We’re putting an end to religion: Richard Dawkins, Bill Maher and the exploding new American secularism

Dec 23, 2014

Credit: AP/Janet Van Ham/Fiona Hanson/Marion Curtis/Photo montage by Salon

By Phil Zuckerman


What is going on? How do we explain this recent wave of secularization that is washing over so much of America?

The answer to these questions is actually much less theological or philosophical than one might think. It is simply not the case that in recent years tens of millions of Americans have suddenly started doubting the cosmological or ontological arguments for the existence of God, or that hundreds of thousands of other Americans have miraculously embraced the atheistic naturalism of Denis Diderot. Sure, this may be happening here and there, in this or that dorm room or on this or that Tumblr page. The best-sellers written by Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris—as well as the irreverent impiety and flagrant mockery of religion by the likes of Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Bill Maher, HouseSouth Park, and Family Guyhave had some impact on American culture. As we have seen, a steady, incremental uptick of philosophical atheism and agnosticism is discernible in America in recent years. But the larger reality is that for the many millions of Americans who have joined the ranks of the nonreligious, the causes are most likely to be political and sociological in nature.

For starters, we can begin with the presence of the religious right, and the backlash it has engendered. Beginning in the 1980s, with the rise of such groups as the Moral Majority and the Christian Coalition, the closeness of conservative Republicanism with evangelical Christianity has been increasingly tight and publicly overt. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, more and more politicians on the right embraced the conservative Christian agenda, and more and more outspoken conservative Christians allied themselves with the Republican Party. Examples abound, from Michele Bachmann to Ann Coulter, from Mike Huckabee to Pat Robertson, and from Rick Santorum to James Dobson. With an emphasis on seeking to make abortion illegal, fighting against gay rights (particularly gay marriage), supporting prayer in schools, advocating “abstinence only” sex education, opposing stem cell research, curtailing welfare spending, supporting Israel, opposing gun control, and celebrating the war on terrorism, conservative Christians have found a warm welcome within the Republican Party, which has been clear about its openness to the conservative Christian agenda. This was most pronounced during the eight years that George W. Bush was in the White House.



What all of this this has done is alienate a lot of left-leaning or politically moderate Americans from Christianity. Sociologists Michael Hout and Claude Fischer have published compelling research indicating that much of the growth of “nones” in America is largely attributable to a reaction against this increased, overt mixing of Christianity and conservative politics. The rise of irreligion has been partially related to the fact that lots of people who had weak or limited attachments to religion and were either moderate or liberal politically found themselves at odds with the conservative political agenda of the Christian right and thus reacted by severing their already somewhat weak attachment to religion. Or as sociologist Mark Chaves puts it, “After 1990 more people thought that saying you were religious was tantamount to saying you were a conservative Republican. So people who are not Republicans now are more likely to say that they have no religion.”

A second factor that helps account for the recent rise of secularity in America is the devastation of, and reaction against, the Catholic Church’s pedophile priest scandal. For decades the higher-ups in the Catholic Church were reassigning known sexual predators to remote parishes rather than having them arrested and prosecuted. Those men in authority thus engaged in willful cover-ups, brash lawbreaking, and the aggressive slandering of accusers—and all with utter impunity. The extent of this criminality is hard to exaggerate: over six thousand priests have now been credibly implicated in some form of sex abuse, five hundred have been jailed, and more victims have been made known than one can imagine. After the extent of the crimes—the rapes and molestations as well as the cover-ups—became widely publicized, many Americans, and many Catholics specifically, were disgusted. Not only were the actual sexual crimes themselves morally abhorrent, but the degree to which those in positions of power sought to cover up these crimes and allow them to continue was truly shocking. The result has been clear: a lot of Catholics have become ex-Catholics. For example, consider the situation in New England. Between 2000 and 2010, the Catholic Church lost 28 percent of its members in New Hampshire and 33 percent of its members in Maine, and closed nearly seventy parishes—a quarter of the total number—throughout the Boston area. In 1990, 54 percent of Massachusetts residents identified as Catholic, but it was down to 39 percent in 2008. And according to an “American Values” survey from 2012, although nearly one-third of Americans report being raised Catholic, only 22 percent currently identify as such—a precipitous nationwide decline indeed.


Read the full excerpt by clicking the name of the source located below.

66 comments on “We’re putting an end to religion: Richard Dawkins, Bill Maher and the exploding new American secularism

  • @OP – Christians have found a warm welcome within the Republican Party, which has been clear about its openness to the conservative Christian agenda. This was most pronounced during the eight years that George W. Bush was in the White House.

    Clearly the “brilliance” of faith-thinking, has been illustrated by Bush and Co. spending an estimated $6 trillion, on “improving” Iraq and Afghanistan for the people who live there, while also “reducing” the threats of world terrorism up to many times higher than earlier levels!



    Report abuse

  • With an emphasis on seeking to make abortion illegal, fighting against gay rights (particularly gay marriage), supporting prayer in schools, advocating “abstinence only” sex education, opposing stem cell research, curtailing welfare spending, supporting Israel, opposing gun control, and celebrating the war on terrorism,

    Irrational….

    Each of these items is not supported by the publicly available rational evidence. To support these tick box items means you need to suspend the rational mind, that is, behave irrationally. You then justify your irrational position by appealing to an irrational source, god.

    A classic case of ideology overruling evidence.



    Report abuse

  • Hi David R Allen,

    I agree, I think we would like to believe we are grown up and make our own decisions but these issue when considered carefully require us to consider things we may not at first want to think about, things that are icky or difficult many of us (and this was me in my teenage years also- and some time into my adulthood as my various biases slipped away one by one) would prefer to have simple answers (I’m sure I still have biases but I don’t expect simple answers any-more or even answers at all). I think the same thing applies to how dictators are able to ascend to power. There seems to be a critical phase where a society could choose to smack down a psycho like Hitler for example but instead are spell-bound by in-group/out-group rhetoric that corresponds to common and simplistic biases.

    How do we get people to embrace the benefits of doubt?



    Report abuse

  • @OP, second from last paragraph.

    Describes the predicament, quagmire, former pastor Ryan Bell is in, at the close of his personal journey.

    I’ve opinions, but don’t want to taint or bias, the way his “experiment” was, and thus his final decision also.



    Report abuse

  • The internet was and is, unambiguously the major game changer. Specifically, the fact that most major websites (obviously including this one) have something called a “comments” section. I reckon that up until the late 1990s, most holy rollers just assumed that there were two types of people on the planet. Those who were born again, and those who had merely not yet “heard the gospel.” It probably never even occurred to them that there was a whole other third category called “People who have heard the gospel and are unimpressed by it.” Also, for the first time, they are now privy to the degree with which they are being pointed and laughed at. Not just by Monty Python movies, but by prime time cartoon shows. Finally, I seriously doubt that the likes of Kirk Cameron, Willie Aames and Steve Baldwin never gave serious consideration to how the nonsense they perpetually spewed on the Trinity Broadcasting network would wind up looking like, when later regurgitated on YouTube for all the world (and not just The 700 Club crowd) to gaze upon.



    Report abuse

  • Why does it take fowl, corrupt behaviour for some people to question the true purpose of religion,
    Isn’t the lack of proof enough?
    It really makes you question the intelligence of some.

    I would suspect that some of these defectors are probably embarrassed to realise that they have been dumbed down by religion all their lives and have finally found alternative reasons to opt out.

    This is “hopefully” the beginning of a runaway snow ball!



    Report abuse

  • The victims of the Iraq war are still falling. Here in the USA, 22 Veterans die everyday by suicide.
    The toll of the deceased is still growing from the war.

    Gawd, I can barely stand to live in the USA anymore……………



    Report abuse

  • I don’t know. I am so disillusioned by the USA.
    How much intelligence does it take to figure out the Ark story is nonsense? Or walking on water, or talking snakes who don’t like apples.
    And lots of “Christians” believe it………..sad……………
    Where is the cross jesus died on? Didn’t save it? Where are the tablets? Where is the Ark that saved mankind? Where is the body of jesus?
    Didn’t save anything?



    Report abuse

  • In Australia “None” is the fasts growing demographic amongst the Australian Community, and as Christianity loses its power to dominate the political system (Thanks to Compulsory Voting) they have became more and more vocal in their desperation to cling the the last vestiges of their delusions. The Americans need to change their voting system the two biggest threats to Democracy Religion & Money.



    Report abuse

  • I agree more with posters like Idleracer than I do with the article concerning “why” people are moving toward Secularism . The internet itself, is the largest game changer. You tube and Facebook allows constant rebuttal and instant fact checking with sources included. It’s not only crushing religion, the internet can help falsify bogus claims of all kinds quickly and challenges “knowledge” to a degree never before available.
    I find some of the most helpful challenges to be the people that put up the celebrity video online. The celebrity is then critiqued and can be commented on by anyone. Just think how disheartening it is for some. They are watching their favorite personality make a point that they agree with, only to have some nobody like me point out the exact point in the video where a false hood is made and cites a reference to better illustrate the facts.



    Report abuse

  • 12
    William says:

    What’s “irrational” about supporting Israel? Is it not more irrational to support the fanatical terror group Hamas? Israel, a democracy, only defends itself. It’s enemies do all the attacking.



    Report abuse

  • I have a theory that a country turns bad when a sufficiency of psychopaths in positions of power get together.

    The populace do follow their leaders if there is a clear enough consensus amongst them. The opinions of the masses follow their champions. Dissenting views in the population wither without championing.

    If Putin were surrounded by few enough moderators he could go critical.



    Report abuse

  • William Dec 28, 2014 at 4:53 am

    What’s “irrational” about supporting Israel? Is it not more irrational to support the fanatical terror group Hamas? Israel, a democracy, only defends itself. It’s enemies do all the attacking.

    Not wishing to derail the thread, but you really should check out the history of Zionist terrorism and the Zionist terrorists, who have long been prominent in the Israeli government since it earliest inception!

    http://whatreallyhappened.com/WRHARTICLES/kd.html



    Report abuse

  • It’s irrational to think that in any argument, one side is right and the other wrong. In this case there is more wrong than right on both sides.



    Report abuse

  • The information age is indeed a big factor in the change in attitude toward religion regarding fact checking, rebutting arguments and talking to people of similar attitudes. The internet is a huge factor, no doubt.

    But many of the contributing factors are generational as well. With so much information being available on the actual histories of religions and the science we use to determine what we actually know it’s simply harder to get younger generations to cling to the same ideological norms than the older generations. The older generations seems content to accept what they’ve believed their whole lives and question anything that resists that way of thinking whereas the younger embraces the tools we currently use to become more informed.

    Now obviously the biggest issues in countries like the US center around the old guard maintaining control and attempting to afford Christianity in particular rights above other faiths and indeed above secular laws but with each generation we appear to have far less people embracing such ideas.

    While overall I don’t see religion being completely eliminated I do see it becoming far less influential and far more necessarily innocuous.



    Report abuse

  • Are you kidding? Sorry but nothing justify the terrorism. Following your logic it would be all right if Jews opened camps to destroy the German nation. Your rationality is cold.



    Report abuse

  • Tibor Dec 28, 2014 at 8:57 am

    Are you kidding?

    Nope! – Just taking an unbiased view of history.

    Sorry but nothing justify the terrorism.

    I agree – including the Zionist terrorism!

    Following your logic it would be all right if Jews opened camps to destroy the German nation.

    OK – so your biases made that one up, and pretended it was logic! Zionists have already set up camps to destroy the rights of displaced endemic Palestinians!

    Your rationality is cold.

    Yep! Cold, clear, even-handed, evidence based, and logical!

    Why not read the link and look at the evidence? – Check it from other sources if you like! – It is a matter of historical record.



    Report abuse

  • 19
    AtariBaby says:

    This picture features one genius, one smart comic, and one clown who gets away with tons of misinformation because he happens to be a liberal atheist. Bill Maher should really be put to task for his fostering of anti-science hysteria.



    Report abuse

  • 20
    NearlyNakedApe says:

    I disagree. There are arguments in which one side is clearly right and the other is clearly wrong. Evolution vs. Creationism is one example. There are many more.

    Even in arguments when the demarcation line isn’t so dead obvious (IOW, when the argument is not between fiction and fact), not all opinions are equal. Some opinions are better informed and more relevant than others.

    Take for example the opinion that vaccinating teenage girls for HPV will incite them to have unprotected premarital sex and thus increase the occurrence of teen pregnancies. This is proven to be wrong (on top of being patently ignorant and silly).

    The only instance in which an argument can reasonably be called “a draw” is when neither side can offer solid evidence to support their claim or refute the other side’s claim. I do agree however that in the Israel-Palestine conflict, there is much wrong on both sides. To blame only one side for the all the violence is to see only half the picture.



    Report abuse

  • 21
    NearlyNakedApe says:

    Speaking of which, Bill Maher has been rather quiet of late about his anti-vaccination views. I’m beginning to wonder if he might have changed his position on this issue (I’m hoping that he has). You, like some people here may not like Bill Maher but the man is no slouch.

    He did a good job at exposing Republican leeches and crackpots in his Flip-a-District campaign. He got involved by going down to Minnesota to talk publically in his attempt to flip John Kline. What he did (or tried to do) was in the public interest and I think he is to be commended for that.

    And I think that “tons of misinformation” is a bit exaggerated. At the end of the day, he provides more good information than bad. He’s also to be commended for being a gracious host:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRlm4o6he74



    Report abuse

  • I think that coming from the country of vatican city, no one in europe more than an italian has been taught since he was a child about god e jesus christ. Specially for those like me born in the 60s. For those born fromm the 80s on the teaching of these twohe children are usually taught religion in school, catechism, they receive the 3 main commandments and at the age of 11 they end their religious carrier. In your understanding this means becoming secularized, but in facts they are getting more ignorant than a devout catholic. Both havn’t posed the qeustion opposite to what they don’t practice (0ne religion, the other secularism), but the real tussle is that none of these two guys have ever really posed the question whether god exists or not, and why he should or not exists, Not to speak about evoloutionism vs creationism. They simply don’t know what it means. This is the worst aspect of the matter of spirituality. You can imagine if they can tell God from religion and religion from spirituality. A friend of mine born in 1965,when religion was still a must in Italy, was initiated to catholic religion, receiving the 3 commandments: baptism communion confirmation. He ended all this ina total unaware state, and for 34 years he has never more asked himself about god. In your opinion he was secularized, but he was only ignorant. Then he has had a very bad depression for a couple of years, somebody spoke to hime of a conversion, and due mostly to his mental state, he let them convince him to become a catholic observant. Now he is a absolute fanatic, he reads everyday bible, he views on preaches on youtube and things like that, But he has never read of heard anything else of the opposite idea, because he is still ignorant, exactly like he was before.



    Report abuse

  • 23
    NearlyNakedApe says:

    I read the article and I don’t disagree with the authenticity of the events related in it or calling the acts those people perpetrated by what it really is: terrorism. I don’t even disagree with calling them Zionists because they would probably call themselves that too, although not publically.

    However I am less comfortable with the language and the tone of the article. Sentences like:

    The Israeli hordes even attacked the dead to satisfy their bestial tendencies.

    Reminiscent of “The Mongol Hordes”. A bit theatrical for my taste. Reeks of prejudice.

    The Christian cemeteries in Haifa were invaded, crosses broken down and trampled under the feet of these miscreants…

    Yes those miscreants, a blatantly Christian term typically used to described “unbelievers in the Lord our savior”. There is clearly no act too barbaric for the Jewish boogerman!

    The Jew, Weizman, referred to the massacre as this “miraculous simplification of our task”

    Yes THE Jew, that evildoer. Sounds like the “Evil corrupt Jew” of Dicken’s Oliver Twist. Again, I can smell the stench of anti-Semitism.

    … Reminiscent of the acts committed by their brother Jews in Russia during and after the Bolshevik {Jewish} take over.

    Yes of course, all Bolsheviks were Jews. And as we all know, the Bolshevik takeover of the Provisional government of Russia after the October revolution, that was actually a Jewish takeover right? And of course Stalin was not a Georgian Christian orthodox seminarist, he was secretly a Jew and so was his entire inner circle (yes his “brother Jews”, most of which he executed later on).

    Again I don’t dispute the facts related in the article but this kind of language makes it obvious that the person who wrote it clearly had an agenda: to demonize Jews as an ethnic group. That is bigotry. The author should have let the facts speak for themselves and spared us the histrionics.



    Report abuse

  • NearlyNakedApe Dec 29, 2014 at 12:41 am

    Again I don’t dispute the facts related in the article but this kind of language makes it obvious that the person who wrote it clearly had an agenda: to demonize Jews as an ethnic group. That is bigotry. The author should have let the facts speak for themselves and spared us the histrionics.

    I picked that article because it provided a concise list, and did suggest checking the facts from independent sources as you seem to have done.

    It was basically to counter the heavily propagandist anti-Palestinian views which are often put about by those using dubious media sources.



    Report abuse

  • I don’t think it’s possible to debate about religion, and this exchange illustrates perfectly why.

    If the question about gay bars in Gaza had been rhetorical it would have had some effect, but, it was pepper shot opportunistic and a distraction.

    Pin them down on the teaching of life sciences; examples abound of it being perverted by religious dogma and children being denied their right to knowledge.

    With regard to the main thread, I think positive change is coming about because people are now increasingly witnessing, and experiencing at first hand, the fruits of the scientific enterprise, and religion is being exposed for what it is; a thread bare feeble human construct.



    Report abuse

  • Are you an American? Because if you are you should read some of your own history. The language you use to describe Hamas is more or less the same kind of language that the British and Tories used to describe people like Sam Adams and George Washington. Washington and Adams on the other hand used language like “we are defending our homes” or “we are replying to gross indignities performed by the British occupying army”, more or less what Hamas says. In defense of the Brits though the way they treated the American population and even the revolutionaries was nothing like the casual brutality, arbitrary arrests, destruction of homes, and torture inflicted on the occupied people of Palestine.



    Report abuse

  • 27
    inquisador says:

    What’s “irrational” about supporting Israel

    Absolutely nothing. Don’t fall for the Palestinian crapaganda. When hamas rescinds its’ charter calling for genocide and stops teaching their children to murder, then maybe things just might begin to change.



    Report abuse

  • inquisador Dec 29, 2014 at 10:26 am

    When “God’s chosen Zionists” stop helping themselves to Palestinians’ ancestral lands, terrorising the local populations, and slaughtering or assassinating opponents, the Palestinians will probably stop regarding them as a foreign army of occupation.

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2014/12/were-putting-an-end-to-religion-richard-dawkins-bill-maher-and-the-exploding-new-american-secularism/#li-comment-163729

    While various Jewish bodies and the UN, have condemned Zionist terrorism over the years, this has not prevented foreign finance and weaponry being supplied to Zionist terrorists in the Israeli government.



    Report abuse

  • 29
    inquisador says:

    When “God’s chosen Zionists” stop helping themselves to Palestinians’ ancestral lands, terrorising the local populations, and slaughtering or assassinating opponents, the Palestinians will probably stop regarding them as a foreign army of occupation.

    The Jews of Judea must surely have at least as much ancestral right to be there as say the Arabs of Arabia? This is more to do with the inherent Jew-hatred expressed by koran and hadith, as well as the example of Mohamed in the Sira: how he slaughtered them until all were driven out of Arabia; still taught as the way to deal with Jews by some imams.

    This is ultimately about the desire to complete the Islamization of the region; the jihadist drive to instate sharia law as far as possible. Notice that there was no war against Jordan by the Palestinians when they were a ‘foreign army of occupation’ of the West Bank. No only when it came to the Jews.



    Report abuse

  • Andrea:

    I think that coming from the country of vatican city, no one in europe more than an italian has been taught since he was a child about god e jesus christ. Specially for those like me born in the 60s. For those born fromm the 80s on the teaching of these twohe children are usually taught religion in school, catechism, they receive the 3 main commandments and at the age of 11 they end their religious carrier. In your understanding this means becoming secularized, but in facts they are getting more ignorant than a devout catholic. Both havn’t posed the qeustion opposite to what they don’t practice (0ne religion, the other secularism), but the real tussle is that none of these two guys have ever really posed the question whether god exists or not, and why he should or not exists, Not to speak about evoloutionism vs creationism. They simply don’t know what it means. This is the worst aspect of the matter of spirituality. You can imagine if they can tell God from religion and religion from spirituality.

    I realise that Andrea is not writing in her first language, but for all that, clearly a case of “the mist enveloped lands of religion” A land where clarity is to be despised and clarity’s adherents are to be disparaged according to the wishes of the fattest wallet.



    Report abuse

  • OP:

    Psychology professor Justin Barrett further argues that humans are literally “born believers,” and thus atheism is a problematic, indoctrinated retardation of an otherwise natural, normal human predilection.

    Well even professor Einstein got things wrong ! The bloody cheek of this professor ! As I have been without belief in God since birth, I am somewhat perturbed that I am suffering from “a problematic, indoctrinated retardation of an otherwise natural, normal human predilection.”

    There again, psycho-babble has little to do with reality. The man has to earn a living writing such crap, but even so …!



    Report abuse

  • inquisador Dec 29, 2014 at 2:45 pm

    The Jews of Judea must surely have at least as much ancestral right to be there as say the Arabs of Arabia?

    No more so than the Romans and the Vatican have a claim to Britain!

    The Palestinians I referred to, had run family farms for generations before being ousted by armed Zionist settlers with Israeli military backing and no redress from the legal authorities.

    The Native Jewish and Palestinian populations had lived peaceably together for centuries before the colonial powers decided to resettle displaced European Jews, including militant Zionists in Palestine.

    The newcomers had hardly arrived before they were engaged in terrorist activities to establish themselves as a new apartheid style colonial power- as listed on my earlier link to the history.

    The problem is now the racist conflict between two fanatical faith groups, with old scores to settle religious “righteousness” and “God” on their side.



    Report abuse

  • Israel illegally invaded Palestine circa 1948 and set up an apartheid state. You should oppose that for the same reason you oppose the Russian takeover of Kiev and you supported Nelson Mandela’s opposition to apartheid in South Africa. Both Hamas and Israel are terrorist states. They kill civilians to change their political views. However Israel kills 26 Palestinians for every Jew Hamas kills.

    I find it baffling there are so many people who consider Israel the good guy in this conflict. On what grounds? Is it just that Hitler was so mean to Jews we let the Jews off the hook?

    I could see thinking both parties outrageously bad, but where this idea of Israeli innocence comes from baffles me.



    Report abuse

  • I think to Christians truth is irrelevant. What counts is:

    does it make me feel cozy?
    do I think if child rapists believed it, they would behave better.

    It is a lie like Santa Claus to make other people behave.



    Report abuse

  • Mr DArcy Dec 29, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    OP: – Psychology professor Justin Barrett further argues that humans are literally “born believers,”

    Faith-thinkers were always into unsupported wish assertions and psychological projections! Even a basic understanding of world cultures refutes any claim of “born” beliefs in any particular religion.

    and thus

    He demonstrates the circularity of his thinking, and his lack of capability to reason logically from evidence!

    and thus atheism is a problematic, indoctrinated retardation of an otherwise natural, normal human predilection.

    The classic psychological projection of an indoctrinated faith-head who can only see his blind following of his retarding indoctrination, as a universal default position!!!



    Report abuse

  • 36
    Emmanuel says:

    i bet that many americans, as many europeans, have not joined the ‘ranks of the nonreligious’ at all. they have simply opted for new age, eastern buddhist pagan and other similar types of religion.

    not everyone who ceases to be a catholic becomes an atheist, some become pagans, some buddhists, and some atheists.

    the problem with the new atheism is that it displays some characteristics of religion itself, ie it is evangelical, it wants to convert others to the true light of atheism, it is morally certain of itself, and does not question its own biases.

    a far more sophisticated form of atheism, and more honest in my opinion, is that of Anton Lavey and the church of satan. The satanic bible should be required reading for all atheists as well as for all believers.

    satanism is the most logical development of atheistic thought.



    Report abuse

  • As usual, Alan, you are in fine form. I await Katy Cordeth’s deadly dagger about how bloody unreasonable you are !

    I don’t know enough about the conflict in Israel / Palestine to comment, but I do know enough about the world to know that at the heart of all such struggles is the ownership and power over some real asset, such as land, and whatever advantages ownership of the land contains. War is not cheap. Allah, Jaweh and Jesus are mere shadow boxers in the middle east. Mammon is the real God !



    Report abuse

  • Emmanuel:

    satanism is the most logical development of atheistic thought.

    Really ? There was I going along without any sort of supernatural beliefs, and you say satanism is the next logical step ? I will have to watch out for leprechauns on my way back from the pub, delicately stepping over any empty brandy bottles !



    Report abuse

  • Emmanuel Dec 29, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    i bet that many americans, as many europeans, have not joined the ‘ranks of the nonreligious’ at all.

    Made up bets are a well known faith-thinking process which avoids actually researching information.

    they have simply opted for new age, eastern buddhist pagan and other similar types of religion.

    Sorry to have to break the news to you, but Buddhism and other eastern mystical beliefs ARE religions!

    not everyone who ceases to be a catholic becomes an atheist, some become pagans, some buddhists, and some atheists.

    However, those who say they have no religions can be expected to know their own minds, regardless of what wish-thinkers may want to believe.

    the problem with the new atheism is that it displays some characteristics of religion itself,

    You need to do some basic homework on this. Atheism is a lack of belief in gods.

    ie it is evangelical, it wants to convert others to the true light of atheism,

    Many atheists would hope others would learn to respect evidence and reasoned scientific thinking, and reject indoctrination based on blind faith in preached preconceptions they have uncritically accepted.

    it is morally certain of itself, and does not question its own biases.

    Individual atheists may have particular biases, but there are no atheist dogmatic viewpoints. Humanist and scientific philosophy, keeps an open mind to new evidence, but not so open that it accepts long refuted and debunked nonsense!

    a far more sophisticated form of atheism, and more honest in my opinion, is that of Anton Lavey and the church of satan. The satanic bible should be required reading for all atheists as well as for all believers.

    satanism is the most logical development of atheistic thought.

    Satanism is a religion!!!

    It would appear you just don’t get that atheists do not believe in supernatural gods, fairies, elves, leprechauns or devils.
    You also seem to be confusing your own confused thinking, with “logic”!



    Report abuse

  • satanism is a religion, and atheism is just satanism under a different
    guise. the ‘new atheists’ and ‘humanists’ are really just satanists,
    but dont know it.

    Perhaps you aren’t aware, but this is an evidenced based site. Simply put, anyone can pop in and make baseless broad assumptions about things they know nothing about but here you have to actually make a case for your claims however nonsensical.

    I’ll start with this: The entity you refer to as Satan, or Ha-satan (the adversary) is a by product primarily of the new testament. The OT makes no mention of a specific incarnation of evil and only the NT makes reference to him as that old serpent, which most assume is referring to the serpent in the garden of eden. But the Jews never make reference to either a Satan or a hell. it is primarily a NT thing. Even all the depictions we have of ‘Satan’ are borrowed from many different myths and legends over the centuries. In fact most of the things that people believe about ‘Satan’ are extrabiblical, coming from many sources (Milton, Dante, etc) outside of the bible and many centuries after the book itself was codified.

    Additionally, the notion of ‘no god but my god is and therefore everything else is evil’ notion has a home in a lot of different faiths through the ages, and none of them have actually proven a single claim. Christianity is no different.

    Atheism is a lack of any faith. That is the simplest definition one can give it. Humanism is a idea born of secular thinking that consequently has no faith as part of it’s makeup. The fact that you refuse to acknowledge that people can think differently than you without being evil or lulled by a mythical ‘satan’ doesn’t change either that people can live without religion or that morality and the ethics are not born of religion or a mythical god.

    So when you say things like:

    they haven’t realised that if one does not serve God, then one serves
    Satan.

    You not only demonstrate a willful ignorance of other ways of thinking not your own but on this site your doing what is known as proselytizing, or preaching. Preaching isn’t tolerated. Lack of religion is not a religion, much less one that observes a christian figure (which Satan is).

    Not everything is about a single religion that is barely over 2000 years old. Absolutism and myopia are not your friends.



    Report abuse

  • 42
    Emmanuel says:

    and atheists are setting up atheist churches and pretending they are not a religion?
    well, it quacks like a duck, it walks like a duck, it probably is a duck.



    Report abuse

  • and atheists are setting up atheist churches and pretending they are
    not a religion?

    Which a great number of atheists are actually against, because as I and many other people have already said, atheism is by definition not a religion. What you’re referring to is organizations like this:

    The North Texas Church of Freethought (NTCOF) was founded by Tim Gorski and Mike and Marilyn Sullivan in 1994 as perhaps the first explicitly non-theistic and non-supernaturalistic religious organization in the USA. It’s aim has been to serve the psychosocial needs of atheists, agnostics, and other non-religious people in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and to promote a rational and humanistic view of what have been traditionally “religious” issues and questions.

    Note the fundamental lack of actual worship of anything in the description. Atheism is not a single organization of people that all think exactly the same thing–the one thing that all atheists are required to share is simply a lack of religious faith. Otherwise they’re not atheists.

    The idea of a community that churches traditionally have minus the guilt, judgement and preaching are generally what the ‘atheists churches’ actually are. Some exists to defy the traditional religious institutions and fight for rights on the same playing field (which I think are misguided) but none of them make atheism a religion.

    The fact that some atheists have taken up this idea doesn’t make everyone that is identified an atheists part of any religion. Indeed, if such people calling themselves atheists actually came up with a system of worship and blindly believed in supernatural ideas they would not be atheists, by simply definition of the term. The serving the psychosocial needs of the nonreligious line in the description above should give you some clue as to what an ‘atheist church’ actually is.

    I don’t think the idea of adopting a traditionally religious notion like churches is good for atheism in general because it confuses the issue on many levels, but to my point it points out the myopia I mentioned in my response to your previous post: you have a single notion about how a group of people you know little to nothing about think.

    I don’t pretend that all Christians are exactly the same. Not all of them hold exactly the same beliefs and a great number of them translate the bible entirely differently. That’s why when such people come here to defend their positions the threads are filled with people that analyze them on a case by case basis. You’re just attempting to pigeonhole all non religious people into one notion and judge it accordingly, which makes it impossible both for others to reason with you and for you to actually communicate with others meaningfully.

    So no, to your clever phrase if it quacks like a duck it doesn’t have to be a duck. Otherwise duck hunters would never get anything to bring home….



    Report abuse

  • Emmanuel Dec 30, 2014 at 12:22 am

    and atheists are setting up atheist churches and pretending they are not a religion?

    Atheism is a religion, like OFF, is a TV channel, and BALD, is a hair colour!

    well, it quacks like a duck, it walks like a duck, it probably is a duck.

    I realise that those besotted with gods, frequently are incapable of understanding philosophies which are free of gods and supernatural belief, but nevertheless the god-deluded somehow don’t seem to have difficulty in dismissing belief the numerous gods other than their own pet collections. — the numbers vary from monotheist gods with individual or split personalities to Hindus who have millions of them.

    The Hindu scriptures claimed that there were 33 Crore or 330 million (1 Crore = 10 million) gods. – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Hindu_deities



    Report abuse

  • Emmanuel Dec 29, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    satanism is the most logical development of atheistic thought.

    “Atheists don’t believe in my supernatural good-fairy – so they must believe in my supernatural bad-fairy!”

    (Faith-thinking pseudo-logic)



    Report abuse

  • 46
    NearlyNakedApe says:

    and atheists are setting up atheist churches and pretending they are not a religion?

    That claim is so typical, so old, so predictable and so patently ignorant that it bores me to death.

    Not only are many theists incapable of understanding what atheism means, they don’t even understand what a religion is. That’s how impermeable the “religious bubble” is (a variation on a term coined by Bill Maher).



    Report abuse

  • Roedy Dec 29, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    Israel illegally invaded Palestine circa 1948 and set up an apartheid state.

    It has annexed further territories using imported high-tech weapons, whenever the local populations have been provoked in to armed revolt, and continues to be supported and propped up by fellow “faith-thinking” lobbies in powerful states.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-30639764

    .The UN Security Council has rejected a resolution demanding an end to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories within three years.

    Jordan submitted the motion after it had been agreed upon by 22 Arab states and the Palestinian Authority.

    Eight members of the 15-strong Security Council voted for it while the US and Australia voted against.

    The resolution, condemned by Israel as a “gimmick”, needed the support of at least nine members in order to pass.

    Even if it had secured the required nine votes, the US would have used its veto power to stop the adoption of the resolution.

    US envoy Samantha Power said after the vote: “We voted against this resolution not because we are comfortable with the status quo. We voted against it because… peace must come from hard compromises that occur at the negotiating table.”

    Jordan’s UN ambassador, Dina Kawar, said the vote should not stop efforts to resolve the conflict.

    Of the 15 members of the Security Council

    Russia, China, France, Argentina, Chad, Chile, Jordan and Luxembourg voted in favour

    The US and Australia voted against

    The UK, Lithuania, Nigeria, the Republic of Korea and Rwanda abstained

    The document called for Israel to fully withdraw from all occupied Palestinian territories by the end of 2017 and for a comprehensive peace deal to be reached within a year.

    It also called for new negotiations to take place based on territorial lines that existed before Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 war.



    Report abuse

  • Emmanuel,

    You seem to not understand the meaning of the word pagan. It was a word created by the Roman Catholic Church for the country dwellers who had not come on board yet to the RCC’s new belief. It was entered in the RCC’s bible but this word was not in the Greek version(the only one to read if you want to know what was really said).

    You forgot Muslims, Taoist’s, Agnostics, Hindus and many many more. The drug is everywhere and in many flavors.



    Report abuse

  • You have allowed the PTB to box you in. You are making the false assumption that either Creationism or Evolution is correct. They could both be wrong. They could both be partially correct. Whenever you are given two choices and asked to determine which is right and which is wrong you should realize that there are always alternatives that may not be part of the equation you are being presented.

    This is the way thinking is controlled. Example: Republican or Democrat? Being as how they are both controlled by the same people it doesn’t matter to the controllers which side you choose because both are irrelevant in the scheme of things. As long as you stay within the confines of the choices you are presented it doesn’t matter what you decide. Problem, Reaction(s) Solution.

    Magician taps cane. You miss the rabbit being put in the hat. Don’t fall for the obvious distractions.

    Same goes with creationism and evolution. The PTB are fine moving their agenda forward as long as people believe that those are the only two possibilities. I happen to think that they both contain a nugget of truth but also that both are 99% wrong.

    I suggest to try to not fall into the trap of black/white right/wrong. Very few things in life are ever that simple.

    Newtonian Physics, Relativity, Quantum Physics or String Theory? You don’t have to choose between them because all make sense and have truth on certain levels yet none are complete. See??

    Israeli Palestinian conflict? Again you are thinking that one or the other, or a little of both have to be responsible for the pain and suffering. Open your mind to the other possibilities. Again think, Problem, Reaction(s) Solution. Maybe there are other forces involved that have nothing to do with who is “right or wrong” but just need to perpetuate suffering and profit from it. Not necessarily from a monetary standpoint but some do that too. Think about it..

    To address the last line of your post “*To blame only one side for the all the violence is to see only half the picture.” I would like to point out that to only consider that there are only two sides to this conflict is seeing less than half of the picture.



    Report abuse

  • NearlyNakedApe Dec 28, 2014 at 1:17 pm – I disagree. There are arguments in which one side is clearly right and the other is clearly wrong. Evolution vs. Creationism is one example.


    Hi Matt! I think you have misunderstood NearlyNakedApe

    Matt Dec 31, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    You have allowed the PTB to box you in. You are making the false assumption that either Creationism or Evolution is correct.

    I don’t think that was what was being said.
    Creationism in its many forms is long debunked and refuted multiple times, so is categorically wrong in all its attempts to explain biology.

    They could both be wrong. They could both be partially correct.

    Nope! That evolution has happened, and continues to happen, is confirmed in thousands – perhaps millions of independent studies. – Although the specific details of it happening in some of the millions or organisms is only partially documented. Some new organisms continue to be discovered.

    Whenever you are given two choices and asked to determine which is right and which is wrong you should realize that there are always alternatives that may not be part of the equation you are being presented.

    It is true, that when presented with a false dichotomy the wise sceptic looks for other explanations beyond those being presented, in addition to the quality of evidence supporting any presented views. That in no way implies a fudged intermediate position, has any credibility.



    Report abuse

  • NearlyNakedApe Dec 29, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    Judging by your discourse, you must be a judge on the US Supreme Court.

    Ah! American judges – the best money can buy – or so I hear!!!!

    Rather like US politicians!



    Report abuse

  • Beginning as a 12 year old being raised Catholic, I saw the destruction organized religion caused…BUT…I continue to have a personal relationship with a loving God. If you take the theology out, and let your spirit be guided by Spirit, knowing God is purely beneficial. If all organized religion was replaced by the “golden rule” I would be perfectly happy!



    Report abuse

  • 54
    NearlyNakedApe says:

    Ah! American judges – the best money can buy – or so I hear!!!!

    Yeeah… That reply of mine was deprived of its context. It wasn’t aimed at you Alan, it was a reply to Emmanuel’s comment that basically said (paraphrasing here) “Satan is real and walks among us and his greatest trick is making us believe that God doesn’t exist”. His post was deleted by the mods shortly after it was posted.

    So the reference to a US Supreme Court judge is a sarcastic poke at Antonin Scalia who declared in an interview pretty much the same thing about Satan in approximately those words.



    Report abuse

  • Joan Dec 31, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    Beginning as a 12 year old being raised Catholic, I saw the destruction organized religion caused…

    Like many you recognised the irrationality and false claims of organised religion as you achieved a more rational thought process as a teenager.

    BUT…I continue to have a personal relationship with a loving God.

    But you still seem stuck with some “faith-thinking” processes of your indoctrination.

    If you take the theology out, and let your spirit be guided by Spirit, knowing God is purely beneficial.

    Most Christians simply project their positive feelings into Christianity, their god-image, and the bible, regardless of what is actually written or what religions actually do.

    If all organized religion was replaced by the “golden rule” I would be perfectly happy!

    Secular morality is the golden rule of reciprocal altruism, which is common in caring human societies, and certainly not the monopoly of religious cultures which they often claim.



    Report abuse

  • There are other ways of knowing than intellectually. Many people have “turned off” their feeling ways of knowing. I have experienced telepathy and prescience; I am used to knowing things I have “no way” of knowing, with confirmation of impressions after the fact. You strike me as the type of person who only has logical mind functions. I don’t mean that as a criticism. We are raised to ignore things like “intuition”.



    Report abuse

  • No argument there (in re secular morality). I take issue with the assertion that I retain some “faith thinking” from indoctrination. Please read my reply to Doug in re knowing God.



    Report abuse

  • Joan.
    There are other ways of knowing than intellectually.

    What would it take for you to believe a claim that your country was being invaded by the north? Numerous eye witness accounts? Video footage? News reports of such on all stations? Known landmarks featured in footage?

    If an individual or small group of related individuals or friends made such a claim and when pressed, said that they knew we were being invaded because they had a feeling , how likely would you be to believe their claim?

    Suppose an individual,said that they knew we were being invaded from the north because they had a dream would you even bother to look?

    I think you’ve set your threshold for belief very low.



    Report abuse

  • No argument there (in re secular morality). I take issue with the
    assertion that I retain some “faith thinking” from indoctrination.
    Please read my reply to Doug in re knowing God.

    By all means let us look at your reply to Doug. Doug asked you:

    How do you “take the theology out” and still somehow “know God”?
    Do you not see the contradiction there?

    And you said:

    There are other ways of knowing than intellectually. Many people have
    “turned off” their feeling ways of knowing. I have experienced
    telepathy and prescience; I am used to knowing things I have “no way”
    of knowing, with confirmation of impressions after the fact. You
    strike me as the type of person who only has logical mind functions. I
    don’t mean that as a criticism. We are raised to ignore things like
    “intuition”.

    Where to start…

    There aren’t other ways to know than intellectually. I can’t put it any simpler than that. If you think you know something because of intuition, or some unlocked power that you think yourself to have and have not backed any of that with any actual knowledge about whether intuition, telepathy or prescience actually exists or works, then you are pretending to know something. This is an evidence based site. Please produce evidence.

    Worse, none of what you’re said either indicates a relationship with any omnipotent, creative force or anything. So far you’ve only demonstrated that you believe this to be so, not that it is. How is such a belief not like other theists? You want to believe in a beneficent god without the organized religion, yet you wish for your unproven ideas to be taken seriously by the non religious and science?

    You don’t want to affiliate with any faith, yet cling to believing in a good, loving god. You do realize there is still a theology here don’t you? Unless you’ve somehow proven the existence of God and we missed it you still cling to the idea of a creator with no proof.

    As for intuition being something that intellectuals tend to somehow suppress bear in mind the evidence of our lowly origins are imbedded in both our DNA and our actions. We perform actions all the time that don’t follow logic. Much of it is leftover from our baser instincts and behaviors from a different point in our evolution. None of it is somehow more true than intellectual pursuits, in fact our best understanding of those intuitions are derived from our scientific research into them.

    Intuition no more equals truth than blind faith does. And it has taken science to discern many from both. You want to believe in your version of god minus the Organized religion part? Fine. You want to accept intuition as being on par with scientific fact? Very dangerous, but your choice.

    Just don’t expect you’ll gather much ground here. Looking for things that offer comfort and confirmation bias doesn’t lead to truth. Just comfort. And that isn’t what you’ll find at an evidence based site.



    Report abuse

  • Roedy Dec 29, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    I could see thinking both parties outrageously bad, but where this idea of Israeli innocence comes from baffles me.

    There could be interesting developments here where independent judgements could come into play!

    Membership could see the ICC pursue complaints against both Israel and the Palestinians – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-30659142
    .The Palestinians have submitted the documents necessary to apply to join the International Criminal Court, the last stage in their bid for membership.

    Joining the organisation could see the Palestinians pursue Israel on war crimes charges.

    Israel and the US, neither of whom are ICC members, have opposed the move.

    It comes days after the UN Security Council rejected a resolution demanding an end to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories by late 2017.

    Delivering the application to the UN headquarters, the Palestinian envoy to the UN, Riyad Mansour, said it was a “significant step”.

    “It is an option that we are seeking in order to seek justice for all the victims that have been killed by Israel, the occupying power,” he said.



    Report abuse

  • hi Acromat666.
    There aren’t other ways to know than intellectually. I can’t put it any simpler than that. If you think you know something because of intuition, or some unlocked power that you think yourself to have and have not backed any of that with any actual knowledge about whether intuition, telepathy or prescience actually exists or works, then you are pretending to know something. This is an evidence based site. Please produce evidence.

    I’m surprised Joan was not inundated by replies as I think this is the most provocative comment on any thread at the moment. To shamelessly quote a friend, empirical investigation and theoretical understanding is the only way of knowing . The rest is bullshit! The predictive powers of intuition and clairvoyance is easily put to the test. The odd hit does not compensate for inevitable misses .
    I have my own theories about intuition as I think some are more skilled at picking up the non-verbal cues than others. Not magic…just more observant.



    Report abuse

  • I see Israel has responded to Palestinians seeking legal redress for abuses with the usual economic warfare.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-30667440
    .Israel has halted the transfer of tax revenues to the Palestinians following their bid to join the International Criminal Court, Israeli officials say.

    They said $127m (£82m; €106m) collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority last month would be held back.

    The Palestinians submitted documents to join the ICC on Friday in a move opposed by both Israel and the US.

    Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat condemned the Israeli measure, calling it a “new war crime”.

    “Israel is once again responding to our legal steps with further illegal collective punishments,” Mr Erekat said.

    Israel collects taxes on behalf of the Palestinians, and transfers about $100m (80m euros) per month, accounting for two-thirds of the authority’s budget.

    .It is not the first time Israel has frozen the monthly transfers. It imposed a similar sanction in April 2014 after PA President Mahmoud Abbas applied to join a series of international treaties and conventions.



    Report abuse

Leave a Reply

View our comment policy.