How can we strengthen atheism in society?

I realize many people here aren't worried about strengthening Atheism. Many people here, it seems, just want their families and social groups to be OK with their more rational beliefs. And so they should.

I'm here for a different reason. To me humanity is held back in so many ways by theistic beliefs that I feel it's important to somehow weaken theism in my time here. I'm not sure how i'm going to do that. Right now my means of doing so is constantly arguing against the soul. On a small community level it does seem to work. Because people are stuck on this question of "is there a god", "is there a heaven" etc... However, people are MORE afraid to "come out" with their lack of belief in souls than their lack of belief in god. And once a person realizes WHY they don't believe in souls. Their skepticism rises tremendously in god because... in the 5 major religions...god simply cannot exist without this mythology called the soul. The soul is the ROOT and CORE of these religions. I have friends who have become much more rational thinkers after being constantly faced with arguments for rationality, souls and religion.

To me the big 5 religions are the root of so many problems. People would be more likely to allow and be tolerant of gay marriage. People would embrace science more and reject irrational supernatural ideas. People might more likely be pro-choice if they realized that each abortion was not a person having a soul extracted from it. They might realize that a zygote without a brain can't even process it's own life let alone it's death, pleasure or pain. (not trying to downplay abortion here) Most important to me...humanity might be able to survive and progress if we lose our dependency on fossil fuels... and that is going to be a difficult thing to make happen unless we trust and empower science to unveil viable alternative energy sources. Religious people seem to not care as much about the environment either.. perhaps because they believe they will be living most of their life in heaven. With RATIONALITY as our center in stead of Atheism....Albinos in Africa might not be killed for their supposed supernatural powers...

I think we should be hitting theism with rationality or at least in the soul. To me arguing against God is difficult. Arguing against the soul is quite a bit easier and it is a somewhat unique take as so many people are embarrassed to come out. There must be a simpler way of proving these things that we argue against everyday. For example...believing in god AND believing in the soul require you to believe something that you can't prove is untrue. How can you prove something immaterial (like god or the soul) doesn't exist? You can't. That's why the flying spaghetti monster argument was created. One thing you can do however is explain the scientific method. When a theory is proposed, experiments are done to find a substantial amount of evidence. If that evidence isn't found then we can't believe it is true.

Maybe we can just encourage people to think rationally somehow. Maybe just getting people excited about science. Anyone else have ideas on how to promote rationality? Am I doing enough just telling my friends and family how I feel constantly? Annoying people on facebook with the burden of this seemingly boring subject?

Anyway.. try telling your friends that you don't believe in souls... tell them there has never been any proof of a soul in a controlled environment. See what they say.

"What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof"-Hitchens

"The burden of proof lies on religion"-Unknown

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Comment by Robert Kenny on February 17, 2012 at 12:06pm

Laziness is the biggest culprit.  People who are well-educated and well-read are far more likely to be atheist.  This has already been statistically demonstrated in several studies.  Anyone who reads the entire Bible and still sees it as a good source of morality is probably mentally deranged or has an uncanny capacity to skip over and ignore a lot of the passages.  The most religious people I know have never read more than a few passages (and in some rare instances the 4 gospels, but never the whole Bible) and don't understand the level of intolerance, hate, and ignorance that motivated the authors.  

Unfortunately, most people's fear of death and the unknown far outweighs their concern for truth.  When telling people about my beliefs they often ask "Why would you want to believe that.  Isn't it depressing?" As if belief is an emotional choice, rather than something driven by logic.  But, I tell them, no, I am much happier believing in no creator than a creator who would sit back and allow holocausts, brutal rapes and murders to occur without lifting a finger.  It is much better to create one's own morality than try to make sense of the malicious and capricious "morality" of this "supreme being."

Comment by Emperor Milos on February 17, 2012 at 12:13pm

I think that having websites like this one exist is a great step in the right direction.

Whatever reason people on here have regarding their atheism, the fact that they are here, and interacting with others around the world, is a step forward for global atheism.

We just need to be outspoken about atheism, and show others that they are not alone.

Once people see that there is more to the world than "god did it," they will come to science and reason on their own.

Sadly, we can't force it on people, because it will bring us down to the level of the evangelicals an zealots. We can show them the door, but each individual must make a choice to go through it on their own.

There is a quote I read recently that goes something along the lines of: "Humanity will truly be free when the last stone, from the last church is cast upon the last preacher."

The quote is from a science fiction novel, but it really rings true. But that must happen by the people's own will. Forcing it will just replace current religions with a new one, or will make people view atheism as a religion.

Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on February 17, 2012 at 12:47pm

At the World Atheist conference in Ireland last year this topic was covered – What could be done aid the spread of Atheistic and Scientific ideas to a greater audience?

One good idea – and Dawkins offered his foundations help – was that many of the youtube videos that we all know could be translated into other languages for people to learn from – i.e. Farsi or Arabic. I will see if I can follow up on it as it is a good idea – imo.

Comment by dragotron on February 17, 2012 at 1:34pm

There must be a better way to say this...:

"What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof" -Hitchens

Shouldn't it be more like:

"What can be asserted without proof SHOULD be dismissed without proof"

Comment by Dan on February 17, 2012 at 3:40pm

I was so encouraged by your title.  So many atheism blogs are not about atheism at all, but rather are about anti-theism.  So your title jumped off the screen at me.  But then I read it...  So disappointing. More of the same old same old. 

You trumpet rationality, yet say things like "humanity might be able to survive and progress if we lose our dependency on fossil fuels." To believe than humanity is being held back or is threatened by fossil fuels is completely irrational.  Do you have no idea how much we progressed during the past century because of fossil fuels? And do you really believe that any alternative energy sources will be more equitably shared? 

Then, you end with what has to be the most foolish thing Hitchens ever said: "What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof." Can you not see that this is a self defeating statement?  He makes an assertion without proof.  His assertion, by its own criterion, should be dismissed out of hand.

Irrational statements like this will never strengthen atheism.

Comment by Stephen Walski on February 17, 2012 at 4:14pm

The best way i can think to strengthen the case against religion is actually teaching the religious texts. I think in alot of zeal to protect our children from indoctrination some of us neglect to remember what it was that opened our own eyes to the ludicrousness of religious teachings.

I would support an atheist push to teach religion to people. Ive often thought about gaining a theocracy degree simply for this purpose.

The other thing is shame. We have to get past the shame cycle that is pushed on us and stop embracing language like "coming out" (which i find ridiculous). we continually reinforce an ideal that we are the abnormal group of people when in fact belief in superstition is the realm of the insane. Our wording is too gentle and even we as a group tend to be overly respectful of the superstitious notions of the world.

We need to stop promoting the liberal ideals of people involved in the community as a fundamental structure of atheism.(see the horseshit in OP about fossil fuels for an example)There is no one set of values and beliefs save the unifying disbelief in that which hasnt been proven through logical inquiry and verification.

And tone down the hero worship some. Darwin was fucking wrong as much as he was right. Hitchens had his moments of stupidity along with greatness, and Dawkins can switch from wishywashy, to on point in a heartbeat. We dont need prophets we need an all inclusive bond of like minded people who are sick of stupid.

And someone please tell David Silverman and other organization leaders to quit picking petty squabbles because they make us look petty(fucking street signs). Stand up for what really matters like upholding church and state, discrimination in schools and jobs, and lack of representation in Washington. 

Just a start... but i think its roads that need explored. 

Comment by george smith on February 17, 2012 at 5:27pm

Why would you want to spread atheism? As a christian who started doubting God and then turned atheist for several years before coming back to my religion, I can say that religion is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I think that it is more than just believing in a creator, it is being a part of a church that carries out his will. and while I think much of the bible is far outdated and don't have anything against gays or abortion, but my church helps me live as a better person. I attend regularly and donate 10% of what I earn, and I like to help go on mission trips and help those in need around my community. I really don't see why you have such a problem with christians. Not all of us believe in banning abortion or condemming gays. I think the way I live helps people and I didn't live that way before I was a christian. my religion has no affect on you, so why would you try and take it away?

Comment by dragotron on February 17, 2012 at 5:32pm

Stephen Walski, so do you disagree with my evaluation of the importance of humanity losing our dependence on fossil fuels? Or do you disagree with my assessment that religion is somehow connected to it?

Comment by Stephen Walski on February 17, 2012 at 5:33pm

Being a part of an organization is all fine and good. 

Would you be okay with a group of schizophrenics meeting every sunday, organizing and planning charitable work, pooling their resources, using their money to fund political agendas, going door to door in your neighborhood, telling your children to believe in the voices that talk to them?

Thats the issue i have. We lock up one person who listens to voices and see imaginary things... we offer unearned respect to groups of exactly the same nutbags just because they call themselves a religion.

Comment by Stephen Walski on February 17, 2012 at 5:40pm

@dragotron. I disagree that in either case fossil fuel has any bearing on atheism or belongs in any discussion about the strengthening of the voice of our community. Just as i think the following other unrelated agendas that come up all the time have nothing to do with strengthening the atheist community..




Gender bias

When your talking about those things as being affected by religion you are talking about the results of unchecked respect towards religious ideals. 

I believe your looking at the effect and trying to cure the disease with one consequence at a time. Dont treat the symptoms diagnose the cause and kill it. 

The cause is simple. We give undo respect and deference to organizations that give a breeding ground for stupidity and insanity. You fight stupidity with education and you cull insanity with dismissal.


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