Tag Archives: atheism

Globally, Women Are More Likely Than Men to be Religious, Pew Research Center Data Says


Women are more likely to be religious, and among atheists, women are the minority, according to recent data from the Pew Research Center.

The first two of these three graphics are based upon surveys of men and women, ages 20 or older, in 192 countries:
 
Women more likely than men to be affiliated
 
Women make up the majority of Christians, Jews, Buddhists, and an unidentified selection of smaller religious groups:
 
Religiously affiliated more likely to be female
 
The United States is sometimes maligned as a religious, patriarchal nation. To the maligners: Why are so many patriarchs atheists and so many matriarchs believers? No one in the U.S. makes a free adult get out of bed on a Sunday morning, and no one makes a free adult hold faith-in-a-higher-power as a background belief. See the graphic below, and consider the population numbers and cultural diversity represented by the listed nations:
 
Atheists more likely to be men in several countries

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CNN’s ‘Atheists: Inside the World of Non-Believers’


Last night, I watched “Atheists: Inside the World of Non-Believers” on CNN. Reporter Kyra Phillips mostly focused on the “atheist” label as an identity and a social factor in families and small towns.

Her report primarily told the stories of four atheists:

1. A Georgia college student who left the faith of his conservative, Bible-believing family to become a leader of student atheists on his campus;

2. a former Pentecostal preacher in Louisiana who now leads Sunday-morning, church-style gatherings for atheists;

3. a man currently in Christian ministry who has lost his faith (he was interviewed with his face hidden and his voice disguised for fear of distressing the congregation that currently depends upon him);

4. and the somewhat militant founder of American Atheists and Atheist TV.

With the emphasis on the social aspects on the “atheist” identity, the program did not directly address arguments for and against the existence of God.

Phillips gave a considerable portion of the program to the college student’s parents, who expressed their heartbreak over their son’s unbelief and their conviction that he is hell-bound. The tension within the family was apparent especially in the interview with the parents, and it was somewhat apparent in the interviews and on-campus filming of the son. At the same time, the son appeared to have warm, supportive relationships with the other members in his atheist group.

The ex-Pentecostal preacher, the one who now leads a church-like atheist community, appeared genuinely upbeat and kind. He seemed at ease with himself and others around him.

I’ve been wondering what else constitutes evidence for a religious, or non-religious, perspective.

The arguments for a particular way of living aren’t the same as the actual living of that life, no more than (as William Barrett once noted) a menu is a substitute for a meal.

You can memorize a menu and still starve. You can also spend so much time admiring the menu, you forget to eat.

We could allow that there’s a difference between the descriptions on the menu, and the actual experience of the meal.

We could also say that some people eat while looking at the menu, convincing themselves that what they’re eating is the same as what appears on the menu, when actually they’re eating an inferior meal.

Last night’s program didn’t show me much menu, but it showed me some people enjoying a particular kind of meal. They didn’t appear to be starving.

The neurobiology of religion: from ‘The friendly atheists next door’ – CNN.com


From The friendly atheists next door – CNN.com:

“Todd Stiefel told me about a lecture on the neurobiology of religion that he’d heard at an American Atheists convention several years ago. It was delivered by Dr. Andy Thomson, a psychiatrist who lives in Virginia and has studied the components of religious belief.

“Thomson has become famous among atheists for an exercise that seems to demonstrate how worship services work – why even lapsing Catholics like Harry sometimes felt that ‘Sunday morning high’ after church.

“In his experiment, Thomson asks members of the crowd to pinch themselves, hard, to gauge their pain threshold, and then to put their arms around each other and sing a few verses of ‘Amazing Grace.’

“Stiefel, who participated in the exercise, says the crowd couldn’t keep a straight face. Atheists singing ‘Amazing Grace’!?! But afterward, he said, he felt bonded to this unlikely choir, and when he pinched himself again, his pain threshold had increased.

“The experiment demonstrates the power of communal rituals, Thomson told me in an interview. Joining hands and singing together floods our brain with soothing endorphins, which boost our sense of trust and cooperation.

“It’s similar to how fans bond at the ballpark, and why after singing ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’ and standing for ‘the wave,’ we often feel good, even if our team loses.”

via The friendly atheists next door – CNN.com.

Louis C.K. on Saturday Night Live: skeptical of skeptics


Last night, Louis C.K. was the guest host on Saturday Night Live. Here’s an excerpt from his very funny opening stand-up comedy:

“I’m not religious. I don’t know if there’s a God. That’s all I can say honesty is, I don’t know. Some people think that they know that there isn’t. That’s a weird thing to think you can know. ‘Yeah, there’s no God.’ Are you sure? ‘Yeah, no, there’s no God.’ How do you know? ‘Because I didn’t see him.’ There’s a vast universe. You can see for about a hundred yards when there’s not a building in the way. How could you possibly — did you look in everywhere? Did you look in the downstairs bathroom? ‘Nah, I haven’t seen him yet.’ I haven’t seen 12 Years A Slave yet. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.” (To the best of my DVR transcription skills.)

And a bit earlier in his opening act, this:

“I don’t think women are better than men, but I do think men are worse than women.”

Take a look at this New York Times article on Saturday Night Live: “The God of ‘SNL’ will see you now.”

 

‘Born of modernity’ — John-Luc Marion on theism and atheism


Thanks to Charlie Jordan for posting this on Facebook:

Theism and atheism bear equally an idol. They are a brethren born of modernity, where God is reduced to “the supreme being” and true transcendence is lost. – John-Luc Marion

Differences within doubt, Part 2


1. I can admit I’m a sinner, and I can realize that a Holy God would demand recompense. I can even say I could not do anything to get myself into the presence of Absolute Goodness. I could easily say after my physical death there’s no good reason for my essence to continue on or for my body to return. For those reasons, I could easily say I need a Savior.

2. I can also say lectures, debates, books, and research from psychologists, neuroscientists, historians, and other thinkers seem to offer better explanations of human problems than the available Christian explanations, and better explanations of why Christianity captivates people.

Postscript: Oddly enough, when Christians hold up their hands at available information (see Sources section below) and refuse to wrestle with it, that refusal plays into the theories of social psychologists — in two ways. First, “social proof,” or the testimonies and beliefs of the people one knows, tends to weigh more heavily in decision-making than evidence-and-reason. Second, as research suggests, when confronted with strong reasons for an opposing point of view, people tend to redouble their dedication to their original point of view.

Valerie Tarico cites Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman in her video series; here are two quotations from them:

From Valerie Tarico’s video series.

From Valerie Tarico’s video series

Sources:

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini

Prophetic Charisma: The Psychology of Revolutionary Religious Personalities by Len Oakes

Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomena by Daniel Dennett

Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength by Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney

Psychologist Valerie Tarico’s video series, Christianity and Cognitive Science

Michael Shermer’s news feature on religious experiences and the brain, Out of the Body Experiment

Andy Thomson’s lecture, Why We Believe in Gods

Jill Bolte Taylor’s TED talk here.

Differences within doubt


It’s one thing to deliver ultimatums (“Do this or I won’t believe”). It’s another thing to acknowledge that evidence and sound reasoning are lacking (“I believe but I see many reasons why I could be very wrong”).