Seb wrote:Simply that there seems to be an influx in people speaking about it and people feeling comfortable saying that they are atheists.
Now you have it.
Seb wrote:Pardon me if I'm wrong, but it seems to be a more urban phenomenon and while figures like Mass attendance etc are falling, there still seems to be a lingering 'giving-in' to the local religious precedent. There seems to be little questioning of religion outside urban barriers. This of course is related to demographics etc, but I still wonder about how long it will take for a more widespread atheism to develop in the country. I know obviously there are rural atheists, but I'm just speaking in reference to the majority.
There may be some truth to what you're saying here Seb, but I think if you're going to do your dissertation justice you're going to have to stop thinking in generalisations. I live in the middle of nowhere but I know of at least a dozen atheists/agnostics within a few miles of me. Of course, you'll find many more atheists living in cities, but that's because there's more people
in cities. If you're interested in figures rather than speculation, the CSO Census data
At the last census there were 929 self-described atheists, 1,515 self-described agnostics and 186,318 who ticked the No Religion box, including me (because Atheism is not a religion). That's a grand total of 188,762 non-believers.
According to the geographical distribution figures
, cities do have a higher proportion of people with no religion, but we're out here in bogland too. Here's a few samples (%age with 'no religion').
Cork City - 5.1%
Cork County - 3.8%
Waterford City - 3.07%
Waterford County - 2.6%
Limerick City - 3.4%
Limerick County - 2.1%
Galway City - 6.1%
Galway County - 3.1%
Probably a higher rural penetration than you were assuming anyway.
Seb wrote:At one point, he equates religious belief to low IQ. Surely this would perhaps be more accurately equated to lack of education? How can people question something without be given the tools to do so?
I agree completely. There is in fact no concrete link between atheism and IQ. There are, however, as you point out, recorded correlations between wealth, education and religiosity. There are also other recorded correlations between wealth, education and I.Q. The indication is that rising incomes and better education (at the national level) lead to higher IQ and lower religiosity. But there is no evidence of a direct causal link between IQ and religiosity. But still, a smug atheist implying theists are a bit dim is hardly militant. I think theists are deluded, and I'm married to and in love with one. Doesn't make me militant. Militant is condemning people who don't see things your way to a). death/punishment in this life, and b). death/pain in eternal hellfire in the next one. And only religious people do that.
Seb wrote:I think atheism may be a choice for those who have grown up with religion.
Again, I beg to differ. Once the truth has dawned you about Santa/the Tooth Fairy/Tarot Readings/God, etc, one sees that there is no choice. Atheism is not a choice, it's what's left when the shroud of superstition has been pulled from your eyes.
The only choice you do have is in ceasing to deny the evidence in front of you. I come across this angst all the time (often very close to home). Many theists are curious about atheism and ask me questions when they discover I am one, but there comes a point when they pretty much all say: "Oh, no, sorry, but I don't even want to think about that". Literally veering away from reality. Stopping doing that, that is