Wednesday, April 23, 2008 9:54 PM
A Survey for Nonbelievers
This is a voluntary survey for people who no longer believe in God?if they once did?a minority group that is terribly misunderstood, and too often maligned.
If you participate, your voice may help others who struggle to let go of faith, worried that someone might disapprove. In a world hostile to nonbelievers, it takes courage to speak out?but that's the point. We need to speak out.
By participating in this survey, you confirm that you do so of your own free will, and you grant free use of the material that you provide, which may be edited for a book. There is a provision for you to remain anonymous, if you wish.
If you are not sure how to answer a question, please don't let that stop you from participating?just skip it and keep going.
I hope you'll use these questions as an opportunity to say how you feel and what you have experienced as a nonbeliever in America. Charts and graphs are good, and have their place, but the goal of this survey is to reveal the human element of nonbelievers. Maybe that makes this less a scientific project than a human project, but that's all right.
I hope you'll decide to be a part of this journey.
Please return this survey no later than May 31, 2008
1. What religion or religions were you raised in, if any?
2. Do you believe in anything supernatural, for example, ghosts, spirits, angels?
3. How do you define yourself in terms of belief?for example, atheist, agnostic, freethinker, nonbeliever, skeptic?
4. To specifically answer a common misconception: If you don't believe in God, does that mean you believe in the opposite of God, and worship Satan?
5. Another common misconception is that atheists believe in science. The keyword is believe, and some people insist that science is a form of religion. (Not scientology, just science.) How do you respond to that?
6. When did you change from believer to nonbeliever, what changed your mind, and what was your moment of truth?
7. Does your family know you don't believe in God? What about your friends? How do they treat you? How do you deal with holidays?
8. When you gave up God, did you lose friends? Please explain your experience.
9. Did lack of belief cost you your job, or anything else? For example, do you feel you lost a promotion because you stopped socializing with your boss in a religious setting?
10. What is the meanest, most hurtful thing someone did to you after discovering that you don't believe in God?
11. What is the kindest, most generous thing someone did to you after discovering that you don't believe in God?
12. A common prejudice is that people can't tell what's good without religion as a guide. If there's no reward or punishment after life ends, why be good?
13. Did you stop being kind to people when you realized you didn't need to get to heaven? How do you behave toward others?
14. Did you stop giving to charity or volunteering your time when you stopped feeling pressure to do it because of your religion? Do you help more, less, or about the same as before?
15. Isn't life meaningless without God? Believers think God has a purpose for them, and this gives them a reason to get up in the morning?to fulfill their purpose. What gives your life meaning? Do you have a purpose? Do you need one?
16. Do you believe in an afterlife? If so, please explain. If you do not believe in an afterlife, what are your views on death? Does the prospect of not existing frighten you?
17. When troubled, religious people are comforted by imagining that God listens to them and cares. Who or what comforts you? How do you deal with disappointment and loss?
18. Are you happier without religion? Do you worry more, or less, now that you don't believe there's a God looking out for you? How has your outlook changed?
19. Do you consider yourself spiritual but not religious? If so, how do you define your spirituality?
20. Religion comes with traditional ceremonies for birth, coming of age, marriage, and death. How are you going to mark these milestones with your loved ones?
21. How do you feel about the status of religion in the United States?
Four multiple choice questions, and we're done:
[Please read every option and mark all the ones that answer the question for you.]
22. In your opinion, what is God?
1) the one and only supreme, supernatural being
3) a force in the universe that may have no bodily form
6) consciousness, including Jung's collective unconscious, that we can tap for information or help, often while asleep and in the dream state
7) the thing that binds us all together and makes us one with the universe
8) myth, fantasy, and fiction, just like abracadabra and alakazam, open sesame and bippity-boppity-boo
9) real magic, and the only real magic words are Amen, Jesus, and God, and they're especially potent when used this way: in Jesus' name, help me Jesus, God bless you, one nation under God, in the name of God, and in God we trust
10) the answer to all your questions?how else do you explain ghosts?
11) an imaginary friend
12) Santa Claus for grownups
13) something all good people believe in
14)something only stupid people believe in
15) the universe itself, and we are a part of it, like the branches of a tree
16) one of many supreme, supernatural beings or forces completely beyond our comprehension
17) something we must worship, follow, and obey, or else it will hurt us, either now or after death or both
18) something that will reward us either now or after death or both, if we worship, follow, and obey
19) all of the above
20) none of the above?write your own response if you want
21) only those items I've marked
22) the ones I have marked plus [add your own response]
23. What is atheism?
1) lack of belief in God, specifically, admitting there is no evidence for God and therefore taking the stance that until the evidence is presented, God is not real and it makes no sense to believe in God, and not believing in any substitute, either
2) belief in science
3) belief in Satan
4) an excuse to be greedy
5) an abomination
6) asking for trouble
7) there might be something we could call God, but I think it's unlikely
8) there's just no such thing as God, period
10) the natural state of human beings
11) admitting that we are just not smart enough to know everything about everything
12) none of the above?write your own response if you want
13) all of the above
14) only the items I've marked
15) the ones I have marked plus [add your own response]
24. What is agnosticism?
1) saying I can't know one way or the other if there's a God, even though I'm fairly sure there's nothing out there
2) saying that since I can't know if there's a God, I'd rather be safe than sorry
3) the polite form of atheism
4) the wimpy form of atheism
5) believing firmly in God but not in any one of the monotheistic religions
6) believing firmly in something or someone or multiple somethings or someones that could be construed to be a god or gods, but not in the God that people usually seem to mean when they say, Do you believe in God?
7) not knowing God on a first-name basis
8) believing only the good stuff?nonviolent, loving, and tolerant?in the Bible
9) discounting the violent, cruel parts of the Bible as historical artifact
10) believing in a nice God that fills the role of imaginary friend
11) believing it's best not to tempt fate in case God is real, and wrathful
12) a stepping stone on the path from believer to unbeliever, sort of like limbo in reverse
13)admitting that we are just not smart enough to know everything about everything, and being humble about it
14) none of the above?write your own response if you want
15) all of the above
16) only the items I've marked
17) the ones I have marked plus [add your own response]
25. What is belief in God?
1) knowing in your heart that something is true even though there is no evidence
2) respecting your elders, and all authority figures
3) old time religion, tradition
4) doing good deeds
5) behaving in a civil manner, because without religion we'd have nothing but chaos
8) my reason for living
9) guidance in my everyday life, and especially in times of trouble
10) how I know that I have a purpose
11) having a friend who is always there for me
12) feeling euphoric while praying or at church and just knowing?trusting?that I am in good hands and everything will be OK
13) admitting that we are just not smart enough to know everything about everything, and being humble about it
14) a harmless fiction with beneficial consequences
15) a harmful fiction with terrible consequences
16) none of the above?write your own response if you want
17) all of the above
18) only the items I've marked
19) the ones I have marked plus [add your own response]
Paperwork and Permissions
Thank you for participating in this survey. The following information will be used to give readers a general idea of who responded?what age groups, what occupations, and so on. The information will not be presented in a way that would allow readers to identify any one person, unless you explicitly grant permission to use your name when asked below.
a. Do you grant permission to use your answers to this survey in composing an article and/or a book for publication?
Please check: ____YES ____NO
b. Please indicate your gender: ____MALE ____FEMALE
c. Please indicate your age:
____teens ____20s ____30s ____40s ____50s ____60s ____70s ____80s
d. Please indicate your occupation ___________
(Full-time students put ?student.? Retirees please say what you're retired from, such as ?retired bricklayer? or ?retired dentist? or ?retired teacher.?)
e. Please indicate your highest level of education (school of hard knocks counts, too!):
____High School ____Trade School ____Associates Degree
____Bachelors Degree ____Masters Degree ____Doctorate
____Doctor of Medicine ____Juris Doctorate Other?indicate____________
f. Please indicate the State that you live in. __________________
g. Please indicate the city or town of your residence. ___________________
h. Please give your name (optional) _________________________
i. Please indicate whether it is OK to use your name in any publications or media projects that may result from this project.
____GRANT PERMISSION TO USE MY NAME ____DENY PERMISSION
j. If you deny permission, would it be OK to use your initials?
Your Contact Info: ________________________
RETURN SURVEY TO: [address removed]
PO Box 323