Two Poles

While reading Richard Sloan's book Blind Faith, I came across a passage that jumped out at me:[Gallup Polling] also indicates that from 1939 to 2005, 37 to 49 percent of those surveyed reported that they attended church or synagogue in the week before they were surveyed. From the period to 1992 to 2005, those who reported that they attended once per week ranged from 28 to 36 percent. For those reporting attendance almost every week, the range was 9 to 14 percent.What I noticed is that the … [Read more...]

Atheists at 75%?

Not in the general population, alas. But a poll in a recent front-page post at Daily Kos, Hobbits 2.0?, had some stunning numbers:The poll was about which viewpoint best fits the site contributors' positions on human evolution, with four options corresponding to young-earth creationism, old-earth creationism, theistic evolution, and non-theistic evolution (i.e., no god involved). Not surprisingly for a progressive political site, the two creationist options received negligible support. But … [Read more...]

Expanding the Secular Community

In a world of hostile religious believers, a lone atheist is a target. Vjack of the always superb Atheist Revolution provides a chilling example, an atheist family in rural Pennsylvania who incurred severe harassment and reprisal from their believing neighbors after they complained about blatant religious indoctrination in the local public school, culminating with them being driven out of town.But there's an important lesson to be learned from this sad story: if an isolated atheist is a target … [Read more...]

A Change in the Wind

Via Orcinus, a truly incredible story about the latest survey to come out of the Barna Group, whose title is "A New Generation Expresses its Skepticism and Frustration with Christianity".Over the last decade or so, the religious right has exercised virtually untrammeled power in America. They've commanded the allegiance of a majority of the population and have enjoyed tremendous influence and near-unchallenged power in popular culture, in the media, and especially in government. They have had … [Read more...]

Atheists at 25%

Atheist Revolution recently picked up on a stunning poll result described in The Nation:...a more recent and more nuanced Financial Times/Harris poll of Europeans and Americans that allowed respondents to declare agnosticism as well as atheism: 18 percent of the more than 2,000 American respondents chose one or the other, while 73 percent affirmed belief in God or a supreme being.A more general issue affects American surveys on religious beliefs, namely, the "social desirability effect," in … [Read more...]

What Is Christianity Good For?

What is Christianity good for?I ask this question in all seriousness, not as an insult. I genuinely want to know. Eternal life in Heaven is usually held out as the greatest benefit of becoming a Christian, but that reward is said to be in the next life and is impossible for us to verify. Does Christianity have any benefits in this life, any evidence that can be offered now as partial substantiation of its grander promises later on?I'm not looking for personal testimonies about how … [Read more...]

An Address to Hispanic Freethinkers

This year, I made a New Year's resolution to learn Spanish. In a world of many cultures, I've always felt somewhat embarrassed that I never learned to speak another language, and with the increasing influence of Hispanic people and culture in the United States, Spanish was a rational choice. Both while going to graduate school and working in multicultural New York City, there have been times it would have helped me to speak it, and the next time the opportunity comes, I intend to be prepared. So … [Read more...]

A Passionate Atheism

The new generation of bold and outspoken atheists, including Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, are making waves in society with numerous media appearances, a welcome change of pace from the media's previous policy of steadfast refusal to cover freethought and nonbelief. (Some things are slower to change than others - despite Time Newsweek's praiseworthy coverage of a debate between Sam Harris and Rick Warren, the conversation was a clear example of the "Gish Gallop", where the theist throws out as … [Read more...]

We Are the Swing Vote

In a post from October titled "Tipping the Scales", I wrote that although non-believers are still outnumbered by the conventionally religious, there are encouraging signs of recent growth and increasing organization among atheists and agnostics, signs which...may well be the grains of sand that presage a much larger slide in the near future, and lead to a much more dramatic tipping of the scales.If I were inclined to claim supernatural foresight for myself, I might try to turn that … [Read more...]

A Godless Recount

Baylor University has recently released a study, titled "American Piety in the 21st Century", on American religious affiliation and church attendance. This study has been widely described as casting doubt on previous studies which have found that religious belief is declining in America. In particular, the Baylor researchers have described their study as an explicit rebuttal to the much-cited 2001 CUNY ARIS study which found that as many as 15% of Americans are non-religious. In contrast to this … [Read more...]


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