Is atheism winning the culture war?

For many years, I’ve been encouraging atheists and humanists to organize and cooperate in order to change the culture.

Barking dogs chase passing cars that they never come close to touching, and I doubt they consider the ramifications of actually catching a vehicle. Cars, of course, ignore the dogs. Many atheists have long been barking at how our mainstream culture seems wrapped in religion, and most religious people have simply ignored the atheists. However, it appears that atheists are getting closer to “catching” the mainstream culture, and should consider strategies and ramifications.

Here I use the word “atheist” in a big-tent sort of way to include agnostics, humanists, secular humanists, freethinkers, nontheists, anti-theists, skeptics, rationalists, naturalists, materialists, ignostics, apatheists, and more. If you don’t know what each of these words means, don’t worry. Even those who identify with such labels often disagree on their definitions. Parsing words might be a characteristic of folks engaged in the secular movement. My inclusive term “functional atheist” embodies those who live as if there are no personal, judging gods.

The Secular Coalition for America (of which I’m founder and president emeritus) includes 11 national, nontheistic member organizations. The members cooperate on the 95 percent they have in common instead of arguing about labels. We all agree there should be a wall between religion and government; that we should increase the visibility of, and respect for, nontheistic viewpoints; that we should encourage and help pave the way for atheists to come out of the closet; and that atheists deserve a place at the table of public opinion. How best to achieve our goals is not so clear.

Atheists have long been known primarily for criticizing religion and protesting the intrusion of religion into government. Such actions are often called for, especially when conservative religionists set a political agenda that affects those who don’t share their religious beliefs. We must confront and respond, and let the undecided judge who is more honest, reasonable, tolerant, and fair. Recent books by many atheist authors have created media interest in atheism, if not its full acceptance.

Nontheistic groups have formed welcoming communities, with a variety of activities for individuals and families. Some groups are primarily interested in lectures and book clubs, some in socializing, some in good works, some in protesting, some in political action, and some in all of the above. There are also many virtual atheist groups, who enjoy discussions even though they never meet. I believe in a big tent where people follow their passion while respecting and supporting those whose emphasis might be different.

More recent, and rather controversial among atheists, are so-called atheist churches. Some who have abandoned the faith of their youth miss religious ritual and seek to replace it with the awe-inspiring wonders of science and reality (despite what Oprah said about atheists). They find ways to address spiritual, emotional, intellectual, or community needs without involving the usual supernatural beliefs. Such weekly “church” or congregational meetings may not be for me, but I appreciate and welcome these active fellow travellers.

For many years, I’ve been encouraging atheists and humanists to organize and cooperate in order to change the culture. However, the movement has become larger than formal organizations alone, perhaps because of the increasing number of “nones,” those who don’t identify with any religion. According to a recent Pew Survey, this demographic has risen to 20 percent, and even higher among millenials.

They will probably not be joining atheist or humanist organizations in large numbers, and I’m fine with that. Even though I’m very interested in religion, part of me wishes I didn’t have to be. I’ve gone from religious believer to apathetic atheist and finally to activist atheist because of my concern that a well-organized religious right wants to move our country closer to theocratic rule.

Most “nones,” as well as atheists, don’t much care whether people have God beliefs. They just don’t like to be around those who talk endlessly about religion, and they resist being governed by other people’s religious beliefs. Unlike the religious right, “nones” are generally accepting of full and equal rights for atheists, gays, women, and other marginalized groups. If young people continue to be more interested in how we treat others and what we do to make the world a better place, rather than equating morality with religion, then we will finally realize an America that values freedom of and freedom from religion.

Since we are evolving into a country where deeds are more important than creeds, I think atheists will one day be part of a respected mainstream in America, along with progressive religious allies. If that happens, I will be glad to see the Secular Coalition and its nontheistic partners go out of business and call it “mission accomplished.”

Image courtesy of Atheist Bus Canada.

Herb Silverman
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  • eggenal

    Christianity does not need to claim an exclusive path to the good, nor does it need a theistic God. From a blog post on “Towards a new Christianity” (blogs.stpaulswillimantic .org), “First that there is something we’ll call God that is far beyond our understanding. This God is non-theistic, that is, God is not a separate or separable entity of any kind, but rather an indescribable something that somehow permeates all life and the universe.”

    St. Paul’s by the way is an Episcopal church home to many varieties of people – marginalized, LGBT, etc.

  • eggenal

    Christianity does not need to claim an exclusive path to the good, nor does it need a theistic God. From a blog post on “Towards a new Christianity” (blogs.stpaulswillimantic .org), “First that there is something we’ll call God that is far beyond our understanding. This God is non-theistic, that is, God is not a separate or separable entity of any kind, but rather an indescribable something that somehow permeates all life and the universe.”

    St. Paul’s by the way is an Episcopal church home to many varieties of people – marginalized, LGBT, etc.

  • Rongoklunk

    Humans are the God-inventers. Over the eons we invented more than 3500 of them. It certainly must have satisfied some deep need they had back in ancient times. They were addicted to making them up. And the afterlife too was believed by most cultures. The thought of death must have terrified them. So they made-up an afterlife to go with the godfella. Problem solved. And they all lived for ever and ever. Yeah sure.

  • Rongoklunk

    Humans are the God-inventers. Over the eons we invented more than 3500 of them. It certainly must have satisfied some deep need they had back in ancient times. They were addicted to making them up. And the afterlife too was believed by most cultures. The thought of death must have terrified them. So they made-up an afterlife to go with the godfella. Problem solved. And they all lived for ever and ever. Yeah sure.

  • efavorite

    So where does Jesus fit in?

  • efavorite

    So where does Jesus fit in?

  • AnAmericanUnderNoGod

    In the fictional bible.

  • AnAmericanUnderNoGod

    In the fictional bible.

  • AnAmericanUnderNoGod

    There is no God, period. This argument of who is winning is like saying “those who believe there is no Santa Clause are winning over those who believe there is Santa Clause.” Either way, there are no Gods and there is no Santa Clause.

  • AnAmericanUnderNoGod

    There is no God, period. This argument of who is winning is like saying “those who believe there is no Santa Clause are winning over those who believe there is Santa Clause.” Either way, there are no Gods and there is no Santa Clause.

  • jfalick

    For those who are interested in way to be Jewish that is consistent with atheism, agnosticisim and other freethought approaches, consider Humanistic Judaism. Or visit my blog: http://www.TheAtheistRabbi.com!

  • jfalick

    For those who are interested in way to be Jewish that is consistent with atheism, agnosticisim and other freethought approaches, consider Humanistic Judaism. Or visit my blog: http://www.TheAtheistRabbi.com!

  • thosem1

    Thank you for this thoughtful meditation on contemporary atheism and the Secular Coalition, of which I’m a supportive member. We know that the Post plays with titles endlessly to see what attracts eyes and clicks, so I suspect some editor pushed the “warlike” title on you. But you are right that nothing consolidates the diverse secular non-believing community like a fundamentalist move toward theocracy. And so has it been since our nation, the first fully secular government, was formed. Believers and non-believers alike can take great pride in our freedom from religious obligation, which was so carefully built into our founding documents, and defended across the centuries by the likes of Robert Ingersoll and Susan Jacoby.

  • thosem1

    Thank you for this thoughtful meditation on contemporary atheism and the Secular Coalition, of which I’m a supportive member. We know that the Post plays with titles endlessly to see what attracts eyes and clicks, so I suspect some editor pushed the “warlike” title on you. But you are right that nothing consolidates the diverse secular non-believing community like a fundamentalist move toward theocracy. And so has it been since our nation, the first fully secular government, was formed. Believers and non-believers alike can take great pride in our freedom from religious obligation, which was so carefully built into our founding documents, and defended across the centuries by the likes of Robert Ingersoll and Susan Jacoby.

  • leibowde84

    It’s funny. In today’s modern societies, it is becoming more and more prevalent that atheists are considered more moral than the religious. Hopefully this can change in that organized religions can do a better job of teaching tolerance and virtue, but it is certainly an up and coming trend.

    In terms of social issues such as homosexuality, abortion rights, and the legalization of marijuana, atheists come from a much less biased position and actively try to rid themselves of stereotypes and stigma associated with these controversial topics.

    I am a religious person, but I do not blindly adhere to any rule or judgment no matter what the source. Logic and reason are gifts from God, and choosing to not use them is without a doubt sinful. If we trust absolutely in the Church, for example, we leave ourselves open to manipulation. What does God want us to do … THINK.

  • leibowde84

    It’s funny. In today’s modern societies, it is becoming more and more prevalent that atheists are considered more moral than the religious. Hopefully this can change in that organized religions can do a better job of teaching tolerance and virtue, but it is certainly an up and coming trend.

    In terms of social issues such as homosexuality, abortion rights, and the legalization of marijuana, atheists come from a much less biased position and actively try to rid themselves of stereotypes and stigma associated with these controversial topics.

    I am a religious person, but I do not blindly adhere to any rule or judgment no matter what the source. Logic and reason are gifts from God, and choosing to not use them is without a doubt sinful. If we trust absolutely in the Church, for example, we leave ourselves open to manipulation. What does God want us to do … THINK.

  • leibowde84

    I’m sorry, I respect your opinion, but it is merely that. You have no way of knowing whether a God of some kind exists. The mere fact that there is no proof does not mean that it doesn’t exist. I mean, before we knew about black-holes, did they not exist? Before we knew about dinosaurs, did they not exist?

    Maybe we will find proof in the future, but these are beliefs, so evidence is not only unnecessary, but not allowed. Once proof is found, there is no belief.

  • leibowde84

    I’m sorry, I respect your opinion, but it is merely that. You have no way of knowing whether a God of some kind exists. The mere fact that there is no proof does not mean that it doesn’t exist. I mean, before we knew about black-holes, did they not exist? Before we knew about dinosaurs, did they not exist?

    Maybe we will find proof in the future, but these are beliefs, so evidence is not only unnecessary, but not allowed. Once proof is found, there is no belief.

  • Humanist Fox

    How do you know that “logic and reason are gifts from God,” and which God are you referring to?

  • Humanist Fox

    How do you know that “logic and reason are gifts from God,” and which God are you referring to?

  • Frank Dorka

    Where have I heard that before? I know, from you, time and time again. How cleaver.

  • Frank Dorka

    Where have I heard that before? I know, from you, time and time again. How cleaver.

  • Frank Dorka

    Still, Christians have been claiming “proof” for over 2,000 years and have produced none. How long do we have to wait for this proof?

  • Frank Dorka

    Still, Christians have been claiming “proof” for over 2,000 years and have produced none. How long do we have to wait for this proof?

  • weisschr

    Most atheists look at moral issues in terms of consequences. Religious people tend to look at moral issues in terms of pre-determined right and wrong.

    Statistically, atheists are less likely to divorce or cheat on a spouse, they tend to have a higher average level of education, and they are the group least likely to break the law. Statistically, they behave in a more moral and ethical way than believers. Of course, this is free thinking atheists in the west and not the political atheism associated with communist oligarchies.

  • weisschr

    Most atheists look at moral issues in terms of consequences. Religious people tend to look at moral issues in terms of pre-determined right and wrong.

    Statistically, atheists are less likely to divorce or cheat on a spouse, they tend to have a higher average level of education, and they are the group least likely to break the law. Statistically, they behave in a more moral and ethical way than believers. Of course, this is free thinking atheists in the west and not the political atheism associated with communist oligarchies.

  • weisschr

    leibowde84 -> You are an atheist too. I assume you don’t believe in Thor or Zeus or Osiris. The only difference is that a complete atheist goes one “god” further than you do.

    Please prove that Thor does not exist and then we can get to whether the Christian god exists.

  • weisschr

    leibowde84 -> You are an atheist too. I assume you don’t believe in Thor or Zeus or Osiris. The only difference is that a complete atheist goes one “god” further than you do.

    Please prove that Thor does not exist and then we can get to whether the Christian god exists.

  • David Boullata

    I think that if you include “agnostics, humanists, secular humanists, freethinkers, nontheists, anti-theists, skeptics, rationalists, naturalists, materialists, ignostics, apatheists, and more” in your definition of Atheists, then yes Atheism is winning the culture war.

    Personally, I don’t believe there is a man with a long white beard and robe sitting on a large chair in the clouds judging me…I likewise don’t believe a jolly old man in a red suit delivers toys to good children around the world with the help of 8 flying reindeer each December 24th!

    That said there is a truth behind the legend of Santa Claus …and I likewise emphatically believe there is truth behind the legend of “God”, “Source”, “Oneness”, “The Architect” or whatever you want to call it. Quantum physics has only begun their explorations into the topic.

    The problem with this article is it’s core assumption that not believing in the Biblical caricature …makes you atheist.

    Would I call myself an A-theist? Absolutely not.

    There is a growing 3rd group who adhere to what I call “The Nous Age Principle”, which fuses Eastern spirituality with contemporary investigative science.

  • David Boullata

    I think that if you include “agnostics, humanists, secular humanists, freethinkers, nontheists, anti-theists, skeptics, rationalists, naturalists, materialists, ignostics, apatheists, and more” in your definition of Atheists, then yes Atheism is winning the culture war.

    Personally, I don’t believe there is a man with a long white beard and robe sitting on a large chair in the clouds judging me…I likewise don’t believe a jolly old man in a red suit delivers toys to good children around the world with the help of 8 flying reindeer each December 24th!

    That said there is a truth behind the legend of Santa Claus …and I likewise emphatically believe there is truth behind the legend of “God”, “Source”, “Oneness”, “The Architect” or whatever you want to call it. Quantum physics has only begun their explorations into the topic.

    The problem with this article is it’s core assumption that not believing in the Biblical caricature …makes you atheist.

    Would I call myself an A-theist? Absolutely not.

    There is a growing 3rd group who adhere to what I call “The Nous Age Principle”, which fuses Eastern spirituality with contemporary investigative science.

  • Joel Hardman

    leibowde84,

    Is this how you evaluate evidence in any other area of knowledge? I doubt it. Is it possible that there is a god of some sort out there that hides all traces of its existence for some reason? I guess so. Does that mean that the belief that there is no god is merely an opinion? Nope.

    There is a lot of evidence that there is no god. Not only is there no evidence of a god, but we have no evidence of any being that exhibits any of the characteristics ascribed to god (omnipotence, non-material existence). The claims for god’s effect on the world have shrunk as scientific knowledge has advanced. Is this stuff proof that there is no god? No. It leads to a reasonable conclusion though: there is no god.

  • Joel Hardman

    leibowde84,

    Is this how you evaluate evidence in any other area of knowledge? I doubt it. Is it possible that there is a god of some sort out there that hides all traces of its existence for some reason? I guess so. Does that mean that the belief that there is no god is merely an opinion? Nope.

    There is a lot of evidence that there is no god. Not only is there no evidence of a god, but we have no evidence of any being that exhibits any of the characteristics ascribed to god (omnipotence, non-material existence). The claims for god’s effect on the world have shrunk as scientific knowledge has advanced. Is this stuff proof that there is no god? No. It leads to a reasonable conclusion though: there is no god.

  • Secular1

    David This “The Nous Age Principle” is unadulterated horse manure. It is so because you are mixing Eastern spirituality which is unadulterated horse manure, just like them three desert religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Just because you claim to fuse it with your so called investigative science, does not mean they would indeed fuse. When you put any of that horse manure to true scientific investigation you will discover that it is indeed horse manure. They are like oil and water they shall not mix.

    “I likewise emphatically believe there is truth behind the legend of “God”, “Source”, “Oneness”, “The Architect” or whatever you want to call it. Quantum physics has only begun their explorations into the topic.” This is your amorphous dog, that is whatever you want it to be when you are arguing about it. It is that slippery goo, whose definition you keep changing, just to get around, each previous argument that is advanced against it.

  • Secular1

    David This “The Nous Age Principle” is unadulterated horse manure. It is so because you are mixing Eastern spirituality which is unadulterated horse manure, just like them three desert religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Just because you claim to fuse it with your so called investigative science, does not mean they would indeed fuse. When you put any of that horse manure to true scientific investigation you will discover that it is indeed horse manure. They are like oil and water they shall not mix.

    “I likewise emphatically believe there is truth behind the legend of “God”, “Source”, “Oneness”, “The Architect” or whatever you want to call it. Quantum physics has only begun their explorations into the topic.” This is your amorphous dog, that is whatever you want it to be when you are arguing about it. It is that slippery goo, whose definition you keep changing, just to get around, each previous argument that is advanced against it.

  • Secular1

    As i stated below the definition for their god keeps changing. I call it the slippery goo definition. So if you successfully counter one definition out come the other. IT moves from all knowing all powerful perfect creature to an all loving compassion incarnate. From there it becomes the invisible energy that surrounds us. From there it suddenly becomes the embodiment of perfect knowledge about everything. Ultimately in my view the “DOG” is the sum total of human ignorance and superstition that fills in place of ignorance.

    As to religions, that claim to know this unknowable creature’s mind, which is a contradiction unto itself (advanced by the protagonists) is just a bunch hooey. Religion always and eventually follows human zeitgeist albeit kicking and screaming – in teh meanwhile causing unmentionable amount of human suffering. Take for instance in the 16th, 17th century human zeitgeist came to the unmistakable conclusion that slavery is grotesque and atrocious. Did it come about from any religious origins? The answer is an emphatic NO. Why it did not come from religion, because no religious leader would one day wake up and change. the prescriptions and proscription of their dogma, purported to be coming from their perfect sky daddy. Especially changing any of those prescriptions or proscriptions 180 degrees. They slowly adapt to it because the ignorant, filthy, amoral dogma is not sustainable. Classic example of this is the LDS change in its steadfast dogma about position of blacks in our society. Does anyone really believe that a perfect creature suddenly felt blacks were intrinsically bad people until the previous night and overnight have become righteous the next morning. Come on. MR. Romney’s famous pulling off of the road and crying after listening to the good tidings from his sky daddy. Why did Mitt cry after hearing it? Did he feel that his sky daddy was and glad he changed his mind? So did he think SD was wrong till then?

  • Secular1

    As i stated below the definition for their god keeps changing. I call it the slippery goo definition. So if you successfully counter one definition out come the other. IT moves from all knowing all powerful perfect creature to an all loving compassion incarnate. From there it becomes the invisible energy that surrounds us. From there it suddenly becomes the embodiment of perfect knowledge about everything. Ultimately in my view the “DOG” is the sum total of human ignorance and superstition that fills in place of ignorance.

    As to religions, that claim to know this unknowable creature’s mind, which is a contradiction unto itself (advanced by the protagonists) is just a bunch hooey. Religion always and eventually follows human zeitgeist albeit kicking and screaming – in teh meanwhile causing unmentionable amount of human suffering. Take for instance in the 16th, 17th century human zeitgeist came to the unmistakable conclusion that slavery is grotesque and atrocious. Did it come about from any religious origins? The answer is an emphatic NO. Why it did not come from religion, because no religious leader would one day wake up and change. the prescriptions and proscription of their dogma, purported to be coming from their perfect sky daddy. Especially changing any of those prescriptions or proscriptions 180 degrees. They slowly adapt to it because the ignorant, filthy, amoral dogma is not sustainable. Classic example of this is the LDS change in its steadfast dogma about position of blacks in our society. Does anyone really believe that a perfect creature suddenly felt blacks were intrinsically bad people until the previous night and overnight have become righteous the next morning. Come on. MR. Romney’s famous pulling off of the road and crying after listening to the good tidings from his sky daddy. Why did Mitt cry after hearing it? Did he feel that his sky daddy was and glad he changed his mind? So did he think SD was wrong till then?

  • Richard Collins

    This is really a war against reason. Unless you want to live in a theocracy you better pick a side. The fanatics are never going to give in of their own accord. The struggle between faith and reason has gone on for centuries. From time to time the faith warriors suffer setbacks. They simply lick their wounds and rejuvenate to fight on.

  • Richard Collins

    This is really a war against reason. Unless you want to live in a theocracy you better pick a side. The fanatics are never going to give in of their own accord. The struggle between faith and reason has gone on for centuries. From time to time the faith warriors suffer setbacks. They simply lick their wounds and rejuvenate to fight on.

  • MONTYMOOSE

    It seems most people commenting about my comment look at a half a glass of water as half empty.
    The Bible says that its Gods will that All be saved.
    He offers to give to everyone salvation as a Free gift. If a person chooses to reject the gift, its not His fault.
    Since All have sinned either in deed or thought, and He made the statement that the soul that sins (putting our will before Gods will ) shall be separated from Him, He can’t just say “just forget about it”, there had to be a price paid for sin.
    He chose to have His Son, Christ Jesus, sinless, pay the price for all who sinned and God would remain righteous in keeping His word.
    Any person who choses to believe in Christs attoning (substitionary) death for our sins will be forgiven and renew a relationship with God as a chi ld of God.
    ITS ALL FREE AT NO COST TO US IF YOU CHOOSE TO BELIEVE!!
    In the whole Bible God gives us a revelation of Whom He is. When you read the book you see He always keeps His word.
    When someone always does exactly what they say and even when its impossible you belive.
    Faith is an expectant hope based upon Whom you choose to believe.
    Biblical faith is believing in the promises of God.
    I hope you will read the book, compare it to facts that you know.
    I challenge you to find errors..I believe you will find faith

  • MONTYMOOSE

    It seems most people commenting about my comment look at a half a glass of water as half empty.
    The Bible says that its Gods will that All be saved.
    He offers to give to everyone salvation as a Free gift. If a person chooses to reject the gift, its not His fault.
    Since All have sinned either in deed or thought, and He made the statement that the soul that sins (putting our will before Gods will ) shall be separated from Him, He can’t just say “just forget about it”, there had to be a price paid for sin.
    He chose to have His Son, Christ Jesus, sinless, pay the price for all who sinned and God would remain righteous in keeping His word.
    Any person who choses to believe in Christs attoning (substitionary) death for our sins will be forgiven and renew a relationship with God as a chi ld of God.
    ITS ALL FREE AT NO COST TO US IF YOU CHOOSE TO BELIEVE!!
    In the whole Bible God gives us a revelation of Whom He is. When you read the book you see He always keeps His word.
    When someone always does exactly what they say and even when its impossible you belive.
    Faith is an expectant hope based upon Whom you choose to believe.
    Biblical faith is believing in the promises of God.
    I hope you will read the book, compare it to facts that you know.
    I challenge you to find errors..I believe you will find faith

  • Tender Hooligan

    Well maybe Monty, we looked at your post and saw that you say atheists are just warriors of demonic forces. That’s hardly a glass half empty situation. As an atheist, I could take exception to this, or I could just laugh, because it is actually utterly ludicrous. I did assume you were a caricature, and a fairly accurate one, or indeed just someone deliberately trying to put religion in a bad light. If that wasn’t your aim, you may need to rethink your tactics. Maybe you just want the best space in heaven for yourself, and that’s why you are trying to put people off joining you.
    Anyway, I shall carry on enjoying the here and now, without wasting time on expectant hope.

  • Tender Hooligan

    Well maybe Monty, we looked at your post and saw that you say atheists are just warriors of demonic forces. That’s hardly a glass half empty situation. As an atheist, I could take exception to this, or I could just laugh, because it is actually utterly ludicrous. I did assume you were a caricature, and a fairly accurate one, or indeed just someone deliberately trying to put religion in a bad light. If that wasn’t your aim, you may need to rethink your tactics. Maybe you just want the best space in heaven for yourself, and that’s why you are trying to put people off joining you.
    Anyway, I shall carry on enjoying the here and now, without wasting time on expectant hope.

  • Secular1

    Goliah, do Physics, or Chemistry or Mathematics have any intellectual root or foundation, as you seem to define. Atheism has as much intellectual roots and foundations as all of the four have. While the first four are related to human knowledge, knowledge about the nature of things that we amidst. Atheism is a way of living just based on the knowledge gained thus far. It is a way of living that is eschews superstition and adheres to the human zeitgeist of the day. That is a lot more than we can say for any religionists. As to claims of ultimate reality, perhaps Atheism does not make any claims. How does that matter, when we know how well the religions that claimed to have the monopoly on the ultimate reality have fared abysmally?

    Your second paragraph seems to be mired in inane rambling. What is your point. The fact is atheism is

    ” freed from orthodoxy, are now rethinking the God question in the light of new scriptural discoveries that suggestively point to a potential for insight more profound that either church or tent can offer.” What kind of nonsense is that. What are these “scriptural discoveries”? Are you going to the same well of scriptures and trying to interpret them in a new way that your predecessors have tried, and tried again and failed miserably? Give it up man.

  • Secular1

    Goliah, do Physics, or Chemistry or Mathematics have any intellectual root or foundation, as you seem to define. Atheism has as much intellectual roots and foundations as all of the four have. While the first four are related to human knowledge, knowledge about the nature of things that we amidst. Atheism is a way of living just based on the knowledge gained thus far. It is a way of living that is eschews superstition and adheres to the human zeitgeist of the day. That is a lot more than we can say for any religionists. As to claims of ultimate reality, perhaps Atheism does not make any claims. How does that matter, when we know how well the religions that claimed to have the monopoly on the ultimate reality have fared abysmally?

    Your second paragraph seems to be mired in inane rambling. What is your point. The fact is atheism is

    ” freed from orthodoxy, are now rethinking the God question in the light of new scriptural discoveries that suggestively point to a potential for insight more profound that either church or tent can offer.” What kind of nonsense is that. What are these “scriptural discoveries”? Are you going to the same well of scriptures and trying to interpret them in a new way that your predecessors have tried, and tried again and failed miserably? Give it up man.

  • weisschr

    This is when freedom of speech on the internet is just a time suck for people who see comments like this and wonder if there is something “there.”

    You have posted this nonsense on several forums, claiming there is such a thing as scientific religion or rational faith. This is an oxymoron. The definition of religious faith is belief without proof. You are claiming that belief in god can be fully rationalized and redefined, when in reality you are talking in vague generalities and sweeping statements.

    It is highly unlikely religion will ever be purged unless humans themselves transform. For example, you can train folks in statistics, independent events, odds, etc., and still many people will fall prey to gamblers fallacies, resulting from people imposing patterns on random data. Similarly, no matter how much science some people are exposed to, some will reject it in favor of religious belief because the alternative is too scary.

    The big shift that is just at the beginning is recognizing the limits of religious discussions. What this means is that people will be freer moving forward to question their beliefs. This questioning will not be just youthful rebellion but an actual questioning. Atheism is not a goal but a consequence of more rational thought processes and less programming.

    You are treating atheism as a movement rather than as a consequence. If you actually look at what most of the new atheists are saying, it is more about atheism being the outcome of a train of thought rather than imposing any set of “beliefs” on anyone. This is very different from the politicized atheism of communism and other dictatorships and oligarchies.

  • weisschr

    This is when freedom of speech on the internet is just a time suck for people who see comments like this and wonder if there is something “there.”

    You have posted this nonsense on several forums, claiming there is such a thing as scientific religion or rational faith. This is an oxymoron. The definition of religious faith is belief without proof. You are claiming that belief in god can be fully rationalized and redefined, when in reality you are talking in vague generalities and sweeping statements.

    It is highly unlikely religion will ever be purged unless humans themselves transform. For example, you can train folks in statistics, independent events, odds, etc., and still many people will fall prey to gamblers fallacies, resulting from people imposing patterns on random data. Similarly, no matter how much science some people are exposed to, some will reject it in favor of religious belief because the alternative is too scary.

    The big shift that is just at the beginning is recognizing the limits of religious discussions. What this means is that people will be freer moving forward to question their beliefs. This questioning will not be just youthful rebellion but an actual questioning. Atheism is not a goal but a consequence of more rational thought processes and less programming.

    You are treating atheism as a movement rather than as a consequence. If you actually look at what most of the new atheists are saying, it is more about atheism being the outcome of a train of thought rather than imposing any set of “beliefs” on anyone. This is very different from the politicized atheism of communism and other dictatorships and oligarchies.

  • h5r2

    How can anyone “choose” to believe something that makes no sense to him? Can you, Monty, choose to believe there are little green men living in your toilet bowl?

  • h5r2

    How can anyone “choose” to believe something that makes no sense to him? Can you, Monty, choose to believe there are little green men living in your toilet bowl?

  • David Boullata

    Secular1, I’m not quite sure how you are able to comment on my Nous Age Principle when my book, which spells it out hasn’t been published yet.

    You are either clairvoyant or conceding that you are unwilling to accept anything other than you narrow point of view.

  • David Boullata

    Secular1, I’m not quite sure how you are able to comment on my Nous Age Principle when my book, which spells it out hasn’t been published yet.

    You are either clairvoyant or conceding that you are unwilling to accept anything other than you narrow point of view.

  • AllTheWorldsAStage

    There is no war. Just nothing but a never ending cycle.

    You think this is the first time Atheism was on the rise?

    Yes religion is taking a beating right now… But we won’t kill it.

    It’s numbers will shrink, its members will grow increasingly more and more hateful.

    Then just as it’s always been throughout history, they’ll get themselves a nutcase public leader.

    Then starts the law making, and the arrests and the trials and then the screaming, and torture, and the murder and disemboweling and burnings..

    And that will go on until religion feels its gotten enough revenge and starts to calm down again…

    People we start getting brave again and start calling it all bs.. start proving their lies incorrect.. again..

    We’ll relearn technology after their murder induced dark ages..

    And just like its been many times before.. The cycle will start all over again.

  • AllTheWorldsAStage

    There is no war. Just nothing but a never ending cycle.

    You think this is the first time Atheism was on the rise?

    Yes religion is taking a beating right now… But we won’t kill it.

    It’s numbers will shrink, its members will grow increasingly more and more hateful.

    Then just as it’s always been throughout history, they’ll get themselves a nutcase public leader.

    Then starts the law making, and the arrests and the trials and then the screaming, and torture, and the murder and disemboweling and burnings..

    And that will go on until religion feels its gotten enough revenge and starts to calm down again…

    People we start getting brave again and start calling it all bs.. start proving their lies incorrect.. again..

    We’ll relearn technology after their murder induced dark ages..

    And just like its been many times before.. The cycle will start all over again.

  • sciencelady1

    There is a lot of nuance in non-belief.
    For me, atheism was a long path that required reflection, critical thinking and reading the bible. I didn’t know what to call myself throughout the journey: skeptic, agnostic, humanist, freethinker, feminist, and finally, atheist. Now I identify as all of them.

    I can’t get enough of Herb Silverman. He is my incentive to subscribe to WaPo.

  • sciencelady1

    There is a lot of nuance in non-belief.
    For me, atheism was a long path that required reflection, critical thinking and reading the bible. I didn’t know what to call myself throughout the journey: skeptic, agnostic, humanist, freethinker, feminist, and finally, atheist. Now I identify as all of them.

    I can’t get enough of Herb Silverman. He is my incentive to subscribe to WaPo.

  • weisschr

    You are essentially repeating the dystopian view from the story “The Handmaiden’s Tale.” There are several things wrong with your post.

    1. The introduction of technology such as the internet means that people cannot effectively hide their barbarism in large sophisticated countries. Things like nuclear bombs, drones, etc., mean that simple numerical supremacy is irrelevant without the tech to support it. Technology gives people mobility and speeds the exchange of culture. Dictatorships, especially religiously based dictatorships, are only maintained through isolation.

    2. This “cycle of murder” is at best a local or regional event. It has never happened in the US. We haven’t existed long enough to see something like this, and the first amendment has kept religious zealots in check. Look at what Turkey has done by empowering the military to prevent government from becoming too religious. It is unlikely that any large western nation will ever see this sort of religious revolution.

    3. Never in history have western countries experienced the religious freedom we see today. The fact that people can be an open atheist and not be fired and effectively blacklisted in much of the US is a serious step forward. This trend is even more prevalent in the next generation, who will be taking power over the next 20 years.

    The hateful minority you speak of will never get enough people and tech behind them to take over the US and other large western nations.

  • weisschr

    You are essentially repeating the dystopian view from the story “The Handmaiden’s Tale.” There are several things wrong with your post.

    1. The introduction of technology such as the internet means that people cannot effectively hide their barbarism in large sophisticated countries. Things like nuclear bombs, drones, etc., mean that simple numerical supremacy is irrelevant without the tech to support it. Technology gives people mobility and speeds the exchange of culture. Dictatorships, especially religiously based dictatorships, are only maintained through isolation.

    2. This “cycle of murder” is at best a local or regional event. It has never happened in the US. We haven’t existed long enough to see something like this, and the first amendment has kept religious zealots in check. Look at what Turkey has done by empowering the military to prevent government from becoming too religious. It is unlikely that any large western nation will ever see this sort of religious revolution.

    3. Never in history have western countries experienced the religious freedom we see today. The fact that people can be an open atheist and not be fired and effectively blacklisted in much of the US is a serious step forward. This trend is even more prevalent in the next generation, who will be taking power over the next 20 years.

    The hateful minority you speak of will never get enough people and tech behind them to take over the US and other large western nations.

  • larryclyons

    Maybe to you Monty, but I reject the blackmail implicit in your statement. If anything I prefer this ancient piece of wisdom: Much better than your threat of eternal damnation.

    “Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

    ― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

  • larryclyons

    Maybe to you Monty, but I reject the blackmail implicit in your statement. If anything I prefer this ancient piece of wisdom: Much better than your threat of eternal damnation.

    “Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

    ― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

  • Cecilia Fx

    as long as atheists keep up the dialog we won’t descend into a Dark Ages.
    The lunatic theists (creationists in the USA) are trying to keep children uneducated and docile, but this is where we have to fight them. As long as we can continue to encourage education and science we should be relatively ok.

    After all, even children in Pakistan understand how important education is – and at least one of them is willing to speak out about it even after getting shot.

  • Cecilia Fx

    as long as atheists keep up the dialog we won’t descend into a Dark Ages.
    The lunatic theists (creationists in the USA) are trying to keep children uneducated and docile, but this is where we have to fight them. As long as we can continue to encourage education and science we should be relatively ok.

    After all, even children in Pakistan understand how important education is – and at least one of them is willing to speak out about it even after getting shot.

  • Cecilia Fx

    David, you are free to believe anything you like. I’m fine with that. Just Never never never use your beliefs to take away my civil rights. That’s ALL I ask.

    As long as people understand the Separation of church and State will live happy lives.

  • Cecilia Fx

    David, you are free to believe anything you like. I’m fine with that. Just Never never never use your beliefs to take away my civil rights. That’s ALL I ask.

    As long as people understand the Separation of church and State will live happy lives.

  • fakedude2

    Please enjoy a glass of drano.

  • fakedude2

    Please enjoy a glass of drano.

  • h5r2

    I’m pleased that Oprah is being called out for insisting that atheists can’t have awe and wonder in their ives.

  • h5r2

    I’m pleased that Oprah is being called out for insisting that atheists can’t have awe and wonder in their ives.

  • smt123

    Poor quantum mechanics, always being used by people who probably don’t even know what a Fourier transform is to justify whatever vaguely defined superstition they believe in.

  • smt123

    Poor quantum mechanics, always being used by people who probably don’t even know what a Fourier transform is to justify whatever vaguely defined superstition they believe in.

  • Rongoklunk

    It’s not atheism that’s religion’s main enemy. It’s science. So many books by scientists today – teach us that no God was needed in figuring out how existence came to be; it was all about chemistry and eons of time; no God needed. The recent Pew findings showed that non-belief is the trend, and that religions are losing believers – especially young people in their teens and early twenties. In a civilized twenty-first-century society, superstitions no longer have the credibility they had in centuries past. We are being educated beyond ancient beliefs. And so we should be. Our ancestors were always making up Gods, but WE have moved on.

  • Rongoklunk

    It’s not atheism that’s religion’s main enemy. It’s science. So many books by scientists today – teach us that no God was needed in figuring out how existence came to be; it was all about chemistry and eons of time; no God needed. The recent Pew findings showed that non-belief is the trend, and that religions are losing believers – especially young people in their teens and early twenties. In a civilized twenty-first-century society, superstitions no longer have the credibility they had in centuries past. We are being educated beyond ancient beliefs. And so we should be. Our ancestors were always making up Gods, but WE have moved on.

  • h5r2

    I agree. Humans are the creators, because they created Gods.

  • h5r2

    I agree. Humans are the creators, because they created Gods.

  • csintala79

    Yes, one can experience the natural world with awe and wonder without injecting god(s) into the picture. Knowing the scientific explanation for natural events is sufficient and not attributing it to god(s) does not diminish the beauty of a sunset.

    Proposing that the universe had to have a creator is an opinion, not a verified fact. Equally possible is that the universe was not created and has existed eternally in one state of being or another. The expansion and subsequent contraction endlessly repeats itself; it pulsates.

    What is inexplicable is why a god that is eternal created something that had never existed before out of nothing. Why? Did god become lonely? Why did he create the universe 6,000 years ago or so and not before? If god is perfect then why would he feel emptiness because he was alone? If he is perfect why would he become angry, say he is jealous, etc.? In his creatures these are all faults. The notions of eternity and omnipotence along with all the other attributers of a perfect being are hard to comprehend and no system of belief, religious, scientific or philosophic, fully or even closely begins to explain the characteristics of existence.

  • csintala79

    Yes, one can experience the natural world with awe and wonder without injecting god(s) into the picture. Knowing the scientific explanation for natural events is sufficient and not attributing it to god(s) does not diminish the beauty of a sunset.

    Proposing that the universe had to have a creator is an opinion, not a verified fact. Equally possible is that the universe was not created and has existed eternally in one state of being or another. The expansion and subsequent contraction endlessly repeats itself; it pulsates.

    What is inexplicable is why a god that is eternal created something that had never existed before out of nothing. Why? Did god become lonely? Why did he create the universe 6,000 years ago or so and not before? If god is perfect then why would he feel emptiness because he was alone? If he is perfect why would he become angry, say he is jealous, etc.? In his creatures these are all faults. The notions of eternity and omnipotence along with all the other attributers of a perfect being are hard to comprehend and no system of belief, religious, scientific or philosophic, fully or even closely begins to explain the characteristics of existence.

  • csintala79

    In addition, atheists are greatly unrepresented in the population of our prisons. Most prisoners claim to believe in some supreme being or another. Atheists are either more moral or more intelligent in evading capture. A goodly number of the religious are moral due to fear of divine wrath and punishment or eagerness to receive rewards.. Atheists don’t need to be threatened or bribed to be moral.

  • csintala79

    In addition, atheists are greatly unrepresented in the population of our prisons. Most prisoners claim to believe in some supreme being or another. Atheists are either more moral or more intelligent in evading capture. A goodly number of the religious are moral due to fear of divine wrath and punishment or eagerness to receive rewards.. Atheists don’t need to be threatened or bribed to be moral.

  • flafreethinker

    I was brought up in a catholic home, sent to parochial school and asked to leave it after 2nd grade. I asked too many questions that the nuns could not or would not answer. After a solid public school education I realized that I had been a non believer most of my life. To me, the bible was so fictitious, I could not understand why anyone would continue to revere it. I hold several college degree’s, all in the sciences and there is nothing that makes me more awed then the wonders of nature itself. To truly see evolution and understand the principles of relativity, physics geology and all the other aspects of our world unfold in front of us! Once that is done, religion is left in the dust!

  • flafreethinker

    I was brought up in a catholic home, sent to parochial school and asked to leave it after 2nd grade. I asked too many questions that the nuns could not or would not answer. After a solid public school education I realized that I had been a non believer most of my life. To me, the bible was so fictitious, I could not understand why anyone would continue to revere it. I hold several college degree’s, all in the sciences and there is nothing that makes me more awed then the wonders of nature itself. To truly see evolution and understand the principles of relativity, physics geology and all the other aspects of our world unfold in front of us! Once that is done, religion is left in the dust!

  • David Boullata

    Cecilia Fx, I agree whole heatedly. I’m Palestinian and lost everything (my country, my family, my history) due to a god who supposedly promised land to it’s “chosen people”…sadly because I’m not Jewish I didn’t fit that category and overnight became a second class citizen in my own home.

    p.s. I’m not sure if you were implying that somehow MY beliefs were taking away your civil rights…or if you were making false assumptions.

  • David Boullata

    Cecilia Fx, I agree whole heatedly. I’m Palestinian and lost everything (my country, my family, my history) due to a god who supposedly promised land to it’s “chosen people”…sadly because I’m not Jewish I didn’t fit that category and overnight became a second class citizen in my own home.

    p.s. I’m not sure if you were implying that somehow MY beliefs were taking away your civil rights…or if you were making false assumptions.

  • Rongoklunk

    goliah;
    I guess when they pushed the god-idea into your head when you were a child, your world view necessarily HAD to include him for the rest of your life. If it wasn’t for childhood indoctrination there wouldn’t be any believers, because only the child’s brain uncritically accepts such a stupid hypothesis.
    Atheism is about truth. Atheists don’t believe in magic or any superstition – or invisible gods. We see them as human constructs that come to us from our ancient ancestors, who didn’t know the difference between the real and the imagined, and knew nothing about the world they found themselves in – except how to hunt, gather, and procreate. Over eons of time they invented more that 3500 Gods. It tells us how desperately they needed to believe that there was somebody up in the sky watching over them. It obviously consoled them and made them feel good. But we don’t need them anymore. We have put aside childish beliefs and look to science and commonsense to enlighten us and teach us about the real world. Superstitions make no sense to educated people.

  • Rongoklunk

    goliah;
    I guess when they pushed the god-idea into your head when you were a child, your world view necessarily HAD to include him for the rest of your life. If it wasn’t for childhood indoctrination there wouldn’t be any believers, because only the child’s brain uncritically accepts such a stupid hypothesis.
    Atheism is about truth. Atheists don’t believe in magic or any superstition – or invisible gods. We see them as human constructs that come to us from our ancient ancestors, who didn’t know the difference between the real and the imagined, and knew nothing about the world they found themselves in – except how to hunt, gather, and procreate. Over eons of time they invented more that 3500 Gods. It tells us how desperately they needed to believe that there was somebody up in the sky watching over them. It obviously consoled them and made them feel good. But we don’t need them anymore. We have put aside childish beliefs and look to science and commonsense to enlighten us and teach us about the real world. Superstitions make no sense to educated people.

  • David Boullata

    smt123, poor quantum mechanics indeed. Be sure to watch out for my book in the Fall of 2014 where I will clearly connect for you how quantum physics’ latest discoveries are proving the existence of an intelligent force behind the Universe and everything in it. TheNousAge net

  • David Boullata

    smt123, poor quantum mechanics indeed. Be sure to watch out for my book in the Fall of 2014 where I will clearly connect for you how quantum physics’ latest discoveries are proving the existence of an intelligent force behind the Universe and everything in it. TheNousAge net