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.