Abandon All Fear

What nobody else seems to be saying…

[Atheism] British Teens Trending Towards Knives

Posted by Lex Fear on June 26, 2009

Oh I do love statistics, I love the fact that, whatever your cause or personal vendetta, you can usually find a statistic to back you up.

I was impressed a couple years ago when I heard that 20% of Americans aged 18-25 had no religious affiliation or were atheist/agnostic.

Apparently, I should have been looking to Britain.

It turns out if you survey British children aged 13-18, the stats are even more favorable for non-theists.


Is this just an isolated case of British awesomeness or a continuing trend toward non-religiosity?

The Friendly Atheist // British Teens Trending Away from Religion

Yep, keep quoting those stats…

The new figures indicate that in the year 2007-8  there were some 277 deaths from stabbings in England & Wales alone (the highest recorded figure for 30 years). This represents an average death toll as a direct result of stabbings of over 5 for every week of the year!


  • 11-12 year olds carrying knives last year: 10% (Youth at risk)
  • 15-17 year olds admitting to carrying knives for self defence: 46% (Ian Johnston – Chief Constable British Transport Police)
  • Pupils in London Schools carrying knives: 29% (Youth Justice Board / Mori 2003)
  • Excluded Pupils carrying knives: 62% (Youth Justice Board / Mori 2003)
  • 16 year old boys admitting attacking someone with a knife – intent on causing serious injury: 1 in 5 (Youth Justice Board / Mori 2003)
  • Teenage deaths from knife attack (2004): More than 20 (Be Safe Project)

Insight Security // Knife Crime Facts

Am I implying the rise in atheism is linked to knife crime? Perhaps what I’m really implying is that you can link atheism or religion to other country statistics in anyway you see fit to demonstrate your point – something I’ve noticed the Friendly Atheist is occasionally fond of doing.

Question Everything – 1 Thes 5:21

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8 Responses to “[Atheism] British Teens Trending Towards Knives”

  1. Rob F said

    Correlation does not imply causation.

  2. Richard Wade said

    While I agree that statistics are often misused to imply one thing causing another, I do not see that in the example you have quoted from Friendly Atheist. He seems to be simply expressing his happiness that the percentages of young non-theists in the U.S. and in Britain apparently are increasing. He did not attempt to link one fact with another.

  3. Lex Fear said


    There are multiple examples from previous posts on his blog. Maybe I was being a little disingenuous by not including a link to an example but if you require one they can be found.

  4. Cecilieaux said

    When I lived in Britain, in the late 1970s, I was astounded by how profoundly irreligious the country had become. I’m assuming things have continued the same way.

    I was also surprised how little remains in Britain of the two hangups we Americans inherited (caught?) from the Brits: Puritanism and Victorianism.

    Conclusions about statistics are best drawn over time. Any given snapshot may be a fluke.

  5. Lex Fear said


    I don’t really think anyone should draw solitary conclusions from statistics, even over long periods of time. They can be a helpful tool in analyzing scenarios and causation but they should always be treated as part of an overall summary. Statistics are a hard thing to do right and should be handled carefully. Most statistics I’ve seen can be debunked with simple reasoning but for some reason people treat any statistical correlation drawn as authority and gold.

    With regards to American inheritance of British hangups – I think it’s been pointed out before and I find it puzzling and ironic how in America, where there is a constitutional separation of church and state, politicians appeal to Christian sensibilities, the majority view is of America as a Christian nation. Whereas in the UK, where there is no such constitution and the government is legally and structurally involved with the church, politicians dare not inject religion into their rhetoric, most Christians see church and state as a separate affair and the majority would not consider Britain a Christian nation.

    I actually prefer the British approach to church and state – there is a lot less animosity from mainstream in the UK – although we do seem to have a problem with American culture and ideas seeping into our country. It’s kind of irritating to see people employ American cultural solutions when it’s clear that the solution is for an American problem.

    A bit like trying to watch British actors follow an unedited/unadapted script from an American TV show – it’s not a pretty sight.

  6. While it is true that correlation does not imply causation it is also true that
    a. humans are one seriously screwed up species and
    b. the philosophical framework to which this seriously screwed up species subscribes deeply influences how they act.
    Consequently, if human beings believe X they will act in accordance with the principles of X. This by no means implies that all Christians are good, or all Atheists are knife wielding sociopaths. What it does indicate is that if there is a natural tendency in the human race towards violence, and if that natural tendency is not checked by some powerful belief in the equality and goodness of man (or if it is fueled by frustration, antipathy towards others, or fanatical convictions of the rectitude of one’s own cause) it will most likely result in bloodshed.

  7. Cecilieaux said

    “Consequently, if human beings believe X they will act in accordance with the principles of X.”

    Bollocks, as you folk say. There is absolutely no evidence of this and plenty of evidence to the contrary. What people say they believe and how they act is utterly independent.

    Seen anyone, ever, “turn the other cheek” in societies replete with Christians?

    Or how do you explain that millions continue to smoke when, incontrovertibly, cigarettes are harmful?

    Or what about women who dress provocatively yet claim to be prim and proper?

  8. Hannah said

    Most statistics comment on how church is shrink but in a lot of places it’s not.

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