Thursday, May 21, 2009

Atheist Evangelism/ coming out?

Here's an interesting article from the New York Times about the increased visibility of atheists in the United States. As the article writes: "More than ever, America’s atheists are linking up and speaking out."

One theme in this movement, if it is such a thing, aims at supporting other atheists... sort of "you're not alone." In this sense, it's akin to gays coming out (as the article points out). Another theme, though, is more argumentative, and it's along the lines of making the case for atheism. E.g., Richard Dawkins.

My friend Wayne, who sent this article to me, asks a good question... why now? It doesn't appear that the number of atheists in the U.S. is growing (still about 3% or so). The number of religiously unaffiliated certainly is growing, but most of them believe in God or are agnostic. (Agnostic evangelism: "We don't know and neither should you"?)

As a Christian, I actually appreciate this openness. If Christianity is Truth, then it has nothing to fear from open dialogue and challenge. It's better that people openly consider it, even if they end up rejecting it, than just ignoring it. No?

From a sociological perspective, it's interesting to wonder why it's happening now. Any thoughts?

8 comments:

Jay Livingston said...

Pure speculation and I have no idea of where to get evidence for it, but . . . The most blatantly faith-based administration in history turned out to be one of the worst and left office as one of the least popular. Maybe that failure gave atheists the courage to come out.

Brad Wright said...

Could be... it's also happening in Britain, perhaps in response to Blair?

Jeff L said...

My understanding is that the "new atheists" have had a publishing spree since 9/11. My guess is that Muslim extremism is a nice easy target for Dawkins and company in their crusade to paint religion as the "root of all evil" (yes, Dawkins really said this).

Brad Wright said...

Makes me wonder if Dawkins might experience an awkward moment or two at the start of afterlife?

Brad Wright said...

Makes me wonder if Dawkins might experience an awkward moment or two at the start of afterlife?

eclecticchristian said...

Loved the agnostic evangelism line.

Brad Wright said...

Thank you. :-)

Edward T. Babinski said...

Is that the new euphemism for "hell for nonbelievers?"

"Awkward moment or two in the afterlife?"

Sheesh, read your own holy book and creeds, fess up man, or admit you don't want to fess up to your own holy and creeds. Not that such a fessing up would make you an atheist, but you ought to fess up if you disagree with portions of your own holy book and creeds. It's the first step to becoming an individual instead of a weak chinned Christian improv comic:

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1910981,00.html