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Sun Dec 21, 2014, 10:38 AM

 

We’re putting an end to religion:

We’re putting an end to religion: Richard Dawkins, Bill Maher and the exploding new American secularism.

Religious right extremism, new atheists & late-night mockery have religion on the run. American secularism's rising.

Phil Zuckerman.

What is going on? How do we explain this recent wave of secularization that is washing over so much of America?


The answer to these questions is actually much less theological or philosophical than one might think. It is simply not the case that in recent years tens of millions of Americans have suddenly started doubting the cosmological or ontological arguments for the existence of God, or that hundreds of thousands of other Americans have miraculously embraced the atheistic naturalism of Denis Diderot. Sure, this may be happening here and there, in this or that dorm room or on this or that Tumblr page. The best-sellers written by Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris—as well as the irreverent impiety and flagrant mockery of religion by the likes of Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Bill Maher, House, South Park, and Family Guy—have had some impact on American culture. As we have seen, a steady, incremental uptick of philosophical atheism and agnosticism is discernible in America in recent years. But the larger reality is that for the many millions of Americans who have joined the ranks of the nonreligious, the causes are most likely to be political and sociological in nature.

For starters, we can begin with the presence of the religious right, and the backlash it has engendered. Beginning in the 1980s, with the rise of such groups as the Moral Majority and the Christian Coalition, the closeness of conservative Republicanism with evangelical Christianity has been increasingly tight and publicly overt. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, more and more politicians on the right embraced the conservative Christian agenda, and more and more outspoken conservative Christians allied themselves with the Republican Party. Examples abound, from Michele Bachmann to Ann Coulter, from Mike Huckabee to Pat Robertson, and from Rick Santorum to James Dobson. With an emphasis on seeking to make abortion illegal, fighting against gay rights (particularly gay marriage), supporting prayer in schools, advocating “abstinence only” sex education, opposing stem cell research, curtailing welfare spending, supporting Israel, opposing gun control, and celebrating the war on terrorism, conservative Christians have found a warm welcome within the Republican Party, which has been clear about its openness to the conservative Christian agenda. This was most pronounced during the eight years that George W. Bush was in the White House.

What all of this this has done is alienate a lot of left-leaning or politically moderate Americans from Christianity. Sociologists Michael Hout and Claude Fischer have published compelling research indicating that much of the growth of “nones” in America is largely attributable to a reaction against this increased, overt mixing of Christianity and conservative politics. The rise of irreligion has been partially related to the fact that lots of people who had weak or limited attachments to religion and were either moderate or liberal politically found themselves at odds with the conservative political agenda of the Christian right and thus reacted by severing their already somewhat weak attachment to religion. Or as sociologist Mark Chaves puts it, “After 1990 more people thought that saying you were religious was tantamount to saying you were a conservative Republican. So people who are not Republicans now are more likely to say that they have no religion.”


http://www.salon.com/2014/12/20/were_putting_an_end_to_religion_richard_dawkins_bill_maher_and_the_exploding_new_american_secularism/

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Response to Warren Stupidity (Original post)

Sun Dec 21, 2014, 11:04 AM

1. Not in my lifetime.

I am committed to my faith.. I am a Christian.. what anyone else believes is their own convictions..but I long as I draw a breath, I will profess my faith.. and not step back from it.

And I am a Liberal Democrat who never stepped away from that label either!

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Response to Warren Stupidity (Original post)

Sun Dec 21, 2014, 11:12 AM

2. I think not yet, WS

Religion will continue to be a drag on civilization for quite some time. It fills an emotional need for some people, though it undoubtably doesn't fulfill that need, or even satisfy it.


As I've mentioned elsewhere, H sapiens sapiens has evolved about as far as it can, possibly as a result of it's continued umbilical.

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Response to Feral Child (Reply #2)

Sun Dec 21, 2014, 11:35 AM

3. I don't think the author is claiming that the end is nigh.

 

Just that the trend is toward growing secularism.

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Response to Warren Stupidity (Reply #3)

Sun Dec 21, 2014, 11:52 AM

4. That I can agree with.

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Response to Warren Stupidity (Original post)

Sun Dec 21, 2014, 12:00 PM

5. I don't think atheists or other secularists are making much of a dent

but far right fundamentalist crackpots sure are. I'm hearing anger and disgust over them from all parts of the belief spectrum.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #5)

Sun Dec 21, 2014, 12:09 PM

6. That is one of the points the author makes.

 

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Response to Warren Stupidity (Reply #6)

Sun Dec 21, 2014, 12:14 PM

7. It's also why I tend to keep my trap shut and just smile and nod

when believer friends are griping about wingnut fundie excesses. I figure anything an atheist says will be counterproductive, so I just enjoy the tirades.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #7)

Sun Dec 21, 2014, 12:21 PM

8. But I disagree about outspoken atheists.

 

I think that in fact they are making it possible for non-religious people who live in religious areas to understand that they are not alone. The HORRID BAD ATHEISTS are bringing atheism out of the closet and that is good thing.

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Response to Warren Stupidity (Reply #8)

Sun Dec 21, 2014, 12:26 PM

9. Oh, they all know I don't believe a word of it

If they didn't, I'd tell them and then keep my trap shut.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #5)

Sun Dec 21, 2014, 02:08 PM

12. I think the vast reach of the internet, the growth of secularism and the self-identified "nones"

are making a dent. Especially in the US. Agree that many among the faith communities here are recoiling from the blatant actions of the far right extremists. At some point, enough is enough. People of good faith - and I mean that in humanistic terms - increasingly recognize extremism as a fringe of American society as a whole. And sadly, seem surprised at their maneuvering to influence politics. They've been at it for a while and have chosen local, county, state positions to establish a base. Those typically have small electoral turnout and are ripe for minority control.

Yet I hold out some hope for the pendulum. Take the growth of support for sexual minorities, typified by the legislative / court battles for equal marriage rights. The country is just about at the point of broad legal equality. The extremists are loosing that one, very publicly.

Self-identified atheists have always had some "baggage" in our popular culture. A bad rap for the most part. Yet it persists. Some of it may be the perception that atheists are not mainstream, by choice perhaps or by public opinion, always against something yet not for anything in the general culture of the country. I think that's changing, as well.

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Response to Warren Stupidity (Original post)

Sun Dec 21, 2014, 01:31 PM

10. I don't think so Warren.

Something like 90% of Americans believe in God.

I fully support your right not to believe. I would appreciate the same courtesy from you and your fellow secularists concerning my right to believe and worship.

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Response to NaturalHigh (Reply #10)

Sun Dec 21, 2014, 04:44 PM

17. It's closer to the mid-seventies, among adults.

 

Some interesting findings here. Poll is about a year old, but attitudes don't change that quickly...

http://www.harrisinteractive.com/NewsRoom/HarrisPolls/tabid/447/ctl/ReadCustom%20Default/mid/1508/ArticleId/1353/Default.aspx

Of course, you have every right to your beliefs. Others have just as much right to call bullshit on them.

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Response to Warren Stupidity (Original post)

Sun Dec 21, 2014, 02:04 PM

11. Odd, and inaccurate, headline Salon chose for that

It doesn't reflect the text at all. The message is actually " the larger reality is that for the many millions of Americans who have joined the ranks of the nonreligious, the causes are most likely to be political and sociological in nature" rather than books or TV by Maher or Dawkins. And it's not about 'the end of religion', but the increase in the non-religious. You might say it's about the end of religion as the default assumption for what people follow, but their headline is little more than click-bait.

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #11)

Sun Dec 21, 2014, 02:10 PM

13. Yeah, agree.

Simplistic at best.

(pet peeve) Headline editors...

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Response to pinto (Reply #13)

Sun Dec 21, 2014, 02:13 PM

14. Even worse, another Zuckermann quote: "I wouldn’t be surprised if they remain the majority"

Will religion ever disappear?

...
“Humans need comfort in the face of pain and suffering, and many need to think that there’s something more after this life, that they’re loved by an invisible being,” Zuckerman says. “There will always be people who believe, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they remain the majority.”

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20141219-will-religion-ever-disappear

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #14)

Sun Dec 21, 2014, 02:29 PM

15. I've always rankled at headline editors for a publication with tagging an author's piece.

But it's as old as print, I guess. Some of it for space issues probably or a lead to garner some reader interest. I take them with a grain of salt.

Some I've chuckled about. The Boston Globe was notorious at one time for placement of headlines in relation to other articles on the front page.

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #11)

Sun Dec 21, 2014, 03:13 PM

16. inaccurate, yes, odd? no, typical.

 

Last edited Sun Dec 21, 2014, 03:45 PM - Edit history (1)

Generally the rule in huffpo and salon is "if atheism then dawkins".

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