Sunday, June 08, 2008

Why the Gods Are Not Winning

This is the title of one of the most thought-provoking and heartening articles of the state of non-theism that I have ever had the pleasure of reading. This is not to say that there isn’t plenty here to equally stimulate even my most cynical friends (Exterminator and Phillychief – please read it)! The news is far from all good. And with a looming world-wide economic catastrophe, we could see deep set-backs in the gains we have made in the past 100 years.

But the gains are important. The article documents atheism and general non-belief as being the fasting growing position within the larger context of “religion”. At the beginning of the 20th century, this group represented the thinking of 1-2% of the world population. It is now somewhere around 20% and would be the 4th largest “religion” in the world.

The article makes very clear to me the underlying reasons why America lags behind Europe, Japan and Australia when it comes to our religions’ seemingly inextricable nature. Let me give a hint: Darwin has a part in it (though not the obvious one, that you might expect me to latch on to). Let me give you teaser: after you have read the article, expect my next post to outline how I think Barack Obama might help us – should he become the next President.

Just as a side note concerning tangents - I started searching for information on the general subject of the differences between American and European atheism due to watching this video of biologist Jerry Coyne, which Phillychief found. In particular, the very end of the video. My search led me to this article and this article has filled me with new perspectives on the future of atheism. Funny how it goes...


Brian said...

Interesting stuff John. I posted my thoughts on it over at my own blog.

The Exterminator said...

Well, I've read the article, and I've not suddenly been converted to the overly optimistic. Religion continues to be a major force in America, not necessarily because of the sheer number of its followers, but because of its clout, its weight.

Free-thinking has no clout, little weight. It's those low-info voters, the white workers in the Appalachians, who -- on the surface -- have the political upper hand.

(In reality, of course, it's the same old manipulating god-pushers who can rally the faithful to their cause. I'm not claiming that they, themselves, are believers necessarily. I'm merely observing that the easiest way to control an ignorant populace is through catering to their superstitions. Always has been; always will be.)

Ordinary Girl said...

I think although religion might not be as strong in Europe, woo is much, much worse. It's as much an antithesis of the rational movement as religion is here.

John Evo said...

That's a GREAT point, if true OG. I haven't seen stats on it, but if you know of any links, please leave them.

I will say that (strictly from my gut, as George W Bush might say) that woo is not as dangerous as organized religion. The dogmatic and absolutist structures of religion present the greater problem for society - I think.

I'll have give it more thought. Can you cite any evidence of a woo-based society in which government policy is strongly influenced by that woo, directly or indirectly? I'm thinking, which European parliament would it be virtually impossible to gain admission to without adhering to a specific woo philosophy?

PhillyChief said...

I think one word comes up a lot in that article - "if". "If" is a magical word. Of course there's an old saying about the word "if" that I first heard when I was a young lad, and that's "if took a shit and died".

So it sounds great, and maybe it'll pan out. I hope so, but I'm not placing bets, not after getting stuck in traffic today and counting almost as many Jesus fish as license plates.

Brendan said...


Can you cite any evidence of a woo-based society in which government policy is strongly influenced by that woo, directly or indirectly?

There is a fairly strong argument that Reagan was driven by astrology at times.

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