A research project, the global Understanding Unbelief programme which is spearheaded by the University of Kent will present the final conclusions of its result at the Vatican City in Rome. Reports suggest the conference will run from May 28 to May 30, 2019.
The research studies the nature and diversity of unbelief across target research countries which include China, Japan, Denmark, UK, USA and Brazil. As a part of the study, the team has questioned attitudes of people on issues like life after death, astrology, what matters most to the people in life and if the ‘universe is ultimately meaningless’. Responses of the people ordered them into two category terms which are used internationally to identify unbelievers- on the one hand are the atheists and on the other there are agnostics.
Dr Lee, Senior Research Fellow in Kent’s Department of Theology and Religion said in a statement about the project: “These findings show once and for all that the public image of the atheist is a simplification at best, and a gross caricature at worst. Instead of relying on assumptions about what it means to be an atheist, we can now work with a real understanding of the many different worldviews that the atheist population includes. The implications for public and social policy are substantial — and this study also stands to impact on more everyday interactions in religiously diverse societies.”
Some of the key highlights of the research include, that in all the six countries of research, majority of unbelievers identify as having ‘no religion’; there are relatively less who chose either complete ‘atheist’ or ‘agnostic’ and rather preferred a nonreligious or a secular identity; people who were unbelievers did not necessarily make them not believe in supernatural phenomena, in fact a majority believed in at least one or more supernatural phenomena; unbelievers also seem to take insight on the quality of deep value of nature and showed higher agreement to values like finding meaning of life, etc.
According to reports, the research project will be sponsored by a grant of £2.3 million from the John Templeton Foundation. The project will allegedly erase the common stereotypes related to unbelievers. Dr Jonathan Lanman, anthropologist of the project from the Queen’s University Belfast said in a statement that the data from the project will show that the difference between believers and unbelievers ‘will not be so big after all.’