Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Cause of Vocal Atheism

In an article about local atheists in The Argus (Increasingly, atheists are coming out of the closet), the article states:

Atheists say this sprouting visibility is partly a response to the country's growing religiosity — especially under President Bush.

This is one atheist that does not share that theory. In fact, I think it is mistaken.

If not for the harm that is being done in the name of God, I do not think that atheists would concern themselves with the matter of religion at all. If it remained a substantially peaceful and private pasttime, like taking mega-vitamins or wearing good luck charms, atheists would substantially ignore the practice as they went about the business of living their lives.

However, when one looks at religiosity in this country and the world, one sees great harm being done - people being killed or denied medical care, women who are denied an education, cures for diseases going unresearched, qualified individuals kept out of public office, poverty and diseases spreading, and a growing ignorance of the way the real world works, because of adherance to myth and superstition.

People are dying, and those who do not die are still being made to suffer, because of actions taken by those who claim to be serving a "higher power".

What it means to identify the 'cause' of something is to identify a property that can be linked to a change. If it is possible for religiosity to shift without a vocal rise in atheism, then religiosity is not the cause. And, I would assert, this is the case. It is not the rise in religiosity that is the issue. It is a rise in an awareness of real-world harms being inflicted on real-world people that is the cause of this increased vocalization.

And this is how it should be.

I think that it is important to get this simple truth out to the public as loudly as possible. Attributing the rise in atheism to increased religiosity gives atheists an appearance of being overly concerned with trivial and unimportant matters. Attributing the rise in atheism to its true cause - a rise in the awareness of real-world death and suffering supported by beliefs in myth and superstition - accurately explains its importance.


Kelly Gorski said...

Excellent post. I completely agree. I find the more religion is politicized, the more atheists realize it's time to start getting people to freely think, to try and act as a catalyst for education. Like you said, if religion was some passive, mildly subversive element within a culture that posed no harm or interference with another's rights, it wouldn't be an issue. The problem is that theists have made their faith-based beliefs an issue. They want faith to be the base for certain "ethical" decisions that carry with them tremendous legal ramifications.

I think you're dead on. Of course, I'd also add that the religiosity of such a scientifically advanced society (under Bush no less) has certainly compounded the issue.

Hume's Ghost said...

I think belief in God is about as reasonable as believing that walking under a ladder is bad luck, but I haven't devoted all that much effort to dispelling the belief in the latter.

I'm reminded of an old episode of Politically Incorrect, when after criticizing some religious figure(s) for something or other one of Maher's guests asked him why he had such a problem with people's personal belief in savior (or something to that effect), to which Maher retorted:

"Because it leads to stupid shit."

Anonymous said...

I think it is also worth pointing out that the article from the Argus describes Atheists as simply reacting the rise in religiousity as though they were watching it happen only to other people. Watching it happen like some one watches a football game unfold.

The increasingly religious political atmosphere in America is happening to everyone, including the irreligious, whether we want it to or not, and that is the real problem. Its not just some thing happening to a third party that has no effect on us. It is affecting our rights and our lives just as much as anyone elses in numerous forms, whether its blocked medical research that could one day save our lives, unequal representation in politicks, or taxpayer funds being spent innappropriately.

Increased vocalization from the non-religious is not just a reaction, its a backlash.