Does studying philosophy make you an atheist?

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A Note on De Cruz's Study of Belief-Revision

A

Given that so many philosophers are atheists, you might have the impression that studying philosophy leads to atheism. Does it?

In this study, De Cruz analyzes the belief revision of philosophers of religion. She reports, "12.2% (n = 17) went from religious belief to nonbelief, often as undergraduates, when encountering philosophical objections to theism. By contrast, 9.4% (n = 13) went from agnosticism or atheism to religious belief." At first blush, this stat may seem to confirm the impression that philosophy is more likely to make you skeptical of God. However, to get an accurate analysis, we need to factor in the fact that most of the respondents were theists. That changes the analysis. In particular, she found that 17 out of 85 theists surveyed moved to non-theism. So 20% of the theists who went into the field of philosophy became atheist or agnostic. By contrast, 13 out of 33 non-theists (atheists and agnostics) surveyed moved to theism. That's 39% -- almost double.

In other words, according to the study, philosophers of religion are nearly twice as likely to move toward theism than away from theism.



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