Atheism and diversity

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Seth Andrews signing one of this books after a 2016 speaking engagement in San Jose, California.

The atheist activist Seth Andrews declared: "The atheist movement has a diversity problem... We have long had a diversity problem.[1]

As far as the issue of diversity within the atheist population, compared to Christianity, atheism has a significantly less degree of geographic/cultural, racial, gender and socioeconomic status diversity (see: Global Christianity).

In addition, there is a significant amount of racism within the atheist population (see: Atheism and racism).

Atheism and geographic/cultural diversity

See also: Global atheism and Atheism and culture

The Bible has been translated into 518 languages and 2,798 languages have at least some portion of the Bible.[2] Charles Darwin's book The Origin of the Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life has merely been translated into 35 languages.[3]

The current atheist population mostly resides in East Asia (particularly China) and in secular Europe/Australia primarily among whites.[4] See: Asian atheism and European desecularization in the 21st century and Western atheism and race

Contrastly, in terms of its geographic distribution, Christianity is the most globally diverse religion.[5]

Since World War II a majority of the most prominent and vocal defenders of the evolutionary position which employs methodological naturalism have been atheists and agnostics (see also: Causes of evolutionary belief).[6] Charles Darwin's evolutionary book The Origin of the Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life has been translated into 35 languages.[7]

The Bible has been translated into 518 languages and 2,798 languages have at least some portion of the Bible.[8] In addition, the Christian community is far more evangelistic than the atheist community and Christian missionaries are throughout the world (See also: Atheism and apathy).

Secular/multilingual Europe:

Europe is most irreligious than many geographic regions (see: Secular Europe).

Europe has 23 officially recognized languages.[9] In addition, it has migrants who tend to come from religious countries. See: Multilingual Europe

East Asia, China, atheism, sexism and racism

Western atheism and gender diversity

The atheist and evolutionist PZ Myers giving a presentation to a group that is likely largely made up of white males.[10][11][12] In June 2010, PZ Myers commented that atheist meetings tend to be significantly more attended by males.[13]

See also: Atheism and women and Atheism and white males

In 2016, Atheist Alliance International (AAI) conducted an annually reoccurring atheist census project and found: "At the time of writing, the Atheist Census Project recorded that on average worldwide 73.2% of respondents were male. The result is consistent with other research... As such, the focus of many scholarly papers has been on seeking to explain this persistent observation."[14]

In November 2010, Discover Magazine published survey results published by the World Values Survey which showed significant differences between the percentage of men and women who are atheists for various countries with men outnumbering women in terms of adopting an atheist worldview.[15]

In 2015, BloombergView reported concerning the United States: "According to a much-discussed 2012 report from the Pew Research Center on Religion and Public Life, ...women are 52 percent of the U.S. population but only 36 percent of atheists and agnostics.[16]

Western atheism and race

See also: Western atheism and race

Atheist Sikivu Hutchinson says that atheist organizations generally focus on church/state separation and creationism issues and not on the concerns the less affluent African-American population faces.[17]

In 2015, BloombergView reported concerning the United States:

According to a much-discussed 2012 report from the Pew Research Center on Religion and Public Life, only 3 percent of U.S. atheists and agnostics are black, 6 percent are Hispanic, and 4 percent are Asian. Some 82 percent are white. (The relevant figures for the population at large at the time of the survey were 66 percent white, 11 percent black, 15 percent Hispanic, 5 percent Asian.)

...Craig Keener, in his huge review of claims of miracles in a wide variety of cultures, concludes that routine rejection of the possibility of the supernatural represents an impulse that is deeply Eurocentric.[18]

Samuel D. Adams writes about American atheism/evangelical Christianity: "Evangelicalism – which many atheists endlessly lampoon as whitewashed and sexist – is more diverse than atheism, with more than half of US evangelicals being female and 76% being white."[19] See also: Atheism and sexism

Lack of significant global outreach by Western World atheists

See: Lack of significant global outreach by Western World atheists

Atheism and evolutionary racism

See: Atheism and evolutionary racism

Poor international cooperation among atheists

See also: Atheism and international cooperation among atheists

In recent years, international cooperation among atheists has been low (see: Atheism and international cooperation among atheists).

Atheism as a nerd subset of the population

See also: Atheist nerds

PZ Myers

As noted above, homogeneous populations are more apt to engage in groupthink.

In 2013, the atheist PZ Myers declared:

If we're going to expand our base and we're going to draw in more people to recognize the virtues of living in a secular world, we need to appeal to more than just that geek and nerd subset of the population. We need to have a wider base. ...I seriously believe that we're on the cusp of a crisis. We're not there yet but it's looming in front of us. Will we adapt and thrive and change the world? Or will we remain an avocation for a prosperous and largely irrelevant subset of the population? Will we become something more than a scattered society of internet nerds? That's what we have to do.[20]

In response, David Klinghoffer at Evolution News and Views wrote:

A crisis looms, in Myers's view, because he looks around himself and sees a not very promising basis for a mass movement. He's right. There is indeed a quality of geeky isolation from reality, common sense, and the fullness of life that I see as a motif in atheist and Darwin activism alike.[21]

Atheism/Christianity and socioeconomic status diversity

See also: Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism and Atheism and sloth and Atheism and economics

Western atheists/Christians and socioeconomic status diversity

The Pew Research Forum reported in 2013 concerning American atheists: "About four-in-ten atheists (43%) have a college degree, compared with 29% of the general public."[22] In 2012, the Pew Research Forum reported regarding American atheists: "And about 38% of atheists and agnostics have an annual family income of at least $75,000, compared with 29% of the general public."[23]

In the United States, although Christianity is prevalent among middle and upper class society, it also exists among relatively poorer segemtns of the population such as among African-Americans and Latinos.

Also, atheists within the United States have developed a reputation of uncharitableness as they gave far less to charities, even if church donations are not counted (see: Atheism and uncharitableness).

In addition, within European societies Christianity often has more economic diversity (immigrants to Europe, etc.).

Global atheism/Christianity and socioeconomic status diversity

While a significant percentage of atheists live in East Asia where there are still a significant amount of poor individuals, Christianity is far more geographically diverse than the atheist population and exists in many wealthy and poor countries. Early Christianity existed largely among the lower classes (1 Corinthians 1:26), but it is now more economically diverse.

In China, although Christianity started in the countryside, it is now spreading quickly among the urban centers where there are more individuals in the elite part of Chinese society (see: Growth of Christianity in China).[24]

Protestantism and socioeconomic status diversity

Protestantism and personal net worth

Although evangelical Christianity and Protestant forms of charismatic/Pentecostal Christianity exists in relatively wealthy countries among various economic segments of the population, these forms of Christianity are spreading rapidly in poorer sections of the earth.[25][26]

The American sociologist and author Peter L. Berger introduced the concept of desecularization in 1999.[27][28] According to Berger, "One can say with some confidence that modern Pentecostalism must be the fastest growing religion in human history."[29]

Protestant work ethic and economic development statistics

See also: Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism and Atheism and sloth

The atheist and historian Niall Ferguson declared: "Through a mixture of hard work and thrift the Protestant societies of the North and West Atlantic achieved the most rapid economic growth in history."[30]

Protestant missionaries and economic development statistic
The atheist and Harvard University historian Niall Ferguson declared: "Through a mixture of hard work and thrift the Protestant societies of the North and West Atlantic achieved the most rapid economic growth in history."[31]

The article The Surprising Discovery About Those Colonialist, Proselytizing Missionaries published in Christianity Today notes:

In his fifth year of graduate school, Woodberry created a statistical model that could test the connection between missionary work and the health of nations. He and a few research assistants spent two years coding data and refining their methods. They hoped to compute the lasting effect of missionaries, on average, worldwide...

One morning, in a windowless, dusty computer lab lit by fluorescent bulbs, Woodberry ran the first big test. After he finished prepping the statistical program on his computer, he clicked "Enter" and then leaned forward to read the results.

"I was shocked," says Woodberry. "It was like an atomic bomb. The impact of missions on global democracy was huge. I kept adding variables to the model—factors that people had been studying and writing about for the past 40 years—and they all got wiped out. It was amazing. I knew, then, I was on to something really important."

Woodberry already had historical proof that missionaries had educated women and the poor, promoted widespread printing, led nationalist movements that empowered ordinary citizens, and fueled other key elements of democracy. Now the statistics were backing it up: Missionaries weren't just part of the picture. They were central to it...

Areas where Protestant missionaries had a significant presence in the past are on average more economically developed today, with comparatively better health, lower infant mortality, lower corruption, greater literacy, higher educational attainment (especially for women), and more robust membership in nongovernmental associations.

In short: Want a blossoming democracy today? The solution is simple—if you have a time machine: Send a 19th-century missionary."[32]

Protestant work ethic and China: Additional information

According to Slate, "Protestant Christianity has been the fastest growing religion in China."[33] Evangelical Christianity is especially growing sharply in China.[34]

Hugh Whelchel's article The Protestant Work Ethic: Alive & Well…In China declares:

Christianity has exploded in China over the last twenty years. A 2011 report from the BBC conservatively estimated there were 60 million Christians in China. Small, primarily Protestant “house churches” are especially having a strong impact on the country.

This growth in religion has accompanied China’s rapid economic growth over the last twenty years. Now the world’s 2nd largest economy, China illustrates how even a limited amount of economic freedom has the power to lift millions of Chinese out of abject poverty and build one of the strongest economies in the world.

Ferguson suggests that China is starting to supplant the West, but is doing it by becoming more Western. China is booting up several of Ferguson’s “killer apps” – especially the Protestant Work Ethic.[35]

In the former Soviet Union, a popular joke was that the workers pretended to work and the Soviet Union pretended to pay them.[36] See: Atheism and sloth
Protestantism and the Eurozone crisis

A 2011 Telegraph article said about the Eurozone Crisis: "Either way, not a single Protestant or Germanic EU country has so far needed a bailout."[37]

Atheism and economic deterioration

See: Atheism and sloth

Atheists and groupthink

See also: Atheism and groupthink

Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of individuals in which the quest for harmony/conformity within the group results in irrational and/or poor decision-making.

Homogeneous groups are more apt to engage in groupthink compared to diverse and harmonious groups (Diverse groups which engage in infighting due to member differences impede potential creativity benefits due to diversity).[38]

There are a number of notable cases of atheists engaging in groupthink (see: Atheism and groupthink).

Atheism, diversity and culture

See also: Atheism and culture

A diverse population often produces a wide variety of cultural works.

Atheism has not produced any outstanding cultural achievements and it has had a negative effect on cultures (see: Atheism and culture).

For additional information, please see:

Reason Rally 2016 and a lack of diversity

Reason Rally 2016 and a lack of gender diversity among attendants

The atheist Thunderf00t estimates that there was a 2 to 1 ration as far as men to women attending Reason Rally 2016.[39]

Reason Rally 2016 speakers and lack of satisfactory diversity

See also: Reason Rally 2016

Lyz Liddell, the Executive Director of the Reason Rally Coalition declared about Reason Rally 2016 and its lack of satisfactory diversity:

Again, I want to be careful here because I don’t want to point fingers at any one volunteer or group of volunteers. Ultimately, I’m responsible for the messages that the Reason Rally sends, and I take full responsibility for the response you received. It was not our finest moment.

We discussed how the email that you received came off as somewhat defensive in its attempts to make our speaker lineup appear diverse when it is, at the moment, a bit monochromatic. As an organization, we are upfront about the fact that, at the moment, the speaker lineup on our site is not as diverse as we want it to be. My team agreed that the key piece of information missing in the message sent to you was that we have a lot of outstanding invitations that, when accepted, will make the list of speakers much more diverse.[40]

Atheism and social justice

See: Atheism and social justice

Atheism, secular leftism, diversity and hypocrisy

See also: Atheist hypocrisy

In term of political affiliation, atheist tend to left side of the political aisle (see: Atheism and politics and Secular left).

The left emphasizes the issue of diversity in it political discourse. Yet, Christianity has far more diversity in terms of it demographic makeup than atheism. See also: Atheist hypocrisy

See also


  1. Is the Atheist Movement Dying? by [[Seth Andrews
  2. Bible translations
  3. Darwin in translation
  4. A surprising map of where the world’s atheists live, By Max Fisher and Caitlin Dewey, Washington Post, May 23, 2013
  5. Darwin in translation
  6. Bible translations
  7. Multilingual Europe
  12. AAI Position Statement - Gender Balance
  13. Khan, Razib (November 18, 2010). "Gene expression; Sex differences in global atheism, part N". Discover magazine website.
  14. Carter, Stephen L. (March 27, 2015). "The atheism gap". BloombergView.
  15. Atheism has a big race problem that no one’s talking about by Dr. Sikivu Hutchinson, Washington Post June 16, 2014
  16. The Atheism Gap By Stephen L. Carter, BloombergView, Mar 27, 2015 4:26 PM EDT
  17. American Atheism’s Diversity Problem by Samuel D. Adams
  18. in Seattle, PZ Myers Reflects Candidly on His Constituency
  19. in Seattle, PZ Myers Reflects Candidly on His Constituency
  20. 5 facts about atheists By Michael Lipka, Pew Research Forum, October 23, 2013
  21. “Nones” on the Rise - Demographics, Pew Research Forum, October 9, 2012
  22. Third Church' China's New Face of Christianity, January 2011 CBN News article
  23. Does atheism thrive on economic prosperity? Does religion prosper when people are desperate and ignorant?
  24. Why a literal reading of the Genesis is surging in the world. Why a a literal reading of the Genesis will increase in the Western World
  25. Journal of Church and State, Desecularization: A Conceptual Framework by Vyacheslav Karpov, 2010
  26. Peter L. Berger, “The Desecularization of the World: A Global Overview,” in The Desecularization of the World: Resurgent Religion and World Politics, ed. Peter L. Berger (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999)
  27. Pentecostalism – Protestant Ethic or Cargo Cult?, Peter Berger, July 29, 2010
  28. The Protestant Work Ethic: Alive & Well…In China By Hugh Whelchel on September 24, 2012
  29. The Protestant Work Ethic: Alive & Well…In China By Hugh Whelchel on September 24, 2012
  30. Christianity Today, The Surprising Discovery About Those Colonialist, Proselytizing Missionaries, January 8, 2014
  31. When Will China Become the World’s Largest Christian Country?, Slate
  32. In China, a church-state showdown of biblical proportions
  33. The Protestant Work Ethic: Alive & Well…In China by Hugh Whelchel
  34. You Pretend to work and Putin pretends to pay you
  35. Yet another country needs a bailout from the Protestant North
  36. Does Diversity in the Workplace Help or Hinder Teamwork?
  37. Even atheists bash 'Reason Rally', See the video on the web page
  38. Reason Rally 2016 Interview with Lyz Liddell