Atheism, Agnosticism, and Irreligion

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Book Contribution

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Research on the topics of atheism, agnosticism, and irreligion has been limited during much of the last century. We explain the reasons for a lack of research in this field and discuss the recent interest in this topic. The most recent wave of research has been concentrated during the past decade and tends to look at the dual issues of who composes the religiously unaffiliated and why they choose this self-identification. Recent research has begun to take a much wider and deeper view on the subject. This includes research on particular segments of the population such as atheists, as well as understanding how the religiously unaffiliated are viewed by the broader culture. We conclude by describing important directions for future research. In particular, there is a need to break out the separate forms of irreligion and use creative new methodologies to find and study this significant portion of the population.