And with respect to some virtues, much less likely. The conclusion of Prof. Reginald Bibby, who conducted the study:

The reason for this, suggests Prof. Bibby, a prominent sociologist, is that those who are involved with religious groups are being exposed to a whole range of values that are not being propagated well by any other major source. “To the extent that people are not involved in religious groups … they’re not being exposed to those interpersonal values and they’re simply not holding them as strongly,” Prof. Bibby said in an interview…

He said people who are believers are encouraged — whether by a desire to please God, or because of a fear of God — to adopt these values. “If you don’t have that as a major source in the culture then what will be the source? I think that’s where we’ve been really superficial … we’ve really been underestimating the contribution religious groups can make.”… He acknowledged that many non-believers still place a high value on morality and ethics. But he said some of that is a legacy from previous generations who held deeper religious views.

The atheist spokesman interviewed for the piece tried to broaden the definition of virtue to include “scientific inquiry,” which is clever but a smidge lame. From Bibby’s press release, read it and gloat:


The gap in “family life” is something I’ve observed anecdotally, as I’m sure many of you have, but I think that’s less a case of causation than correlation between atheism and standard lifestyle patterns in places where you’re more likely to find nonbelievers (i.e., cities). Not sure how to explain the yawning chasm in some of the virtues further on down the list, though. It makes sense that Christians in particular would put more of a premium on forgiveness, but the spread on generosity, patience(?), and concern for others is shameful.

I’m going to chalk it up to Canadian cutural differences. Viva American atheism!