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The Rise of Atheism in America


Society & Culture  (tags: religion, society, atheism, usa, politics, culture, education )

Cal
- 865 days ago - theweek.com
The number of disbelievers is growing, but they remain America's least trusted minority. Why?



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Comments

Michael M. (58)
Friday April 13, 2012, 6:12 pm
The most ancient ways only recognized that whatever spirit exists, it is wholly within the physical individual.
Thus the stories were about the animals or plants, and the fact that humans sometimes lost their understanding of relationship.
I could elaborate, but from Shinto's appropriation of Kamui, spirits of place in a fiery quaking land to the great grasslands, to all the human peoples of North America (the appellations translated as great spirit were sometimes singularized in response to the alien missionaries. Others meant the wind. Spirit itself, like the Sanskrit "Atman" meant breath. The Tibetans had powers of place. All these meant that strange ecosystems had inhabitants unfamiliar to the young and tothose who are strangers to those places. As you know it can be dangerous to interact with an animal you don't know.

No separate "gods" seem to have entered the mind of men until agricultural activity and population saturation caused intraspecies differences. When men imagined gods separate from the very real forces around, we lost our connection, our respect, our reverence for the life around us.

Theism might be the word connoting the real and now pervasive problem. In work I did with some cultures, I found the nontheistic, if I may define those who knew that the spirit, the breath, the life, is the power,to be the ones to retain knowledge of relationship, and respect and reverence for the earth and all others who are our relatives each in our mortal journey.

Even Javeh, one of the Elohim, made a contract with a people, merely stating that they were not to give respect toany other than this fire spirit.
The Djinni, like Coyote, and others capricious, often were not elevated to god status.

In a certain book called Job, Satan or Shaitan, well translated as the adversary, was only another member ofthe Elohim who questioned Javeh's boasting about one of his contractees. When Job asked the whirlwind (as you may know old JHVH appeared , like the Djinni, in this form to those who interpreted the capricious worrisome world - who sought to assuage their fear with superstitious sacrifice and worship), all it had for him was unanswerable questions - which it did not itself answer.

Perhaps as atheists might agree, there is no safe haven, no answer.

We do know that true believers are the most intractable fighters, sometimes holding grudges down millenia. Whether they get 72 virgins or a harp, they just might be telling themselves santa claus stories.

Fear has its value, but not for cultures/societies that require the sacrifice of this one beautiful marvelous experience of life.

Religion wrongfully arrogates our sense of being sibling with all that lives, child of the earth. The oldest ways contained more understanding of life.
Coyote , anansi and others are equally valid in their place.
 

Michael M. (58)
Friday April 13, 2012, 6:28 pm
Having looked at statistics of religious belief in America, it can be found that around 150 years past, considerably less than 1/2 of Americans believed in a supernatural while recently far over 65% do. Although I do not have the references handy, I had to study this as it was tangential to some work I assisted in for another's PhD. So it's out there, and I apologize for being too lazy to dig through old files.

Thus the following contention:

The headline is inaccurate.
 

Agnes N. (717)
Friday April 13, 2012, 6:41 pm
Thanks Cal..good to know
 

Susanne R. (249)
Friday April 13, 2012, 11:03 pm
If so many people are leaving religion primarily as a backlash against the religious Right, couldn't they more accurately be referred to as the "religious Wrong"? Obviously, they're doing something wrong if people would rather not believe at all than accept what they're teaching. The Lord wanted people to come to Him, not run in the opposite direction.
 

patrica and edw jones (190)
Saturday April 14, 2012, 2:25 am
Religion controls the masses. You do not have to have a religion to believe that there is a Loving Creator/God. Religion has brought nothing but madness, intolerance and destruction to Humanity - not because of the religion itself - but the power that enhances it in the hands of Churche leaders and despots. Native peoples did not hold sway with such nonsense - they knew in themselves that there was a greater Spirit/being they could turn to in times of need. Today people are disillusiioned by what they see as separatism rather than there being unification in religion. We need to seek out our own personal road less travelled and let others do likewise without interference or malice.
 

Past Member (0)
Saturday April 14, 2012, 2:40 am
interesting
 

pam w. (191)
Saturday April 14, 2012, 6:33 am
Theists don't like us because (a) we prosper without being struck down by lightning bolts, etc, and (b) they can't be trusted themselves. If you believe that ONLY commandments from a sky god can FORCE "morality" on people, you tend toward suspicion of those who don't follow those commandments and who don't fear that sky god.

I ASSURE you that the numbers of atheists ARE growing and that we are "coming out" in large numbers.

I also assure you that you know more of us than you think you do....we're the last "silent" minority, simply because it's expedient to keep quiet in many situations.

But we're here....and we're not going away.
 

Susanne R. (249)
Saturday April 14, 2012, 6:58 am
Can't send you a green star yet, Pam, but I applaud your comment.
 

pam w. (191)
Saturday April 14, 2012, 7:18 am
Thanks, Susanne!

If there is ANYONE who doesn't believe religious prejudice exists in the US...I challenge them to answer this question...Could an atheist be elected President? OF COURSE NOT!

There are terrifying times for non-theists! Religious people are increasingly blatant about wanting their particular brand of "faith" in the White House. Look at all the hate-based flapdoodle about Obama being a Muslim. Look at what's been written about Romney's Mormonism. Etc.

We do NOT need any more religion in Washington....and those of us who don't believe in it certainly don't need to be even more marginalized because of our freedom from faith being eroded by those who see themselves as having a mandate from heaven!
 

Alexa R. (333)
Saturday April 14, 2012, 9:16 am
Don't know what the stats are in the USA, but I just happen to know what they are for the UK. For the UK it is an EXTREMELY silent 'minority' going under the name of 'Christian', but who belongs to no church or does not attend church either. My guess is that the Christians have in actual fact already joined the UK's minorities and that Atheism is the UK's vast majority in 2011.

"2011 Census Polls

In a poll conducted by YouGov in March 2011 on behalf of the BHA, when asked the census question ‘What is your religion?’, 61% of people in England and Wales ticked a religious box (53.48% Christian and 7.22% other) while 39% ticked ‘No religion’.

When the same sample was asked the follow-up question ‘Are you religious?’, only 29% of the same people said ‘Yes’ while 65% said ‘No’, meaning over half of those whom the census would count as having a religion said they were not religious.

Less than half (48%) of those who ticked ‘Christian’ said they believed that Jesus Christ was a real person who died and came back to life and was the son of God.

Asked when they had last attended a place of worship for religious reasons, most people in England and Wales (63%) had not attended in the past year, 43% of people last attended over a year ago and 20% of people had never attended. Only 9% of people had attended a place of worship within the last week.

The Humanist Society of Scotland commissioned a separate poll asking the Scottish census question, ‘What religion, religious denomination or body do you belong to?’. In response, 42% of the adult population in Scotland said ‘None’.

When asked ‘Are you religious?’ 56% of the same sample said they were not and only 35% said they were."
 

William Y. (54)
Saturday April 14, 2012, 10:09 am
My comment at the site:
This is the point whether Odin or any other god, if one is only moral because he fears eternal punishment, then he is not moral. One should be moral since all humans are of one species and deserve fair treatment. I don't, rob, rape, murder, assault, sleep with another's wife, or bear false witness, not because some sky-daddy says it it wrong and condemns me to eternal damnation, but because i am a humanist believing that all are equal and all should have what they own, not have to fear others and and not take anything from another be it a possession, or the life of another or the lack of respect for another by humiliating or bearing false witness against.
 

Roger M. (0)
Saturday April 14, 2012, 10:42 am
Interesting post. Thank you.
 

Vicky P. (463)
Saturday April 14, 2012, 12:51 pm
everyone should try to get along despite religious views or lack of religious views.. atheists shouldn't attack religious people and vise versa.
 

LD B. (40)
Saturday April 14, 2012, 3:39 pm
"Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because, if there be one, he must more approve the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear" -- Thomas Jefferson
 

Myron Scott (70)
Saturday April 14, 2012, 4:34 pm
When it doesn't simply bore me, militant atheism makes me almost as nervous as militant religion. Both are beyond science, guilty of vast hubris, and often profoundly authoritarian. And I am agnostic. No wonder militant atheism makes believers crazy.
 

John S. (300)
Saturday April 14, 2012, 4:44 pm
Sounds more like an agnostic - I guess a lot of people confuse the ideas.
 

Frank S. (457)
Saturday April 14, 2012, 5:29 pm
To deny all belief in "the supernatural" is to deny all valid scientific research into the invisible, yet “presently unknown matter out of which the entire universe is inherently made!” Science is making exciting discoveries and advances into the dark energy and dark matter which exists in invisibly. Sadly, the extreme right wing has succeeded in making Christianity very unattractive to the masses, by practicing openly the opposite of what Christianity is really supposed to stand for, which is to show love and mercy towards one another!

As far as changing ideas and beliefs, it is said that in the end times there will be “a falling away” from the teachings of Christianity, but this will affect all people, including the religious and non-religious. There is also “the separation” occurring during the same time period, this is simply the continuing battle between the light and darkness (good and evil) within an individual’s life for dominance. This will also affect “all peoples religious and non-religious” as this really boils down to “a personal choice” of what one chooses to believe in while they are passing through the world. As far as the “trust factor” I think that people naturally gravitate to what they are familiar with and away beliefs and people whom they do not agree with.


 

NicoleAWAY W. (625)
Saturday April 14, 2012, 6:03 pm
thanks for the interesting post Cal
 

pam w. (191)
Saturday April 14, 2012, 6:07 pm
I disagree, Frank. OF COURSE we know science has "invisible yet presently unknown matter." Nowhere is there ANY scientific evidence that this "unknown matter" is a big friend in the sky who watches us and receives prayer, which gives humans the power to manipulate the divine, etc. Science understands very well that NATURAL forces are at work....not SUPER natural ones.

And...."as far as changing ideas and beliefs," I'm convinced that, as science continues making wonderful discoveries in the areas of astrophysics and such, intelligent people everywhere will see the fallacies of myths and magic. We no longer need sky gods to explain the mysteries of life on earth, etc.

Religion ruins everything....it's divisive, deceitful and ultimately drives people apart. The "right wing" has nothing to do with that. The fault is in religion itself.





 

LD B. (40)
Saturday April 14, 2012, 6:18 pm
IMO, Pam, the "right wing" has very much to do with it, as it is they who pander to the Christian right so as to curry favor at the ballot box.
 

pam w. (191)
Saturday April 14, 2012, 6:30 pm
Oh...agreed, LD...in the sense that they pander to those who are already theists or who are "wanna be" theists. But I was an atheist LONG before those people began making noise and don't know anyone who would say that the "fundies" have caused them to doubt what they were taught as children.

So...we're both right in that fundamentalists cause DISGUST with organized religion....but I don't think they cause DOUBT.
 

pam w. (191)
Saturday April 14, 2012, 7:34 pm
SPAM
 

Myron Scott (70)
Saturday April 14, 2012, 7:49 pm
Centuries of palaver about God/No God have left us a species actively annihilating whole ecosystems and launching a sixth great extinction era, the first not caused by natural (non-human) processes, while remaining incapable of balancing our reproduction rates with a fair sharing of our resources. Christ's sacrifice
eventually yielded the Crusades, the Inquisition and this century's squalid pederasty scandals and religious terrorism. The Enlightenment rebellion against religion and in favor of science quickly brought us the guillotine, followed over the next two centuries by such betrayals of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity as Stalinism, the Maoist Cultural Revolution and the horrors of Pol Pot.

It appears, then, that NEITHER God or No God can save us from ourselves, our self cherishing and our indifference to other humans and other sentient species. The whole argument is irrelevant.
 

Myron Scott (70)
Saturday April 14, 2012, 7:52 pm
oops, neither God nor BNo God
 

Myron Scott (70)
Saturday April 14, 2012, 7:53 pm
OK, I give up!
 

pam w. (191)
Saturday April 14, 2012, 8:01 pm
The whole argument is irrelevant.

AU CONTRAIRE....It's critically relevant! "No god can save us from ourselves".......

Without religion, we'd have to face up to the fact that nobody WILL save us except ourselves. The American Humanists have addressed this issue over time and have beautiful guidelines for living gently on the planet.

The problem is that theists have the mistaken idea that the earth was created for US...wrong, of course, and deadly in its application.

Without "GOD" to take care of things, we discover we need to grow up and get working to save our home. Prayers aren't going to work....it's just not that easy.

Because of our innately social nature, the elimination of religion leaves a vacancy in the human psyche...a vacancy which can and would be filled by non-religious ETHICS....given half a chance.

 

LD B. (40)
Saturday April 14, 2012, 9:07 pm
The right, Pam, is not seeking to either raise or erase doubt, but rather simply attempting to gain at all costs the votes that it desperately needs from the fundamentalists.
 

Myron Scott (70)
Saturday April 14, 2012, 9:54 pm
That's utopian nonsense, Pam. Where's your evidence that atheism renders the average human less greedy, ego-driven, self-deceived than religion? Your claim that the end of religion would "leave a vacancy in the human psyche" strikes me as mere psycho-babble, no more scientifically based than fantastic notions of blood as wine. It seems to rely on the rather old-fashioned liberal notion that human nature is somehow basically good. Where the hell's the evidence for that? India is probably the most religious culture on the planet; China remains officially and (just ask Tibetan Buddhists) fiercely atheistic, yet both now are bent on a development path that precisely resembles that of the US and Europe, the prime movers in ecological destruction, colonialism and neo-colonialism and dog-eat-dog capitalism. Who was more "ethical," Gandhi
(religious) or Stalin (atheist)? Of course, examples 180 degrees the opposite can be found. That there are both vile and highly ethical atheists and vile and highly ethical religious believers does not invalid my assertion, but it rather destroys yours.

I remain convinced that the God/No God debate is irrelevant to ethics, and (to quote Jefferson Airplane)m "It doesn't mean shit to a tree."


 

Patricia N. (8)
Sunday April 15, 2012, 1:33 am
Well at least here on Care2 we can admit how we really feel. I consider myself more of an agnostict than an atheist. I wouldn't join any kind of organized religion if you paid me a million (as the old saying goes). Always thought a walk in the woods was more spiritual than going to a building on Sunday. I've stopped studying the religions of the world and try to live life with compassion for all beings and try to do no harm. And, yes, the rise of atheism is a backlash. Perhaps it will take another hundred years before atheists and agnostics are accepted in politics and people can feel free to voice their feelings. Love, compassion and ethical behavior should be the new religion.
 

Quanta Kiran (65)
Sunday April 15, 2012, 7:43 am
Thanks.
 

Patrick Donovan (319)
Sunday April 15, 2012, 8:48 am
"Morality is doing what is right regardless of what you are told.
Religion is doing what you are told regardless of what is right."

I am an atheist, the above is a summary of my concern about religion.
 

pam w. (191)
Sunday April 15, 2012, 9:21 am
Myron...could you discuss your disagreement in terms other than insulting ones? You said "It appears, then, that NEITHER God or No God can save us from ourselves, our self cherishing and our indifference to other humans and other sentient species. The whole argument is irrelevant."

You didn't say anything more than that and IF, in fact, you INTENDED that statement to apply to "ethics"...then I agree with you. But you didn't say that.

 

Allan Yorkowitz (453)
Sunday April 15, 2012, 11:58 am
I believe in a greater power than us. I believe we are not alone in the universe. I believe that as matter, we cannot be destroyed. I believe what I believe.
 

Myron Scott (70)
Sunday April 15, 2012, 12:40 pm
Sorry Pam. We agree on more issues than we disagree on,
from what I can tell, and I did not intend any personal insult. I
think, however, you're mistaking a strong logical statement for
insult.

I would have thought that the context in which I used the word
"irrelevant" obviously was an ethical - and also a practical
political - one. have thought the ethical context was clear from
your direct response to my original comment, in which I also
used the term "irrelevant" in the same way. I never stated that
there can be no ethics without religion. Of course there can be.
If that is all your comment was intended to convey, then my
latter post was redundant; but I still don't see how it was insulting.
I repeat, it was not intended as a personal insult.

Overall, it seemed to me, that your comment went further than that,
however, and proposed atheism as a necessary element of any
truly liberating ideology. If that in fact is your position, my response
was not redundant but was, in my opinion, mild. One of the secular
saints of the "New Atheism," Thomas Jefferson (a Deist, not an
atheist, BTW) wrote to Benjamin Rush (a Christian advocate of
religious liberty): "I have sworn upon the Altar of God eternal
hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."
Demanding that people NOT believe something that is not
susceptible to empirical or scientific proof, like demanding that
people do believe in some such thing, to my mind is a form of
"tyranny over the mind." In my view, it also is an unwinnable
and distracting political cause.

Finally, by way of full disclosure, I am an agnostic. I may
even be a step beyond that, since I don't know what in hell
"God" means unless the person using the term defines it for me.
I do know, however, that for me agnosticism was a considered
choice made in my mid-teens after considerable thinking and a
fair amount of reading about all the major options, including
atheism. Let me make that clear: I consciously rejected standard
definitions of "God" and atheism equally, based on logic and my
understanding of the utility and limitations of empirical knowledge.
Many years on now, I still reaffirm that decision. So, I have a bias
in my reaction to this article and also to the rise of militant or
proselytizing atheism. To me, like "God," it is just another dogma
that is not susceptible to scientific methodology, in part because
it is notoriously difficult to prove a negative. So it is "irrelevant"
in yet one more context; it is irrelevant to me and how I live my
life.
 

Jane H. (133)
Sunday April 15, 2012, 12:52 pm
i agree that the relious right has turned many of us against organized religion. Also the fight going on in the main churches over these issues. The issues seem plain to me, having grown up as a believer in the church----we are all created in God's image ( and are therefore equal)....and there is nothing wrong with love.
 

Frank S. (457)
Sunday April 15, 2012, 1:11 pm
“All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree.”- Albert Einstein

 

Past Member (0)
Sunday April 15, 2012, 2:13 pm
No, Atheists Don't Have to Show "Respect" for Religion

'Progressive believers often ignore religious differences in the name of tolerance. But this ecumenicalism promotes anti-atheist hostility and shows a disregard for the truth.'

How Atheism Can Make the World Better By Tearing Down Religious Irrationality

Atheism is not just about disproving religious belief; it's also a burgeoning social justice movement intent on tearing down the social structures that perpetuate injustice.
 

Mike m. (9)
Sunday April 15, 2012, 2:20 pm
"I contend we are both Atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours." --Stephen Henry Roberts

"You can safely assume that you have created god in your own image when it turns out he hates all the same people you do." --Anne Lamott

I've been an Atheist (Madalyn Murray O'Hair school), and an Agnostic. Now I'm in a 12-Step Program, and I've found a Higher Power who will do (for now). Just wanted to share 2 of my favorite quotes. Play nice, all! :)
 

Past Member (0)
Sunday April 15, 2012, 2:21 pm
"I cannot imagine a god who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own -- a god, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty. Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotism." [Einstein]

"Say what you will about the sweet miracle of unquestioning faith, I consider a capacity for it terrifying and absolutely vile." [Kurt Vonnegut]

"Religion is based . . . mainly on fear . . . fear of the mysterious, fear of defeat, fear of death. Fear is the parent of cruelty, and therefore it is no wonder if cruelty and religion have gone hand in hand. . . . My own view on religion is that of Lucretius. I regard it as a disease born of fear and as a source of untold misery to the human race." [Bertrand Russell]

"Religion was invented when the first con-man met the first fool." - Mark Twain
 

Frank S. (457)
Sunday April 15, 2012, 3:31 pm
It is true, that a little philosophy inclineth man's mind to atheism, but depth in
philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion.
~ Francis Bacon

Atheist's don't exist. If you ask anyone why they are an atheist they will proceed
to explain their religion of non belief.
~ Monksarnn
 

Lauren Berrizbeitia (68)
Sunday April 15, 2012, 3:39 pm
I find the mistrust of atheists fascinating. I have been one since age 11, but have always felt deeply connected to the patterns of life, to wanting to be part of a constructive process, to caring, to ethical behavior, to beauty to helping people when I am able. Why do some people think only the fear of god can make a person want to be good? It doesn't seem to make some religious people good, only rigid and judgmental.
 

Past Member (0)
Sunday April 15, 2012, 4:02 pm
"... If you ask anyone why they are an atheist they will proceed
to explain their religion of non belief.
~ Monksarnn"

Seems pretty presumptuous Frank. He never asked me.
 

Past Member (0)
Sunday April 15, 2012, 4:04 pm
Is Common Sense now a 'religion' Frank?
 

Myron Scott (70)
Sunday April 15, 2012, 4:11 pm
OK, with the logical caveat that wise men can be wrong, I will now
demonstrate that agnostics, as well as atheists can play the Game of
Quotes.

"I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a
childlike one. You may call me an agnostic, but I do not share the crusading
spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act
of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth. I
prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual
understanding of nature and of our own being." - A. Einstein

"(The plurality of human outlooks) commands us to tolerate, respect, and
indulge those whom we see harmlessly interested and happy in their own
ways, however unintelligible these may be to us. Hands off: neither the
whole of truth nor the whole of good is revealed to any single observer,
although each observer gains a partial superiority of insight from the
peculiar position in which he stands." - William James

"...(D)o not be satisfied with hearsay or with tradition or with legendary
lore or with what has come down in your scriptures or with conjecture or
with logical inference or with weighing evidence or with liking for a view
after pondering it over or with someone else's ability . . . When you know
in yourselves 'These things are profitable ...' then you should practice them
and abide in them." - Gautama Buddha (Kamala Sutta)

"In view of such harmony in the cosmos which I, with my limited human mind,
am able to recognize, there are yet people who say there is no God. But what
really makes me angry is that they quote me for the support of such views."
- A. Einstein
 

Myron Scott (70)
Sunday April 15, 2012, 4:15 pm
From the article: David Silverman, president of American Atheists, claims these Nones as members of his tribe. "If you don't have a belief in God, you're an atheist," he said. "It doesn't matter what you call yourself."

As an agnostic - NOT an atheist - I find that presumptuous.
 

Past Member (0)
Sunday April 15, 2012, 4:41 pm
Good point Myron. Are not all labels presumptuous? Can I not believe what I believe without being labeled?
 

William Y. (54)
Sunday April 15, 2012, 4:55 pm
@ Patrick Donovan, exellent philosophy, unfortunately the religious don't have the brains to understand that.
 

Past Member (0)
Sunday April 15, 2012, 4:57 pm
Here's an interesting article.

A Big Bang Cosmological Argument For God's Nonexistence
 

Debra Van Way (12)
Sunday April 15, 2012, 5:04 pm
I do not need a "god" to fear. I have honest morals and try to treat all people well (unless I catch them in the act of harming an innocent animal-then the gloves come off). My Mom made me go to church because she was very religious. I spent lots of time reading about all kinds of things besides fiction-history, archeology, myths, etc. from the age of 7 on-found humans worshiped all kinds of gods, or animals or the sun-you name-it got worshiped. I am sure they were all convinced they were right. Gods come and gods go but humans are still around (in spite of themselves). I think humans as a whole feel safer if they believe there is a higher power watching over, or threatening or whatever to make sure they behave. People can believe whatever makes them feel better up to a point. History has shown that way too many people have been killed because of religions-as human sacrifices, or one religion trying to get rid of another, or someone wants another's property, mate, whatever so declares they are demons or witches or fill in the blank. Religions have caused so much strife in the history of humans. Even now-there are churches of various denominations going at it, different religions fighting each other. So called churchs showing up at military funerals with signs saying god hates soldiers and gays and once again fill in the blank. I don't find it surprising more and more are turning away from "organized" religions-look at what a dog and pony show is constantly going on just in our country. I am glad to not be a part of it.
 

Lois Jordan (55)
Sunday April 15, 2012, 5:13 pm
Yeah, I'm one of those "Nones" too. My final break with Catholicism was because of their misogynist patriarchy. Yet, I'm not agnostic, because I don't believe...and I can't list as Atheist, because I believe in an afterlife. But, I've got 6 kids and 2 grandkids who are kind, thoughtful and intelligent and don't attend any church. Everyone seems to want to debate god, but not Evil. My kids grew up knowing there was evil in the world and stay away from it. Share the good! The Golden Rule covers a lot.
 

William Y. (54)
Sunday April 15, 2012, 6:15 pm
@ Lauren B. One of the problems is indoctrination. Most Theists were indoctrinated into their beliefs as toddlers, told the stories and had been forbidden to ask questions, just had to accept what was taught. Some of us, as we got older decided to ask the questions we wanted to ask as 5 year olds, and when we found the answers, became Atheists.
 

William Y. (54)
Sunday April 15, 2012, 6:26 pm
@ Lois Jordan, What does your belief in an afterlife have to do with whether or not you are an Atheist. If you believe in a god you are a theist, if you belief in no gods you are an atheist, if you aren't sure you are an agnostic.
Afterlife or not has nothing to do with it.
 

Kate Kenner (200)
Sunday April 15, 2012, 6:46 pm
Studs Terkel once said that an agnostic is just cowardly atheist.
I can not believe in a god that one has to fear , whose words get so twisted to accommodate every religion, whose words get interpreted to fit any occasion, and people who feel they can do anything as long as they go to church. If there was a god s/he would indeed be accepting of everyone instead of condoning bigots.
I have so many thoughts on the hypocrisy, the dangers, the closed mindedness of religion that I just don't have the time to get it all in. If I was in danger I would be hoping for help but form whom I have no idea. It wouldn't be God though and if there was really a God I think he'd be pretty disappointed by what has been done in his name and to the planet that he supposedly created.
 

Christopher Fowler (84)
Sunday April 15, 2012, 6:55 pm
The major problem with this article is that it only establishes a belief under Christianity, ignoring non-orthodoxic religions such as Paganism, Shamanism, Santaria, Vodun, Taoism, Buddhism, etc.

Most Christians consider people either Christian or Atheist, and while there are more and more Christians learning to not do that, there is still a predilection toward that sort of attitude within the Christian community.

And while the number of Those professing Atheism is growing, so are the numbers of people leaving Christianity for other religions, due to the disappointment by that same Christian religion.
 

Anne K. (128)
Sunday April 15, 2012, 7:52 pm
Christians put me off of Christianity. I was forced to go to church by my father (Catholic), but the values I was taught (put yourself in the place of others) were not/have not been represented by any Christians I met. (except for perhaps Francisco and Olympia Ochoa, a Venezuelan couple I briefly worked with) My soul is more aligned with Buddhism.
 

Matloob ul Hasan (81)
Sunday April 15, 2012, 8:22 pm
"Whatever benefits mankind will last."

Noted, thanks.
 

Kit B. (277)
Sunday April 15, 2012, 8:26 pm

For most of my life I have held some form of respect for the belief of my religion, that is the religion that was given me by birth. Before the age when such decisions are to supposed to be made, I found that humanism, atheism, even the vagueness of agnostics to be more honest and respectful of individual rights than any religion. Though my early and teen years, I studied each religion, most with a respected guide from that religion, even (oh shock!) Islam. I have no negative feelings because others believe differently than myself, each of us must walk this path of life, each must find what fits, what brings comfort.

My only area of contention is in the infringement of those who believe that the US should be a theocracy, or a Christian nation. Some thing that was not a point of dispute, rather a point of full agreement among our founding fathers - each should have the right to any religion or not as they choose. People need only be informed and then honest with themselves to find that sense of comfort. Believe as you need and try to not condemn those who make the choice to not believe.
 

Kit B. (277)
Sunday April 15, 2012, 8:30 pm

I do find it interesting that the nation considered most Catholic (which means universal) is Spain. Where abortion and contraception is available on demand.

I do wish that Christian would learn the history of their "faith" it is interesting and so very different then they believe.
 

Kit B. (277)
Sunday April 15, 2012, 8:39 pm

To me organized religion is very much a kin to any corporation, to make a profit, in the case of organized religion, they don't have to cook the books to avoid taxes.
 

Past Member (0)
Sunday April 15, 2012, 8:56 pm
Live and let live. Problem is that religion can’t respect the latter part of that sentiment.
My philosophy, whatever floats your boat. Just keep it out of my pond.
 

Robert Hardy (67)
Sunday April 15, 2012, 9:02 pm
The sad part of this discussion is that religion is once again linked directly to political activity. It was the fundamental belief of the like of Thomas Jefferson and others who created this Country that government and religion should remain separate, for they had seen the results when the two were combined. And it is always negative.
 

LD B. (40)
Sunday April 15, 2012, 10:07 pm
Screw Studs Terkel; an agnostic is NOT a cowardly atheist In fact, agnosticism is the only position logically arrived at.

A deity is a metaphysical entity. - By definition.

A metaphysical entity is undetectable in the physical realm. - By definition.

Therefore, the existence or absence of a deity is unknowable in the physical realm.
 

Past Member (0)
Sunday April 15, 2012, 10:43 pm
Gee, I don't know LD. Logic tells me it is stupid to believe that some metaphysical entity is going to condemn me to some eternal damnation if I don't believe in that metaphysical entity, no matter how much goodness is in my heart. Logic tells me it would be stupid to fall for that crap.
 

Past Member (0)
Sunday April 15, 2012, 10:51 pm
So, it's very logical to believe that such an entity does not exist.
 

LD B. (40)
Sunday April 15, 2012, 10:57 pm
You cannot disprove the existence of a deity any more than you can prove such existence.

It is therefore logical only to say that the question remains unanswerable.

Theist - BELIEVES, WITHOUT PROOF, that there is a deity.

Atheist - BELIEVES, WITHOUT PROOF, that there is NOT a deity.

Agnostic - Holds NO BELIEF.

 

Past Member (0)
Sunday April 15, 2012, 11:34 pm
The way I see it, deductive reasoning brings one to a logical conclusion.
So, nanew, nanew....wait, that's what Mork says. What does Spock say?
 

William Y. (54)
Sunday April 15, 2012, 11:41 pm
@ LB D. A true Atheist does not BELIEVE, WITHOUT PROOF, that there is NOT a deity. A true atheist rejects the concept of such an entity since there is no evidence of such. It reverts to the default. No one believes in a deity until he/she is taught that there is one or more.
 

LD B. (40)
Sunday April 15, 2012, 11:47 pm
Spock says that, as one can deduce neither the existence nor nonexistence of a metaphysical entity, the only logical position is to believe in neither.

In the absence of proof, both the claim that there is no deity and the claim that there is are the logical fallacy of argumentum ad ignorantiam.
 

Myron Scott (70)
Sunday April 15, 2012, 11:53 pm
Myron Scott once said that an atheist is just an agnostic with a closed mind.

* * *
I notice that a lot of the atheists writing comments here speak scornfully of "religion", but their critique is implicitly limited to the most conventional - and unsophisticated - mode of Judeo-Christian-Islamic monotheism. Buddhism worships no god, especially its purist forms (in Zen and in the early writings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, the "historical Buddha"). In its source documents, Taoism also has no "god." There is only "The Way" (i.e., "Tao"). The Atman of Vedantic Hinduism is similar, although later iterations of the Hindu tradition promulgated three gods, each with a goddess consort, and a host of avatars and lesser deities. Goddess religions may or may not personify their deity or deities, depending on the proponent. If proselytizing atheism is to claim the logical high ground, it needs to define what it means by "religion."

* * *
Historical note re "humanism.": Religious humanism (Petrarch, Erasmus, Bruno, Campanella, Mirandola) preceded the secular humanism of the Enlightenment.
 

LD B. (40)
Monday April 16, 2012, 12:10 am
"A true atheist rejects the concept of such an entity since there is no evidence of such. It reverts to the default."

Absence of proof does not constitute proof of absence.

And, in the absence of proof for or against there is no "default."

Relying on "no evidence of such" goes to the very core of argumentum ad ignorantiam.
 

Past Member (0)
Monday April 16, 2012, 12:54 am
Myron, I hope you aren't saying that I'm 'proselytizing atheism'. Like I've said, whatever floats your boat.

LD, it's late. I'm really not too sure if you didn't just call me argumentative and ignorant. All I can say for now is, goodnight and beam me up Scotty.
 

LD B. (40)
Monday April 16, 2012, 3:29 am
Had you looked up "argumentum ad ignorantiam" you'd know that it is the formal name of a logical fallacy.
 

Past Member (0)
Monday April 16, 2012, 3:35 am
I think I knew that. I was just messin' with ya. Sorry LD. That nap helped.
 

Frank S. (457)
Monday April 16, 2012, 6:30 am
@ LB D. “A true Atheist does not BELIEVE, WITHOUT PROOF, that there is NOT a deity.” - William Y.

So William, are you are stating by what you wrote, that an Atheist really does believe in Deity, lol?

 

Frank S. (457)
Monday April 16, 2012, 6:38 am
@ MJM "The way I see it, deductive reasoning brings one to a logical conclusion.
So, nanew, nanew....wait, that's what Mork says. What does Spock say?"-MJM

Resorting to deductive reasoning and all that Sherlock Holmes stuff,eh MJM? I didn't know that Atheists believed in science fiction and myths,MJM.
 

William Y. (54)
Monday April 16, 2012, 7:28 am
@ LB D. Proofs are for Mathematics, everything else deals in evidence, that is theories. The absence of evidence means just that no evidence, with no evidence the default in non-existence. There is never evidence of non-existence, only evidence of existence. The Theist makes the claim that god or gods exist, then they must produce the evidence. Until evidence in produced the default is the null. A person is born with no knowledge of supernatural thus null. With no evidence the default remains null thus Atheism in regard to deities.
 

Frank S. (457)
Monday April 16, 2012, 9:15 am
@ William: Science fiction exists, so does that mean it's real?
 

Myron Scott (70)
Monday April 16, 2012, 9:15 am
No, MJM, I don't know you well enough; that would be reasoning beyond the evidence. David Silverman is a proselytizing atheist. Chris Hitchens was. Those folk who pissed of Einstein (comment above) were.
 

Gwynethrose F. (12)
Monday April 16, 2012, 10:55 am
I must say, I love the comments about this particular issue; cogent and intelligent without name calling and such...why can't others be the same?
 

Mike and Janis B. (7)
Monday April 16, 2012, 11:10 am
Is it really surprising when all those who purport to believe are such scoundrels, from the Catholic church to the criminals called Republicans.
 

annelies j. (71)
Monday April 16, 2012, 11:31 am
Don't need religion to be kind and caring.
There really is no true belief for most. They have been told what to believe, and accept it, without asking questions.
 

Past Member (0)
Monday April 16, 2012, 11:45 am
@ Frank : There you go with those labels. When did I say I was an Atheist? (not that there's anything wrong with that ;-)
 

John B. (215)
Monday April 16, 2012, 3:14 pm
A very good article in my opinion. I describe my self as a humanist/atheist.
 

LD B. (40)
Monday April 16, 2012, 4:01 pm
Frank S. said "A true Atheist does not BELIEVE, WITHOUT PROOF, that there is NOT a deity."

Since there can be no proof that no deity exists, an atheist's belief is no less an article of faith than is that of a theist.

Simple logic.
 

LD B. (40)
Monday April 16, 2012, 4:09 pm
William Y. said "Until evidence in produced the default is the null"

In binary logic there are the truth values TRUE, FALSE, and UNKNOWN, with the latter being the correct DEFAULT..

If you insist on a default of either TRUE or FALSE, one can always arrive at the desired conclusion simply by properly forming the premise
 

Frank S. (457)
Monday April 16, 2012, 4:15 pm
Question: If an Atheist does not believe in God because he/she considers God to be an Artificial Myth, or just pure Sci-Fi Fantasy invented only by the human mind. Then how can they believe in the Science Fiction/Art of the world? Movies, Novels, Sci-fi works, also “most Music is made up” (Fictional/Songwriting) or how about different forms of Art, such as painting, sculpture and drawing? Since the word Art, comes from the word Artificial, isn’t this a very curious paradox?

 

annelies j. (71)
Monday April 16, 2012, 4:37 pm
Euuhhh, what? You make no sense, Frank.
 

LD B. (40)
Monday April 16, 2012, 4:37 pm
No paradox at all, as the existence of the cited items is empirically demonstrable, and a rational mind understands the distinction between fact and fiction.
 

William Y. (54)
Monday April 16, 2012, 6:19 pm
@LD S. We are not dealing with true, false & unknown, we are dealing with beliefs. For something to be true ther has to be some evidence. We are delling here with a belief versus the non-belief, that is whether a exists or not.
If a exists then there must be some evidence to show that, One could say gods exist just like fairies exist, in peiople's minds. that statement would be true even though it does not have any evidence that a real god exists or not. One stating that god exists, must give the evidence, to say god does not exidst does not require evidence since the statement is not making a claim. One cannot show evidence of the null, if evidence existed it would not be null. This would be statment that a lack of belief is a belief which reverts back to the cliché, not collecting stamps is a hobby.
 

Frank S. (457)
Monday April 16, 2012, 7:26 pm
@ LDB:

“Spock says that, as one can deduce neither the existence nor nonexistence of a metaphysical entity, the only logical position is to believe in neither.”- LDB

Just don’t know what to make of a rational argument when a fictional non-existent character like Spock is invoked in a quote, by a rational, logical thinker such as you, lol.- Frank S.

 

Myron Scott (70)
Monday April 16, 2012, 7:50 pm
Just as a clarification, deductive reasoning is reasoning from a general premise to a particular conclusion, as in a syllogism. Religionist have long used it. Even if the logical is flawless, the conclusion is false if the premise is false. Inductive reasoning, from the particular to the general, is the form of reasoning generally used by science.

It's always seemed to me that Holmes relied more on induction than deduction. Of course, David Hume did have a "problem" with it.

Boldly go, friends.
 

LD B. (40)
Monday April 16, 2012, 8:02 pm
William Y. said "We are not dealing with true, false & unknown, we are dealing with beliefs."

And, the truth value of beliefs are TRUE, FALSE, or UNKNOWN.

As for the null hypothesis, such is a test that deals with the appearance of causal relationships, not with pure Boolean logic. And, its "default' conclusion is INDETERMINATE.
 

LD B. (40)
Monday April 16, 2012, 8:03 pm
I can assure you, Frank S, that I, Spock, am not fictional.
 

William Y. (54)
Monday April 16, 2012, 11:47 pm
@LB D. How can no evidence be indeterminate? There is either evidence, gods exist or no evidence, gods do not exist, where is the inderminate. How can nothing be indeterminate? What evidence are the believers using to accept that gods exist?
 

LD B. (40)
Tuesday April 17, 2012, 12:19 am
To repeat, the ABSENCE OF EVIDENCE IS NOT EVIDENCE OF ABSENCE. To hold to the contrary is a classic fallacy, one that is actually a form of argumentum ad ignorantiam.

Theists employ the very same fallacy, but with a negated premise, and thus the negated conclusion. To wit, "Given that there is no evidence that God does not exist, it stands as a given that he does."

The argument of the atheist is precisely the same. "Given that there is no evidence that God does exist, it stands as a given that he does not."

In the absence of evidence, there is NOTHING that stands as a GIVEN; all there is is UNCERTAINTY.
 

Jennifer C. (172)
Tuesday April 17, 2012, 12:53 am
Thanks.
 

Past Member (0)
Tuesday April 17, 2012, 1:23 am
Sh*t guys, I can’t remember a thread that I had to think this hard about. I knew I should have taken that philosophy class instead of the astrophysics class. I have to wonder, does any of this really make any difference in the whole scheme of things?
I know one thing though, I don't see it used often enough, or even properly when I do, but when it is used properly I love the injection of a good 'To wit' in any discussion.
 

LD B. (40)
Tuesday April 17, 2012, 1:27 am
As one schooled in Physics, Mathematics, Electrical Engineering, & Computer Science, the Philosophy 101 course that I took as an elective has served me well.
 

Past Member (0)
Tuesday April 17, 2012, 1:51 am
LD, didn't Heisenburg have something to say about UNCERTAINTY?
 

LD B. (40)
Tuesday April 17, 2012, 2:42 am
As did many others, with various interpretations leading to such things a the theoretical possibility of the multiverse, many universes existing simultaneously in the same place with no interactions between them.
 

Past Member (0)
Tuesday April 17, 2012, 2:56 am
What do you think about Schrödinger's cat? I still say if it's dead in that box, the smell is going to give it away. Certainly you'd smell it. ;-) Maybe I'm over-simplifying this.

 

Past Member (0)
Tuesday April 17, 2012, 3:05 am
Yes, the possibility of a multiverse is intriguing to say the least.
 

William Y. (54)
Tuesday April 17, 2012, 7:07 am
@ LB D. It is not an uncertainty do to the fact that the whole theist idea is a human construct. The absense of evidenece in the case is just that no evidence in the first place. The premise was constructed on imagination and nothing else, thus it is not uncertainty, but total nothing, just primitive imagination.
 

Lindsay Kemp (1)
Tuesday April 17, 2012, 7:18 am
There are a lot of good points here, and a lot of points made by people who don't know what they're talking about. Of course there are some people in all religions who are extreme, prejudiced, scared of questions, of change and all sorts of other things. There are also people in all religions who are rational, sensible, sensitive, thinking people. And in all religions there are peole at all points in between. In the Christian Church there are churches which are warm and welcoming, helpful and friendly and open, and there are others which 'heavy shepherd' their congregations.

The best thing is not to make sweeping generalisations, and to accept that none of us know all there is to know.
 

Myron Scott (70)
Tuesday April 17, 2012, 7:43 am
Oh those pesky undefined premises. Schrodinger's box is hermetically sealed, of course.

As to Heisenburg, Bohr makes a nice complement.

As to the grand scheme of thing, I can only offer the following crumb of insight:
Man: Mr. Natural! What does it all mean??
Mr. Natural: Don't mean sheeit!

Thanks for the morning smiles, MJM.
 

Frank S. (457)
Tuesday April 17, 2012, 12:53 pm
The concept of a multi-dimensional universe has been around forever in occult lore, long before it was made popular through modern science fiction, that theory is "so old in occult teachings."

@LDM:

"I can assure you, Frank S, that I, Spock, am not fictional."-LDM

LDB, are you saying, that you are actually the character from Star Trek Leonard Nimoy, or is Spock your real name? Because if you are the guy from Star Trek, then I’m R2-D2, lol!

 

LD B. (40)
Tuesday April 17, 2012, 8:10 pm
Spock is an appellation given me by a circle of friends.
 

LD B. (40)
Tuesday April 17, 2012, 8:16 pm
@ William Y.

All that one perceives, all that one knows is but a construct of his own mind.

And, the absence of proof re. any characteristic of a particular construct does not stand as proof of absence of such.
 

LD B. (40)
Tuesday April 17, 2012, 8:26 pm
In re. Schrödinger's cat, the core issue is not the cat itself - it simply stands as proxy for the occurrence/non-occurrence of a quantum event - but rather the interpretation of quantum mechanics as applied at the macro level.

It was a deliberately constructed thought experiment that, following the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics - a quantum probability set does not collapse to a definite value unless and until it is observed - leads, at the macro level, to a paradox, a classic reductio ad absurdum.
 

William Y. (54)
Tuesday April 17, 2012, 8:28 pm
@ LD B. By your point I could not disbelieve in the Easter Bunny, the planet Vulcan, the Flying teapot or Superman.
They also are human constructs with no evidence.
 

LD B. (40)
Tuesday April 17, 2012, 8:35 pm
The distinction being that the cited are admittedly fictional entities.
 

Past Member (0)
Tuesday April 17, 2012, 8:45 pm
Well, all I know is that it seems kinda cruel to use a cat in this thought experiment. Can we substitute Dick Cheney?
 

William Y. (54)
Tuesday April 17, 2012, 9:45 pm
@LD B. So, why should man-made deities be any different?
 

LD B. (40)
Tuesday April 17, 2012, 9:53 pm
Different than what?
 

William Y. (54)
Tuesday April 17, 2012, 10:05 pm
@LB D. The other 4 human constructs I listed.
 

LD B. (40)
Tuesday April 17, 2012, 10:10 pm
As noted, such are admittedly fictional entities.

As it is your CONCLUSION that any and all metaphysical entities are fictional, you cannot base such on the PREMISE that they are fictional. That would be tautological.
 

Myron Scott (70)
Thursday April 19, 2012, 8:01 am
Hmm, no comments in two days. Guess everyone was raptured.
 

LD B. (40)
Thursday April 19, 2012, 3:54 pm
Damn; missed it ... again.
 

Past Member (0)
Thursday April 19, 2012, 4:12 pm
Damn, me too. That's what I get for changing my photo. Must have confused the 'all knowing' one.
 

Frank S. (457)
Friday April 20, 2012, 6:47 am
@ LDB,"Damn; missed it ... again."- LDB

I can only agree, LDB. For what is of spirit can only be known through the eyes of the spirit and not through the intellect. Hidden occult knowledge cannot be found unless it is actively sought out. The truth can only be found, only by those whom earnestly seek it. Unfortunately, the price is high, to find out the ultimate truth upon these matters. Eternal sadness can quickly become a companion to the seeker if they seek that knowledge which is hidden in the world in the wrong way!

Sometimes I think that it is better for some people to never learn the truth about the spiritual world, as research into the paranormal and supernatural is not for the faint hearted. As it is very dangerous to do so, I have personally known healers whom later have become chronically ill from healing people of their spiritual afflictions. Others who have dabbled in occult teachings have gone mad, or their once present good luck, turned bad. Because the serious investigator must open their selves up to both the clean and unclean aspects and inhabitants of the spirit world, but I will tell you this; those who doubt that alongside our physical world “there is not” a spiritual aspect, are like small children who see only that which they wish to see!

 

Brian C. (18)
Friday April 20, 2012, 6:44 pm
Religion, or at least faith, is a major part of our culture. True, it has some negative aspects, but the positive far outweigh the negative. I am Christian, though I try not to push others to beleive in a higher power. However, no matter what you beleive, if you look at Europe in the last 50 years where Christian faith has faded, you can't say it has helped their culture. Personally, I like Malcolm X's veiw that if you beleive in nothing, you can fall for anything.
 

Brian C. (18)
Friday April 20, 2012, 6:46 pm
Religion, or at least faith, is a major part of our culture. True, it has some negative aspects, but the positive far outweigh the negative. I am Christian, though I try not to push others to beleive in a higher power. However, no matter what you beleive, if you look at Europe in the last 50 years where Christian faith has faded, you can't say it has helped their culture. Personally, I like Malcolm X's veiw that if you beleive in nothing, you can fall for anything. In alot of ways, religion when it isn't extreme is society's glue...
 

LD B. (40)
Friday April 20, 2012, 6:49 pm
"if you look at Europe in the last 50 years where Christian faith has faded, you can't say it has helped their culture."

Can't say that it's hurt it either.

Correlation is not proof of causation.
 

Miriam N. (29)
Friday April 20, 2012, 10:29 pm
Better to be an atheist than to have to endorse what most religions defend, such as prohibit choice for women, forbid taking any anti-conceptional measures, not have sex until marriage, in short go back to 19th century if not earlier values... "Opium for the masses"...
 

Frank S. (457)
Saturday April 21, 2012, 7:51 pm
I believe in love. mercy, forgiveness, and eternal life through God!
 

LD B. (40)
Saturday April 21, 2012, 7:55 pm
Which god would that be?

There have been so very many claims re. so very many gods & goddesses, none of which have ever been substantiated, so that it cannot be presumed as to which you speak of.
 

Jane Warren (8)
Sunday April 22, 2012, 10:47 am
I read more Care2 articles on religion than I comment on, because they all seem to result in the most rabid and fanatic comments.
All religions that I've heard of preach tolerance and forgiveness - it's their followers who do not advocate that sort of thing.
 
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