I was recently pointed to this interesting survey of professional philosophers (i.e. philosophy faculty members). Of the nearly 1000 professional philosophers queried, when asked the question “God: theism or atheism?”, these were the results:
|Accept or lean toward: atheism||678 / 931 (72.8%)|
|Accept or lean toward: theism||136 / 931 (14.6%)|
|Other||117 / 931 (12.6%)|
So only 15% of the philosophers are theists or lean towards theism, while about 73% are atheists or lean towards atheism (the ‘other’ category includes such answers as: agnostic/undecided, intermediate view, another alternative, skip question, unclear question, and reject both). When you adjust the settings to include those with a PhD in philosophy (but who do not fall under philosophy faculty) the results are the same:
|Accept or lean toward: atheism||1257 / 1803 (69.7%)|
|Accept or lean toward: theism||295 / 1803 (16.4%)|
|Other||251 / 1803 (13.9%)|
While it would obviously be foolish to imply a causal link here (it is only a statistical correlation), I am curious as to why more philosophers identify with atheism than theism. This is just speculation on my part but perhaps there is a bit of statistical bias going on in this survey. What I mean is that people who study philosophy and wind up in the theist camp are perhaps more likely to become theologians than philosophers. Every academic theologian I am familiar with interacts with various fields of philosophy, so I think one could perhaps say that those with a philosophical bent, yet who also believe in a deity, might have a tendency to become theologians instead of philosophers (there are, of course, many exceptions to this sweeping generalization e.g. popular Christian apologists, William Lane Craig and Alvin Plantinga, are philosophers who are theists). In other words, academic philosophy (which is generally analytic philosophy) is what one might want to label as ‘secular’ philosophy, while academic theology encompasses theistic philosophy.
Anyway, check out the survey and peruse the questions. It’s very intriguing to catch a glimpse of the trends of philosophers in regards to specific philosophical issues.