I am somewhat sceptical about this article. It is maybe going OK for now in Europe, but things can and will change of course.
I agree with the article in saying that atheism is more prevalent in countries that are more advanced, but I disagree with the reason given. It’s not due to less fear and the “ability to control nature” through science as the article says - it’s due to knowledge. Educated people do NOT “choose” atheism - their education simply shows them the flaws in religion and they remove the shackles of ignorant superstition as a result. It may be true that religion is a “choice” made through fear and ignorance, but atheism is the natural outcome of a higher education. The trend towards atheism is a world-wide phenomenon - and in first world countries it will soon be the norm rather than the exception.
I agree with Steve that it’s more about knowledge. It also ties in nicely with a theory that I have that money is the only god. Money decides if you have health, food, education, safety; more than any god ever could.
Knowledge and education are definitely important. But so is societal freedom. Under the previous regime, I would not have even contemplated the possibility of considering the fallability of religion. The indoctrination was extreme. School, politics, sport, even meals were intwined with religion. If the word atheist had to be used it was whispered. In fact, society had more tolerance for satanists, than atheists, because to hate god, you had to believe in him first.
Our new dispensation, with all its faults, has allowed me to question without fear of persecution the fairy tales I was brought up on.
What I am trying to say is that the tighter the political grip a government has on its people, the less likely atheism is to grow.
Only if that particular government is forcing a religious viewpoint and withholding education (e.g. East Germany atheists in 1991 88.2% and West Germany 12.1%). It’s education that frees people from the grip of religion. As Dr House said, “If you could reason with religious people there wouldn’t be religious people.”
Yes, I fully agree. I should have specified that. Iran is a case in point.
Agreed. Islam is a prime example of this. Keep the masses ignorant and terrified and they will stay loyal as long as the government keeps its grip.
agreed…so what’s the conclusion? If education is universal and liberal (as opposed to religiously-induced as with so many denominational schools) will the outcome be a liberal mind and hence atheism? While “Learning is a fundamental prerequisite in the process of creating meaning in a society” (Stewart, 1991, Coetzee 1989)the assumption is that ‘education’ will deliver. I’m not convinced, as education is more often than not manipulated to reflect the agendas of the powers that be, either state or church or both as with Christelike Hoer Onderwys. In addition, change in a society is often perceived as a threat, especially if it affects the status quo and (as we experienced in apartheid SA) force/indoctrination/propaganda/mysticism is used to stem the flow of change (Islamic countries today are good examples). It may indeed be a function of time but a critical mass is needed to create the momentum for sustainable change. So, if we assume that education will be free and liberal…yes its outcome will enhance atheism…if not, it will entrench the value systems of the powers that be.
The war for the minds of people has started but has a long way to go.
i would venture, that the numbers of atheist are much higher, its just such a social stigma to be ‘against god’, that many people refrain from making their status known. i would say here in old sa, definitely. maybe, more people are in the closet than we think.
i agree…some wiseguy (I think it was Kate Turkington) said that atheism is where being gay was 20 yrs ago. besides being a social stigma, people are poep scared they’ll be excommunicated or something will get cut off >:D…like where to get buried (wtf!!)
can we then begin an Atheist Pride March through Melville?
OUT AND PROUD
COOL let’s get some support and some big names…
can you imagine the outrage!!!
the woo-woos will go bananas.
maybe we must attend gay pride, and carry a big-old banner saying ‘Atheist support Gay Rights’
While initially this sounds like a great idea to me, a counter point can be made: I don’t think that’s the kind of association that the gay rights guys want to foster. They have enough shit from the religious right as it is.
… and once again the reality about my world view crushes my tiny little skull.
generally, and this is speaking from a bi-sexual who had to fight many battles for my sexual rights, gays are shunned from main-stream religion. and many have moved away from the church. eventhough they might not be non-believers, they still appreceate any support they/we can find. some might be uppity about it, but i think in general, they might be okay.
I’m pretty keen, Melville is usually a blast. We should all wear black t-shirts or something. When is this march thing? It would seem strange to have it in winter…
It was Dan Barker on Kate’s show about 2 weeks ago, being interviewed by phone from the USA. He said atheism is where the gay movement was 20 years ago because most people are shunned by the word “atheist”, but as people become more educated they will feel less animosity toward those who use the word to describe their world-view. It was a BRILLIANT interview and the show received a surprising number of calls and SMSs in support of atheism. Dan also mentioned me - nice plug for my book - and Kate said she would do a show one day soon with me as the guest (she even has a copy of my book) - gonna be cool. Gonna plug our site on air and get some more members - yummy.
the Pride March is generally the first week of October.
That’s great news, Steve - for you, us and atheism. The more awareness, the better.
If atheism is where the gay community was 20 years ago, then we should take a leaf from their book rather than to get onto their bandwagon. Gay rights are a component of what skepticism stands for, but broadly speaking the objectives differ. A too close association in the public mind would benefit neither. Also bear in mind that the Gay Pride Parade is a celebration rather than a protest march.
here’s some interesting statistics re atheists and prisons: