication.

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    Brunetto Latini

    Logic tells me the Judeo-Christian God doesn’t exist. And if logic serves, that’s truth. Morality is a universal concept, so logic says it isn’t Christian. The Judeo-Christian God isn’t consistently moral according to New Testament morality, anyway. Ask the victims of divinely sanctioned Israeli genocides.

    Logic also told me, when I practiced Theravada Buddhism, that karma and rebirth is nonsense. The very real value in meditation must therefore be owing to something in human psychology.

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    Brunetto Latini

    And karma is not only nonsense, it is morally offensive. I will never forget the disgust and anger I felt when my Sri Lankan “bhante” opined that beheaded victims of ISIS must have beheaded victims in a previous life.

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      Karma is the most fiendishly-clever concept ever invented for achieving the common religious goal of legitimizing an unjust social order. If you’re born into wealth and privilege, you must have earned it by being good in a previous life. If you’re born into a poor and downtrodden group, you must have earned it by bad things you did in a previous life. Hinduism has kept the caste system in India strong for thousands of years, sanctifying endless misery and oppression.

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    but astrology, reincarnation, and karma all made the list as well

    All this proves is that atheists are not immune from some of the popular forms of dumbth that plague humanity. We’re just immune from the very worst one.

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