Research Finds that Atheists are Most Hated and Distrusted Minority

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Intolerance is a bitter beast. There are many groups in America that are subject to discrimination and prejudice, but none are more hated than atheists. Research conducted a couple years ago at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis found that atheists are more distrusted than muslims or homosexuals in the US.

Austin Cline from about.com writes, “Every single study that has ever looked at the issue has revealed massive amounts of bigotry and prejudice against atheists in America. The most recent data shows that atheists are more distrusted and despised than any other minority and that an atheist is the least likely person that Americans would vote for in a presidential election. It’s not just that atheists are hated, though, but also that atheists seem to represent everything about modernity which Americans dislike or fear.

The most recent study was conducted by the University of Minnesota, which found that atheists ranked lower than “Muslims, recent immigrants, gays and lesbians and other minority groups in ‘sharing their vision of American society.’ Atheists are also the minority group most Americans are least willing to allow their children to marry.” The results from two of the most important questions”

This group does not at all agree with my vision of American society…

Atheist: 39.6%

Muslims: 26.3%

Homosexuals: 22.6%

Hispanics: 20%

Conservative Christians: 13.5%

Recent Immigrants: 12.5%

Jews: 7.6%

I would disapprove if my child wanted to marry a member of this group….

Atheist: 47.6%

Muslim: 33.5%

African-American 27.2%

Asian-Americans: 18.5%

Hispanics: 18.5%

Jews: 11.8%

Conservative Christians: 6.9%

Whites: 2.3%

The degree of this intolerance is a bit surprising. My experience has taught me that atheists tend to be very intelligent, thoughtful people with a high standard of ethics that they carry through to their everyday lives.

So why the fear, why the hatred? This situation is not the norm for most of the planet. Most East and South Asian countries don’t exhibit this fear of atheists or agnostics. In fact, many of these countries have a significant portion of their population that does not believe in any deity.

European countries have large portions of the population that are atheist. There is not the mass discrimination there based on one’s freedom to believe or not to believe. About the only places in the world that tend to have intolerant attitudes are nations with strong monotheistic cultures, such as both latin and anglo America, and the Islamic countries (particularly Turkey).

Considering that atheist nations are more peaceful, it seems particularly odd that there would be a predilection towards animosity towards atheists. When one group is being discriminated against, it detracts from the freedoms of every group. A society based on tolerance must support the rights of minority groups, including atheists.

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300 Responses to Research Finds that Atheists are Most Hated and Distrusted Minority

  1. +13 Vote -1 Vote +1Nitin
    September 20, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    In my country(India) Hinduism is the major religion and then comes muslim population. People are very religious and normally marry within their religion and castes. However, people are more tolerant than you would imagine. I have never met anyone online or personally here, who has disapproved me of because I don’t believe me in any religion. Sadly this is not true for all the Americans I know.

    Although I would like to see more atheists in India but often I think maybe it’s good for many in rural parts believing in god to give them psychological strengths to deal with their misery. But then it often brings misery as well because of communal clashes.

    • +15 Vote -1 Vote +1NAveen
      September 21, 2009 at 4:29 am

      I too an atheist.

      India have growing population of athiest now. evn though many are hiding behind the curtains because of family pressure and all the religion surrounding , more over many arent givent the freedom ( domestic – within family ) to express. I know many who believe in atheism , but kinda still go to temples , churches simply cause thier parents asked them too…

      tommorows world is bright , with each year , many religion going to the dust…….

    • +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Drew
      September 21, 2009 at 3:23 pm

      “But then it (belief in God) often brings misery as well because of communal clashes.”

      Your conclusion is most revealing.

  2. -22 Vote -1 Vote +1Javier
    September 20, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    I find it disgusting that most people here distrust atheists more than anybody else. MORE THAN MUSLIMS WTF!!!!

    See, I always thought that it was muslims that attacked us on 9/11, not atheists.

    big WTF america.

    • -36 Vote -1 Vote +1rossiya
      September 21, 2009 at 4:25 am

      Actually, it was Christians. Read up on Sibel Edmonds.

      • -10 Vote -1 Vote +1rossiya
        September 21, 2009 at 3:01 pm

        Ha retards frowning on a news fact. I want a poll on 2+2=4. Bible thumpers will claim that constitutes a hate crime.

    • +21 Vote -1 Vote +1karlos
      September 24, 2009 at 6:51 am

      It was no more Muslims (11/9) than is is Christians fighting illegal and immoral wars in Iraq and Afghanistan…..Islamic extemists, maybe…or IS it a case of “Onward Christian soldiers” in Iraq and Afghanistan?
      Atheists have no reason to fight religious wars. They are inherently moral, without a need for a fictional higher authority.

    • -26 Vote -1 Vote +1Roro
      September 27, 2009 at 4:17 am

      this comment proves that atheists can be just be just as prejudiced as Christians or anybody else

      • +36 Vote -1 Vote +1S.
        September 27, 2009 at 8:49 pm

        Where in that comment did he say he was an atheist?

  3. +36 Vote -1 Vote +1Michael
    September 20, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    I think this stems from the fact that the most vocal of the athiests (which is likely a small number, but as history has proven the vocal minority can muck it up for the silent majority) are not very tolerant of the beliefs of others (in many cases flat out insulting the faithful) yet demand that their beliefs (or lack of) be accepted.

    My brother is an athiest, and he’s obnoxious about it. He calls me a fool for believing what I do and walks around my father’s house with this sense of superiority, as if being athiest somehow makes him better than everyone around him. Every problem in the world, and every person he meets that is fundimentally a bad person, he blames on religion and their beliefs. These are the kind of people that give atheism a bad name.

    Ma wife is an athiest, I’m Catholic. Neither one of us tread on eachothers beliefs and she is insistent that I bring our children to church and expose them to the Catholic faith. And if the day comes that my children come to the decision that they are athiest, I will respect that decision.

    It’s possible for the groups to get along, if they’d all be willing to shut up long enough to shake hands.

    • -61 Vote -1 Vote +1John
      September 22, 2009 at 2:09 am

      Dude, you let your children go to hell?

      • +22 Vote -1 Vote +1Peter
        September 22, 2009 at 6:45 am

        John I’m sure that you’re just trying to call him out, but I think we should be grateful for the tolerance Michael is exhibiting.

      • +24 Vote -1 Vote +1karlos
        September 24, 2009 at 7:02 am

        Hell? Is that where your god sends all non-believers like myself? What folly,,,What nonsense, to send the majority of the objects of your supposed creation to burn forever….God is impossible, dead, as science has shown. Get on with life while you have it and stop fantasising about the after life.

    • +1 Vote -1 Vote +1karlos
      September 24, 2009 at 6:35 am

      so you happen to believe the delusional thoughts taught to you by your parents…your children will be confused, won’t they? Mother doesn’t. Dad does. Atheism is an absence of belief in god or gods. Your wife is right. Faith and belief without proof is pure folly.

  4. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1April
    September 20, 2009 at 11:31 pm

    @Javier… you sound like a moron. Your line of thinking is exactly what is wrong with Americans. An incredibly small group of supposed Muslim people attacked America on 9/11, so because of that, you think that it is now okay and perfectly acceptable (and expected?) for Americans to hate Muslims? WTF dude?? How dare you judge an entire group of people based on the actions of a massive minority within that group?? You are high off your ass if you think that’s acceptable behavior. I agree 100% with Michael, that the only atheists that many people encounter are the disgusting, neurotic, loud-mouthed, opinionated, snobby types. People hate people like that. In any case, you seriously need to reevaluate your line of thinking.

    • -12 Vote -1 Vote +1rossiya
      September 21, 2009 at 4:39 am

      Funny, I always got that vibe from women named April.

      • -11 Vote -1 Vote +1Dave
        September 21, 2009 at 8:11 am

        Name more than one armed conflict in the world today that does not have Islamic peoples or ideology as a protagonist and I might change my mind on this…

        • +21 Vote -1 Vote +1Marc B
          September 21, 2009 at 12:58 pm

          A better question, Dave, would be to name an armed conflict in the world today that does not have a basis in ideological differences, regardless of ideology. Historically speaking, Christians are just as guilty of violence as other major religions, including genocides conducted in the name of the lord. Being a “Christian” nation, though, we tend to ignore or downplay the role this particular fairy tale plays in conflicts elsewhere in the world.

          It was said elsewhere in another post, but bears repeating: more people have been killed in the name of religion than for all other reasons combined.

          • +8 Vote -1 Vote +1george
            September 24, 2009 at 3:05 pm

            I agee completely….Religion has killed more people on this planet.. Religion should be done away with on this planet…Follow the rule of the Universe!! “Believe in yourself, and be good to others”

        • Vote -1 Vote +1rossiya
          September 21, 2009 at 2:57 pm

          Georgia and South Ossetia. Somalia. You need to read more, man.

        • +6 Vote -1 Vote +1Drew
          September 21, 2009 at 3:28 pm

          Northern Ireland

          • +4 Vote -1 Vote +1Vol
            September 21, 2009 at 5:35 pm

            Let us rephrase the quest here: name one conflict that does not have religious conflict at its root… Oops…

            • +2 Vote -1 Vote +1rossiya
              September 21, 2009 at 6:06 pm

              Ha touche!

            • +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Peter
              September 22, 2009 at 6:50 am

              there is no shortage of wars with non religious roots.

              To suggest otherwise is folly.

              WWI – imperialism
              WWII – WWI
              Vietnam – Fear of communism
              the Boer war – colonialism
              the american war of independence
              the war of 1812
              the american civil war
              alexander the great’s conquest of everywhere

              • +12 Vote -1 Vote +1Marc B
                September 22, 2009 at 11:32 am

                There have been some wars which have less basis in religious zealotry, Dave, but this is still true:

                More people have been killed in the name of religion than for all other reasons combined.

              • +2 Vote -1 Vote +1rossiya
                September 22, 2009 at 11:58 am

                WWII – Catholic SS Nazi Inquisition

                Vietnam – Vatican forced migration of Catholics [As in Ireland]. Instigate Catholic Communism

                All this is documented

        • +13 Vote -1 Vote +1karlos
          September 24, 2009 at 6:41 am

          Name one act of kindness, philanthropy, goodness given by a believer in god or gods that could not equally well have been given by a non-believer.
          Religiosity is the primary cause of human conflict, and all religion is based on myth, lies, untruths taught by parents to their children, not on truth, or reality. The burden of proof, of the existance of go lies with the believer, and there is none.

    • +13 Vote -1 Vote +1Miss Atheist.
      September 21, 2009 at 12:21 pm

      Wow.
      I agree with you on the Muslim part, but the atheist part?
      You’re being a little contradictory, no?
      You’re telling him not to judge an entire population of Muslims on a small handful of them that decided to attack the US.
      Well do not judge a small handful of atheists that Shockingly make headlines (because of the fact that they’re obnoxious) and group them in with the ordinary ones. Who really just think religion is pointless.

      • +1 Vote -1 Vote +1rossiya
        September 21, 2009 at 6:13 pm

        Mossad did airport security and trained these hijacker shills. US opened flight school to these stool pigeons to stage WTC. It’s all in Sibel Edmond’s testimony. Basically all major religions ultimately collude with one objective: murder all heretics. Religion itself causes terrorism.

        • Vote -1 Vote +1Celebrim
          September 22, 2009 at 6:04 am

          Ahh… ok, so you do realize you are quoting from an incoherent hate mongering web site. Nevermind.

          • -2 Vote -1 Vote +1rossiya
            September 22, 2009 at 11:42 am

            What site would that be, bub?

    • +29 Vote -1 Vote +1The Laughing Buddha
      September 22, 2009 at 5:19 pm

      Being an atheist, I’m of two minds on this.

      One mind says: Look, what you do in a privacy of your own home/temple/synagogue is your own business. Don’t ask, don’t tell.

      The other mind says: when is the last time an atheist knocked on your door and told you something horrible was going to happen to you in the future if you didn’t come to his little club meeting and pony up money for his rather lavish lifestyle?

      If I walk down the street talking to my invisible friend, your most likely reaction is to call the cops. But you would want to prosecute my kid for not participating (much less not making fun of) 28 of his classmates who want the right to do so at the beginning of the day, EVERY DAY in class.

    • -2 Vote -1 Vote +1karlos
      September 24, 2009 at 7:06 am

      how very rude and judgemental of you to speak like this of Javier, and atheists. It takes a moron to call one a moron, no? And to suggest to anyone to reevaluate their thinking is counterproductive to the discussion.

  5. -16 Vote -1 Vote +1David
    September 20, 2009 at 11:45 pm

    The main idea here is that affirmative answers to the survey questions indicate “intolerance,” “fear,” and “hatred” toward the various groups in question. Let’s test this by putting it in other contexts…

    Does a liberal who genuinely believes and declares that conservatives do not share his vision of America thereby manifest his intolerance, fear, and hatred of conservatives?

    Does an Indian-American couple who declares to hope that their children marry only persons of Indian ancestry thereby betray intolerance, fear, and hatred of all other ethnic groups?

    By insinuating that affirmative answers to the survey questions are valid indicators of intolerance, fear, and hatred, the writer attempts to steal the moral upper-hand.

    Nice try. But the fact is that atheists clearly do not share the same vision of America that many religious people have. One need look only to the to highly contested efforts between theists and atheists over prayer in public schools, mentions of God in the Pledge of Allegiance and on coinage, displays of the Ten Commandments, et cetera.

    As to the disapproval of having children marry outside one’s own group, this can be a matter of religious injunction, family tradition, or cultural survival. Typically, one wishes to transmit one’s values and traditions to subsequent generations, an objective not easily accomplished when children marry persons who are indifferent or hostile to those values and traditions.

    Tremendous sympathy and political mileage has been garnered in the U.S. by groups striking the pose of the innocent victim. This maneuver will not work for atheists.

  6. +38 Vote -1 Vote +1Adrian
    September 21, 2009 at 1:18 am

    Michael, let me offer how I feel about the ‘religious intolerance’ of atheists that your brother seems to be reflecting. I think alot of us (atheists) feel like we’re running around screaming at religious people that 1+1=2. Meanwhile, religious people keep shouting back at us that 1+1=3 and who are we to dare tell them different. We are being intolerant of their fundamental right to believe that 1+1=3.

    You’re asking you’re brother to accept that you believe in something that he finds completely irrational. Most people, theists or atheists, tend to keep irrational people at arms length. Much less give them the keys to running the country ;)

    That’s the problem. Atheists are basically sure in their opinion that all religions are essentially fantasy stories that otherwise normal people tell one another to feel better about things, to fit in to an existing majority power group, to provide easy-to-digest answers to life’s hard questions, and so forth.

    We get frustrated that others hold on so tightly to something that we find fundamentally irrational (not that religious belief itself is irrational. Take a child and fill his head with religion, and you end up with an adult theist. Nothing complicated or irrational about that, simply human psychology at work).

    You can read the intolerance in my response clear as day, I sure. But I’m trying to give you that perspective. Basically you’re brother is telling you there is no Magic Man In The Sky, and you are telling him there is. Can you not see why he rolls his eyes and shakes his head when put in those terms? He’s reacting pretty much the same way as if you told him your invisble Best Friend from childhood, a 600lb pink elephant that sleeps in your closet, is in fact as real to you as he is.

    The problem is that theists instinctively think we are also calling into question every moral precept that religion(s) claim as their own. They feel we’re dumping on all moral/civil behavior associated with said religion. Which of course is (I would hope) the furthest from the truth.

    So you can see why theists get defensive, atheists get more frustrated, and here we sit. If this survey is factual, all it does is confirm what’s been obvious about religiosity (and humans) for a long long time. Religion is an excellent tool to condition human beings to think in terms of “they are different, strange, unfamilar…ENEMY”. Primitive human survival trait at work. The more things chainge…the more they stay the same. Sadly.

    • +12 Vote -1 Vote +1Steve
      September 21, 2009 at 12:15 pm

      Excellent comment and outline of the issue. One thing I’ve recently discovered is that almost everyone thinks of himself as rational, no matter what kind of crazy stuff he believes in or how much evidence may be presented to counter his assertions. Trying to rationally argue with someone who believes himself to be rational, but is in fact not, is a losing battle. Rarely will the person actually admit that his mind cannot be changed, no matter the evidence to the contrary. This conclusion-first belief system is common among theists, which is another reason that atheists get so frustrated.

      • +10 Vote -1 Vote +1rossiya
        September 21, 2009 at 9:29 pm

        Yes well put. And in the end, that’s what belief [blind faith] constitutes: skipping a step in an otherwise reasoned train of thought. Ignoring the elephant in the living room. Attack the messengers who point out the emperor has no clothes.

    • +1 Vote -1 Vote +1AmagnonX
      September 22, 2009 at 12:51 pm

      I am agnostic – atheists may insist that 1+1=2, and others might claim 1+1=3, personally I don’t believe humans have the senses or faculty to know the difference.

      If I go to the store and buy two apples, then I take them home and try to eat them, one turns out to be rotten inside. Then 1+1=1.

      Truth is an individual action, whereby we take a piece of information and decide that it is true. We use all of our own senses and feelings in the decision – but we are so limited we have no ability to discern universal truth. Our eyes see only in a fraction of the spectrum, we can hear hardly any of the range of sounds, the sense of touch > range = zero, so what do we think we can know about our world or universe? What about relying on our experience? The earth has possibly existed for more than 4 billion years, but we might boast of living for 100 years .. scientifically, you would round that down to zero. Which is in my opinion the amount of truth we can ever know, zero.

      People believe things not because they are universally true, but simply as a matter of convenience for themselves – people are more comfortable dealing with true and false, 0 and 1 – because you can apply logic. Without true and false, then logic fails to answer the real questions.

      For me – all information is neither true or false – it is simply knowledge, from which understanding can evolve. To answer whether there is a god or not – then one must first be a god themselves. I would encourage people to free themselves of all beliefs, and to open their minds and eyes – taking away those filters and bars from their minds. When nothing is true or false – everything is possible.

      • +1 Vote -1 Vote +1rossiya
        September 23, 2009 at 5:02 pm

        Yes blind belief leads to authority worship. The church acts as an authority for the religious sheeple while the politicians act as authority for the secular. Either way, without reason people have surrendered their empowerment to swindlers with their own hidden agenda. Without reason, one surrenders his free will, which is all that distinguishes himself from a plant.

      • +8 Vote -1 Vote +1The Almighty
        September 24, 2009 at 10:56 pm

        This commentary is exactly what causes such frustration on the part of rationality. You are bringing in ‘apples’ into an oranges discussion. You’re bringing in physical information(apples) into an abstracted concept). But then you screw up on that, too. First, even if one of the apples was rotten, it would still hold true that 2 apples = 2 apples. Just because you wouldn’t eat one of them does not matter. And even more, YOU didn’t describe your setting up your equation. you moved your discussion from ‘apples’ to ‘edible apples.’ You are disingenuous, or ignorant, in your argument. So, 1 edible apple = 1 edible apple.

        However, it IS true that there are axioms which are accepted as true, like a=a. There’s no proving axioms. The thing with atheists(my preferred term is ‘rationalists’) is that they WILL change their minds if shown evidence. That’s the whole point. This is the essence of science. I would venture a guess that ALL atheists would become theists if there was modern scientific evedence (tv cameras, putting fingers into the wounds, teams of physicians, etc). Not just by some secret little cadre somewhere, but a full-on evidential driven understanding, done by a panel of medical doctors, technicians, etc. Unfortunately, those who have ‘faith’ will never do the opposite – they are NOT open-minded and will NEVER change their minds if shown evidence contrary to their opinion.

        Let’s go to your next ‘observation.’ Truth is NOT an individual action and personally decide if it’s true. This is one of the biggest load of s–t you’ve spouted. If you believe this, go out to a highway and play in traffic……Hey, if I don’t believe there are cars speeding along at 70 mph, that that’s just up to me. WROOONNG!

        Just because we can’t know everything, does that mean we know nothing, that there are no known facts? No. To specifically answer your points: our eyes see all the spectrum through tools. Obviously, you’ve never heard of infrared scopes. We have tools to see a great deal more of the spectrum. Same with sound. We have tools that allow us to magnify touch sensitivity. Even if we can’t see it, science and numbers allow us to understand and predict.

        As far as 100 years compared to 4 billion years, for those with trained, scientific minds, this is not an issue. Think. Everyone understands hard disk drives contain trillions of bytes. It’s easy to compare it to years, if you understand one, you understand the other.
        What a bunch of blather you spout (and I’m not being ‘intolerant.’ I’m just saying 1=1)

        This is why people who are rationalists (others call us atheists) are frustrated. You fully argued that 11, without showing a cohesive example (your apple example was SOOO messed up).

        • +1 Vote -1 Vote +1The Almighty
          September 24, 2009 at 11:02 pm

          That last sentence in my above post didn’t come out as written. I guess this blog doesn’t accept ‘greater than’ or ”less than characters. The sentence sould read:
          You said your axiom of “1 does not equal 1″, without showing a cohesive example (your apple example was SOOO messed up).

        • -8 Vote -1 Vote +1Hi_there
          September 25, 2009 at 5:29 pm

          You numb nut,

          You’re too dumb to realize that he was speaking metaphorically in his apples example. Basically his point is that we know very little about the way the universe works in the grand scheme of things. Even things that we take for granted to be true, may eventually turn out to be false. The more we learn about the universe, the more we realize how little we know about it.

  7. -54 Vote -1 Vote +1Chillinator
    September 21, 2009 at 4:35 am

    This is only the doing of Atheist themself. Atheist are always the “smart” ones but they cannot be that smart if the whole of America wants to kill them – stop being a d#ck about it.

    • +25 Vote -1 Vote +1Marc B
      September 21, 2009 at 12:05 pm

      “The whole of America wants to kill them”?? My, how intolerant of you and “the whole of America.”

      The evidence suggests that “the whole of America” doesn’t really “want to kill them,” after all… it is only the small minority of intolerant bigots, a position you have obviously staked out for yourself.

      Chillinator, better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

    • +7 Vote -1 Vote +1Drew
      September 21, 2009 at 3:36 pm

      ‘Chillinator’ What a great moniker! Thanks for dropping by, but wouldn’t you feel more at home watching “Ultimate Fighting Championship®?”

    • +3 Vote -1 Vote +1rossiya
      September 21, 2009 at 8:54 pm

      Chillinator makes more sense than the believers. He reasons like Roman Emperor Alexander. Christianity began as a child killing machine.

      The Vatican was built over Roman catacombs. Using secret tunnels from a network of Necropolis around the region of Vatican Hill, the secret ceremonies of Cybele, including Paulinity of child sacrifice, molestation and worship continued within the catacombs.

      Pope Victor I and his son Pope Zephinrynus I (199-205) and his son Pope Callixtus I (217-222) were far from Christian. Instead of the traditional sacrifice of children at major feast events, Victor instituted the sacrifice of children every time Mass was conducted. So bloodthirsty was their reign in the number of innocents sacrificed and corruption of office that in 222, Emperor Marcus Severus Alexander (222-235) had Callixtus executed.

      Christians were too evil and sick even for Pagan Rome!

      • -7 Vote -1 Vote +1Celebrim
        September 21, 2009 at 10:02 pm

        Pope Zephinrynus I? What scholarly research you have there. What command of facts. What am I to do in the face of such critical reasoning?

        I mean, other than advising against plagarism.

        • +1 Vote -1 Vote +1rossiya
          September 21, 2009 at 11:32 pm

          Ahh, all history that doesn’t fit christer revisionism they label “plagarism.” That being the case, why to christers plagiarize the bible every day?

          • -5 Vote -1 Vote +1Celebrim
            September 22, 2009 at 6:01 am

            Do you realize you are cutting and pasting from an incoherent conspiracy mongereing hate site that attacks the scientific method and academia as a Papist plot to destroy truth?

            • Vote -1 Vote +1rossiya
              September 22, 2009 at 12:01 pm

              I did? What site is that? And why do you copy and past from bye-bull sites if you’re such an iconoclastic, original thinker?

        • +3 Vote -1 Vote +1karlos
          September 24, 2009 at 6:46 am

          quoting from one source is plagarism….qouting from many is research….LOL

  8. -58 Vote -1 Vote +1R W Johnson
    September 21, 2009 at 6:23 am

    Many Americans dislike athiests because athiests are always trying to impose their religious beliefs (yes, believing in nothing is still a religious belief) upon others, especially Christians.

    • +25 Vote -1 Vote +1Marc B
      September 21, 2009 at 12:22 pm

      RW, this is a(nother) fairy tale the theists tell themselves to make themselves feel better about knowingly professing faith in illogical beliefs which they were usually taught before they were able to think for themselves. You are clearly confusing our passion for reason with religious zealotry.

      The very basis of athiesm is non-belief. Find a dictionary.

    • +22 Vote -1 Vote +1Drew
      September 21, 2009 at 3:17 pm

      “athiests (sic) are always trying to impose their religious beliefs”

      You’ve got backwards. It’s Christians who impose on others.

      To proselytize is intrinsic to Christianity. It happened way back in the Crusades and the Inquisition, and more recently in the 1800s with the subjugation of the Indians. It persists with CBN, TBN, the Promise, and Keepers, etc.

    • +18 Vote -1 Vote +1bil
      September 22, 2009 at 10:10 am

      Atheism isn’t a ‘religious belief’, it’s a belief about religion. The difference is they prefer to stand outside of ALL religion, because religions are thought to be illusions and fantasies born from a time where people understood little about the real underpinnings of the natural world. There is nothing to ‘impose’ on anyone but reality.

    • +17 Vote -1 Vote +1karlos
      September 24, 2009 at 7:10 am

      No, believing in nothing is just that….it is a non belief in god or gods…it is not a religion.

    • +14 Vote -1 Vote +1Alex from Israel
      September 25, 2009 at 5:21 am

      “Saying atheism is a religion is like saying health is a disease.”

      Sorry, but I don’t remember who is quoted there..

  9. +19 Vote -1 Vote +1cole
    September 21, 2009 at 7:06 am

    R W Johnson, that is rubbish. The lack of belief in something is not, in itself, a belief.

    To put it in simple terms, if Joe Smith believes that polka-dotted elephants exist in Antarctica, and takes that on faith, that is belief. If Sally Jones thinks that’s a fun story but doesn’t for one second think it’s actually true, that is not her belief. The difference between the two is a matter of faith.

    Any group is worst described by its loudest advocates; this is true of both atheists and theists alike. As an atheist, I’m not a fan of being looked on as if I have no moral code, and as if my life is meaningless. Nothing can be further from the truth, but I’ve found plenty of Christians (for instance) who simply love to look down on me. How very Christ-like, I imagine. However, many more Christians simply let it go and find something else to talk about. On the other hand, while I don’t agree with theists on matters of faith, I do feel that they have a right to go about their lives pursuing whatever they wish, I have no desire to tread on their beliefs or tell them what my opinions are; what’s the point? I’ve no desire to convert anyone.

    • -7 Vote -1 Vote +1AmagnonX
      September 22, 2009 at 1:02 pm

      I’m agnostic, and I disagree.

      To discount the existence of the polka-dotted elephants is to ascribe the information a value of zero, or false. To take a possibility and resolve it to a binary value, zero or one is necessary to apply logic – but we should understand that the decision to ascribe a value of zero to the possibility is an act of belief, in fact it is a definition of belief – to destroy the infinite possibility of data by resolving it to a binary state.

      While I might think it unlikely that polka-dotted elephants exist in Antarctica – I have no personal experience with Antarctica – but it does seem inconsistent with my understanding both of Antarctica and elephants. I would be somewhat surprised if it were true – but to discount anything is to believe the opposite.

      Atheism is a belief.

      • +8 Vote -1 Vote +1Marc B
        September 22, 2009 at 1:20 pm

        From the American Heritage dictionary:

        a·the·ism (?’th?-?z’?m)
        n. 1.Disbelief in or denial of the existence of God or gods.

        2.The doctrine that there is no God or gods.

        ——–

        Disbelief is not the same as belief… it is, in fact, the opposite (notice the “dis” in front of the word, which means “’apart,’ ‘asunder,’ ‘away,’ ‘utterly,’ or having a privative, negative, or reversing force”).

        Cole is right and you are wrong about atheism being a belief.

      • +3 Vote -1 Vote +1The Almighty
        September 24, 2009 at 11:14 pm

        By your very own, very own reasoning, atheism is not a belief. And it is a belief. And it’s anything else we want it to be.

        You yourself said that nothing can be binary value of 1 or 0. This identical reasoning must apply to atheism itself.

        Your conclusion that atheism is a belief is a religion is incorrect, based on your reasoning, and really, anything is anything, because we just don’t know. You are defeated by your own argument. what you say is that nothing is nothing. or anything is anything. or that nothing is anything. Take your pick.

  10. +31 Vote -1 Vote +1cole
    September 21, 2009 at 7:14 am

    If I may be so bold as to speak for many atheists, I think that the primary irritant is not faith itself, but organized religion. Theists can certainly believe whatever they wish, that is not at issue in my mind; on the other hand, the organization of religion and subsequent politicization of that movement is fundamentally disturbing. It wouldn’t be so bad if the pulpits were not used as instruments of politics. It seems to me that faith should be a private matter–one’s communal with God or gods should not have to go through an intermediary, but be a direct connection. I just wish people would think for themselves.

    • +8 Vote -1 Vote +1Martha
      September 23, 2009 at 3:41 pm

      Well said. cheers.

    • +5 Vote -1 Vote +1The Almighty
      September 24, 2009 at 11:28 pm

      Yes, organized religion is an irritant, to be sure. However, it IS faith itself that’s the issue. Faith specifically rules out evidence to the contrary.

      Don’t apologize (directly or indirectly) for rationality, facts, and changing your worldview when new facts are discovered.

      If people want to think they have a direct connection with Thor, Athena, Zeus, hey, get down and boogie, brothers and sisters. But don’t expect me to party with you, unless there’s free beer.
      I’ll be happy to believe. In the beer, at least.

  11. -43 Vote -1 Vote +1Celebrim
    September 21, 2009 at 7:33 am

    This is because Atheists are far more annoying an intolerant than any group of people. I’d rather invite Jehovah’s Witness or Mormon missionaries into my house for a talk than your average atheist
    General qualities of the average atheist:
    1) He thinks he’s smarter than everyone else. He feels free to sneeringly insult the intelligence of everyone who doesn’t agree with him.
    2) They are pushy about their religious beliefs. You can know a Mormon or a conservative Christian for years without know it much less get hit over the head with an attempt to convert you much less have this attempt to convert you take the form of ‘you are so stupid for disagreeing with me. You can know a homosexual for years without knowing about their private life much less pushing off unwelcome sexual advances. But atheists are typically on their angry little crusade against religion almost daily get in anti-religious crusades and heaven help you if you get in their way. It’s enough to turn off and annoy even people that are generally indifferent to religion much less actual people of Faith.
    3) They tend to speak of religion in apocalyptic terms. That is they openly look forward to a future in which religious belief has been destroyed and some sort of utopia is achieved on Earth when this occurs. For example read just about any atheist Sci-Fi author starting with Arthur C. Clark. Sadly it’s not just preachy authors but the culture as a whole. People generally don’t like listening to someone else’s apocalyptic religious beliefs. It’s somewhat akin to being told by someone that the good religious people are going to be raptured, and then the people that will be left behind will face torment and disaster appearing to be gleeful about this prospect.
    4) Atheists tend to hold very high opinions of themselves and tend to be extremely self-righteous in ways that don’t accord with ordinary peoples experience with them. For example, when an atheist brags to me about how atheists have high standards of ethics, my thoughts immediately turn to the atheists I’ve met and the ethical pronouncements I’ve heard them make in my presence, which are generally relativist at best: ”it’s ok to persecute this group, because they are wrong”, “it’s ok to do this, because it feels good”, “it’s ok to steal from faceless corporations because corporations are evil”.
    5) Atheists rather arrogantly claim to be ‘critical thinkers’, but my experience tends to show that they are just as biased, bigoted, and unthinking as anyone else.

    Now, at this point you are probably ranting about how this is all untrue. But let’s look at the evidence within this thread shall we. Can we find examples of this in the language of the OP and those that comment afterwards and the longer this goes, the more evidence we’ll find.

    I think David’s point is particularly critical. The whole studied is flawed. The questions don’t indicate which groups are the target of discrimination – the questions indicate which groups hold opinions which are unpopular. For example, if an atheist answered the question “This group does not at all agree with my vision of American society” by indicating ‘Conservative Christians’, would it mean that the atheist was a hateful intolerant person who discriminated against Conservative Christians? Possibly, but it might also just mean that he didn’t agree with the vision of Conservative Christians or Muslims, or some other group’s vision for American society, or at least that he disagreed with what he perceived their vision to be. Likewise, if a atheist answered the question, “I would disapprove if my child wanted to marry a member of this group.” with “Conservative Christian” or “Moslem”, would it mean that that atheist was a bigoted, hateful person, or would it simply mean that he disagreed with the beliefs of that group and would not want to see his grandchildren raised to those different cultural standards, etc. All the survey really establishes is that atheists hold beliefs held only by a small minority of the population. Any real critical thinker ought to immediately pick up on that, or at the very least be very skeptical of believing things about the group that they belong to with are convenient and flattering to believe. For example, for just once it would be nice for an atheist to consider the idea that perhaps people who don’t agree with them are reasonable people who do not believe as they do only because they are somehow defective in some way. This would seem to me to be the very definition of the ‘open mindedness’ they claim to prize so much, but it is in very little evidence among atheists.

    • +25 Vote -1 Vote +1Dave
      September 21, 2009 at 8:17 am

      Lot of hate for atheists in this posting, pretty much validates the study.

      I am atheist, however because of persons like “Celebrim” I do not share this with anyone but my closest. I don’t wish to be persecuted by the religious intolerant of which there are many.

      • -2 Vote -1 Vote +1FredT
        September 21, 2009 at 9:52 am

        OTOH I am an evangelical Atheist. I think it a sin to waste all of that time singing to someone who isn’t there and giving all that money to charlatans and the self delusional. At least it should be going to taxes.

      • -18 Vote -1 Vote +1Celebrim
        September 21, 2009 at 12:34 pm

        Not much critical thinking in that either if you think anything I could say ‘validates the study’.

        There are plenty of religious people that don’t share their beliefs with anyone but their closest as well, just because they don’t want to be persecuted by the religious interant of of which there are indeed many. This doesn’t put atheists in any particular special category other than a minority.

        • +4 Vote -1 Vote +1rossiya
          September 22, 2009 at 2:48 pm

          Take a stats course.

    • +21 Vote -1 Vote +1MG
      September 22, 2009 at 4:47 pm

      Celebrim you have some really strange atheists. “most” atheists, like “most” christians etc don’t preach are take themselves to be any smarter or more superior than anyone else. Most atheists are just like everyone else. If you’d ever care to understand an atheist at least understand these few points.

      1) We are a striking minority and while you are clearly not aware of it, we live in a society where we are constantly inundated with religion in our everyday lives. It permeates the little stories that people tell, it’s in every birth, wedding, funeral. It’s in every political speech and every sporting event (since 9/11). When you don’t believe in creators or life after death every one of these things reminds you how at odds you are with the rest of the country. Most of us just take it. We actively hide our beliefs from family, we quietly respect those that go on about miracles and heavenly voices, despite how much it conflicts with our beliefs. If you think atheists are pushy, your head would explode if you weren’t a christian.

      2) Many atheists come to their beliefs during their lives, often from religious backgrounds. Many of us struggle in giving up religion and belief in a God or Gods. This means they’ve often given a lot of thought to the nature of the universe. If they seem self-rightous to you it might be that you’re actually just encountering someone who has given a lot of thought to why they believe what they believe, perhaps more than you. It is a common response to label someone as an “elitist” or “self-rightous”, “snobby” etc when faced with someone who spends a lot more time thinking about a particular topic.

      3) Atheists have a standard of ethics that is, on the whole, identical to just about everyone else. But Atheists constantly have to hear how atheism leads to amorality, communism, nazism etc etc. The truth is that basic human ethics and decency may have been written down in your bible but they do not come from the bible. The boiled down human morality; don’t kill a bunch of people, be nice, don’t take stuff, is intrinsic to Human societies, as we see it in every culture across the globe.

      Celebrim, If an Atheist you’re talking to gets a little preachy about this point (or any of the points above) cut him some slack and just try and imagine what it must be like to live in a world that thinks his beliefs will lead to the downfall of man. They also believe, as i’m guessing you do, that we’ll all be suffering for eternity for our beliefs. So go easy on us while we’re all here and when you get to your heaven feel free to laugh and complain about us then.

    • +10 Vote -1 Vote +1Martha
      September 23, 2009 at 3:47 pm

      You seem to have had some bad encounters and now lump all atheists in your rant against them. I could just as easily rant about all the intolerant theists I have encountered who fit your every point. If a theist is intolerant it is seen justified as “preaching” and rightfully promoting their beliefs; if an atheist preaches it is seen as intolerant. Only the theists have a right to preach about their views?

    • +6 Vote -1 Vote +1karlos
      September 24, 2009 at 7:23 am

      such pain and misinformation you must be suffering, poor soul. It’s much easier to not believe, surely. Which part of belief, faith, as taught to you by your parents, is not based on myth, delusion? If you had happened to be born in, say, Hyderabad, India, you would almost certainly be a Muslim, but no less delusional.

  12. -19 Vote -1 Vote +1Celebrim
    September 21, 2009 at 7:51 am

    “The lack of belief in something is not, in itself, a belief.”

    Sure it is.

    “To put it in simple terms, if Joe Smith believes that polka-dotted elephants exist in Antarctica, and takes that on faith, that is belief. If Sally Jones thinks that’s a fun story but doesn’t for one second think it’s actually true, that is not her belief.”

    Look again at the sentense. Every you wrote ‘think’, you can write ‘belief’ and the senstence means the same thing.

    “Sally Jones believes that’s a fun story but doesn’t for one second believe it’s actually true.”

    “The difference between the two is a matter of faith.”

    No, there is at the level you made the statements, no difference.

    Joe Smith believes based on the evidence that he has (whatever it is, even if only, “Bob told me that there are polka-dotted Elephants in antarctica and I have a high degree of confidence in what Bob tells me.”) that polka-dotted Elephants exist in the antarctic. Sally Jones believes based on the evidence that he has (whatever it is, even if it is only Bill told me that the polka-dotted elephant story is a myth and I have a high degree of confidence in what Bill tells me.”) that polka-dotted Elephants don’t exist in the antarctic. Very likely, neither has verified what they believe at a very deep level, and both persons convicitions are held on Faith.

    For example, I hold it on Faith that the Sun does not revolve around the Earth. I hold this to be true because a large number of people also believe this, because the story appears to be reasonable, and that they have told me that I can observationally verify that it is so and it seems unlikely that I would be told these things if it was not true. I however have never actually conducted the necessary observations to verify for myself that the Sun does not revolve around the Earth. I believe that I could if I wanted to, but I’ve never felt the need to question strongly what I believe. I trust that I’ve been told the truth, even though I can look up in the sky any time I want and observe (what I believe to be an illusion) of the sun revolving around the Earth rising on one side and setting on another. That is Faith and it is fundamentally no different from Faith in a religious being.

    Indeed, if we are to assume that people tend to hold their beliefs for reasonable reasons, it is very likely that most people are religious because they’ve personally conducted more observations about the reality of the ‘Magic Man in the Sky’ than they have about the relative positions and motions of the celestial bodies. This is why it is so difficult to argue with anyone about their beliefs, because what you have to overcome is not merely their confidence in what they’ve been told and the trust they have for the people who told it to them, but also their own experiences.

    If I had never learned, “The Sun doesn’t orbit around the Earth.”, and you now came to try to convince me of your Faith and convert me to it, my first objection would be, “I’ve seen the Sun orbit around the Earth every day, and you are trying to tell me that what I have experienced I in fact haven’t. That’s ridiculous. I know what I’ve experienced; you must be insane.”

    • +17 Vote -1 Vote +1cole
      September 21, 2009 at 11:10 am

      Perhaps I should talk a little further about our Joe and Sally, then, to clear this up beyond a matter of semantics.

      Joe has heard it from an unreliable source that polka-dotted pachiderms trumpet on the vast stretches of the frozen Antarctic. From this hearsay he creates a belief system in which such a thing is true. That is faith.

      Sally has the weight of critical thinking on her side–she knows that she has only ever heard of two kinds of elephants, the Asian and African varieties, neither of which bear polka-dots (an unusual trait in itself) or live in the Antarctic. Moreover, she knows that there aren’t many animals that frequent the Antarctic, much less large mammals.

      At this point it can become a matter of faith for Sally. If Sally, never having scoured every mile of that vast continent, believes there is no world in which it is possible that a polka-dotted elephant resides in Antarctica, even in the face of verifiable, concrete evidence (nature documentaries, for instance), then that certainly IS faith in a negative; she has made an ‘a priori’ judgment. If, however, Sally has no knowledge of the positive being true beyond hearsay from an unreliable source (Joe) which stands in contradiction to the bulk of experience she currently has, she will continue to have ‘a posteriori’ knowledge of the negative, unless/until such time as she receives the aforementioned verifiable, concrete evidence. This is the difference, as said in another comment, between “hard” and “soft” atheism.

      Some hold that soft atheism is in fact agnosticism, but I don’t think this to be the case; there is a difference between saying “I’ve no good reason to believe there are polka-dotted elephants in Antarctica” (soft atheism) and “I don’t care if there are or aren’t polka-dotted elephants in Antarctica” (agnosticism). Hard atheism is simply “there are no .. ” etc etc. Because a negative cannot be proven in the empirical world, without an infinite amount of experience, the hard atheist does indeed have faith of sorts in the negative.

      • -19 Vote -1 Vote +1Celebrim
        September 21, 2009 at 1:34 pm

        You have really established with any of that that belief in nonexistance of somethign is not a category of belief.

        I think your ‘clarification’ is rather revealing as to what it demonstrates about the definition of ‘Faith’ you are using.

        You have essentially argued:

        “Joe has faith and Sally does not because Sally is right. Faith is believing in things that aren’t true. If you believe in something that is true, it isn’t faith.”

        That is pretty typical for what atheists are taught about faith and belief, but that special definition really has nothing to do with the dictionary definition which is merely ‘trust’. Faith is the trust you have in something, in this case the evidence behind you belief.

        Suppose Joe believes, “There are Leopards living in the wild in China and other parts of Asia.” He believes that only because of hearsay. He has no evidence at all for his belief, but because he’s generally unskeptical of what people tell him, he takes it on faith that it is true.

        Now, Joe goes to Sally and says, “There are Leopards living in the wild in China.” Sally, being a more skeptical sort, rejects this claim. She cites the fact that everyone knows Leopards are from Africa. She has verifiable concrete evidence of this in her mind in that she has seen many nature documentaries and none of them showed Leopards living anywhere but Africa. She knows that Asia has had significant environmental destruction do to overpopulation and it doesn’t seem reasonable that many large carnivores would exist in Asia, and she knows of an Asian Leapord cat, and tells Joe that he’s wrong and his source must have confused the similar names and gave him false information.

        Sally believes she is not operating on the basis of faith because she has what she thinks are lots of facts, and Joe only has ‘hearsay’. Sally has no faith in Joe. She does not trust his information to be reliable. She does have faith in nature documentaries, because they are on TV and you can believe things you saw on TV.

        Let’s look at what you wrote again.

        “Sally has the weight of critical thinking on her side–she knows that she has only ever heard of two kinds of elephants, the Asian and African varieties, neither of which bear polka-dots (an unusual trait in itself) or live in the Antarctic. Moreover, she knows that there aren’t many animals that frequent the Antarctic, much less large mammals.”

        None of the reasons you gave, while they are valid reasons, is evidence of ‘critical thinking’. Sally believes what she believes because of hearsay. She has been told there are two kinds of elephant. She has never seen pictures of a polka dot elephant, nor has she heard any report of a large land animal living in the Antarctic. No critical thinking is taking place on Sally’s part.

        No real critical thinking is taking part on Sally’s part when she rejects Joe’s claim either. Sally believes she is thinking critically, but really all Sally is doing is defending her faith in her current conviction, “Leopards are from Africa.”, because that is what she has been taught. No real critical thinking is going on on Sally’s part because she ought to notice that while she has evidence of the claim, “Leopards live in Africa” (albiet only hearsay and ancidotal evidence) she has no real evidence either way about Leopards living in China. She takes it on faith that if Leopards really did live in China, she would have heard about it before now. She believes in the negative.

        Joe on the other hand does have some evidence that Leopards live in China – someone told him that they do. It is only hearsay evidence, but so for that matter is his evidence that they live in Africa because he’s never been either place. Joe’s believes in the positive.

        Now, do Leopards live in the wild in China? I don’t actually know. What do you think?

        • +11 Vote -1 Vote +1cole
          September 21, 2009 at 3:45 pm

          Respectfully, you misunderstand me. I was raised as a rather devout Protestant, so I was taught no such thing about the meaning of “faith” as you have decided that I have.

          It has absolutely nothing to do with being correct or incorrect. My example could just have easily been the existence of “a creature possessing the bill of a duck, the tail of a beaver, and the feet of an otter,” as described before common knowledge of such a beast. Joe Smythe (of the Olde Smythes) had heard of this curious creature from an intrepid uncle and, trusting said uncle, believed him. Sally Wheelwright, on the other hand, thought such an absurd creature preposterous! and was disinclined to believe him, and most of anything else that he claimed afterwards.

          If Sally later saw field descriptions of the platypus, heard about it from other first-hand witnesses, and read about in the newspaper, she would have to either continue having faith that such a thing does not exist, or change her knowledge to include the possibility of such a thing (whether requiring first-hand experience or not, it is up to her and how rigorous she feels). In the latter situation, what she has is not faith, but instead “knowledge” (whether correct or incorrect).

          The same can be extended to the pre-Copernican idea of the sun revolving about the Earth, as you yourself brought up earlier. The truth of the matter is not at issue here–simply how one approaches the world around them and integrates experience with what one views to be the state of the world.

          As to the level of critical thinking going on in my example on Sally’s part–it’s meager, but it’s there. There is synthesis occuring, between two propositions which she considers trusted: (i) there are only two types of elephants in the world, (ii) two types of elephant are Asian and African which reside in the Indian subcontinent, Asia Minor, Africa, [etc etc, but NOT including Antarctica], with certain characteristics comprising.. [etc etc, but NOT including polka dots], and then logically contrasted with Joe’s proposition (iii) there exist polka-dotted elephants in Antarctica, leading to a contradiction. Sally must then decide whether to reject Joe’s proposition, if she finds his evidence uncompelling, or integrate it into her own knowledge and resolve the contradiction in some manner (perhaps by allowing that the first source was incorrect and that there are in fact three major types of elephants).

          Again, Sally would have *faith* in the negative if she was unwilling to budge from her position that polka-dotted elephants absolutely do not exist, anywhere, but especially not in Antarctica, evidence to the contrary be damned! She is taking an illogical position. Should she be open to more conclusive evidence from trusted sources, but in the meantime maintain the knowledge that such creatures do not exist–that is rational. Note that whether Sally can, given her knowledge, rationally believe in such a creature has nothing to do with the actual empirical existence of the creature itself. That task is for empirical study, not logic.

          Faith is about believing something, no matter what–it is complete trust in something. In the religious sense, it’s an unerring compass pointer to the Divine, whatever one decides that that is. In the hard atheist’s case, it’s an unerring compass that points in the opposite direction. Neither position is, in itself, logical. The soft atheist recognizes this and has decided that they would rather be rational about the whole matter and, given their knowledge of the world (limited as it may be), thinks that there’s not a lot of good reason to believe in God/gods.

          As a thought experiment, I ask of you: if God came down from on high and stood before you, would you have Faith in Him, in the religious sense of the word? Or would the absolute empirical knowledge of Him eradicate Faith and replace it with knowledge? I propose that the second is the case.

          One interesting group were the deists, who later became groups such as the Unitarians–they approached religion from a rational viewpoint and decided that, as far as they could tell, the whole universe is rather fantastic and must have been programmed by an omnipotent power, who happens to just be content with watching his intricate machinations play out and not really getting involved. Those guys are to the theists as soft atheists are to hard atheists, I’d say.

          • -14 Vote -1 Vote +1Celebrim
            September 21, 2009 at 5:22 pm

            Respectfully, that does not convince me that I misunderstood you.

            You state: “It has absolutely nothing to do with being correct or incorrect…Faith is about believing something, no matter what–it is complete trust in something.”

            You have defined knowledge as belief in something which is substantiated first hand, which is fine. But you haven’t defined faith as belief in something which has not been substantiated, but rather as belief in something that continues even when it has been substantially disproved (that ‘no matter what’ clause). If someone had faith in something that they had first hand experience of its untruth, that wouldn’t be faith – it would be insanity.

            Hense, you haven’t disconnected faith from the notion of untruth at all, and for that matter I reject that faith is the opposite of knowledge.

            Both special definitions don’t match the definition you’d find in a dictionary. I can have faith in something even when I have first hand experience of it, and in particular the more first hand experience I have, the more knowledge I have, the more faith in it you’d expect me to have.

            For example, I might no Joe. I might learn that Joe is trustworthy, and hense I will have faith in Joe. The longer Joe proves to be trustworthy, the more faith – the more confidence I will have in him. Whereas, I will have little faith in John if I do not know him. Or, suppose I’m an engineer with a long experience with the Acme Widget Z. I have learned from experience that the Widget Z is a reliable part, and so I will have full faith in it to do the job in even the most extreme conditions. Whereas, I have no experience with the Spacely Sprocket G and will put less confidence in it if I’m forced to use it.

            If God where to come and present himself in His Glory to me, then that would be a significant reason to have faith in Him. The problem with your definition of Faith is that it presumes that if you have knowledge, you don’t have faith, which is ridiculous. The less knowledge you have the less faith you can be expected to have. It is unreasonable to expect anyone to have much faith in something that they have no knowledge of.

            • +8 Vote -1 Vote +1cole
              September 21, 2009 at 6:27 pm

              That’s just the thing — you’re conflating “faith” and “confidence.”

              When I speak of Faith in the religious sense (not simply confidence), it is in the sense given by the dictionary (see Merriam Webster, definition 2). However, I don’t want this to devolve into a “well the dictionary says so and so.” I will strive to make my position on this matter more clear, I’m afraid I’ve not done a good job so far.

              Faith, in the religious sense, goes further than just “confidence.”

              In the religious sense, specifically in many Christian doctrines, Faith is something that involves absolute trust in God and His wisdom, and belief in that with or without any real tangible proof. For an example, I will pull from my own upbringing as a Presbyterian. Calvinistic and predeterministic by doctrine, Presbyterians do not believe that mankind can be “saved” by their own actions–whether or not they are righteous in life is irrelevant, their seat in Heaven is either reserved or it isn’t and that’s that. Faith, in that tradition, is trusting that God will make the correct choice about our immortal soul. Faith in the religious sense doesn’t emerge from rational thought (or irrational thought, for that matter)–it comes through weathering trials and tribulations and still maintaining a belief in God, much as Job did, or Abraham.

              This is what I’m working with as a definition and description of Faith, as relates to religion. What do you think?

              In reviewing that line of thinking, I concede that my thought experiment is a failure. Because Faith and knowledge are two separate systems (Faith being philosophical, knowledge being empirical), absolute knowledge will not destroy Faith. That’s not to say that the two do not interact, as you point out–the more knowledge you have of God, the more Faith you might develop.

              I feel that this is still consistent with all else that I’ve written, however, though re-directing Joe’s “confidence” into “Faith” in God, and not hypothetical pachyderms. Or platypuses. Obviously, it’s difficult to talk about Faith without bringing God into the picture, though now I must in order to be consistent with my definition above; I’ve been hesitant to do so because I don’t wish to impose. The bottom line for me is this: take Joe to be a believer in God, with Faith, whereas Sally is not and has not. Joe’s position is what it is, so I’ll leave that be–as for our Sally, she either has never had Faith or has lost it for whatever reason. She does not believe in God, because her experience and knowledge of the world does not support it, and without that particular philosophical system of Faith in place she’s got nothing left but to decide that God does not exist, but she’s willing to eat crow later on if compelling evidence does present itself to her (perhaps igniting Faith). In making this rational decision, she doesn’t arbitrarily choose one position over the other as it seems ridiculous to arbitrarily decide that God exists, or purple unicorns that cough Lucky Charms exist, etc. She has a lack of Belief, a lack of Faith, and a rational and consistent worldview.

            • +4 Vote -1 Vote +1cole
              September 21, 2009 at 7:01 pm

              As other things are calling, this will be my last reply. I’ll check back to see if you’ve added anything, later, but I give you the final word on this.

              While I’m afraid we must agree to disagree, it has definitely been an interesting conversation and I feel like I have learned from it and refined my own viewpoints. So, thank you! Cheers.

              • -1 Vote -1 Vote +1Celebrim
                September 21, 2009 at 7:58 pm

                I’m going to back up and reply to you further up the tree, just because this knife edge is getting a little to thin to write on.

          • -7 Vote -1 Vote +1Celebrim
            September 21, 2009 at 8:24 pm

            This is a reply from deeper down the tree, placed here because the nesting problem is getting extreme.

            Faith, even in the religious sense, never goes further than trust and confidence. What changes is the object of the faith. Faith in God isn’t different from any other sort of faith except that its target is God. The property of unconditional faith in God isn’t a property of the faith, but a property of the thing that the faith points too. Because God isn’t like anything actually in the universe – he’s infinite, boundless, unchanging, etc. – a faith placed in him may be limitlessly secure in a way that a faith placed in Joe or Acme Widgets may never be.

            However, being of this world, no person is actually expected to have this unlimited and unconditional faith, and people actually in the world are expected to acquire, grow and sustain their faith through actual experiences, whether it be the inspired workings of their own reason or else their direct and indirect encounters with God and his works.

            I think that non-religious people get very much too caught up in the notion of faith as, ‘Believing God exists’, which is a rather trivial sort of faith and frankly is in and of itself of little value to anyone. For religious people, the question of Faith is entirely one of trust and confidence, and not of mere belief.

            You keep trying to tell me that you don’t mean to say of faith that what makes it faith is that it is ‘wrong’, but then you keep saying things like, “She has a lack of Belief, a lack of Faith, and a rational and consistent worldview.”

            Are you sure you don’t mean to imply that Joe doesn’t have a rational and consistant worldview? For that matter, how can we be sure that because she has a lack of faith, that she has a rational and consitant world view. Surely there are plenty of people out there who, despite their lack of faith, have faulty and inconsitant reasoning? In fact, given the limited powers of the human mind, wouldn’t we expect that most people – whether they had faith or not – would have faulty and inconsistant reasoning? You seem to me to have a great deal of faith in Sally’s reason. And what makes you sure that Joe has arbitrarily chosen faith? And further, while Sally may have a lack of Belief [in God] and a lack of Faith [in God], it by no means percludes her from having alot of faith and belief in something else. It’s quite possible that Sally has an unshakable conviction and confidence in something, what you are capitalizing as ‘Faith’, even if it isn’t in a divine being or providence.

            Or in short, I continue to reject your false dichotomy of faith and knowledge pertaining to to different systems.

        • +1 Vote -1 Vote +1cole
          September 21, 2009 at 4:29 pm

          Let me further add–I don’t consider the belief in God/gods to be necessarily irrational.

          If one has personal experience (knowledge) that lends itself toward the existence of Divinity, knowledge that is consistent with the empirical world, that is logical.

          • +1 Vote -1 Vote +1rossiya
            September 24, 2009 at 6:59 pm

            > belief in God/gods to be necessarily irrational.

            Belief itself is irrational

            >knowledge that is consistent

            Then it’s not a belief, is it?

    • +5 Vote -1 Vote +1rossiya
      September 21, 2009 at 8:16 pm

      If Sally THOUGHT, she would reference KNOWLEDGE. Belief is ASSUMING knowledge. Try that on your next exam, Einstein. See how far that gets you. Tell your professor you ASSUMED it was true, because it came in nice, shiny wrapping paper.

      What you’re really saying is that you worship authority, and are a wannabe fascist, but not before the Vatican trains another Hitler.

      • -10 Vote -1 Vote +1Celebrim
        September 21, 2009 at 9:43 pm

        Yeah, that’s telling me. I’m really told off now. I believe the appropriate response in these situations is perform ‘I’m rubber and your glue’ cantrip, but since I never was one of the cool kids, I’ll instead just tell you to go read the classics. Start with Plato and work your way up to Hofstadter, and by then maybe you’ll see how funny your, “I don’t have an education but I assume I know everything” claim is.

        Crede, ut intelligas.

        • Vote -1 Vote +1rossiya
          September 21, 2009 at 11:41 pm

          Yeah your pass/fail classes at Billy Grahn Uni just blew me off my high horse. How can you be so worldly and erudite yet maintain your drunkenly inchoate comebacks?

  13. +18 Vote -1 Vote +1newstogod
    September 21, 2009 at 9:11 am

    My goodness, it’s apparent none of you have really met an Atheist. I am an Atheist. We are no more defensive of our position than any believer group. We don’t knock on doors have or TV shows that beg for money. We are not terrorists — we just don’t believe in god. We don’t kill, steal, any of that stuff. We have morals from logical thinking not some church hell and brimstone nonsense. I think we do tend to be more intelligent, I suspect, but that stands to reason; it takes courage to be an Atheist. Take care.

    • -11 Vote -1 Vote +1Diego
      September 21, 2009 at 9:16 am

      Absolutely. if your beliefs (or lack thereof) get you through the day, I’m happy for you! We can all get along.

      Our problem is when you get in our face about it and call what we beleive nonsense, as much as when we tell you that your nihilistic belief is cold, depressing, and flawed.

      Goes both ways.

      • +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Random Atheist
        September 22, 2009 at 10:57 pm

        Most of the time, most people will just go about their day and their religious beliefs (or lack thereof) don’t get mentioned. It’s only when something comes up (e.g. in conversation, or an event they wouldn’t feel comfortable attending due to their beliefs or lack thereof) that people will feel the need to bring up their particular religion or that they are an Atheist.

        The people who get in your face about it are usually fairly new ‘converts’ (they have recently changed their beliefs, opinions, philosophy, worldview political stance, etc.) and want to enlighten people, share with people of a similar view, and may scorn those with different ideas.

        Those who continue to be vocal after a long time is because they feel there is a danger (to themselves, to people with similar ideas, to society, to others) if they become quiet. These people will probably not get in the face of your average person unless it is brought up in conversation, something provokes them, their religion exhorts them to do so, they feel it is dangerous for that particular person to have those beliefs (or lack of), or if they care about the person and feel that what that person believes (or doesn’t believe) is a danger to that person. They are most likely to speak out in public forums, write letters to the editor, etc.

  14. -18 Vote -1 Vote +1Diego
    September 21, 2009 at 9:13 am

    @adrian:

    “I think alot of us (atheists) feel like we’re running around screaming at religious people that 1+1=2. Meanwhile, religious people keep shouting back at us that 1+1=3 and who are we to dare tell them different. We are being intolerant of their fundamental right to believe that 1+1=3.”

    First off religious people believe that 1+1=2. Terrible example you have there.

    Atheists hold a false belief when they fall on their dogma to imply that religious people believe 1+1=3, which is insulting to us, hence the antipathy towards the outspoken and belligerent atheists.

    Outspoken Atheists think it is their job to explain to the majority populace that the universe is cold, random, unfeeling, and base their beliefs on the limited logical reasoning of flawed human beings and their limited perceptions of the universe. They try using overclocked monkey brains to denouce the architect of the universe, and tell us we have to place our trust in science that changes on a daily basis.

    Science is valid, science is convincing. It also happens to be the science that was put in place by the guy who makes the rule, a footprint for us to discover as we ‘grow up.’ It still doesn’t explain everything, hence why Atheism will remain a fringe belief.

    • +4 Vote -1 Vote +1Dave
      September 21, 2009 at 9:43 am

      Diego and Adrian are both making a good point- both athiests and theists feel that the other side believes something differently, and neither side can “prove” their belief one way or another. What I think both sides need to remember is that belief or lack thereof is not a decision that is taken lightly by most people- both sides believe they are acting logically, and both sides need to respect that sometimes, someone else will come to a different conclusion. The only fair way of handling this is to give others the benefit of the doubt in terms of our assumptions about them, and ensuring that we are all equal politically.

      What I have a problem with is the generalizations that come from both sides- from the religious, that all atheists are obnoxious, morally-bankrupt people and from atheists, that all theists are foolish or just haven’t yet come to their senses. Let’s agree to disagree.

    • Vote -1 Vote +1Peter
      September 21, 2009 at 7:30 pm

      “First off religious people believe that 1+1=2. Terrible example you have there.”

      I will grant you that Adrian’s example is quite dismissive and I think you are entitled to be upset by it.

      I have to admit I like your bit about the ‘overclocked monkey brain’

      What would such an architect have us do but study the laws it put in place and make reasonable conjecture based on observations? Science doesn’t explain everything but it may someday. I mean really what option do we have? How would a grand architect expect me to choose which slavery sanctioning book to follow?

      Am I being unreasonable?

    • +1 Vote -1 Vote +1rossiya
      September 21, 2009 at 7:59 pm

      Poor Diego is fixated on belief. When you carry a hammer, everything looks like a nail. He has yet to cross the event horizon into the real world where reason displaces sensation and animal instinct.

      • -1 Vote -1 Vote +1Peter
        September 21, 2009 at 8:10 pm

        I would humbly suggest you not approach Diego with such righteousness.

  15. +9 Vote -1 Vote +1Dave
    September 21, 2009 at 9:19 am

    Many of these comments seem to support the conclusion of the article.

    • +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Peter
      September 21, 2009 at 6:49 pm

      /agree

  16. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Peter
    September 21, 2009 at 9:54 am

    First off Cole I’d like to say that I find your quote -

    “Any group is worst described by its loudest advocates”

    to be rather profound. (Although I think I prefer it with ‘represented’ in place of described)

    Secondly I would like to apologize to you on behalf of atheists that have exhibited the regrettable tendencies described above. I will try to keep your perceptions in my mind when engaging in debate.

    Next I would like to quote the [Canadian] Oxford Dictionary (because it’s the one I have on my desk) with respect to the assertion that atheism is a religion;

    Religion 1. The belief in a superhuman controlling power, esp. in a personal God or gods entitled to obedience and worship. 2. The expression of this in worship. 3. a particular system of faith and worship. 4. life under monastic vows (the way of religion). 5. A thing that one is strongly devoted to (Football is their religion).

    So atheism is clearly not a religion by definitions 1, 2, or 4. Definition 5 refers to a colloquial use of the word and is not of interest (many things qualify as a religion by this definition).

    Definition 3 is where people tend to lump atheism in as a religion. I think that perhaps this is because it is unclear what constitutes faith. Some would have you believe that this is a binary system and there is no middle ground; you either have faith in X or faith in !X.

    Do you think I am doing a handstand while I type this? You probably don’t, but do you have faith that I am not? You have (probably) declined acceptance of an unlikely proposition, pending further evidence.

    Many (if not most) atheists fall into this category (often called soft atheism). Where they do not believe in a god but are willing to consider new evidence and entertain new arguments. However there are some atheists (hard atheists) that could be said to have faith there is no God. Refusing to entertain arguments and just generally dismissing the whole thing.

    What are your thoughts?

    • +5 Vote -1 Vote +1cole
      September 21, 2009 at 12:13 pm

      Peter,

      Thank you.

      I agree with the concept of hard and soft atheism. In terms of faith, or belief, I think hard atheists and theists both have it: the theist believes in proposition X, the hard atheist believes in !X, as you say.

      Of course, just as the theist’s faith may waver in times of adversity, so too can the hard atheist’s. While these two groups are polar opposites in what they believe, they still fall within a spectrum of belief.

      The agnostic, on the other hand, is off getting burgers down the street and doesn’t much care either way. The soft atheist is likely with him, but he’s given the theist and the hard atheist his mobile number in case they eventually figure it out.

      • -2 Vote -1 Vote +1Peter
        September 21, 2009 at 8:08 pm

        Frankly Cole

        That is a very muddled and confusing metaphor.

      • +4 Vote -1 Vote +1rossiya
        September 22, 2009 at 12:51 am

        The atheist is a nonbeliever, which fanatics perceive as an invitation to attack. The agnostic has no idea what to think, so in effect stays out of the picture. The hard atheist is expressing belief, but a quantifiable statistical variant well within the confidence interval. It would be more correct to say he is drawing an inference.

        The believer, on the other hand, has no evidence and asserts a statistical impossibility in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different. Where does that put the typical fanatic Christian?

  17. +11 Vote -1 Vote +1newstogod
    September 21, 2009 at 10:05 am

    One thing people fail to realize is that most Atheists were raised religious and or made to think there is a god by media, etc. So Atheists have to make a decision to go against what is more accepted. Most religious were raised in their faith and pressured to practice their religion. Atheists have always had to be bold and courageous in order to make the decision. Atheists are thoughtful people and very knowledgeable about religion in general. There are far more Atheists than people realize.

    • -17 Vote -1 Vote +1Diego
      September 21, 2009 at 11:24 am

      As one of my closest friends, who was once an atheist and is now an agnostic, once told me (and I paraphrase)

      “Pure Atheism requires as much if not more faith in nothingness than faith in a powerful supernatural or paranatural force in the universe that our science cannot prove nor disprove. Therefore pure atheists are more hypocritical than the religious zealots who drove me away from the church my parents brought me up in.”

      • +5 Vote -1 Vote +1rossiya
        September 21, 2009 at 7:55 pm

        Disbelieving in YOUR imaginary, invisible superfriend isn’t “faith in nothingness.” Your tone makes evident your disregard for pantheism. Besides the quantum vacuum contains everything, not nothing. The emptiness only exists between your ears. You need to put your proverbial donkey back in front of the cart.

  18. +12 Vote -1 Vote +1BigDeal
    September 21, 2009 at 10:36 am

    I doubt you would get the same result here in the UK. Being an atheist here is as normal as driving a car or watching football. In fact, a genuine ‘church-goer’ is somewhat of an oddity.

    Personally, I don’t believe in anything supernatural. Gods, ghosts, astrology, Santa Clause or unicorns. i think it’s all hooey.

  19. -15 Vote -1 Vote +1Son of Bob
    September 21, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    What’s with the use of the word “fear”? It’s not that people “fear” them, it’s that they dislike them…very, very different. Frankly, in my experience, it’s the athiests – not devout Christians – that want to ram their beliefs down your throat at every given opportunity.

    What’s curious is that for people to not believe in something is easy…just don’t. It doesn’t require the participation of anyone else. Yet, athiests are always trying to recruit. For a people that pride themselves on not having the need to belong to a religion, they’ve created one…atheism.

    • +16 Vote -1 Vote +1Marc B
      September 21, 2009 at 4:24 pm

      Atheists don’t recruit because we don’t have to. Once people actually begin to think for themselves they often come to make their own choices about what to believe, and they often choose to eschew their former religious beliefs. Perhaps you are mistaking our advocacy of reason for recruitment? If so, what does that say about your own beliefs, i.e., the antithesis of reason?

      Meanwhile, “devout Christians” feel they are required (which, in fact they are) by their religion to proselytize, thus “ramming their beliefs down your throat”. The reason you think it’s atheists who are doing this is because you don’t agree with them, and it’s uncomfortable for you to have to think for yourself.

      We do, however, feel the need to defend reason in this free society as it is often under attack from the religious who want to impose their particular religious mental disease upon the rest of us, and sometimes illegally try to use public office and law to do so. It is then you see the atheists come out to defend reason – and the First Amendment rights of all citizens – and that’s when you think they are “ramming their beliefs down your throat.”

    • +6 Vote -1 Vote +1Peter
      September 21, 2009 at 5:48 pm

      I had hoped that we had established that atheism is not a religion. Please see my earlier post; or if you prefer tired analogies “saying atheism is a religion is like saying bald is your hair colour”. They both describe whats going on with your head but it’s not the same thing.

      • +7 Vote -1 Vote +1Marc B
        September 21, 2009 at 7:11 pm

        Peter, can you dumb it down a bit, please? Your post made too much sense.

      • +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Peter
        September 22, 2009 at 7:19 am

        sorry i should have cited that quotation; it was Don Hirschberg sorry I don’t know who he is or where he said it.

        • +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Peter
          September 22, 2009 at 8:49 am

          Sorry once again it would appear that i was mistaken; the quote first appeared on Usenet by Mark Schnitzius in 1993. (I have spoken with Don Hirschberg himself to verify that this is prior to his letter to Ann Landers)

  20. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Brandon
    September 21, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    I think many Christians in America are really “soft” atheists, they profess their religion because of family traditions and pressure, social and business status in the community. The same is true for many Jews and Muslims. They are secular, moderate, and maybe agnostic. They answer “Christian” to be politically acceptable.

    • Vote -1 Vote +1rossiya
      September 21, 2009 at 8:44 pm

      Pity they don’t VOTE that way.

  21. -12 Vote -1 Vote +1Alex
    September 21, 2009 at 8:47 pm

    As one of the other posters pointed out, there is a clear divide in the mods between the pro-atheist crowd and the theists. Who does that suggest is more judgmental (the real answer is the moderator, not atheists in general, although it does reinforce a certain stereotype of the bitter atheist). I’m still waiting for a well reasoned argument as to why belief in a divine power is so ridiculous. I will reiterate, no scientific law or theory has offered any explanation for why reality exists at all, they have only explained some of the mechanisms of how reality functions. Until atheists have a cogent explanation for this (which is literally impossible since there will always be another level of causality that must be explained), theists have a better claim to a rational understanding of reality than atheists since theists do have an explanation: God.

    • +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Peter
      September 22, 2009 at 11:14 am

      In my opinion ‘belief in a divine power’ is not inherently ridiculous. To me what is ridiculous is to look at this planet and say “this is the perfect plan of a loving and all-powerful being”

      Would you have me worship a god that meddles with pop music awards and high-school crushes, while people pray for salvation from torture, famine and disease?

      On a less provocative note; what aspect of reality does belief in God permit you to understand? (this isn’t meant to provoke I just didn’t quite grasp what you were trying to say; could you elaborate)

  22. -3 Vote -1 Vote +1Nick
    September 21, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    I guess you could call me agnostic as i do not believe in a deity, but then there is not any proof of there not being a deity.

    Ultimately my problem with both sides is what does it matter? if there is some sort of god that does not want to have tangible influence in our reality or if there is no god the result is the same. i.e. no tangible effect on our current existance. So why not just live your life in the reality we have and not worry?

    In the same vein, what does it matter to a religious or non-religious person whethere any other person is religious? As long as there is no political influence for being in either camp it seems to be a non-issue to me :)

    • +4 Vote -1 Vote +1Peter
      September 22, 2009 at 7:15 am

      The issue comes when a person of one group feels persecuted by the other group.

      For example; I live in Canada one line from our national anthem goes

      “O Canada!
      Our home and native land!
      True patriot love in all thy sons command.
      With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
      The True North strong and free!
      From far and wide, O Canada,
      We stand on guard for thee.
      God keep our land glorious and free!
      O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
      O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.”

      If I were a first generation Canadian I may feel excluded by by the line which reads

      “our home and native land”

      Because how could Canada be my native land if was born somewhere else?

      Or (more relevant to this discussion)

      I might feel like my beliefs were being excluded from our national anthem by the line which reads

      “God keep our land glorious and free”.

      I feel excluded because I do not want to depend on God to keep our land glorious and free, I would rather depend hard work and good diplomacy.
      I might advocate for wider adoption of the second verse;

      “O Canada! Where pines and maples grow.
      Great prairies spread and lordly rivers flow.
      How dear to us thy broad domain,
      From East to Western sea.
      Thou land of hope for all who toil!
      Thou True North, strong and free!”

      I would argue that the second verse is much less exclusive, and every bit as patriotic.

      This is analogous to American initiatives to create more inclusive pledges of allegiance and such.

      • -10 Vote -1 Vote +1Celebrim
        September 22, 2009 at 9:08 am

        Depends on your perspective I guess, but I find It’s also analogous to the Taliban destroying statues of the Budda because they find them offensive.

        • +6 Vote -1 Vote +1Peter
          September 22, 2009 at 9:53 am

          Are you serious?

          You don’t see the difference between what I am proposing and your analogy?

          • +7 Vote -1 Vote +1Marc B
            September 22, 2009 at 12:24 pm

            No, unfortunately, Celebrim doesn’t see the difference. To that kind of troll, separation of church and state is blasphemy. It’s a typical disconnect between the unreason of religion and the reason of critical thinking. This is also a typical attack by the religious zealot, to associate atheists with hated enemies, even though they have nothing in common.

            Your original post hits the nail on the head; the differences become personal issues when one group persecutes another, and, more specifically, when they use public power to do it.

            The concept of freedom of religion clearly includes freedom FROM religion, especially with regards to how it is written in the First Amendment. The state cannot establish a religion, which means it has to stay out of the religion business entirely. References to god – anyone’s god – or other religious iconography may not be supported by any state-sponsored group, such as federal, state, county or city government. This prohibition includes, but is not limited to, prayer in school, posting the ten commandments in the courthouse, faith-based initiatives, school vouchers for parochial schools, and including “god” in the pledge of allegiance. Similarly and more to your point, the inclusion of “god” in the Canadian anthem should be prohibited because it will exclude some citizens who don’t hold the same religious beliefs expressed in the anthem.

  23. +6 Vote -1 Vote +1Melfeth
    September 22, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    “Don’t pray in my school, and I won’t think in your church.” Isn’t that what they say?

    Also, I’d have to say Nihilists/Existentialists are more frowned upon than atheists ^^

  24. -2 Vote -1 Vote +1design
    September 24, 2009 at 7:57 am

    The truth will set you free, but such is the nature of truth, it must be found.

  25. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Luke Wiesel
    September 25, 2009 at 7:03 am

    Australia has a lot of people listed as no religion and we want to war in Iraq, Afghanistan, East Timor and that’s just in the last few years.

  26. -5 Vote -1 Vote +1steve
    September 26, 2009 at 8:06 am

    From the OP (original post):

    “The degree of this intolerance is a bit surprising. My experience has taught me that atheists tend to be very intelligent, thoughtful people with a high standard of ethics that they carry through to their everyday lives.”

    My responce:

    My experience has taught me that that most atheists tend to be very intelligent (I agree) people with a huge egos who can be as fanatical as any religious fundamentalist. Religious fundamentalists tend to divide the world into heathen and non-heathen whereas atheists tend to divide the world into rational and irrational. Most atheists treat the irrational with the same contempt that fundamentalists treat heathens. They are a lot a like, yet they can’t see it.

    So what makes your experience better than my experience? It’s all anecdotal, isn’t it?