Regarding the spread of atheism

42


Discussion by: Seyr
Consider that a disease is more likely to be effective if it spreads unnoticed, until it passes a critical threshold, after which it is unlikely to be eradicated.

If atheism can be compared to this, what if the publicity of atheism has come prematurely? What if, instead of planting the seeds of a secular society, the assault on religion has woken the defenses of a force too large to fight? What if instead of inspiring doubt, it inspires radicalism?

If so, would the wise option be to perservere as normal, or to get atheism out of the spotlight and use more passive means of spreading secularisation?

If not, what are the most effective steps one can take to increase the rate of infection?

42 COMMENTS

  1. I am a fighter.  I always have been.  I say fight the fight now, even if we are outnumbered and it seems overwhelming.  Atheists have been far too silent as a community, in my opinion.  We need more voices out there in the spotlight fighting for rationality and secularism.  We lost one of our greatest fighters last year when Christopher Hitchens passed away.  It cannot just be RD, Lawrence Krauss, Daniel Dennett and a few others out there.  More need to step up and have their voices heard.  There are a lot more atheists out there than you think.  There are plenty of atheists out there who don’t realize they are atheists yet, but need to hear the “good word” that it is okay to be an atheist.

  2. Seyr,

    I profoundly disagree with your assertion of a stealth approach. We need to be aggressive in promoting secularism in society and reason as a tool for solving our problems.

    I do believe we need to pick our fights, however. As an Atheist I neither have a need that others agree with me nor do I have a desire to proselytize my beliefs. After all, Atheism is not really a belief but an assertion of what it is not, not what it is.

    We do need to works with  Theist, however, to create an atmosphere of collective respect and a secular society. Many will agree with us on this

  3. I think you make a good point, Seyr. We have woken up various voices of religion, including even the good old Church of England. But what I think we are doing is eroding religion and exposing the much smaller hard core, which in turn will be eroded. It does get tougher and some will never turn from the dark side, but we must push on. The religious have nowhere to go to defend their indefensible position.

  4. The opinions above speak to the larger societal picture.  I would like to remind us of those individuals who suffer everyday with the fact that they live in a deep dark closet that they may never leave in any hope of safety.  There are Atheists living under threat of death in many parts of the world. Even here in the free West we have Atheists who never had the support to speak about their views freely and be accepted as good and ethical people. They grew up in rigid, conservative families who were more concerned with outside appearances and tribal cohesion (see the Pinker video) than with the psychological well-being of their own child. Anyone who’s ever lived in a closet of any kind knows what it’s like to have their self esteem twisted and crushed by intolerance all around them.  Our public intellectuals exist as heros and beacons of light to us and give us the courage to speak up for ourselves even though we may be outnumbered by the deluded people all around us. 

  5. What…?

    The strength of atheism / secularism / humanism / critical thinking / rationalism / whatever are their core ideas. How would you promote your ideas unnoticed? How would you help fight fundamentalism and religious dogma (hear hear) by staying silent?

    Doesn’t work like that. On the contrary, the louder and the more articulate you are, the better.

  6. Religion is the disease that has been spreading from adults to children for millennia.  The best way to eradicate it is to inoculate the young so that they are able to fight it off. Once the disease runs out of hosts it will go extinct. Atheism is simply its absence.

    The best way to inoculate children is to expose them to harmless disease fragments (inconsistent and incoherent passages from religious texts for example) so that their resistance can be built up. This can also work on some infected adults whose minds have been exposed to reasoning.

    The most effective device for inoculation already exists thanks to a certain knighted ex-CERN researcher (for those who watch NBC it’s the Internet and Sir Tim Berners-Lee respectively). Unfortunately the disease is also spreading through this device so it’s important to keep it topped up with fresh vaccine.

    Enough of the metaphor. What can be done to increase the uptake?

    Children should be encouraged to rebut religious arguments in school by arming themselves with the knowledge contained in appropriate books (there’s one in particular that needs no mention here). Publicly wearing down those trying to spread religion in schools will help limit its spread to other children.

    Scientists (particularly those with expertise in evolutionary biology, particle physics and cosmology) should develop their capabilities as communicators so that they can become trusted rebutters in the areas where religion is weakest.

    So when the religious troll has left its droppings in a blog or newspaper article comment – rebut. When a delusional individual posts yet another anti-atheist video – rebut. When there’s a questionable religious tweet or wall post – rebut.

    To paraphrase Blake from Glengarry Glen Ross: Always Be Rebutting.

  7. One approach would be to borrow all the techniques from religions — they work really well — but then that makes you little different to any other religion.

    For me the answer is to teach children to think for themselves, and to explain that there are lots of different points of view in the world.  Teach them creationism in the religion class, evolution in the science class, and get them to think about the differences in the world-views, think about the uses each one has, where they come from and so on.  If you encourage them to think and make up their own mind, then I think they will turn out okay.

    Teaching people to believe without questioning — for science or religion or anything is just asking for trouble.  What are schools for?  Creating robots to work in factories?  In that case they just need to repeat their training, they don’t have to understand where it came from.  Or to produce thinking creative independent human beings?

  8.  Did anybody ever suggest teaching science students to believe without questioning?

    I don’t like the end of your first sentence  – “any other religion”. Any OTHER? Since when is science a religion?

  9. If we do compare atheism to a disease, your argument still has 1 major problem: talking about it is its mechanism of transmission. That’s why centuries of not talking about it barely allowed its spread at all but now business is booming (look at some stats).

  10. Did anybody ever suggest teaching science students to believe without questioning?

    If you’re going to question everything in your science education, you will really infuriate your teachers.  So to some extent science students have to just take some things on trust, ideally temporarily until they can verify them through reading about or doing physical experiments, or by doing thought experiments.  But to illustrate how things are taken on trust, every now and again someone thinks: “But is it really the way we’ve always thought it was?” and then they revolutionise their field.  If everyone was questioning everything, it would be the students having these revolutionary thoughts, but in practice it isn’t.  So even in science, where ideally questioning should be encouraged, there is a kind of limit to how practical it is within the process of education.

     (Personally I questioned everything, and tried to prove everything to myself, which worked well at school but unfortunately caused me to burn out at Oxford where the pace was far faster. There is no way that those that survived the course actually fully verified to themselves and thought through the implications of everything they were taught.)

    I don’t like the end of your first sentence  - “any other religion”. Any OTHER? Since when is science a religion?

    Science is a religion if you promote it as religions promote themselves, in other words as received wisdom which should be believed and not questioned — where there is a hierarchy of experts who supposedly know more than you, whose every word must be respected.  I can see traces of this attitude here at times, like some people here are “science consumers”, and don’t see that they have a right to question and think for themselves, and that anyone can be a “producer” of science, even just in terms of their everyday environments — i.e. making a hypothesis about how something works and then testing that hypothesis for themselves.

  11.  > I am a fighter.  I always have been.  I say fight the fight now, even if
    we are outnumbered and it seems overwhelming.  Atheists have been far
    too silent as a community,

    because being an atheist does not make you a member of a community. You make the mistake of seeeing religion as your enemy and seeking to be more like them.

    > in my opinion.  We need more voices out there
    in the spotlight fighting for rationality and secularism.  We lost one
    of our greatest fighters last year when Christopher Hitchens passed
    away.  It cannot just be RD, Lawrence Krauss, Daniel Dennett and a few
    others out there.  More need to step up and have their voices heard. 
    There are a lot more atheists out there than you think.  There are
    plenty of atheists out there who don’t realize they are atheists yet,
    but need to hear the “good word” that it is okay to be an atheist.

    and there are those who are perfectly aware “is is okay to be an atheist” but see no reason to shout and scream about it. I don’t believe in god(s) but I haven’t joined some sort of club.

  12.  > The strength of atheism / secularism / humanism / critical thinking /
    rationalism / whatever are their core ideas.

    I object to these things being lumped together. I’m not a humanist for instance. Many religious people are perfectly rational.  They are perfectly capable of using rational thinking in theological and moral problems (given their axioms). “Critical thinking” used in this fashion usually just means “agreeing with me”.

    I’ll happily challenge obvious irrationality (homeopathy, astrology, creationism, anthropic climate change denial) . But if my friends or neighbours want to go to church (or mosque), to pray and just generally get on with their lives than I’m happy to let them do it.

    Speaking as a secularist I find your attitude as disturbing as that of other fundamentalists.

    > How would you promote your
    ideas unnoticed?

    why would I promote my ideas?

     > How would you help fight fundamentalism and religious
    dogma (hear hear) by staying silent?

    Doesn’t work like that. On the contrary, the louder and the more articulate you are, the better.

  13. I think comparing atheism to a disease is a flawed analogy. Atheism is no more a disease than the theory of relativity or evolution. Atheism is a religious/cultural idea rather than one of physics or biology but the basics are still the same. Its a set of hypotheses supported by rational arguments and data. Comparing it to a disease just plays into the idea that there is no objective truth “oh you have the atheism disease and I have the Christian disease” that ideas happen to people rather than rational agents making evaluations and decisions.

    But to directly answer the question: No.  You can’t spread a new idea too soon or too often, it takes a long, long time for new ideas to replace entrenched ones, especially ideas like atheism that have to combat religions where people have so much vested interest in retaining their current beliefs in spite of evidence. The sooner you start the better.

  14. I think we need both the fighting response which is what Chris Hitchens implored Dawkins to continue doing ie..be strident and it is ongoing but as I’ve repeatedly said here we are missing the ‘passive’ method, by that I mean making it more attractive by making it easier for people to make ends meet.  If we can counter the supposed ‘charitable’ abilities of Religion by doing it better through Humanist/Atheist/Secular/Agnostic aid agencies then this will surely attract people. Obviously this is too dangerous in many middle East/African regions but it’s not like that in most Western countries, especially the backwater areas I’ve heard of in the US which are being left behind more than ever.  Desperation in being able to pay ones bills is a strong recruiting force/fertile breeding ground for organised religions which is what many people here seem to forget ie..taking for granted their (relative) financial independance. 

  15. I think that as people have the ability to ask questions and get answers from many different sources there is hope that the seed of doubt will circulate more freely. What we are seeing appears to be the theological equivalent of a cornered beast (religion) that has been confronted by its own mortality reacts more and more violently because of its members own inner doubts.  Atheism  is spreading by its own accord when every person can see the results of science not religion all around them making their lives better, where as grovelling to some deity gets no tangible results. Religion needs to be actively challenged wherever possible. 
    If the supposed word of god can not stand up to intelligent scrutiny then it should not be taken as dogma.

  16. > I object to these things being lumped together. I’m not a humanist for instance. 

    The point is, if you want to put a point across whatever it is, then waiting around for things to calm down is a bad strategy. Especially in that particular context. Not providing a counter point to radicalism is the worse thing you can do. On the other hand, goading them is not a good idea. If anything it is playing their game. We’re suppose to be the adults here.

    > why would I promote my ideas?

    This is the subject at hand. If you don’t want to, fine, but then you’re not part of the conversation.

    > I’ll happily challenge obvious irrationality (homeopathy, astrology, creationism, anthropic climate change denial) . But if my friends or neighbours want to go to church (or mosque), to pray and just generally get on with their lives than I’m happy to let them do it.

    And so am I. But again this is not the point of the conversation. Regular Joe’s going along with their life whatever path they may choose are no concern to me. We are far from homeopathy territory here.

  17. “I think we need both the fighting response which is what Chris Hitchens implored Dawkins to continue doing ie..be strident”

    I don’t understand why anyone feels a need to be strident. BTW, I wouldn’t consider Dawkins or Hitchens strident. They were always polite. Hitchens had a cutting and very funny sense of humor but he was never what I would call strident. I think by saying we need to be strident you are unintentionally buying into the fundamentalists characterization of atheists.

    I do see comment on this site I would consider strident. Far too many. Simplistic mocking of theists, repetition of jokes I’ve heard a million times, personal and insulting attacks on theists, etc. I think its childish and doesn’t help anything.

    I’ve been involved in some pretty serious discussions in the research groups I’ve worked in. I remember a seminar that used to be called “friday fights”. The guest lecturer, and these were some very well known people from places like Stanford and MIT, usually didn’t get through even half their slides because people used to challenge every bullet point and have wonderful and often heated discussions about them. But people almost never got “strident”. And what I recall is that the absolutely MOST convincing people were never the people who jumped up and banged on the table but the people who talked carefully and with considered thought to everything they said. It seems to me that what works for computer science and science in general would also be best for discussing atheism.

  18. My experience is in gay lib.  It looked as though nothing was ever going to change.  When I came out publicly I knew of no other person in Canada who had done so. However, everything took off so fast I could not believe it. It is an exponential process.  Every person who came forward encouraged still others to come forward.  There was an information vacuum, and my privilege from being the first out out was I got to be the one to fill it. Richard Dawkins is fulfilling this role for atheists.

    It is not as though there is an inquisition torturing atheists. They don’t need to hide. They need to simply let others know they are atheist. This gives others permission to be atheist.

    You can create a website banner to proclaim your atheism at http://ffrf.org/out/

    The arguments against Christian BS need to be in the ether, ready to use any time BS is expounded. Not everyone is smart enough to compose refutations out of their own heads.  Eventually the Christians will be cowed.  Christians are used to getting away with bafflegab and having no one object because they preached only to the choir.  I would hope we are evolving an Internet where any place there is such a claim with feedback, you will also hear a refutation.

  19. I see Christianity as a termite-infected house.  It is gradually crumbling even though it still look intact and powerful. Science is eroding its supernatural underpinings. 

    The televangelist churches and megachurches are counterfeit churches, sucking up money, but not delivering the traditional services. They are like parasites on the Christian community.

    The encouragement of pedophilia was once fairly easy to hush up. Now everyone on earth hears the details. This is eroding the church’s moral authority, and the lawsuits will drain its coffers.  Every successful lawsuit encourages others to come forth.

    Another source of the erosion is young people reject the church and its bigoted values.  Gradually the bigots and believers are dying off.  Even most of the megapreachers are quite senior and won’t last much longer.

  20. Atheism does not need to crawl around like bugs at night. I recall my childhood neighbors being open about their lack of belief. They were well respected and their children were intelligent and behaved. A couple of other kids in my elementary school were openly nonbelievers. By them being open, I viewed atheism and a lack of belief in a positive light. I knew one other atheist who was married to a relative. He had OCD and would send us six page long letters and more atheist literature than several teams of Jehovah Witnesses. If I didn’t have other positive role models, I would think atheism was evil. I never did.

    The fact is atheists are at a critical threshold. I know more people with doubts than with belief. They are deists but don’t even know it.

  21. I think you bring up an interesting point. I think we have to ask ourselves:
    1. is the radicalism we are seeing is in response to our activism or something else?
    2. would we be more effective in advancing secularism out of the spot light?

    Christian and Islamic fundamentalist movements go back to the 1980 at least with Reagan’s pandering to the Christian right, the Iran hostages, and numerous terrorist acts. Atheism was silent then. I don’t think we have to worry about #1.

    With regard to #2, I think we have to be in the spot light to raise consciousness of alternatives. We were silent, meaning we expressed our doubts individually, and nothing happened. We are seeing a rise in our numbers as witnessed by poll now. We are getting air time in the media. Like gays in the 80′s, we are drawing fire because we are making progress.

    You are right to ask the question. I think the answer is we are doing the right thing.

  22. lets not get atheism and secularism mixed up.

    if we’re talking about the spread of people who doubt their religion’s beliefs there’s no way of telling how far it’s spread already.

    if we’re talking about standing up for human rights, no way should we do it on the quiet.

    you don’t have to prove to the world that god doesnt exist, only highlight the cognative dissonance that beleivers hold until they themselves have to question themselves. even if they stick to some “god works in myserious ways” to deal with world events, the message “people who claim to speak for god work in shitty ways” can still slip through.

    the suggestion of building in stealth then winning by numbers misses the point entirely and gives credence to the argumentum ad populum fallacy

  23. I agree Sagan,

    What is interesting to me is that if Islamists had peacefully demonstrated against the movie and sought out the help of fundamentalist Christians in banning such insulting display against a major religious figure, they would probably have received considerable support. And that, is my concern.

    I really have no interest in spreading my beliefs (or lack thereof), it is a personal thing. I am more than happy to discuss it with those that want to but not proselytize. What I am militant about is in promoting a secular participatory society. Not only because it insures my freedom but because I believe it is simply a better system of government.

  24. Yes it’s OK to be an atheist, it’s OK to be agnostic. But the point is we believe in an alternative to ‘god creation’ and not in I’m against this or I’m against that idea.   So every time we make an arguement about this faith or that religion we should validate our selves, as being ….as being….as being present in this wonderful universe and able to question faith based beliefs with what we learn from our ever expanding knowledge, through question based science. There is no fight. Just confidence in truth. Remember christrians muslims and jews do it with loving kindness and submission to god. Science should do it with calm compassion and respect for the facts.

  25. sbach
    Yes it’s OK to be an atheist, it’s OK to be agnostic. But the point is we believe in an alternative to ‘god creation’ and not in I’m against this or I’m against that idea.

    I certainly don’t  “believe” the physics of the Universe is “an alternative to god creation”!
    ” God creation” – whatever multifarious form that is claimed to be, is not even on the agenda  as a credible hypothesis. I’ll stick to astronomical and cosmological evolution.

    I am interested in the confirmation by evidenced observations and experiments, as to which scientific hypotheses best match reality and further push out the frontiers of human knowledge.

    There is no fight. Just confidence in truth. Remember christrians
    muslims and jews do it with loving kindness and submission to god.

    Do they really?  Some may do, but many are spoiling for a fight or opportunities to impose their dogmas on others.  Especially their priests and politicians.

  26. Atheism is clearly not a believe so not a religion… what we can do is promoting humanism (morals, reason and science etc.), have meetings, build buildings for communities, ..
    we just need to be anti-theists if we confront Religious zealots. ;)  

  27. that’s an interesting point. the use of reasoned protest would have gained support, probably from many people not just religious. it would, if successful, ultimately lead to some admission on the part of the film-maker that it was not a nice thing to do and they do not have the support of the general public, even if the public support the right to make such trash.

    the knee-jerk reaction of violent protest doesn’t make any difference to people’s desire to make films that insult a particular group. they know that. in fact they know it will if anything increase their resolve, because a positive outcome, say a film-maker publicly apologising, would be an utter failure to extremists. They’ve drawn battle lines, knowing full well you can only stand one side of a line.

    the demand for western leaders to denounce the film is a demand for the end of freedom of expression, and it’s likely in some small way it will succeed. I notice now Iran have blamed the lifting of Rushtie’s fatwa on this (the same Iran that placed it, announcedit was impossible in sharia law to lift it, then lifted it).

    freedom of speech means people can say what they like, and if it upsets others, learn why it upsets them. that leads to peace. Like every other over the top demand for death, this has nothing to do with the writings of the koran, nothing to do with western imperialism and nothing to do with protecting the feelings of muslims. it’s just another demand for war. not even war with an objective for national security or protection of people, just the sort where the objective is measured in number of deaths.

    we hear these aren’t “proper muslims”but as ever the silence from moderates is deafening. I suspect like those of us who are humanists, they’re scared but they don’t get the option to have a differing view

  28. Combining all I’ve known since I’ve been knowing (what I see and hear in the news, the books I read, …), I’ve come to this conclusion:
                               An organization, an association or any group of people gathered in any kind of belief      (Ideals, abstractions like god and so on) will harm and will be harmed, unless the ideal or the belief is   human being. Human being, not as any kind of group of people united in the love of a BEING ( a god, a movie star, a club of soccer, a country,  you name it), the belief in an ideology (Nazism, Capitalism, Communism, …), but human being as an individual, as you and I, having in mind and seeking the only thing that matters: HAPPINESS. A human being as the center of all focus, Human being as an end.  A person who strives to be happy is a person who can’t harm anybody (for fear of retaliation maybe), it’s also a person who, knowing his weaknesses, will be keen to enter in social relationship with others. So we don’t have to be afraid of the egoists.

          Are the atheists individuals seeking happiness?, epicurean at some extent? ethical egoists ?. Maybe. What’s sure is that in order to worship (don’t take this word to a supernatural degree) and believe in human being, you need to get rid of god. And this, the atheists have achieved.

        Can (or should) atheists gather as a community of unbelievers ?! NO! Think about it: “we are here on this website as member of the community of Richard Dawkins’s Foundation, atheists.” For me it sounds odd. It’s just bizarre to unite with the tenet: There is no (or there is almost no)  god. Atheism is, I’m deeply convinced, the natural and default state of a human being. But it’s also natural that once haunted by  unknown and scary phenomena, some people tend to build theories and create a god.

        I believe in absolute freedom for human being (rational absolute freedom, which means for instance you are not free to limit subjectively the freedom of others), not just freedom such as freedom for homosexuality, but I think that even when all the earth become atheist except a single person, this person must be granted the right to worship no matter how absurd  a god. And please don’t tell me you think that this person would be able to worship his god if there is any ATHEIST ORGANIZATION around.
    ORGANIZATION of BELIEF or UNBELIEF equals THREAT for an INDIVIDUAL’s LIBERTY.

       So in my understanding atheism can’t (and shouldn’t) be considered as a brotherhood (or anything like that). You don’t preach atheism. You simply read Ayn Rand, George Orwell, Richard Dawkins, Bertrand Russell, Christopher Hitchens …, and you become free from the horrendous spell of such a purposeless idea as god.  (I mention Orwell for “1984″ and “Animal Farm”, on the danger of the worship of an ideology).

       For me the aim of this website (for instance) is not to become atheist or more atheist, but simply to share ideas, to read from the free-and-clear-thinkers that atheists generally are.

      Let us not try to teach or spread atheism but a belief in human being. Let us not narrow our field of inquiry by considering religion as our ultimate arch-foe. And maybe it’s rude to compare religion to a disease (though I think that humanity has never suffered from anything as he has suffered and still suffers from religion).

    I don’t care whether the number of those who dare call themselves atheist is low or high because I’m not a member of an atheist community. The only thing I want (and I can fight for it) is to be free to think and make others know what I think if it pleases me to tell them. I want a world where Diderot, Victor Hugo, Ibn Warraq, don’t get burned alive for heresy.

  29. There are interesting figures from the 2011 census polls:-

      http://www.humanism.org.uk/cam

    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.

    In a 2006 Guardian/ICM poll: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2

    63% of people say they are not religious (compared to 33% that do)
    82% of those questioned see religion as a cause of division and tension between people
    Only 17% of those polled believe the UK is best described as a Christian country

  30. Excuse me …. I am an Atheist and a realist… but I am not a humanist. So when you said:

    —[quote]————
    Atheism is clearly not a believe so not a religion… what we can do is promoting humanism (morals, reason and science etc.), …
    —[/quote]———–

    … it sounds very odd in my mind and gives an utterly faul disgusting taste in my mouth.

    Some things humanism stands for does not compute with realism and true understanding of the world, and it SURELY does not compute with Atheism.

  31. I do not believe in an alternative ‘god creation’. I am an Atheist, there is no god(s). The alternative you mention, does not exist, is based on fairytales for which I have no respect.

    There is a fight. The fight is against ignorance, stupidity, superstition, fairytales, santa, god, angels, leprachauns, demons, angels…. etcetera.

    I see not the love you claim their is in religions,… I see only childhood indoctrination. Religions got the change to grow, as the political leaders of the old tried to understand the world, and control their people at the same time. Heck if you want to have proof that religion is nothing more then a political attempt to control the masses,… then just look at the beginning of the catholic faith and islam.

    ‘loving kindness and submission to god,’ sounds horrible to me. I can present no respect for it. I would sooner laugh them out in their face. Disrespect intended, because I can not bring up the respect for any faith.

  32.  There is a fight. The fight is against ignorance, stupidity,
    superstition, fairytales, santa, god, angels, leprachauns, demons,
    angels…. etcetera.

    when I was a kid I postulated such a war. Tanks and soldiers against wizards, giants, dragons etc. I drew pictures. I believe the result was the withdrawal of the magical beings from the world of reality. Sounds very Jungian. Expelling the mythos from reality.

  33. We have removed 3 comments which erred on the side of preaching rather than rational argument. Religious commenters are welcome on this site, but please check our Terms of Use again. Simply stating beliefs without backing them up with rational argument is considered preaching.

    The mods

  34. Vmar
    My fight is not against religion, my fight is against intolerance.  I think we must all fight for the rights of the most devout if they fight for our rights not to be.

     

    There is no “right” to be deceitful, to con people with wilful lies, or to undermine society by spreading wilful ignorance.
    There are activities which ARE intolerable, and they should not be tolerated simply because this avoids conflict or some clowns claim “religious immunity”.

    Science has integrity, so standards of honesty and competence should be defended from incompetents, crooks, and opinionated idiots. 
    Humans should also be defended from destructive bigoted oppressors.

  35. Hmm good point, but I don’t think flying under the radar is necessary in most western countries, nor is it very effective, how are you ever going to get the message across if you avoid the spotlight? I’d say spread the information, but don’t force it upon people.

    I think ridiculing is the most effective, (well at least it’s the one I enjoy the most) stand-up comedians like George Carlin and Jim Jeffries are the best! just show how ridiculous it really is.
    And of course whenever you find yourself in a discussion of religion plant those seeds of doubt yourself.

  36.  Science has integrity but not all scientist do. Religion may not have integrity but many religious people do. Atheist do not have all the answers nor do they possess all the enlightenment this world needs. What we need is mutual respect, tolerance and inquiry. I am more comfortable with a religious person tolerant of my ideas than a pedantic Atheist hell bent on any insulting those who have taken a spiritual path towards their conclusions. And please make no mistake, I am an Atheist.

  37. I think the proper way would be trough education. As an example, I would give my “country”. I was born in former SFR Yugoslavia and most people were atheists. As civil war erupted, majority of highly educated people fled ASAP. Today as democratic state (still as secular) and only 6% of people with university degree, we have all the sudden 90% of religious people. Their education is low, even in religion in which they believe. Expanding the mind trough education is best way to expel illusions on things people don’t know. The difference between religious person and atheist person is that religious person fill the gap on ignorance with fairy tale while atheist simply say “I don’t know”.

  38. If the religious become more radical, it will be to their detriment. The majority of people who remain religious are able to do so because their beliefs are so moderate that they are but spitting distance from total secularism. If they are pushed by the religious to descend deeper into superstition, I’d wager it would cause a great many to snap out of it and the spell will be broken; they’ll realize it was a delusion, god is not so great: the end of faith.

    I happily lived in a religious delusion, and it was not arguments against doing so that swayed me. I had heard Dawkins and Hitchens lay waste to religious faith whilst still religious myself; although these arguments would later prove instrumental for coming out as an atheist at a later day, they did not thrust me into my current atheism. It was taking my religion more seriously that made me resent it.

    If we batter the faithful with argument and force them to hold to their beliefs all the more fiercely, then we will better acquaint them with their beliefs, and they will see for themselves the legion of inadequacies. Fight them, force them to defend themselves, and they will find there is no defense in the mausoleum that is religion. There is no refuge for faith in reasonable pastures, so I say that fighting with reason will vanquish our “holy” foes and make allies of them. Reason will win out so long as it is not trapped in your brain; broadcast it and it will flourish.

Leave a Reply