Tag Archives | Atheism

English Atheists Go To Church

Photo: Fin Fahey (CC)

Hey London atheists, did you go to church today? The UK’s first atheist church is now holding services in Islington reports the Islington Gazette:

Stand-up comedians Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans will bring together a godless congregation in the Nave in St Paul’s Road, Canonbury for services – with wedding ceremonies and funerals for non-believers even on the cards.

News of the church, which will meet on the first Sunday of every month starting with a service on the Feast of Epiphany on January 6, comes after the census results revealed last week that nearly one in three residents are atheists.

Mr Jones and Ms Evans, a musical improv comedian who had a BBC Radio 4 show called Showstopper, came up with the idea for The Sunday Assembly after agreeing they liked many aspects of religion but didn’t believe in a god.

“We thought it would be a shame not to enjoy the good stuff about religion, like the sense of community, just because of a theological disagreement,” said Mr Jones, who recently became the first person to sell out the Sydney Opera House by personally selling all tickets by hand.

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The Blessings of Atheism

Susan Jacoby, author of the forthcoming book The Great Agnostic: Robert Ingersoll and American Freethought, celebrates non-belief in the New York Times:

In a recent conversation with a fellow journalist, I voiced my exasperation at the endless talk about faith in God as the only consolation for those devastated by the unfathomable murders in Newtown, Conn. Some of those grieving parents surely believe, as I do, that this is our one and only life. Atheists cannot find solace in the idea that dead children are now angels in heaven. “That only shows the limits of atheism,” my colleague replied. “It’s all about nonbelief and has nothing to offer when people are suffering.”

This widespread misapprehension that atheists believe in nothing positive is one of the main reasons secularly inclined Americans — roughly 20 percent of the population — do not wield public influence commensurate with their numbers. One major problem is the dearth of secular community institutions.

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Peter Higgs Calls Out Richard Dawkins for Anti-Religious Fundamentalism

Picture: Gert-Martin Gruel (CC)

God Particle vs. God Delusion:

Via The Guardian:

As public disagreements go, few can have boasted such heavy-hitting antagonists.

On one side is Richard Dawkins, the celebrated biologist who has made a second career demonstrating his epic disdain for religion. On the other is the theoretical physicist Peter Higgs, who this year became a shoo-in for a future Nobel prize after scientists at Cern in Geneva showed that his theory about how fundamental particles get their mass was correct.

Their argument is over nothing less than the coexistence of religion and science.

Higgs has chosen to cap his remarkable 2012 with another bang by criticising the “fundamentalist” approach taken by Dawkins in dealing with religious believers.

“What Dawkins does too often is to concentrate his attack on fundamentalists. But there are many believers who are just not fundamentalists,” Higgs said in an interview with the Spanish newspaper El Mundo.

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Unbelief Is Now The World’s Third-Largest Religious Affiliation

There are more than a billion (non)adherents to what has been insultingly dubbed “unbelief.” The Washington Post writes:

A new report on global religious identity shows that while Christians and Muslims make up the two largest groups, those with no religious affiliation — including atheists and agnostics — are now the third-largest “religious” group in the world.

The study, released Tuesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, found that Christians make up the largest group, with 2.2 billion adherents, or 32 percent worldwide, followed by Muslims, with 1.6 billion adherents, or 23 percent. Close behind are the “nones” — those who say they have no religious affiliation or do not believe in God — at 1.1 billion, or 16 percent.

The majority of the world’s religiously unaffiliated live in the Asia-Pacific region, with 700 million in China alone, where religion was stifled during the Cultural Revolution.

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Seven Countries Have Death Penalty For Atheism

Stedman-hangingDon’t tell anyone you’re an atheist if you live in Afghanistan, Iran, Maldives, Mauritania, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia or Sudan! Story via Reuters:

Atheists and other religious skeptics suffer persecution or discrimination in many parts of the world and in at least seven nations can be executed if their beliefs become known, according to a report issued on Monday.

The study, from the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), showed that “unbelievers” in Islamic countries face the most severe – sometimes brutal – treatment at the hands of the state and adherents of the official religion.

But it also points to policies in some European countries and the United States which favor the religious and their organizations and treat atheists and humanists as outsiders.

The report, “Freedom of Thought 2012″, said “there are laws that deny atheists’ right to exist, curtail their freedom of belief and expression, revoke their right to citizenship, restrict their right to marry.”

Other laws “obstruct their access to public education, prohibit them from holding public office, prevent them from working for the state, criminalize their criticism of religion, and execute them for leaving the religion of their parents.”…

[continues at Reuters]… Read the rest

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Man Faces Death Threats and Jail for Pointing Out That Weeping Jesus “Miracle” Is Just Faulty Plumbing

Science and skepticism are under constant attack around the world; climate denial here in the United States, magic bracelets in Australia, and geologists in Italy being punished for not magically predicting earthquakes. Despite the strides of rationalists like Sanal Edamaruku in India (famous for disproving a tantric guru’s ridiculous claims), the law of the land still often sides with the religious zealots.

Picture: Koshi Koshi (CC)

via AlterNet by Henry McDonald

When water started trickling down a statue of Jesus Christ at a Catholic church in Mumbai earlier this year, locals were quick to declare a miracle. Some began collecting the holy water and the Church of Our Lady of Velankanni began to promote it as a site of pilgrimage.

So when Sanal Edamaruku arrived and established that this was not holy water so much as holey plumbing, the backlash was severe. The renowned rationalist was accused of blasphemy, charged with offences that carry a three-year prison sentence and eventually, after receiving death threats, had to seek exile in Finland.

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Results Of An Atheist Prayer Experiment

What happens when nonbelievers pray to God for 40 straight days in the hope that the Almighty will reveal Himself? The U.K.-based Premier Christian Radio organized just such an experiment, and, amazingly, two participants had religious awakenings, although nothing special happened to anyone else. Premier Christian Media writes:

Seventy one atheists and agnostics signed up to take part in the Atheist Prayer Experiment. Each person was asked to pray for a few minutes per day for forty days during September and October 2012. They were praying for God to reveal himself to them.

Of the 71 who signed up:

• 2 have reported that they now believe in God (Kendra and Kelly).

• 2 failed to take part in the experiment.

• 52 have said they did not receive any revelation of God’s existence through prayer. Some of these stopped praying at an early or later point in the experiment, or failed to pray on some days, and some prayed for the entire duration.

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A Strange Hope

Some of atheists’ best arguments are only valid against the most condescending and superficial of religious beliefs… Any Creator God who would go through the trouble of granting us free-will would no doubt do it with the intention of us eventually becoming self-sufficient. So—if this Creator God were to show up and magically solve all our problems—our peace would be meaningless. Self-accountability has to be the highest priority of a sentient species. God’s only moral obligation to us would be to EDUCATE us—which is exactly where Jesus & pals come in. PEOPLE turned those characters into something that had to be worshiped without question. Of course it’s fair to ask where we make the distinction between ‘the Word of God’ and the corruption of man. All I can say is that self-accountability is the highest of virtues.

Obviously there are religious institutions that would love nothing more than for us to become mindless drones, so they put emphasis on obedience rather than autonomy.… Read the rest

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One-Third Of American Young Adults Have No Religious Affiliation

More from the latest Pew survey on faith — religiously devout Americans are dying off in droves, the New York Times writes:

Nearly one in five Americans say they are atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular.” This is a significant jump from only five years ago, when adults who claimed “no religion” made up about 15 percent of the population [and] a seismic shift from 40 years ago, when about 7 percent of American adults said they had no religious affiliation.

Now, more than one-third of those ages 18 to 22 are religiously unaffiliated. These “younger millennials” are replacing older generations who remained far more involved with religion throughout their lives. “We really haven’t seen anything like this before,” said Gregory A. Smith, a senior researcher with the Pew Forum.

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We’re Losing Our Religion

The fastest growing religious group in America? Those with no religion at all. Dan Merica reports for CNN:

The fastest growing “religious” group in America is made up of people with no religion at all, according to a Pew survey showing that one in five Americans is not affiliated with any religion.

The number of these Americans has grown by 25% just in the past five years, according to a survey released Tuesday by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

The survey found that the ranks of the unaffiliated are growing even faster among younger Americans…

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