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# Atheists, Agnostics, and Apostates

Streib H, Klein C (2013)
In: APA handbooks in psychology: APA Handbook of psychology, religion and spirituality: Vol 1. Kenneth I. P, Julie J. E, James W. J (Eds); Washington D.C.: American Psychological Association: 713–728.
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Book Chapter | Published | English

Authors
Editors
Kenneth I., Pargament ; Julie J., Exline ; James W., Jones
Department
Fakultät für Geschichtswissenschaft, Philosophie und Theologie
Abteilung Theologie
Abstract:
In the scientific study of religion in general and the psychology of religion in particular, atheists and agnostics have received limited attention, while believers and converts have stood in the center of interest. More recently, however, more attention has been given to atheists and agnostics, and several researchers have recommended studying atheists and agnostics in their own right (Hood, Hill, & Spilka, 2009; Hunsberger & Altemeyer, 2006; Keysar, 2007; Kosmin & Keysar, 2007). This new interest may in part be due to indications of a considerable increase in the probability of religious nonaffiliation in the U.S. According to one recent study, this probability has risen “from between .06 and .08 in the 1970s and 1980s to almost .16 in 2006” (Schwadel, 2010, p. 318). Although the question of who are the “nones” (cf., Pasquale, 2007) should be approached with care, these groups of unaffiliates and disaffiliates likely include a number of atheists and agnostics.
Most of the research in this area takes a static and synchronic approach, contrasting belief vs. unbelief or religiosity vs. atheism/agnosticism. We believe that a more dynamic approach is called for, one that views atheism and agnosticism as processes. From the perspective of a dynamic approach, it is also necessary to include apostasy in this discussion, because people who leave their faith are in the process of a developmental change, a migration in the religious field which may eventually lead to exiting the religious domain altogether. Therefore, the three terms in the title are interrelated and need to be studied in tandem.
For a deeper understanding of atheists, agnostics, and people who deconvert eventually to atheist and agnostic beliefs, it is imperative to know their motivations, the predictors of their stance toward religion, and the effects of their religious approach on various outcomes. There are a number of particularly interesting questions about outcomes: Are the shifts to atheism, agnosticism and apostasy associated with an increase or a decrease in psychological well-being? How do these religious positions affect physical health? Do they lead to differences in preferences in the ways of coping with major life stressors? In this chapter, we address these questions, discuss the results from extant research, and suggest directions for future research. But we begin with a discussion of concepts and models, because some important questions have also been raised or re-opened on the theoretical level – questions that relate to the conceptualization of religion and spirituality in general.
Keywords
spiritual but not religious ; Religiosity ; Spirituality ; Deconvert ; Religion ; Deconversion ; Apostate ; Atheism ; Atheist ; Secular ; Apostasy ; Agnosticism ; Religiousness ; Agnostic ; Secularism ; Psychology of Religion
Year
2013
ISBN
978-1-4338-1077-0
File Name
Access Level
Open Access

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##### Cite this
Streib H, Klein C. Atheists, Agnostics, and Apostates. In: Kenneth I. P, Julie J. E, James W. J, eds. APA handbooks in psychology: APA Handbook of psychology, religion and spirituality: Vol 1. Washington D.C.: American Psychological Association; 2013: 713–728.
Streib, H., & Klein, C. (2013). Atheists, Agnostics, and Apostates. In P. Kenneth I., E. Julie J., & J. James W. (Eds.), APA handbooks in psychology: APA Handbook of psychology, religion and spirituality: Vol 1 (pp. 713–728). Washington D.C.: American Psychological Association.
Streib, H., and Klein, C. (2013). “Atheists, Agnostics, and Apostates” in APA handbooks in psychology: APA Handbook of psychology, religion and spirituality: Vol 1, ed. P. Kenneth I., E. Julie J., and J. James W. (Washington D.C.: American Psychological Association), 713–728.
Streib, H., & Klein, C., 2013. Atheists, Agnostics, and Apostates. In P. Kenneth I., E. Julie J., & J. James W., eds. APA handbooks in psychology: APA Handbook of psychology, religion and spirituality: Vol 1. Washington D.C.: American Psychological Association, pp. 713–728.
H. Streib and C. Klein, “Atheists, Agnostics, and Apostates”, APA handbooks in psychology: APA Handbook of psychology, religion and spirituality: Vol 1, P. Kenneth I., E. Julie J., and J. James W., eds., Washington D.C.: American Psychological Association, 2013, pp.713–728.
Streib, H., Klein, C.: Atheists, Agnostics, and Apostates. In: Kenneth I., P., Julie J., E., and James W., J. (eds.) APA handbooks in psychology: APA Handbook of psychology, religion and spirituality: Vol 1. p. 713–728. American Psychological Association, Washington D.C. (2013).
Streib, Heinz, and Klein, Constantin. “Atheists, Agnostics, and Apostates”. APA handbooks in psychology: APA Handbook of psychology, religion and spirituality: Vol 1. Ed. Pargament Kenneth I., Exline Julie J., and Jones James W. Washington D.C.: American Psychological Association, 2013. 713–728.
@inbook{2050070,
abstract     = {In the scientific study of religion in general and the psychology of religion in particular, atheists and agnostics have received limited attention, while believers and converts have stood in the center of interest. More recently, however, more attention has been given to atheists and agnostics, and several researchers have recommended studying atheists and agnostics in their own right (Hood, Hill, \& Spilka, 2009; Hunsberger \& Altemeyer, 2006; Keysar, 2007; Kosmin \& Keysar, 2007). This new interest may in part be due to indications of a considerable increase in the probability of religious nonaffiliation in the U.S. According to one recent study, this probability has risen {\textquotedblleft}from between .06 and .08 in the 1970s and 1980s to almost .16 in 2006{\textquotedblright} (Schwadel, 2010, p. 318). Although the question of who are the {\textquotedblleft}nones{\textquotedblright} (cf., Pasquale, 2007) should be approached with care, these groups of unaffiliates and disaffiliates likely include a number of atheists and agnostics.
Most of the research in this area takes a static and synchronic approach, contrasting belief vs. unbelief or religiosity vs. atheism/agnosticism. We believe that a more dynamic approach is called for, one that views atheism and agnosticism as processes.  From the perspective of a dynamic approach, it is also necessary to include apostasy in this discussion, because people who leave their faith are in the process of a developmental change, a migration in the religious field which may eventually lead to exiting the religious domain altogether. Therefore, the three terms in the title are interrelated and need to be studied in tandem.
For a deeper understanding of atheists, agnostics, and people who deconvert eventually to atheist and agnostic beliefs, it is imperative to know their motivations, the predictors of their stance toward religion, and the effects of their religious approach on various outcomes. There are a number of particularly interesting questions about outcomes: Are the shifts to atheism, agnosticism and apostasy associated with an increase or a decrease in psychological well-being? How do these religious positions affect physical health? Do they lead to differences in preferences in the ways of coping with major life stressors? In this chapter, we address these questions, discuss the results from extant research, and suggest directions for future research. But we begin with a discussion of concepts and models, because some important questions have also been raised or re-opened on the theoretical level -- questions that relate to the conceptualization of religion and spirituality in general.},
author       = {Streib, Heinz and Klein, Constantin},
editor       = {Pargament Kenneth I. and Exline Julie J. and Jones James W.},
isbn         = {978-1-4338-1077-0},
language     = {English},
pages        = {713--728},
publisher    = {American Psychological Association},
series       = {APA handbooks in psychology: APA Handbook of psychology, religion and spirituality: Vol 1},
title        = {Atheists, Agnostics, and Apostates},
year         = {2013},
}


TY  - CHAP
AB  - In the scientific study of religion in general and the psychology of religion in particular, atheists and agnostics have received limited attention, while believers and converts have stood in the center of interest. More recently, however, more attention has been given to atheists and agnostics, and several researchers have recommended studying atheists and agnostics in their own right (Hood, Hill, & Spilka, 2009; Hunsberger & Altemeyer, 2006; Keysar, 2007; Kosmin & Keysar, 2007). This new interest may in part be due to indications of a considerable increase in the probability of religious nonaffiliation in the U.S. According to one recent study, this probability has risen “from between .06 and .08 in the 1970s and 1980s to almost .16 in 2006” (Schwadel, 2010, p. 318). Although the question of who are the “nones” (cf., Pasquale, 2007) should be approached with care, these groups of unaffiliates and disaffiliates likely include a number of atheists and agnostics.
Most of the research in this area takes a static and synchronic approach, contrasting belief vs. unbelief or religiosity vs. atheism/agnosticism. We believe that a more dynamic approach is called for, one that views atheism and agnosticism as processes.  From the perspective of a dynamic approach, it is also necessary to include apostasy in this discussion, because people who leave their faith are in the process of a developmental change, a migration in the religious field which may eventually lead to exiting the religious domain altogether. Therefore, the three terms in the title are interrelated and need to be studied in tandem.
For a deeper understanding of atheists, agnostics, and people who deconvert eventually to atheist and agnostic beliefs, it is imperative to know their motivations, the predictors of their stance toward religion, and the effects of their religious approach on various outcomes. There are a number of particularly interesting questions about outcomes: Are the shifts to atheism, agnosticism and apostasy associated with an increase or a decrease in psychological well-being? How do these religious positions affect physical health? Do they lead to differences in preferences in the ways of coping with major life stressors? In this chapter, we address these questions, discuss the results from extant research, and suggest directions for future research. But we begin with a discussion of concepts and models, because some important questions have also been raised or re-opened on the theoretical level – questions that relate to the conceptualization of religion and spirituality in general.
AU  - Streib, Heinz
AU  - Klein, Constantin
ED  - Pargament Kenneth I.
ED  - Exline Julie J.
ED  - Jones James W.
EP  - 728
ID  - 2050070
KW  - spiritual but not religious
KW  - Religiosity
KW  - Spirituality
KW  - Deconvert
KW  - Religion
KW  - Deconversion
KW  - Apostate
KW  - Atheism
KW  - Atheist
KW  - Secular
KW  - Apostasy
KW  - Agnosticism
KW  - Religiousness
KW  - Agnostic
KW  - Secularism
KW  - Psychology of Religion
PB  - American Psychological Association
PY  - 2013
SN  - 978-1-4338-1077-0
SP  - 713
T2  - APA handbooks in psychology: APA Handbook of psychology, religion and spirituality: Vol 1
TI  - Atheists, Agnostics, and Apostates
U3  - PUB:ID 2050070
UR  - http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0070-pub-20500709
ER  -

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