Atheism has existed for several thousand years by now, but has had little or no influence on the human society as a whole. However, far from getting frustrated, atheists seem to be taking new courage every now and then. The past has seen this happening time and again. Will this waxing and waning continue in to the future, or, will the atheists be able to carry the future humanity with them? Or, will blind faith keep winning time and again? To what length of time can we see in to the distant future? What should the atheists do, today, tomorrow and the day after?
As long as people seek safety over freedom and fantasy over reality it seems to me that religion in one form or another will continue to dominate the human psyche. The split that has occurred in the last 150 years between religious beliefs and science may continue to grow slowly, but at this time and for the foreseeable future in North America religionists will hold sway in the political and social fields. For those people who prefer a safe, unadventurous, fantasy to reality with it's freedom of thought and sometimes dangerous ideas and ideals, religion is the crutch they need to lean on.
So long as children grow up "knowing" that they were born in sin and there is no help for them save in religion, as adults they will not leave the safety of the fold. Children who are being taught to be incurious, and accept that figures in authority know better than they do what to believe and about how best to run their own lives become adults who do as they are told and never question what is real.
My response to MADHUKAR KULKARNI.
J.D. Theism, as I experienced it, was suffering under the dogma of centuries of oppression and domination of women by the men they loved. Christianity, for me, was an attempt to find meaning, purpose and community as I suffered the mental and physical pains caused by faith and beliefs in a supernatural being. This “god” and mythology reassured me that my purpose was to obey god, husband, and to serve others. Furthermore, I sought love and acceptance and community … but alas, the dogma that bound me also failed to provide that which I needed.
M.K. “Will this waxing and waning continue in to the future?”
J.D. I see no reason to think individuals will behave any differently than I or that my community thought. Humans seem to have a need for meaning and purpose and community. With family, church, education, and moral and ethical guidelines under the influence of superstition, there is no reason to think an individual can escape the faith and belief of superstition. It is when these learned values fail to meet real world challenged that one seeks ideas in other places, and from other ways of thinking. That critical moment often comes as a result of being out of control and not having the tools needed to solve problems or resolve conflicts. Cognitive dissonance forces one out of dependency on belief and faith in a high power to a belief and faith in one’s capacity to think, reason, discuss alternatives, explore, experiment, pay attention to consequences and make decisions.
M.K. “Or, will the atheists be able to carry the future humanity with them?”
J.D. Once an individual learns how to use skills necessary for mentally healthy, creative, imaginative processes to meet needs he/she naturally passes these skills on to the next generation. A community of critical thinkers grows, solving problems that dogma could not even begin to tackle.
M.K. “Or, will blind faith keep winning time and again?”
J.D. Blind faith cannot keep winning because its basic premise is flawed, based on myth, superstition and fairy tales. The only way the “blind faithers” can win is by the use of fear and force.
M.K. “To what length of time can we see in to the distant future?”
J.D. If one is able to recognize patterns happening in the present, remember the history of maintaining and perpetuating those patterns from the past, and remember the future as possibility, then an individual can create the imagined future. When enough individuals go through that process, culture has a possibility of changing for the better. If an individual and culture clings to the attitudes, beliefs, customs, traditions and values of the past, the future will probably resemble the past.
“What should the atheists do, today, tomorrow and the day after?”
J.D. First, recognize, in realistic terms, present events, without denial or projection or suppression or repression or transference. Think carefully of the possible causes of current events, personally and culturally. Identify the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual aspect of life that produces pain. Discuss, explore, experiment, step outside the usual and observe other ways of thinking and consequences of new ways of thinking. Join with others in community to exchange ideas and experiences. When/if a new awareness emerges, test it for intended and unintended outcomes. When new ideas prove to be worthy of accepting, think and act from confidence, until and unless it proves to be ineffective and inefficient … then try another idea. Be absolutely confident and absolutely flexible at the same time.
My response to MADHUKAR KULKARNI.
We are winning. ReasonRally next year in DC will show this to the country. ATHEISM is the fastest growing "religious" section in America. 15%-18% of the population don't believe there is a god... but it's 29% amongst people 18-30 years old. We are winning. Since 2007 when THE GOD DELUSION, THE END OF FAITH, and BREAKING THE SPELL were released, groups across the country have shot up exponentially. We are winning. On college campuses, the SSA has seen membership sky-rocket in the last few years and now have groups in high schools all over the country. We are winning.
WeAreAtheism.com, along with other groups, is helping people come out of the closet and unite under one banner... ATHEISM - so we can define what that means instead of letting the religious right tell us who we are. We are winning.
Excellent points. I agree!
I met with David Silverman this weekend, and we will be bringing a Regional Atheist Meeting to Kansas City... that alone says how far we've come. And this was at Skepticon... 1,100 atheists meeting for free in Springfield, MO - the buckle of the bible belt. We are making ourselves seen and heard. There's no turning back. This "waxing and waning" myth hasn't been true since 2007.
"What should the atheists do, today, tomorrow and the day after?"
At least two things.
1. Be happy. Our happiness irritates those who attack us.
2. Ignore those who look for happiness in another life. The more people who look for happiness there, the fewer there are who want a share of my happiness in this life.
buddism is atheistic, many philosiphers of ancient worlds held atheistic. agnostic or deist beliefs it has had a huge impact on human society and cultural evolution. i am optimistic for the future we seem to no longer fight wars on the scale we used to over religious differences or nationalistic dominance. we are less likely to fight if we trade, and less likely to impose crazy religious edicts. it will continue to happen but gradually less and less. as i look around in the uk religious groups are losing their influence. a potential risk is that religion becomes a race issue as with judaism similar claims are being made by muslims but at least the christians are fucked. if we got rid of religion who would i have to ridicule
Communication is an important key to change. In the past, it was relatively easy to control what the masses heard and talked about. Now it is almost impossible (even China is struggling!)
I feel good about the future;)
I had expected a larger response for this post, but the responses received are soo good that numbers do not matter. I am particularly delighted by the response of Adam Brown who brings a cheering news from America.
I have refered to waxing and waning because in the past, atheism survived on the support of leaders and thrived when leaders were there and waned when they were not. It is only now that atheism appears to be a self sustaining global movement. I have every hope that blind faith can not survive for ever, but I am very keen that the present day atheists should make every effort to accelerate this growth, becaus now we have means of communication that were never available before. We should be satisfied by a good regional growth but help spread it all over the planet.