Is Atheism a Fad?

atheism

Is atheism a fad?

I remember growing up and listening to heavy metal music.

Of course, my parents despised it and they would dismissively say that I was going through a fad. They told me and anyone else who would listen that my love affair with hard-rock wouldn’t last.

When they told their friends, they would smirk and tell them that me wearing black and listening to noisy music was just a thing I was going though and I’d grow out of it.

My favorite singer was Ozzy Osbourne.

I am nearly 40 and Ozzy is still my favorite artist, I still like to wear black, and I still listen to noisy music and love every second of it.

Today I read a post that called atheism a ‘phase’ and promised to prove that we would all believe in his deity eventually.

I will try to condense this into “2 quick facts to prove that if you’re not currently religious, that you will in fact become religious.”

Sure. Hit me with these two facts.

First, researchers have found that people get more religious as they age in most parts of the world. Researcher Tom Smith said: ‘Looking at differences among age groups, the largest increases in belief in God most often occur among those 58 years of age and older. ‘This suggests that belief in God is especially likely to increase among the oldest groups, perhaps in response to the increasing anticipation of mortality.

First off, you need to link to this quote.

But I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt since I read that study way back. While it may be true, you seem gleeful that people will say they believe in your God because they fear death. You should ask yourself if that’s a good motivation and what kind of person that makes you?

Also, it’s not surprising that the older you get, the more susceptible you are to the messages of religion. Most of us fear death and the thought that there is a way for us to literally live forever if we only believe in ancient nonsense can overwhelm our reason.

Couple that with the built in fear mechanisms that religion often utilizes (like hell or eternal punishment) and you have people scared into (or at least professing to) believing supernatural claims.

God isn’t the problem, the problem is the feeling of exclusion that’s been driving millennials away.A study by the Public Religion Research Institute showed that millennials stand out in their belief that religious groups are alienating young people. Seven in-ten (70%) Millennials believe that religious groups are alienating young adults by being too judgemental about gay and lesbian issues.

Again, you need to cite your sources.

Of course, the problem isn’t God. There likely isn’t any such thing. The problem is the dogma that clings to god beliefs – the holy books that tell believers how they should treat homosexuals, women etc.

So now as we see some churches begin to move away or at least tone down their anti LGBT rhetoric, coupled with the inevitable ageing of millennials, we’re bound to see many of these hardcore atheists find God.

It seems to be lost on you that your religion is changing, despite supposedly being commanded by a divine being. The religion is changing to suit the society it rests in. If this dogma were true, and if it were truly handed down by a perfect divine being, it would not change.

As for your last thought about atheists finding god more, that same study had something to say about that, and I’ll cite my source.

Although by most measures, belief in God is gradually declining worldwide, it is increasing in Russia, Slovenia and Israel. In Russia, comparing the difference between those who believe in God but hadn’t previously, and those who don’t believe in God but used to, researchers found a 16 percent change in favor of belief.

That kind of points towards atheism not being a fad at all.

Just like my parents were, you are wrong. Atheism has existed since the first person doubted and failed to believe the religious claims of the first shaman or some other charlatan, and they will continue to exist as long as skepticism exists.

Atheism isn’t going away. Religions have tried to (and continue to try) silence us with blasphemy laws meant to prevent them from losing arguments. They have tried to kill us and demonize us. They have tried to dismiss us as unruly children like you’re attempting to do here with this post.

But we are still here. And our numbers are growing.

 

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52 Comments

  1. Percentages of religiously affiliated people declined after WWII and it’s interesting when we look at many Western European states to take note of the tipping point for these ‘non-religious’ societies to consider themselves as ‘not religious’ That point is not 50% of the population. It has to do with the cohorts that are working and having children reaching a majority of non believers. So the trick here is to look at the younger generation to see which way the trend is going… here in Canada and the US.

    Unquestionably, the non affiliated population in total has more than doubled in only 10 years (to about 25% of the population) and in these younger cohorts (again, in Canada and the US specifically) is somewhere around 40%… even higher in the youngest 18-29 cohort. In other words, we are fast approaching a similar state for a tipping point to be reached if the European model holds. I think New Atheism and its active online criticism has had an effect on the most wired generation, but that’s pure speculation on my part. Certainly, the internet is where religious belief comes to die..

  2. And it’s also possible that some of the increase in non-belief we are seeing is that people are more willing these days to admit that they don’t believe, and that there’s less stigma attached to it than there was. When I first realized, 30 years ago, that I didn’t believe religious claims any more, if you had asked me to state for a survey what my religion was, I probably wasn’t ready to say “atheist”. Now that’s my answer every time. We’ve always been here, we’re just noisier about it now.

    But I hope that the overall numbers are actually increasing as well.

    • Ubi, my thoughts exactly. One simply did not discuss religion outside of a church situation, and one simply did not announce to one’s family that you were a nonbeliever of any stripe. You tucked your tail under, and that was it.

      I cannot ever remember actively discussing belief with anyone i real time, except for the Jehovah’s who insisted on it when they came a-calling. Religion was personal, private. You might know that your best friend was a Methodist, or a Baptist, but it was never brought up.

      And your government officials had better profess religious affiliations, no matter what their personal preferences were.

      Times change.

  3. I think I would argue that most religions could be classified as fads before atheism. Historically, religions come and go: Norse Gods, the Olympians, etc. You can pinpoint when Christianity, Islam, Judaism began and, just like their predecessors, they will one day cease to be practiced. But there have always been skeptics. And there always will be.

  4. This suggests that belief in God is especially likely to increase among the oldest groups, perhaps in response to the increasing anticipation of mortality

    This is roughly the same as the notion that there are no atheists in foxholes eg. when man is facing death, especially in times of great fear, he is more likely to accept God. The problem with this is that you are saying that people are more likely to accept religion in times when they are probably thinking less rationally. This doesn’t say much for religion’s validity.

  5. I just finished “All Quiet On The Western Front”, never read it before. It does address this issue, briefly, and puts paid to the idea that God has anything to do with belief in wartime.

    It may be, too, that the belief in God has always been inside someone, but as you get older you are more likely to express it. My mother in law, who I would consider one of the more ‘religious” among us, in attitude if not practice, said to me during her last days, “I may not be going anywhere, I just don’t know anymore, but I hope if I do, it’s nice.” And when she died, we opened the window to let her spirit out, as she had done for her husband when he died. As she said, just in case.

    I suspect, too, that churches hold a great many atheists who are there because someone got firm about it, (what will people THINK, if you don’t go), or because it’s a nice place to nap on a Sunday morning, or it’s what you do so the neighbors won’t talk.

    I miss heaven. I miss the idea of it, which was comforting. sometimes I wake in the middle of the night, and think, this is all there is. When I die, I disappear.
    That can be a very scary thought, at that hour. And kinda sad.

  6. Atheism isn’t a fad, but like anything else some people capitalise on it for their media image and do make a fad of it. Been an agnostic since 3. I don’t “know” there is no God, but I don’t think there is, so I don’t identify as a strict atheist.

    • Strict atheist? Now, I wonder what that might mean? Let’s see… Atheism: a lack of belief in a god or gods.

      Hmm. Too honest, I guess. So how on earth is the term ‘strict’ applicable?

      Well, it’s really a preamble, isn’t it? It’s a term used to describe another type of non belief that’s not like the benign kind. To avoid the accusation of being one of those atheists… you know, the militant kind who are loud and obnoxious and strident and even go so far as to criticize religious belief… brings us to what agnosticism in this comparative sense actually means: a meaningless and cowardly term for those atheists who wants to appear to theists to be much more reasonable and open to the idea of gods or a god but who can’t quite bring him- or herself to admit a lack of belief in gods or a god to those theists… because of a lack of knowledge you see. Nothing personal at all. No, no no… it’s a case of uncertainty because of a lack of knowledge, you see… all quite honest. Much more honest, in fact, than those who hold that other type of non belief, those nasty atheists. One can’t actually find a middle ground between belief and non belief so one must do something to avoid admitting what’s true about one’s actual state of belief. Voila! Enter agnosticism!

      Look at the benefits: one can present one’s self as someone who wouldn’t dream of being so offensive to believers and their batshit crazy superstitious nonsense like those other atheists… because of a truthful lack of knowledge, you see. If only… Well, until such a latter time, one can smile, nod, and pretend these central faith-based tenets and empirical claims made on them might actually be the case (if only we had more knowledge, but until then…) and in spite of all evidence adduced from reality standing contrary to and in conflict with the faith-based beliefs (yeah, but Galileo once stood alone, too…).

      Of course, I could be wrong about the ‘strict’ modifier because, after all, I don’t have enough knowledge to determine what Alexis actually means by using in this context. So, if challenged, I can scurry behind the term ‘agnostic’ because truthfully I’m really quite agnostic about its meaning.

      See how honest I’m being? Not like that other type of atheist. Oh, wait…

      • Yes, that’s a much better way to phrase it I think. I don’t believe there is a god anywhere, and if he does exist, he kinda sucks at his job, so why should I serve him? In short, I don’t really care if there is one or not. But the absence of evidence, does not always mean the absence of a thing. I admit I don’t know for sure, in spite of my beliefs.

        A lot of America’s founding fathers were agnostic and atheist. I read a study on that once. Even Lincoln battled with faith, and bounced between atheist and agnostic. Yet America successfully repaints historical figures as Christians to fit their current motto of In God We Trust. Maybe it had something to do with the Second Great Awakening?

  7. Atheism is not a fad but a phase … it’s the last phase you enter when you’ve done you’re exploring, woken up realizing there is no sky fairy to take care of you forever and ever and ever and ever.

    Death is nothing. It’s a nothingness that we won’t feel. It’s peace. It’s the ending of living that can be sad while the idea of not actually existing anymore in the here-and-now is what troubles many of us. You can only feel the idea of death while you’re alive. Once you’re dead there is complete peace … like being under anesthesia or a deep dreamless sleep.

    Of course, if one is diagnosed with a terminal illness and his/her days are numbered death seems premature … so mankind has created the idea of “living forever” in a different realm. This is one reason why mankind doesn’t take care of the earth — because believers of heaven or a realm beyond death often see no need to take care of a temporary place since they (and every one else) will eventually be gone. It saddens me. Earth is all we knowingly have.

    Here’s a little article for you:

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/05/04/pastor-mark-driscoll-christians-dont-need-to-care-about-the-environment-because-jesus-is-coming-back-for-us/

    And from Psychology Today “Should You Fear Death” by Paul Thagard, Ph.D:

    “More than two thousand years ago, the Greek philosopher Epicurus constructed an argument against fearing death that has since become even more plausible: ‘Death does not concern us, because as long as we exist, death is not here. And when it does come, we no longer exist.’ Epicurus was one of the first atomists who believed that everything consists of material entities and that there are no souls that survive death. If your life ends at death, then you have nothing to fear, because there will be no YOU to experience pleasure or pain. It’s all over when it’s over.”

    “The fear of death persists as a vestige of religious views that proclaim that life on earth is just a fragment of the existence of an eternal soul. Then religion becomes a solution to a problem that it has itself created: You may be able to decrease your fear of death by believing that you have found the right religion that will ensure that your afterlife will be pleasant. Thus religion allows a person to careen from the fear-driven inference that death is threatening to the motivated inference that it won’t be so bad in the afterlife. Of course, this inference assumes that you have picked the right religion.”

    “This variety is one of the flaws in Pascal’s famous wager that it is better to believe in God, because if religion turns out to be true, then you get eternal reward, instead of suffering eternal punishment. This wager assumes that you know what religion to bet on. In contrast, let me offer Thagard’s [the author of this article] wager: it is better not to believe in God, because then you don’t have to suffer through a lifetime of worrying about death and the right religion! [or it you’re “doing” your chosen religion corrrectly.]”

    FULL ARTICLE: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/hot-thought/201206/should-you-fear-death

    __________________________

    Peace out!
    Elizabetcetera

  8. Atheism is definitely a fad. Some day the non-religious will grow out of using a word connecting them to theism in what they call themselves. “Rationalists” perhaps might be a more forward-thinking title?

  9. I had a look at report by Tom Smith:
    http://www.norc.org/pdfs/beliefs_about_god_report.pdf
    Whilst Tom Smith is correctly quoted I question the methodology used by SMith himself in regard to people coming to faith later in life. There are two issues that seem to affect his study, firstly the opening up of Eastern Europe to religion post communism, secondly he seems to only look at the age of believers and not how those now and not study cohorts over a period of time. Thus because more old people are religious he concludes that people come to religion later in life, But it seems most of those older people always believed and thus what the stats really show (leaving aside the Eastern europe distortion) is that society is that the young are less religious than the old.

  10. Reblogged this on Memory of the Star and commented:
    Here’s an article I enjoyed. As usual, comments and likes will be disabled. Please visit the original source! Don’t fret, I’ve got plenty of good stuff coming down the chute, it’s just taking slightly longer than anticipated and I don’t want to leave my audience without something new each day.

    • I don’t get the point of re-blogging if comments are disabled. Surely selecting something to re-blog means you find it interesting enough to revisit in some way. Without comments enabled, how can you explore the interest you have with your audience… unless you care only about expressing yourself and couldn’t care less about giving them the same opportunity. That’s insulting… from a reader’s point of view.

      I don’t think you can explore anything honestly without allowing for that external input, which is why I never bother to read re-blogs unless the re-blogger wants to talk not TO me but WITH me. That requires comments enabled and not moderated. It’s like having a person sit down next to you and show you something they find interesting but you’re not allowed to say anything to that person in return. At best, that’s rude. And it’s rude because that’s not a conversation; that’s someone imposing on your time to satisfy only themselves… an imposition that at best benefits only you. Why would anyone follow such a blog?

            • Yeah, I get that.

              I’m just saying that using that redirecting tactic doesn’t do anything for me as a reason to follow that redirecting blog. It’s the comments that are really the meat of a blog and it’s there where we find a conversation about the topic… otherwise I might as well be reading an article, which I can do from sites with really good writers. I think the quality of the commentary of a blog is what separates the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. Show me a blog that has good commentary and I’ll show you a blog worth following. Show me a blog that disables comments or moderates input and there’s simply no good reason to follow it.

      • The reason I disable comments and likes is because I want the people to go to the original source and leave their comments there. Same with the likes. I don’t want to take comments and likes that are rightfully theirs. I would address the claims that you’ve made, but because I believe that this will make things clear it seems rather unnecessary.

      • When Dylan reblogs and disables HIS commentary section it is because it isn’t HIS work. It is the work of someone else and he send us off quite happily to read whatever it is that caught his fancy. I think it is a sign of his respect for the other writers, and not any expression of his lack of care for his own followers comments.
        Frankly If we wish to speak with Dylan as to what it was that he appreciated about the reblogged post, we would message him( and have done so) or commented on the original post just as he has done. I, for one, appreciate the shares. He has introduced me (and his other followers) to an extraordinary group of writers.

  11. I am not sure the numbers of atheists is growing. The research I have seen shows that the number of people who consider themselves atheist is under 10%. Has the amount really varied that much other than in places where belief and unbelief may have been illegal? Probably not much.

    This despite decades and even centuries of claims that people will soon shed religion.

    As far as religious trying to kill atheists – I think modern people have more examples of the opposite from the french revolution, and various communist regimes. Yet Religion remains.

    Does any of this speak to the truth of religion or atheism? I think that is unlikely. But it is still interesting. I just finished listening to a book on this topic called “The Triumph of Fatih” By Rodney Stark. He goes through many statistics on this issue. You might find it interesting.

    • Joe, you may rest assured that the absolute number of non believers in some god or gods is growing. But you confuse yourself when you then switch to percentage rates because the absolute number of believers is also growing. That’s why a better comparison is the rate of those who do not identify with a religion. These are called the ‘Nones’ referring to national census check boxes for identifying a religious denomination. Unquestionably, this proportion of the population throughout the West is trending upwards to the point of being the second largest population cohort in most Western countries and the largest in many European countries. For religious comparisons, the Nones indicate religiosity is on the decline throughout First World countries but entrenched in Third world countries. Coincidence?

      You have raised a standard religious trope that ‘atheism’ is in some way linked to the rise of brutal totalitarian regimes. This is a falsehood. No totalitarian regime utilized some fundamental precept contained within non belief of gods or a god to justify mass murder and war. Atheism is an empty concept and contains no such precepts or tenets. The tactic being employed here is to vilify non belief as a means to suggest religious belief somehow combats this precept. Yet real world evidence robustly correlates secularism (because we’re talking about religious governments and non religious governments here) with peace, prosperity, order, and good government. So this is why it’s a trope and a dishonest portrayal of non belief. Hitler was raised a good Catholic and Stalin a orthodox priest, for crying out loud. This is the kind of despotic training that teaches one how to become a Dear Leader and not atheism that is the result from honest critical thinking and a deep respect for evidence-adduced weighing to inform beliefs.

      What’s interesting to me is why people in this day and age continue to promote this kind of generalized but oft-refute PRATT. It’s nothing more and nothing less than dishonest mewling religious apologetics – an approach that requires this ongoing and often underhanded passive aggressive bullshit against non belief to try to make itself appear a ‘reasonable’ alternative (when it isn’t) and then gently promoted by people like you who should know better. That’s fascinating.

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