Atheism's Now Fit To Print

by tristero

Atheism makes it to Page One of the Times. However, a close look at the article makes it clear that, in reality, the actual number of atheists in the US is vanishingly small. Despite their finessing of the issue, there is one helluva difference between checking the box labelled "no religion" - which can mean just about anything - and atheism, for example. And, strictly speaking, "secular humanism" is not a synonym for atheism, either.

Despite their numbers - or perhaps because of them - atheists today are often the victims of genuine discrimination. It is impossible for an avowed atheist to hold high national office and, despite Obama's oft-noted shout out to non-believers at his Inaugural, the entire ceremony was a religious love-fest. True, I wouldn't have missed Rev. Joseph Lowery's address for anything, but seeing the vile, lying Rick Warren up there was mega-creepy.

So it is good, extremely good, that atheists and atheism have gained so much national status. And hopefully, atheism as an ethics and a belief system will evolve to the point where no one feels they need to go out their way to make excuses for assholes like this simply because they affirm the non-existence of God.


Special Note: Many commenters have concluded, or assumed, that I am an atheist. Apparently, the logic goes something like this. Since I despise christianists, since I like PZ Myers, since I'm a staunch advocate of Church-State separation, therefore, I must be an atheist.

The reasoning is fallacious. I know plenty of devout Christians who loathe James Dobson. As for PZ, I suspect that even Bill Donohue would like PZ Myers if he could be induced to share a beer or three with him (well, maybe not, but my point is that PZ is eminently likable and intelligent, and I think that even if, or especially because, I disagree with him on some things). As for Church-State, I can't think of a single more crucial social issue for the religiously observant to support. From that flows genuine religious freedom and tolerance.

Which is not to say that therefore I'm religious. Over the course of several thousand posts, I've made it a point - as I do in all media - to make it clear that whatever my personal beliefs - or lack of them - might be, they are no one's business but mine. I will say, however, that whatever you might think my personal beliefs/non-beliefs might be, my respect for both religious expression and non-expression is a matter of long public record.

More importantly, whatever my possible faith, or possible lack of same, might be, it is absolutely, completely, thoroughly irrelevant to the cultural/political/artistic/scientific issues that publicly concern me. That is what is meant by an advocacy of Church-State separation and I take a dim view of anyone who claims that their "faith" compels them to support or denounce a political agenda. No faith worth its name requires someone to check their brain at the door, or absolves an individual of responsibility for their actions and beliefs.