Churchgoers Less Likely to Believe in Ghosts

In honor of Halloween, the Pew Research Center has published an interesting post highlighting its 2009 findings about Americans’ belief in ghosts. Not surprisingly, regular churchgoers are less likely to say they they have seen or been in the presence of the apparition of a dead person:

Does going to church help keep ghosts away? It’s impossible to say, but people who often go to worship services appear to be less likely to say they see ghosts. Just 11% of those who attend religious services at least weekly say they’ve been in the presence of a ghost, while 23% of those who attend services less frequently say they have seen a ghost, the Pew Research Center survey found.

The survey also found that the share of Americans who said they had seen ghosts had doubled between 1996 and 2009—a period during which religious affiliation declined sharply.

These figures support a view we’ve expressed before—that humans inherently feel connected to something beyond their visible day-to-day reality, and that, in the absence of organized religion, that feeling tends to be expressed through superstition. A world without God is unlikely to be a more “rational” world in the sense that Richard Dawkins and Co. would like.

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