As Tithing Declines, Atheists’ Knowledge Grows

As you’ve probably heard, the Pew Forum has released a study on American religious knowledge. And their top finding deserves to be heard far and wide: atheists and agnostics outscored every other religious group – even evangelicals!

On average, Americans correctly answer 16 of the 32 religious knowledge questions on the survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life. Atheists and agnostics average 20.9 correct answers. Jews and Mormons do about as well, averaging 20.5 and 20.3 correct answers, respectively. Protestants as a whole average 16 correct answers; Catholics as a whole, 14.7. Atheists and agnostics… perform better than other groups on the survey even after controlling for differing levels of education.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. It’s well-established by now that most American theists are abysmally ignorant of the religion they profess: I wrote a post about this topic over four years ago. But the finding that atheists and agnostics are more knowledgeable is a nice little cherry on top!

That said, I’m not writing this post to gloat; I’m saying that this is what we should expect. Christianity is still the default option in American society, and tens of millions of people with no real commitment to that faith have been indoctrinated into thinking of themselves as Christians. On the other hand, it’s still rare that people are raised atheist from birth. Most people who become atheists take that step because they’ve made an effort to investigate religious teachings and make up their own mind. The New York Times has a nice little stinger of a quote from Dave Silverman of American Atheists:

“I have heard many times that atheists know more about religion than religious people,” Mr. Silverman said. “Atheism is an effect of that knowledge, not a lack of knowledge. I gave a Bible to my daughter. That’s how you make atheists.”

Silverman’s point is excellently put. The virtue of this study is that it dispels the myth, still bandied about by proselytizers, that atheists are “afraid of the gospel”. Instead, it supports the explanation that we’re atheists because we’ve sincerely considered the claims of religion and found them unconvincing.

Truthfully, I wish more Americans would read the Bible. After all, it’s not as if people who are ignorant of its contents will be easily shamed into becoming atheists. More likely, they’ll just believe whatever their preacher tells them is in there. And when their preacher tells them that the Bible says God wants everyone to be rich and that being poor is a divine curse, or when their preacher tells them that God wants America to invade Iraq, or when their preacher tells them that Jesus argues for public prayer and the merging of church and state – when they hear those things from the pulpit, they believe them, and we’ve witnessed firsthand what the results are. If people read the Bible for themselves, they probably wouldn’t be cured of sexism or homophobia or religious intolerance, but they might at least absorb some of its occasional teachings about universal love and social justice.

On that topic, I also wanted to mention this article, about how churches across the country are struggling with a lack of donations. The recession has accelerated the dropoff, but it’s not the sole cause. Donations to churches have been slowly declining over the past forty years. As older, more religious generations fade away, they’re not being replaced by younger members:

A 2007 study by three professors at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis found that baby boomers in 2000 were donating about 10 percent less to religious bodies than their parents’ generation did at a comparable age in 1973 — and almost 25 percent less than those parents, by then ages 62 to 76, were donating in 2000.

And this is a phenomenon that crosses denominational lines, from conservative synagogues to evangelical megachurches. As an explanation, the article cites a study which found that baby boomers are “more likely to construct a personal sense of spirituality than to subscribe to a denominational or even congregational one”.

But I think this ignores a far simpler explanation: donations are declining because more people are becoming atheists, and fewer trust religion to be able to answer their dilemmas. It’s not a lack of trust in institutions in general, but the simple recognition that religion’s factual claims are unsupported and its moral beliefs are often cruel, arbitrary, and irrational – relics of a less moral and more superstitious past. Why should people donate their time and money to churches which have repeatedly failed to offer proof for their claims of authority, much less use that authority wisely to advance the good?

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • Herb

    Truthfully, I wish more Americans would read the Bible.

    Sure… In the UK, people are more secular and yet more knowledgeable about the world’s religions. Maybe US atheists should push for a thorough religious education in schools. It’s brilliant from a PR standpoint, and it may be even more effective than atheist literature. Some teachers would of course use the opportunity as an excuse to teach their own religion as fact, but they’re doing this anyway.

  • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.com Steve Bowen

    Herb sort of beat me to it. For example my daughter was already being taught some comparitive religion at infant’s school, she very quickly understood that different people have different beliefs which automatically puts a question mark over all of them.

  • http://toomuchhorrorfiction.blogspot.com/ Will E.

    “More likely, they’ll just believe whatever their preacher tells them is in there. And when their preacher tells them that the Bible says God wants everyone to be rich and that being poor is a divine curse, or when their preacher tells them that God wants America to invade Iraq, or when their preacher tells them that Jesus argues for public prayer and the merging of church and state”

    I don’t even care when preachers tell their flocks that loving Jebus means helping the less fortunate or recycling your cans or that God loves gays too or to watch ‘Friday Night Lights’–all things I agree with. We should accept and embrace these things because they’re true and right, not because some sky daddy insists on it.

  • Rollingforest

    I don’t mean to be contrarian, but the study says that Atheists are the most knowledgeable about religion in general, not Christianity in particular. Now we still do pretty well, coming in third place out of nine, when it comes to knowledge about Christianity.

    Mormon: 66% correct

    White Evangelical: 61% correct

    Atheists: 56% correct

    Only Jews beat us on knowledge of world religions and we are in first place when it comes to knowledge about the law as it relates to religion (you have to be when you are such a minority)

    http://pewforum.org/Other-Beliefs-and-Practices/U-S-Religious-Knowledge-Survey.aspx

  • Rollingforest

    I should add that we did beat out 4 Christian groups (mainline Protestants, black Protestants, white Catholics, and Hispanic Catholics) when it came to knowledge about Christianity.

  • http://Daylightatheism.org J. James

    How does the average Christian view these findings? I imagine the cognitive dissonance must be going into overdrive, and firing up the backburners for good measure. Imagine… Aw, Hell. I can’t even come up with an analogy for this! Please, to all those that call themselves Christian! READ THE DAMN BIBLE!… In fact… I’ll make you a little WAGER, hmm?
    Go ahead and read the bible. Do so, and God will give you brownie points, and we need all the protection from Hell we can get, right? It is a win-win! If God exists you may be rewarded, and if he doesn’t then I may have steered you towards a more fulfilling existence as an Atheist!

  • javaman

    Haven’t xians teachers been teaching and testing to the test all these years ? and there students still fail ? this test may be needed to be graded on a curve. As a teacher myself if I turned in results like this I would be out of a job ? Maybe us atheists can tutor these xians to educate their sorry asses .

  • KShep

    But I think this ignores a far simpler explanation: donations are declining because more people are becoming atheists, and fewer trust religion to be able to answer their dilemmas….

    To this I would also add that people are likely becoming far more suspicious of organized religion, thanks in large part to the blatant corruption of high profile religious leaders. The catholic church is front and center–they have authority figures living in tax-free luxury and sheltering pedophiles. No one with a brain would give them money right now. Throw in Ted Haggard, mix in Robertson and Falwell blaming gays for Katrina, and of course donations are going to slow to a trickle.

    I think it’s great. Maybe some of those assholes will have to get a job.

  • Lion IRC

    Q3. Mother Theresa’s denomination was catholic – NOT her religion.
    Q4. Many atheists call themselves cultural Jews
    Q6. An atheist would naturally tend to the view that communion is thought of by (wacky) Christians as literal rather than symbolic. Real Christians on the other hand have been arguing this one for centuries. Note the protestant failure here compared to atheist responses.
    Q8. Atheists (having a “problem of pain” axe to grind) would be more familiar with Job’s suffering than that of Abraham and Moses but Job actually did not suffer “as much” as some other obedient servants in the bible.
    Q10. God allows people to pray where ever they wish. It has nothing to do with the “supreme” court.
    Q14. Glad to see Buddhism called a religion. Why didnt they ask some questions about atheology ?

    Its also possible that Christian wilful ignorance of non-Christian religions skewed the result. An atheist might be just as indifferent to paganism, idolatery, sorcery, devil worship, etc as they are to Christianity. They might well have a general familiarity with all religions. Whereas many Christians would shun these topics and their lack of knowledge of Shiva might be intentional.

    I think this….

    “It’s well-established by now that most American theists are abysmally ignorant of the religion they profess”

    …is intellectually weak coming from someone like you claim to be Ebonmuse.
    This is not a survey of catholics about catholicism and you know it!

    How about I match you and make some lame assertion about “atheist anxiety” being the main driver of their “nail-biting” when faced with the smorgasboard of religions.

    A Christian wouldnt care less if an atheist knew more about Hinduism than they did.

    Why dont I throw in another cheap trick just for good measure….

    “It’s well established most atheists in America are former theists themselves and in many cases have flip flopped from one religion to another before opting for the abysmally lazy pastime and intellectually vacant atheology of non-stamp collecting and will probably revert back to theism eventually”

    Rock solid? Intellectual giants? Yeah right!

    Lion (IRC)
    BTW – Please do keep on handing out bibles! It’s the most widely published book in history. Eventually that whole “bibles-for-atheism” strategy will kick in. Give it another few thousand years – you never know.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    I’m pretty sure that if you actually re-read what he types, you’ll see it was “American theists,” not “American Catholics.”

    Also, I’m very proud to have flip-flopped; after all, you’re burning one side of the pancake and leaving the other raw. I, on the other hand, have taken the time to examine the issue from both sides.

    How is it, then, that you’d pretend to be more informed? You don’t know what the downside looks like!

  • Scotlyn

    Hey Thumps, I’m with you (and all the other people who can’t think past their stomachs…mmm). Like my pancakes cooked on both sides, yessirreee!

  • Lion IRC

    It’s not a fair comparison to ask a committed catholic, Jew, hindu, muslim, etc with no interest in any other religion to answer questions which an ambivalent/apathetic atheist or enquiring agnostic is more likely to have considered in the course of their “travels”

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Its also possible that Christian wilful ignorance of non-Christian religions skewed the result.

    You seem to think that’s a good thing. Why do you think willful ignorance is good?

    “It’s well established most atheists in America are former theists themselves and in many cases have flip flopped from one religion to another before opting for the abysmally lazy pastime and intellectually vacant atheology of non-stamp collecting and will probably revert back to theism eventually”

    Yes, because willful ignorance is more lazy and intellectually vacant than searching out information and making an informed choice, right?

  • Wednesday

    I’m going to echo the first two comments – proper comparative religions courses are excellent, both because they get people to reexamine the beliefs they hold, and because a basic knowledge of different religions is a matter of basic cultural and historical literacy.

    @ Lion (in #12) – it’s not fair to ask committed believers in the US some basic questions about other religions? Really? The US is not a monoculture by any means. I suppose if someone lives in a small town with no diversity of beliefs or culture, never leaves, and no one new ever moves in, they can get by, but when it comes to state, national, or global issues they’re really going to have trouble understanding other points of view, and may do a lot of harm to others when it comes to how they vote.

  • Charles

    That Christians don’t know much (if anything) about world religions underscores that they believe for bad reasons. You can’t take the Outsider Test of Faith if you don’t know what the outside looks like.

  • javaman

    I have a question for Lion IRC : are all religions of the world equally valid in your eyes, by this I mean ,are all the different “gods” really, real? ,all living in their own heavens side by side, all with pretty much the same divine powers? Or do you write off all the other faiths of the world as just silly child like fairy tales?

    Or is Jesus, the father ,and the holy “ghost” the only true and valid godhead that all people need to get in line with ? If you want to convert and save the souls ( which is asked of you)of all other persons of different faiths over to your side wouldn’t it be useful for you to know as much as possible about their faith to know how to flip them by pointing out the flaws in their thinking and believe systems , which would require you knowing the underlining fallacies in their fairy tales. Isn’t this the stuff that wars are fought over?

  • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.com Steve Bowen

    I’m going to risk being kicked hard here… but I wonder if this apparent theist insularity is peculiar to American theists. After all Americans generally are considered notorious for ignorance of other countries and cultures, why not other religions? (naturally I exempt all American atheists from the above stereotype :)

  • The Tofu

    “It’s not a fair comparison to ask a committed catholic, Jew, hindu, muslim, etc with no interest in any other religion to answer questions which an ambivalent/apathetic atheist or enquiring agnostic is more likely to have considered in the course of their “travels”

    Uh, why not? Why shouldn’t religious people consider these questions?

    I mean really, what are you arguing here? The point of Ebon’s post is that we SHOULD expect atheists to know more, because they’ve actually thought deeply about the subject.

  • http://www.kurmujjin.com kurmujjin

    Since so much harm is done from ignorance, I think it’s fair to ask any faith member any question. If one is seeking truth, no question should be off-limits. If, as a member of a faith group, I can’t answer a question then I need to research the answer.

    I know that a number of faiths discourage independent, critical thought. It’s sad, REALLY sad.

    Truth sets you free. I think that is so whether you are an atheist or a theist.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    In arguing that outsider-religion questions are “unfair,” what Lion is really admitting is that his faith is largely unexamined.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    Its also possible that Christian wilful ignorance of non-Christian religions skewed the result.

    You know, Lion, I tend to agree with you about that. But I’m astonished that you consider that a defense. You’re essentially saying that Christians deliberately avoid exposing themselves to facts that might not confirm what they already believe – which I agree is often true, and that’s at the heart of the atheist criticism of Christianity! Do you think that closed-mindedness and intellectual dishonesty are commendable traits? Do you think it’s praiseworthy to avoid putting your ideas to the test out of fear that they’ll fail?

  • cag

    From the Pharyngula Dungeon

    Lion(IRC)

    Insipidity, Godbotting

    The stupid comments would have been tolerable (at least, ignorable) if they hadn’t been accompanied by such undeserved self-pride in his attempts at wit, and such unwarranted and affected pretension. In other words, dumb as a turd and completely oblivious to it.

    Ignorance is a virtue for religious adherents, and something to exploit for the religious “leaders”. Can’t have the flock thinking, they may figure out the lies.

  • http://Daylightatheism.org J. James

    Lion, you make me sad. Really, I don’t mean that in an insulting way. But… When I think of the religious ignorance you so clearly represent, all I can see is starving Ethiopians beside the obscene decadence of the Vatican. I see thousands, millions of Moslems bowing in unison toward The Asteroid of Abraham. I see politicians slamming their fists down next to bibles, jabbing an accusing finger at all others in the room with vitriol and hatred. And I see the burning. The burning of books, the burning of the flag, the burning of the oil wells in Kuwait, the burning of the Towers, the swastikas on the great sky liner Hindenburg going up in flame. I see the cremation of Jews and the burning, burning of the Heretic and the witch. It makes me shudder with dread and loathing that the tool that leads to all of this is not recognized for the unspeakable horror that it is.

  • Lion IRC

    I see I owe a few ppl some answers. That’s what you get for weighing in to a blog about surveys.

    OMGF
    I did not say it was “a good thing” Read carefully! I offered it as a possible explanation why a Muslim might not know as much about communion as an atheist (who may have been a former catholic)

    Wednesday
    Nobody is saying its “unfair” to ask committed believers if they wanna take a quiz. Don’t verbal me. It is perfectly fair to ask anyone anything and equally fair if they answer or decline to answer as they see fit. My point is targeted at Ebonmuse and his shameless unsupported generalisation …”It’s well-established by now that most American theists are abysmally ignorant of the religion they profess”. It is NOT well established. It’s an illogical claim and I argue it is completely false. People who are nominally atheists (at this point in time) answering a wide range of questions about religion more correctly than a Hindu is not a fair basis to assert the Hindu is “ignorant” of their own religion.

    javaman
    No I do not think all religions are equally valid. One religion might be 100% true. Another might be 50% true. As just another religion, I think the faith known as atheism is 100% false. Having said that, the religion I think which is 100% true does not necessarily contain 100% of everything there is to know about God. So you might have multiple “religions” all saying something true about divinity/afterlife etc. I certainly agree with you that the MORE you know about the beliefs of those you seek to convince, the more effective you will be. But becoming an expert in pagan theology/cosmology wasn’t necessary for Elijah to deal with Baal worshipping priests. Many people are willing to convert without the aid of strong apologetic or counter apologetic arguments. Sometimes it’s as simple as…I want what you have.

    The Tofu
    It is the comparison and conclusion Ebonmuse makes which I claim are not fair. Why would a committed Muslim (with no further desire to question their faith position) contemplate Buddhism as thoughtfully as an atheist? Where is the logic in claiming that the atheist rejects both Islam and Buddhism because they have studied both and the committed Buddhist/Muslim remain as such simply because of their respective ignorance of each others beliefs. Does really stand to reason that every atheist’s rejection of ALL theism is the result of their having studied ALL religions? I formally reject atheism and I understand atheism VERY well. It isn’t exactly rocket science.

    Thumpalumpacus
    Don’t you verbal me. It is not the question which is unfair – it is the conclusion drawn form the answers given. You cannot sustain an argument that Christianity (my position) is “largely unexamined”. It begs to be examined. Moreover, it asks its followers to put it forth for examination.

    Cag
    Please don’t mention that “P” word to me. *sniff* I visit using proxies now and then to check if my ban has been lifted. Maybe some day…*sigh*
    I wish I could take part there again but I am too proud to beg. I never found out what the specific, empirically verifiable meaning of “insipidity” is according to PZ Myers. It seems a bit nebulous to me. It seems just a little bit like the sort of gratuitous thing you would expect ….”when I feel like it” or “because I can”. And if one of my posts contravened the “godbotting” rule then they all did because all my AvT posts in every forum I visit have God in mind. Maybe it just took them a while to notice.

    Ebonmuse
    Have a careful read of what you just said in response to the point about wilful Christian avoidance of non-Christian religion…. “You know, Lion, I tend to agree with you about that. But I’m astonished that you consider that a defense. You’re essentially saying that Christians deliberately avoid exposing themselves to facts that….” Where are the facts in another religion which are being avoided? Indeed, where are the “facts” in the canon of atheism/atheology? Last time I checked, Christian evangelizing was still underpinned by putting lamps up on hills and being willing to suffer persecution as a blessed thing in His name. Monotheism, more broadly, has stood the test of time. Its actually the oldest form of theism according to secular “experts” like Karen Armstrong. And even more broadly, theism itself appears to be permanently bolted on to psyche/soul of humankind. Don’t tell me atheism hasn’t been an available menu option since day one. Atheism (a form of religion with really bad theology) has had at least 50,000 years to catch on and it keeps on failing to get any traction.

    You don’t need science or enlightenment to be an atheist. It’s not like we had to wait for quantum physics and uncertainty principles to unleash our atheist inner being. The amazing scientists who invented the really useful stuff like Mayan calendar, the wheel, fire, writing, mummification, pyramids, etc were “smart” enough to be atheists if they wanted.

    You don’t need to be in the democratic majority to be an atheist. Dictators with guns have been more than happy to assert there is no god.

    You dont need money or poverty to be an atheist. Affluence is not a cause of atheism (but it doesn’t seem much of a deterrent either).

    You don’t need to fear death or love death to be an atheist. The existence of extra-terrestrial dimensions and parallel universes and afterlife wouldn’t mean you have to abandon atheism.

    You don’t need an atheist messiah to be an atheist. Its not like the world has been waiting for Mr Hitchens to come and open the “I hate celestial dictatorship” atheist floodgates. (Interestingly, radiation, gravity, entropy, etc are all just different types of celestial dictatorship and they don’t care what atheists think.)

    You dont need a world without any other religions to “be” an atheist. Neither an atheist nor a theist dystopia (1984/Handmaids Tale) can force religion on anyone.

    You dont need that nurturing Mr Dawkins and his soothing “Out Campaign” encouragement for all your fellow sensitive, shy atheists hiding in their closets to come out.

    And your atheist “zero burden of proof” position (apparently) is the default true position so it’s not as if the “rise of atheism” depends on proselytizing. In fact many atheists tell me everybody is born as an atheist – surely if that’s true atheism has had a head start since day one and it STILL can’t seem to gain the ascendancy.

    So what other conclusion can one draw other than atheism and its non-stamp collecting” practitioners must be doing something wrong.

    Lion (IRC)

  • Lion IRC

    Lion, you make me sad. Really, I don’t mean that in an insulting way. But… When I think of the religious ignorance you so clearly represent, all I can see is starving Ethiopians beside the obscene decadence of the Vatican. I see thousands, millions of Moslems bowing in unison toward The Asteroid of Abraham. I see politicians slamming their fists down next to bibles, jabbing an accusing finger at all others in the room with vitriol and hatred. And I see the burning. The burning of books, the burning of the flag, the burning of the oil wells in Kuwait, the burning of the Towers, the swastikas on the great sky liner Hindenburg going up in flame. I see the cremation of Jews and the burning, burning of the Heretic and the witch. It makes me shudder with dread and loathing that the tool that leads to all of this is not recognized for the unspeakable horror that it is.

    Hi J. James,

    WOW!

    I am very sorry that I made you sad.

    I don’t remember everyone I speak to and mostly I don’t know the names of people I give food to or who I helped as a volunteer fire fighter – putting out real fires. I don’t let my right hand know what my left hand does so I literally couldn’t tell you how much money I give to the poor – and I wouldnt even if I did know. I don’t hate anyone. I don’t think violence in influential at all. I am a pacifist. I find the things you mentioned above loathsome as well. I would never be willing to kill but I would like to think I would die trying to prevent one person from killing another. I would not want anyone else to be hated as a result of anything I say but other people can hate me as much as they like because I have thick skin.

    If you have ever met me in real life I can only assume that you never took the time to speak to me and never watched my life for more than the blink of an eye because I don’t think I am anything like the person you say I am above. You may think you know what is in my heart but you don’t. I plead my own case to God and all I can say in my own defence is that I fear real judgement from a transcendent Higher Power who CAN see into my heart. So if you think I am lying then you should also accuse me if not caring what God thinks of me.

    Lion (IRC)

  • Scotlyn

    @ Lion IRC

    “Last time I checked, Christian evangelizing was still underpinned by putting lamps up on hills and being willing to suffer persecution as a blessed thing in His name.”

    This is probably true, and there is a reason for it. Willingness to suffer persecution is a CRED, as this article explains:

    CREDs [credibility enhancing displays] are all about communicating ideas, especially ideas that we have no way of verifying. We’re much more likely to accept these kinds of ideas if we see someone acting as if they truly believe what they’re telling us. If they walk the walk, as well as talk the talk. emphasis added

    One problem with the willingness to suffer for one’s beliefs is that it is often a small step away from a willingness to see others suffer too. Every act of suffering (one’s own or that of others) enhances the investment in the belief, and reduces the chances that the invested believer will walk away.

  • Emburii

    Lion, so now your defense is that…we don’t know you? We don’t. We just know what you write on here, and what you write is the same thing repeated over and over again, uninformed and unchangingly dogmatic – and proud of that. This is why you are the politician thumping their fist down next to a Bible. This is why you are the preacher picketing the funeral of a gay soldier. This is why you are the face of an honor-killer – because they ‘might’ be right, whereas of course all atheism and all atheists seem to be one hundred percent wrong, according to you.

    You know, I don’t even know why I’m arguing this. I’m tired from donating blood to the Red Cross. And unlike you, I don’t need to do my charitable works as insurance for some eternal reward, it’s truly about love for my fellow folk; you know, that thing that atheists aren’t supposed to have. But the ‘next appointment’ reminder on my donor card says otherwise.

  • http://Daylightatheism.org J. James

    Yes, Lion. You could be a wonderful person. I don’t know. That rant wasn’t truly against you-it was against the acceptance of ignorance and what it eventually leads to, every single time. Ignorance and the tolerance, the acceptance of it, are what leads to evil. Period. This doesn’t mean that you are evil, any more than is my relative ignorance of the ins and outs of Wahabbism. But WILLFUL ignorance, the desire to ignore outside knowledge and eventually destroy it, is evil. What else can we call something that always, eventually, leads to such great intentional human suffering?
    Also, I wonder why you think it is okay to reject the Atheist “religion” because you think our “faith” is undesirable? What does that have anything to do with the actual evidence, or lack thereof, of anything?

  • Thumpalumpacus

    Lion, my issue is that Christianity doesn’t support in-depth examination. One must set up special pleadings in order for any “evidence” to hold water. That fact alone is damning.

  • Lion IRC

    Emburii,
    Even if you are an athest, if you have love for your fellow humans…I tip my hat to you. Ignore me. Keep doing that. We ALL have to.
    Lion (IRC)

  • Lion IRC

    Hi J. James,
    If you can love your neighbor (and the Higher Being who I say caused your neighbor to “be” there for you to love in the first place) you can willfully ignore EVERYTHING else. No suffering can follow THAT.
    Lion (IRC)

    Lion (IRC)

  • Moondog

    Even if you are an atheist?? Even if?? Ugh. More of the same from you, huh, Lion? For someone who claims to be all up ons regarding atheism, you seem to be pretty ignorant of what the vast majority of atheists are actually like… or was that just a slip of the tongue?

    Most of the criticism I see around here about religion in general and Christianity specifically is pretty reasonable. Take Thumpalumpacus’ concise wording up there a couple of posts: “Christianity doesn’t support in-depth examination”. Nice. Straightforward. True. Whereas your insinuation that atheists would more naturally be prone to not loving our fellow humans… coming from someone who “knows a lot about atheism”, well, that’s just crazy.

    Aspiring Trolls could take lessons from you on how to get a rise out of people while maintaining the pretense of sincerity. And for what it’s worth, I really do mean that. And I think the facts do bear out that opinion.

  • http://Daylightatheism.org J. James

    What, what, WHAT?! Lion, that makes no sense! Sure, you can love your neighbor but what about the guy two countries over that loves his neighbor differently, and subsequently declares Jihad on you? Besides, look at Salem, Massachussets. They all believed in the same God, loved their neighbors(initially), and yet still everyone and everything fell apart. People ascribe it to human nature, but I say that’s bullshit. The only known vaccine to that kind of hate is understanding of why things happen, why people do what they do and how the world works. One may also argue that Communism is a counter-argument to the above, but that is only a different type of dogma that still confirms to the formula of not understanding how the world works and keeping their followers forcibly ignorant of outside arguments. Like communism, willful ignorance NEVER EVER EVER works out in real life, only in the frenzied imagination of a dreamer.

  • http://www.amazon.com/Hitchens-Dawkins-Harris-Essays-Atheist-ebook/dp/B0041G6MSS G.M. Jackson

    Yes, I have discovered my money can be better spent.

  • Emburii

    ‘Even’? I am a ‘gnu’ atheist, a loud and vocal critic of the establishment of religion. I would say I am especially an atheist, because it means I don’t have to hate anyone. I don’t even have to make a conscious decision to ignore centuries of tradition, of calls to violence, or holy writings…I can just love where and how I will, for everyone. And again, unlike you, I don’t need a deity to justify it. Then again, you do say that I should ignore you…a little less sure of your position, are you? Then understand, I am not alone as an ethical atheist. People keep pointing this out to you, and yet you treat us as outliers. his is why you are the face of a religious monster, even if you’ve never personally driven the car that dragged someone to death or swung the bat that beat them into a lifeless mess. They have the presumption of rightness in your mind, whereas you never remember time and time again that we have already proven ourselves to you and you just aren’t willing to remember that.

  • http://Daylightatheism.org J. James

    Um, perhaps an addendum should be added to my previous statement. I fear that I may have come off sounding rather pessimistic. It is okay to be optimistic and love and so on… But how can you love, long-term, without understanding? Discovery, learning, going out in the world to meet people different than yourself and understand them, empathize with them, is one of life’s greatest adventures. Curiosity and the fulfillment of it are one of man’s most precious treasures, to be encouraged and nurtured so that one can reach self-reliance and self-assurance that what you believe, you believe for every reason that you could find and not be left wondering whether what you think is really true. Ignorance, on the other hand… It leads to evil. Not to Awe.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Lion,

    I did not say it was “a good thing” Read carefully! I offered it as a possible explanation why a Muslim might not know as much about communion as an atheist (who may have been a former catholic)

    Actually, you said a lot more than that, which I quoted and addressed. If you wish to clarify the statements that I quoted and explain why they don’t mean what you wrote, then I’m all ears.

    I understand atheism VERY well…I think the faith known as atheism…Atheism (a form of religion with really bad theology)…

    No, you don’t understand it.

    Monotheism, more broadly, has stood the test of time. Its actually the oldest form of theism according to secular “experts” like Karen Armstrong.

    This is a fallacious argument. Slavery stood the test of time for a long time too (actually, it’s still around), but that didn’t (doesn’t) make it right or good.

    Atheism (a form of religion with really bad theology) has had at least 50,000 years to catch on and it keeps on failing to get any traction.

    This is also a fallacious appeal to popularity. Just because something is popular or unpopular doesn’t necessarily have any bearing on its validity.

  • http://steve.mikexstudios.com themann1086

    I missed Lion calling Karen Armstrong a “secular expert”. That’s freakin’ hilarious. The only thing Armstrong is an expert in, is using vague language, confusion through vocabulary, and contradictory metaphors to defend “God”.


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