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New Atheist Campaign

InquireTruth
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12/6/2009 8:02:33 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
I'm sure many of you have heard of the New Atheist Campaign (http://uk.news.yahoo.com...). The vanguard of this movement consists of a vast pantheon of illustrious and self-proclaimed "brights." Their books were apparently motivated by observational exigencies - namely the supposed harm of religious belief. You have no doubt heard of Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennet, Christopher Hitchens and their respective books. My question is, how effective do believe this recent influx of atheistic literature and campaigning has been?

So far as I can tell, the results of the campaign have yielded nothing statistically observable. According to the September/October Psychology Today, The percentage of self-identified Atheists has remained remarkably stagnant:

1944: 4 percent
1964: 3 percent
1994: 3 percent
2007: 4 percent

Any thoughts?
Volkov
Posts: 9,765
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12/6/2009 8:09:03 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
I question those statistics, but not necessarily the numbers, so much as the scope, which you're limiting to how many atheists are in the world.

I think the better scope is how many secularist Christians, as well as the non-religious, are in the world. If you're going to measure the impact of these books, it would be fairer to cast the net out that much farther, because these books aren't necessarily meant to convert others to atheism directly, but rather to shift their thinking to the idea that the established religions are not beneficial to government and society.

Just a thought.
Puck
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12/6/2009 8:09:42 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
Depends on the survey, how atheism is defined and how many countries information from is collated. There are equally other statistics that show increases.
TheSkeptic
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12/6/2009 8:17:54 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
Numerous problems and issues at hand when thinking about this subject:

1. As Puck stated, it depends on how atheism is defined - often people who subscribe to Taoist, Buddhist, Unitarian, etc. beliefs can be classified as atheists (and then there's the position of being an agnostic). A better category would probably be "nonreligious".

2. If we are dealing with percentages, then atheism could either be stagnant or even declining, but that's only because birth rates in religious societies are much higher (like most parts of Asia). Atheism is definitely rising in Western nations, particularly Europe.

http://www.adherents.com...
http://www.religioustolerance.org...
InquireTruth
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12/6/2009 8:23:50 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 12/6/2009 8:09:03 PM, Volkov wrote:
I question those statistics, but not necessarily the numbers, so much as the scope, which you're limiting to how many atheists are in the world.
Having read a fair portion of the books written by the aforesaid authors, I would have to say that their purpose is to eliminate the "superstition" of supernaturalism. Richard Dawkins' book in particular opts for a strict naturalism.

I think the better scope is how many secularist Christians, as well as the non-religious, are in the world. If you're going to measure the impact of these books, it would be fairer to cast the net out that much farther, because these books aren't necessarily meant to convert others to atheism directly, but rather to shift their thinking to the idea that the established religions are not beneficial to government and society.
Your point is only correct if your assumption about what these books "meant" to do is correct. Like I said, having read a fair portion of these books, I'm not sure you are entirely, or at all, correct.

I'll have to see if I can find some more relevant statistics.
Volkov
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12/6/2009 8:27:20 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 12/6/2009 8:23:50 PM, InquireTruth wrote:
Your point is only correct if your assumption about what these books "meant" to do is correct. Like I said, having read a fair portion of these books, I'm not sure you are entirely, or at all, correct.

Even if the stated intent by the authors isn't there, the effect is. At least, that is what I've seen, and my own experience - even in reverse.
InquireTruth
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12/6/2009 8:34:42 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
Even if the stated intent by the authors isn't there, the effect is.

Isn't the campaign defined by its intentions. That is to say, if its goal is to increase atheism, shouldn't the effectiveness of the the campaign be measured in relation to the success in achieving that goal?
Volkov
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12/6/2009 8:40:19 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 12/6/2009 8:34:42 PM, InquireTruth wrote:
Isn't the campaign defined by its intentions. That is to say, if its goal is to increase atheism, shouldn't the effectiveness of the the campaign be measured in relation to the success in achieving that goal?

I suppose you are right in that regard, if you are only interested in the stated intentions of the campaign itself.

But, for someone like me, its just as interesting and important to note the other effects of the campaign, whether beneficially or detrimentally complimentary.
Vi_Veri
Posts: 4,487
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12/7/2009 12:16:42 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 12/6/2009 8:02:33 PM, InquireTruth wrote:
I'm sure many of you have heard of the New Atheist Campaign (http://uk.news.yahoo.com...). The vanguard of this movement consists of a vast pantheon of illustrious and self-proclaimed "brights." Their books were apparently motivated by observational exigencies - namely the supposed harm of religious belief. You have no doubt heard of Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennet, Christopher Hitchens and their respective books. My question is, how effective do believe this recent influx of atheistic literature and campaigning has been?

So far as I can tell, the results of the campaign have yielded nothing statistically observable. According to the September/October Psychology Today, The percentage of self-identified Atheists has remained remarkably stagnant:

1944: 4 percent
1964: 3 percent
1994: 3 percent
2007: 4 percent

Any thoughts?

lol Stagnant? I see a horrible statistics reading.

I hope you take into account that 4% in 2007 is far more than 4% in 1944 :)

If your statistics were for the USA:

USA population in 1944: 138,397,345 4% = 5,535,893 (.8)

USA population in 2005: 298,213,000 4% = 11,928,520


Those look live very different numbers to me :)

Also, you should take into account that The God Delusion by Dawkins came out in October of 2006 (most popular one of the reads, also, this is FAR too late for your 2007 statistic to really matter, you should look up the statistic for 2009).

Notable release dates of some BIG books by the Brights:

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins ---- Release Date: October 2007

Breaking the Spell by Daniel C Dennett ---- Release Date: 2006

god is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens --- Release Date: May 2007

So, let's take the population of 2009 into account as these books are after your statistics.

USA population in 2009: 308,103,478 4% = 12,324,139 (.12)

BUT, 4% would be wrong. The most recent ARIS report, released March 9, 2009, found in 2008, 15% claim no religion.

USA population in 2008: 304,059,724 Non-Religious 15% = 45,608,958 (.6)

Your reading of the information is wrong.

http://www.census.gov...
I could give a f about no haters as long as my ishes love me.
MistahKurtz
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12/7/2009 12:54:29 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
You're making the assumption that atheists are out there to convert people. This is a bizarre and paranoid approach. Non theists are simply arguing that we are just as normal as any religious person, which we are not in many people's eyes.

Furthermore, I think most of us have issues with the way that religion is forced on children. When I was young, I tried to tell my parents that I was not a Christian. They were having none of that, and I was subjected to forced observance until I finally put my foot down and told them to take their god and shove it.

Of course, this campaign is not a conversion tactic to create a generation of evil nihilists, it is merely saying that if you are someone with an unorthodox belief, it should not be suppressed or denied, but encouraged.
JBlake
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12/7/2009 1:10:45 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
You are also reading their goal wrong. It is not to "recruit" people into Atheism, but to "recruit" people away from organized religion.
Floid
Posts: 751
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12/7/2009 2:55:13 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
"So far as I can tell, the results of the campaign have yielded nothing statistically observable. According to the September/October Psychology Today, The percentage of self-identified Atheists has remained remarkably stagnant:

1944: 4 percent
1964: 3 percent
1994: 3 percent
2007: 4 percent

Any thoughts?"


Yes. I think it is strange that the 2001 Census statistics for England show that some 15.5% are atheist. I wonder where the discrepancy in numbers comes from?
MistahKurtz
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12/7/2009 3:14:37 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 12/7/2009 1:10:45 PM, JBlake wrote:
You are also reading their goal wrong. It is not to "recruit" people into Atheism, but to "recruit" people away from organized religion.

Explain to me how they are recruiting. Are they saying "Leave your church"?

Even their other campaigns (i.e. 'There probably is no god so stop worrying and enjoy your life') are mild mannered and are no way meant to provoke or stir the pot, but are merely ways of saying "We're here, we don't believe in god, get used to it."
wjmelements
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12/7/2009 6:23:16 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
I'd say about 15% of my class is atheist/agnostic, and I'm down in Texas, so we can expect this to rise in the future.
in the blink of an eye you finally see the light
leet4A1
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12/7/2009 6:37:11 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 12/7/2009 6:23:16 PM, wjmelements wrote:
I'd say about 15% of my class is atheist/agnostic, and I'm down in Texas, so we can expect this to rise in the future.

Australia is renowned as very secular, and the reputation is correct. It's very rare to meet a practising Christian (as in, actually goes to Church). The only people I know who even discuss theology are non-religious folk, mostly my friends. Most others are completely apathetic to the idea of organised religion.
"Let me tell you the truth. The truth is, 'what is'. And 'what should be' is a fantasy, a terrible terrible lie that someone gave to the people long ago. The 'what should be' never did exist, but people keep trying to live up to it. There is no 'what should be,' there is only what is." - Lenny Bruce

"Satan goes to church, did you know that?" - Godsands

"And Genisis 1 does match modern science... you just have to try really hard." - GR33K FR33K5
wjmelements
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12/7/2009 7:57:32 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 12/7/2009 6:37:11 PM, leet4A1 wrote:

Since when do you live in Australia?
in the blink of an eye you finally see the light
leet4A1
Posts: 1,986
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12/7/2009 7:59:06 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 12/7/2009 7:57:32 PM, wjmelements wrote:
At 12/7/2009 6:37:11 PM, leet4A1 wrote:

Since when do you live in Australia?

Since about 1986. :)
"Let me tell you the truth. The truth is, 'what is'. And 'what should be' is a fantasy, a terrible terrible lie that someone gave to the people long ago. The 'what should be' never did exist, but people keep trying to live up to it. There is no 'what should be,' there is only what is." - Lenny Bruce

"Satan goes to church, did you know that?" - Godsands

"And Genisis 1 does match modern science... you just have to try really hard." - GR33K FR33K5
InquireTruth
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12/7/2009 11:00:20 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
lol Stagnant? I see a horrible statistics reading.

And I just see horrible reading. Where in my post did I state that the population of atheists has remained stagnant? Let me recommend to you Chapter 9 of Adler's "How to Read a Book." The percentage has remained stagnant.

Notable release dates of some BIG books by the Brights

The movement has been around since at least 2003. Moreover, Sam Harris' books were conveniently left out from your list. They were published in early 2005 and 2006. The movement has been around long enough to have measured results.

Your reading of the information is wrong.
BUT, 4% would be wrong. The most recent ARIS report, released March 9, 2009, found in 2008, 15% claim no religion.

It is a humorous thing that atheists tend to do. They claim the non-religious as synonymous with atheism only when it benefits them. But when it comes to looking at the prison statistics, for instance, they conveniently accept only those who claim atheism and not agnosticism or no religion. Because if they did, it would mean that an atheist is 3.84 times more likely to be imprisoned.

non-religious and agnosticism /= atheism. Try again.
Vi_Veri
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12/7/2009 11:39:48 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 12/7/2009 11:00:20 PM, InquireTruth wrote:
lol Stagnant? I see a horrible statistics reading.

And I just see horrible reading. Where in my post did I state that the population of atheists has remained stagnant? Let me recommend to you Chapter 9 of Adler's "How to Read a Book." The percentage has remained stagnant.

Notable release dates of some BIG books by the Brights

The movement has been around since at least 2003. Moreover, Sam Harris' books were conveniently left out from your list. They were published in early 2005 and 2006. The movement has been around long enough to have measured results.

Your reading of the information is wrong.
BUT, 4% would be wrong. The most recent ARIS report, released March 9, 2009, found in 2008, 15% claim no religion.

It is a humorous thing that atheists tend to do. They claim the non-religious as synonymous with atheism only when it benefits them. But when it comes to looking at the prison statistics, for instance, they conveniently accept only those who claim atheism and not agnosticism or no religion. Because if they did, it would mean that an atheist is 3.84 times more likely to be imprisoned.

non-religious and agnosticism /= atheism. Try again.

You're a dick.
I could give a f about no haters as long as my ishes love me.
Vi_Veri
Posts: 4,487
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12/8/2009 12:04:37 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
Moreover - you showing bad statistics and claiming that a 4% across the board is throwing a big fat straw man - pretending that the numbers aren't moving up - when it doesn't mean that at all. What would be the point of saying "oh look it's still 4%?" The numbers have risen to double the amount in 1944 - that's significant. By implying that 4% now and 4% is the same thing in 1944 bull, you meant that it yielded nothing statistically observable; in other words, it showed no signs of growth. When you look at the statement you presented before it, this is exactly the case. You said:

"So far as I can tell, the results of the campaign have yielded nothing statistically observable."

Well, take population growth into account - that would be the rational thing to do - but you just took a % and ran with it, hoping people would turn a blind eye. Remember, population growth makes that 4% a different statistic - thus showing observable statistics anyone with a Stats class under their belt would be able to rationalize.

Also, who cares about Harris. He's not as popular as the other three, and I know very few people personally who have read any of his books(I attend very many religious discussion groups - from atheist ones to Christian ones to the occasional Muslim and Pagan group on my time off). As I stated before, it was Dawkin's book, The God Delusion, that kick started the "movement" you speak of. Hitchen's book added to the fire, and Dennett's book got the Philosophical community talking (he's a far greater mind than the other three - the philosophical community is far smaller than the rest of the population who reads Dawkins or Hithens, so this wasn't the book to start the wild fire -- it was Dawkins, who has now become the main face of the Brights).

And also, as everyone has implied - the campaign is not to inject the world with atheism - but with doubt and skepticism. Non-Religious means - oh wait, I don't go to church, I don't practice that dogma poison. It counts as part of what the campaign is trying to accomplish.

But ok, if you still want to use the 4% for 2009 - that still a HUGE number you are dealing with - a bigger number than in 1944. Also, notice that you did not add any date after 2007 - when the atheist movement really started. Please get some recent statistics.

Also, there is no "atheist" section on most questionnaires that ask for religious affiliation. They list religions and "non-religious" as an extra add on. Ask anyone who has taken a state test.

As for the atheists in prison statistic that you just pulled out of thin air - can you supply us with actual raw data that supports this theory of yours? If not, we'll throw that out as well.

You shouldn't be so rude when speaking to me - especially the part here you tell me to go learn how to read a book. Some man you are.
I could give a f about no haters as long as my ishes love me.
Puck
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12/8/2009 2:29:08 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 12/8/2009 12:04:37 AM, Vi_Veri wrote:

As for the atheists in prison statistic that you just pulled out of thin air - can you supply us with actual raw data that supports this theory of yours? If not, we'll throw that out as well.

Lol that old one. Not sure if he has updated his information sources, last time I saw he claimed that (http://www.debate.org...) it was pulled from the book: The Irrational Atheist. The author uses a 2001 UK prison census.

"Intelligence, education, and high incomes are not the only marks
of the High Church Atheists. They are also extremely law-abiding, as
there were only 122 atheists, two-tenths of 1 percent of the 65,256
prison population, being held in English and Welsh jails in 2000. "

p.16

"However, there also happened to be another 20,639 prisoners,
31.6 percent of the total prison population, who possessed "no reli-
gion." And this was not simply a case of people falling through the
cracks or refusing to provide an answer; the Inmate Information Sys-
tem is specifc enough to distinguish between Druids, Scientologists,
and Zoroastrians as well as between the Celestial Church of God,
the Welsh Independent church, and the Non-Conformist church. It
also features separate categories for "other Christian religion" "oth-
er non-Christian religion," and "not known."
At only two-tenths of a percent of the prison population, High
Church atheists are, as previously suggested, extremely law-abiding.
But when one compares the 31.6 percent of imprisoned no-religion-
ists to the 15.1 percent of Britons who checked "none" or wrote in
Jedi Knight, agnostic, atheist, or heathen in the 2001 national survey,
it becomes clear that their Low Church counterparts are nearly four
times more likely to be convicted and jailed for committing a crime
than a Christian."

p.20

Apparently atheism = no religion even with the atheism option. Or as the author like to put it, to make it true through usage: High Church atheism and Low Church atheism.
InquireTruth
Posts: 723
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12/8/2009 11:06:26 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
Moreover - you showing bad statistics
You'll have to take that up with psychology today.

By implying that 4% now and 4% is the same thing in 1944 bull, you meant that it yielded nothing statistically observable; in other words, it showed no signs of growth. When you look at the statement you presented before it, this is exactly the case.
It is true that atheism has shown no statistically observable growth. Of course the number of atheists has increased due to population growth. But a successful "out campaign," as Dawkins calls it, would show shifts in percentage as populates in other categories shift to atheism.

And also, as everyone has implied - the campaign is not to inject the world with atheism - but with doubt and skepticism.
Your point would stand only if your authority on the matter was legitimate. Dawkins' "OUT" campaign wants people in other categories (agnosticism, no religion, other and etc.) to admit their atheism, or "come out," if you will. We have seen statistical growth in other categories - but not atheism. This suggests that people are NOT shifting categories or "coming out."

also, there is no "atheist" section on most questionnaires that ask for religious affiliation.
There is on questionnaires designed to gauge the percentage of atheists.

As for the atheists in prison statistic that you just pulled out of thin air - can you supply us with actual raw data that supports this theory of yours? If not, we'll throw that out as well.
Puck is right, it is from Vox Day's, "The Irrational Atheist." He takes the logic of Dawkins and Harris (who include agnosticism and no-religion when speaking about atheism only when it benefits them) and uses it against them.

You shouldn't be so rude when speaking to me - especially the part here you tell me to go learn how to read a book. Some man you are.
I am speaking to you as you have spoken to me. I am the type of man who believes people warrant respect only when they've shown they deserve it. If you had decided to question the verity of my results instead of my capacity to read statistics, we would probably being having a much different conversation.
mattrodstrom
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12/8/2009 11:14:26 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
I think that if you're agnostic because you think that there is no reason whatsoever to "believe" in a god, and are against holding unreasonable/silly beliefs, you're an athiest. Because you're against theism.
"He who does not know how to put his will into things at least puts a meaning into them: that is, he believes there is a will in them already."

Metaphysics:
"The science.. which deals with the fundamental errors of mankind - but as if they were the fundamental truths."
InquireTruth
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12/8/2009 11:18:07 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 12/8/2009 11:14:26 AM, mattrodstrom wrote:
I think that if you're agnostic because you think that there is no reason whatsoever to "believe" in a god, and are against holding unreasonable/silly beliefs, you're an athiest. Because you're against theism.

That's not agnosticism. Moreover, this presupposes that theism is silly and unreasonable.
mattrodstrom
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12/8/2009 11:25:11 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 12/8/2009 11:18:07 AM, InquireTruth wrote:
At 12/8/2009 11:14:26 AM, mattrodstrom wrote:
I think that if you're agnostic because you think that there is no reason whatsoever to "believe" in a god, and are against holding unreasonable/silly beliefs, you're an athiest. Because you're against theism.

That's not agnosticism. Moreover, this presupposes that theism is silly and unreasonable.

Believing you cannot know given whats available=agnosticism
whats available=evidence
believing without evidence= believing without reason

Believing without reason is: unreasonable, and silly.
"He who does not know how to put his will into things at least puts a meaning into them: that is, he believes there is a will in them already."

Metaphysics:
"The science.. which deals with the fundamental errors of mankind - but as if they were the fundamental truths."
InquireTruth
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12/8/2009 11:32:05 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
Believing you cannot know given whats available=agnosticism
Correct.
whats available=evidence
For what?
believing without evidence= believing without reason
Not necessarily.
Believing without reason is: unreasonable, and silly.
Correct.

Now how does theism fall into this category. There is certainly EVIDENCE for theism. There just happens to be no proof.
mattrodstrom
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12/8/2009 11:39:24 AM
Posted: 6 years ago
At 12/8/2009 11:32:05 AM, InquireTruth wrote:
Believing you cannot know given whats available=agnosticism
Correct.
whats available=evidence
For what?
believing without evidence= believing without reason
Not necessarily.
Believing without reason is: unreasonable, and silly.
Correct.

Now how does theism fall into this category. There is certainly EVIDENCE for theism. There just happens to be no proof.

I wouldn't say the physical is absolutely true, I can imagine a God has made me think so for (higher) reasons unkown(able) to me, but I think the belief in the physical world reasonable given that it best fits the evidence.

Theism does not best fit the evidence. Theism is not reasonable belief.
"He who does not know how to put his will into things at least puts a meaning into them: that is, he believes there is a will in them already."

Metaphysics:
"The science.. which deals with the fundamental errors of mankind - but as if they were the fundamental truths."