The 2008 ARIS: Atheist State of the Nation

As you've surely heard by now, the landmark 2008 American Religious Identification Survey has just been released. The ARIS is an enormous study that questioned over 50,000 respondents to assemble a broad picture of religious belief and disbelief in the United States, building on previous surveys from 1990 and 2001.The 2001 results showed that nonbelievers had made incredible gains, rising from 8% to just over 14% of the U.S. population in just ten years - a genuine demographic boom. The new … [Read more...]

A Reflection on Hope

Last year, around the time I inaugurated my Poetry Sunday series, I contacted Prof. Philip Appleman to ask for permission to reprint some of his work which I'd seen in Freethought Today. He graciously assented to my request, and even said a few kind words about "The Gods", my own brief foray into free verse, which I had the brashness to ask for his opinion on.He called my poem "hopeful," which was an honor to me, but there was one other thing he said which I've been dwelling on - that he was … [Read more...]

On Atheism and Hope

Pope Benedict has released the second encyclical of his papacy, a 75-page missive titled "Spe Salvi" (Latin for "in hope we are saved"). As was widely reported, this statement attacks atheism and calls people to convert to Roman Catholicism as the only hope for humankind. (Here's the text of the statement itself, if anyone's interested.) In this post, I'm going to offer some comments in response.The major theme of the encyclical is that only belief in a god - actually, in the Roman Catholic … [Read more...]

Optimistic Populism

In the comments of my recent post "On Atheist Janitors", I was accused of being naive for my belief in the possibility of a truly just and prosperous state:I wasn't even going to address Ebon's utopian comments on how we should ensure a minimum income for everyone on a full time job sufficient to travel for leisure and all. Clearly Ebon's not an economist, but a dreamer. I guess that's his own variety of opium. Heaven not in heaven, but here on Earth... I ask you, is that any less of a … [Read more...]

Finding Our Voice

Last year, in a series of posts titled "The Quiet Revolution", I observed that atheists were in many ways making inroads into society beneath the gaze of the media. But that quiet revolution, I'm most happy to say, is becoming increasingly noisy. More and more lately, I see atheists and atheist groups who are willing to stand up and defend their nonbelief in public. If this trend continues, editorials expressing sentiments like this one may soon become a thing of the past:I didn't know what … [Read more...]

Lightbringers

In the World in Shadow series, I have written about some of the terrible natural evils that afflict humans. My primary purpose in writing this series is to illustrate the strength of the atheist's argument from evil, that the existence of vast amounts of undeserved and random suffering disproves the existence of a powerful, benevolent deity.However, there is another reason I write this series, and that is so I am not accused of excessive optimism. I am, as I will readily admit, an optimist, … [Read more...]

Season's Change

I awoke this morning to the pattering of a soft November rain. Though I am not usually a morning person, I don't mind saying that I sprang out of bed today with more enthusiasm than I have in a long time, and with good reason. Last night's preliminary election results made it clear that there would be much to feel joy about this day, and I was not disappointed by that prediction.I deliberately avoided all news sources for most of yesterday, knowing that until the polls closed, there would be … [Read more...]

Is Atheism Unnatural?

"This persistence is what any scientific attack on religion must explain — and this one doesn't. Dawkins mentions lots of modern atheist scientists who have tried to explain the puzzle: Robert Hinde, Scott Atran, Pascal Boyer, DS Wilson, Daniel Dennett, all of them worth reading. But he cannot accept the obvious conclusion to draw from their works, which is that thoroughgoing atheism is unnatural and will never be popular."—Andrew Brown, "Dawkins the dogmatist" (emphasis added)In a r … [Read more...]

Tipping the Scales

"The book (The End of Faith) has spent nearly 20 weeks on bestseller lists... Presale orders of 'Letter to a Christian Nation' earned the book a spot among Amazon.com's top 10 a month before its Sept. 19 publication. It debuted at No. 7 on the bestsellers' list and is now in its sixth printing with 110,000 copies in print and a mammoth $200,000 ad campaign behind it."—Gina Piccalo, "Oh, dear God - it's him again", The Los Angeles Times, 2 October 2006In a recent post, "The Quiet … [Read more...]

The Roar of Many Waters

I have often described atheism as a positive and hopeful worldview, and I stand by that description. I truly do believe that humanity has the potential to inherit a future glorious beyond imagining - not an imaginary heaven, but a real and genuine utopia existing in this world, one built up by our hands and our effort. But I cannot deny that this vision still lies far in the future, and some days it seems as if it is receding farther away, rather than drawing nearer. The problems we face seem so … [Read more...]


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