What do people need to know about the atheist movement?

Book #2 is basically done, but I’m going to try to write a better introduction and one thing that might be really helpful to people is explaining what’s happened with the atheist movement in the last 10 or so years. I’ve realized that I definitely don’t want to give the (false) impression that it’s all about the Four Horsemen or whatever. So what do I tell people?

Note that I’m strongly leaning towards calling the book Atheism Wins, so suggestions that fit well with that theme are especially appreciated!

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  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wwjtd JT Eberhard

    I have input here, but I promised myself a vacation day today. If you don’t hear from me by Monday, ping me?

    • Chris Hallquist

      Okay! Thanks!

  • Robert

    The Internet happened. If a good Christian man had doubts about the Bible in past generations, how likely would he have made a trip to the local library to check out Robert Ingersoll? He probably would have talked to his local pastor and friends instead.

    Today it is far easier to go into private browsing mode and enter “Bible Genocide” in a search box. 300 milliseconds later, that man will have a wealth of critical commentary, some of it really good. How can the churches compete with that? It’s a very new and real threat.

    The Internet is older than 10 years of course, but I believe this use of it took time to catch on.

  • Hemant Mehta

    I think you’d have to talk about the major organizations and what role they play, how the Internet shapes everything, the differences between groups and the kinds of discussions/arguments we have with each other, how we’re better off today than we were when all the attention was just on O’Hair. What we can do now that we couldn’t do a couple decades ago.

  • Nolan

    PZ Myers had a post a few months putting atheists into a rough categories (scientific, philosophical, political, humanist). This fits well with the many different fronts in which atheists are “winning.”

    Atheists appear to be at the forefront of developing good science and fighting bad science, we’ve got the better philosophical arguments, and don’t waste our breath on an atheistic equivalent of theology (mostly), we tend towards reason based politics and fight against clear violations of the 1st amendment, and many of us are active in promoting civil rights and the general well being of humanity.

    I think there’s something there for everybody.

  • http://senseinaworldofnonsense.wordpress.com Louis

    I took a look at your book, especially the part on William craig. The one point that struck me as particularly irrational was with regard to Criag’s cosmological argument. “Here’s one problem with using this as an argument for God: what if there’s an undiscovered exception to the laws of thermodynamics?” So, basically, I can argue for phlogiston theory by grasping at straws and saying, “what if there’s an undiscovered exception to oxidation theory!” What would be your first response to such an argument? Laughter? That about sums up my response to your comment.

    • Chris Hallquist

      You completely missed my point. If you’re going to dismiss the possibility of an undiscovered exception to the laws of thermodynamics, say goodbye to God, because that’s what God (as described by people of Craig’s theological bent) is.

      • http://senseinaworldofnonsense.wordpress.com Louis

        The way I understand it, Craig doesn’t posit God as a part of the laws of thermodynamics, so that the existence of God can be an exception to them. God is a spiritual not a physical being. It would be hard to conceive of God being an exception to the laws of thermodynics, when neither God nor God’s actions are thermodynamic. they can’t constitute an exception to something which doesn’t even begin to apply to them. An exception to the laws of thermodynamics would be a thermodynamic system that does not bahave in the way elucidated by the laws of thermodynamics.

        In addition, Craig doesn’t use the laws of thermodynics to argue that God exists, but to argue that the universe began to exist- an important difference. The conclusion of the argument which includes the laws of thermodynics as a premise, is not that God exists, but that the universe began to exist. On your view Craig must dismiss that there is a physical exception to the laws of thermodynamics. Well, he must dismiss such a possibility, since a scientific theory cannot admit of exceptions, otherwise it wouldn’t be scientific theory. It still seems like a grasping at straws to me.

        • http://senseinaworldofnonsense.wordpress.com Louis

          (Sorry for the rudeness of my initial post)

  • Rain

    Quite ironically, atheists have successfully created a popular religion of the Church of the Spaghetti and Meatballs or something like that. An irony of Shakespearean proportions, or should I say portions.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    What do people need to know about the atheist movement?

    How to buy all of your books!

  • ctcss


    “Note that I’m strongly leaning towards calling the book Atheism Wins, so suggestions that fit well with that theme are especially appreciated!”

    With all due respect, I think a more helpful and appropriate title would be Atheism Emerges. For years atheism has been relegated to the shadows and discounted by many religions (not all) as somehow being evil. And now, with more ability to declare something helpful about atheism, people are finally realizing that they can, if they so desire, declare themselves to be non-believers, rather than believers, and make a case for their side, pointing out why answers that made sense to them were found in non-belief rather than in belief.

    However, atheism isn’t winning any more than any other system of belief is winning. (The growth that many people see in numbers is simply a case of those numbers now coming to light, as people feel more confidence about declaring their “non” affiliation.) The whole point of faiths (and non faiths) emerging is to allow ideas about faith/non-faith to be duly and fairly considered, allowing people to make up their own minds about what path they wish to follow. Judaism isn’t going away because Christianity exists, nor is Christianity going away because Islam exists. Polytheism, likewise, is not going away because monotheism exists. So atheism, whatever it may offer as a non-belief approach to life, is also not likely to displace other approaches. It will, however, offer people a useful and confidently stated option if they feel that religious belief does not do it for them.

    My 2 cents.