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Closet theists

January 2013

Closet theists

Nearly 25 per cent of atheists believe in the concept of a human soul, according to a wide-ranging report commissioned by think-tank Theos.
    The 34-page report, Post-religious Britain?: the faith of the faithless, written by Nick Spencer and Holly Weldin, found that many claiming not to have a faith still demonstrated ‘patterns of religious and spiritual belief’.
    The report focused on three groups: atheists; people who never attend a religious service; and people who place themselves in the ‘no religion’ category.
    But despite their rejection of religiosity, whether in belief, behaviour or identity (or some combination of all three), more than one third of those who never attend a religious service express a belief in God or a higher power.
    Nearly a quarter of atheists believe in a human soul, and roughly one-fifth of non-religious people believe in the supernatural powers of deceased ancestors.


More people believe in an afterlife than in God, a poll of Britons born in the 1970s has found. The poll, conducted last year by the Institute of Education at the University of London, found that 49 per cent of Britons believe that there is ‘definitely’ or ‘probably’ life after death.
    Only 31 per cent have said that they believe in God, either without doubts (13 per cent), or with some doubts (18 per cent).
    The study, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, is following a group of people born in England, Scotland and Wales in spring 1970.
    An analysis of the first 2,197 responses shows that 32 per cent of interviewees were not brought up in any particular religion, and an equal number said they were raised in the Church of England. Some 14 per cent said they grew up as Christian (no denomination) and 10 per cent as Roman Catholic.
    When asked if they currently see themselves as belonging to a particular religion, 47 per cent said no, followed by 21 per cent who said the Church of England. Some 15 per cent felt they were Christian (no denomination) and 7 per cent said they were Roman Catholic.