The Barna Group has released the results of a new survey which examines differences and similarities between people who claim a religious faith commitment, primarily Christianity, and those who embrace atheism/agnosticism:
[The] new survey shows there is indeed a significant gap between Christians and those Americans who are in the "no-faith" camp. For instance, most atheists and agnostics (56%) agree with the idea that radical Christianity is just as threatening in America as is radical Islam. At the same time, two-thirds of Christians (63%) who have an active faith perceive that the nation is becoming more hostile and negative toward Christianity. ("Active faith" was defined as simply having gone to church, read the Bible and prayed during the week preceding the survey.)
The "reality-based" folk, as they are pleased to call themselves, see no difference between those who balk at killing babies and legalizing non-traditional forms of marriage and those who strap bombs to their babies' carriages so that they can blow to bits other people's babies. The reality-based crowd, or at least a majority of them, sees no difference between those who prefer that gays not demand that their relationships be endorsed by the larger society and those who hang gays for being gay. One marvels at the strange reality the majority of atheist/agnostics are living in.
One of the most significant differences between active-faith and no-faith Americans is the cultural disengagement and sense of independence exhibited by atheists and agnostics in many areas of life. They are less likely than active-faith Americans to be registered to vote (78% versus 89%), to volunteer to help a non-church-related non-profit (20% versus 30%), to describe themselves as "active in the community" (41% versus 68%), and to personally help or serve a homeless or poor person (41% versus 61%). They are also more likely to be registered to vote as an independent or with a non-mainstream political party.
In other words, atheists/agnostics tend to be more oriented toward themselves than toward others. No surprise here. The default position in human ethics is egoism. Atheism affords no non-subjective basis for caring about the welfare of others. People have to have a transcendent incentive to teach their young to respect and care about those they don't know, and they have to be able to give their young a reason when their young ask them why they should do it. Unfortunately, if there is no God there is no reason.
One of the outcomes of this profile - and one of the least favorable points of comparison for atheist and agnostic adults - is the paltry amount of money they donate to charitable causes. The typical no-faith American donated just $200 in 2006, which is more than seven times less than the amount contributed by the prototypical active-faith adult ($1500). Even when church-based giving is subtracted from the equation, active-faith adults donated twice as many dollars last year as did atheists and agnostics. In fact, while just 7% of active-faith adults failed to contribute any personal funds in 2006, that compares with 22% among the no-faith adults.
Like I was saying....RLC