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Posted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 1:16 am
by Colin
My Dad is a prime example of that. He hasn't been to mass in about 20 years except for Christmas Day and is currently devouring the God Delusion. While in all censuses (censi?) and questionaires he would fill in Roman Catholic instinctively.

To say he is a lapsed catholic may be true, but I can hardly see my dad going back to church, nor do I feel he has any religious feelings.

Posted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 4:31 pm
by inedifix
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 might help.

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').

Dublin 8.5%
Wicklow 7%
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 a choice.

J

Posted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 9:45 pm
by lostexpectation
Seb wrote:
What I find most bizarre of all, is when people argue for 'militant atheism'. I find these arguments just as violent and misguided as the proponents of fundamentalist Christianity.
I was willing to give you the benefit of the doubt but that is just too much.

you don't' seem to have clue about atheism and Im not sure even after research and study you could write a fair dissertation on current atheism.

its not simply a bad choice of words like 'popular atheism'.

who is it that argues for 'militant atheism'??

who is arguing for violent 'militant atheism' ?

Posted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 12:59 am
by fintanruth
Hi Seb

Atheists are usually loners that come to their own conclusions about the meaning of life, they are more likely to read articles on science than mysticism.

Theists on the other hand usually are part of a group where the masses look up to the Hierarchy immediately above them.

Being part of a system like this you are expected to believe in some bizarre ideas i.e. virgin birth, resurrection of the dead, heaven, the world is forty two thousand years old, the assumption of Mary into heaven, pray to God Jesus Mary and all the many saints and they will intervene in some way or another.

Religion like politics are built on empty promises that the masses pay a large price for, the question is do those leaders actually believe what they are telling their followers? I suspect they have their own doubts.

Have a look at www.therealmoses.com it might make the whole debate a little clearer.

Fintan

Posted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 11:46 pm
by mkaobrih
fintanruth wrote:Atheists are usually loners that come to their own conclusions about the meaning of life, they are more likely to read articles on science than mysticism.
Fintan
Wow - I had never thought that because I like solitary things that that made me more prone to atheism.

Posted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 12:48 pm
by Gar
Atheists are usually loners that come to their own conclusions about the meaning of life, they are more likely to read articles on science than mysticism.
I don't know about that Fintan, I'm very social and my atheism stems far more from reading of religious books than from my reading of science.. A lot of my friends who are also atheists would be quite similar, I don't know if a study has ever been done on peoples reasons for ceasing to believe in god/gods but I'm sure it would be interesting

Posted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 1:19 pm
by Seb
I haven't seen much evidence of atheism rurally. I'm from the middle of nowhere too, and the vast majority of the people I know have a rather unquestioning faith.Although, yet again, I know I'm generalising. It may be a symptom of my age group too and the homogenisation of beliefs and interests that is thought to be required to fit in with the local groups. The first time I would have come face to face with atheism would have been when I came to college, an educational environment.

I think I haven't been in touch with the age group that would have questioned faith. But the figures do clarify things a bit. That said i don't think the figures are always reflected in society. Census figures don't always reflect the truth, just like Colin's dad.

Violent arguments are different to actual violence. I stole the term "militant atheism" from a talk given by Richard Dawkins at TED (Technology Entertainment Design). I just think it's an interesting juxtaposition of words, that would arouse indignation in anyone they were applied to. It's an interesting, funny talk. Check it out.

http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/113

fintanruth, I'm actually in the process of getting in touch with an atheist Church of Ireland minister. I'll let you know how it goes. The website is really interesting. Thank you.

I think that it requires a certain amount of bravery to go against the grain, and say what you believe in, or don't. So for that reason religion is the easier option for most. If I was living in my hometown belief in god is more or less the done thing, so I may not have questioned it. As it stands, most of my current friends are atheists, so even though I was very affronted at first by talking to them about religion, I have to admit that it makes sense.

I think that's often the hardest thing about atheism. It makes sense, it's cold hard truth, and there are no hopes of redemption or forgiveness or prayer to cushion the fall.
I think that's probably what people find the hardest to accept. I know that's how it's going for me...

-C

Posted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 4:11 pm
by inedifix
Seb wrote:I think that's often the hardest thing about atheism. It makes sense, it's cold hard truth, and there are no hopes of redemption or forgiveness or prayer to cushion the fall. I think that's probably what people find the hardest to accept. I know that's how it's going for me...
Good luck. Just bear Voltaire's old saw in mind: "Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is an absurd one."

Posted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 4:24 pm
by mkaobrih
Seb wrote:I think that it requires a certain amount of bravery to go against the grain, and say what you believe in, or don't. So for that reason religion is the easier option for most. If I was living in my hometown belief in god is more or less the done thing, so I may not have questioned it. As it stands, most of my current friends are atheists, so even though I was very affronted at first by talking to them about religion, I have to admit that it makes sense.
You are making a very big presumption that the only atheists that there are, are the ones who come out as atheists.
I imagine that there’s lots of hidden atheist who don’t talk about it.
It might just seem that more people are atheists now but maybe they are just no longer bothered about hiding their atheism.

Posted: Sun Feb 24, 2008 10:38 pm
by lostexpectation
expand on this violent atheist argument theory of yours ????