In response to the British Humanist Association's ad campaign on London buses, the Inductivist looked at patterns of religious service attendance and life satisfaction in the United Kingdom. He found that those who attend religious services are more satisfied than those who do not.
The GSS allows for a look at professed beliefs in addition to actual religious service attendance. Respondents have also been asked how many days each week they worried about things. Unfortunately, this question was only asked in 1996, a year when respondents' confidence in the existence of God was not inquired about. So I had to settle for a proxy question about respondents' perceptions of the Bible. The average number of days respondents reported feeling worried, by take on the Good Book (N = 959):
|Bible is...||Days worried|
|Word of God||2.70|
|Book of Fables||3.24|
Click on the graphic for greater resolution. Red shows the percentages of each group who never feel worried. Salmon shows the percentages of each group who feel worried on a daily basis.
The trend among Americans is similar to the trend among Brits. The assertion that religious folks worry too much is simply off the mark. That they remain blithely unaware when they arguably should be worrying might be a more accurate line of attack, but as I often find in exhorting friends who don't pay attention to the news to start doing so, many people do not find getting pent up about things beyond their control an attractive way to spend their time.
The humanists might also point out that the more certain one's belief in God is, the less intelligent that person tends to be. The average IQ by level of confidence in the existence of God by way of converting the mean Wordsum score of whites to an IQ of 100 with a standard deviation of 15 points (N = 6,070):
|No way to find out||106.3|
|Some higher power||103.0|
|Believe, but have doubts||100.3|
|Know God exists||97.1|
Oops, looks like agnostics tend to be more intelligent, on average, than atheists and theists alike! I am reminded (as far as questions about the supernatural are concerned) of Socrates' famous identification of his own superior wisdom in Plato's Apology, where he at least realized his own limitations.
Anyway, just as inviting others to share in your anxiety doesn't constitute much of a sales pitch, neither does informing those who do not share your beliefs that they are stupid.
How should atheists go about spreading their message? The American Humanist Association is trying a different message in DC:
“Why believe in a god?” the ads read, over a picture of a man in a Santa suit. “Just be good for goodness’ sake.”The GSS shows little difference in volunteering among the three Bible perception categories, although those who believe it to be a book of fables are almost twice as likely to have been picked up by the police (whether or not they were actually guilty of any crime) than those who believe it to be the word of God are.
So maybe the humanist groups' approaches are the best advised, even if they insinuate that becoming a non-believer will make former believers more like actual believers already are.
GSS variables used: WORDSUM, GOD, GIVCHRTY, VOLCHRTY, BIBLE, ARREST