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Where are all the atheist women?

February 18, 2013

I have been keeping my eyes on the atheist census, a project of Atheist Alliance International. They claim the purpose of this census is to : to build a picture of the world’s atheists – where they are, their genders and ages, their education and religious (if any) background – and use that information to demonstrate the presence and importance of atheists in societies around the world.

It’s an interesting  and a somewhat risky exercise. Risky, because if the numbers of the census are unimpressive, then it may actually demonstrate the opposite of what they’re trying to achieve i.e. that the ‘presence and importance’ of atheists in societies around the world is not particularly significant. So, how many atheists would signify a significant presence?

Presently the atheist census sits at around 180,000. Given the current world population is a little over 7 billion, 180,000 represents about 0.0026% of the world’s population. I’m not sure what you think, but I’m not overly impressed by this number. Would you consider 180,000 a significant figure to demonstrate the ‘importance’ of atheists in our world?

As I observe the findings of the atheist data, one thing particularly stands out at me is the gender bias. It seems that modern atheism is particularly male dominated. Only about a quarter of the atheists surveyed were women. Atheism seems to appeal to men more than women. This raises a host of questions to explore why this is so. Yet, it does serve some cautionary notice to the atheist communities, particularly as they criticise ‘religion’ as being ‘anti-women’. It would seem that the atheist communities themselves have to work out why their liberating message for women has been heeded by so few. Further, a common criticism by atheists of religion is that it is irrational. Hence, by inference, according to this data it appears they criticise women, more than men, of irrationality!

I think the atheist census probably demonstrates the number of ‘active’ atheists there are in the world, and even then, it’s still not a particularly impressive finding. At this stage it appears that the project may have backfired a little. Instead of demonstrating the presence and importance of atheists in societies around the world, it seems to demonstrate that atheism is dominated by young men. How do you interpret the data of the atheist census? What other findings do you see in the data?

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One Comment
  1. My interpretation is mosts atheists in Europe don’t actually care. It’s so normal to be an atheist nobody would make a big deal out of it, so people don’t sign up.

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