Empty Pews: Everyone Is Misreading the New Numbers of Religiously ‘Unaffiliated’

Yes, there are more people who don't belong to any particular church, and yet many still believe in God

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Andrew Medichini / AP

Bishops attend a mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI marking the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council in St. Peter's Square, Oct. 11, 2012.

Earlier this week, while men in miters hunkered down in Rome for the start of a bishops synod on how to make the Roman Catholic Church more relevant to the 21st Century—which coincides with the 50th anniversary of Vatican II, the council charged with making the Church more relevant in the 20th Century—the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life in Washington, D.C., released a survey indicating just how futile their task might be. It reports that one-fifth of the U.S. public, and a third of adults under 30, aren’t affiliated with any religion today—a 15% increase in just the past five years. While religious leaders bemoaned the data and, like the Vatican synod, vowed to defy it, groups like the New Jersey-based American Atheists cheered the Pew study as evidence that the “number of godless continues to rise” and that the “stranglehold of religion is fading away.”

(MORE: Why We’re Still Catholic)

But both responses—the alarmed resistance from many corners of organized religion and the smug celebration among many atheists—are a misreading of the Pew findings. The survey reveals neither a “tsunami of secularism,” which Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., spokesman for the bishops synod, fears is bearing down on organized religion, nor a triumphant upsurge of “godless” atheists who revere Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. Despite the rise in the religiously unaffiliated, for example, Pew also found that more than two-thirds of those people believe in God. What’s out there instead is a nation of people who, like most people in most nations in the developed West, acknowledge faith as a positive human urge but are increasingly, and not too surprisingly, turned off by the often archaic institutions that claim to represent faith.

(MOREHave We Evolved to Be Religious?)

According to Pew, the spiritually engaged but religiously unaffiliated do think that “churches and other religious institutions benefit society by strengthening community bonds and aiding the poor.” But “overwhelmingly,” it adds, “they think that religious organizations are too concerned with money and power, too focused on rules and too involved in politics.”

The Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandal is a depressing example of that hierarchical preoccupation with power. Cardinal Wuerl, who cracked down on pedophile priests when so many bishops were shielding them, is an encouraging exception. But even he betrayed a certain denial about his church’s real problems in his opening address to this week’s synod, when he urged Catholics to “overcome the syndrome of embarrassment” about faith—for which he blamed the pressures of secularism and not, incredibly, the arrogance of clericalism. I’m a Catholic, and I don’t know any Catholics, practicing or lapsed, who are ashamed of a faith that showcases values like compassion and redemption. It’s not the faith that’s the source of embarrassment; more likely it’s the actions of the church.

That’s one message the Pew survey might be telling us. It also has something to say to those atheists who do brand faith and belief in God as an embarrassing syndrome. On the one hand, the survey—which finds that almost 6% of the U.S. public is now atheist or agnostic—should be an encouraging sign that non-belief is no longer taboo in American society. But on the other hand, there are more than a few atheists who will interpret the survey as Darwinian proof that faith is some Paleolithic impulse that “fades away” as humans evolve.

That’s not only bigoted—suggesting that my knuckles drag because I believe in God is as intolerant as asserting that someone is soulless because they don’t—it simply doesn’t square with the Pew results. The survey makes it clear that even people who don’t frequent churches, synagogues, mosques or temples still ponder the transcendent—the study finds that 21% of them even pray regularly—and don’t find it a betrayal of reason.

(MORE: Why Jesus’s Wife Matters A Lot—and Not At All)

It would be just as foolish for the leaders of organized religions—including Protestant denominations, which according to Pew no longer represent the majority of Americans—to see the Pew survey as a reason to circle the theological wagons and double down on narrow doctrine. That will likely lead to an even further erosion of religious affiliation and of its positive social benefits—like “strengthening community bonds and aiding the poor.” Jesus said truth often comes “out of the mouth of babes.” It also comes at us from the mouths of the religiously unaffiliated.

91 comments
Larry Linn
Larry Linn like.author.displayName 1 Like

 

"The

United States of America should have a foundation free from the influence of

clergy."— George Washington

"The United States Constitutional Convention, except for three or four

persons, thought prayers unnecessary."— Benjamin Franklin 

"This nation of ours was not founded on Christian principles."—

John Adams 

"Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for

every noble enterprise."— James Madison, letter to William Bradford,

1771 

"As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any

sense, founded on the Christian religion;..."  ~Treaty of Tripoli

1796

sgtbilko
sgtbilko

Most of these irrelegious folks would call themselves atheists except for one thing: actual atheists.

The term's been appropriated by a bunch of people who are deeply dysfunctional, both socially and emotionally.  Read the "comments" section of any Religion forum.

Speaking as a nonbeliever myself, every self-described atheist I've known has been a person I'd try to distance myself from at a party, assuming they got invited to parties (well, more than once).

Larry Linn
Larry Linn

 Social

commentator and former alter-boy George Carlin sums it up, “Think about it.

Religion has actually convinced people that there’s an invisible man living in

the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the

invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And

if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and

smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and

suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever ’til the end of

time! But He loves you. He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs

money! He’s all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just

can’t handle money! Religion takes in billions of dollars, they pay no taxes,

and they always need a little more.”

Good and Godless
Good and Godless

Unfortunately regurgitating the puerile nonsense from a right wing indoctrination is indicative of the underlying poisoning of intellects by the religious.Lets see how much more we can accomplish without being impeded by bias and fiction.Artificially justifing the legitimacy of any religion by tolerance is clearly a flaw. It is unfair this avenue for social treason was not clearly and fully excluded when the 1st Amendment was drafted. It is time to correct that flaw left by our founding fathers and end constraints imposed by myth and superstition.Change the constitution remove any rights of religion, as it is demonstrated time and time again that churches cannot be trusted with good policy and respect of rule of law.  Using clear terms which do not stump the armchair constitutional scholars is required.

Papa Foote
Papa Foote

Papa Foote

Yes, this is a nice, thoughtful, thinking which has/is/will continue to float around our Earth Planet!

"Truth" starts with each little born child trying to understand "life"! 

"Some", always seem to be on the "good track", has they grow better with knowledge and experience!

"Others" need more "help" from "older family and education's"  in order to keep on track!

"Some" just will never be able to understand "truth" - because the "seed of truth" just withers and dies without nourishment!

It is not some religious thinking, from the "many" that try to continue with the "older thoughts and thinking" - because they are not on the "good track into truth", and never will be!

The "seed of truth" is just for every human to nourish, as best as they can - and with the "challenges that always stand in the way of truth"!

There is a "Power" within our "Entity" - it is there, but beyond the "human mind" - except in it's "Faith"! Everyone can see and feel it everyday - regardless of the "faith or no-faith" thinking!

-The Old Mountain Goat-

Read more: http://ideas.time.com/2012/10/...

Papa Foote
Papa Foote

Yes, this is a nice, thoughtful, thinking which has/is/will continue to float around our Earth Planet!

"Truth" starts with each little born child trying to understand "life"! 

"Some", always seem to be on the "good track", has they grow better with knowledge and experience!

"Others" need more "help" from "older family and education's"  in order to keep on track!

"Some" just will never be able to understand "truth" - because the "seed of truth" just withers and dies without nourishment!

It is not some religious thinking, from the "many" that try to continue with the "older thoughts and thinking" - because they are not on the "good track into truth", and never will be!

The "seed of truth" is just for every human to nourish, as best as they can - and with the "challenges that always stand in the way of truth"!

There is a "Power" within our "Entity" - it is there, but beyond the "human mind" - except in it's "Faith"! Everyone can see and feel it everyday - regardless of the "faith or no-faith" thinking!

-The Old Mountain Goat-

 

Ben Wells
Ben Wells

Hitchens and Dawkins do not deny the possibility of a creator. They deny the holiness of religion. It’s a big difference. You will never hear a scientist say definitively there is no god. That’s not how science works.

owlafaye
owlafaye

You will hear a HUGE number of scientists saying that there is no god.  Reason?

No evidence of a god has ever been forthcoming.   The presence of evidence is when a scientist steps in.  You can convince a child that there are Frackelpops breakfast cereal...and you can tease them with refusing to buy any...but if you can't show us a box of that cereal we are not going to entertain thoughts of its reality.  We are grown ups...time for you to grow up.

architect424
architect424

I'm fairly sure they do (or in Hitchens' case, did) both.

Philip Gray
Philip Gray

I have reason and faith that reality is both understandable and logically consistent.    If the right conclusion to any question is illogical and unable to be understood then answering the question served no purpose.

God is both illogical and provides no understanding of how; that explanation makes both the question and answer meaningless.

Mark Holland
Mark Holland

("pal11111")("Atheists don't believe God does not exist because there has never been any evidence of his/her existence to believe in. We are waiting")

Actually Atheists are simply waiting for evidence that God or Gods exist.  The only thing that it takes for an Atheist to become a Theist is for God or God's to give them the evidence that he/they/it exists.

It is like the mythologies that Atheists hate God, one cannot hate that which does not exist.  Atheist's do not have a problem with God or Gods, they simply have a problem with people claiming to represent a God but do not have one ounce or thread of evidence or proofs to back up their claims.

Personally I accept that all Godhood beliefs and Spiritual beliefs are valid, as long as that God and belief is applied only on a personal and indidual basis.  I only have problems with the beliefs that claim Universally Applicable and with Univeral Authority.

I consider all Monotheist beliefs to be invalid because they claim their beliefs are Universally Applicable and carries Universal Authority, which of course they do not because they have not one ounce or one shred of evidence or proofs to support their claim.

Mark Holland
Mark Holland

("architect424")("Mark, anytime you attempt to sway someone over to atheism you are attempting to "arrange" their behavior. When atheists write books denouncing God as a delusion, they are attempting to "arrange" or influence others behavior.")

Atheists nor I attempt to sway anyone away from their faiths or beliefs.  Atheists are simply challenging the claims made by Christian zealots.  The average Atheist could not care less about what a persons personal beliefs are.

They simply do not want Christian zealots trying to impose their beliefs upon others.  I as a Polytheist also invalidate the claims made by Christian zealots, but I do it more in regards to invalidating the claims of any monotheist belief.

All monotheist beliefs claim Universal Applicability and Universal Authority, Christianity being the big problem in the United States.  All Atheists or I do is challenge those claims.  Neither they or I care a wit about your personal beliefs.

You could be a follower of the Great Spaghetti God of Mars for all I care, and if you apply your beliefs and your god to yourself no problems.  But if your Great Spaghetti God of Mars demands that I give up my Spaghetti and Meat ball dinner, well then "Houston We Have A Problem" http://challengingchristianaut...

quovadisamicus
quovadisamicus

We need to strenghten our spiritual beliefs, be a world shared religion or the very most personal religion. Ultimately each one of us pays respect and gives "Thanks" to the Creator for this one gift, the greatest of gifts that we call "Life". 

             In the eyes of the Creator there is no divisions in this world

             No geographical or time lines

             We are only divided by our languages and our cultures

             Each one of us is trusted to live in a patch of earth

             For one brief second in our very brief span of our life time

             To enjoy and be the care takers

             Of all this magnificent nature and most alive garden

             We call earth. 

             In the Creators Eye

             It is our duty to look for Peace

             To live in Peace with each other

             To share and help each other

             For this earth

             There is no other.

Mark Holland
Mark Holland

("If only 10% of believers are attempting to do that, is that reason to condemn the other 90%?")

The only way to challenge the zealots is to attack the foundation from which they claim their authority. Meaning the Bible, Church doctrines and beliefs. And since the 90% of believers (I doubt that number) who do not attempt to impose their false beliefs onto others. Use the same foundational beliefs there is no way to go after the zealots without also going after the belief itself.

The 90% are simply collateral damage.

architect424
architect424

Actually in most cases you can USE the foundation from which they claim authority to challenge the extremists.  Often these types of people either focus way too narrowly on one specific element and as a result completely ignore elements that would supercede them (for example, anti-gay christian activists ignoring what Jesus himself said about judging others and about loving ones neighbor, which by the way, he also said was the second greatest commandment, only after loving God)

I would argue that you think your way is the only way because you privately disagree with the entire concept of faith (I say this only from the context of your comment, what you may or may not actually believe is your right and it is not my place to judge you for it).  I would however also argue that your way is much less successful, if only because it feeds into the martyr syndrome that often comes with religious (and really any form of) extremism.

I am a christian.  I choose to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, and he says to love thy neighbor, love thy enemy, and don't judge others.  I believe that christian extremists ignore these fundamental teachings, and I try to counter it where i can.  But I do it using the texts by which these people try to claim authority; I don't see how attacking those texts will accomplish the same goal (even for someone who chooses not to believe)

Mark Holland
Mark Holland

(" I choose to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, and he says to love thy neighbor, love thy enemy, and don't judge others")

We have something in common most of my personal beliefs are based upon Jesus the Rabbi's public teachings, you sound more like a Jesus Follower not a Christian.

Actually I consider all GodHood or even spiritual beliefs to all be equally valid when applied on a personal and individual basis.  My Polytheist beliefs are no more valid or invalid than anyone elses beliefs.

Beliefs only become invalid when someone attempts to impose their beliefs onto others.  And Jesus the Rabbi taught something else that you did not mention.

He taught that you should do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  I do unto the Christian Zealots as the Christian Zealots do unto others, I am simply better at it.

http://challengingchristianaut...

Mark Holland
Mark Holland

("paul46 1")("Mark--you said, "beliefs only become invalid when someone attempts to impose their beliefs onto others". You sure? So if someone does not impose his belief on you, then that belief is true amp; valid?")

That belief is valid to the person who holds that belief.  Yes, a personal and individual belief and the God or Spiritual belief is always valid for the individual holding that belief.

If someone believes that the Great Spaghetti God of Mars is real or believes that the Great Pumpkin of Jupitor is real, then that belief is valid in regards to how that person applies that belief in regards to their personal lives and beliefs.

But the moment that a follower of the Great Spaghetti God of Mars claims that no one can ever again eat Spaghetti and Meat Ball's then that belief is invalid.

The moment that a follower of the Great Pumpkin claims that it is a mortal sin to carve up a pumkin on All Hollow's Eve.  Is an invalidated belief.

paul46
paul46

 Mark--you said, "beliefs only become invalid when someone attempts to impose their beliefs onto others". You sure? So if someone does not impose his belief on you, then that belief is true amp; valid? If I believe an apple is a rock, yet don't impose it on you, then an apple is a rock, right? I'm certainly not promoting the imposition of any beliefs whatsoever here, only questioning your odd line of logic--amp; thus by extension, some of your other claims.  What in the name of creation is the difference between a Christian amp; a Jesus follower? Most of my friends are Christian Jesus-followers. What do I tell them?

Philip Gray
Philip Gray

I'm an atheist.  I don't disagree with the concept of faith.   Everyone begins life with a degree of faith in their peers.  As we begin to understand the world and the processes of how things operate, we can replace our faith with our understanding.

 I don't hate faith.  I don't hate the religious.  I just see those that use faith as either not-understanding or stuck in the process of obtaining understanding; and sometimes the reason they are stuck is due to adhering to faith due to the fear of reaching understanding. Christianity, among other logically inconsistent religions, cannot be true. That doesn't mean that the books should be done away with, they just should be placed on the shelf with stories of Fairies and Santa Claus once we've outgrown it.

BTW: If it's possible to hate the sin and love the sinner then it's also possible to hate religious beliefs and love the religious people.

I'm more a moral pragmatist than someone who has to have absolute truth; I'm not opposed to little white lies to make the world a better place, but some lies, such as those found in religions, cause too much harm to people to morally support.

paul46
paul46

Terrific article, Mr. Padgett. I view the religious impulse

amp; the scientific impulse as essentially one amp; the same. We wish to

understand the world we live in. We wish to understand our own selves. Spiritual

inquiry amp; scientific investigation, if undertaken with an open mind, both

result in a feeling of gratitude amp; humility. Religion might take a cue from

science: science does not disdainfully look down upon the less-enlightened

masses—rather, it happily shares its knowledge with those who seek it. Religion,

as taught by those who initiated it (think of Buddha, Jesus) is always humble

amp; open-minded. If today’s inherited, rote, intolerant religious systems, so

frequently at odds with science amp; so frequently at odds with their fellow co-religionists,

betray man’s desire to humbly seek truth—it is the institutions themselves

which should be abandoned. As you have pointed out, though adherents of

organized religions are shrinking, the number of the religious-unaffiliated believers

in God is growing, a trend which points to the poverty of the man-made dogmas

of intolerance amp; exclusion which no longer feed man’s desire to know. That

Mr. Dawkins believes God is a delusion should not cause the religiously

inclined to fret. That unimaginative, literal interpretations of a holy book make

all “believers” look uninformed should not cause the scientifically inclined to

reject God. “The truth shall set you free” is a maxim which hopefully applies

to all human investigation into the realm of the unknown. Neither science nor religion

has a unique, absolute claim to truth. Both are relative to our stage of

development amp; both are worthy of our respect. Thanks for the article.                     

 

 

Philip Gray
Philip Gray

  Open-mindedness is neither believing from authority or supporting all beliefs as equally valid.   Open-mindedness is being willing to change beliefs based on logic and evidence.  

 Science deserves respect because it tests what we believe and offers evidence for why we should believe differently.   Religion deserves no respect because it only demands adherence with only claims of authority.

paul46
paul46

Of course it's not open-minded to support "all beliefs as equally valid." That would be called "no-minded". People  change beliefs all the time based on logic amp; reason. Both science amp; religion demand substantiation. Scientific truth is relative--it is updated: new evidence demands new hypotheses which demand new theories to explain the evidence which abrogates the old theories. Scientific truth thus changes. Admittedly, religion, also relative,  seems slower to evolve. You are correct that a religious institution's claim to authority suffices many people...for a while. When enough evidence accumulates to question that authority, minds still seeking a connection with transcendence look elsewhere. Religious truth thus changes. Religion is an intellectual reality just like a scientific theory is intellectual--they both attempt to explain the visible amp; invisible world, they both offer explanations. They both rely on observation, demand proof amp; repeatability. To me, any fair-minded examination of the universe is worthy of respect.  

architect424
architect424

But that isn't open-mindedness either.  At a certain point, we define who we are and what we believe (or don't).  Open mindedness (referring to faith or the lack of faith) is the ability to respect that others have found a way to provide meaning in their own lives even if it disagrees with yours, and to be able to discuss it without attacking or judging.  Science does deserve respect, because it does the things you say it does, but it is external, and helps us to define the world around us, it does very little to help us define ourselves.  Faith is internal (as is philosophy, although they are not mutually exclusive), and is one way to help us define ourselves. It too deserves respect if it brings meaning and guidance to the people who choose to have it.

Philip Gray
Philip Gray

What you describe is tolerance for beliefs and mythology, which has nothing to do with respecting people or truth. 

I grant you the mutual respect of a shared species. Beliefs and ideas should be granted respect based on mutual merit, not on the unfair merit of just one, because none of us exist in complete isolation of the other.

paul46
paul46

 Beautifully stated.

pal11111
pal11111

"History also has plenty of examples of atheists who have wrongheadedly tried to "arrange the behavior of other people" to fit their dogma. The problem is hardly confined to believers."

This comment comes off as bigoted, you might want to clarify, as an atheist I don't have a dogmatic belief, on the other hand your belief system IS the dogmatic one in a harmful way towards others.

architect424
architect424

All athiest arguments are tied to either the philosophical ("why would a just God allow evil into the world?") or observational ("we haven't found God, nor can we see or hear him")  You cannot factually prove the non-existence of God in a scientific way, nor can you prove his existence; meaning that either way, any opinion about God is a belief (in your case, you believe he does not exist)  the only way to not have a belief about God is to be entirely unaware of the concept of God/spirit/faith.  You seem to be aware of the concept, so in effect you have a belief about God (not in him, but about him).  This belief can be considered harmful if you preach it to others (such as when you post in a comment section or make an argument to others) even if it technically isn't dogma.

Full disclosure:  I am a Christian, but I don't identify with any specific denomination other than perhaps "Protestant"

Philip Gray
Philip Gray

My argument for atheism is the result of the process of elimination when all opposing claims can be concluded to be logically invalid.

What part of "your claims are self-disproving" cannot be understood?

architect424
architect424

why is the existence of God logically invalid?  Don't just say it, back it up.

pal11111
pal11111

My "preaching" that no evidence has ever been put forward to prove the existence of any god is harmful to others, how?

As opposed to non believers will be condemned to burn and tourtured for eternity (or burn at the steak) by your god, organization and your fellow believers.

Oh really ;-)

architect424
architect424

Owlafaye, what about my comments do you find to be insulting or arrogant (aside from the steak/stake comment, in which I was trying to use humor to diffuse the situation)?  For the most part I have only argued that one should look at things from all perspectives and withhold judgement of those that disagree.  What is so arrogant or insulting about that.  If anything, your comments are the ones that have been insulting, both to me and to others.

For the record, I am very secure in my beliefs, at least secure enough to hold a discussion on this forum with those that disagree with me.

owlafaye
owlafaye

Aarchitect....you are insulting and arrogant according to your own criteria.  reminds me of a young man hired to wheelbarrow dirt for me.  he kept mentioning god while working yet when I questioned him regarding his god he kept saying, "I don't want to argue about it"

So?  Why did he keep mentioning god if he couldn't discuss this god?

Why is every reply to you insulting and arrogant?  You must be very insecure in your "beliefs" son.

architect424
architect424

First of all its "stake" not "steak"  One is a post stuck into the ground, the other is a delicious food.

Second (and much more importantly) if your preaching is cloaked in insults and arrogance, it is harmful.  If it is based in a willingness to destroy a faith and hope that brings someone comfort in their existence on this earth, it is harmful.  If it is willing to inflame and divide then it is harmful.  And if it is willing to impose itself upon others who do not want to hear it it is harmful. I direct this at both the militant atheist and the religious extremist.

Philip Gray
Philip Gray

  False.    I do not need philosophy or observation to understand that the claim of gods is logically invalid. 

 Entities cannot know everything before there is anything to know.  Entities cannot exist outside of time and have time to think or change their mind.

 Religious claims are self disproving.

architect424
architect424

that is not an argument, that is a rationalization (and would need an argument to support it).  Give me an argument that is not observational or philosophical.

owlafaye
owlafaye

Pure Atheism:

No magic book

Freedom from dogma

No superstitions

No tithing

No churches

No pastors or ministers

No guilt

No shame

No fear

No God

architect424
architect424

you may be free from dogma, but your belief about God (that he doesn't exist) still operates in the same way if you preach it to others.

Philip Gray
Philip Gray

 To win the round, please answer the following question:

 

 How does promulgating logic and reason among a societal population equate with preaching there is no god?

architect424
architect424

The two are not mutually exclusive, but your comments seem to inexorably link the two together.  A statement that promotes logic and reason would urge others to explore the options, examine the evidence, and then make a decision, without indicating any sort of bias for one outcome or the other.  most of your comments attempt to effectively silence the possibility of faith as a viable personal option through implicit or explicit means.  Therefore you aren't truly promulgating logic and reason itself, but only your interpretation of where that logic and reason would take you, aka atheism   I would argue that, regarding God and his existence, any sort of promulgation that inherently assumes one outcome or the other is a form of preaching, as it is not truly promoting logic and reason, but the speaker/commentor's point of view.

Logically, I cannot prove that God does or does not exist.  At that point, the choice is either to stop there, or to believe regardless of proof.  That is what faith is.  If you cannot put stock in going beyond the logic, that is fine and is your right, but I can and do. 

pal11111
pal11111

Atheists don't believe God does not exist because there has never been any evidence of his/her existence to believe in. We are waiting...

architect424
architect424

Religion may have a worse "track record" (although as I said in an earlier comment, that those who kill in the name of God are often ignoring God's teaching, using religion to mask real motivations, or are delusional) but in the context of recorded history, religion has been around a lot longer and has had many, many more adherents than atheism.  Given that I also said that these types of atrocities are human nature regardless of belief or non-belief, there will be a much greater number of these events that are related to religion.

Also, religion is a human institution that codifies and conducts the worship of a particular god.  As a human institution, it is prone to human failings.  Faith, which by its own definition transcends humanity, can be considered separate from religion, which is what the article and the report seems to indicate.

pal11111
pal11111

Religion by far has the worse track record of murder, rape, may ham, torture in human history, the Nazis were around for 10 years tops! Don't try to cover the sun with your finger! So again, tell about "atheist extremist" who kill in the name of atheism?

Furthermore, if I can insult you and incite you because I critize your belief well then your faith in your belief is obviously pretty weak!!!

owlafaye
owlafaye

Listen architect, my flying purple unicorn god can kick the c--p out of your god anyday.

Don't tell me my god doesn't exist or he will send you to clean out his barn.

architect424
architect424

So, now your argument is that religion has had a negative effect on the world, due to the "killing in the name of God".  I would argue that those who do these atrocious acts (in the name of God or something else) are either 1) ignoring a basic tenet of their faith (such as "do not kill"), 2) using faith as an excuse to mask their real motivations, or 3) delusional.

Atheists who do these things would do those things in their own name (power, money, science, knowledge, etc), or would do them in the name of God (ie #2 above) to gain some measure of support, but they would not do them in the name of atheism itself

Atrocities have been done in the name of science and scientific progress, including medical experiments (mengele and the nazis, any type of eugenics), and psychological torture (stanford prison project, etc...).  Atrocities have been done in the name of business (fraud, swindling, inhumane working conditions, faulty standards) and in the name of power (many dictators).  While none of these were done in the name of atheism and cannot be tied to it, atheists have committed several of these.  My point is, that while atheism itself is not necessarily a motivation, these atrocities are part of the human condition, religious or not.

Also, it is not an insult to criticize my dogma, as you say, but the fact that you cannot consider my point of view with respect is disheartening.  As to the unicorn, I answered that already.  You have not yet answered how any of this ties into my original comment.

pal11111
pal11111

This is exactly the problem with God and religion they DEMAND respect, I say NO! Respect is earned never should it be a demand, and if you demand respect then your belief is weak and you need to check your premises.

In addition, you do not need to respond to me, it's a open forum, I'm sure this difficult and new to your dogma. I disagree, to many flying magical purple unicorns are sacred, how dare you!

architect424
architect424

I'm still waiting for how this relates to my original comment...

And frankly, I'm insulted that you would deliberately try to incite me by comparing God to a flying purple unicorn.  I consider myself open-minded enough to listen and to try and respond to your arguments without insult, arrogance, or condescension.  If you will not grant me the same respect I am granting you, then why am I even talking to you?

Finally, no i do not believe in flying unicorns (but given an infinite universe, they could very well exist).  the concept of God is a much older and stronger and crosses cultural divides in a way that your flimsy metaphor cannot.  Most importantly, God and my belief in Him gives me meaning and fulfillment in a way that no unicorn, no matter how purple and feathered, could do.  

pal11111
pal11111

Your characterization that it is an insult to criticize your dogma is baseless and your last place of refuge.

Second, when was the last time you heard "extremist atheist" killing, burning, raping children in the name of Atheism?

Now contrast that to your God or other gods.

Still waiting on your response to the probability of evidence of flying magical purple unicorns among us right now?

pal11111
pal11111

We also haven't found any evidence for flying purple unicorns, that's my point.

Do you believe in the possibility of such fairy creatures?

architect424
architect424

An observational argument that doesn't exclude the possibility of God's existence.  Also, how does this relate to my comment in any way whatsoever?