New study finds atheists most distrusted American minority

March 25, 2006

I think it’s time, or nearly so, for me to truly ‘come out’ as an atheist. Certainly my friends and associates know this about me, but not all of my family does, and while it’s not something I’m ashamed of, it is certainly something I’m currently cautious about disclosing.

This study is a good indication of why I am cautious.

However, I feel a responsibility toward emerging atheists and existing atheists alike to declare myself publicly atheist, to show that atheists are not, in fact, all evil, self-centered, untrustworthy and unethical frauds. 

I shall continue to ponder this, though I think my decision will likely be in favor of this public declaration.

Atheists identified as America’s most distrusted minority, according to new U of M study : News Releases: UMNnews: U of M.

Even though atheists are few in number, not formally organized and relatively hard to publicly identify, they are seen as a threat to the American way of life by a large portion of the American public. “Atheists, who account for about 3 percent of the U.S. population, offer a glaring exception to the rule of increasing social tolerance over the last 30 years,” says Penny Edgell, associate sociology professor and the study’s lead researcher.

Edgell also argues that today’s atheists play the role that Catholics, Jews and communists have played in the past—they offer a symbolic moral boundary to membership in American society. “It seems most Americans believe that diversity is fine, as long as every one shares a common ‘core’ of values that make them trustworthy—and in America, that ‘core’ has historically been religious,” says Edgell. Many of the study’s respondents associated atheism with an array of moral indiscretions ranging from criminal behavior to rampant materialism and cultural elitism.

Edgell believes a fear of moral decline and resulting social disorder is behind the findings. “Americans believe they share more than rules and procedures with their fellow citizens—they share an understanding of right and wrong,” she said. “Our findings seem to rest on a view of atheists as self-interested individuals who are not concerned with the common good.

ADDENDUM: 2006-03-25 @ 14:20 CST – I just came across this quote from an interview with Dennett:

Well, by leading a meaningful life. As I look around the world, I see all sorts of heroes in every walk of life. But there is a prejudice against this because a lot of [atheists] are reluctant to point it [their lack of belief] out. Nobody wants to spend their life going around being the ‘village atheist.’ They’re much more interested in just leading a good and normal life.

So a lot of people, I find, are surprised to see me so candidly and cheerfully acknowledging my atheism. Not because they’re not atheists, but because they don’t go around mentioning it. I think that’s unfortunate.

The emphasis is mine. The article is here.

ADDITIONAL ADDENDUM: 2006-03-25 @ 14:24 – another perspective on religion and ethics:

Everyday science: Science, religion and the atomic bomb

“We know where scientific reason can end up by itself: the atomic bomb… fruit of a reason that wants to free itself from every ethical or religious link.”

So they go on to claim that religion should oversee science.

But a bomb does no harm unless it is dropped on someone. So who made the decision to bomb the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Not the scientists. Most of the scientists who knew about the bomb signed letters to President Truman asking that the bomb never be used, especially against civilians. But they had no say in the final decision.

<>Then who did decide to bomb cities full of women and children? Christians all:
President Harry S. Truman was a Baptist.
Secretary of state James F Byrnes was an Anglican/Episcopalian.
Secretary of War Henry Stimson was a Presbyterian.<>

So where was religion’s famous morality when these decisions were made? And where they now while our self-proclaimed Christian President George W. Bush wages a war in Iraq based on lies which kills civilians by the thousand?


A long rant on the South Dakota issue

March 22, 2006

Here’s a little taste (contains a lot of instances of the word “fuck”):

Fuck South Dakota

And yes, Senator Napoli is the same fucker who says that most abortions these days are for, no kidding, “convenience.” Because taking a pill or slapping on a piece of latex is way, way less convenient than spending your afternoon in stirrups while strangers poke at your private bits with hoses and forceps.

In addition to being full of profanity, it’s also very sarcastic:

Exactly where did these fuckers get the idea that people are getting abortions like it’s a walk in the park? “Oh shit, I got so wrapped up teaching my kids to be gay that I completely forgot to get my abortion! I sure hope they can murder this baby on Friday or it’s going to completely screw up my weekend.”


Do you want to be treated with modern medicine, or the unevolved stuff?

March 17, 2006

A cute and to-the-point comic linked by Kevin, M.D.

Kevin, M.D. – Medical Weblog


Ohio schools have ecome officially atheistic, godless, and toxic…

March 17, 2006

I don’t really have words for this. The Atheist Mama had a few though.

The Columbus Dispatch – Editorials

In December, I submitted a resolution to the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio, urging pastors and parents to investigate the indoctrination of our young people into the homosexual agenda and to encourage concerned Christian parents to remove their children from public schools.

At the heels of the recent 11-4 decision by the State Board of Education to censor any criticism of Darwinian evolution, it has become clear that our young people are being indoctrinated into not only a pro-homosexual, but a humanistic religion, as well. Ohio schools have become officially atheistic, godless and toxic, morally, intellectually and spiritually, to our precious children.


Sounding both intelligent and reasonable

March 17, 2006

There’s a rather uninteresting post from the ID camp, except for one little line, quoted below (emph mine)

Evolution News & Views: The Scotsman: Intelligent Design Evidence-Based

Scotsman Alistair Donald recently engaged Peter Jones concerning intelligent design and the age of reason, and came off sounding both intelligent and reasonable.

This is the cornerstone of ID — sounding intelligent and reasonable. The average Joe or Jane may have a difficult time discerning real science from something that sounds intelligent and reasonable. This includes politicians. Thus, a large group of creationists gets together, makes a concerted effort to seem legit, and are subsequently percieved as scientific skeptics who just want to make sure that we’re dilligent in our skepticism.

It’s important in trying to limit the impact of ID that we understand the social and psychological manipulation perpetrated by its proponents.


ID/Creationism people cite criticism of Kitzmiller Case

March 17, 2006

They lost that case, and lost it big. They should be hanging their heads in shame because their utter sham was revealed.

Intead, they cheer at every option when someone critcizes the decision.

Evolution News & Views: Philosopher Alvin Plantinga Demolishes Part of Kitzmiller Decision

The critical response to Judge Jones’s decision in the Kitzmiller case continues to build. Renowned philosopher Alvin Plantinga has recently written a short article analyzing part of Judge Jones’s reasoning. Having Plantinga’s analytic expertise and philosophic understanding come down against the Kitzmiller decision does not bode well for the intellectual vitality Judge Jones may have hoped his opinion would achieve. For those who may not know, Alvin Plantinga is a highly respected philosopher who has written extensively on such topics as epistemology, metaphysics, and the philosophy of religion. As one of the worlds leading thinkers about the ‘science of knowledge,’ epistemology, Plantinga has published a seminal trilogy centering on warrant. He is highly respected in the philosophy community and has served as the president of the American Philosophical Association. All this makes Plantinga’s analysis of the reasoning employed in Kitzmiller highly relevant.

Hell’s Handmaiden shares my opinion, and has already dealt with the praised article here.


Withering criticism of Leon Wieseltier’s review of “Breaking the Spell”

March 17, 2006

The very article that the Intelligent Design folks were drooling over has been met with a flurry of criticism.

‘Breaking the Spell’ – New York Times

Leon Wieseltier’s review of Daniel Dennett’s “Breaking the Spell” (Feb. 19) was an impressive demonstration of the power of religious faith. In gathering the wood for this auto-da-fé, Wieseltier showed no facility at all for scientific thought, nor even a basic appreciation for the standards of rigor and intellectual honesty that distinguish science from religion as a human pursuit. Wieseltier writes with triumphal smugness about the “excesses of naturalism” that apparently blight Dennett’s work. He might as well have pointed out the “excesses of historical accuracy” or the “excesses of logical coherence.” If utter naturalism is a sin, it is one only from the point of view of religious faith — a faith that has grown ever more blinkered in Reason’s glare.

That bit’s from Sam Harris.