Atheism on the Rocks

By Regis Nicoll.

Is God Dead – Or is Godlessnes?

“At this moment it seems as though science will never be able to raise the curtain on the mystery of creation. For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream.” (Robert Jastrow, former director of the NASA Goddard Institute)It has been less than forty years since Time magazine asked the question, “Is God Dead?” Now the question some are asking is, “Is atheism dying?”

While atheism enjoys wide acceptance in secular and the scientific community at large (including 93 percent of the National Academy of Science membership), theism is embraced by almost 90 percent of Americans and is making sustained gains in the developing world. And with birthrates in the world’s theistic communities outpacing those in secular ones, it appears that atheism is destined to become a victim of its own doctrine of natural selection.

Added to those woes is news that a bastion of atheism is losing its faith—or at least allegiance. According to Science & Theology News, the Council for Secular Humanism has begun to distance itself from atheism, insisting that atheism is only a subset of humanist values.

Although the Humanist Manifesto still espouses the atheistic worldview of naturalism, its anti-God statements have softened. For example, comparing the latest version of the Manifesto (2003) with the 1933 original, the open denials of theism and deism have been replaced by the dismissal of what it terms “supernaturalism.”

By all appearances, atheism seems poised for extinction in the “survival of the fittest.” But how did it come to this?”

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15 Responses to Atheism on the Rocks

  1. Dilip says:

    When Time magazine asked “Is God Dead?”, 40 years back….I presume since then and until now there has been a rise in atheism…atleast in agnostics…I mean people nowadays are atleast asking reasonable questions. If the term supernatualism has been used insted of god..if thats what you wanted to specify, all Humanist Manifesto wanted people to understand was that words like god, ghosts, spirits, hell, ..etc were just termed Supernaturalism. A religious person should rather be more insulted if the term Supernaturalism is used instead of god. Anyway…I dont think it means that atheism is dying.
    Of all time this period is maximum period atleast for common man to live with reason…respect science and evidence, instead of believing nonsense. Why dont you believe now that lightning is a angered response from god?. You dont. If you do…i’m sorry for you. There are piles and piles of evidence being collected by science every now and then. Books like bible, quran, vedas are considered works and scriptures of art, literature, history rather than actual facts or events.These books are not even taken literally by most respective religious people. Dont get me wrong, I do pick and choose from from these books, things like the golden rule in the bible is one of the best rules I’ve ever heard.
    Well finally for me atleast..living with reason, free logical thought is much better than a blind faith called religion and atheism is definitly on the rise, just look around you. Sorry for the rant..but i’m just another person with an opinion just like you.

  2. Chris says:

    I am not sure what you are saying here? Please explain in coherent sentences. You are completely wrong in stating that the Bible is considered a work and scripture of art, literature, history rather than actual facts or events. There is a trememdous amount of evidence for the historicity and veracity of the Bible. I am not sure where you are coming up with this nonsense. I can provide you with some books to read if you would like to understand the truth.

  3. Joe says:

    “According to Science & Theology News, the Council for Secular Humanism has begun to distance itself from atheism, insisting that atheism is only a subset of humanist values.”
    This is hardly distancing itself from atheism. Atheism is just a single tenant of humanism and not the most important. It seems odd calling it a value at all, since it is the lack of a belief.

    Changing references to theism and deism to “supernaturalism” is simply a broadening of the types of belief that is rejected by humanism. God is supernatural, so this is hardly a weakening of anything.

    Atheism will survive, but it will remain a minority for a long time. Perhaps for all of human history. That doesn’t say much about whether or not it is true, however.

  4. Joe says:

    “things like the golden rule in the bible is one of the best rules I’ve ever heard.”
    This idea did not originate in the bible.

  5. Chris says:

    Joe,

    Thank you for the comment. The golden rule in the Bible is of course “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. Where is it that you think this originated?

    By the way I checked out your blog and you are obviously an atheist. Why are you an atheist?

  6. Chris says:

    Joe,

    Also, you stated “Atheism will survive, but it will remain a minority for a long time.
    Perhaps for all of human history. That doesn’t say much about whether or
    not it is true, however.”

    How do you know atheism is true?

  7. Joe says:

    According to wikipedia “The Golden Rule is a fundamental moral principle found in virtually all major religions and cultures” (Though it is wiki so you probably want to check their references. 😉 ) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethic_of_reciprocity

    I am an atheist because I have seen no evidence to support the “god hypothesis”. We seem to be able to explain the world without need for it.

    We could quibble over the meaning of “know” and say that I simply believe atheism to be true. I believe it is true, because despite all the believers claims there is no compelling evidence that there is a god. Despite the many claims of “proof” or best arguments for god that I have read, none are convincing at all.

    Though theism seems to be a thing that many people need or want to believe. This being the case, I expect theism will be the view of the majority for all of human history.

  8. Joe says:

    Oh, and I’d also like to recommend Michael Shermer’s The Science of Good and Evil: Why People Cheat, Gossip, Care, Share, and Follow the Golden Rule Shermer is a much better writer than I.

  9. Chris says:

    Joe,

    Thanks for your comments. I appreciate the back and forth.

    What evidence have you studied to determine there is no god? How do we explain the world without God?

  10. Joe says:

    What do you mean by “explain the world”? Modern science seems to be doing a pretty goo job of finding naturalistic explanations for most of the natural processes that people use to attribute to supernatural entities.

    I have heard many arguments for the existence of god and most are very unconvincing, I have read parts of the bible, but admittedly not all of it. All arguments I have heard in regards to its contents though are very unconvincing.

    I find that usually when believers talk about evidence they say things like “Look around you the beauty and complexity of our world is evidence of a creator” as if I haven’t looked around me before and noticed the details of the world I lived in, and as if I wasn’t familiar with the scientific theories that explains their existence. These things are only evidence for someone that already believes.

    What evidence has lead you to believe there is a god?

  11. Chris says:

    You said we can explain the world without God so I was wondering how?

    What naturalistic process are you talking about? Evolution? Evoultion does not disprove God – as a matter of fact some scientists believe evolution comes from God (Francis S. Collins, Ken Miller, etc.) How do you explain DNA? How do you explain how we came to be at a singularity (single point in time)? Do you really believe we just appeared out of nothing and have no purpose?

    You have only read parts of the Bible? How can you not read the entire Bible and study all the evidence before making such a vital decision? What books have you read regarding evidence for the historicity and veracity of the Bible? What books have you read on evidence for the resurrection? What about Jesus’ life?

    This is so important. I hope you will be open to studying all of the evidence before making a decision.

    In the end if you are right and I am wrong I lose nothing. If I am right and you are wrong you lose everything.

    I will be praying you find the truth.

  12. Joe says:

    I claimed nothing regarding disproof of god. You seem to be reading a lot more into what I am writing than is actually there. I am saying that science is able to explain most of the things we find in the world by natural processes that require no supernatural intervention. Geology, biology, astronomy, even meteorology have all found natural explanations for things once attributed to god or gods. And yet you want me to accept that the origin of DNA is evidence for god? Not adequate at all. It is evidence that we haven’t figured it out yet. There are theories and it seems that some for of primitive “life” (or a very complex chemical reaction that could differentially reproduce like life) predates the existence of DNA. Thus providing an evolutionary origin.

    I don’t believe we appeared out of nothing. I do understand that it may be impossible to ever know what came before the big bang. (Or it may just be beyond our abilities now) If the big bang really was the beginning of what we call time and space then looking “beyond” the big bang may not even make any sense. But I believe that unanswered questions are better than unquestioned answers.

    “You have only read parts of the Bible? How can you not read the entire Bible and study all the evidence before making such a vital decision?”
    I assume you have read all of the Qur’an, the Book of Mormon, The Apocrypha, the Bhagavad Gītā, The Talmud, Greek, Roman, Egyptian and other ancient mythologies and all the other holy books ever written before you decided on Christianity? After all this is such an important decision. I will worry about picking a flavor of god when I am first convinced that there is one to worry about. Until then I have better things to read.

    “In the end if you are right and I am wrong I lose nothing. If I am right and you are wrong you lose everything.”
    Pascals wager is what you are willing to resort to? Do you really believe that should be convincing to anyone?

  13. Chris says:

    With science you can argue for or against the existence of god. You can argue that some things are so complex they couldn’t have just occurred so there must be a god. You can argue things just evolve and so a god is not necessary. You can argue a god put into action evolution. We just don’t know.

    For me the strongest evidence is the historicity and veracity of the Bible, the evidence for Jesus existence and deity, the evidence for the resurrection. That is why I was surprised you have decided there is no god but never studied any of this? I have studied evidence for other religions but the evidence for Christianity was the strongest by far. I can provide you with the names of some books that aided me on my search if you are interested.

    I was not trying to use Pascals Wager. I was just trying to speak the truth. “In the end if you are right and I am wrong I lose nothing. If I am right and you are wrong you lose everything.” That is the truth. I have nothing to lose by believing. And everything to gain.

  14. Joe says:

    I have NOT attempted to use science to “disprove” the existence of god. I do not believe that science could ever prove or disprove the existence of god. We agree on this.

    What I DID say is that the history of science renders invalid the “god of the gaps” evidences for god. (i.e. “things are so complex they couldn’t have just occurred”) The reason it does so is that it continually finds ways that natural processes do account for things that were previously considered the venue of god.

    I am not interested. There is not point discussing or reading about what hat Thor likes to wear if I don’t believe in Thor. I have been presented with many arguments from the bible and none of them are convincing. There are no fulfilled prophecies and no evidence that someone rose from the dead 2000 years ago. Your and others ability to convince yourself that there is does not impress me. I have been an atheist for 16 years and have spent a lot of time pursuing the arguments and evidence of believers. I’ve decided that’s no longer worth my time.

    “I was not trying to use Pascals Wager.”
    Except that you did. Repeating it does not make it any more convincing.

    By choosing to believe in the Christian god you will land yourself in the Muslim hell if you are wrong. By pretending this is a “your god” vs. “no god” question you are committing the fallacy of the false dichotomy. I hear Muslim hell is pretty bad too, maybe you should reconsider.

  15. Joe says:

    I have violated my personal policy of not having discussion like this and I have gotten very defensive. it my tone grew harsh I apologize. This is not the way that atheist and theist should communicate it is ineffective and time wasting. Sorry for perpetuating it.

    If you wish to continue a more fruitful positive discussion (which I would like to do because I would actually like to point out all the issues that exist with Pascal’s wager) then we need to agree that neither of us will attempt to convert the other (there’s little chance of that anyway). We can have a discussion of atheism or evidence for/against the existence without making it personal or thinking that the other person needs to come around to our perspective.

    Would you rather do that?

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