# Are ‘One in Four’ People Really Atheists?

As of this week, the Seattle Atheists have four different ads circulating on twelve buses throughout the city proclaiming that “1 in 4 is an atheist“:

I love the look of the ads… but I cannot figure out where they’re getting this 1 in 4 number.

The closest thing I can find is this excerpt from a survey done by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life:

Among Americans ages 18-29, one-in-four say they are not currently affiliated with any particular religion.

But that’s a specific age demographic. And we’re talking about people with no religious affiliation — the “nones” — not just atheists. Are you “spiritual-but-not-religious”? Someone who calls himself an atheist, yet thinks god might exist? A “follower of Christ” who refuses to self-identify as a “Christian”? You could be in that group.

There’s also a Financial Times/Harris poll from 2007 which was cited by Ronald Aronson in The Nation:

The FT/H poll tried to counteract it by allowing space not only for the customary “Not sure” but also for “Would prefer not to say” — and 6 percent of Americans chose this as their answer to the question of whether they believed in God or a supreme being. Add to this those who declared themselves as atheists or agnostics and, lo and behold, the possible sum of unbelievers is nearly one in four Americans.

In other words, when you add agnostics, “not sures,” and “would prefer not to says” to the atheist count, only then would the number potentially get close to 25%.

But nowhere can I find where it says 25% of people are atheists.

I searched the Seattle Atheists site, their Facebook page, and the “1 in 4″ ad campaign’s page and I couldn’t find a citation anywhere, so I’m skeptical of the claim.

***Update***: Commenters point to a Formspring response from Seattle Atheists which references the 2008 American Religious Identification Survey (PDF). ARIS said the following:

Nones have historically been concentrated in the West region and particularly in the Pacific Northwest (i.e. Oregon and Washington), where now they account for about one-quarter of the population

Again, though, we’re still talking about “nones” and not necessarily atheists. I still say the ad isn’t telling the whole truth.

End of update.

Ok. *Deep breath*

That aside, I still think the ads are a nice sentiment — maybe some atheist who feels alone in her non-belief will discover that many other people think as she does.

The ads are also important because they stress the undeniable point that there are *way* more atheists out there than most of us acknowledge, even if we don’t have an exact count. We’re not as rare as you might think, but we’re not always public about it. That needs to stop.

If this campaign encouraged more atheists to speak up and come out, that’d be a net gain for us, even if the 25% statistic is dubious.

***Update 2***: John Keiser of the Seattle Atheists explained the derivation of the statistic to me in an email. I’m quoting it with his permission:

$Here’s how we got to our numbers, and what exactly they are \left(in bold\right).$

There is no hard data on exactly how many Washingtonians (or Seattleites) are specifically atheists. But we do have math.

1. 25% (1 in 4) Washingtonians are irreligious. Straight from the ARIS survey. We reference this directly all over the place, since it’s the easiest picture to understand.15% is the national figure.

2. 12% of Americans are atheists or agnostics. Again from ARIS (we are counting both when we say “atheists”–people who lack a belief in God).

3. 20% Washingtonians are atheists. If the 12% of atheistic Americans scales to Washington the same way the None figure scales to Washington (25% Washington Nones / 15% American Nones = X Washington Atheists / 12% American Atheists), then there are 20% Washington Atheists. This assumes that people who identify as atheists will overwhelmingly identify as Nones.

4. 25%+ (1 in 4) atheists in Seattle: Seattle has a lot more atheists per capita than the rest of the state (urban vs. rural areas are generally different this way,and the split is amplified here to the point where the rest of Washington has semi-seriously threatened to secede). I admit that this final number is the softest of the lot, since we don’t have relevant data I’m aware of, but given 20% in Washington, 25% in Seattle doesn’t even seem like a stretch.

And of course, we don’t mention that these numbers likely underreport, because the word and concept are so besmirched.

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

• http://www.blaghag.com/ Jen

I asked them about it while they were in the process of making the ads, and someone told me it was 1 in 4 people in Seattle that were atheists. Which was way more believable, since we’re pretty godless up here. But they still didn’t give me a citation.

• Anonymous

On the Ask an Atheist show, they were mentioning that this is, indeed, a regional statistic.

Indeed you are correct.

Did you ask them where they got it?

• http://www.allourlives.org/ TooManyJens

The web site says “1 in 4 in Washington state.” This is from their FAQ:

Washington state has always had a lower church atendance than any other lower 48 state. where do you get your figures of 1 in 4 is a atheist?

The 2008 ARIS study found that 25% of Washingtonians were without religion. Based on our experience, we think the numbers are even higher in the Seattle area.

While it is true the 25% of Washingtonians are “Nones” I wouldn’t go as far as calling all of them atheists and though I agree that the percentage is probably higher in Seattle, we don’t know much about their beliefs. We found in the ARIS that 12% hold theologically atheist or agnostic beliefs, probably higher in Washington, if proportions were consistent across all regions, but not sure if it is 25%

• Sulris Campbell

athiest means “none”  the word litterly mean not a theist….  the only difference i see is between the two groups of people are that some label themselves with the A word and the others do not.

No, “atheist” doesn’t mean “none.” A large number of “nones” are atheist but many are sort of “spiritual but not religious” that is not an atheist.

It simply means without a theology or religion. Deists are part of the survey too… if you want to say people who have no belief in God then the figures show more like 1 in 5. We think since that survey in 2008 that the figures are probably much higher now (almost 2012). We are getting record numbers of people joining various meet up groups and not just in Seattle.

I’ll quote PZ Myers: “We are winning.”

• Omprem

First, you changed the discussion from theism to deism. That is a logical error. Theists believe in a god or gods who intervenes in the universe. Deists believe in a Creator that is not necessarily an individual and that does not intervene in the universe.

Second, there is a difference between “belief in the existence of a god” as in the post to which you replied and “belief in God” which you write about.  If you are  going to respond to a post could you not change it to suit your own purposes.

Perhaps your willingness to change or fudge definitions and numbers (and to misunderstand religion) is the reason you mistakenly believe that Atheist numbers are growing.

• Paul D.

I’m pretty sure someone who is “spiritual but not religious” is not a true theist, and therefore atheist. (Call it “weak atheism” if you like.)

• p4ul47

One of my best friends reallly believes in spirits, life after death and stuff but not in any religion. Do you think she is an atheist… because I really don’t.

• Anonymous

One thing for sure, she’s definitely not a skeptic.

• p4ul47

Definitely

• atheist_pagan

You can believe in those things – or allow for the possibility of them – and still not believe in god. Atheist just means you don’t believe in god, it says nothing about spirits, the soul, life after death or myriad other things. It ONLY means you don’t believe in god.

• Omprem

Correction. It only means you don’t believe in an individuated god. But no major religion at its core holds that God is an individual.

• Deven Kale

Where exactly is it within the doctrines of any religion do you find this particular information?

• Omprem

You have to explore the contemplative or mystical core of religions. They all say the same thing.

Omprem, what you are saying is simply not true. You are lying. Do you care at all whether or not the things you babble are true? From your dishonest and willfully ignorant comments, it’s obvious you don’t.

• Sulris Campbell

the term is atheism not aspiritualism.  theism is religous beleif in the existance of a god.  anyone who puts down “none” is by definition an athiest.  even agnosticism is athiest.  i.e. non-theist

believes in the non-existance of a god is called anti-theism.

if they were not athiests they would reply “other” not “none”

• Northern_Witness

Not so, someone who is spiritual but not religious might consider god to be consciousness for example.

• ~pickles

The first sentence on their website is “One in four people in Washington state are without religion.” It looks pretty focused on WA, even in the url.

A citation would still be nice.

• Terry

Agree.  Entirely.
A citation is essential.

The advert says “Learn why”… the citation should be very ovious at the website.

• Omprem

Being without a religion is not the same as being an Atheist. Being without a religion merely means that someone does not adhere to a specific religion. It does not mean that the person denies all religions or even any one religion.

FYI: Atheism is a religion, albeit it a fundamentalist religion. Its arguments are only with other fundamentalists religions. It is a cases of a child saying, “My religion is better than yours.”  Not very mature.

• Deven Kale
• Omprem

All of those ‘definitions’ apply to Atheism. I particularly like #4. You claim a lack of belief but fail to consider what that lack of belief but fail to consider on what that position is based upon. Nor do you consider the vehemence (oops, excuse me, ardor and faith) with which that position is promulgated.

What’s the difference between Atheist bus ads and Jehovah’s Witnesses standing on the corner handing out tracts. Answer: None, except the Atheists do not put themselves out on public view and prefer to hide behind print.

• Anonymous

I particularly like how someone who is ignorant of atheism decides to tell atheists what it is that we believe.  That always goes down well.  Don’t you think?

• Omprem

Just because you don’t agree with me but can’t articulate why is not reason for you to commit the logical error of argumentum ad hominem.

• Anonymous

You are the one who is making an error in your assessment of atheism.  It has been corrected by several people including myself.  You continue to make the same error and now you play the victim card.  Wrongly I might add.  You aren’t being attacked.  Your assessment and poor logic are being attacked.  If I wanted to attack you I would characterise you as a troll and post a picture to make people snigger at you.

• baal

“Not very mature.”
You cannot make a claim about others maturity without bringing your own into question (and I’m sure you’re questioning mine right now – this proves my point).

• hoverFrog

What are the fundamentals of atheism?
While you’re at it, what are the fundamentals of a-leprechaunism?

• Northern_Witness

OK, hoverFrog, here are the Fundamentals of Atheism. There are many different Atheist sects/cults so not every Atheist will believe each of these fundamentals. But every Atheist will believe in the three ideas listed at the end upon which all of the Atheist beliefs systems depend. Of course, Atheist belief systems also depend upon the laziness, fearfulness and mean-spiritedness of their adherents.

So here we go, take a month or so to read and understand these fundamentals and then we’ll talk.

Atheist Creed – Positive Approach

I venerate the seventeenth and eighteenth century scientists and their mechanical, technological view of the earth, the universe and humans.

1. I believe in a material universe operating according to natural laws and principles.
2. I believe there is only one universe and we are living in it.
3. I believe that there is a world, a universe that exists independent of humans.
4. I believe that this life is the only one we will ever have and that death is final.
5. I believe that the mind and consciousness are inseparable from the brain.
6. I believe that the mind and consciousness are biochemical reactions occurring in the brain.
7. I believe in the absolute existence of space and time.
8. I believe that the senses provide real data and evidence of a real external reality.
9. I believe only in the abilities of science, reason and rationality to eventually explain everything in us, our environment and our universe.
10. I believe no other reliable method of acquiring knowledge exists except reason and the scientific method.
11. (a) I believe we have free will.
(b alternatively) I believe we do not have free will because ideas and what we refer to as will are biochemical reactions.
12. I believe Atheists can be moral despite the lack of an Absolute against which thoughts, words and actions can be compared.
13. I believe that religions postulate an individualized God.
14. I believe that God is irrelevant to any discussion of cosmology, evolution, morality, consciousness, or human potential.
15. I believe in that scripture should be read literally and judged accordingly.
16. I believe that religion is responsible for much of the misery, fear, and conflict in the world.
17. I believe that our purpose is to seek pleasure.
18. I believe it is not necessary to examine the beliefs upon which my Atheism is based as they are self-evident.

Atheist Creed – Negative approach

Those Atheists who are pure Negative Theology practitioners will express their creed in negative terms, in an attempt to eliminate what is not until they come to what is. Knowing when to stop this process and allowing one’s consciousness to be changed by the process are the keys to this path and keys that Atheists have yet to discover.

This Atheist might claim all or some of the following:
1. I do not believe in paranormal activity.
2. I do not believe that miracles are possible.
3. I do not believe that non-linear learning styles which are not rooted in sense data are valid.
4. I do not believe in life after death.
5. I do not believe in Karma.
6. I do not believe in God, gods or goddesses.
7. I do not believe that God created the universe and all in it.
8. I do not believe that humans have a soul.
9. I do not believe that humans have an astral body with centers of consciousness other than the brain.
10. I do not believe that the human body has consciousness in any other location than the brain.
11. I do not believe in Heaven or Hell.
12. I do not believe in the interconnected consciousness of the universe and the things in it, including humans.
13. I do not believe in the power of prayer as a way to transcend phenomenal reality.
14. I do believe that religion and the supernatural are inventions based on ignorance and intended to assuage fears arising from that ignorance.
15. I do believe that religion is based on blind faith, blind obedience,
blind belief, guesswork, and irrationality.
16. I do believe that religion promotes guilt, hatred, selfishness, ignorance, punishment, violence, despair, and pessimism.
17. I do believe that religion is responsible for much of the misery, fear, and conflict in the world.
18. I do believe that religious education is a form of child abuse.
19. I do believe that only reason, logic and science can provide knowledge.

Both the Postive Theology and the Negative Theology Atheist belief systems hinge entirely on beliefs that sense data provide accurate information of an external reality, that only sense data can provide the basic data from which we learn and that the only mode of learning is the linear manipulation of sense data. Each of these three core beliefs of Atheism is incorrect.

• baal

Hi Om (under a new nym),

On the whole, yes that is what we ‘believe’ (I have a ton of quibbles but you’re accurate on the main). Notice I put ‘believe’ in quotes since you’re playing games with it’s meaning.

I, however, wonder why you hate reality. I mean, you sit on chairs right? That chair is pretty much the same day to day and you can reply on it’s properties to be based on what the chair is made out of. that’s science. Do the same experiment or thinking about all the things and you’ll have all the science (understanding of reality).

Turns out that the materialistic scientific world view results in things like the computer you used to make your comment. You wouldn’t have that computer with out us scientific people. Oddly enough, god didn’t draw out the mechanical and chemical steps needed to make it out on gold tablets placed in the arizona desert.

I can’t let one of your error go, however. We don’t worship early scientists.

• Northern_Witness

Is the sense-based “reality” real or subject phenomena that we create both individually and collectively? It is not a question of hating material reality but rather recognizing its limits. Atheists confine themselves to working within those limits exclusively, effectively walling themselves off from a wider reality. Go figure.

• baal

By ‘wider reality’ you mean the imaginary supernatural world of ghost, spirits and gods? heh
You are entirely wrong. I have an active imagination and particularly love anime. There is no shortage of the supernatural in those stores and I love them all.

This christian god story is, however, awful. Women are treated as livestock and the central power figure (god) is a genocidal asshole. Somehow, he’s also a nice guy communist zombie who cares for the cast outs of society (esp. prostitutes).

The evidence that any of the supernatural is anything other than wishful thinking and and artifact of our gap filling (pattern finding) brains is lacking.

Again, why are chairs a problem for you? Why add to the chair the thought that it’s god holding you up (or the fleshy protuberance of a room shaped monster that’s about to eat your for that matter, so long as we’re in make believe, let’s have some fun!).

EDIT:
Oh NOES! I only have all of reality to live and play in! Gosh, the entire planet is massive constraint.

• Northern_Witness

By “wider reality” I refer to that reality beyond the subjectivity and limits of sense perception. This is and has been available to millions of people since there has been people. Atheists are unable or willing to develop the abilities to know anything beyond their self-imposed sensory limits.

Your ignorance of scripture that scripture is primarily metaphor, allegory, and parable is evident.

• baal

You’re being apparently willfully obtuse. The scientific world view is that there is a reality independent of our sense that was here before you were born and will be here after you’re gone. Scientists don’t say, “well i need my own eyes to see” and limit ‘reality’ to our personal experience of the world via our individual sense impressions. Please get this right and stop misrepresenting the position of science. Please also note that there are non-scientifically minded atheists and not all scientists are atheist (though I think they should be). This means that you should stop conflating atheism and science.

Again, no ghosts, no demons – the evidence for the supernatural is lacking and pretty much every time a testable claim for it has been tested, the claim to the supernatural has failed.

You point on my ignorance of the metaphor of scripture is irrelevant. The only topic I’ve been discussing with you is the presence of a entire universe of ‘objective reality.’ You keep talking about how limited that is and I’m expressing my disbelief that literally everything (+ imagination!) is not enough for you.

• Northern_Witness

Your plaintive defense of a material universe as all there is highlights your regret at not being able to access what is beyond that material universe. I sympathize with your inability to move pass your current self-imposed limits.

Oh yes, science deals with the sense-based and as such is subjective. And there is not a phenomenal reality independent of perception and all reality is changeable if one changes one’s perception and attitude. There are no laws of nature or science.

• baal

Ok then, I think we’re at an impasse since you expressly deny reality.

• Northern_Witness

Of course, I have not denied reality, I have only denied that reality is limited to your truncated version of it. You are trapped in a cave, refuse help in getting out of it, and yet at the same time plaintively bemoan the constraints of your cave. Just like almost all other Atheists.

• baal

And there is not a phenomenal reality independent of perception and all reality is changeable if one changes one’s perception and attitude. There are no laws of nature or science.

So far as I’m concerned, when you type stuff like what I quoted, you’re delusional. Your position is that of Cypher in The Matrix or Cobb’s wife in Inception.

• 3lemenope

I’m told there is no position that, sincerely and earnestly stated, is not in itself a reliable sign of disordered thought.

Now featuring Exhibit A…

• Northern_Witness

Ah, the ad hominem attack. The last refuge of the Atheist who is unable to defend or even understand his position.

• 3lemenope

The guy peddling solipsism is complaining that the universe is being mean? What is that, like, self-abuse?

• Northern_Witness

Actually I’m pointing out his logical error. You are looking at it from you mistakenly believe is my view, when I’m looking from the POV his intent.

FYI Solipcism is not the cased here as I am saying that nothing is real, that is, not concrete. That is not solipsism. Are you misconstruing solipsism to sound learned or are you just ignorant of what constitutes solipsism?

• http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

If nothing is real or concrete, why are you whining about people (or the universe) being mean to you? It’s not actually happening, right? You could just be making it up, since you can’t trust your senses.

I’m bowing out of the argument of what solipsism is or means, just addressing the arguments in plain language instead.

• Northern_Witness

Reread the first paragraph of my response to 3lemenope.

It was not me that introduced the term “solipsism”. And in my second paragraph above I too called 3lemenope on his use/misuse of unplain language.

• http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

I read everything you wrote. You’ve repeatedly said that the universe is not materialistic and we can’t trust our senses. If we can’t trust our senses, then we can’t trust anything because all our knowledge of everything is based on empirical observations. This is a roundabout way of getting to nothing is really real and everything is made up, ie, solipsism. This, in turn, is why people are telling you that your position is completely untenable.

• Northern_Witness

It may be that all YOUR knowledge of everything is based on empirical observations, but billions of others know otherwise because they have developed other ways of knowing. Yours is the mistake of the lazy and complacent.

• http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

What is your other way of knowing, then? How do you figure out if it’s right or wrong? How is it lazy to look around and try to actually figure out how the world around me works instead of saying that it’s all imaginary anyways?

• Northern_Witness

Your thinking is lazy. Instead of dismissing something why not try to learn something. But remember the teacher only appears when the student is ready.

• http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

I am asking you questions. Why do you not answer them? What is your other way of knowing? If you want to be a teacher, then teach. Deepities don’t do anything but make you look stupid.

• Northern_Witness

You have to change your attitude. The proper attitude is key. Look up “soft eyes” as applied to horseback riding.

• hoverFrog

So what’s the proper attitude to this magical form of knowledge then? Why is it required at all? What is it?

What I think you’re doing is trying to pass off wanting something to be true as knowledge. You should be aware that this is something that you need to guard against when learning rather than embrace it. All you do if you adopt this attitude is to confirm your own biases rather than actually learn something.

• Northern_Witness

Have you looked up “soft eyes” and practiced it.

If ignorance is bliss you must be perpetually ecstatic.

• hoverFrog

Have you given a straight answer to any questions put to you yet or are you just dodging?

“Soft eyes” is a way of looking at the wider world using peripheral vision. Rather than focussing on a point (hard eyes) you open your eyes and allow the bigger picture over draw you in. It’s not a common phrase but there’s no need to look it up. One can appreciate nature or a particular scene by allowing it to drift over you but that isn’t knowledge, it’s just chilling out. It’s how you should watch cricket rather than play it.

Unfortunately knowing what the phrase means offers nothing in the way of insight into gaining knowledge in the magical way that you suggest. Changing one’s attitude to unfocused uncritical of what is being imparted is a sure way to filling your head with a load of rubbish rather than gaining insight into the topic.

I assume that this is what happened to you and is the reason why you promote such nonsense now. I suggest a good clear out by reviewing what you think you know with a critical eye and rejecting what does not conform to reality. Perhaps start with something easy like magic or gods.

• Northern_Witness

It is too bad that you are incapable of making the connection. Learn to meditate and all will be clear.

• hoverFrog

From the self styled teacher. All you offer are empty word salad and insults. There is nothing to learn from you. You’re not nearly as wise as you think you are, if you were then you’d at least be able to see that you’ve an oblique course with this “other ways of knowledge” nonsense and there’s no way out but to admit that you’ve made a mistake and try a different tack.

You won’t do that though because pushing your point of view, even when you know that it’s wrong, is more important to you that learning from your errors. It is exactly the same blind faith that prevents you from examining the concept of gods closely enough to really consider whether it makes sense or not. How obstinate and closed minded you are. You have my pity.

• Northern_Witness

Observing that you are incapable of making the connection between soft eyes and moving out of the confines of Atheism is just that an observation not an insult.

The rest of your post merely confirms your unwillingness/inability to move beyond the limits of Atheism. In fact, everything you accuse of are merely projections of your intransigence and deviousness.

• hoverFrog

Oh the irony.

• http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

Oh hey look, it’s about the perception skill and how to train it. Becoming aware of what’s on the edge of one’s peripheral vision is still learning how to become aware of what’s out there in the natural, material world.

My attitude is that I like the things I think to be true/correct. What, exactly, do you consider wrong about that attitude? Also, please answer my original questions. What other ways of knowing exist, and how do you tell if they are right or wrong?

You are claiming that nothing is real. Either you are saying that nothing is real other than yourself, which is solipsism, or you are saying that even you do not exist, in which case you cannot be having this conversation. So, which is it? Are you a solipsist (and therefore wrong because by attempting to argue for your solipsism you are admitting that there exist other people to argue with and thus your solipsist delusion is false)? Or are you only a figment of your own diseased imagination (and therefore can be disregarded as not real)? Or were you just lying through your teeth when you claimed nothing was real (in which case you admit you are not trustworthy)? Or are you just so incredibly shitty at communicating that you are incapable of expressing yourself in an intelligible fashion (in which case your laughable excuses for arguments have no more meaning than a treatise on the sleeping habits of colorless green ideas)? In any case you’ve offered nothing that’s at all useful or interesting, and you deserve no response but ridicule and derision.

• 3lemenope

Actually I’m pointing out his logical error.

You failed, because his argument in no way depended on the mean thing he said about you. It would only be an argumentum ad hominem if the mean comment did functional work in the argument.

FYI Solipcism is not the cased here as I am saying that nothing is real, that is, not concrete. That is not solipsism.

“And there is not a phenomenal reality independent of perception and all reality is changeable if one changes one’s perception and attitude[emphasis added].”

The only way your state of mind can have a direct effect on the nature of reality is if your mind is generating reality. So, solipsism.

Are you misconstruing solipsism to sound learned or are you just ignorant of what constitutes solipsism?

Ooh, you caught me out. I know nothing of philosophy; I just use big words I’ve seen somewhere to make myself sound smart.

/snerk

• Northern_Witness

You still do not understand solipsism. I suggest that you obtain an introductory text on the subject.

• 3lemenope

What part of the entailments of “…your mind is generating reality” are escaping you?

• 3lemenope

The notable feature of phenomenal reality is not its subjectivity but its intersubjectivity; the very high correlation of reports about a given moment, object or instance by multiple subjective viewpoints. The possibly delusory nature of individual sense impressions is minimized by their being agreement among independent sensors.

Science heightens the effects of intersubjectivity by controlling the conditions of observation to filter out irrelevancies and increasing the sheer number of observations, such that the probability of delusory sensation is crushed to basically nothing.

Again, lying sack of shit, you don’t get to make shit up and attribute it to others without a speck of evidence. Reality doesn’t work that way. Of course, since you despise the very idea of reality with every fiber of your being, it’s no surprise that you can’t survive an instant without making shit up.

• http://wordsideasandthings.blogspot.com/ Garren

This just makes me want to move to Washington state all the more.

One reason we moved!

It makes way more sense that it is just in Washington state. I live in Florida and I would never believe that 1 in 4 people here are atheists. One can wish…

• Annie

Ashley-  I’m a Floridian too, although in a university town (aka pocket of heathens).  If I were to walk down my block, I am confident that I would get higher than 1 in 4… but I live a stone’s throw from campus.  As soon as I ride my bike a mile in any direction, I meet the south.

• Bryan Elliott

The ARIS demographics by state are nicely summed up in this Wikipedia entry:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irreligion_in_the_United_States

• Reginald Selkirk
• Izzy Leonard

Why would you assume they are referencing national figures when the website advertised is called 1in4WA? It also, BTW, has the citation you are looking for.

Don’t I wish!  There is so much vagueness in the atheist-agnostic- unsure-unaffiliated spectrum, and so many people who don’t believe are afraid to come out and say they’re atheists.

• Terry

Good to know there is substantiation for the statistics…
I was worried as we cannot afford to lose outr credibility (or lead any doubts that we might be “immoral sinnerful liars”).

If it was the age group supposition that Hermant feared, then that would have been unacceptable.  By for a “Seattle Athiest” group advertising in Seatle to use Seattle / Washington state statistics is completely acceptable.

Nice publicity locally… but be prepared to defend the stats when interviewed.

• http://www.allourlives.org/ TooManyJens

OK, I found the whole ARIS poll report and they did find 25% “None” for Washington state (up from 15% in 1990!). Of course that assumes that “none” = “no god-belief,” which I’m not convinced is true, but it’s still going to be a sizable number.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/metro/documents/aris030609.pdf

• Ronlawhouston

Considering how often you deal with negative feelings for atheists from our society, I’d say that many if not most of the 25% who identify themselves as “unaffiliated” or “none” are probably atheists.

My test would be the number of “non-theists.”  There are a lot of religious folks who identify out of culture who would fit in this category.

• Annie

I do like the adds.  Four people doing very normal, everyday things together.  Nice impact!

• Matthew Harmer

Personally, I also include the 6.82% of Americans under the age of four as Atheists.
http://www.censusscope.org/us/chart_age.html

The study was in 2008 by AVIS. The claim is for Washington State and not the entire country. Considering that the study was almost four years ago the percentage is likely over 25% now.

I hate posting a wiki link but the AVIS study is listed as a reference:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irreligion_in_the_United_StatesAnother thing is that people are associating atheists with no God belief. The term actually means without a religion. That means Deists are included technically in the poll.I like that you question the source. It’s a good habit to have.

• Robster

Hey, the godbots have been fudging the truth as long as there’s been a truth to fudge. They call the bible the “worlds best selling book”. Has anyone ever paid for a copy of the bible? They hand them out with gay abandon, but they’re not “sold”. They’re supplied. They call their nonsense “good news”. It’s not, it’s hateful nonsense. They call their charity arm “worls vision”. It’s not, it’s purely there to sell the “good news”. So, if the WA atheists have fudged the figures, they’re only following the example of the deluded minions, the sheep who can’t think for themselves, but love saying things that sound cool and good but really are the opposite of what they say.

Whether that statistic is true or not, those are some gorgeous ads! Props to the Seattle Atheists for graphic design, at least.

That was mostly Kyle Hepworth

• Annie

Is he the “something a week” guy?  If so, I love his work.

Yep, that is the man!

• http://somethingaweek.wordpress.com/ Hepworth

Thanks guys!

• Annie

I have used some of your posts in my science classroom… to show students that getting stuck and facing problems is not an end, but part of the solution.  I love how you document the parts of your projects that fail, and how you think through to find a viable solution.

Again… the AVIS study listed here as a resource:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irreligion_in_the_United_States

I am the fiancé of the lady in the beginning of the video and a member of Seattle Atheists.

Keep in mind that Deists are included and they are technically atheists (without religion).

Thomas Jefferson was a Deist.

• Bryan Elliott

Technically, deists can’t be atheists; they’re areligious or irreligious if they’re non-churchgoers that believe there’s a god.  They vote largely the same way, though, so outside of posts on atheist blogs, I generally don’t care.

Okay, you have a point but defining what they consider a deity is another thing but the point is that they are not subscribing to the common theologies and state they are without a religion. My point still stands… Cheers!

• Bryan Elliott

The billboard is meant to represent “nones” in Washington state, via ARIS.  You’re correct in that it shouldn’t say “1 in 4 are atheist” so much as “1 in 4 are irreligious”.

Well, many of us consider atheism to be anything short of a positive declaration of theism (since “not theist” is the most basic meaning of “atheist”), which pretty comfortable includes the “nones.”

While 25% is good news, I’ll stay in Vermont (34+%)

Here is the link to the actual ARIS data:  http://commons.trincoll.edu/aris/files/2011/08/NONES_08.pdf

See page 19 for “nones” by state.  None, again, just means when asked what their religious identification is, the participants said, “none.”  At a national level, 15% were “nones” while 10% were agnostics and 2.3% were atheists (so the other 2.7% are probably spirituals and deists of various sorts).

Todd, if you look at page 14 of “American Nones” it has a table dividing Nones in categories of self-identification, belief and behavior. About 11% of Nones are atheist or agnostic in their identification, but theologically 7% are atheist and 35% agnostic to various degrees, an additional 24% are deists. I coauthored the report.

I think these ads are very deceptive.

These “nones” are not all atheists, not by a long shot. The meaning of the answer “none” depends on the exact question being asked. In the 2008 ARIS survey, which is the referenced  source, the question was “What is your religion, if any?” Answering “none” to that only means they do not consider themselves a member of, or affiliated with a particular religion. A person does not need any particular religion in order to believe in deities or supernatural beings.

The 2008 ARIS provides a detailed profile of the American “Nones.” you can find a PDF of it here:
http://commons.trincoll.edu/aris/publications/american-nones-the-profile-of-the-no-religion-population/
They asked further questions of those responding “none” to the question
about their religion, and nationally their beliefs break down this way:  (figure 1.17)
Belief (N=1,106)
Atheist  7%
Hard Agnostic  19%
Soft Agnostic  16%
Deist  24%
Theist  27%
Don’t know/refused  7%
That totals 100% of the “Nones.”

I’m not the most skilled at math, so please check my figuring:

51% of the nones say they’re deists or theists, so they believe in a god or gods.  42% of the nones declare themselves to be atheists or agnostics.  The national percentage of nones was 15%. So nationally, 42% of 15% means the actual atheists and agnostics in 2008 were 6.3%.  If Washington state has a nones population of 25%, and if the national breakdown of the nones is similar in Washington, then 42% of 25% means their actual percentage of atheists and agnostics is only 10.5%

But the deception is worse than that.

The ads say “One in four is an atheist.” They don’t say “is an atheist or an agnostic,” so that is heavily fudging on the agnostics part of the nones, and they’re grossly misrepresenting all of the nones group as having no believers at all. If only 7% of the national count of nones are actually bona fide atheists, and if that percent is similar in Washington, then 7% of their claimed 25% nones means the percentage of actual atheists in Washington is only 1.75%. Expressed as a fraction, that’s 7/400.

So an honest ad would have to say, “One in 57 is an atheist.”

They’d have to show a crowd of 57 people, not an intimate group of four. Not nearly as impressive, I’m afraid.

Please check my figures. I’d like to be wrong, but we should not lie.

• gsw

You forgot to mention the percentage who are not theists, but have been brainwashed into thinking that the word atheist actually means ‘worships Luicifer’.
They will definitely hesitate to call themselves atheists, even when that is what they are.

Skepticism about skepticism. I like it. Breath o’ fresh air.

Actually Mr. Davis, it’s not skepticism about skepticism, it’s integrity. It’s skepticism practiced consistently, relentlessly,  and fearlessly.

Welcome to Friendly Atheist.

• Jamesandgoods

I take the Seattle Metro every day to work and I haven’t noticed the Ads yet.  I don’t agree with the numbers the Seattle Atheists came up with.  The explanation alone sounds silly.   It’s good idea for us non believers to mention “your not alone” even if its an exaggerated figure of 25%….   bull shit works sometimes when bull shit is what your fighting.. kinda like this whole medical marijuana charade we’ve got going.

I don’t think fighting liars with lies of our own is a good idea. It just gives them more ammunition to throw at us, pointing out our deceptive misuse of scientific data. In the eyes of believers, and most importantly, believers who are teetering on the fence, it discredits science and evidence based, data-based thinking in general, and can push them back into the blind faith side of the fence.

“You’re not alone” is an excellent approach, but don’t taint the whole thing with gross deception, cooking the books the way the Mormons and Catholics exaggerate their claimed populations.

• james

I 100% agree Mr. Wade!   We should never fight liars with lies period! Then again we shouldn’t let the religious define Atheism.  Its very simple to define who we are.  You ask a person “Do you believe in God”  The only answer they can give is yes or no.  Yes being theist and NO being Atheist.  With the logic of the theist there is no gray area! You can’t answer with “I don’t know”.  Believing in God is Faith!  If you do not have faith then your Atheist PERIOD!   We who are logical and scientific know that not having an answer is a perfectly good response to the question of  “do you believe in god?”  I’m a horrible writer I know, but stay with me on this.  When the religious defend their belief in god they put up this wall shutting out logic, data, and science with the one word “FAITH”.  If we used the religious arguments of faith then I could see 25% of Seattle are Atheist!

• Omprem

So many errors here.

There is more than yes or no to your question, “Do you believe in God.”  Your attempting to limit the response is a logical error known as  bifurcation or false dichotomy.

Believing in God is not faith. Faith is a process of attuning oneself to the Divine.

Science does not contradict religion. In fact, the outer edges of astro-physics is very much in accord with the contemplative aspects of religion.

The “reason” of Atheists is a false reason based on the silly notion that what one can perceive through the senses while in a certain frame of mind is all that can be perceived. It is  both a bifurcation error and a self-serving circular argument. This error is compounded by the false assumption there are no other ways to gain wisdom.

• baal

Om – you’re engaging in conflation. Science, first off, is somewhat better and different than the fallibility of our senses. Science, is not atheism. The two are independent concepts. Now, if you apply science to the fact claims of supernaturalists, the supernaturalists fact claims get disproven (or aren’t the type of thing that’s provable one way or the other).

• Thin-ice

Living in Portland to the south, I can easily believe that both Seattle and Portland will have 25+% of the population inside the city limits who are non-theists. But no matter what my gut says, it’s always good to have some kind of verification of the figures.

• Omprem

Is it because of the heavy rainfalls in both cities, Portland and Seattle, 37″+, that leads to depression, negativity and loss of religion/spirituality?

• Beth Lehman

Yes, because if someone isn’t religious they MUST be depressed and negative, right?  What utter bullshit.

• Northern_Witness

Your negativity proves my point. Thanks.

• baal

hrm, “Northern_Witness” are you Omprem’s sock puppet? Or are you a 2nd person using the word ‘my’ oddly?

Above he admits to being a sockpuppet.

Lying about people doesn’t prove your point. Quite the opposite in fact. The fact that you can’t prop up your delusions by any other means than shameless lying makes it highly unlikely that the shit you believe is true.

• Anonymous

25% doesn’t seem very high to me.  In England it has been reported at 39%.  Even then only 15% of people regularly attend a place of worship and go through the rituals of religion like prayer.  We’re not event he most irreligious nation.

Anyway, good for Washington and the other states where non-belief is the norm.  It will continue to grow as long as people aren’t bullied into hiding their lack of faith.

• gsw

a-theist – doesn’t ‘do’ gods.

Ok, so take it world-wide. More than a billion Buddhists? Them’s atheists all right.
Europe – closer to 50% non-religious atheists.
How about all those ‘tolerant’ and ‘moderate’ muslims-in-name-only (because they like breathing)?

I think you will find that 25% of the worlds population not kowtowing to a deity is a very modest statistic.

• randall.morrison90

There are not more than a billion Buddhists. Moreover, many branches of Buddhism are not what you would call “atheists”.

• Omprem

None of the Buddhists sects would be considered Atheist. Their Nirvana is simply another name for God.

• atheist_pagan

No. Sorry.

Nirvana means “to blow out” – blowing out the fires of greed, hate, selfishness, negative thought, etc. It is a state of being – the state of freedom from suffering. “Gods” are not states of being, they ARE beings. There is a difference.

• Omprem

God is a state of being, a state of consciousness. It is the same as Nirvana. You confusing gods with God. It is a  logical error. There is a difference.  Better luck next time.

So, Omprem and various sockpuppets, when were YOU appointed sole arbiter of what constitutes a religion? When did YOU get the authority to declare absolutely every person with a conception of god other than your own nonexistent? Or are you just talking out your ass as your ilk always does?
Most of the religious people in the world do not imagine their gods as you claim they do. Why should we believe that YOU know what these people believe better than they do?

• Omprem

Buddhism is not Atheist. The Buddhist Nirvana is the same as God in Christianity, G-d in Judaism, and Parabrahman in Hinduism.

If you want to have Atheist examples then you have to go to Stalin, Pol Pot, and Chairman Mao.

• baal

I invite you to any state Capitol in the US. When you’re there ask for a christian lawmaker. Ask them if they think nirvana is the same as god.

Buddist can be atheists but they are not also always a-supernaturalists.

• Xeon2000

I have an acquaintance with a very devout Christian belief who claims not to be religious. She thinks of what she has as a personal spiritual truth. Like gravity. I suppose she might be included in that category with us.

• Thin-ice

Not so. Most evangelical christians HATE the word “religion”. Religion is a bad thing. They claim that what they have is a “relationship with Jesus Christ, not religion”. So all liberal christians, and those of other faiths, are “religious”, but not them. And this post is about theistic believers, not specifically about religious people. You don’t need a God to have a religious belief.

• Xeon2000

Not so? I just said the exact same thing as you! -_-

• Xeon2000

… and I’d suggest this is perfectly relevant to the post. The post makes reference to the Pew survey in which it states: “Among Americans ages 18-29, one-in-four say they are not currently affiliated with any particular religion.”. So evangelicals (like my friend) who claim the aren’t religious fall into the same “not religious” category as atheists. Exactly the point I was making initially.

• Thin-ice

Sorry, I guess it’s just the unusual semantics at work here. Evangelicals answering a survey are never going to let themselves be identified as non-theists by saying they are non-religious. Their peculiar rejection of the word “religious” would only apply when they are in a “witnessing” situation, or “planting the seed”, not when taking a survey.

I know it sounds odd, but I was a missionary and an evangelical for 46 years. Myself and all my christian friends used to use this word in this peculiar way.

• Omprem

Never apologize for using words with the meanings assigned by those who use those words. Atheists have a penchant for changing meanings in order to justify their positions. When they do so  it is a logical error and a bit sneaky.

• Omprem

But Atheists use those numbers which include those who “have a relationship with Jesus Christ”, to claim that Atheism is growing. It could be that the Evangelical numbers are growing while the Atheist numbers are declining. This is just another example of desperation (based on a logical error) to which Atheists go to attempt to justify their unjustifiable position.

• Omprem

EXACTLY! But one can’t see or measure a relationship, so don’t expect Atheists embrace this idea. Atheists have to be willing (and able) to utilize other means of “knowing” besides reason but reason is all they have (or think they have).

• baal

Intuited knowledge is the same as make believe.

• Omprem

Evangelicals want to have a relationship with the Sacred. This seems to make them very similar to the Sufis of Islam and the Bhaki Yogis of Hinduism. And, perhaps to other Charismatics.

• Gunstargreen

The ads are a nice idea but we should not be fighting misinformation with misinformation.

• Omprem

You have just described the essence of Atheism. Congratulations.

• Deven Kale

• Omprem

Atheism relies on misinformation and misunderstanding of religion for its views on religion. Its argument is only with other fundamentalists who are similarly labouring under misinformation and misunderstanding of the religion they profess.

So, is using the contradictions of holy texts against the religions a “misunderstanding”? Is it a misunderstanding if I think the story of the talking snake is bullshit???

• Omprem

Scripture uses parables, allegories and metaphors to characterize spiritual aspects because the low-level type of rationality employed by Atheists (which rests on sense data) is incapable of approaching the Sacred.

• baal

Indeed. The Sacred is so refined as to not have a tangile effect in any way measureable by science (which now has tweasers that can measure forces from single atoms).

• Anonymous

Atheism is a lack of belief in gods.  You seem to think it is something else.  You are wrong.

• Northern_Witness

Actually Atheism is based on many ideas which together form the Atheist Creed. Without those foundational ideas there would be no Atheism just a bunch of self-absorbed, fearful and mean-spirited people.

Atheist Creed – Positive Approach

I venerate the seventeenth and eighteenth century scientists and their mechanical, technological view of the earth, the universe and humans.

1. I believe in a material universe operating according to natural laws and principles.
2. I believe there is only one universe and we are living in it.
3. I believe that there is a world, a universe that exists independent of humans.
4. I believe that this life is the only one we will ever have and that death is final.
5. I believe that the mind and consciousness are inseparable from the brain.
6. I believe that the mind and consciousness are biochemical reactions occurring in the brain.
7. I believe in the absolute existence of space and time.
8. I believe that the senses provide real data and evidence of a real external reality.
9. I believe only in the abilities of science, reason and rationality to eventually explain everything in us, our environment and our universe.
10. I believe no other reliable method of acquiring knowledge exists except reason and the scientific method.
11. (a) I believe we have free will.
(b alternatively) I believe we do not have free will because ideas and what we refer to as will are biochemical reactions.
12. I believe Atheists can be moral despite the lack of an Absolute against which thoughts, words and actions can be compared.
13. I believe that religions postulate an individualized God.
14. I believe that God is irrelevant to any discussion of cosmology, evolution, morality, consciousness, or human potential.
15. I believe in that scripture should be read literally and judged accordingly.
16. I believe that religion is responsible for much of the misery, fear, and conflict in the world.
17. I believe that our purpose is to seek pleasure.
18. I believe it is not necessary to examine the beliefs upon which my Atheism is based as they are self-evident.

Atheist Creed – Negative approach

Those Atheists who are pure Negative Theology practitioners will express their creed in negative terms, in an attempt to eliminate what is not until they come to what is. Knowing when to stop this process and allowing one’s consciousness to be changed by the process are the keys to this path and keys that Atheists have yet to discover.

This Atheist might claim all or some of the following:
1. I do not believe in paranormal activity.
2. I do not believe that miracles are possible.
3. I do not believe that non-linear learning styles which are not rooted in sense data are valid.
4. I do not believe in life after death.
5. I do not believe in Karma.
6. I do not believe in God, gods or goddesses.
7. I do not believe that God created the universe and all in it.
8. I do not believe that humans have a soul.
9. I do not believe that humans have an astral body with centers of consciousness other than the brain.
10. I do not believe that the human body has consciousness in any other location than the brain.
11. I do not believe in Heaven or Hell.
12. I do not believe in the interconnected consciousness of the universe and the things in it, including humans.
13. I do not believe in the power of prayer as a way to transcend phenomenal reality.
14. I do believe that religion and the supernatural are inventions based on ignorance and intended to assuage fears arising from that ignorance.
15. I do believe that religion is based on blind faith, blind obedience, blind belief, guesswork, and irrationality.
16. I do believe that religion promotes guilt, hatred, selfishness, ignorance, punishment, violence, despair, and pessimism.
17. I do believe that religion is responsible for much of the misery, fear, and conflict in the world.
18. I do believe that religious education is a form of child abuse.
19. I do believe that only reason, logic and science can provide knowledge.

Both the Postive Theology and the Negative Theology Atheist belief systems hinge entirely on beliefs that sense data provide accurate information of an external reality, that only sense data can provide the basic data from which we learn and that the only mode of learning is the linear manipulation of sense data. Each of these three core beliefs of Atheism is incorrect.

• hoverFrog

Very imaginative and complete bollocks. I don’t know who told you this but they lied to you. Atheism is the lack of belief in gods. That’s it. Everything else that you made up or copypasta’ed from somewhere else is in addition to atheism.

Nice try though

• Northern_Witness

In order for Atheists to claim that God is non-existent because there is no proof of existence, they must also believe in the items listed in the previous post, unless, of course, your ideas originate in a vacuum and are therefore imaginary.

In short, Atheism, depends upon the points raised above and would not exist without those points.

FYI: your dismissal of the points I raised doesn’t not constitute refutation. It merely highlights your inability to engage in discussion.

• hoverFrog

I’m not making a claim that gods are non-existent. I am stating that atheism is a lack of belief in gods. I’m not making any claims regarding gods at all beyond the fact that I don’t believe in them. If you’re claiming that gods or a god exists then I would ask that you support that claim with evidence after providing a working definition for “god” because without these things I’m inclined simply to dismiss your claims as unfounded nonsense.

No, lying sack of shit and admitted sockpuppet, you do not get to make shit up, attribute it to others, and demand people refute your nonsense to your satisfaction. Your “Atheist Creed” is a load of crap that you have not offered the slightest speck of evidence for. Since you can’t be bothered to even pretend to support your own claims, you are not worthy of any response other than ridicule and derision.

• baal

The color blue + the number three shows honey bees are all your base. Refute that! I dare you to have that discussion. I don’t think you’re rational enough to do it.

Sometimes you can discuss the points. Other times, they are so ill founded or so self contained or even idiosyncratic that the discussion cannot occur on your terms Om. I’ve come to the conclusion that your world view is so tied to delusion that it’s not possible to have a discussion with you (my words are like water to a ducks back*).

(is the duck wet or literate?)

• Northern_Witness

Your comment is bit garbled. Could you rephrase and be more explicit.

It makes a lot more sense than anything you said. Could you try for once posting something that isn’t rotting word salad?

• baal

I’m not convinced you should say things like, “It merely highlights your inability to engage in discussion.” when your own discussion skills are lacking.

What a worthless load of bullshit. Have you ever actually spoken with an atheist in your life (preaching at people and making shit up about them doesn’t count), or is your only source for this the sworn testimony of the voices in your head?

• Northern_Witness

Your ranting ad homs are not a substitute for thought and are, in fact, logical errors. Who said Atheists were logical?

Your willful ignorance and rampant dishonesty only make it more obvious that you’re full of shit.

• Northern_Witness

Three ad homs in one sentence. Whew, now we know Atheists are not logical and are not interested in logic.

And your complete and utter failure to address any meaningful point or show any comprehension of reality is how we know that all theists are pathological liars and dumber than dog shit. If you knew anything about logic, you’d see the problem with that statement, but you only pretend to care about logic when you’re desperate for an excuse to hide from reality.

ad hominem is not a fancy Latin word for “insult”. “You’re an idiot, therefore you’re wrong” would be an ad hominem. “You’re wrong, therefore you’re an idiot” is not. You keep saying things that are false, and that anyone with a functioning brain would KNOW are false. You have not, at any point in the last two years, even ATTEMPTED to offer the slightest speck of evidence to support your asinine claims, nor in fact even acknowledged the possibility that there could be any value to basing one’s beliefs on evidence instead of the babbling of the voices in your head. You have offered nothing but lies, word salad, poor generalizations and stupidity. Why should anyone believe your bullshit, when even YOU don’t think it’s worth even TRYING to support it?

• Winto_bungle

come on America – here in the UK were on the rise – i know you can keep up!

suggests that in the UK 1 in 2 are atheist, while its 2 in 3 for 18-24 year olds.

looks like were on the winning team.

• Omprem108

Not being “currently affiliated with any particular religion” or “would prefer not to say” whether one is affiliated with a religion is not the same as being an Atheist or even an agnostic.  Instead of professing a particular religion, people seem to be opting for developing their spirituality by various means, Yoga and meditation, to name just two, and therefore, they come to embrace all religions.

• Omprem

Your posters don’t seem to realize that no major religion postulates God as an individual entity.  If God is everywhere all the time, then God cannot be an individual because, for example,  to be an individual, A, means there must be some where that A is not present. This is cannot occur in the case of God being everywhere all the time. There is not non-God.

The contemplative/mystic cores of all major religions are in clear  agreement on this.

The problem lies partly in the use of language which depends upon difference and partly on the need for some to adopt a preliminary human model for God as a way of holding the concept of God in their conditioned consciousness. Get rid of the conditioning and the need to human relationship models disappears and God is no longer considered as an individual.

I think you’d have a hard time convincing your co-religionists of the idea of God lacking an individual identity. I’m pretty sure wars have been fought over that.

• Omprem

As I have said elsewhere in this thread, Atheism is just another fundamentalist religion arguing with other fundamentalist religions.

Your lack of awareness of the essence of religion, specifically, in this case, the ultimate nature of God,  is typical of the mistakes upon which Atheists based their theories. Even when I lay out for you the reason why God cannot be considered to be an individual, you still maintain your mistaken Atheist illusions about religion. I suggest that you investigate the contemplative core of any religion before making any more mistakes.

• Annie

Omprem wrote “As I have said elsewhere in this thread, Atheism is just another
fundamentalist religion arguing with other fundamentalist religions.”

Your failure to address a specific statement, and instead leapfrog back to such a incredible falsehood that even most religious people would disagree with, illustrates that you may need a little more practice fine-tuning your argument.  I’ll give you an E for effort, and a D- on delivery (grade inflation and all).

• Omprem108

Your denial and wishful thinking does not constitute refutation. Atheism is founded on logical and factual mistakes. It is defended by denial.

Your reading comprehension also needs some practice as I laid why Rob Bos was wrong and where he could access accurate info re religion.

• Annie

You are right.  Resistance is futile.  We are the Borg.

• Omprem

Atheist resistance is indeed futile. Atheism rails against religion but is itself a religion. Atheism follows the well-trod path known as the via negative in Roman Catholicism;  Jnana Yoga in Hindism; the Lahoot Salbi  path of Islam, found principally the Shia and Sufi paths; the Ein-sof aspect of Judaism plus Buddhism and Taoism or Daoism.  This path differs from the Via Positiva approach which assumes that positive statements can be made about God.  The Via Negativa path to the Divine has been practiced for many millenia by all religions. It is the mystical approach to the Divine.

Atheism  makes several errors in attempting to follow this spiritual path.

1. Atheism is at the early stages of the first phase of the Via Negativa process. It is good at pointing out that God is not here or there. But it  generally does so with ridicule both of God and of those who believe in God. Its ridicule is the logical fallacy of argumentum ad hominem. It is also an expression of a rampant ego. This tendency to  ridicule betrays the insecurity and fear of Atheists and their intuitive sense that Atheism has major flaws.

2. Atheism has not yet begun to question the quality of its empirical methodology. It has not even considered whether or not empiricism is valid for spiritual purposes, nor whether there other means of  acquiring wisdom.

3. Atheism attempts to apply only literalist interpretations to the non-literal approach of Via Negativa. While both Atheism and the Via Negativa path know that God is not an object in the universe, Atheism, curiously contradicts this wisdom by insisting on the primacy of sense data, logic and language in describing God despite these being only applicable only to the phenomenal.

4. Another mistake that Atheism makes is assuming that because God is not localized in a particular place as opposed to some other place, God therefore does not exist. One is reminded of frenzy of the Atheist’s search for Go by Baroness Emmuska Orczy’s description of the search for the Scarlet Pimpernel,
They seek him here,
they seek him there.
Those Frenchies seek him
everywhere.
Is he in heaven or is he in hell?
That damned elusive Pimpernel.

5.  A related mistake of Atheism is to
assume that because God is not apparent to the senses God therefore does not exist.

The inherent tension of holding these
false assumptions and their conclusions is what gives Atheism its stridency and negativity. Those Atheists who actually believe in these assumptions and their conclusions at both a conscious and a subconscious level project a complacency that is at odds with the rigorous nature of their chosen spiritual path, the Via Negativa. But regardless of how deeply the doctrine of Atheism is held by its adherents,  the pronouncements of Atheism all contain at least one logical and/or factual error. This is a very strange situation for a belief system that considers logical inquiry to be  the primary and only vehicle for spiritual investigation.

• baal

Omprem, that was a lot of words, did you cut and paste it from somewhere? Also, I happen to have an invisible dragon in my garage. How does your list here account for your lack of belief about my dragon?

• Northern_Witness

It is from my manuscript on The Religion of Atheism.

As for your invisible dragon, see my points 3, 4, and 5.

• baal

A god of the ether is really unsatisfying. If it cannot do anything nor be apprehended except via imaginary thinking, it may as well not exist or it has just as much existence as the rest of my fantasy life in my head does. I’m not rude enough to insist that other people believe what’s in my head (especially since I know my brain is more than capable of entertaining impossible in the real world ideas*).

*for example, I dream that I can fly now and then. Turns out that doesn’t work in real life. It feels very realistic, however, since I can fly in a number of video games and have seen the RL from above the ground vantage points. Put the two together and my brain can fake flight pretty convincingly when I dream.

Since this post makes you an admitted sockpuppet, and since you were too much of a coward to even try supporting any of your asinine assertions with the tiniest speck of evidence in the last TWO FUCKING YEARS, why should anyone believe a word of your bullshit?

• baal

I think the 2 years thing is a disqus default bug. When OM changed in to Northern_witness (a discus nym), it seems that the system put the date of the OM posts back to when NW was created. I suspect there is a disqus behind the scenes IP matching going on.

Nope, the article is from 2011, and other people’s posts also list as two years old. Disqus is fucked up, but not so fucked up that it would backdate all the comments and the article because some lying sack of shit switched to a sockpuppet account.

• baal

I don’t know which is more disturbing. I’ve been playing foosball with a troll in a necro-post or that the troll is still around for rebuttals (can they even be called that) within minutes.

A lack of belief is not a belief. Bald is not a hair color. Off is not a TV channel. Atheism is not a religion. Your willful ignorance is not a magical gateway to all knowledge. Denying reality does not make reality go away. Making shit up and attributing it to others without evidence does not make you right, it makes you stupid and dishonest.

• Anonymous

Omprem, enlighten us as to the “logical and factual mistakes” that our scepticism towards claims about gods are founded on.  We’re open to evidence and reasoned arguments, unlike many theists.  It’s just that we don’t see any evidence and the reasoning in theistic arguments is really weak.

• Omprem

Factual mistake #1, God is not an individual.
Logical mistake #1, because God is not an individual, reason, which is based on sense perception and the resulting perceived differences, cannot be applied to “know” God.
Factual and Logical mistake #2, Atheists are unable/unwilling to make the appropriate changes in their chosen methodology for spiritual/religious investigations even though apprised of its inapplicability.

• Anonymous

Allow me to explain something again.  Atheism makes no claims about God or gods.  Atheism is a lack of belief in gods.  It is up to the claimant to back up their assertion, not the sceptic.

Try again.

• Omprem

What a cop out.  The factual and logical errors of Atheism involve the “reasons” that allows Atheism to hold such a lack of belief.

Then there are the factual and logical errors that Atheism has about other religions – including that a rationalism based on sensory data has any application to religion or the Divine.

• Anonymous

You just don’t get it, do you?  You are the one making the assertion.  Not we atheists.  Back up your claims or withdraw.

• Omprem

One cannot “prove” God. God can only be experienced.

I have outlined the errors of Atheism in my below response to  Annie.

• Anonymous

God(probably)does not exist.  Godcannot be experienced.

• Omprem

If Atheism is only “a lack of belief in gods”, then why does Atheism spend so much time and energy attacking religion and religionists?

1. Atheism believes that its world view is much better than that of religion.
2. No matter how much Atheists deny God or, as they say, “lack a belief in God”, they still, by virtue of being human have a subconscious awareness of God and the sacredness of all creation.Their conscious estrangement from God conflicts with their innate appreciation of God. They project their personal conflicted state into the world in the form of attacks on religion and religionists.

The Atheist attempts at ridiculing, attacking, and undermining religion are actually attempts to resolve their own inner conflicts. It cannot be successful because their innate spirituality and sacredness is who they are.  Their real problems are their rampant egos, their fear, and their attachment to gratification of their senses.

This inner conflict eats them up. Christopher Hitchens death from throat cancer is an excellent example of a literal occurrence of that.

• Deven Kale

“As I have said elsewhere in this thread, Atheism is just another
fundamentalist religion arguing with other fundamentalist religions.”

And what you neglected to mention is how you still, with all of your other rapid fire responses, haven’t answered my question (in response to the previous statement you’re now referencing) of how atheism can even be defined as a religion in the first place, much less have anything fundamental about it.

I’m also very interested in the fact that you seem to have some insight into the “contemplative core” of religion that so many of us have evidently never heard of. If possible, could you please cite your sources so we could all have a better understanding of this so we will not make any future mistakes?

• Richard

Well, Mormonism is completely unambiguous in viewing God as an individual, so that’s at least one counterexample to Omprem’s claim.  I’m less familiar with mainstream Christianity, but it certainly appears that most religious people do indeed believe in a personal God.  Even if the contemplative and mystical traditions are at the “core” of those religions, most adherents haven’t gotten the message.  I’m actually far more familiar with various mystical traditions than with mainstream religions.  I still find mysticism fascinating, even now as an atheist, but it just doesn’t seem to be very influential or popular.

• Northern_Witness

You are mistaken that Mormonism is “completely unambiguous in viewing God as an individual”.  Mormonism, like all religions has an outer, superficial, literalist veneer and a contemplative/mystical core. In the former, God is believed to be an individual: in the latter, God is known to be pervasive, everywhere all the time and, most definitely not an individual.

http://www.ida.net/graphics/shirtail/mysticis.htm

Fundamentalism/Literalism is the starting point for those starting the spiritual journey. They try to apply their sense impressions of their daily world to the ineffable. Later, they let this literalism drop away as their contemplative abilities develop and replace literal veneers with non-specific wisdom.

Atheism is a fundamentalist/literalist religion. Usually its adherents argue only with other fundamentalists of other religions. But like all religions, it has many sects, one of which is mystic atheism, which is in line with the contemplative views of all other religions.

• Richard

I’ve never met a single Mormon who wouldn’t strongly disagree with your portrayal of their religion.  I’m not saying they don’t exist, but they are very rare and/or very quiet.  My basic problem with your arguments is that you are defining “real” Christianity and “real” Mormonism and “real” atheism in ways that very few self-described Christians or Mormons or atheists would accept.  You can’t reasonably expect us (or them) to accept your definitions.

• Northern_Witness

They are both rare and quiet.

And no, I’m not defining the “real” anything. I am saying that many are at the surface of the religion they profess, and they need to go deeper as they develop the ability to do so. In the meantime, living according to the tenets of their religion, as they understand them, will, over time   change and enlarge their consciousness and spiritual awareness, provided those tenets are based non-violence and causing no harm.

• Anonymous

i’m going to jump in unread and say, fuck yeah. there are  A LOT more atheists and agnostics than the “official” numbers report. how do i know? a lot of time at Divinity school, for one. but mostly, my interaction on the internets. if atheists are “only” 2=16% of the population, then why do they keep showing up on all the blogs i read? not just the ones i write for and like, but you know, like everywhere? i even see atheist postings at religious blogs. since social networking tech came to be, it seems to me that a lot of us have realized, “hey, i’m not alone.” i worked at the div school that does a very major study about religion and belief that many of the ‘serious’ media use as the basis for their reporting on religion and i’m telling you: the trend is toward less belief. the SCLM won’t report this fact clearly, and muddles it b/c they make money off belief. but if you go with simple science, the trend is clear. younger people are much, much more skeptical about religion. and that makes sense, given, well, a lot of stuff. LOTR, NASA, WOW… all these destroy firm belief in “one nation one god” and all i can say is that i’m glad.

• guest

Did you know that 1 out of 3 Americans is heavier than the other 2?

• Omprem

Lies, damn lies and statistics.

• Guestbot

Perhaps 1 in 4 know know god does not exist- but it is the rest who worship a god that does not exist.

Most know there is no god – and still claim to believe.

• Frederick Jacob Kohn

I wish I knew the specific wording of the survey that determined that 20% are atheists. Unless they asked, “Are you an atheist?” I a skeptical. Atheists are even worse than Christians in overinflating their numbers. Especially when they bend over backwards to include scientists who are clearly apatheists, agnostics, or pantheists.

• hoverFrog

“Do you believe in a god?” YesNo.

If they choose “Yes” then they are a theist. If they choose “No” then they are an atheist. “Meh” for apatheists, “define god” for ignostics.

• Frederick Jacob Kohn

Was this the actual question? If so, it is problematic. What if you believe in a universal spirit? Are you an atheist? The only reasonable way to find out if a person is an atheist is to ask them if they are an atheist.

• Kai Sousa

I dont’ remember what the actual question was, but it basically boiled down to 1 in 4 people in WA chose “none” as a religious affiliation, which could mean a lot more things than “atheist”. So while they didn’t really skew the numbers, they did take it upon themselves to decide what that number meant.

• hoverFrog

Define “universal spirit”. The problem with asking someone if they are an atheist is that there is a lot of false information about what the word means and it comes with certain connotations that make some people reject the label even when they lack belief in gods.

Think of it like this: unless you claim belief in a god then you are a defacto atheist.

• Northern_Witness

hoverFrorg, definition requires difference. There must be A and non-A in order to define A . “Universal spirit” means there is no ‘where’ that universal spirit is not so that it lies beyond definition.

There is more to Atheism than a lack of belief in a god. Incidentally, none of the major religions propose an individuated god/God.

Some fundamentalists might think there is an individuated god but then Atheism itself is a fundamentalist religion. It is amusing to watch fundamentalists argue among themselves. But it is not very informative.

• hoverFrog

Your definition fails to inform. What is “spirit” in this context?

Really, in its broadest sense there is nothing more to atheism (not the small “A”) than a lack of belief in gods. Theists claim belief in at least one god, atheists are not that.

I don’t know what an “individuated god” is. I don’t know what you mean by “god” as the term lacks a reasonable definition and any substantive meaning. It is one of many reasons why I am unable to believe in any gods. They just aren’t defined.

As for atheism being a fundamentalist religion I have to say that this stopped being amusing years ago. What are the fundamentals that atheists adhere to? Go ahead and list them while we wait or I can save some time and tell you straight out that there aren’t any. I don’t believe in gods. If you can make a religion out of that then you can also make a religion out of my not believing in leprechauns too. If that’s the case you must literally belong to billions of religions. How do you find the time?

• Northern_Witness

It matters not where the 1 in 4 ratio came from. What does matter is that to use that number or any other number to imply legitimacy for Atheism is to commit a logical error. And yet Atheist claim to be logical or at least to adore logic.