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Those Christians!

There have been many occasions in this blog where I have been critical of religion and treated it with general disdain. I have also explained my reasons for being an atheist and presented the opinion that it is the only truly ethical philosophical position to take. Despite the fact that science, which is basically irreligious, is the most important aspect of modern civilisation there is still a large majority of people in the world who are religious.

I would contend that the major reason for this is pure habit and laziness. If there was something overwhelmingly convincing about a religion (and most believers claim their particular religion is something special) then we might expect people all over the world to more-or-less spontaneously convert. That doesn’t happen. People tend to stick with the traditional beliefs of their society and generally only convert through vigorous persuasion – and sometimes through force or what is effectively bribery!

So if atheism is so great why isn’t it taking over the world? Well maybe slowly it is. Even in the US, which has had a strong religious tradition, there are signs that religion is beginning to slip as the dominant belief system.

For example, the current US president still claims to be a Christian but I think we would say he is a quite different type of Christian than the previous one! At least he doesn’t let religion interfere with valuable science (like stem cell research) and he doesn’t think god talks to him by telling him to smite his enemies!

A recent survey in the US showed a gradual increase in people reporting themselves as atheists and a corresponding reduction in those who said they were religious. To be fair, the number of atheists is still only 15% but this is in a country where atheism is treated with great disdain by a lot of the population.

The title of the article reporting the survey was: There’s a new power in America Рatheism. This is true, I think, despite the rather low percentage of atheists. At least now atheism is being discussed and, with the new president, extremist religion has lost a lot of its power.

Outside the US its a mixture of gains and losses. Discussions originating from people like Richard Dawkins have made the atheist and scientific perspective more prominent but there are the occasional counter-attacks by fundies trying to push creationism into schools and other areas where it doesn’t belong.

Its all good fun really, as long as it doesn’t incite more violent reactions like the “Christian” I heard on a recent US radio show who threatened the atheist presenter by saying he would “punch your fat head in for Jesus”. Ah those Christians… they’d do anything for Jesus!

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