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Fri Apr 13, 2012, 03:35 PM

The rise of atheism in America

The number of disbelievers is growing, but they remain America's least trusted minority. Why?

posted on April 13, 2012, at 11:07 AM

How many atheists are there?

It depends on your definition of the term. Only between 1.5 and 4 percent of Americans admit to so-called "hard atheism," the conviction that no higher power exists. But a much larger share of the American public (19 percent) spurns organized religion in favor of a nondefined skepticism about faith. This group, sometimes collectively labeled the "Nones," is growing faster than any religious faith in the U.S. About two thirds of Nones say they are former believers; 24 percent are lapsed Catholics and 29 percent once identified with other Christian denominations. David Silverman, president of American Atheists, claims these Nones as members of his tribe. "If you don't have a belief in God, you're an atheist," he said. "It doesn't matter what you call yourself."

Why are so many people leaving religion?

It's primarily a backlash against the religious Right, say political scientists Robert Putnam and David Campbell. In their book, American Grace, they argue that the religious Right's politicization of faith in the 1990s turned younger, socially liberal Christians away from churches, even as conservatives became more zealous. The dropouts were turned off by churches' Old Testament condemnation of homosexuals, premarital sex, contraception, and abortion. The Catholic Church's sex scandals also prompted millions to equate religion with moralistic hypocrisy. "While the Republican base has become ever more committed to mixing religion and politics," Putnam and Campbell write, "the rest of the country has been moving in the opposite direction." As society becomes more secular, researchers say, doubters are more confident about identifying themselves as nonbelievers. "The collapse of institutional religion in the first 10 years of this century freed so many people to say they don't really care," said author Diana Butler Bass.

http://theweek.com/article/index/226625/the-rise-of-atheism-in-america

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Arrow 34 replies Author Time Post
Reply The rise of atheism in America (Original post)
rug Apr 2012 OP
cbayer Apr 2012 #1
longship Apr 2012 #2
AlbertCat Apr 2012 #15
cbayer Apr 2012 #21
1ProudAtheist Apr 2012 #3
cbayer Apr 2012 #4
eqfan592 Apr 2012 #12
Goblinmonger Apr 2012 #19
Gman Apr 2012 #5
1ProudAtheist Apr 2012 #6
Gman Apr 2012 #7
eqfan592 Apr 2012 #10
AlbertCat Apr 2012 #16
cbayer Apr 2012 #22
eqfan592 Apr 2012 #24
tama Apr 2012 #26
eqfan592 Apr 2012 #28
tama Apr 2012 #30
tama Apr 2012 #8
eqfan592 Apr 2012 #11
tama Apr 2012 #17
laconicsax Apr 2012 #23
tama Apr 2012 #25
laconicsax Apr 2012 #27
tama Apr 2012 #29
laconicsax Apr 2012 #31
laconicsax Apr 2012 #14
tama Apr 2012 #18
laconicsax Apr 2012 #20
darkstar3 Apr 2012 #9
eqfan592 Apr 2012 #13
bananas Apr 2012 #32
raccoon Apr 2012 #33
frogmarch Apr 2012 #34

Response to rug (Original post)

Fri Apr 13, 2012, 03:39 PM

1. There is a lot of talk about this whole phenomenon.

It really looks like a move towards the middle in many cases. People are leaving organized religious institutions in high numbers, but many are continuing to identify themselves as spiritual or even deistic.

I don't think anyone can "claim" them as members of their "tribe" quite yet. That will be up to them as individuals.

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Response to rug (Original post)

Fri Apr 13, 2012, 04:53 PM

2. The term "atheist" is a problem to many

IMHO I think it's a bit silly, but whatever non-believers call themselves is fine with me. I use atheist for myself simply as a description of my lack of religious beliefs. I also think that if more people used the word it might not be so radioactive.

The article's report is likely a lash back from all the smarmy religiosity that surrounds us. I am not implying that all religious people are smarmy.

But religion and politics, religion and science, and the faith healing racket really get my dander up. Don't get me started on the prosperity gospel scam, either.

But if people want to believe that is fine with me. As long as they don't try to shove their beliefs down everybody's throat I just don't mind.

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Response to longship (Reply #2)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 02:42 AM

15. As long as they don't try to shove their beliefs down everybody's throat I just don't mind.

But they do Blanche.... they do....

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Response to AlbertCat (Reply #15)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 01:49 PM

21. Who does? All theists?

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Response to rug (Original post)

Fri Apr 13, 2012, 05:05 PM

3. As A Lifetime Atheist

 

I think that I am pretty qualified to comment on this. Atheism is not a passing fad, nor some sort of alternative to the indignancies that are demanded by most organized religions. To be a true Atheist, one must be willing to accept scientific studies, come to some sort of reality about facts, denounce any and all references to any superior being, accept personal responsibility, learn how to think for yourself, learn how to make your own decisions, and most of all, learn to ignore the judgemental a**holes who choose to bring down the wrath of their between the their ears manifestations upon you. There is nothing easy about being an Atheist. However, there are many rewards to being an Atheist. Self confidence. Self assuredness. Happiness. Contentment. Absence of fear. Escape from the regimented bindings of religion. Freedom of thought. No need to pretend just to be accepted. No longer being a hypocrite. No snake-oil salesmen stealing your hard earned money.

While I do find a way to respect the rights of others to have their own private beliefs and convictions, I never expect the same courtesy from the weak of mind followers of myths and fairy tales.

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Response to 1ProudAtheist (Reply #3)

Fri Apr 13, 2012, 05:14 PM

4. While I like and respect your description of who you are and how you got there,

I have a question.

Is part of embracing your atheism putting down people who see it differently? And, if so, why is this a part of it?

I ask because of your phrase "weak of mind followers of myths and fairy tales". Do you apply this to all theists and/or deists?

FWIW, I think that many have achieved the goals you have achieved and have a religious belief system, too. Perhaps there is more than one way to reach the same goal?

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Response to cbayer (Reply #4)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 01:39 AM

12. Not all theists believe in "myths and fairy tales."

A lot of people that may be called agnostic theists simply believe that there is some higher power out there, they just don't know what. And that's fine. They aren't attempting to get anyone else to subscribe to their brand belief, nor are they attempting tho shroud it in BS pseudoscience in order to make it seem like anything more than a belief or faith (at least, not always, as there are exceptions to every rule). It just is what it is for them, take it or leave it, and I can completely respect that (which is just my personal opinion, as I don't want to try and speak for the poster you were replying to).

The "myths and fairy tales" come into play when you get to the organized religions and their scriptures.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #4)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 09:20 AM

19. Do you refer to "Greek Mythology"?

"Native American Mythology"? Then please explain the difference between those and Christianity.

And Wikipedia defines "fairy tale" thusly
A fairy tale (pronounced /ˈfeəriˌteɪl/) is a type of short story that typically features folkloric fantasy characters, such as fairies, goblins, elves, trolls, dwarves, giants, mermaids or gnomes, and usually magic or enchantments.

As an English teacher, I have seen better definitions with more standards, but don't want to spend any more time searching when you aren't going to reply to me anyway.

My point is, distinguish between Christian Mythology and the elements of a fairy tale? They are pretty damn similar. Many may not like the comparison, but it is still valid.

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Response to 1ProudAtheist (Reply #3)

Fri Apr 13, 2012, 05:30 PM

5. Why do you use the word "denounce" when speaking of higher beings?

Sounds pretty harsh and that's why most feel atheists are arrogant. It's pretty disrespectful to a lot of people who's beliefs are no more scientifically provable or disprovable at this point in the evolution of science than your disbelief.

I respect your right to disbelieve. But I denounce self-righteous and arrogant atheists just as I denounce self-righteous and arrogant believers. The real study and analysis of mysticism demands a higher intelligence than the self -righteous, rejecting out of hand believers and non-believers seem to possess.

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Response to Gman (Reply #5)

Fri Apr 13, 2012, 06:03 PM

6. Atheists Are Not Arrogant

 

We are just well educated and accepting of scientific fact rather than myths and fairy-tales. The fact that people such as you cannot say or do anything that will in anyway effect me, somehow annoys you. Good. I represent the truth that you are afraid to accept. You are scared of the manifestation between your ears. So much so that you are afraid to think for yourself, make hard decisions, and rely upon a snake-oil salesman to tell you the answer to life. One big problem........he is lying to you in order to steal your money. He will continue to lie to you as long as you pay him to. As for what I am, or what I do, to you, well, that seems to fall under the category of your problem, not mine.

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Response to 1ProudAtheist (Reply #6)

Fri Apr 13, 2012, 06:20 PM

7. Well...

"We are just well educated and accepting of scientific fact rather than myths and fairy-tales."...and everything else after that.

I rest my case.

I'm sure you're response will likely be something along the lines of "Huh?" to which I respond, "Exactly."

Can't, help ya there, bud. You've gotta do it yourself.

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Response to Gman (Reply #7)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 01:16 AM

10. Calling a myth a myth doesn't make one arrogant.

And being able to call a myth a myth doesn't require any "help."

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Response to 1ProudAtheist (Reply #6)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 02:56 AM

16. We are just well educated and accepting of scientific fact rather than myths and fairy-tales.

There are many well educated religionists....


and tons that accept scientific facts whether they know it or not. They know, for instance, that they should apply the breaks before they get to the point where they want to stop. They don't realize this is a scientific principle at work, but they do it. (because of their experience)

I'd say atheists who also champion science are just aware that Little Baby Jesus didn't bring us antibiotics and electric lights. I have no idea where religionists think these things came from. It seems they don't think about such things at all. Just like they don't think about their religion most of the time while they go about their daily tasks. I mean do they pray for the pasta not to boil over, or for a good bowel movement? (If they do, there's a problem)

Atheists acknowledge the huge success science is... which tends to highlight the failures of religion. Religion just doesn't deliver.

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Response to AlbertCat (Reply #16)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 01:52 PM

22. It is possible to be a scientist and a theist.

Your assumptions are false and insulting.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #22)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 06:25 PM

24. While all religionists are theists, not all theists are religionists.

At least that is how I view things, and given that the poster you are replying to did not mention theists but religionists, I don't think your reply is valid. But then again that person may not hold the same view as I.

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Response to eqfan592 (Reply #24)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 10:11 PM

26. That's not a well working hypothesis

 

IMHO. Buddhists etc can be religionists without being theists, and all these defitinitions can become obstacles of mutual understanding.

What can I say? I have no reason to believe that I'm the highest form of intelligence in universe.

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Response to tama (Reply #26)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 10:21 PM

28. Buddhists are an exception to be sure.

But my main point, that not all theists are religionists, still stands.

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Response to eqfan592 (Reply #28)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 10:27 PM

30. Yup

 

and it's a very good point.

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Response to 1ProudAtheist (Reply #3)

Fri Apr 13, 2012, 08:51 PM

8. To be a true Atheist:

 

-Must be willing to accept scientific studies

-denounce any and all references to any superior being (other than superior scientific studies, which must be accepted)

But the most judgemental preachers in this group are in fact True Atheists aka positivists who bring down their wrath if the scientific studies based on positivism and no other philosophy are not fully accepted by doubters and who claim to speak in the name of the Only True Science.


PS: according to the official definition it should be "news" to me that Atheism has any relation to science or anything else but disbelief in god or gods. But thanks for making it clear that "True Atheism" is indeed the positivist secular religion. The humble word atheism can from now on be reserved to true skeptics and agnostics and the positivist religionists can be called from now on True Atheists instead of derogatory new/vocal/militant atheists.



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Response to tama (Reply #8)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 01:18 AM

11. tama, I hate to say it, but posts such as this don't really aid your cause or your case.

They make you seem bitter and somewhat irrational.

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Response to eqfan592 (Reply #11)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 06:15 AM

17. I'm aware

 

that my anti-authoritarian conditioning and convictions often react strongly, which don't make me look good in some eyes. But from the cause and case of anti-authoritarianism that only helps, as there is less fear of others considering me any kind of authority.

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Response to tama (Reply #17)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 06:16 PM

23. LOL!

 

Your habit of blindly accepting anyone with an opinion on the Internet as an infallible authority would appear to contradict your claims of being anti-authoritarian.

Just to say.

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Response to laconicsax (Reply #23)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 10:00 PM

25. Your perception

 

has been noted.

But I can say this - I've never misused power to stop dialogue. Can you say the same?

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Response to tama (Reply #25)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 10:15 PM

27. Yes I can.

 

The key word is misuse.

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Response to laconicsax (Reply #27)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 10:22 PM

29. And what is

 

the larger context where misuse is evalueated?

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Response to tama (Reply #29)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 10:49 PM

31. In this context, whether the action was fulfilling a job description.

 

I know you have issues with anyone having any authority of any sort, but you really need to understand that the groups on DU have specific purposes and when a discussion topic doesn't fit that purpose, hosts have a responsibility to lock the thread.

For example, if someone posts an OP in the science group that makes demonstrably false claims supporting the premise that all of modern biology is wrong because of an unexplained "quantum" mechanism, any of the group hosts have a responsibility to recognize that the post isn't about science and therefore doesn't fit the group SoP.

When locking such a thread, a host typically suggests a more suitable group for the discussion. If the OP is actually interested in having the discussion, they should start it in a more suitable group as suggested by the locking host.

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Response to tama (Reply #8)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 01:42 AM

14. That first point separates creationists from thinking people.

 

"Must be willing to accept scientific studies"

Just to say.

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Response to laconicsax (Reply #14)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 06:20 AM

18. Yes it does

 

But it is too easy to interpete also as an authoritarian agument in favour of regarding scientific theories dogmatically instead of skeptically and rationally.

And when the poster claims to be True Atheist and gives criteria of True Atheism which are very exclusive, the anti- and less-authoritarian atheists should not and do not accept that. Maybe you're more OK with that statement, being authoritarian positivist "True Atheist" yourself (<-deductive hypothesis from your behavior).

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Response to tama (Reply #18)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 12:50 PM

20. Ooh! I get to be a "True Atheist?" How fun!

 

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Response to 1ProudAtheist (Reply #3)

Fri Apr 13, 2012, 09:00 PM

9. You do, of course, realize that all of that is only true for you?

Last edited Sat Apr 14, 2012, 02:11 AM - Edit history (2)

That's the beauty of atheism: since it is simply a lack of belief, a lack of religion, a lack of gods, it then opens the door for the individual atheist to be whatever the fuck they want to be.

My point is that there's no such thing as a "true Atheist," and I don't think there's any special qualification to be found that lets one speak in general about atheism with any kind of authority.

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Response to darkstar3 (Reply #9)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 01:40 AM

13. I tend to agree with you. (nt)

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Response to 1ProudAtheist (Reply #3)

Sun Apr 15, 2012, 08:29 AM

32. LOL - Thanks for providing an example of the No True Scotsman fallacy!

Your post is one of the funniest things I've read!
Thanks for the laugh!

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Response to rug (Original post)

Sun Apr 15, 2012, 10:36 AM

33. I don't know that atheism is on the rise, just that more people are coming "out of the closet" about


their beliefs.

As several people have posted already, in many cases, people respond unfavorably to you when they
find out you are an atheist or agnostic.


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Response to rug (Original post)

Sun Apr 15, 2012, 11:57 AM

34. There are roughly 300 active atheists

living in the U.S., according to Pastor Deacon Fred of Landover Baptist:

http://www.landoverbaptist.org/news0503/atheists.html

Furthermore:

When not bringing financially sound believers to the bosom of Christ, Hardwick and Fred dedicate their lives to ferreting out and publicly exposing hell bound, godless liberal trash. And outside of the demon-possessed folks at the mental hospital who fling their own excrement up your nose, Atheists are the worst kind of unsaved trash a decent Christian will ever have the displeasure of rebuking. Thankfully, there are not that many of them.

"I've got to tell you," says Pastor Deacon Fred, "that from what I've seen in the last few years, there are roughly 300 active Atheists living in the United States. I know that sounds like a lot of godless nuts, but I'm not exaggerating just to get your attention. Atheism is becoming a very serious epidemic because our projections show that within a mere eight years, our country will no longer have prison space to hold all of them. And that's not even taking into account the many folks who don't have the guts to admit at the family dinner table that they are Atheists, but spit in Christ's face in secret by failing to get down on their knees and repeat all the compliments He demands to hear. Most of the uncounted Atheists are in the closet and are too sissified to handle death threats from their Christian neighbors. "They say they don't believe in stuff they can't see, but they are the very same people who tell you that Ben Affleck and that harlot, Jennifer Lopez, have talent!" Brother Hardwick added, "Most of these closet Atheists are so ignorant, it isn't worth even worrying about them. Before they know it, their so-called Constitutional right to run around thinking for themselves will soon be taken away from them. My guess is that once George W. Bush comes through on his daddy's edict, that most of these selfish little renegade Atheist bastards will pick Jesus over Jail in a heartbeat."


The article is several years old, and by now there may be more than roughly 300 of us.

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