Currently in the United States "Non Religious" people make up about 20% of the population.
This includes Atheists, Agnostics, Secular non affiliated, No preference, etc. Jews consist of less than 2% of the population of the United States. Mormons less than 2%, Muslims less than 1%. These are the religious groups that the non-religious out number, yet why is it that we are lucky to get 1 or 2 congressmen to represent us? The truth is that essentially every congressman or woman in congress is religiously affiliated. Where is our representation?

In the United States consists of about 12% of Black people, 4% Asian and about 15% of
Hispanic origin. Yet congress has 43 black congressmen and women, 44 who are Jewish and 27
who are of Hispanic origin, and also 7 of Asian origin. Congress even has a "black caucus", a
caucus for a group of people that represents only 12% of the population yet a group that
represents over 20% of the population is lucky to have 1 congressperson represent them?
Something is seriously wrong with this picture. The truth is that Atheists, Agnostics and the
generally non religious people in the United States are too timid, too apathetic, too
distracted and too unmotivated to make any real efforts to bring about change. Organization
is totally lacking among this group of people, and I have seen no real evidence of large
scale social programs to actually attempt to educate people about skepticism of religion or
to criticize religion. The Atheist bus sign campaign was one recent instance, but that was
just one instance.

Churches make it their priority to spread the word of their religions, and to convert people
and educate them about their religion. This is why religions tend to spread so amazingly
fast, it is because of the hard work of the followers in converting people. Now, I know that
a lot of atheists will say that they do not want to convert people, that they do not want to
be like religion and go out and proselytize people and educate them about their beliefs. This
attitude is unjustified, it is unjustified because as all atheists know, Atheism is in fact
the most rational and justified position. When you hold a position that is in fact the most
rational position, and is in fact the most justified position, then what is the harm in
trying to get other people to believe in this same position? Atheists need to ask themselves,
Would the world be better if everyone were an Atheist? The obvious answer to this question is
a resounding 'Yes', as anyone versed in the history or modern aspects of religion knows of
the bloodshed caused directly by religious belief. Certainly the world would not be a perfect
place if everyone were atheists, but it would definitely have one less meme in it responsible
for copious amounts of bloodshed and suffering.

I do not condone "shoving one's beliefs down other peoples throats". What I am arguing for is
simply a comprehensive and organized movement among the non-religious to educate the
religious about the flaws of their beliefs, and to spread the meme of Atheism. Atheism,
spurred by rational thinking, is in fact a good meme. I remember when I first started watching
Penn&Teller when it first came out, I first learned that they were atheists and then decided
to do research of my own which led me to agnosticism and then to atheism. It may seem odd for
a magician group to turn me onto skepticism of religion, but sometimes it only takes
something small like this. The truth is that Penn&Teller are a rare breed of atheist who
actually try to spread Atheism. These few people, Dawkins, Penn&Teller, James Randi, Etc. are
the atlas' of our times. They are holding back the ever flowing tide of irrationality and
dogma and are trying their hardest to fight back with logic and science. But the truth is
that it is like trying to empty the ocean with a spoon.

Islamic fundamentalism, Christian fanatics, Hindu fanatics, Mormons, Scientologists, all of
these groups are doing all that they can to convert more people and inject their
irrationality and absurd beliefs into the world. This means that Atheists do not have the
comfort of being able to do as they please, because if they do then they will find themselves
an extinct species in the not too distant future. It would be incredibly naive to assume that
Atheism will somehow automatically spread and that religion will somehow die off by itself in
the future. The ONLY reason secularism and genuine skepticism of religion has spread in
recent times is due to the herculean efforts of people like Dawkins, Michael Shermer, James
Randi, Sam Harris, etc. Without these people, there would not even be a tiny subculture of
atheists that there is today.


I mention all of this only to stress the importance of actually doing all that one can to
spread the meme of skepticism of religion and rationalism and atheism. Unless we fight as
hard as the opposition is fighting, we will soon find ourselves so few and far between that
it would be impossible to defend ourselves against the constant attacks on our civil
liberties. This philosophy of "live and let live" does not work when the religious fanatics
of the world do not follow the same rule. The religious fanatics who would like to see
Christianity taught in schools and science abolished, the fanatics who would like to see the
western civilization under the rule of Muslim despots, the fanatics who would like to see us
all become slaves to their dogmas. If atheists remain idle and apathetic towards the people
who would like to see them destroyed, then this is what will happen. I acknowledge that not
all religious people want to rob atheists of their civil liberties, but the truth is that
once the religion meme is in someone, then nothing is a stretch. The only thing that separates
the moderates from the fanatics is a simple interpretation which, given their already
dogmatic beliefs, could and often does change without warning.

It is time for atheists to both organize and to act to demand their recognition as a
significant force in American and World politics. This means spending less time in idle, less
time..wasting time and more time doing what is necessary to stem the tide of religious dogma
and spread the meme of atheism. Talking to people who we know and doing what we can to
introduce them to skepticism of religion, passing out flyers in public places, organizing
groups and putting together marches and events, collecting money for media campaigns like the
recent bus campaign, etc. There are countless things that can be done to spread atheism and
general skepticism of religion, but sitting at home wasting time on the internet is not one
of them. Certainly we are all guilty of idleness and misuse of our time, however if we want
things to improve in the world then we must first improve ourselves. No social or political
movement has ever spread without the hard work and toil of people doing all that they could
to push it. I think that negative connotations are often misapplied to aggressive
proselytizing or education campaigns, but the truth is that when faced with the monster of
religious dogma and fanaticism, doing the most that one can do to educate people is hardly
unjustified.

I do not want to seem as if am condescending anyone, or seem as if I am patronizing anyone. I too can be guilty of procrastination, idleness and misuse of time myself. I however want to make the urge to everyone to do what they can to ensure that atheism does not die off or shrink in size. In ancient Greece there were many Greek thinkers arguing against religion and in support of skepticism and rationality and science, but even true philosophies and beliefs are not immune to being relegated to a footnote. In fact, society does not always progress forward, as can be observed from the dark ages in Europe.

Certainly there are many people who are doing all that they can to educate others about
atheism or skepticism of religion or critical thinking, but it just isn't enough. When I
watch religious segments on television, I almost never see the atheist point of view added.
In fact, the only time that I did was after a massive letter writing and e-mailing campaign
was organized in order to get Richard Dawkins on CNN once. This must be much more common than
it already is. There must be media campaigns to spread the meme of atheism, there must be
many more people ready to stand up in defense of atheism when it is attacked, there must be
many more people willing to do what is necessary to ensure atheism endures the onslaught from
the fanatical, dogmatic grotesque entity known as religion.

Views: 5

Tags: Atheism

Comment by Dan on February 25, 2009 at 11:11pm
Wow.

Where to start?

Ok Great you want to start and Atheist army(so to speak). I personally don't care if anyone is Atheist or a theist.

I just want to go about my life and not be bothered with having to deal with a religion pushed on me. I tell my kids they can believe in whatever they want as long as it doesn't hurt them or others and that they respect others beliefs.

Would I rather religion just poof away back to the fairytale land which it came? Yes. But I am smart enough to know that simply won't happen. Not in my life time or my children's.

I don't believe an aggressive campaign will do anything but make the theists it is seen by more aggressive towards us Atheists.

The best way I have seen to "educate" them is to be decent and kind. Show them that just because we do not worship and deity of any sort that doesn't not make(all of us) heathens.
Comment by Paul Fidalgo on February 25, 2009 at 11:17pm
It's very important that any atheist activism begins with honesty about the strength of our numbers. I assume you are citing Pew's numbers, and their somewhat sloppy categorization can be misleading. Look at how things break down, and you'll see that "unaffiliated" means a lot of things. I wrote about this situation at length at my new column at Examiner.... Here's a clipping:
So what we really have is a 12.1 percent segment for whom organized religion doesn't float their arcs, as well as those who don't seem to give religion enough thought to warrant an affiliation. It does not imply atheism. Then we have the 2.4 percent who are agnostics, and they are not atheists either. Out and out atheists are relegated to a meager 1.6 percent. Might there be atheists within these larger groups? Sure, there might be! But if so, it's not in the data, and we cannot infer it. Rather than risk disingenuousness, I think it would be safe to use 10.3 percent (atheists plus agnostics plus the secular unaffiliated) when talking about a bloc of Americans who do not feel beholden to a deity.
So our numbers are greater than many think, and we have a lot of people who we are close to ideologically, but we have to be honest about what we have and what we don't: that is a hallmark of atheism.
Comment by Dan on February 25, 2009 at 11:32pm
bravo.
Comment by AtypicalAtheist on February 25, 2009 at 11:41pm
I think that a complete reading of my blog is necessary for a total understanding of my proposals and my rebuttals to the objections so far.

Does it matter if someone is an Atheist or a Theist? Yes. This is a very important factor simply because if someone is a Theist then they are living in a world of Dogma. Belief in what can not be proven is the main ingredient in violence towards others who do not believe the same and general subjection. Some may believe that it is best if everyone left each other alone, but the truth is that this isn't how many religious people want things to be. For religious people, our eternal souls are at stake, as is their eternal life. This means that no means, no matter how violent or immoral, is too extreme to meet their ends. Muslims, Jews and Christians are commanded to spread their doctrines with the tip of a sword. Infidels (that means you and I) are to be executed or sacrificed.

Yes, most religious people today hold no such beliefs. However if someone's life is based on thinking that a specific holy book is true then how far do they really have to go to interpret a specific passage literally? Just a little while ago I was arguing with a christian who was claiming that Shellfish and Pork was a sin to consume.

The truth is simple: What other people believe almost always affects other people, especially when those beliefs command certain actions be taken (such as killing other people). Why in the world would anyone respect the beliefs of a Muslim, for instance, who thinks it necessary to throw acid onto a group of school girls or blow up a commuter bus full of innocent people? These people need to be destroyed, they do NOT need to be respected.

The people who are more moderate only allow for the extremists to exist, and unconsciously defend them. The moderates who hold less extreme views should be respected as people, but their beliefs should not be respected. Their beliefs are wrong.

Theists already view atheists as being lower than Homosexuals (and that is pretty low in religious terms). Take a look at some polls or take a look at some information that religious people say about Atheists. Atheists are as good as child molesters in many religious people's minds.


"Atheists" consist of about 1.6% of the U.S. population, but i'm talking about all non-religious people or secular people or people with no particular preference. They generally fit under the same roof since most are, by definition, atheists but never want to admit it. Even if our numbers are a bit below 15%, this is still quite large for a minority group and is much larger than the Jews or the Asians etc.


I think a rational stance needs to be taken when confronting religious people, and it is important to know when to have a mild conversation, when to promote atheism by the media, or when to be very aggressive. Sometimes a little aggression is necessary when dealing with people who don't even think that we are U.S. citizens (George Bush sr.)
Comment by AtypicalAtheist on February 25, 2009 at 11:52pm
I think that the simple fact that this website exists isn't in itself a good form of promotion for atheism, nor is it necessairly a good venue for advancing atheism. This is because of the fact that few Christians would join a site like this, and due to the fact that unless serious discourses are engaged in concerning advancing of atheism, it amounts to little more than idle chit chat.

I think that guerrilla marketing won't work very well, as even religious people find religious guerrilla marketing annoying. People simply throw it away. I think that posting flyers up in public places (at schools perhaps or stores) discussing atheism in simple terms with basic web links (not necessairly to here but to websites explaining atheism) might work better.


Atheism likely will not totally die out, but remember that it started out with the greek culture and in fact almost vanished from history were it not for the Arabs preserving the Greek writings of the various philosophers. People can become more religious, and the numbers of religious can in fact increase around the world. It is not out of the picture for religious people to increase drastically. This can happen quite easily.


It's true that some people do not feel it necessary to "go out" and do things to spread atheism, but this is a viewpoint that is not very helpful. It's true that atheism does not need ignorant people going out and arguing for it or being identified with atheism, but there shouldn't be ignorant atheists to begin with. I think that all atheists need to be well versed and well read on all of the matters relevant to atheism. Holding a belief without knowing all about it is in fact quite similar to a form of dogma.


E-mail writing campaigns are indeed very powerful, but they need to be more focused, more directed, more comprehensive and much much higher in quantity. For instance, posting on the main page the links to the people who are getting the emails, and then perhaps asking everyone to write their own custom and informed e-mails to the senators or whomever else.
Comment by AtypicalAtheist on February 25, 2009 at 11:58pm
Religion is a powerful force, but all powerful forces can be defeated. It simply takes a lot of hard hard work, time and dedication. There are both effective and ineffective methods of fighting religious dogma, and arguing with a fanatic 1 on 1 is the most ineffective method I believe as I have done this hundreds of times. Other methods include arguing in front of an audience, where the audience can pick and choose who's views they like best. Or media campaigns centered around awareness and general education about atheism. Carl Sagan type endeavors, or James Randi sorts of media stunts that get media attention, public debates, flyers, television shows like the British show (The root of all evil by Dawkins). Movies like Religulous (which I saw as quite dull), etc. Also things I mentioned above like marches or organizations or letter writing campaigns, etc. The possibilities are in fact endless.
Comment by AtypicalAtheist on February 26, 2009 at 12:16am
Even middle easterners have become secular and atheist, many times from western influences or even influences from other atheists in their own countries. There is hope, even if it is little, and this means that there is a possibility for improving the circumstances. But we must fight relentlessly for this goal and never lose sight of it. We must not waste time, not on anything.
Sure, some won't listen, but then again some will. Those that will can be influenced and educated and as society gradually changes into our favor more and more can be influenced and educated. But again, it will take hard work and toil. Wasting time doing whatever that doesn't advance things is only holding things bag.
Comment by Dan on February 26, 2009 at 12:53am
Now the real question to you, Atypical, is what you PLAN to do about it. Not what the possibilities are, what actions are you going to take?

We can sit on here all day(as I tend to) and write about the what if and should be's, but for your plan to work action is needed.

I'm a lazy bastard, so don't ask me for help.
Comment by murfman on February 26, 2009 at 12:55am
For me I tend to stand with Dan in thinking that theists can do whatever the hell they want so long as they don't cause me or other atheists undue harm or persecution. You speak of theists as if they are all rabid dogs ready to send us to internment camps if we don't rise up and push atheism down their throats as they push religion down ours. There was a time when a younger, angrier, more anarchistic me would jump at the chance, but not now. Mainly because 90% of the theists are sheep, willing to follow whatever the man on the pulpit tells them. Get them away from the pulpit and they are just like us, have the same mores and values.

These days I am reticent to introduce myself as the atheist next door, but instead as the man next door. Then as people get to know and like me, I breach the subject that I am a godless heathen. In that scenario I have never been flamed and haven't lost a friend yet. And the reason I do it this way is not because I am afraid of them or their views of me, its because I am a number of different roles before I am an atheist: human, father, husband.

When you connect with a person on that level, as a fellow father for instance, then your political and ideological views don't really come into play. Once you tell them that you are an atheist it gets them talking and asking questions. Which means that they are willing to listen, which is a hell of a lot more than what you get after trying to shove the fallacies of the bible down their throats in the middle of a sermon, believe me I've done it.

So while I do agree in what your base argument is, a centralized atheist/agnostic movement to correct the bigotry we suffer daily, I do not think that your method is the most optimal solution. It would be better to befriend a fuck load of people and then let them know while in conversation over a beer or what not that you are an atheist. You are going to get better results out of people with that method than shoving anything down their throats.

Remember theists are just like us in every way but one. Treat them as you would prefer to be treated if they were informing you of their beliefs. In other words, not something from the hate mail string. ;)

And meta is right, getting rid of religion has about as much chance as pigs flying. Our best bet is in peaceful coexistence.
Comment by AtypicalAtheist on February 26, 2009 at 11:25am
Murfman, in any society, if a certain segment of its population holds magical beliefs and does not think critically, this affects the entire population and the entire society. Even if these people do not actively try to force their beliefs upon others, which they almost always do, their beliefs are detrimental to society as a whole.

I do not believe that theists are all rabid dogs anxious to send atheists to concentration camps. I am friends with plenty of Christians, Hindus and Muslims. They are are all fairly nice and intelligent people. But as I mentioned before, the moderates allow for the extremists to exist. Without the moderates the extremists would have no leg to stand on. And the extremists, they absolutely would like to see Atheism exterminated, as well as Atheists.

I am not saying that people need to be atheists primarily in their life, or introduce themselves as atheists. I do, however, believe that atheists need to be at least as willing to educate others on their beliefs as perhaps Christians are. If they are not willing, then they are facing a losing battle and will be overwhelmed. It is wrong to assume that atheism has the advantage among people. Even the truth doesn't have the advantage when it comes to beliefs if another belief is convenient and easy.


I agree with your method of first introducing yourself as a father, or a neighbor, or whatever else that people can relate to.


I've already tried befriending a lot of religious people and then gradually discussing religion with them, but this doesn't actually work. They are all still religious. Nothing has changed in their beliefs.


A peaceful coexistence is a very sketchy thing when we're trying to coexist with people who believe that their books are gods inerrant word, books which condone slavery, child execution, rape, torture, murder and genocide. We've seen from many circumstances that only a small step is needed to go from moderate and peaceful to extremist and violent.

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