Pharyngula

Growing godlessness

A new poll seems to be showing that the efforts of those ferocious agitating atheists are working — either that, or the corruption of the theocratic right is driving more people into our arms. Daylight Atheism reports that atheists are at 25% of the American population, which isn’t quite right: the numbers include atheists and agnostics at 18%, with another 6% preferring not to say. It would be more accurate to say that about one in four Americans is a freethinker of some sort…and I suspect that that is an underestimate. There are many who affiliate themselves with a church for reasons of tradition and the lack of other social outlets, but don’t really believe in this weird personal god others favor.

The article in The Nation on this subject is interesting and positive, although I also see a little timidity in its efforts to find much to criticize in the “New Atheists” (I also object to the title…this “New” nonsense is inaccurate and tends to minimize the fact that atheism has a long and worthy intellectual history). This part is right on, though.

The great success of the New Atheists is to have reached them [unbelieving citizens], both speaking to and for them. These writers are devoted, with sledgehammer force and angry urgency, to “breaking the spell” cast by the religious ascendancy, to overcoming a situation in which every other area of life can be critically analyzed while admittedly irrational religious faith is made central to American life but exempted from serious discussion.

Comments

  1. #1 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    September 3, 2007

    Honestly, I don’t know what to make of any specific poll. Preferably you would have a consistent and representable set of questions to monitor trends. What we could do now is some metastatistical analysis, which is fraught with difficulties.

    But yes, the framers position doesn’t look good.

    this “New” nonsense is inaccurate

    OTOH, New Atheism looks active so it nicely frames…, oh.

    Well, what about “Active Auld Atheism” or A3 then?

  2. #2 David Marjanovi?
    September 3, 2007

    (and maybe in some Christian circles?),

    No atheists raise their children to consider themselves Christian. I suppose the difference is that Christian is not an ethnicity.

    Concerning the holidays, though, millions celebrate kurisumasu, the Japanese festival of love and rampant consumerism. =8-)

  3. #3 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    September 4, 2007

    John Pieret

    As I understand it, the “framers” are interested in science education rather than godlessness.

    True, but they propose that A3 tactics are alienating in general. That is now a problematic claim.

    Agitating Ancient Atheists?

    Right, Ancient Ancestry Atheism, and you got it.

    So, um, framers… could be Frakking Futile Framing? I can see the movie: Media Star Trek, The Mooney Generation: First Courtiers, where we meet the Nis-borg collective: “Reframing is futile”.

  4. #4 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    September 7, 2007

    John Pieret:

    As has been noted, this may just be people relabeling themselves

    And this affects my claim how? If there is no observable effect, alienation is a problematic claim.

  5. #5 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    September 7, 2007

    John Pieret:

    Obviously we now go around in a circle.

    I demand evidence for alienation and notes that data is consistent with a strong positive effect.

    You argue that there can be negative effects but have no data. We could look into this claim when you have data, but as for now I have lost interest in this discussion.