Why now?

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Why now?

I guess this is something I've been wondering about lately, it seems like the skeptical movement has been getting a lot more traction lately and I guess part of me is wondering if there is a particular thing that's causing it. Or to put it another way, when future generations look back and ask 'what led to the major rise of skepticism and acceptance of atheism?' what do you think the big ideas or factors will be? I have a few thoughts myself, one is that we have a greater variety of spokesmen, or at least we have a better more concise way of explaining atheism in a cogent fashion (IE the God Delusion). Another might be that the internet allows us to better fact check claims by theists as well as giving us a kind of global community for freethinkers and thus keep from getting browbeaten into silence or from experiencing isolation and wondering if anyone else has the same kinds of questions we do (as well as providing a safe place to ASK said questions). The other possibility is that the increase in scandals from religious institutions have people either looking at their own faiths more critically or it undermines the idea of religious morality. But I want to know what others think, or if they disagree that the movement is gaining traction.


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Honestly I think 9/11 had a

Honestly I think 9/11 had a lot to do with it. It showed the glaring obvious dark side of religion and it finally hit home in a big way. AND the reaction of the bigoted right also showed the ugly side of religion too. I think it opened the eyes of complacent people who always assumed it was "over there" not really affecting us.

And the internet which was just in the toddler stage when I first got on, has exploded and allowed atheists to get exposure in the media.

But long before this current movement skepticism has always been around. Epicurus's "Problem with evil". Jefferson, "question with boldness even the existence of a god". Robert Ingersoll, Madelyn Murry O'Hair(sp), Sagan.

But as far as the "spark" I have to say this current movement is in no small part do to Reginald Finley(Infidel Guy) Jake, and Brian Sapient. I do not think the success of people like Hitchens, Harris, Dawkins would have been as big had it not been the explosion of the exposure that the Atheist Network, Infidel Guy and Rational Responders created for all other atheists and atheist websites.

I think those three put atheism in the spotlight and allowed us to become part of the mainstreem.

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I'm inclined to think the

I'm inclined to think the internet is indeed a major part.

People are no longer restricted to hearing about ideas from all over their country, from all over the world, filtered through corporations, media, book publishers, IOW by processes which are not so readily accessible to input from the 'ordinary person', with no special talent, or access to resources.

And as the means for accessing this network have become cheaper and easier to use, the computers and their software, now cell phones and other devices.

I always remember documentaries way back, in my country, Australia, about children growing up in small communities away from the 'big cities', where if they could not fit in to the culture of the small community, often felt they were alone, perhaps crazy, to the point that a depressing proportion were driven to early suicide. Now they have a chance to find out they are not alone, others have found themselves in similar positions, they are not necessarily crazy.

People on the streets in Africa and Asia now can have a device in their pocket which can let them find out about what is going on in other countries, and tell others what is happening in theirs, not just what their leaders want others to hear. Cheap digital cameras, now in most cell-phones, able to record what people see around them, and quickly send it out on the 'net, now including video, must be helping as well.

There is a lot of crap, deception, manipulation, going around as well, but there always has been, but it only takes a few stories that 'ring true' from someone witnessing some key events, or getting out a message that seems to cut through the crap and resonate with enough other people, to offset the 'noise'. With far more people participating, the chances of something like that is vastly higher.

The 'Arab Spring' seems to be such a fantastic example of this, and now that inspiring example is catching on back in the West, it seems, the idea of not having to just accept what an apparent 'majority', the  few who traditionally could get their ideas out, whether as politicians, media 'personalities', newspaper editors and writers, 'tycoons', were feeding them.

This has included making it easier for unpopular ideas like atheism, scepticism, even gay marriage, etc to gain traction, I think. Less easy to suppress them, ignore them.

 

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p { margin-bottom: 0.08in; }

p { margin-bottom: 0.08in; }

I think that the internet has a great deal to do with this. In prior years, personal atheism was likely to be a fairly solitary matter. If the opportunity arose to bring it into a conversation, it was still on the level of personal communication.

 

Now that we have places like RRS, we can discuss and refine our positions. We also have access to resources we never would have before. On one side, we have places like talk origins and all the great youtube videos from people like darkmatter2525, thunderf00t and Edward Current. On the other side, we have access to the stupid in a way that we might never have before. Places like fstdt and all the whack jobs who show up here apparently because they feel the need to give us target practice.

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Brian, Bob, and AIGS said

Brian, Bob, and AIGS said much of what I would have said. For me, 9/11 was the turning point, and the second Bush election turned me hard-core. I cannot stand the way people let their private fantasies about religion seep into and permeate the public arena of politics where peoples' lives and well-being can literally be at stake. Something simply must be done to put the brakes on religion, for the long term health of humanity and the planet.

But I would give a huge chunk of credit to Sam Harris, specifically, for kicking off the recent upsurge in people feeling comfortable directly speaking out against the harms of religion, and not letting 'moderate' voices keep us permanently silent. His book, The End of Faith, was the first major atheist best-seller, and tapped into an already growing atheist population on the internet. He said, in a very public forum, what many of us had been thinking for years, but had been keeping too quiet about.

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natural wrote:Brian, Bob,

natural wrote:

Brian, Bob, and AIGS said much of what I would have said. For me, 9/11 was the turning point, and the second Bush election turned me hard-core. I cannot stand the way people let their private fantasies about religion seep into and permeate the public arena of politics where peoples' lives and well-being can literally be at stake. Something simply must be done to put the brakes on religion, for the long term health of humanity and the planet.

But I would give a huge chunk of credit to Sam Harris, specifically, for kicking off the recent upsurge in people feeling comfortable directly speaking out against the harms of religion, and not letting 'moderate' voices keep us permanently silent. His book, The End of Faith, was the first major atheist best-seller, and tapped into an already growing atheist population on the internet. He said, in a very public forum, what many of us had been thinking for years, but had been keeping too quiet about.

Harris merely ended on top, all be it important, it took far more people below him behind the scenes who will never be known or famous, to put him where he got.

Again, for every person in the spotlight of a movement, it takes far more people than just one person for that person to be supported.

Websites like RRS and Infidel Guy and Atheist Network, are the cornerstones that Harris stepped on to move us forward.

BUT even on an individual level, one voice can make a difference. Even before I found the Atheist Network, I found like minded atheists at my Unitarian Church. BUT it was a letter by an atheist nurse, who got her opinion spread all over the nation in several newspapers, including the local one at the time I read it. IT WAS THAT ONE WOMAN who motivated me. She will never be famous and probably wont write a book. But she impacted me and you cannot put a title or price on that positive voice she in turn gave me. I really wish I could find her to thank her for submitting that letter to the Chicago area papers after 9/11 that got passed along nationally. If it were not for her, I don't know how much longer I would have remained int the closet as an atheist.

There is not one person in this movement that makes it work. EVERYONE is needed, the famous among us, the website owners AND the individual posters.  All of us make this happen.

And I can see the difference. Before 9/11 atheism was seen as a fringe element. But we have gone from there to having Reggie on prime time, to Brian Sapient bitch slapping Comfort on Nightline to all the famous authors doing well.

This is not the end and there is still a long road ahead, this is just the beginning. Never think as an atheist you are just one person. It took only one person to be active to motivate me to be active. EVERY VOICE counts. The more we are open and the more we challenge all absurd claims and all superstitions, the better off we will be and the better off humanity will be.

And as bad as the global economy is, I still feel like I am in an exciting time in that the movement is getting bigger and stronger. I may never see an atheist president in my lifetime, but it will happen at some point. Jefferson certainly wouldn't have objected to it. His only "litmus test" would be the performance of her/him.

There wont be any quick solution and we have to plug at it long term. Never seek to oppress believers in this process, just merely use the same free exchange of speech they do to challenge their claims. We have science on our side and we have technology on our side. The more we expose the myth behind the curtain, the less it will have a place to hide.

Now, enough with this Hallmark moment, I have women to rape and kittens to barbecue.

 

 

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It's probably all of the

It's probably all of the above, and then some....

IM(not very)HO.... a lot of this is pushback from the rise of the evangelical movement... the Yin to their batshit. 


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The disciple found the

The disciple found the master picking at his toenails and asked him....

Disciple: Master, what is the 'in' that is 'up'?

Master: All things have their opposite: Darkness and heavy, left and wrong, hard and slow, Yin and batshit. That is the 'in' that is 'up'.

The disciple realized the master was nuts and became an atheist.

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I think

I think there are probably several factors at play here. All of them happened to come together at roughly the same time. Take all of the sex abuse scandals done by preachers and priests that have come to light in recent years for instance. Like others have stated, both 9/11 attacks and the insane reaction on the part of the evangelical movement in retaliation probably helped to turn alot of people away.

The better improvements to the Internet also probably play a vital role, but I think the rise of many authors like Dawkins and Hitchens, might have given alot of people out there the courage to say "Your damn right we are Atheists and we are getting tired of having all of this theistic nonsense shoved into our faces with your attempts to legislate it,".

I think the fact that alot of organized religions have continued to attack and demonize such issues as a woman's right to choose and the gay lifestyle have not helped their cause very much either.

People like Fred Phelps and his ilk protesting military funerals have probably not furthered theism either. Although most mainstream theists would love to distance themselves from people like Phelps, the fact that they continue to condemn the gay community probably causes alot of people to view the fundies as being cut from the same cloth as Phelps.

Then you have to factor in the TV comedians and entertainers like Colbert, Maher, Lewis Black and Penn Jillette, that do not shy away from having a bit of a laugh at the expense of the more ridiculous practices of religious leaders.

I remember posting a link on here several months back (can't remember the title of the thread that I started) where in several surveys it demonstrated that while alot of Americans claimed to go to church, the church membership and attendance numbers provided evidence to the contrary.

Like many others have stated, sites like this have been crucial as well. I can not even begin to tell you all of the information and knowledge that I have learned on here.

For a long time, I was very hesitant to debate theists. In spite of all the books that I had read, they were continually coming up with B.S. arguments that could stump me. This site has changed all of that. I am no longer afraid to debate anyone nor do I shy away from being an open Atheist.

I also think that morons like O'Reilly, talking about the tide goes in and the tide goes out, does our side a greater favor than any protest ever could.

Not to mention all of those programs on the history channel like the Naked Archaeologist, that provide perfectly plausible and scientific explanations for the biblical stories and point out the ones that could not have occurred.

So if I had to guess, it would be a whole lot of things combined. Almost like the 60's and the way things fell into place for a drastic social change.

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Agree with the comments here

 

especially the influence of the Internet, which I think has the power to broaden thought patterns (if search engines don't keep confirming your biases through result modification). It's not the hive mind - but it's certainly given us the ability to share ideas and to challenge each other in global forums, to be impacted by an event on the other side of the world. It's making the in-group bigger by highlighting the similarities in our mutual plights. Like Brian37 says, 9/11 was a biggie. It showed once and for all that monotheism is a weapon and that tolerance of intolerance is capitulation. 

 

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Brian37 wrote:natural

Brian37 wrote:

natural wrote:

Brian, Bob, and AIGS said much of what I would have said. ...

Harris merely ended on top, all be it important, it took far more people below him behind the scenes who will never be known or famous, to put him where he got.

Again, for every person in the spotlight of a movement, it takes far more people than just one person for that person to be supported.

Websites like RRS and Infidel Guy and Atheist Network, are the cornerstones that Harris stepped on to move us forward.

I believe this is an example of 'violent agreement'.

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Answers in Gene Simmons

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p { margin-bottom: 0.08in; }

all the whack jobs who show up here apparently because they feel the need to give us target practice.

 

Well, I think the primary motivation for this lies in simply wanting to bother all those know-it-all atheists down at RRS, or somewhere else that would be relevant, and "speak truth to power", convince these sinners just how wrong they are, and maybe make a weak attempt at satiring the behavior of people that are easy to disagree with given a religious viewpoint.

I'm speaking from the 3rd person, of course, but this is my limited understanding that I have formulated so far reading about RRS offsite and on.

In response to the OP: Well for starters, son... we've fallen on hard times, in case you haven't noticed. Hard times breed dissent, at least according to some silly, wildly speculative work called world history. Often, the dissent puts people in power who should've never been in power to begin with (demagogues), and a lot people die that should not have died (peasant revolt). These newly stationed, tyrannical rulers will create more dissent, and the cycle furthers itself.

It is tempting to want to pin this rise in atheistcore beliefs on an increased awareness and level of information that they frequently access, itself attributable to technology. While this  may partially explain the distaste of religion that has increased over the past years, some people are simply 'fed up' withe the current situation in the world.

“A meritocratic society is one in which inequalities of wealth and social position solely reflect the unequal distribution of merit or skills amongst human beings, or are based upon factors beyond human control, for example luck or chance. Such a society is socially just because individuals are judged not by their gender, the colour of their skin or their religion, but according to their talents and willingness to work, or on what Martin Luther King called 'the content of their character'. By extension, social equality is unjust because it treats unequal individuals equally.” "Political Ideologies" by Andrew Heywood (2003)


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Brian37 wrote:This is not

Brian37 wrote:

This is not the end and there is still a long road ahead, this is just the beginning. Never think as an atheist you are just one person. It took only one person to be active to motivate me to be active. EVERY VOICE counts. The more we are open and the more we challenge all absurd claims and all superstitions, the better off we will be and the better off humanity will be.

You would not want everyone to be an atheist. At least, you would not want that if every voice mattered. Lots of voices want to make their two pennies known on about any number of subjects, and like with with what is sometimes said about opinions and assholes, a lot of 'voices' are stinky/self-entitled/short-sighted, with an 'odor' so strong it would drop an elephant.

Many of these people are already atheists, they just lack the eloquence, intelligence, foresight, and personal attractiveness of personality that sometimes comes with age -and is often found here. Thus, if you don't care to see how spoiled some people can truly be, and how much they rage, rage, rage when they don't get their way, you might want to modify that a little. That is to say, reality can come back to bite you in the ass.

I sure as fucking hell don't believe my voice counts sometimes, would rather it didn't at other times, and I'll often come back to something I said in the past and think "MAN. I don't know what I was smoking when I said that, but it probably wasn't legal."

“A meritocratic society is one in which inequalities of wealth and social position solely reflect the unequal distribution of merit or skills amongst human beings, or are based upon factors beyond human control, for example luck or chance. Such a society is socially just because individuals are judged not by their gender, the colour of their skin or their religion, but according to their talents and willingness to work, or on what Martin Luther King called 'the content of their character'. By extension, social equality is unjust because it treats unequal individuals equally.” "Political Ideologies" by Andrew Heywood (2003)


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Utopias will never exist so

Utopias will never exist so I'd never suggest that we could force politically atheism on the world. That is an absurd goal. BUT, we can promote through the free exchange of ideas, a climate that reduces the division religion can cause on politics and minimize the harm it can do.

In that sense I think it is a practical way to increase pragmatism and reduce dogmatism(political or religious).

And even if all 7 billion became atheists, you'd still have 3 classes, you'd still have uneducated, and you'd still have absurd claims and non religious superstitions that simply replace religion.

Deal with reality as it is. You can work to improve, but appeal to reason, not force of government, is a far better way to lead. The world will never be anyone's idea of "perfect". It never has been perfect and never will be perfect.

 

 

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