In the spirit of such provocative debates as "Is Up Down," "Is Black White?" and "Is The Absence Of Light Really The Presence Of Light?" the New York Times asks, "Is Atheism A Religion?"
Ross Douthat goes after what he calls "Hollywood's religion of choice" in the Times today: "Avatar is [James] Cameron's long apologia for pantheism-a faith that equates God with Nature, and calls humanity into religious communion with the natural world." Describing pantheism as "a form of religion that even atheists can support," he argues that it doesn't offer humans the "escape upward" into immortality that he believes is the reason religion exists.
Why do God-believers hate atheists so much? Apparently they (the God-believers) find that an unwillingness to credit magical enchantment and mumbo-jumbo makes them (the atheists) untrustworthy: Religion, in other words, has served a specific function throughout much of human history (beyond assuaging existential fears): It keeps people in line, discouraging them from engaging in selfish acts that hurt the larger community. Gervais and his colleagues point to recent research that bears this notion out; several studies have found people engage in less-selfish behavior “when reminded of watchful supernatural agents.” If you believe – even implicitly – that the prospect of divine retribution is the primary factor inhibiting immoral [...]
Here's a story about yet another campaign aimed at convincing theists that you can have a fulfilling and moral life without believing in some sort of divine overseer. I've already expressed my feelings on this issue, but, really, can't the atheism movement try a little harder to make sure that their spokesfolk don't look exactly like the actors that would be cast in the Onion version of this clip? You're asking people to give up their gods; at least show up with someone who looks like Brad Pitt or something.
Ed Miliband, the newly elected leader of Britain's Labour party, has confirmed that he is an atheist, meaning that two out of the three major British party leaders do not believe in God, and the third (Prime Minister David Cameron) isn't all that big on going to church. The President of the United States, meanwhile, remains a total Jesus-freak.
I saw one of these bus ads on my way over to the Awl offices this morning, and I have to tell, you, I was a little underwhelmed. I mean, as an atheist I'm all for anything that helps further the cause or at least increases understanding between rational thinkers and Godites, but is this really the most effective way to go about it? Who is going to get excited enough to change their preconceptions with this dry and unappealing message? How about something like, "Illicit blowjobs feel even better without the nagging religious guilt," or "You want to spend an hour of your life listening to some guy [...]