In a recent survey, Gallup asked respondents whether they believed in God; believed in a universal spirit or higher power; or don't believe in either. Not surprisingly, "God disbelief" is highest among Americans living on the West coast with a strong proportion (29%) preferring instead belief in some general higher power, and 10% indicating an absence of belief in either God or a transcendental alternative.

Trends over time (below) show that belief in a traditional God has declined since 2000 (86% to 76%) with the shift towards a more general transcendental belief in some form of higher power (8% to 15%).

Despite a number of best-selling books on the topic over the past few years, an absence of belief--what might be an indicator of atheism or strong agnosticism--has remained stable and within the margin of error at roughly just 5% of Americans.