The author Eric Kaufman ends his book Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth? with the statement: Without an ideology to inspire social cohession, fundamentalism cannot be stopped. The religious shall inherit the earth. Do we atheists agree, and if we do, are we prepared to spread the word? and if we are, do we stand a chance?
Religious fundamentalism and the religious once had the earth. All the cards in the deck were theirs. To openly disagree was to face being outcast at best and death more often than not. We have come a long way from there. Granted progress is on a zig-zag course but it does look as though the religious are being slowly disinherited.
Vigilance is always necessary but some optimism is not to be abandoned.
As people become more educated and exposed to other people I think it's only natural for religion to lose its grip. It's an evolving meme that is losing large chunks of its 'DNA' over time.
There is a catch here: as people become more educated and free-thinking, they also become more tolerant of other people's opinions, including the opinion (of the fundamentally religious) that religon, and strict religion at that, ought to be enforced on non-believers. Thus the competition between the two sides is played on non-even terrain. Correct me if I am wrong.
I hear ya. I used to fall into that camp. If it weren't for people like Dawkins and Hitchens I would've continued to be self-destructive in my level of acceptance. I think in the desperation to not look bigoted or intolerant people can take it too far.
We sometimes behave as if tolerance is a new development in civilization and we're just now learning how to express it.
So long as freedom of religion includes freedom from religion, I think we're good to go. Also, religion isn't going to go away unless it is kicking and screaming all the way out the door. Part of the appeal of newage and neo-paganism is that differences between modern life and ritual can be reconciled... Even though it's just as wooey and made-up as ever, there are less zealots to be found in those modern religions (though I will admit they do exist out there).
I am an optimist, but I believe in being pro-active. That is why I would really like to find out if the members of Atheist Nexus are just praising Atheism or are acting to advance elightment and to counter religious fandamentalism, cults and superstitions.
I don't think it's fair to require every atheist to fight the battles or even contribute to the war effort. Far too many are behind the border of North Korea and they're just trying to not starve to death. Not to mention the other repercussions they could face. It's not pleasant but it is the reality.
But I do think atheists who do have elbow room should buck up and be more confident. I just don't prescribe to them what to say because they live where they live and I live over in the "godless northwest".
But I'm suspicious for many people this website is mainly helping them to build up their confidence as atheists. I don't look at that as a bad thing.
Of course, this website is a vehicle for building up our confidence. But it can also act as a forum for discussing strategies for debating with religious persons and trying to win them over. This task is difficult - an uphill endevor, but it is important.
Dave Trot has told this funny story about succeeding in the face of overwhelming odds: "The actor Warren Beatty had affairs with many of the most beautiful women in the world. He was once asked in an interview, 'what is the secret of your succes with women?' He said, 'I ask every woman I meet if she'll sleep with me. . . I get slapped a lot, but I get laid a lot too.' My own strategy with respect to Atheism is to ask every new person I meet, 'do you believe in god?' and we take it from there. Sometimes it works.
I'm coming at this with a page from our gay brothers and sisters with their movement. People are far more understanding and tolerant, overall, when they know someone who is [gay/atheist/feminist/etc] versus stereotypes they see parroted at church or elsewhere.
I also try to engage in conversation with a modicum of empathy and compassion. I'm not looking to win someone over to my 'side' of things. However, I am hoping to find common ground and hopefully have them come to understand how I've come to be a none and why it is just fine that I am. Beliefs and lack thereof are a very personal thing. Build rapport with people, show them that people other than their religious sect can be good, decent, and worthwhile, and they will remember the next time someone they go to church with says something ugly about you.
I am proactive. I have an atheist blog on Google blogspot that has been viewed by at least several hundred people already. I haven't added anything to it lately so I don't know the actual number of viewers by now, perhaps as many as a thousand or more. I'm pretty sure that fellow atheists are not the only ones to have viewed it. My guess is several Christians, Jews, and Muslims have also. I think that at the moment I have 54 blog posts on it on several subjects about religious ideology, and also on scientific subjects such as evolution. My hope is that my blog will give theists reason to think more deeply and critically, and hopefully plant some seeds of reason and open a few eyes.
My Google atheism blog has had 3652 page views.
I love your photo with the Egyptian religious icons in the background. Such beautiful works of art have been created with the intent of 'praising God: think of music, painting, sculpture, poetry, prose and architecture.
On the other hand, think about the horrible price: the Inquisition, stoning of accused aduterous persons, burning of witches, circumcision of girls, persecuting homosexuals, silencing scientific findings (recall Galileo, Darwin), and many other creative methods of inflicting pain.