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(RNS) A new book exhorts atheists to "come out of the closet," another sign that the nonbelief community is taking a page from the LGBT community in gaining acceptance.

20 Comments

  1. Edward Borges-Silva

    I find no evidence to indicate that atheists have any reluctance at all to declare themselves, which is as it should be in a pluralistic society… we just happen to have different points of view.

    • Edward, have you considered that your lack of evidence may be due to a sampling bias? You only hear from the atheists who have decided to declare themselves. Those who are reluctant, you might never know they are atheists at all.

      Anonymous polling suggests that 15-20% of the population does not believe in a deity, but I can’t say that as many as 1 in 5-6 of my friends and family have told me so about themselves. That suggests there may be people close to me who hold this view, but don’t say so. I would consider that to be evidence of “reluctance to declare themselves.”

    • And yet there is so much negative association and prejudice against atheists that few if any political figures reveal their lack of belief in public. There are also active campaigns by some religious folks to impugn and denigrate atheists. Violence against them is not uncommon in some areas.

      If you do not see evidence as to why atheists would be reluctant to reveal their beliefs openly, it is because you are not bothering to look.

    • The Great God Pan

      In the real world, I definitely avoid identifying as atheist unless I know or am pretty sure that I’m talking to people who are also not religious. And I live in the supposedly “godless” San Francisco Bay Area.

      The hostility towards atheists in the US is real. You won’t be physically attacked, but people will tend to look down on you and consider you untrustworthy. This attitude comes not only from those old fall guys, the “fundamentalists,” but also increasingly from “progressive” believers as well as the burgeoning and disturbing “faitheist” movement.

    • Try going public just for a week in your daily life. Call it a social experiment. You will never quite undo the “stigma,” even after the most heartfelt “April fool!”

    • @SIMONSAYS,

      You say…”There is no such thing as an Atheist (a non-believer)”?

      So you believe in all these Gods:
      Thor, Zeus, Agamemnon, Aphrodite, The Hummingbird Wizard, Allah, Rahman, Ganesha, Vishnu, Mithras, Hercules, Athena, 40,000 other gods…etc.

      How do you manage all the conflicting internal claims?
      Each God denies that the others exist!

      Or are you ready to admit you are an Atheist when it comes to those 40,000 gods.
      You just can’t seem to go one God further?

      • You make my point….gods…they Max had some concept
        of a supreme being!

        C’mon Max….give me an ancient civilization in which
        they had no god…or concept of a supreme being.

        You will never be able to prove it were I can….even thought
        it was primative…those belivers belived in some being…..NOT NO BEING!

        • @SIMONSAYS,
          Why do you need an ancient civilization? Why go back so far?
          What is wrong with all the Atheist countries of today where the majority of people have absolutely no interest in Gods?* :

          Finland
          France
          Hong Kong
          China
          Japan
          Denmark
          Estonia
          Sweden
          Norway
          The Netherlands
          United Kingdom
          Holland
          Scandinavia
          Luxembourg
          Uruguay
          Germany

          *Gallup Polling, 2005
          And according to Pew Research
          religion is dying out faster in more countries today
          than it is spreading.

          • Max….stick to the topic!

            Your red herrings wont work with me!

            By the way, it has been reported that the Boston and
            Washington diocese have recorded the largest
            number to people entering the Catholic Church ever!

            Max….stop with the decoys…..give me proof.

            C’mon Max……proof!
            I will make my statement again….There is no such thing as an atheist or atheism……prove it wrong….you cant.

          • @SIMONSAYS

            I only care if God is real or not.
            If you think there is evidence for a god, I’d like to see it.

            There are no cultures without taboos: “protect the tribe”, “don’t kill each other”, “don’t steal from each other”, etc.
            This proves only that humans formed governments for their communities and this organizing is why humans survived.

            You are asking for something which only proves ancient cultures were capable of organizing themselves with rules. It is meaningless to read further into it.

            Piling silly superstitions onto such rules is how they created the gods they later claimed existed. It has all been debunked.

            If you have no evidence for any gods, it is pointless to claim a need for them.

    • “There are no other Gods before me” – Yahweh.
      “I am the one True God” – Jesus
      “There is only one God, me” – Allah

      What do you do when the God you believe in is an Atheist?

    • Once again we in the atheist camp are send into frantic disarray by the deft, insightful, evidentiary polemics of a worldview that necessarily includes a talking snake.

    • Buddhists believe in NOTHING in the sense you are thinking of. Their belief is that nothingness is the ultimate expression of one’s spiritual being. If our spirit is reborn and still alive it means we are doing it wrong. [your mileage may vary by sect]

      All ancient Buddhist cultures had a blase attitude towards divine beings. When the cultural need arises for a pantheon of gods or a single one, Buddhism just blended the local pre-existing religion. But it is not an essential element. Either they have supreme being(s) or not. It makes no difference to the religious belief.

      We are atheists by birth. It is culture which creates religious belief.

      Ancient civilizations had few means for explaining the world around them. But as they became more advanced, the less they depended on religion to answer those questions. That former role has disappeared entirely from religion.

      • Buddhism originated in the 6th century B.C.E. in India, spread south to Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia, Java, and Sumatra, and north to the Himalayan region, China, Korea, Japan, and Tibet. Beginning in the 19th century, Buddhist teachings were carried to Europe and the Americas as well as parts of Africa and Australia. Unlike most of the world’s other great traditions, Buddhism is not based on any conception of a Supreme Being or Godhead. Rather than depending on God’s help to deliver us from evil and suffering (which is one view of theistic, or God-based, religions) Buddhism teaches reliance on human effort to relieve suffering. The Buddha is considered to be a historical figure, a human being who achieved great enlightenment, but not divine.

        Although the Buddha taught no reliance on a Supreme Being, he nonetheless accepted much of the existing worldview of ancient India, with its panoply of gods and demons. In Buddhist artwork and scriptures, the Buddha is sometimes portrayed as preaching to or interacting with various deities. And many Buddhists venerate the historical Buddha almost like a god, while revering other earthly and celestial beings who have reached enlightenment in a manner similar to the way Westerners or Hindus worship God. How are we to understand this apparent contradiction?

        Perhaps we can begin by noting that modern Buddhists practice their faith in different ways, as do Jews and Christians. For example, a fundamentalist Southern Baptist, who believes in the literal truth of every word of the Bible, and a Unitarian Universalist, who takes the scripture as largely metaphorical, are both Christians. For many Asian Buddhists, elements of the supernatural surround and suffuse their religion, partly the result of Buddhism’s having for so many centuries existed alongside the folk religions of India and China, which are resplendent with gods and goddesses, demons and ghosts and all manner of supernatural happenings. Other Buddhists, particularly Western converts to Zen, choose to follow teachers who stress the nontheistic core of Buddhism, with its reliance on personal effort to achieve self-realization. Still others interpret the teachings regarding celestial beings, demons, paradises and hells, especially as taught by Tibetan Buddhists, as metaphors for various psychological and spiritual states, images that help them in their practice but that they do not need to take literally.

        So it seems to be hit and mis when it comes to Buddist beliveing in a god.

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