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Socialism and Atheism Still US Political Liabilities – Gallup

Story Highlights

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- More than nine in 10 Americans say they would vote for a presidential candidate nominated by their party who happened to be black, Catholic, Hispanic, Jewish or a woman. Such willingness drops to eight in 10 for candidates who are evangelical Christians or are gays or lesbians. Between six and seven in 10 would vote for someone who is under 40 years of age, over 70, a Muslim or an atheist.

Just one group tested -- socialists -- receives majority opposition. Less than half of Americans, 45%, say they would vote for a socialist for president, while 53% say they would not.

Willingness to Vote for a Party's "Well-Qualified" Candidate for President, Based on Candidate Characteristics

% Yes, would vote for that person; Selected trend

These findings are based on a Gallup question asking, "Between now and the 2020 political conventions, there will be discussion about the qualifications of presidential candidates -- their education, age, religion, race and so on. If your party nominated a generally well-qualified person for president who happened to be [characteristic], would you vote for that person?"

Gallup first tested Americans' willingness to vote for candidates who don't fit the traditional Protestant white male mold in 1937, asking that year whether they would support a well-qualified Catholic, Jew or woman for president. Support for a woman as president was only 33% at that time but has since grown, as has support for other diverse candidates added to the list over the decades.

Since 1958, the sharpest increase in voting tolerance has been for blacks, followed by atheists, women, Jewish candidates and Catholics. More recently, the biggest shift has been for gay or lesbian candidates.

The latest results are based on a Gallup poll conducted Jan. 16-29, 2020. When Gallup last measured these attitudes, in 2019, the results were within a few percentage points of those found today.

Democrats express at least somewhat more willingness than Republicans to support most of the candidate types tested, with the widest gaps seen for Muslims, atheists and socialists. While at least two in three Democrats say they would vote for presidential candidates with these profiles, support among Republicans drops to just over 40% for Muslims and atheists, and to only 17% for socialists.

Republicans are more accepting than Democrats of evangelical Christians and candidates over 70. While President Donald Trump falls into the latter category, so do four of the leading Democratic candidates: Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Michael Bloomberg.

Republicans and Democrats are about equally likely to support Catholic and Jewish candidates.

Willingness to Vote for Candidates With Diverse Characteristics, by Party ID

% Yes, would vote for that person

The views of political independents fall midway between those of Republicans and Democrats for several candidate types -- including socialists, with less than half of independents saying they would vote for such a person.

Independents are closer to Democrats than Republicans in their greater reluctance to support an evangelical Christian candidate, and in their greater willingness to support a candidate who is a woman, gay or lesbian, someone under age 40, a Muslim or an atheist.

As the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries get underway, it may be instructive to know that little prejudice stands in the way of Democratic as well as national support for candidates who happen to be Catholic, Hispanic, Jewish or female. Being especially young or advanced in age could pose minor appeal problems.

Being gay or lesbian, Muslim, an atheist or a socialist wouldn't cause much stir among Democrats, but these candidates could have difficulty attracting support from Republicans and, to a lesser extent, from political independents.

Learn more about public opinion metrics that matter for the 2020 presidential election at Gallup's 2020 Presidential Election Center.

View complete question responses and trends.

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.

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Socialism and Atheism Still US Political Liabilities - Gallup

Yes, There Are Atheists Who Still Fear Hell – Patheos

I received this email over the weekend, which I will keep anonymous,

Even though I no longer believe I still find myself AFRAID of Hell. It was beaten into me for so many years it is like a fear that I am finding difficult to shake.

So my question is what advice could you give me to get over this fear. Maybe you could do a blog on this topic. It is so difficult to get over this very real fear. I want to enjoy my atheism as you and many others do but this fear of hell is truly Hell.

I am shocked and devastated to find out that this is true. I suppose I always just assumed that when you free yourself of religion, your lack of belief protects you from this fear. The fact that its been beaten so thoroughly into you that even disbelief in the deity that sends you to Hellcant stop you from fearing it, is really sad. I have to say, I feel for those of you who struggle with this, and I am so sorry you have to.

Ive been an atheist my entire life. I dont know what its like to fear Hell. I cant fully comprehend such a fear, and as such, my advice for getting past it may be insufficient, but I will give it my best shot. Here are a few of my ideas:

1. Exposure. This tactic has long been used as a method to get over many fears and phobias. Obviously, you cant go to Hell and inspect the place, but what you can do is read about it. The more you read about it, the less clear your idea of Hell will become. Youll realize that many cultures throughout the ancient and modern worlds have had some awful place that sinners go to for eternal punishment. Just like the story of Jesus was told over and over again with different heroes for thousands of years before Christ, so has the story of Hell. Reading about it will prove to you that its nothing but a story. Here are some books about Hell that illuminate where this idea came from, all its different manifestations throughout history and the fact that not all of those stories can be true, so the likelihood is that none of them are:

These are a good start, but I would go further. Keep reading. The more you expose yourself to it, the more apparent it will become that there is no consistent view of Hell and its all just myth.

2.Remind yourself of how unjust the concept of Hell is.Here in Canada, we do not have the death penalty. In fact, the longest sentence a convict can get in the Canadian penal system is 25 years (considered life). God punishes people for eternity for lesser crimes than those committed by Canadians serving life in prison. Therefore, Canadians are more forgiving and merciful than God? Further, does it sound just to you that finite sins are met with infinite punishment?

3. Force yourself to see the gaping holes in the story of Hell. If a good, well-behaved, Christ-loving family has one member who is not saved does this family really experience bliss in Heaven knowing that their loved-one is burning for eternity? Ive heard many Christians explain away this problem by suggesting their memory is wiped of any loved ones in Hell as soon as they pass through the pearly gates. So, ultimately, in order for Heaven to be truly blissful for anyone who may have a loved one in Hell (or even just compassion for those burning for eternity), they basically have to play out a scene from Men in Black. Essentially, they have to be lobotomized to enjoy Heaven. What if a mothers precious only child is the one burning in Hell for being a nonbeliever while she is up in Heaven? A child who was her life, her everything, her very reason for breathing if her memory is wiped of that child, is she really herself anymore? That begs the question, whats the purpose of an afterlife if youre not yourself at all? See the hole. Ask the question. None of it makes any sense at all.

5. Focus on the things that you do know and can prove. For instance, you know you have this life to live. This is factual. An afterlife is something we have no evidence for, but we are all alive now. Reason with yourself that spending the one life you are sure of in fear of a lifeyou have no reason to believe exists, is a waste of this life. Youre wasting what youre absolutely sure of, in fear of something for which there is zero evidence. Focus on the love of your family and friends, for which there is evidence. Spend time on your passions, for which there is evidence. Set goals and try to accomplish them, strive to build a better you in the here and now. Live your real life before you worry about anymythical one.

6. Read about reality and how this Universe ticks. Expose yourself to awe-inspiring questions, like the ones we all had after watching Cosmos or reading TheDemon-Haunted World Could there be life out there somewhere? What would that life look like? Will we ever be able to travel between galaxies and set foot on new planets? If youre like me, these questions lead to more questions, and leave me with a sense of awe and wonder so huge I can barely contain it.Try thinking about Hell after youve thoroughly considered the sheer vastness of our universe. Suddenly, it may seem sort of silly.

7. Focus on the idea of a loving god. If you spend your life being kind, fulfilling your obligations, caring for those in your life and just being an all-around good person, would a loving god really burn you in hell for eternity just because youve used the brain he gave you to think critically? No. Thats not a loving god at all. So, even though you dont believe in him anymore, there is obviously still a part of you that wonders, what if its true? If it is true, and youve been kind and good, and he is indeed a loving god, then you have all your bases covered.

8. Keep reading the case against Hell. Here are some fantastic resources:

Ultimately, this is going to take time and I imagine it is hard to rationalize. Be patient with yourself and dont give up. Supplement these points by reading some Joseph Campbell and watching his 6 part interview with Bill Moyers, The Power of Myth. Eventually, I would be willing to bet, you will be able to put your fear behind you and finally move on to that stage of being able to enjoy your new-found freedom.

Im writing a book addressing the many reasons believers distrust atheists. Im around 40,000 words in! If you want to help me get it done, you can support me by donatinghereor becoming a patronhere.

Image: Creative Commons/Pixabay

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Yes, There Are Atheists Who Still Fear Hell - Patheos

Atheist Gives U. of Texas $1 Million Endowment to Study Non-Religious Americans – Friendly Atheist – Patheos

An 80-year-old retired professor has given the University of Texas a $1 million endowment to study Secular Americans.

Brian Bolton gave the money to UT a school he has no formal connection to in the hopes that a professor would study the ever-growing segment of non-religious people in the country.

Bolton has a long history of promoting atheism on his own. This site even published one of his articles in 2016.

UT will be the first public university to have an endowed chair for secular studies, said professor Phil Zuckerman, an assistant dean at Pitzer College in Claremont, Calif., where the first secular studies program in the nation was created.

For me, this is a dream come true, Zuckerman said. As more and more people are leaving religion, we need to understand who they are and how they live their lives and why they are doing it.

In addition to Zuckerman, who helped create that secular studies program, theres also an endowed Chair for the Study of Atheism, Humanism and Secular Ethics at the University of Miami. However, even the professor in that role teaches other philosophy courses. This endowment will allow for someone to focus on Secular Americans 100% of the time.

Its not a bad use of the money at all considering all the research that has yet to be done on our community. Theres value in formally studying our ethics, political leanings, desires, motivations, and problems. While researchers may focus on us for a paper or two, theres not always an incentive to do that long-term. This money allows someone to do just that without worrying about job security, at least for several years.

(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Charlie for the link)

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Atheist Gives U. of Texas $1 Million Endowment to Study Non-Religious Americans - Friendly Atheist - Patheos

Podcast Ep. 308: Mitt Romney Did the Right Thing for the Wrong Reason – Patheos

In our latest podcast, Jessica and I discussed the past week in politics and atheism.

We talked about:

Donald Trump, without a hint of irony, said he doesnt like when religion is used to justify anything improper. (2:45)

FOX News is furious that Mitt Romney cited his religion when voting to impeach Trump. (6:20)

Conservatives are still furious over the Super Bowl halftime show. (9:50)

A pastor said God is the only reason he hasnt murdered one of his critics. (22:28)

No UK venue wants to make money off of Christian bigot Franklin Graham. (25:10)

A Christian activist said he would vote for Trump over Jesus. (27:38)

The ACLU held an LGBTQ Day at the Indiana Statehouse. (31:22)

A 4-year-old is dead because his anti-vaxxer mom didnt give him Tamiflu. (37:30)

This new Starbucks ad about a trans teen is fantastic. (43:04)

Planned Parenthood is expanding in Kentucky. (46:00)

Wed love to hear your thoughts on the podcast. If you have any suggestions for people we should chat with, please leave them in the comments, too.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or Google Play, stream all the episodes on SoundCloud or Stitcher, or just listen to the whole thing below. Our RSS feed is here. And if you like what youre hearing, please consider supporting this site on Patreon and leaving us a positive rating!

(Image via Shutterstock)

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Podcast Ep. 308: Mitt Romney Did the Right Thing for the Wrong Reason - Patheos

The Problem with Atheism By Mohammad Alshereda – Nature World News

Feb 07, 2020 10:44 AM EST

Atheism as a way of life or as an ideology provides an explanation for existence that depends only on the materialistic side of life and rejects the belief in God or a supreme being. By that, atheists think that they solved the philosophical dilemma of existence yet they actually created a bigger one.

By taking the concept of God out of the equation, a lot of things human-beings take for granted just fall apart. For example: the concept of good and evil, the concept of reward and punishment, moral compass... etc. These concepts are built on the existence of God and without it, there is no foundation for them and that is the real problem that atheism creates as those concepts are critical to the human condition and cannot be eradicated.

Furthermore, atheism kills the motivation to do anything good for oneself or humanity because according to what atheism entails, there is no point in doing so as all living beings will cease to exist at a point in time and there is no afterlife. It is a very disappointing idea.

If atheism wants to cancel the idea of a creator or supreme power, it should provide a substitute to hold the basis for the critical concepts mentioned earlier yet it failed to do so till this very moment (and frankly, it seems to me that it never will).

Atheists also fail to provide an explanation for fine tuning which is a huge topic in science. The only thing that atheism really succeeded in (with flying colors) is increasing the confusion of human-beings.

About the author:

Although almost all of the classical sociologists were atheists, Alshereda criticizes atheism and states that: "It is a religion in its true essence and there are huge efforts to make it mainstream". He states that even hugely celebrated atheists failed to explain morals and fine-tuning. Since atheism uses science to form its beliefs, he believes that science is an essential tool to improve our lives but it lacks the ability to justify the moral compass and to answer the main philosophical questions man is inspired to have.

2018 NatureWorldNews.com All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

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The Problem with Atheism By Mohammad Alshereda - Nature World News

Journal Writing Project Reflection of ourselves – Fillmore County Journal

By Leah Himlie

If someone walked down every street of Minneapolis and counted the number of people of color, how many would that person see? If a survey of the entire state of Minnesota was conducted, how many people would check a box declaring their sexual orientation something other than straight? In the United States, how many would state their religion to be something other than a branch of Christianity or atheism? The answer for any of these questions is probably a lot. The country in which we live is a diverse nation, but the fictional media we consume does not reflect this. Movies, TV shows, and books are often filled with straight white characters whose religion is deemed irrelevant. While the lack of accurate representation of minorities in fictional media may not seem like a big deal, it does have impacts on both individuals and society as a whole.

The lack of representation for minorities has been a bigger issue in the past, but the representation gained is still nowhere near an accurate portrayal of cultural diversity, particularly in the United States. To put this issue in perspective, in 2017 YouTuber and activist Dylan Marron created a series called Every Single Word. In this series, popular movies were edited to show only the words that a person of color spoke. The Fault in Our Stars, Noah, and Into the Woods, along with most others, were stripped down into clips under a minute long. The longest clip, lasting one minute and 40 seconds, was Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone. The entire movie was two and a half hours long. Though shows and movies may include people of color, many of those characters are not given as much screen time as white characters, which contributes to the lack of representation. People of color are not background characters in real life, so they should not be portrayed as such in fictional works.

Screen time is an important factor in considering how much representation is in the media, but the quality of the character is important as well. For instance, sometimes a creator makes a side character gay for no other reason than to attract people from the LGBT+ community. J.K. Rowling has done this on Twitter. While her books have been published for a long time, she is known throughout the fanbase to announce that various characters of hers are gay even though she did not originally write them that way. The same can be done for a characters race or religion, and it is especially easy to do in books since it is up to the reader to imagine the character. It is easy for the author to add one line about a character not being white and then never say anything else about it. The problem is that in America being not white will impact that characters entire life, and it is negligent to simply not acknowledge it again. Despite race, sexuality, and religion possibly being a large part of someones identity, those traits do not define a person. When minorities, especially people of color, are represented, they sometimes end up being a stereotype with no actual personality. This helps to reinforce negative stereotypes and prejudices. Just being seen is not enough. A character that is part of a minority group must seem like a person, not simply a character that is part of a minority group.

Good representation is important because what we as individuals see influences what we as a society believe. Individually, it is important to see a reflection of ourselves within mainstream media because its empowering to see someone with whom you can relate on TV or in a book. It creates a sense of belonging and feelings of being accepted. On the other hand, if a person is straight, white, and either a Christian or an atheist, seeing people of minority groups reminds them that not everyone in the world is part of the majority. Normalizing the minority fosters acceptance for those groups. This connects to the attitudes of society because minority groups are the minority. Minority groups need the majority to see and accept them, but if the media is not portraying them in a positive light, the majority will be influenced to not see them in a positive light. The social perception of these groups will become skewed. The media, even fictional media, influences the attitudes of society as a whole more than many people realize.

Leah Himlie is a student at Rushford-Peterson High School. She is one of eight area students participating in the Journal Writing Project, now in its 21st year.

Sources:

http://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US/RHI825218

deadline.com/2018/04/diversity-inclusion-representation-television-tv-time-1202375787/

http://www.encyclopedia.com/media/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/minorities-and-media

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Journal Writing Project Reflection of ourselves - Fillmore County Journal

Fighting over Evolution? Why? – Covalence

Millennial young people, whom we do not see in our church pews on Sundays, frequently complain that the Christian religion is anti-science right along with being anti-everything else they take for granted. When it comes to the people who do sit comfortably in our church pews, many take for granted that Charles Darwin was right on the evolution issue. Many other hymn-singing Christians, however, fear that Darwinian science conflicts with the Bible and the Bible, after all, is the Word of God. Most just find themselves confused.

As recently reported in Covalence, a Pew Study shows that 40% of adult Americans see creationism, or the idea that God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years, as the way life on Earth began. Where are these people? In our pews? In our pulpits? Or, in the church down the street?

For two decades now, Ive been researching the evolution controversy with my friend and colleague, Martinez Hewlett. Martys a biologist who specializes in virus evolution. Without Darwins theory of evolution, Marty explains, he could not develop medical therapies to protect us from dangerous viruses. Hed never ask a creationist or intelligent design theorist to assist him in the laboratory. The theory of evolution is good science because its fertile, he says; it generates knowledge and even medical therapies. Thank God for evolutionary science! exclaims Marty, a devout Roman Catholic.

With this in mind, lets try to clear up things for those in the confused category. Actually, most everybody is confused even if they dont recognize it, even if theyve already made up their mind.

Before we can trumpet the right position on the evolution controversy our own position! we should know something about the alternatives. Before we tell everybody else how they should believe, we should enable ourselves to understand what evolution looks like from multiple points of view.

This is important because of an aching need to correct one widespread misunderstanding, namely, the false belief that theres a war going on between science and Christian belief. No such war is happening, because everybody loves and respects science. Science has no enemies here. Lets make this clear.

Theres a culture war going on, to be sure. But, its not a war against science, at least not against genuine science. Even creationists and intelligent design advocates love science. So, if this is true, then whos fighting with whom about what? To that we now turn.

There are at least five armies fighting in this culture war, and the smoke on the battlefield is so thick it makes it difficult to see just what theyre fighting about. Here is a map of adversaries Marty came up with.

Note whats on each end of this divine action bar graph. We find belief in an interventionist God on one end and atheism on the other. The real battle is between belief and disbelief, not between faith and science.

Look initially at the second category from the right, evolutionary biology: the science only. Here we place Charles Darwins theory of evolution first published in 1859. What Darwin tried to explain is how one species evolves from another species. His explanation was and still is so very elegant in its simplicity: variation in inheritance acted on by natural selection (survival of the fittest) leads to some inherited traits passed on while others go extinct. Darwin had no idea how life began, but once life began it evolved over time into many different forms. Evolution may take a long time, but over deep time species change. Thats it. Simple, eh.

Lets take a another look at that second category from the right, science only, a century and a half later. Thats where we put Martys laboratory where he studies the evolution of viruses. On weekday mornings when hes not skiing down Taos Mountain, he attends matins at church. Following worship, Marty goes to the laboratory to search for one and only one thing, natural processes in virus evolution. Marty does not look for intervention by angels or divine providence. Does he believe in angels and divine providence? Yes, of course. But, in the laboratory he confines his research framework to that of natural causation, the only framework that could possibly lead to developing a vaccine. This is science only, uncontaminated by ideologies such as materialism or atheism.

If you now look at the category on the far right, youll find the ideology we know as materialism, sometimes called scientism. As an ism, materialism is the belief that only material things exist and, further, that scientists are the sole producers of knowledge. Anything that is not scientific is fiction, accordingly. Religious belief is fiction, according to this ideology. Where we find the venomous opposition to religion is in this camp of materialists who promulgate their atheism, pretending that science supports the denial of Gods existence. This is not science. This is ideology, even if its proponents wear lab coats.

The materialist army today is led by an atheist general, Richard Dawkins at Oxford University. I am attacking God, all gods, anything and everything supernatural, wherever and whenever they have been or will be invented. (The God Delusion, 36) General Dawkins attacks everything supernatural, because, as a materialist, he believes only natural things exist. What contributes to the widespread cultural misunderstanding, is that Dawkins arms his attack weapons with ammunition he believes to be scientific. Even though it appears that we have a battle between science and religion, its actually a battle between atheism against religion.

Now, lets jump to the far left end of our bar graph, to those who affirm that God intervenes in natures world. Here we find the notorious creationists. The creationists are by far the most interesting army in this battle. Never underestimate how fascinating and creative this group can be.

Creationist soldiers attack the materialists/atheists from two different flanks. The biblical creationists arm themselves with the authority of Scripture, especially Genesis 1:1-2:4a, the seven day creation. The Bible has authority over Darwin, contend the biblical creationists; therefore, we should believe the Bible and disbelieve Darwin. Its important to acknowledge that biblical creationists do not reject all of science; they reject Darwinian evolution only.

On the other flank, the attacking army is made up of scientific creationists. Rather than appeal to the authority of the Bible, the scientific creationists appeal to scientific evidence. This army contends that a genuinely scientific examination of evidence drawn from geology and genetics will testify that the Earth is young, perhaps only 10,000 years old, and that all species were created as they are today. No evolution took place. Human beings and dinosaurs walked together, even if we survived and they didnt. What is decisive is this: the scientific creationists rely on science, not Scripture, for their ammunition.

In recent decades, it has been the intelligent design [abbreviated ID] army on the front lines. Like the scientific creationists, IDrs appeal to science rather than Scripture to argue that Darwin was wrong. Why was Darwin wrong? ID soldiers accept that evolution including speciation has occurred, but they deny that variation in inheritance acted on by natural selection can account for speciation.

If Darwins explanation was wrong, whats the right explanation? Intelligent Design. Heres the argument. Organisms are complex. The whole organism has properties that none of the parts individually or together possess. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. This complexity of the whole organism evolved over time. Evolution goes from the simple to the complex. Human beings are the most complex of Earths organisms. And, human beings must have been designed.

Lets try this again. For simple things to make up a complex machine with new properties it takes an engineer. To make a complex machine such as a Toyota Camry, it takes intelligence to design it. Toyotas could not possibly evolve on their own by natural selection. Complex organisms such as human beings, like a Toyota Camry, require a designer to become as complex as they are. Intelligent design better explains evolution than Darwins theory of natural selection. Thats the sum of the argument proposed by ID. ID offers better science, not religion.

Who is that designer? Thomas Aquinas would answer, why, God, of course. How would the IDrs answer? They would say: We dont know. What!? They dont know? The problem with the term, God, is that it risks sounding religious. Yes, contend the IDrs, complex organisms were designed by an Intelligent Designer that some people call God. But, because IDrs want to be scientific and not religious, they withdraw from making theological judgments.

Critics of ID contend that they are in fact religious, even if IDrs try to hide it. It appears that religion is a disease that nobody wants to catch.

On one occasion Marty and I took some students to spend a day with the scientific creationists at the Institute for Creation Research. The so-called Bull Dog of creationism was Duane Gish, who held a Ph.D. in biology from the University of California. Gish asked us a rhetorical question: Do you know whats more dangerous than a godless atheist?

No, we responded. Tell us.

A theistic evolutionist! he trumpeted.

Marty and I looked at each other. I think hes talking about us, I thought. Marty read my mind. Eventually Marty and I began to call ourselves, theistic evolutionists.

Theistic evolutionists, the middle item on our bar graph, dress in minimalist and maximalist uniforms. The minimalist accepts Darwinian theory buttressed by more recent discoveries in genetics as good science, as indisputable. But, thats all. Fundamenalist theologians at Princeton Theological Seminary a century ago, such as B.B. Warfield, were minimalist theistic evolutionists.

A maximalist theistic evolutionist constructs a grand worldview driven by evolutionary principles that fully integrates all of Christian teaching with the science. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the Jesuit paleontologist who discovered Peking Man in 1929, provides an example. Teilhard continues today to inspire both Roman Catholic theology and New Age spirituality.

Marty and I along with those who invite us to their barbecues fit somewhere in between the minimalists and maximalists. We affirm that Darwinian evolutionary theory buttressed by molecular biology is fertile science requiring theological acceptance if not celebration. We, like so many of our colleagues in this school of thought, affirm that God works creatively and redemptively in, with, and under the natural processes that make up evolution. We further affirm that much of what we Christians believe about human nature could benefit from using evolutionary theory to amplify and expand it.

The leading Lutheran theologian marching in the theistic evolution platoon is Philip Hefner, author of the excellent book, The Human Factor (Fortress).

If youre inclined to join the forces of theistic evolution, visit the Clergy Letter Project website for resources. Note that each February this organization sponsors an Evolution Weekend when church congregations can discuss these matters.Many of our colleagues in the theistic evolution army are very impatient with creationism and ID. They tend to ally themselves with the materialists/atheists because they believe in defending the intellectual integrity of science. I hesitate to designate the creationist and ID armies as enemies. Because this culture war seems so unnecessary, I hesitate to increase the smoke on the battlefield and I certainly would like to lessen the number of casualties. Where are the peace-makers when we need them?

In summary, a culture war is raging, to be sure. But, this is not a war between science and faith. Everyone, including soldiers fighting for creationism or ID, love science. Science has no enemies, except perhaps the atheists who distort what science is in order to co-opt it for their ideology.

Within our churches, I recommend we treat none of these armies as our enemy. Each position attracts supporters for some reason, and we need to understand this reason. Each position, even atheism, exhibits some level of coherence and meaning. Our churches should provide open and accepting forums where individuals can explore without condemnation their convictions and lines of inquiry.

When we fight the good fight of faith, dont mistake science for the enemy.

With regard to resources, let me mention three. First, my website, TedsTimelyTake.com, offers many resources on evolution and other related topics. Second, one of the books Marty and I co-authored, Can You Believe in God and Evolution? (Abingdon Press) is very readable and informative. Third, if you can handle a lengthy and detailed description of the evolution battlefield, visit my You Tube Voice Thread, The Evolution Controversy.

Ted Peters is a pastor in the ELCA and Emeritus Professor of Systematic Theology and Ethics at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, California. He co-edits the journal, Theology and Science for the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences at the Graduate Theological Union. He is author of God The Worlds Future (Fortress, 3rd ed., 2015) and editor of AI and IA: Utopia or Extinction? (ATF Press, 2019). More of Peters work can be found on his website, TedsTimelyTake.com.

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Fighting over Evolution? Why? - Covalence

Podcast Ep. 306: The Church That Doesn’t Want Old People – Friendly Atheist – Patheos

In our latest podcast, Jessica and I discussed the past week in politics and atheism.

We talked about:

Donald Trump appeared at the misnamed March for Life. (0:25)

Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers has an important question about God. (5:29)

Was a church wrong for telling old members to get out? (11:03)

The Church of England reiterates that only straight married people can have sex. (14:52)

A survey shows that atheists know more about the Holocaust than Christians. (19:10)

This controversy over invocations in Berea, Kentucky will inevitably lead to a lawsuit. (28:13)

Conservative Dennis Prager says private conversations arent an accurate reflection of someones character. (35:14)

Utah (!) has finally banned gay conversion torture. (43:20)

The Supreme Court heard a case that could upendchurch/state separation. (50:05)

Mike Pence spoke at a church where a pastor delivered a rabidly anti-gay sermon. Because of course he did. (55:00)

Wed love to hear your thoughts on the podcast. If you have any suggestions for people we should chat with, please leave them in the comments, too.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or Google Play, stream all the episodes on SoundCloud or Stitcher, or just listen to the whole thing below. Our RSS feed is here. And if you like what youre hearing, please consider supporting this site on Patreon and leaving us a positive rating!

(Image via Shutterstock)

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Podcast Ep. 306: The Church That Doesn't Want Old People - Friendly Atheist - Patheos

Tory politician who claims its Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve insists hes not homophobic – PinkNews

Tory councillor Aron Klein (left) said gay Hackney mayor Philip Glanville (right) should 'stop crying' after singling him out for his sexuality. (Hackney Conservatives/Hackney Labour)

The Conservative party is investigating a local councillor who insisted he isnt homophobic in an email titled with the well-worn homophobic taunt: Its Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.

Aron Klein first hit the news last week, when he said No, thank you to LGBT+ inclusive education and that Jewish faith schools should remain unregistered so children dont get ideas about homosexuality or atheism.

The Tory councillor for Stamford Hill West, in north east London, also singled out gay Hackney mayor Philip Glanville for his sexuality.

The local Conservative branch confirmed it was looking into the matter but in an email sent to local media over the weekend, Klein took matters into his own hands.

Just tell Philip Glanville to stop crying like a innocent cheep [sic] was attacked by a wolf, Klein said.

I am not homophobic, neither misogynist. I dont care who people juggle around with.

The subject line of the email was: Its Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. When it was pointed out to Klein that a woman was arrested last summer after targeting attendees of Waltham Forest Pride with the same phrase, Klein attempted to deny hed written the subject line himself.

This was a mistake past [sic] from a email I received, Klein said.

Josh Bradlow, head of policy for LGBT+ rights charity Stonewall, said: People in positions of political power have a responsibility to champion the individuals they represent, and this includes LGBT+ people.

The latest comments from Cllr Klein show how much work is still left for us to do to combat discrimination and the use of offensive language against lesbian, gay, bi and trans people.

Klein also claimed he had met with the chair of the local Conservatives and that he believed the subject is now cleared.

It is unclear if he is aware that he is currently under investigation by his own party.

Klein made his original comments after it was revealed that the local council is struggling to get local schools to register with Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education, Childrens Services and Skills).

He said that Ofsted-registered schools would give children ideas of atheist, gay, early childhood sex.

The Haredi community pride itself with a youth clean and pure from crime, Klein said.

He continued: The way they do it is a total ban of television at home. Films or video or cinema is totally forbidden as not to give the kids any idea of crime, mischief of any sort.

Most boys and girls are getting married at around the age of 19 after years of learning in yeshiva to respect your partner.

Why bring in Ofsted to our yeshivas? They give the children ideas of atheist, gay, early childhood sex. We dont need all this thank you.

We pride ourselves with a divorce rate of one out of ten.

Klein had also hit out at Glanville, writing: I believe he is gay. Good luck to him. No thank you. We dont want Ofsted coming mixing, confusing our children.

For us its Adam and Eve. A man and a woman. A boy and a girl.

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Tory politician who claims its Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve insists hes not homophobic - PinkNews

Atheism’s second thoughts | WORLD News Group – WORLD News Group

In a satirical epilogue to The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis imagines his venerable old demon rising to propose a toast after the annual Tempters Training College dinner. While commending his hosts, Screwtape cant refrain from genteel complaints about the disappointing dinnerthat is, the poor quality of the sinners it comprised. That Municipal Authority with Graft Sauce was barely palatable, much less the lukewarm Casserole of Adulterers. It wasnt the fault of the kitchen staff, for it could only do so much with what it had. But goodness me, whats become of the brazen sinners and brawny atheists of yesteryear?

If Lewis had been around in the first decade ofthis century, he might have had Screwtape hopefully appraising the four horsemen of take-no-prisoners atheism. But where are they now? Christopher Hitchens has passed into eternity, Daniel Dennett into obscurity, Sam Harris is still waiting to see his dream of a rational society emerge, and Richard Dawkins is thinking that dream may be DOA.

Dawkins has been, in many ways, the scourge of what he understands as traditional Christianity. Only a few years ago he was agreeing with Dennett that it might be wise to separate children from their fundamentalist parents. But lately he seems to be doubting whether the eradication of Christianity would be an unvarnished good. His latest book, Outgrowing God, makes a confession that should be obvious: Whether irrational or not, it does, unfortunately, seem plausible that, if somebody sincerely believes God is watching his every move, he might be more likely to be good.

That is not something Dawkins likes to admit: I hate that idea. I want to believe that humans are better than that. But he may be running smack into the notion of original sin, which Chesterton described as the most verifiable fact of human history. Other well-known atheist/agnostics, such as Douglas Murray and Jordan Peterson, are even less sanguine about the basic goodness of humanity. Talk-show host Bill Maher, who thinks Christianity is ridiculous, nevertheless believes that it wouldnt be wise to ditch it right away, as a relatively benign faith might be the best defense against an explicitly violent one, meaning radical Islam.

The British comedy team Mitchell and Webb produced a popular skit featuring two SS officers retreating from Russia during World War II. One of them has just noticed that the most prominent feature of their insignia is a skull. It makes him wonder, Are we the baddies?

Some atheists like to see themselves as heroes in the story of mankinds relentless march toward freedom in the bright dawn of unbelief. Psychologist Steven Pinkers latest book, Enlightenment Now, makes that very point. The world is richer, life spans are longer, and wars are shorter because, sometime in the mid-18th century, mankind began building an intellectual framework that excluded God. (The 20th century must have been an unfortunate glitch.) And because humans are fundamentally decent, things can only get better from here.

Yes, about that, Dawkins and others seem to be wondering: What if we humans are the baddies?

Or, if only a few of us are really bad, how will the rest of us gin up the moral certainty and courage to stop them? Pinker celebrates better quality of life through technology, but in China a totalitarian government has begun to use technology to bring the behavior and thoughts of an entire population under its control. Technological carrots and sticks are cleaner than bloody massacres, and more effective besideswhos to say thats wrong?

Screwtape concluded his toast by looking on the bright side: Yes, half-baked sin is barely palatable, but thank Our Father Below, unrepentant sinners abound these days. Their atheism owes nothing to intellectual rigor; its more a default setting that removes all barriers. To their credit, serious atheists are beginning to question whether thats desirable. But they should have questioned earlier.

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Atheism's second thoughts | WORLD News Group - WORLD News Group

If Everything Is Religion, Is Anything Religion? | Libby Anne – Patheos

Seven Ways Atheists Are Religious, reads the headline of a recent Answers in Genesis article written by Simon Turpin, executive director of Answers in Genesis-UK. My curiosity was piqued.

Because of the secularization of the Western World, many people today now identify as not religious (the nones). In 2016 and 2017, according to some national surveys, 48.5% of people in England and Wales and 72% of people in Scotland say they have no religion! Many of these people identified as atheists. But are atheists not religious? Atheists will tell you they are not religious, but several characteristics identify atheists as religious. In this article, I deal with seven of those characteristics.

Ah, yes. Of course.

It should be noted that it is particularly difficult to define religion as there is not a universally accepted definition.

This is a good thing to note. I once took a religious studies class where a good bit of time was dedicated to discussing how to define religion. Oh, and different kinds of religioncivil religion, for instance, which if I remember correctly included baseball. The point is, definitions are complicated.

But I get the feeling that Turpin is going to let the fact that definitions are complicated obscure or elide something completely different. Lets continue on and see:

The Oxford English Dictionary defines religion as the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods. Under this definition, atheism would not be viewed as religious since the dictionary definition of atheism is disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods.

Yet, atheism isnt just a lack of belief in God (or gods). It was not a lack of belief in God that caused atheists to write books such as The God Delusion (Richard Dawkins), or God Is Not Great (Christopher Hitchens). Those books are designed to convince people that theism is false and that atheism is true. The Oxford English Dictionary also defines religion as a particular system of faith and worship and a pursuit or interest followed with great devotion. Under that second definition of religion, atheism is religious. Many atheists (e.g., Richard Dawkins) spend much of their time railing against the Creator they believe doesnt exist, and they hold their cause with great devotion and faith.

Wait. Wait! Slow down for a moment!

Lets dissect this, shall we? One definition of religion includes belief in superhuman controlling powers such as a god or gods. Under this definition, Turpin says, atheists arent religious. We already have a problem. Religion and religious are different words with different meanings. We talk about people having religious devotion for things all the time. Like baseball. Or sushi. I suspect that what Turpin meant to say was that under this definition, atheists do not have a religion. Already, words are getting fudged.

So, then Turpin writes that Richard Dawkins was not motivated to writeThe God Delusionby his lack of belief in God. Sure. But Turpin doesnt address what did motivate Dawkinshis conviction that religion is harmful. People are motivated to write books by their belief that one thing or another is harmful all the time. This is not religion.

Instead of addressing what motivated Dawkins, Turpin moves immediately to offering another definition of religion: a particular system of faith and worship or a pursuit or interest followed by great devotion. Like I said: baseball. And also sushi. Or veganism. But here again, words are getting getting mushy.

Check out this line, for instance:

Many atheists (e.g., Richard Dawkins) spend much of their time railing against the Creator they believe doesnt exist, and they hold their cause with great devotion and faith.

Okay, sure. But would Turpin say that Trump supporters who are also Christians have two religions? Or that an avid golfer who is also a Christian has two religions? Or that a flat earther who loves to argue on internet forums, and also goes to church, has two religions? I doubt it, becausethese are notthe same things.

We may use the term religious devotion for both love of sushi and evangelicals prayer practices, but no one would suggest that these two things are somehowthe same thing. Both atheists and Christians have things they love and are passionate about. Everyone does. Not everyone believes in a supernatural deity.

A helpful way to know if a system of thought or worldview is religious is to look at the characteristics that most religions share. In his book Dimensions of the Sacred, the renowned anthropologist Ninian Smart set forth seven of these dimensions to detect whether something is religious:

Lets just briefly consider each of these dimensions in light of the system of thought that is naturalistic atheism.

This is going to start predictably, isnt it?

Just about every religion has a narrative that explains the world around them. Briefly, the Christian narrative is creation, fall, redemption, and consummation, for example. In the Western World, the narrative of atheism used to explain the existence of life and the world around them is Darwinian evolution, and the philosophy that it entails.

Yes. Yes, it is.

There were atheists before Darwin. And there are many, many Christians who accept the scientific reality of Darwinian evolution. Also, most atheists I know dont spend much time thinking about this. We exist. We live. We are. We arent hung up on lots of existential questions or finding a specific narrative.

Indeed, to the extent that I have a narrativeand I suppose I doit has a lot more to do with capital and gender and racial relations and social progress than it does with where life comes from. Where life comes from is unimportant to me. It really, genuinely does not matter to me. Whats important to me is how the inequities that exist in our world came to exist, and how we can identify and erode them.

Does that mean my social and political beliefs are a religion?

Anyway, moving on:

The experiential, social, and ritual aspects of atheism can be seen in the recent establishing of atheist churches.

Seriously? Does Turpin really think this is at all common? Because it isnt. At all. Period. I promise. Besides, what rituals does Turpin think atheist churches would have anyway? This is such a stretch.

I have a ritual. Its called yoga.(Yes, I really am feeling that snarky, but seriously, this is such ridiculous stretching on Turpins part.)

Wait a minute! Body Ritual among the Nacerima comes to mind. You should read it. And so should Turpin. And after he reads it, he should read this Wikipedia article about it, because its actually very relevant.

Anyway, moving on!

Atheists even have doctrine and are evangelistic in their promotion of it. For example, a few years ago, the humanist society in the UK teamed up with atheist Richard Dawkins for a famous advertising campaign that they plastered on the side of buses that read, Theres Probably No God. Now Stop Worrying and Enjoy Your Life. The fact that atheists go out of their way to let other people know what they believe and even come up with principles to live life by (even called, for example, the New Ten Commandments) is evidence of their religion.

Does Turpin have any idea what percentage of the nonreligious populationbecause he states early on that hes talking about the nones in generalactually fund and organize the creation of signage like this? Because its small. And I had no idea we had a new Ten Commandments and Ive been an atheists for ages now.

There is no one atheist book all atheists have to read. There is no one atheist code of ethics, no one atheist set of rituals, no one atheist doctrine. Really. I promise. There isnt.

Seriously!? What did I just say! Atheists dont share any one single moral code! Really and truly we dont! Individual atheists subscribe to individual moral or ethical beliefs. Not all atheists are even moral relativists. And there isnt just one moral relativist position, either. We dont have dogma. Were not even really a we.

Finally, the material aspect of the religious nature of atheism can be seen in several ways, but specifically, it can be seen in the atheists treatment of creation as sacred.

Wait, we treat what like what now? We do not have a club. We do not have dogma. I for one dont treat creation as sacred. Sure, I enjoy a good sunset as much as the next person, but I dont exactly go around touching the ground in awe all the time. I mean, what does that even mean?

Heres Turpins explanation:

In an interview in the UK newspaper The Times (April 2019), the founder of the global environmental movement Extinction Rebellion Gail Bradbrook, a molecular biophysicist, said,

I dont believe in God, like theres some person there organising everything. I think theres something inherently beautiful and sacred about the universe and I think you can feel that just as well as an atheist. A bit of me thinks, Is there a way to have some form of dialogue with the universe?

From an atheistic perspective, the universe does not care what you think, or how you feel. So, what would be the point of dialogue?

Im wondering that myself.

But seriously, Turpin quotes an individual atheist saying that to her, theres something inherently beautiful and sacred about the universe, and concludes based on that that atheists treat creation as sacred, and therefore have a material religion. So guess what? I decided to look up what Ninian Smart, the anthropologist who created the seven dimensions Turpin discusses here, meant by a material dimension.

material dimension Those aspects of religion exhibited in material form, such as temples, paintings, special clothing and pilgrimage sites.

Huh. How about that.

Also, experiential isnt about going to church, which is how Turpin treats it. But its more than that.Turpin isnt actually using any of Smarts seven dimensions the way Smart outlined themin his 1996 book, which is the one Turpin sites. Turpin doesnt even get the terms themselves correct: what he calls the narrative dimension Smart actually calls the mythic or narrative dimension. What Turpin labeled only social, Smart labeled the organizational or social component. In fact, Smart givesall of the components he laid out double names, which he says helps to elucidate and sometimes to widen them.

In Turpins defense, there are lots of study guides online helping students prep for religious studies tests that have include only single-term labels for Smarts dimensions, and Smarts 1996 volume isnt the first time he laid out this seven-fold schema. Its possible he originally used only single terms. But Turpin sited Smarts 1996 book, not his earlier work. I dont think Turpin actually cracked the book he cited.

Anyway! Leaving aside the issue of religious zeal (again, sushi), what counts as religion depends largely on how religion is defined. Which, of course it would! But Turpin doesnt care about that. He only cares about shoehorning atheism into religion in order to make an ideological point. Frankly, this is far less interesting than actually considering what religion looks like, and what should count (or not count) as religion.

Now, Im making this up on the fly, but consider three options:

Under definition 2 above, Marxism is a religion. New Atheism is also probably a religion, but it should be noted that not all nones or all self-described atheists are New Atheists. Under definition 3 above, everyone has a religion. Religion becomes individual, and is not about the divine or the sacred, or shared dogma.

But see, this is me throwing something at the wall to see if it fits, without having some sort of point Im trying to make or axe Im trying to grind. Thats me thinking about the various issues involved because its interesting. Id also be totally cool defining fandoms as religions. That could be really interesting, as a thought experiment. (Also, in this framework, anti-vaxxing is definitely a religion.)

If youre interested in reading books discussing what religion is, scholars in religious studies and anthropology have written a lot on this. (Start with Catherine Albanese Religions and Religion.)

Turpin finishes his essay as follows:

Atheism is a false religion. It is the worship of self where they have ...exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator (Romans 1:25). The facts that (1) the leader of the atheist church wants to live better, wonder more; (2) Daniel Dennett believes child abuse is wrong; and (3) that Neil deGrasse Tyson can have a spiritual experience over creation all ultimately exemplify a recognition (whether they accept it or not) of what theologians call the sensus divinitatis (a true knowledge of God, i.e., Romans 1:1823). It is to this sensus that Christians should appeal in order to show atheists the internal inconsistency of their own worldview. The reason that atheists can value and seek to preserve human life comes from the fact that knowledge of God comes to them not only through his creation but from the fact that they are made in his image (Genesis 1:27).

Turpin, unlike me, has a very big axe.

Turpin thinks hes writing some sort of gotchaHa! Atheists are too religious!but my takeaway is somewhat different. See, Im sitting here trying to figure out how to fit my Doctor Who fandom into those seven categories. Weve got the narrative (stories galore) and weve got the social (who doesnt view as a family?). Weve got the ethical component tootheres quite a bit of ethical discussion in the series.

As for the material, I already have Whovian kitsch. All I need is the rituals. Hmmm. What an interesting challenge.It turns out that while I may not have an axe to grind, I do have a screwdriver to sonic. Ill keep you posted on future virtual meetings of the international Doctor Who religious consortium.

One last thing. I found my religious studies classes in college fascinating, perhaps in part because they werent about making a point. They werent about finding away to arrive at an already determined answer. In fact, questions didnt have to have answers. It was about an open exploration of ideas. And sure, not every idea was equally good, but it was the questions and discussionthe debate, the mind-blowing momentsthat made these classes fascinating, not the answers (or, in some cases, the lack thereof).

It strikes me that, in comparison, the approach Answers in Genesis takes is fundamentallyboring. And, frankly, sad.

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If Everything Is Religion, Is Anything Religion? | Libby Anne - Patheos

Qubec Takes Religion Out of Ethics and Religion Course in Public Schools – Friendly Atheist – Patheos

The current government of Qubec, Coalition Avenir Qubecois, has always shown a great level of commitment to the project of lacit, the idea that government should be completely secular, with no recognition granted to any religious dimension in social life, regardless of sect or denomination.

Sometimes that leads them to make solid humanist decisions, like removing the trappings of religion from government spaces.

At other times, their choices are much more controversial, as in the case of a 2019 law banning public servants from wearing religious symbols at work, which heavily targeted belief systems that mandate religious headgear and blurred the distinction between government endorsement and individual expression.

Now, the provincial government under Premier Franois Legault has announcedits plan to cancel a comparative religions and ethics course in Qubec schools, called Ethics and Religious Culture, on the grounds that it gives too much importance and attention to religion.

Qubecs Minister of Education, Jean-Franois Roberge, explained that the course will be replaced with a more secular variation:

We are abolishing it to replace it with something new. But there will always be elements of the original course that remain, like ethics, the practice of dialogue, respect for self and others, the fight against stereotypes. One could say it is a far-reaching reform I dont know what we will call it, but I know it wont be called Ethics and Religious Culture.

Roberge has identified eight key themes to serve as the focus of the new course as it is developed: citizen participation in democracy, ecological citizenship, digital citizenship, legal education, sex education, self-development and interpersonal relationships, social and company culture, and the broadly-defined catch-all topic of ethics.

Roberge says religion will continue to be a topic discussed in the course but it will have far less prominence than it did in the courses previous incarnation.

It will have a much smaller place than what it does now, but a space all the same. If one wants to understand the geopolitical map of the world, religion is an element that allows one to understand the actions of certain countries.

The course is expected to be ready for testing in select schools at the start of the 2021-22 school year. If successful, it will become part of the official curriculum in 2022-23.

Ethics and Religious Culture (ECR) entered the curriculum in 2008 as a bid to secularize Qubec schools while providing students with a grounding of knowledge about other faiths. Some critics of this new move argue that the shift away from discussing religions deprives students of the ability to explore the beliefs of others. Their concern is preventing students from learning about the beliefs that underscore so much of what drives people around this world, not a desire to indoctrinate students under any particular worldview.

In fact, argues Montreal commentator Toula Drimonis, the comparative study of various religions does more than increase students cultural competence: It can actually produce more atheists.

Some education experts, however, lament the decision in much stronger terms. Retired professor Jean-Pierre Proulx calls Roberges decision a resounding victory for militant atheism:

The announced abolition of the Ethics and Religious Culture program constitutes a resounding victory for militant Qubecois atheism and its propagandists. For this movement, religion is intrinsically an aberration, the fruit of irrationality. Worse, it is the gangrene of humanity. So inevitably, religion even from a cultural perspective has no place in schools.

Many atheists would object to that straw-man characterization, however; in fact, many current atheists found their way out of religion after learning about alternatives to the faith they were taught as children. Others merely recognize the difference between learning about religion and being taught to profess a faith. Says Drimonis:

Even though Im a staunch atheist and have been since the age of six, I have always appreciated and enjoyed learning about other faiths, cultures, moral codes, and traditions. No amount of reading on the subject has ever made me believe in a god. Knowledge and religious literacy arent proselytism or indoctrination and I would be suspicious of anyone who claims that they are.

Its worth noting that the Supreme Court of Canada agrees: When the 2008 ECR curriculum first rolled out, a Drummondville Catholic family argued that the mandatory program violated their freedom of religion by interfering with their ability to pass on their faith to their children. The Supreme Court dismissed their appeal, emphasizing the absence of indoctrination in the curriculums presentation of world religions.

In other words, if your religion cant hold up in light of factual knowledge about other faiths, thats not the Ministry of Educations problem.

The question of what role that knowledge should play in a modernized and updated curriculum, however, remains open. Currently the government of Qubec is soliciting feedback from all concerned citizens through a questionnaire on the Ministry of Educations website.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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Qubec Takes Religion Out of Ethics and Religion Course in Public Schools - Friendly Atheist - Patheos

Christian lifestyle and the reasons of so-called Christian education importance – Christian Post

By Anna Medina, Op-Ed Contributor | Saturday, January 18, 2020 Students at Spalding High School in Griffin, Ga., pray on August 23, 2019. | Screenshot: AHA

Does a Christian need education? Before answering, let's look at the history of this question. For almost the entire twentieth century, humanity has lived under the banner of scientific atheism. People were told that faith in God was supposedly incompatible with scientific knowledge, and therefore only backward, semi-literate people supposedly believe in Him.

But if that were true, then each person, regardless of character and other personal qualities, would automatically become an atheist after accumulating a certain amount of knowledge. However, this does not happen. On the one hand, many well-educated people believe in God, and on the other, many such people do not aspire to any knowledge, and at the same time consider themselves convinced atheists. Is Christian education important today? Of course, yes, because it leaves its mark on a persons lifestyle, his worldview and the opportunities that he can open before other people.

Christian Education Explains the Laws and the True Causes of Things

If we are striving for truly Christian education, then we must focus on the divine origin and explanation of the world in every subject. In the course of history, for example, it is necessary to emphasize the fact that behind all the events that have taken place over the centuries, there is a clear pattern. History is not driven by chance, but by God's purpose. He "rules over the kingdom of man" and does "everything according to His will." It is important to see the hand of the Lord and His sovereign goals in everything that happens.

The same can be said of the natural sciences. In Christian education, we cannot approach the study of phenomena from the so-called neutral positions. The neutral position does not exist. The world around it arose either as a result of chance, as unbelievers believe, or it was created by our God. And if the world is His creation, governed by His sovereign power, then we reject and insult God, not recognizing this in all the events that take place, whether in physics, biology, chemistry or any other science. An education that does not recognize the Creator God and the role of providence in maintaining a certain order in this world cannot be called Christian.

Christian Education Teaches Truth and the True Path

Sometimes parents believe that a secular environment will strengthen their children, teach them to defend their views. But the Word of God does not confirm this point of view. It does not say: "Let the youth twelve years follow the unrighteous path to strengthen him." God teaches us something completely different: Teach a young man at the beginning of his path: he will not deviate from the righteous one when he grows old (Prov. 22: 6).

Secular education is just the case when young people are allowed to follow any path the path of cruelty, bullying, self-centeredness, disrespect for elders and violence. There is not one such verse in Scripture that would say that secular education will strengthen Christian children, except in the sense in which stale bread is strong. Yes, it will make them callous and sin will seem normal to them. It will make them firm, and they will care more for worldly things than for God. It will make them insensitive to evil and it will be quite comfortable for them in a world that sins against their Lord every second. But secular education will not strengthen them as Christians, therefore, "teach a young man at the beginning of his path".

This is like a poor translation of an important document - it only seems that the meaning of the written is preserved, but in fact, it is hopelessly lost. To get a high-quality translation of, for example, a marriage certificate, which, as we know, are concluded in Heaven, you need to contact The Word Point translation service. And to strengthen your Christian soul, it is necessary to receive a religious education.

Christian People Can Give the World a Chance

So, what is the role of a well-educated person in the church of Christ? Generally speaking, the role of a well-educated believer is the same as the role of any Christian - to carry the gospel to a perishing world. Such is the nature of man he best perceives spiritual information from those who are equal to him both in rank and in education. Therefore, the role of a well-educated Christian is to bring the message of salvation to the society of well-educated people and to acquire at least some of them for Christ. The Apostle Paul was a well-educated man for his time. That is why he was to preach in Athens - in the center of ancient science and culture.

Scripture says that the whole world is controlled by evil. (1 John 5:19). Every believer should not only move away from evil but also expose this evil. And a well-educated Christian has to expose the evil that takes place among scholars. For example, now there is much debate about both cloning and experiments on pillar cells, that is, on cells of the human embryo, to obtain which this embryo needs to be killed, that is, an abortion is performed. And this is just the tip of the iceberg: modern science often goes beyond morality. And it is precisely well-educated believers who must raise their voice against this kind of lawlessness. And to see the boundary between the permissible and the immoral, you need to know the Scriptures.

Christian education is important, and most importantly, it should begin in childhood. In modern schools, much attention is paid to the development of mental and physical abilities, and this is good. It is bad that spiritual needs, which are very significant throughout the life of a child, do not develop, and therefore in our society, there are many spiritually and emotionally lonely people. The lack of religious education in childhood certainly affects the character of a person: in the mental warehouse of such people, a certain breakdown is felt. The child is unusually susceptible to religious impressions: he instinctively reaches for everything that reveals the beauty and meaning of the world. Take it from the child - and his soul will fade; the child will remain in a deserted world with his petty everyday interests.

Anna Medina is a specialist in different types of writing. She graduated from the Interpreters Department, but creative writing became her favorite type of work. She works as a freelance writer and translator forTheWordPoint.

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Christian lifestyle and the reasons of so-called Christian education importance - Christian Post

A brief history of doubt and the emotion that underpins it – Church Times

THE philosopher Charles Taylor puts it well. Why, he asks, was it virtually impossible not to believe in God in, say, 1500 in our Western society, while in 2000 many of us find this not only easy, but even inescapable?

The conventional, triumphalist, inevitabilist answers about secularisation tend to focus on philosophers and scientists, on the Enlightenment and the Victorians, and on intellectual critiques. But that misses a longer, deeper story.

Intellectual critiques of religion did not cause our modern secular surge. The purely rational case for atheism has added almost nothing to its arsenal for a century (only the neurological argument, really).

In the same time-frame, lots of anti-Christian truisms that every educated European in the early 20th century knew have been debunked. We no longer believe that the universe is infinitely old and entirely deterministic, that humanitys races are fundamentally different, that evolution is governed by some sort of progressive life-force, or that the Bible is a mere collage of myths shared by peoples across the ancient Near East.

And yet, during this same era, Christianity in the West has been receding, not advancing. It looks as if it is not all about science and philosophy.

Then look at the other end of Taylors timescale. The conventional story says that the starting-gun for modern atheism was fired by Spinoza in the 1660s. But, by then, the Christian West was already nearly two centuries into a full-scale moral panic about what it called atheism. The English word, coined in 1553, quickly became ubiquitous.

It was not just paranoia. The villain in Cyril Tourneurs 1611 play The Atheists Tragedy is a caricature, but Tourneurs rival, Christopher Marlowe, was credibly accused of saying: There is no God, and that Christ deserved better to die than Barabbas. It was proverbial that physicians, soldiers, and politicians were naturians or nullafidians, with no faith.

Even the most earnest believers found this kind of atheism in themselves. A pious Londoner described how she had spent the 1640s wrestling with temptations to believe that there was no God, no Heaven, and no Hell. The young John Bunyan spent a year desperately wondering whether there were, in truth, a God, or Christ?

None of these people had sound philosophical grounds for their doubts. Like nervous flyers white-knuckled during a nasty bout of turbulence, they told themselves firmly that there was nothing to worry about. But, under such circumstances, rational reassurance does not help much. In other words, atheism existed in practice before it existed in theory.

This is as we should expect, of course. If our own age has taught us anything, it is that intellectual arguments rarely change anyones mind. The conventional story has it that philosophers attacked religion, and people then stopped believing. But what if people stopped believing and then invented philosophies to rationalise their unbelief?

So, the answer to Taylors question why it is that belief once felt so natural, and now feels so difficult is an emotional one. We all accept that, when we embrace religious faith, we do it intuitively or emotionally, with our whole selves, not by dry calculation. My point is simply that when we reject or abandon faith, we do exactly the same thing.

THE emotional history of atheism that I have been reconstructing has two keynotes, which run deep back into the Middle Ages: anger and anxiety. Anger was directed at overbearing Churches, interfering priests, and the God who, they claimed, was on their side.

Anxiety was about whether God really hears prayers, whether the soul is really immortal. In themselves, neither anger nor anxiety threatened Christian society. They were perennial, predictable, and eminently manageable. The fury of a few blasphemers and libertines offered the Church exactly the kind of opposition it wanted. And stirring a little anxiety into the faith helped to ensure that it never solidified into a mere habit.

And then came the Reformation. Martin Luther turned his personal crisis of faith into a Europe-wide religious explosion by weaponising scepticism: training Christians not just to doubt other Christians, but to mock and vilify them, accusing them of perpetrating a centuries-long priestly con-trick. Pretty soon, whether you were a Protestant or a Roman Catholic, scorning other Christians beliefs as ridiculous was an inescapable part of your faith.

The point was, of course, to overthrow the corrupt Church and set up a purified one in its place. But the trouble with arming whole populations to fight a war of scorn and scepticism is that they do not always stop when they are told.

So some people turned their scorn on to the new religion as well as the old. Catholics were blind, and Protestants one-eyed, one group of French free-thinkers said. Only they themselves were truly deniaisez. The word meant both enlightened and deflowered. They had lost their religious virginity, and there was no going back.

Both anger and anxiety had a new urgency. That startlingly secular playwright William Shakespeare summed up an age of religious warfare in the words of a dying man caught in senseless crossfire: A plague on both your houses! Anger at the Churches had acquired a righteous edge. Was this how Jesus Christ would have lived?

As for anxiety it was not only the terrible choice between Catholic and Protestant, made in the knowledge that heaven or hell hung on the outcome. You did not need to spend very long impaled on that dilemma to begin to ask: is either of them right? Am I damned, whatever I do? Or is Hell simply another of those priests tricks? Would a good God ever truly condemn his creations to eternal torment? Maybe, a few people began to wonder, the most truly moral thing to do was to walk away from all this so-called religion?

And so, by the middle of the 17th century, something new was stirring. Moral rationalists such as the Dutch Collegiants, or mystics such as the early English Quakers, had turned their fury at the Churches and their struggles to find spiritual bedrock on which they could build a true faith into a moral struggle against religion and all its evils. When a brilliant, excommunicated Dutch Jew, Baruch Spinoza, fell in with the Collegiants and the Quakers in the 1650s, that was the world that he discovered.

Like him, many of the canonical founding fathers of Western secularism, from Pierre Bayle through Voltaire and Tom Paine to Feuerbach and beyond, were not trying to abolish Christianity: they were trying to reform and purify it. In practice, though, that could look pretty similar. If you conclude that your faith is built on sand, you might demolish it and start digging to find bedrock so that you can build anew. That is not too different from just smashing it up especially if, no matter how deep you dig, your shovel never seems to ring on anything truly solid.

Anger and anxiety kept simmering away: in the anticlerical fury of Karl Marx or the anarchist Mikhail Bakunin, in the agonised doubts of Fyodor Dostoevsky or George Eliot. And, as ever, what truly fired those emotions was not science or metaphysics, but ethics.

LIKEWISE, the secular surge of our own times does not represent any kind of intellectual breakthrough; more that, in the wake of two world wars and the social revolutions which followed, our society no longer measures its morals by religious yardsticks.

Once, the most potent moral figure in our culture was Jesus Christ, whose ethics were normative for believers and unbelievers alike. Now, our most potent moral figure is Adolf Hitler, who has become our new, secular embodiment of absolute evil. That is the conviction on which most of our modern ethics, including the gossamer bubble called human rights, depends. So, now, Churchills speeches tug at the heart more than the Sermon on the Mount, and a swastika stirs deeper emotions than a crucifix. Its powerful, its fiercely moral, and its right as far as it goes. But it is not rational, it is not inevitable, and it is not stable.

The enduring truth is that, from the Middle Ages to the present, most of us have made the great choices beliefs, values, identities, purposes intuitively and emotionally. That is not because belief, or unbelief, is irrational. It is because human beings are irrational or, rather, because we are not calculating machines. The emotional history of belief and unbelief suggests that our intuitive choices often have a certain wisdom to them.

Blaise Pascal, the 17th centurys shrewdest wrestler with doubt, famously compared the choice between belief and unbelief to an impossible wager on unknown odds. His point was not to make a crass, pragmatic argument for faith: that was only ever a parody. It wasto demonstrate that multiplying proofs of Gods existence is futile. This is not an academic matter: too much is at stake.

And so, like any gamblers, we wager with our guts and our hearts. As well we should; for, as Pascal also told us, the heart has its reasons, of which Reason knows nothing.

Dr Ryrie is Professor of the History of Christianity at Durham University. His latest book, Unbelievers: An emotional history of doubt is, is published by Harvard University Press at 18.95 (CT Bookshop 17).

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A brief history of doubt and the emotion that underpins it - Church Times

I would absolutely become a true believer tomorrow if – Patheos

Consider for a moment the essential idea in this photo illustration:

It would only take 1 piece of verifiable evidence to destroy atheism.

This is what distinguishes religious faith from religious doubt.

For example, science and common sense have provided veritable mountains of material evidence irrefutably contradicting many fundamental proclamations in the Bible, such as the age of the Earth, the genesis of humankind and how the solar system is structured and moves.

Which is to say, substantive fact has proven that the Earth is more than 4.5 billion years old (the bible says 6,000); our species, Homo sapiens, evolved from lower life forms over eons (the Bible says God originally created humans in the same form they exist today); and all the planets in our solar system, including Earth, orbit the Sun, and only moons orbit their parent planets (the Bible contends that Earth is the center of the universe around which everything else revolves).

And weve known these concrete truths for a long time now, centuries in some instances.

Reasonably speaking, the credibility of any book divined as the Word of God should be permanently destroyed if any part of it proves mistaken, not gospel, in other words.

But this has not fully happened because religious dogma, unlike facts, is based on inaccessible surreality, not reality, and believers trust sketchy and uncorroborated supernatural imaginings received from the ancients instead of material, testable, provable, empirical evidence obtained from the real world in the here and now.

As a nonbeliever in all things supernatural and superstitious, I subscribe to the sentiment in the photo illustration embedded here. If any any evidence were credibly produced that divinities exist in an invisible realm and control our lives beyond our capacity to investigate them, I would instantly transform into a true believer.

But such evidence has never been reliably, plausibly presented. So I remain unconvinced and live my life by the stars, as it were by the banal realities of existence, not seductive fantasies.

It would be a far different world if faithful people would hold their beliefs to the same rigorous testing that atheists and even agnostics do.

If they did, most of us would likely be of the same mind regarding the gods: There arent any.

Photo illustration/Atheist Global

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I would absolutely become a true believer tomorrow if - Patheos

Latino atheists gather as a secular group, rejecting religion – Los Angeles Times

Once a month, a very particular Sunday service unfolds on a patio outside a Starbucks in El Monte. When jets fly overhead, members of the congregation have to shout across the table at one another.

Some days, theres a small crowd, and the conversation lasts for hours. On other days, Arlene Rios waits alone.

Its not easy being an atheist raised in a devoutly Catholic culture. But here in the San Gabriel Valley, you dont have to doubt Gods existence all alone. You can head to the monthly meetup of secular Latinos and share a latte with Rios.

There are no Communion wafers at this service, just coffee and pastries, support and understanding from Atheists United Secular Latinos of San Gabriel Valley.

Some people are afraid to RSVP, because theyre afraid their family members might know theyre questioning religion, said Rios, who started organizing this unusual convocation in Fresno three years ago. I still show up just in case.

She is up against centuries of tradition.

In Mexican and Latin American homes, saints abound. Pope bobblehead dolls adorn bookshelves. Palm Sunday branches are tacked up on walls. Paintings of the Last Supper hang in dining rooms. Abuelas give rosaries to hang on the rearview mirror of the family car. Moms say persignate make the sign of the cross when you get on the freeway or theres turbulence on the plane.

In Mexican culture, there is no greater icon than the Virgen de Guadalupe. In Spanish, goodbye literally means to God. Adis. A Dios.

Even though identification with the Catholic Church, or any church for that matter, has dwindled some among Latinos in the United States over the last decade, Latinos do not hold atheists in high regard.

Arlene Rios and her mother, Maria Elena Avila, in church in December 1979 for a Virgen de Guadalupe celebration. Rios is now an atheist.

(Courtesy of Arlene Rios)

Some 47% of Latinos describe themselves as Catholic, down from 57% a decade ago, according to a Pew Research Center survey on Americas changing religious landscape released in October. At the same time, 23% of Latinos say they are religiously unaffiliated, up from 15% in 2009.

Another survey from the Pew Research Center indicated that Latinos feel more unfavorably toward atheists than they do toward any other group.

Religion for Latinos overwhelmingly for the longest time has been Catholic. Its so embedded and imbued in the culture, said Arlene Snchez-Walsh, a professor of religious studies at Azusa Pacific University. Becoming completely nonbelieving, thats a major rupture.

Which is something the members of this meetup know all too well.

Alex Flores mother discussed his loss of faith with the local priest. If the 37-year-old wanted to convert back to Catholicism, she told her son, he could get rebaptized in one hour.

Tomas Rodriguez Jr.'s family thinks the 54-year-old is going through a phase. His mother jokingly blames herself for his disbelief in God.

At Alfredo Beltrans job in Commerce, a co-worker announced that she thought atheists were devil worshipers. Another asked Beltran if he even mourned death.

Beltran, 44, grew up Catholic and recalls the guilt that came with it. When it would rain, his family told him it was because he had been bad and Diosito is mad. At confession, he wondered why he needed to repent for forgetting to do the dishes or not taking out the trash.

He attended Mass with everyone in his family except for his grandfather.

He would always stay home, and I would hear little comments [from him] here and there like, Oh God didnt give me that meat. I got that meat; I made the money for that, said Beltran, who became an atheist when he was in his 30s.

Alfredo and Catalina Beltran near the rear window of Alfredos truck with stickers of Atheist group.

(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Beltran met Rios while the two stood in line in L.A. to listen to a talk with atheist activist Matt Dillahunty, host of the live internet show The Atheist Experience. When Rios told Beltran she wanted to start the group, he was immediately supportive.

Rios, a Navy veteran, grew up Catholic but walked away from religion when she was in her 30s because it just didnt make any sense to me. But the 43-year-old said she missed one important function that church provided, the community aspect of it.

She started Fresno Latino Atheists after hearing about secular Latino meetups across the country. Six people came to her first gathering. The group now boasts hundreds of members online. After Rios moved to the San Gabriel Valley, she held her first meetup there in June 2018.

Her parents were supportive, she said, although at times her mother who grew up in Mexico still references the Bible when speaking to her daughter. Although Maria Elena Avilas natural being tells me to believe, she respects her daughters nonbelief.

This is a free country, and you can become whatever you want to become, she said. My purpose as a mother was to raise my kids being good citizens, and I think I did.

Alfredo Beltran with rosaries he gives away in Pico Rivera. Beltran and his wife, Catalina, are atheists.

(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

But other family members dismiss Rios beliefs or lack thereof altogether.

Ay mija, her aunt tells her, you were baptized Catholic, so youre always going to be Catholic.

In the U.S., a decreasing number of adults identify as Catholic, while the number of people who answer the religion question with the word none has steadily grown.

The religiously unaffiliated share of the population, which consists of people who identify as atheist, agnostic or nothing in particular, went up from 17% in 2009 to 26% in 2018-19, according to Pew Research Center. Those numbers have grown across multiple demographic groups.

Around the country, Latinos have banded together in Facebook groups and Reddit threads to share their secret or not-so-secret lack of faith.

One Reddit user said he became disillusioned with religion around the time he went through confirmation in high school. His mother, who he described as still very Catholic, attends Mass every Sunday and prays before bed and at every meal. His father has always seemed to just kind of tolerate it.

Though he grew up Catholic, too, I get the feeling he just kind of goes through the motions for the sake of keeping the peace with my mom, he wrote. I guess I do the same thing when Im home visiting.

Another Reddit user emphasized how deep-rooted our cultures are in superstition.

In a nutshell, if youre not Catholic, youre not one of the normal ones, so it can be very tough to fit in, the user said. My hope is that other atheist Latinos will help normalize atheism in their respective communities.

Seven people gathered on the second Sunday of November for the meetup, oblivious to the churchgoers heading into the Starbucks after services. Rios rooted through a Lotera wallet for cash so she could grab coffee to keep herself warm in the chilly air, as she handed out Atheists United newsletters.

They are open about their nonbelief. Rios black T-shirt read Secular Latinas. Beltran has an atheist tattoo on his wrist and a sticker on his truck promoting Atheists United Secular Latinos of San Gabriel Valley.

The majority of Beltrans co-workers in the Commerce Public Works Department are Latino, and all are religious, making him the butt of all jokes, he said. Often, he questions their faith.

After a co-worker explained that his own daughter was disabled because of all the bad stuff he did in the past, Beltran questioned believing in something that would punish an innocent 4-year-old for a grown mans alleged sins.

When a friend died, Beltran said he called another co-worker to tell him about his pain. That colleague had once asked him: Do atheists actually mourn death?

We dont correlate it to religion, Beltran said. But when we lose someone, our hearts are broken.

Although some friends worry about him being a nonbeliever, he stands by his moral code.

I dont know about you guys, but when I finally decided to say I was atheist I felt like this huge weight just fell off my back, Beltran told the assembled nonbelievers. A murmur of agreement ran through the circle.

I wanted to scream and tell everybody, he said.

Alfredo Beltran

At times, though, being a nonbeliever has come at a cost. After Flores sister gave birth to a son and it was time for the babys baptism, she told Flores she wanted him to be the childs godfather.

But you being an atheist, she told him, I had to go with someone else.

Leticia Flores-Mejia considered Flores, she said, but the church that we went to, the godparents did have to be Catholic.

Beltran ran into a similar roadblock. When friends wanted him to be their sons godfather, it was the priest who said no.

Apparently I couldnt because, how am I supposed to teach their son about God and the Bible if Im not a believer, Beltran said.

Technically you can teach it, Flores said, just not the things they want.

The November meet up of San Gabriel Valley secular Latinos.

(Brittny Mejia / Los Angeles Times)

That Sunday morning, the group of seven talked about hobbies including running an atheist and agnostic Latin dance workshop. And recent European vacations including a visit to a church that urged tourists not to help the false poor but to help the real ones with an offer to the parish.

They cite evolution to disprove Genesis and the story of Adam and Eve and their immediate descendants, asking if God is OK with incest. There is comfort in swapping stories about people who dont understand who atheists are.

You dont believe in God? But youre so nice, Rios has heard.

You cant be an atheist, because youre such a sweet guy, said Beltrans friend, who asked him not to talk to her children about religion.

When these atheists go to church, its for weddings, baptisms, or funerals. Beltran and his wife were married in their backyard. Rodriguez Jr. and his wife were married at City Hall.

Still, remnants of their past lives remain. At times they say bless you when someone sneezes, or oh my God when something surprises them.

The Last Supper hangs on Rios wall, reminding her of her childhood; Beltran still has rosaries; and Rodriguez Jr. has a packet of Bible stuff from his first Communion that his grandmother sent when he moved to California.

Theres only one Virgen de Guadalupe in Rios home a print of the Virgin Mary depicted as Princess Leia holding a gun.

She put it away, after her grandmother visited, took one look and called it blasphemy.

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Latino atheists gather as a secular group, rejecting religion - Los Angeles Times

BreakPoint: The ‘New Atheism’ is old news because it couldn’t explain sin – Chattanooga Times Free Press

In the early 2000s, across the digital and print world of Christian apologetics, the so-called "New Atheism" was a central topic of conversation. Authors like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and the late Christopher Hitchens generated quite an audience by attacking religion in general and Christianity in particular, portraying both as irrational, evil forces in society. Books like "The God Delusion," "God Is Not Great" and "The End of Faith" argued that belief in God was unscientific and that unbelief would make us all better people.

You may be thinking to yourself, "I haven't really thought of those guys in quite a while." Exactly. The movement has grown strangely quiet over the last decade. Messageboard debates have petered out, rallies and debates have been canceled and book sales flatlined.

In fact, the New Atheism has been largely replaced. Some folks who once joined in on the outrage against religion got woke instead and now aim their outrage at privilege, oppression and perceived inequalities. Others migrated from Rational Wiki to alt-right online hubs like 4Chan and Reddit. Today, those sites are full of former Dawkins fans who swallowed so-called "red pill" ideas about race, sex and politics, not to mention heaping doses of conspiracy theories.

It's fair to say now, as Steven Poole did earlier this year in The Guardian, that the New Atheist moment has ended. But what killed it?

Poole makes a strong case that it just became old news. Authors like Dawkins, Dennett, Harris and Hitchens rode the wave of 9/11 and the War on Terror. In the aftermath of the deadliest attack in American history, it was easy to make the claim that religion itself, and not just certain religions, posed unique threats to world peace, despite obvious differences between Christianity and radical Islam. According to the New Atheists, to quote Christopher Hitchens, religion "poisons everything."

But with Al-Qaeda and ISIS in retreat and a generation coming of age that can't remember 9/11, the New Atheism movement is out of tracks to run on and has failed to convert a younger audience.

And I also think that Patrick Henry College professor Gene Veith offers another helpful angle on the decline of the New Atheists in a piece he recently wrote at Patheos. Militant unbelief has faltered, he suggests, because it cannot adequately explain sin.

Atheism is a reductionistic worldview and is forced to either deny the existence of real evil or to blame religion for it. After watching institutions and industries drown in sex scandals and innocents mowed down in nihilistic mass shootings over the last 10 years, it's clear that the fanatically religious do not have a monopoly on violence and evil.

In another "autopsy" of the New Atheism at Arc Digital, Ben Sixsmith suggests that those once preoccupied with arguing against the existence of God have moved on "to more intense areas of rhetorical dispute" like racial and gender oppression, while those who bang on about atheism now look in his words "increasingly monomaniacal, irrelevant and dull."

So where does this leave us? With the New Atheism in its twilight years and more fashionable false worldviews taking its place, Christians need to keep apologetically focused. All false ideas need to be answered.

Today, we might best serve our neighbors by pointing out the lies of identity politics or oppression politics, explaining the evolutionary roots of modern racism and caring for the victims these bad ideas leave behind. And as we do, we'll need to point out how inadequate every other worldview is in accounting for sin and evil, which as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn put it runs "through every human heart."

In place of the numerous and varied failed accounts of what's wrong with our world, we'll need to continue to proclaim the truth the New Atheists denied and today's fashionable ideologues ignore: that the problem with the world, that the source of evil, is "in here" not "out there." And because we are, at root, the source of the world's problems, salvation can only come from without not within.

From BreakPoint, Dec. 23, 2019; reprinted by permission of the Colson Center, http://www.breakpoint.org.

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BreakPoint: The 'New Atheism' is old news because it couldn't explain sin - Chattanooga Times Free Press

What Is New About The New Atheists? | Peter Hammond Schwartz – Patheos

In my previous essay, I invoked thosefamously fratricidal brothers, Peter and Christopher Hitchens, who published dueling books on behalf of theism and atheism within a few years of each other, brother Peter writing in his book that On this my brother and I agree: that independence of mind is immensely precious, and that we should try to tell the truth in clear English even if we are disliked for doing so.

Here is the crux of the matter the Brothers Hitchens, theist and atheist, locked in fatal embrace, in thrall unto death to independence of mind, truth, and clear English. This shared faith in the immensely precious value of objective truth, freedom of thought, and grammatical syntax is touchingly Miltonian, of course, but at the same time a revealing tell. Which is that theistic and atheistic cosmologies cant exist without each other. They require each other, mirror each other, and recognize each other, because both grapple with ultimate questions about what it means to be human and how we, in all our frail and yearning specificity, fit into a universe of immense unfathomability and indifference.

The Cosmology Cage Match

Much has been at stake in these existential debates, to be sure. However, because almost by definition there can be no resolution to them, one must wonder whether in the end the intellectual disputants have cared more about the war than the peace. In other words, is the clash of ideologies and cosmologies the province of a professional class of intellectuals no less attuned and responsive than other types of warriors to the gladiatorial seductions of the cage match, where they can test their prowess against foes and receive glory from friends?

Less charitably, one can imagine the combatants on these ultimate matters to be not unlike the high school debate team prodigies from Ben Lerners The Topeka School, aggressively manspreading and mansplaining to crush their opponents, disclosing a will to power that entirely dwarfs any presumed will to persuade. In fact, nearly all the participants in the theism-atheism debate are male, as they are in The Topeka School debate competitions, which should indeed clue us in to the underlying dynamics of these arguments.

Liberal and Analytic Traditions

A recent book by Harvard political theorist Katrina Forrester called In the Shadow of Justice explores how the liberal political philosophy of John Rawls inscribed systematically in his magisterial work, A Theory of Justice has reimagined and reinvented itself in response to the global political challenges of the last 50 years. Contemporary liberal political philosophy as Forrester writes about it, emerges largely from within the analytic philosophical tradition that became prevalent in elite British and American in the decades following World War II.

This philosophical backdrop matters because the terms of the debate between theists and atheists following 9/11 occurred among intellectuals educated at Oxford, Cambridge, and Harvard (Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens, Nagel, Parfit, Scruton, SwinburneSinger, George) who were themselves steeped in this (notably ahistorical) Anglophonic analytic tradition. This tradition assumed a certain commensurability of style, language, and metaphysics that allowed these disputants to fully understand each other, even when they entirely disagreed with each other.

Skeptical Atheism

In this context, what is new about the New Atheists? As others have observed, the arguments against theistic religion are themselves definitely not new, having been summarized with similar piquancy and superior concision by Bertrand Russell nearly a century ago. Russell was of course the leading public intellectual in his own time (and arguably one of the first public intellectuals, period). He was a renowned logician and mathematician, a founder of analytic philosophy, a Nobel Prize recipient, and globally influential in both philosophical discourse and public affairs from the 1890s into the 1960s.

Weirdly, however, even as he consorted with the leading post-Newtonian scientific minds of the 20th century, Russell remained throughout his long life an oddly diffident 19th-century rebel: a skeptic who did not want to die for his ideas (because of the possibility that he was wrong); far more like Charles Darwin than Richard Dawkins; constrained by, even as he challenged, the repressive political, religious, and sexual orthodoxies of the Victorian era.

Performative Atheism

Contrast Bertrand Russell, this 19th century genius who lived most of his life in the 20th century, with the New Atheists, 21st-century rationalists who also have lived most of their lives in the 20th century. Deploying essentially the same arguments against religion as Russell, the New Atheists have distinguished themselves and rattled establishment cages by using presumptuous, performative tactics in an emerging digital publishing and media environment enormously more volatile than the traditional publishing and media landscape Russell traversed.

Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens were (and are) media-savvy, fully locked and loaded for the era of social networks and viral messaging via memes (an idea, of course, first introduced by Dawkins in his book, The Selfish Gene, published three decades earlier in 1976). Hitchens died in 2011, but as 2019 closes, Sam Harris can claim 1.3 million Twitter followers, while Dawkins has nearly 3 million. Intellectual gunslingers that they are, each has thrived within, and in some measure contributed to, the reactive, trigger-happy social spaces of the Internet.

Emotional Contexts

Other differences between Bertrand Russell and the New Atheists deserve mention. Certainly, the publication of all the New Atheist books in a tight, two-year span between 2004 and 2006 mattered. The timing meant that the authors naturally aligned and together could forcefully direct and control the conversation about religion. However, the impetus for this new foundational critique of religion was also more specifically political and less abstractly philosophical than previous attacks on God and religion. The West was reeling from the impact of the 9/11 terrorism attacks and the subsequent plunge into war in Afghanistan and Iraq. Emotions were incredibly raw, the new digital media space was spicy hot, and the shuddering awareness of civilizational and risk required broad-scope thinking.

The New Atheists have been quite uniformly dismissive of the Abrahamic religions in all their guises. However, the primitive and targeted violence of Islamic fundamentalists has delivered exceptionally low-hanging fruit for the anti-religious claims of the New Atheists. Specifically pungent criticisms of Islam have therefore obscured to some degree their more generalized critique of the Abrahamic religions. Of course, this tilt has also intensified emotional responses to the books, amplifying their influence in the political debate about the U.S.-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as leaving these books vulnerable to claims of Islamophobia.

A Rationalist Manifesto

The New Atheists Richard Dawkins in particular also brought to this debate a scientists sense of bafflement about the prevalence of ignorance and superstition in the lives of most people. Their work constitutes a rationalist manifesto for the 21st century. However, as many have observed, none of the New Atheists sustained anything close to a philosophers rigor in the construction of their arguments. This was at least partly because from their perspective the obviousness of the arguments against religion removed the need for any deep dive into the philosophical weeds to dismantle religions premises. The words and deeds of religious actors required no philosophical interlocutor to disclose to all their idiotic claims upon the human imagination.

Indeed, because the New Atheists (skilled wordsmiths all) aimed from the start to write for a mass audience, it was essential that they avoid philosophically respectable (of the persnickety, caviling, peer-reviewed sort) standards of argumentation. Their language was polemical and political, direct and unyielding, dismissive and derisive. Nonetheless, its worth emphasizing that the New Atheists deployed rhetoric that was in fact largely derived from the vocabulary, categories, and assumptions of Anglophonic analytic philosophy, as well as from even older traditions of moral philosophy dating back to Aquinas.

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What Is New About The New Atheists? | Peter Hammond Schwartz - Patheos

Prayer saved thousands in Mallacoota, claims atheist – Eternity News

David Jeffery, one of the faces of Mallacoota in recent bushfire coverage, is talking to Eternity amid the wreckage of his home town in the East Gippsland region of Victoria. But as neighbours drop by, whom he hasnt seen since their world turned black a week ago, his voice is bursting with relief and hope.

Forget about doom and gloom theres too many great stories, says Jeffery, referring to the miraculous events that spared the lives of many in Mallacoota, including Jeffery and his neighbours. While he is truly devastated for those who lost lives or homes in his small beach town of only 1000, Jeffery is just blown away by all who were saved including thousands of visiting holiday makers.

We could hear the roar. It was like a thousand freight trains coming at us. David Jeffery

Jeffery, owner of the Wave Oasis B&B in Mallacoota, became the international face of Australias bushfire crisis after being featured on BBC News and SkyNews, as well as the ABC, on January 1. Footage of Jeffery describing the narrow escape from the firewall bearing down from Mallacoota wharf, where thousands of people huddled for safety, has been shared all over the world.

Jeffery was incorrectly labelled by some media as the atheist who turned to prayer when he asked God to change the direction of the wind as the fire front approached, to push it back away from the wharf. This is precisely what happened, however Jeffery who has been Christian for more than 25 years- only mentioned his former atheism to show he understands how ridiculous his story may sound to those who dont believe in the God of the Bible.

But Jeffery believes its hard to argue that the experience, witnessed by hundreds if not thousands sheltered at Mallacoota wharf, was anything less than a miraculous answer to prayer. There is no way that it was all just luck, he asserts.

As news of the approaching fire reached Mallacoota in the early hours of New Years Day, Jeffery and his neighbours were preparing to defend their homes against an ember attack. It wasnt until Jeffery received advice from a neighbour in the police force and a friend who was a former fire chief that fire balls were a real possibility, that he decided to leave retreating to the wharf along with guests staying at the B&B and his pets two dogs, a cat, roster and two rescue ducks belonging to his two children (who were, thankfully, safe elsewhere).

Footage of David Jeffery speaking from Mallacoota wharf. BBC News

As the firewall loomed which Jeffery says was reported to be 60 feet high and moving at 90 kilometres an hour Jeffery and two older prayer warriors (along with many others around the nation) were praying.

We could hear the roar. It sounded like a thousand freight trains coming at us. Then a huge gust, like someone had opened the door of a furnace, pushed us It went black as black. The smoke was so thick it was hard to breathe.

We were going to die. If the Lord hadnt answered this next prayer, we would have had 30 seconds. David Jeffery

At this point Jeffery, along with many others, thought we were going to die. If the Lord hadnt answered this next prayer, we would have had 30 seconds.

I prayed, Lord if you dont push this [fire] back now, we need [wind] from the east. As soon as I said that, it started blowing from the east a little bit. Then I got louder and [the wind] got stronger. Then I got louder again and it got stronger again

I felt it change. I noticed that the bolder I got, the stronger [the wind got]. I was yelling, In Jesus name, thank you Lord for rescuing these souls. Push it back Lord, rescue us!

It was desperation personified. I did not care who heard me. I knew then that God was then doing what I was asking. Because if he didnt answer then, we were dead.

Noting that no easterly was forecast, Jeffery continues: What God did was push [the fire] back from the east, which was impossible but he did it. He did that for five minutes, which broke [the fire front] enough to stop it from getting to where we were.

You could see these intense flames. It was unstoppable. Wisely, the fireys werent even attempting to put it out Then I heard God say to me, pray. David Jeffery

Afterwards, as the smoke started to clear, the crowd at the wharf listened in horror as properties were consumed by fire and gas cylinders exploded.

It was heart-sickening. You could see these intense flames. It was unstoppable. Wisely, the fireys werent even attempting to put it out.

The fire wall was getting closer and closer to my house. We were about to lose everything. I could actually hear locals saying thats the Wave Oasis going up.

Then I heard God say to me, pray. I started off with a pathetic little prayer Then within me, this faith rose up and said who are you praying to? And I thought, Yes! Youre the God of the Bible. Nothings impossible with you! Youve got angels Lord, put them at the corners of the property.

This was so impossible, but somehow God turned off the flames, like flicking off a switch. David Jeffery

Jeffery also prayed that God would protect his neighbours, who had remained in their home to defend it.

This was so impossible, but somehow God turned off the flames, like flicking off a switch. All the fuel was still there the houses were still there, the grass was there.

My neighbours who are not Christians were eyewitnesses and they tell me God saved us. They thought they were going to be annihilated because that fireball was coming straight at them. But the whole of Vista Drive [their street] got spared and the bush around us got spared. Hot embers went into the dry, long grass, big bits of bark and trees, but where we were praying for, right there, it was all spared

There were no burn marks. There is honestly not a blade of grass singed.

Theyve seen miracles. Theyve seen the supernatural flames getting pushed back, theyve seen the embers hit the grass and not burn, without even a singe mark. David Jeffery

Today, Jeffery is certainly not shying away from talking about God with neighbours in Mallacoota.

Standing alongside his neighbour Chris, who often walks his dog past Jefferys property, Jeffery says: Chris and I have been talking about little things to do with Jesus for the past couple of years, but now were talking big things. Jeffery has in fact spent the morning explaining what it means to be a disciple of Christ.

Referring to other neighbours too, Jeffery continues, They all feel like the prayers saved them Theyve seen miracles. Theyve seen the supernatural flames getting pushed back, theyve seen the embers hit the grass and not burn, without even a singe mark.

Thats literally Bible stuff Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego [who were spared from the fiery furnace in the biblical book of Daniel] We are in awe of what Gods doing.

David Jeffery at his Mallacoota property which escaped the flames.

Jeffery describes their miraculous escape as a mercy, because, honestly, I know the alternative eternity that Jesus talked about and he doesnt want anyone to go there. He is hopeful this situation could serve as a wake-up call that helps people realise that there is a God and he does love them, that the only safe place is behind that cross.

In addition to talking with neighbours, Jeffery is now opening his property to feed and house police and other emergency services personnel. Not only did this building not burn to the ground, but now its getting used in unbelievable circumstances, he says. This building [provides] an opportunity now for love to flow thats what I see it as.

Out of this experience, Jeffery is determined to ensure that all the glory goes to God. He also feels compelled to offer this warning and encouragement to Eternity readers and those beyond: Its time for people to rise up and pray. Its time to get serious about God and get back into reading his word.

Some prayer points to help

These prayer requests are provided by Ken Spackman, CEO of the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne, who is currently in Mallacoota, where the massive impact of the bushfires is far from over:

See more here:

Prayer saved thousands in Mallacoota, claims atheist - Eternity News


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