Tag Archives | Atheism

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]

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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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Einstein: ‘God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses’

Source: Gazin Auctions

Einstein’s “God Letter” is up for sale at auction. Any bidders? Jessica Ravitz reports for CNN:

Decades before atheist scientist and author Richard Dawkins called God a “delusion,” one world-renowned physicist – Albert Einstein – was weighing in on faith matters with his own strong words.

“The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends,” Einstein wrote in German in a 1954 letter that will be auctioned on eBay later this month. “No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.”

Dubbed Einstein’s “God Letter” by the Los Angeles-based auction agency that’s posting it online, the original document will be up for grabs starting Monday. The opening bid: $3 million.

The letter provides a window into the famed genius’s religious beliefs. Einstein wrote it to Jewish philosopher Eric Gutkind, one year before Einstein died, in reaction to Gutkind’s book, “Choose Life: The Biblical Call to Revolt.”…

[continues at CNN]

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The Cosmist ‘Third Way': An Afterlife For Atheists

Giulio Prisco at Turing Church explains how Cosmist beliefs can provide solace for nonbelievers confronted by the gaping void of permanent annihilation:

I cope with the grief from the death of loved ones by contemplating the Cosmist possibility, described by many thinkers including Nikolai Fedorov, Hans Moravec and Frank Tipler, that future generations (or alien civilizations, or whatever) may develop technologies to resurrect the dead. A related idea is that our reality may be a “simulation” computed by entities in a higher-level reality, who may choose to copy those who die in our reality to another reality. Contemplating these possibilities is my way to cope with grief, I hope you will find your own way.

Cosmism is one of those “third ways” that are often passionately rejected by those who believe in the old ways, but in my opinion it is a Hegelian synthesis of what is good in the old ways: it is firmly based on science, and at the same time it offers all the important mental devices of religion, including hope in resurrection.

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Pastors & Priests Who Don’t Believe In God

The New York Times Magazine devotes a major story to the increasing trend of preachers like Jerry DeWitt who lose their religion and start batting for the other team:

…DeWitt began e-mailing with dozens of fellow apostates every day and eventually joined another new network called Recovering From Religion, intended to help people extricate themselves from evangelical Christianity. Atheists, he discovered, were starting to reach out to one another not just in the urban North but also in states across the South and West, in the kinds of places­ DeWitt had spent much of his career as a traveling preacher. After a few months he took to the road again, this time as the newest of a new breed of celebrity, the atheist convert. They have their own apostles (Bertrand Russell, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens) and their own language, a glossary borrowed from Alcoholics Anonymous, the Bible and gay liberation (you always “come out” of the atheist closet).

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