Majority of atheists and agnostics believe in the supernatural, says new UK study

Most atheists and agnostics believe in the supernatural and the existence of forces of good and evil.

That’s the headline finding of a new study on unbelief from a research team in the UK.

Prof. Stephen Bullivant, Professor of Theology and the Sociology of Religion at St Mary’s University, Twickenham led the study that conducted interviews of unbelievers in six countries around the world: the U.K., the U.S., Japan, Brazil, Denmark, and China.

Most commonly accepted beliefs among atheists, and agnostics, the report states, are the sentiment that there are ‘underlying forces’ of good and evil; that ‘there exists a universal spirit or life force’; and ‘most significant life events are meant to be and happen for a reason.’

Unbelief in God, they write, doesn’t necessarily entail unbelief in other supernatural phenomena, and only minorities of atheists or agnostics in each of the countries appear to be thoroughgoing naturalists.

Another common supposition – that of the purposeless unbeliever, lacking anything to ascribe ultimate meaning to the universe – also does not stand up to scrutiny, they write. The idea that the universe is ‘ultimately meaningless’ remains a minority view among unbelievers in all six countries.

Moreover, they write, with only a few exceptions, atheists and agnostics endorse the realities of objective moral values, human dignity and attendant rights, and the ‘deep value’ of nature, at similar rates to the general populations in their countries.