82% of Americans Believe in Afterlife

A new poll cited at the Florida Ledger finds that 82% of Americans say they believe in an afterlife.

A recent survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life showed that about 16 percent of American adults havetunnel no particular religious belief, including about 4 percent who identify themselves as atheists or agnostics. A 2007 Pew survey showed20 percent of adults ages 18 to 25 have no religious affiliation, almost double the percentage in 1986.

The number of 82% early in the article is not cited to a specific source. Assuming 18% of Americans do not believe in an afterlife, that flies in the face of the other statistics in the study because guess what? If you don’t believe in the afterlife, you don’t believe in religion. (The one exception here would be perhaps if you see Buddhism as a religion, in which case there is still an aspect of samsara or return to the world).

I was interesting in the number of 18%. It seems to make the non-religious community seem larger. It’s probably a more accurate number of non-religious people in this country. Whenever polled, the number of atheists will always remain low, like the 4% from the Pew Forum study because people don’t like to be labeled as atheists. They will say they’re not sure they believe in god, but if you call them agnostic, it bothers them. They may say they certainly don’t believe in god, but they won’t label themselves as an atheist because of its negative connotation. But regardless. If the 82% number is accurate, that means that almost a fifth of this nation doesn’t believe in the concepts of heaven and hell! That’s an incredible number.

18% of Americans

  • is equal to roughly 54 Million Americans
  • want immediate withdrawal from Iraq
  • have pre-diabetes.
  • are disabled.
  • do not own cell phones.
  • are drug/alcohol dependent.
  • of adults use Instant Messaging.
  • and get this one.

  • is equal to the estimated COMBINED population of Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • It’s a lot of people. Imagine if the combined population of Iraq and Afghanistan did not believe in an afterlife. I think that would significantly change things for the better. There are possibly that many people HERE in the U.S. who don’t believe in an afterlife.


    24 Responses to 82% of Americans Believe in Afterlife

    1. Karsten says:

      I’m interested in many beliefs, including atheism, but I wonder why annihilation seems to you like something to get very exited about? It scares the hell out of me, even though I realize that it might happen.

    2. magikent says:

      Karsten –

      Thanks for visiting. Interesting comment. I’m not sure I know what you’re referencing, however. What do you mean by annihilation? And how do I get very excited about it? If you take annihilation to mean the Christian “Hell,” then you’re wrong because I do not believe in Hell. The idea that others live their lives fearing this vision of being made to burn and do the chores of an evil demon does peak my interest.

      I’m pleased that you’re interested in many beliefs. I’d like to remind you though – atheism is not a belief but rather a lack of belief. That’s really all there is to describe atheism. It’s the lack of belief in a supernatural deity.

    3. 1984 says:

      Sigh. If atheism is a belief then abstinence is a form of sex.

    4. Eric says:

      That’s not a valid argument. Although I’ve heard it repeated thousands of times.

      Sex is not a belief system. Atheism is a belief system in that it relies on belief in materialism – or a belief that everything formed by chance. Atheism is not a lack of belief. Please spare to pass that over less intelligent people.

    5. caroline says:

      I just can’t get my head around a few things. First is the apparent existence of consciousness and free will. I mean, if I say a funny joke, or choose to do right versus wrong, or if I fall in love…all these things are due to the happenstance of how my brain got wired, and the synapses working their ion channels and neurotransmitters? In that regard, should all inelligence, whether computers or human, be considered artificial intelligence? If I am a machine, albeit a complex one, how so I seem to think, and seem to choose, and seem to create? What’s the difference between me and a brain dead vegetable, if it’s all just somesort of reflexive mechanism.

      I understand what we call gravity, matter, electromagnetism, evolution, biologic behaviors, and such, but no one can tell me WHY E=MC2, WHY F=MA, or anything like that. If there IS nothing, then there should BE nothing.

    6. […] Economy, by McCleary and Barro in Journal of Economic Perspectives, 2006). In the USA it’s 95% vs. 82%. And check out the data for European countries in Religion Statistics  (compare with the data I […]

    7. JXS says:

      I believe many atheists get narrow minded religious zealots mixed up with open minded spiritualists from reading many comments on these “free” thinking websites. Most spiritualists such as myself do not deny KNOWN scientific evidence such as evolution, old aged earth and universe and many other events. I came to my own beliefs from quite a few drastic experiences after several members of my family passed away in a short period of time (its always different when it happens to you individually), yes I was once a paranormal skeptic myself. I am fully aware I don’t expect my experiences to be proof of anything to anyone else outside of me but perhaps ethereal concepts are a part of physics we have not discovered yet. We are only in the infant stages of what we know about the laws of physics up to this point, maybe we will learn more about dark matter, dark energy, quantum mechanics, cosmic strings, other dimensions, etc in the near future. I am not talking about “blind faith” in some old man’s holy book or religion but potentially undiscovered scientific facts in the distant or maybe not so distant future. I would hope more of these “free” thinkers would actually be open-minded skeptics rather than cynical skeptics if they really are free thinkers. Most of the greatest inventors and scientists in history were considered outcasts in their day by the same type of cynics I see today. I am talking about undiscovered properies of matter and laws of physics, not magic. (maybe I’m agnostic in some way). Ah yes, who really are the “free” thinkers?

    8. william b. keith says:

      Ecclesiastes 3:18-19 says we are all beasts, that is animals, mammals, and have no pre-eminence above a beast. I believe that but not because the Bible says it. Also Ecclesiastes 10:19 says money answers all things. ALL things. If salvation is a real thing then money answers salvation. Maybe it does because according to Exodus 30:11-14 God told Moses that at least some of the Israelites could ransom their souls, have atonement for their souls, for 1/2 a shekel. If you don’t really know God exists and know your own mind and you say God does exist then I guess you are a liar. Revelation 21:8 says all liars will go to a lake of fire, the second death, which I guess means hell so if you are a believer you had better consider closely what you say about God or anything else.

      • Julie says:

        Talk about misquoting. If you are going to quote the bible, use the whole verse and keep it in context. Anyone can find or verse or two in the bible to back up whatever stance they wish to stand on-if they take the verse or portion of verse out of context. Ecclesiates 3:18-19 were a portion of what the writer was thinking. He was pondering something and had not gotten to the answer yet. Quoting that is like jumping into a conversation half way through and assuming you know what is going on. Taken by itself Ecclesiastes 10:19 does seem to say that money is the answer for everything but taken in context this verse is talking about how, for the unredeemed, money is the answer for everything.

    9. william b. keith says:

      Correction that was Exodus 30:11-15

    10. Bob G says:

      WOW, how does 18 percent spin to; a large part of the population? You must be in politics to make that jump… antheist alway looking to poke the bear..

    11. here says:


      […]82% of Americans Believe in Afterlife « The Great Realization[…]…

    12. By annihilation she means non-existence.
      Why would she mean hell? You don’t get annihilation in most peoples version of hell, you just suffer.

      So WHY the hell would anyone be happy about non-existence?
      It’s worst than hell. I would rather burn and suffer in hell for all eternity than at any point in time cease to exist.
      At least in hell my life could still have some meaning in it as I remember my memories.

    13. “open-minded skeptics rather than cynical skeptics”
      They call themselves open minded but most are pretty cynical to any idea that suggests survival of consciousness.

    14. […] as for most people not believing as a ticket to the afterlife, well, 82% of Americans believe in that afterlife. So much for non-literalism.  Padgett should get out more.   I always wonder how many Christians […]

    15. […] allegory. Good day, sir. [O RLY? You may hold a high view of your fellow theists, but here are some poll results showing that they really do believe in the ridiculous crap and don't take them as […]

    16. […] Like Animals: That Joke Was HYSTERICAL! – Daily Squee – Cute Animals182% of Americans Believe in Afterlife « The Great Realization […]

    17. Travis says:

      The idea of an afterlife makes no sense to me.. I don’t see a mechanic in materialism that can allow it. It is such a depressing thought to not exist, but also, it’s not like I’ll be trapped in a room of darkness forever or anything.. I just wont be able to experience it.. the fact that I can experience a God (one way or another, spiritual, sensual etc.) and that I can’t imagine non-existence allows me to believe that is a humans fate. I have began a spiritual path in hopes of comforting myself, so far nothing.. unless it has to do with the new consciousness studies.. for instance Erwin Schrödinger believed consciousness was non-material, and he got a noble prize in Physics for quantum entanglement principle.. and then Dr. Eccles also Noble prize in neurophysiology (I think that was his subject) also thought consciousness was separate from the body.. so I guess I’ll find out one day.. or I’ll never know.. comforting..

    18. John says:

      Go to http://www.victorzammit.com You will see some empirical data.

    19. JXS says:

      “So WHY the hell would anyone be happy about non-existence?
      It’s worst than hell. I would rather burn and suffer in hell for all eternity than at any point in time cease to exist.
      At least in hell my life could still have some meaning in it as I remember my memories.”

      I disagree with that comment in the most strongest sense. In non-existence you would not be aware of what you’re allegedly missing out on, whether it’s the ‘good’ or ‘bad’. I and most other people would take oblivion over eternal torment any day, even those of us who hope for the continuation of consciousness after this life is up.

    20. Konrad Yona Riggenmann says:

      “So WHY the hell would anyone be happy about non-existence?
      It’s worst than hell. I would rather burn and suffer in hell for all eternity than at any point in time cease to exist.
      At least in hell my life could still have some meaning in it as I remember my memories.”

      I don’t know who wrote this amazing comment but I think it was written in a nice, well-tempered apartment with a cup of coffee besides the keyboard. And not in a state of racking toothache or a headache driving you crazy or in a recess during a waterboarding interrogation, or after hanging on the infamous Boger-swing of sadist SS guard Boger in Auschwitz.
      However, the question the comment starts with is absolutely right, of course: No one will ever be happy about his non-existence, since to a non-existent being neither happiness exists nor the desire for it, nor nice cups of coffee, racking toothache, nor the desperate need to reply to amazing web comments …

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