Our friend Jammer is a frequent contributor over at Prairie Populists and Progressives. A recent post discussed a newer group of atheists who are are “insisting upon aggressively confronting religious ideas, whereas the older group favors working with believers.” I would contend that this “newer” group is actually the older group offshoot of the teachings of Richard Dawkins (not to be confused with Richard Dawson) and the like who equate religion with a form of mental illness.
In fact a USA Today article says that many atheists no longer want to be associated with those beliefs and actually profess that religion and the religious have a place.
The old atheists said there was no God. The so-called “New Atheists” said there was no God, and they were vocally vicious about it. Now, the new “New Atheists” — call it Atheism 3.0 — say there’s still no God, but maybe religion isn’t all that bad.
Tanner Leah wrote one of his tongue-in-cheek posts about one group, The Coalition for Reason, trying to promote the fact that Atheists shouldn’t feel alone by placing ads all over the NY city Subway system. I don’t think there is anything wrong with a group promoting the fact that people with like beliefs (or lack thereof) can come together.
However, you all know I hate bad statistics. The ad says “A Million New Yorkers are Good Without God. Are You?” In a NY Times article discussing the stunt, one of the promoters says they got to the “million” number by citing:
“the American Religious Identification Survey, released earlier this year, as evidence of a shift away from organized religion. Those checking “none” for religion rose from 8 percent of the population in 1990 to 15 percent in 2008, effectively making “no religion” the fastest growing religious identification in the United States.
De Dora said that the “million” New York nonbelievers mentioned in the advertisements is the result of an extrapolation based on the survey’s findings. With more than 8 million residents living in New York’s five boroughs, the organization projects more than a million potential atheist New Yorkers.”
Just because 15% of the population list themselves as having no religion, this DOES NOT equate to them being atheist or in fact not believing in some higher power. In fact looking at the American Religious Identification Survey results, show of the people who wrote “none” as a religion, only 5% of them identified themselves as atheist.
8.3 million New Yorkers x 15% writing “none” x 5% of that group identifying as atheist = 62,250 Atheists in NY City.
In response to my comment on the Prairie Populists that lack of belief in supernatural is still essentially a religion, someone wrote ‘But most atheists aren’t going to bashing on your door on a Saturday morning.” To which I responded, True and neither are most Christians. Personally I don’t mind either’s belief as long as they respect my own.”
But what if the next step in evolution of atheism is to actively recruit new “non-believers”?
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