Social Media Growing Atheism by the Millions

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Atheism. It used to be a taboo word; a word people would whisper in horror, causing dropped jaws and deep frown lines on foreheads at its very mention. Atheists used to be such a tiny minority that it was nearly impossible to meet one. Any mention of the concept could conjure up images that scene from RoseMary’s Baby; the one where Ruth Gordon tells Mia Farrow how wonderful it is that she’s carrying Satan’s Baby: “He chose you, honey! From all the women in the world to be the mother of his only living son!” she said, an evil and disconcerting smile spreading across her face.

There are some people who still think that atheists worship Satan or participate in infant sacrifices. Little do they know that atheists don’t believe in Satan because they don’t believe in the supernatural, and most of them just adore babies. Now, some of those odd and misinformed stereotypes are being dispelled because social media is growing atheism by the millions. There’s strength in numbers, as they say, and atheism has been expanding massively over the last ten years.

Even more notable than the jump in atheism is the increase in people who say they simply don’t adhere to any religion. A recent PEW study found that 20% of Americans now say they are “unaffiliated” with any specific faith or set of religious practices. 20% of Americans is a huge number: over 63 million people. Out of that number, roughly one third are atheist or agnostic. That’s over 21 million non-believing “heathens.”

Such a large number has undoubtedly been helped along by social media, especially Facebook. A search of the words “atheist,” “agnostic,” “skeptic,” “God” and “secular,” reveals close to 100 atheistic Facebook pages ranging in membership from a few thousand to a quarter million people.

Written By: Rebecca Savastio
continue to source article at guardianlv.com

25 COMMENTS

  1. Child: “Hi mom. I’m an atheist.”

    Mother: “My poor child. I don’t mind you not believing in God, but an atheist!?!”**

    Yes, social media has gone a long way in making atheism not just normal in more and more circles, but increasingly acceptable cross-culturally and across borders. Atheism Without Borders — now there’s a great idea.

    **Borrowed from RD.

    • In reply to #3 by Quine:

      “The Internet is where religion comes to die.”

      I’m not so sure. Individuals tend to group more and more with like minded individuals.
      i.e. Christians searching for Christianity related material and UFOlogists searching for their conspiracy theories of their liking,
      all the while rarely if ever coming across material from other perspectives.
      The internet doesn’t seem to be a blender. Each group has the ability to find their own comfortable bubble world and
      avoid coming across those who disagree with them.

      • In reply to #4 by Terra Watt:

        In reply to #3 by Quine:

        “The Internet is where religion comes to die.”

        I’m not so sure. Individuals tend to group more and more with like minded individuals.

        Yes that is true, and at the same time people who have not taken a position get to see both sides. As stated in the OP, we have young people come along and see that their peers openly question traditional religion, which was just not allowed in the past, and goes a long way to getting them to look objectively at the associated problems. We have testimonials, here, of people from wide segments of the public, even clergy, who have looked into the writings of reason available on-line and followed the questions right out of faith.

        Religion is more likely to die from young people questioning it than from old people renouncing the way they have spent their entire lives. Internet use by Ray Comfort or Bill Donohue doesn’t worry me, at all (just more to openly ridicule).

  2. We are going through a period much like the 70s where gays started coming out of the closet en masse. The more people are out, the harder it is for anyone to hold onto stereotypes. There are just too many counter-examples.

    There is a big difference with atheists. Sexual orientation sometimes changes with age (lower hormones, more desire for respectability), but never simply by reading a pamphlet. Besides atheists coming out of the closet, the new thinking can create even more atheists out of Christians who have never thought hard before about why they are Christian. Teens are very peer oriented. You will get teens converting simply to conform to their peers.

    So I think we should see an even bigger wave of public atheists over the next decade.

  3. Consider the dark ages when atheists were almost non-existent. Somehow, we managed to get from that to where we are now, even with threats of burning alive, torture, beheading etc. The heavy lifting has already been done. We are more in the mopping up stage now.

  4. It shows what a very strange country America is that a writer can be proud of the fact that something like 7% of the country are atheists,or 20% not directly affilated to any church.
    In the U.K about 4% of the country regularly attend religious worship and many of us are shocked that figure is so high!

  5. Once the dark-age theistic monopoly of social gatherings was broken, the Natural Philosophy of university science separated from theistic mumbo-jumbo, civil registration of births marriages and deaths was instituted in civilised countries, the media opened up to at least a proportion of evidenced rationally presented information, The stage was then set for the wider spread of genuine knowledge via the internet.

    In the UK, initiatives like the “Open University”, spread science-based, and history-based, knowledge, which at least competes and contrasts with the superstitious woo-ology. Commercialism tends to spread such programmes, even if the muppet media of the USA do remove episodes and censor material like David Attenborough’s “Life Programs” on evolution or climate change. http://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2011/oct/21/david-attenborough-frozen-planet-climate-change

    The Internet is certainly where religions comes to die. Unlike their historical monopoly, they can no longer censor all information and burn heretics at the stake, so some posing religious buffoon is going to be tied up in knots and laughed at – at least on some sites where open debate is not biased by the religious bigotry of moderators, or “political correctness”!

    We only have to look as far as examples of those who turn up on this site filled with the DK, preacher-derived, “know-it-all-ignorance of the Lawd”, then suffering the shock of having the misunderstandings and disinformation of blind faith, exposed to scrutiny and to ridicule.

    Their opportunities for unchallenged posturing from positions of authority, are rapidly diminishing!

    • In reply to #10 by Alan4discussion:

      The Internet is certainly where religions comes to die. Unlike their historical monopoly, they can no longer censor all information and burn heretics at the stake, so some posing religious buffoon is going to be tied up in knots and laughed at – at least on some sites where open debate is not biased by the religious bigotry of moderators, or “political correctness”

      To which we must add the less obvious but therefore so much the more insidious because it seems at first blush to be legitimate: sacrificing of truth on the altar of “civility” i.e. the stridency police gone wild -occasionally seen on this very site. A close cousin to which is giving equal time to “both sides of an issue” thereby implying equal legitimacy where there is in fact only one side. Two examples: Evolution vs “intelligent design” (or whatever the latest costume creationism is dressed up in) and anthropogenic climate change vs the “mistaken dogma of man made global warming” (to quote Hitchens the Lesser – that would, obviously, be Peter here at 1:05 into the video urging Britain to resume coal mining and burning).

      Another related phenomenon appears to be certain blog-masters with amply demonstrated reasoning capability, impeccable anti-theist track-records and, indeed, bonafide scientific credentials who will instantly ban you from their site at any hint of you falling afoul of the social cause(s) they’ve hitched to the New Atheist wagon or their dearly held dogmas driven not by well reasoned fact based considerations but rather by their ethnic/tribal fealty which must not be questioned.

  6. In response to Roedy

    ” Teens are very peer oriented. You will get teens converting simply to conform to their peers.”

    Not sure this is always true. I am a long way from teenage years, but I think rebellion against anything that smacks of group-think is common among teenagers.

  7. My wife is an atheist, science-literate and with no time for superstition. Her mother is a very vague wishy-washy Christian “wouldn’t it be nice if there was a heaven’ sort of thing, and her mother is a devout Christian.

    If that pattern is repeating itself then Christianity is on its last legs, at least in the UK.

    I don’t think I know anyone who is religious, and if I end up talking about religion with any of my family or friends it’s to laugh at it.

    • Hey, I resemble that comment! And, there are women here too!

      I do miss some of the old posters and the days when the mods were a bit more likely to allow a good old donnybrook that could last DAYS. AHHH!! the old days! Full of trolls and confrontation! I feel like I am gona break out in song. Maybe some other time!

      In reply to #16 by secularjew:

      I sure hope social media is growing atheists by the millions because, looking at the comments on this site, it seems like it’s the same 10 guys.

      • In reply to #17 by crookedshoes:

        Hey, I resemble that comment! And, there are women here too!

        I do miss some of the old posters and the days when the mods were a bit more likely to allow a good old donnybrook that could last DAYS. AHHH!! the old days! Full of trolls and confrontation!

        So I’m not imagining the hair trigger moderating.

        • A few years ago it was pretty wide open. I mean some arguments lasted days and were really intense. I even had to moderate myself once or twice and get out of the conversation because I was literally “not myself” and not happy with who I was being and how i was coming off. A couple antagonizing trolls pressed my buttons and I had to remove myself.

          It was different, i am not sure it was better. Just different. I think there is more intellectual discourse now and there was more passion and emotion back then. It is more aseptic now, more respectful, but way way way more tame. You want a wide open nasty place? Go to Pharyngula’s unmoderated “Thunderdome”…. Lots of fireworks there. I cannot seem to register there to comment, but the unmoderated thread is a great read!

          In reply to #21 by godsbuster:

          In reply to #17 by crookedshoes:

          Hey, I resemble that comment! And, there are women here too!

          I do miss some of the old posters and the days when the mods were a bit more likely to allow a good old donnybrook that could last DAYS. AHHH!! the old days! Full of trolls and confrontation!

          So I’m n…

          • In reply to #22 by crookedshoes:

            A few years ago it was pretty wide open. I mean some arguments lasted days and were really intense.

            I miss the fun, but not the waste of time.

          • It was fun. It was also a waste of time, sometimes. I could get good and fired up, though. Wow, “the good old days” HA!

            In reply to #23 by Quine:

            In reply to #22 by crookedshoes:

            A few years ago it was pretty wide open. I mean some arguments lasted days and were really intense.

            I miss the fun, but not the waste of time.

          • In reply to #22 by crookedshoes:

            A few years ago it was pretty wide open. I mean some arguments lasted days and were really intense. I even had to moderate myself once or twice and get out of the conversation because I was literally “not myself” and not happy with who I was being and how i was coming off. A couple antagonizing trolls.

            self moderating is a powerful tool ;-)

    • In reply to #16 by secularjew:

      I sure hope social media is growing atheists by the millions because, looking at the comments on this site, it seems like it’s the same 10 guys.

      grrrr pfffft pffftt pffft hiss

    • In reply to #16 by secularjew:

      I sure hope social media is growing atheists by the millions because, looking at the comments on this site, it seems like it’s the same 10 guys.

      kvetching again, eh? Hope the phenomenon you correctly note is just the typical formation of regulars that always tend to congregate around a site rather than stagnation.

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