Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Atheist Map of the UK

The Guardian has an interactive map of religious belief - or the lack thereof - in the UK.

The map is based on a survey by the think tank Theos which polled respondents on their beliefs about human origins. The map indicates the percentage of the population who agree with the proposition that 'evolution removes the need for God.' The map gives stats for each region of the country; the pie chart on the left is for the Eatern region - the most atheistic region of the country, where fully 4 out of 9 people say that evolution obviates a religious explanation for the existence of life.

Here are the regions of the country ranked by lack of religiosity:
1. Eastern - where 44% agree that 'evolution removes the need for God'
2. Southwest - 40%
2. Southeast - 40%
4. Northeast - 39%
5. Yorks and Humber - 38%
5. East Midlands - 38%
7. Northwest - 36%
7. West Midlands - 36%
9. Scotland - 34%
10. Wales - 32%
11. London - 31%
12. Northern Ireland - 28%

London's low ranking is a bit of a shocker. Could it be the large immigrant population there importing beliefs from more devout corners of the globe?

It's interesting to compare this map to the map of atheism in the US. The most obvious thing to note is that the US is way more religious than the UK. The two maps aren't 100% comparable. In fact, neither map directly depicts self-reported atheists as such: the US map shows "non-religious" population, and this UK map shows those who choose belief in evolution over belief in God, when given the choice. But those are both pretty good proxies for atheism/agnosticism. And a comparison shows that the most religious regions of the UK barely approach the least religious regions of the US: only the states of Vermont (34%) and New Hampshire (29%) have more non-believers than the most religious region of the UK, Northern Ireland (28%).

But none of that is too surprising. What I find more interesting is a possible correlation between the UK and the US. The most religious regions of the UK are Scotland and Northern Ireland. Those happen to be the source regions for the Scots-Irish who populated the the American South as early as the early 18th Century and contributed much to the development of the culture of that region, which is now the most religious in the US. Of course, the South is far more religious than Northern Ireland or Scotland is today; but could the relative strength of religion in these areas within the context of their broader societies be causally related? Is it a function of that centuries-old cultural kinship? It seems possible.


K H D and sometimes T said...

damn scots-irish. why couldn't they just bring the booze and leave the belief system? Ah well. Slainte!

Louis Irwin said...

Evolution doesn't obviate the "need" for religion any more than the heliocentric model of the Solar System, which once was perceived as a comparable threat. It looks like religion is going to be with us always.

Why is it that religion has a problem with science, but science doesn't have a problem with religion (as long as religion leaves factual conclusions to scientific analysis)?

Chachy said...

L: I thought the wording of the question was a bit weird. But: science doesn't have a problem with religion? Allow me to introduce you to Mr. Richard Dawkins.

Also, I think many creationists would say "why is it that science has a problem with religion, but religion doesn't have a problem with science (as long as science leaves questions of ultimate meaning to religion)?"

Richard said...

Note also that the most athetistic part of the UK is East Anglia, which is also where the Puritans & Pilgrims who settled New England are from. Those folks have always been on the forefront of seismic, agitating, status-quo-challenging social movements that first swept England (leading to the English Civil War) and later the US, from Puritanism to Abolitionism to Prohibition to the Civil Rights movement to Gay Rights, etc.

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K H D and sometimes T said...

damn scots-irish. why couldn't they just bring the booze and leave the belief system? Ah well. Slainte!

@K H D and sometimes T Yeah, danmn them to Hell for not being shallow careless destructive drunks like you. Yet another atheist reveals how stupid and useless they are. And damn those belief systems! It's such a sin to have a system of beliefs. What are you talking about you drunken moron? Do you mean it's bad to have orderly logical beliefs, rather than the "random" immoral "chaos" in your head? Worship your God or burn in Hell forever with no "second billionth" chance to repent. Yes criminal complainers who get chance after chance to and second after second to learn about and turn to God, it's that simple, but merciful not-simple God is patient with many of you despite your impatience with Him.

And that poll is stupid: how is simply asking a person if evolution spells this or that a "good indicator" of what a person believes? Creationists believe evolution removes the need for God too, yet you call it good? What an ignorant moron you are. Stop blogging you confusion-spreading idiot, unless you repent.

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Anonymous said...

You are absolutely incorrect with your commentary regarding Scotland. Scotland is the least religious part of the UK, NOT the most. Just look at the UK census stats, which are more reliable than this survey. Scotland is the only part of the UK to have no Sunday trading restrictions, unlike England, Wales and Northern Ireland. You are correct about Northern Ireland, however. England is noticeably more religious than Scotland

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