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Are atheists being inspired by the fundamentalist Christians to 'come out of the woodwork' or basically fight back against evangelicals?

Before lately, atheists were very quiet about being atheists and now they seem to be popping up every which way. I would like to know, if you think this has anything to do with the evangelical movement getting involved in politics. Or do you think there is a completely different reason for atheists to have decided to 'come out’ now?

Posted: July 6th 2007

SmartLX www

I think we’ve reached a “critical mass” as Richard Dawkins called it. There are enough atheists in the public arena now that private atheists can see they’re not quite in such a hopelessly small minority after all.

It was likely the machinations of the political evangelists that spurred the first public atheist figures of the current wave to speak out against religion like Dawkins did, but I doubt this is the reason for most. I just hate the idea that my position is frowned upon by so many for such poor reasons, and I want to change that.

Posted: November 13th 2007

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flagellant www

This is an intriguing question. About twenty years ago, Richard Dawkins had a letter published in The Times. He argued that science worked but that religion had given us very little. This was the first time I had heard religion openly criticised and his views chimed with my own: we are too uncritical of religions. Interestingly, many believers were outraged by the letter. I thought it polite, mild and accurate. The long-term effect of that letter was to make it easier for atheists. It made the religiosi more defensive – ashamed almost.

The emergence of secular groups, determined to speak out, evokes the emergence of Gay Pride that did a lot to make one’s sexual orientation almost irrelevant. (However, gays have never claimed that ‘straights’ are wrong, but atheists treat religious belief as fair game.) The recent publication of many books from an atheistic perspective has encouraged more closet atheists to speak out. At the same time, many people with enquiring minds have become comfortable with a natural world-view.

While the drift towards religious fundamentalism and Christian evangelism in the US has been a worrying political factor, antagonising ‘moderates’ of all persuasions, it may now be on the ebb. (I mean: look what a mess the god squads are making of things.) The emergence of a vociferous group of atheists has had another, more important, effect. It is no longer abnormal to be an atheist – it is now thoroughly acceptable, in Europe especially. Thus, while evangelicals and fundamentalists may be provoking secular people to express their opposition, the articulation of the atheist viewpoint by authors, in print as well as in talks, is probably at least as important.

Posted: July 15th 2007

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Russell Blackford www

Speaking for myself, it’s because of the recent involvement in politics not just of the evangelical movement but also of many other religious groups, beginning with the Vatican. It has become clear to me, in the past decade or so, that religious groups and their leaders are not prepared to keep their moral and political views, and their reasons for those views, out of public life. Worse, they claim a special authority for those views, expecting respect and even deference.

In those circumstances, I think that secular thinkers have no alternative but to recognise the elephant in the living room. It’s become urgent.

We must address the obvious: religious groups and their leaders do not have any special moral authority. Quite the opposite. The doctrines on which their views are based are simply not true. In the past, we’ve been too polite to say this, or at least to say it aggressively and publicly, but it must now be said. There is no choice but to address the actual truth claims of religion, and to do so unequivocally and robustly.

Posted: July 15th 2007

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brian thomson www

There’s no simple answer to that question, it’s a combination of factors, and each person will have their own story to tell. Atheism is what you get when you leave Theism behind: you’re not joining an organization, or signing up to an agreed agenda.

In a religiously oppressive environment, such as Saudi Arabia or the “Bible Belt”, someone who questions the orthodoxy might feel threatened and alienated by those around them. I can only imagine what a relief it must be, to learn that your questions are valid, and there are others out there who question authority the way they do.

The actions of authorities, or those inspired by authorities, also become subject to question. Jihadist terrorism, bible-kissing politicians, “faith-based initiatives” – these are all examples of one religion interfering in the lives of those who don’t follow that religion.

Recommended reading: The Atheist Bible. Don’t worry – it’s real short. 8)

Posted: July 10th 2007

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