As we all know, religion is a very successful meme.  It has spread through countless societies, century after century.  Some individuals may argue that the consequences have been positive. Common belief has created a sense of unity in groups.  It has kept people from deviating & going up against authority.  Faith has given people hope in challenging times (perhaps false hope).  Religion has replicated itself VERY successfully.  My question is:  How can atheism feature as an alternative to such a powerful force?  What can atheists actively do to spread the meme of rationality & reason? 

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Atheism by itself can not compete with anything. As oft repeated, atheism doesn't offer anything but a clean slate.

Stepping back a bit to the claim that religion has brought positive things to the table, I think is irrelevant. We have no way of knowing how much better (or worse) things would be if religion was not such a driving force in humanity. Because some positives came out of it means almost nothing. A silver lining can be found in any dark storm cloud, metaphorically speaking (so leave me alone, meteorologists).

Doone states some great starting points for replacing pointless genuflecting with tangible goals that can be met and will benefit society as a whole. If people can find fulfillment in building an imaginary kingdom in Heaven for themselves, then surely they would be even more satisfied with building an actual kingdom here on Earth that they can see, touch, and watch family and friends enjoy. They just need to be convinced that this is the life that matters, not some promised eternity after they perish.

In short, atheism is not the banner that will lead us into the future. It is the banner that will lead us out of the past.
Haha. Yes, I suppose we could say that. But at least with dog breeding, there is something tangible. God does not wag his tail and lick your face when you come home. God does not bark when intruders are on the lawn or in the home. God does not help us hunt game, lead the blind, or assist disabled persons in their homes and lives. So, I'd consider dog breeding to be much better than the placebo effect that religion offers. And yes, religion brings sense of community, but so would many secular endeavors like dog breeding, which may very well have been your point. Dog > God!

And thanks for the link to the article. A good read with my morning coffee!
Lol :-) I'm not much of a dog fanatic myself, but your comment sure evoked a giggle :-)

I posted this question because I find it frustrating that after so many years the religious right still have their fingers on the button.
Their archaic beliefs surely force us back into the past.

I'm not only talking about the mainstream religions of the world, but also this breed of 'new age pseudo scientific tree huggers'.

They come off all preachy, twisting & moulding scientific findings (& a GOOD dose of myth) to suit their agenda. They will have you believe that they are part of a green revolution. The ideas that they offer on issues such as energy alternatives & agricultural advancement unfortunately don't take serious issues into account. The methods might sound environmentally friendly, but they don't supply sufficient goods/services for the population. The poor sector will suffer most from such unsound methods.

These are the same people that market, distribute & profit off selling placebo medications that have never seen a lab or undergone a single study. Not to mention healing crystals & other mojos :-) I sincerely doubt that any of the profits go towards conservation, health or any community services. Perhaps towards buying a new deck of tarot cards? Lol! Certified medications undergo stringent tests, sometimes for several years. I'm sure the cost of the whole process is enormous.

Has anyone heard some of these brainless zombies babble obscenities like 'spiritually' traveling to the 8th dimension? (wherever the hell that may be - but I think the Tooth Fairy is also a resident there). Or vibrating on a cellular level? Nifty party trick!
I don't know whether to laugh or cry about the fact that esoteric books sell more than books based on factual material.

It may seem harmless on the surface, but these mystics are enemies. Sadly, so many people fall into this trap of irrationality. Desperately trying to create some distant Utopia, whether that might be heaven or the 8th dimension. There are certainly more pending issues right here on the planet we call home.

I wish there was something that we could actively do to reveal all this nonsense for the hogwash it is. Something that will make the people snap out of their comfortable comas & question things rather than blindly accepting in 'good faith'.

Hey, look at the huge following the new age tree huggers have built up on the foundations of bullshit. Surely atheists should be able to organize themselves into a coherent movement to bring about change!
I agree that irrationality plagues the political left as much as it does the political right. I have seen many atheists that subscribe to some wishy-washy thinking, too. So atheism is not immune to delusional thinking, either. And even critical thinkers have their irrationalities about them. In that respect, we are raging against the machine and that machine is part of our very nature.

I don't see any easy solutions. For now, I try to do my best to promote critical thinking, science, and the Skeptical movement. Unfortunately, I am not much of an endorser, but these are systems that help tremendously in cutting through the BS and getting to the heart of reality.

And how can you not love dogs???? ;)
I'm embarrassed to admit that I'm terrified of dogs :-) I swear, even if a tiny dog chases me, I tend to run for my life :-) Silly eh?
Well, they could be rabid. I'm terrified of heights and any creature that has more than four legs. Anything with 5 legs or more chases me, no matter how tiny, I run for my life. Unless I'm on a tall ledge and am too terrified to run. Then I think I would cry.
We see in the US is a mindset of authoritarianism... If enough people can say things with Authority they will be believed and repeated... The TV, radio and pulpit jockeys are example enough of this. But I don't think this is what is wanted. We have to change the mindset.

I don't want right-wing fundamentalists jumping ship from absolute unquestioned belief in theism to absolute unquestioned belief in atheism. I want people to think for themselves. This is the part thats missing.

I think we need to stress critical thinking... We need to offer classes, discussions and posts about critical thinking....and then exercise that ability as much as we freakin' can.

I like doone's post.....we need meaningful goals and hope and support for acheiving them. I think exercising our critical thinking abilities with these goals in mind would go a long ways towards helping us achieve them.
Wesley always has great posts!
In South Africa they still teach Christianity in most public schools. Some private schools refrain from it, since this is a culturally diverse country. A good replacement subject would be Critical Thinking methinks :-)
YES... and then you could have advanced follow up classes that could deal with specifics.. 'Critical Thinking applied to major religions'. This is the religious class that the fundy's will not want their children to participate in. They will start preaching separation of church and state!!!
Hi Paul :-)

Thanx for the reply.

I briefly looked at a description of Universal Pantheism some time ago. You have very aptly described it as dogmatic. It was even advertised as: "Atheism not enough?" At least it made me smile :-)

I also prefer a detached approach. In fact, when I posted this conversation some time ago, I was particularly thinking of the success rate & resilience of religion. It's replicating potential is enormous. If we look at this from a social & biological perspective, it definitely seems favorable. I do wonder why there is so much success for a force (religion) that is fed by irrationality. I guess that this is a value judgment on my part. Religious people really do believe that they are free.

Currently in South Africa it appears that a large sector of the population is fighting against educational systems that aim to introduce critical thinking to students from a young age. Most of the arguments stem from the fact that evolutionary biology & the various sciences would be given far more importance. Religious lessons would only be offered to those who wish to attend. There are so many different cultural groups in South Africa that this would be a logical solution.

The Christian community has made quite a big deal about it. A local person whom I know has gone as far as removing her child from school to avoid the kid from being taught that she evolved from monkeys :-) The child is receiving home schooling. I can't help but pity that child for missing out on the whole social aspect of school & the opportunities which good educational institutions give you to debate with others. It is after all a very important part of any individual's personal development.

It seems some countries are very behind others.

Do you think that altruism is sustainable?


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