Is Atheism trendy?

#1
Is atheism or secularism indeed a result of a more educated populace, or, in the west especially, is it more of a form of social conformity?

As a society whose focus is more and more on science and the material (and by this I mean both as a philosophy and an economic model) are people turning toward atheism/secularism due to the desire to not be "left behind" in the old ways of thinking?

I know that by percentage, atheists are still a minority (at least in the US) and by no means am I saying that religion is dead. However, any time atheism comes up in the media, the barrage of comments from the general public seem to be bent toward support of atheism, with the attitude that belief in a deity is "moronic", "childish", "nutty", etc.
Which would tend, IMHO, to push one who was on the fence toward atheism (or at least feigning atheism) so as not to feel left out or to feel ostracized as being one of those "true believers" which is usually translation for "idiot.
 
#2
I think that's a fair observation of a general trend in Western culture with, of course, some major exceptions within which religion has flourished.
 
#5
The word atheism is somewhat vague - is it supposed to mean a positive belief in materialism, an absence of belief in the god of an organised religion, or the absence of belief in any god?

I am one of those who left Christianity behind many years ago - so by some measures I am an atheist. I still dislike Christianity for its cruelty, and yet I am classed as a 'proponent' here because I do suspect that consciousness isn't physical.

I think a lot of people in the West - particularly in Europe - left Christianity because of its malign effect on society. The war in Northern Ireland, the years of oppression of gay people - or indeed anyone whose sexuality didn't quite fit, the Crusades, the witch burnings, etc etc. Right now, it hardly needs to be said that Islam is no better!

I hope that something will replace the old religions, but it must place tolerance at its core.

David
 
#6
The word atheism is somewhat vague - is it supposed to mean a positive belief in materialism, an absence of belief in the god of an organised religion, or the absence of belief in any god?

Associating atheism with materialism is a common rhetorical ploy, but I've never seen it included in a formal definition.

The second one would make almost everyone, including Christians, atheists as most adherents of one religion don't believe in the deities of other religions.

The last is the only one I would consider as being "atheism"
 
#7
The word atheism is somewhat vague - is it supposed to mean a positive belief in materialism, an absence of belief in the god of an organised religion, or the absence of belief in any god?

I am one of those who left Christianity behind many years ago - so by some measures I am an atheist. I still dislike Christianity for its cruelty, and yet I am classed as a 'proponent' here because I do suspect that consciousness isn't physical.

I think a lot of people in the West - particularly in Europe - left Christianity because of its malign effect on society. The war in Northern Ireland, the years of oppression of gay people - or indeed anyone whose sexuality didn't quite fit, the Crusades, the witch burnings, etc etc. Right now, it hardly needs to be said that Islam is no better!

I hope that something will replace the old religions, but it must place tolerance at its core.

David
Here in northern Ireland people still fight over religion, it really sucks
 
#8
Associating atheism with materialism is a common rhetorical ploy, but I've never seen it included in a formal definition.
What percentage of atheists believe in consciousness existing independent of brains? Just take a wild ass guess. Then out of those those, how many would accept a believe in higher forms of consciousness than human pervading nature?

Cheers,
Bill
 
#9
The word atheism is somewhat vague - is it supposed to mean a positive belief in materialism, an absence of belief in the god of an organised religion, or the absence of belief in any god?

I am one of those who left Christianity behind many years ago - so by some measures I am an atheist. I still dislike Christianity for its cruelty, and yet I am classed as a 'proponent' here because I do suspect that consciousness isn't physical.

I think a lot of people in the West - particularly in Europe - left Christianity because of its malign effect on society. The war in Northern Ireland, the years of oppression of gay people - or indeed anyone whose sexuality didn't quite fit, the Crusades, the witch burnings, etc etc. Right now, it hardly needs to be said that Islam is no better!

I hope that something will replace the old religions, but it must place tolerance at its core.

David
True, atheism can be a broad term. Some consider agnostics to be atheists, others are less inclusive. So, yes, I meant atheism in broad terms. I was more curious about the notion of one claiming atheism, or at least agnosticism, so as to avoid being seen as an idiot. How much, if any, pressure does our society put on any individual to claim secularism?

For sure, there is still this strange push for the president of the US to claim at least some spiritual beliefs, while at the same time an idea that belief in such things are childish and delusional. Perhaps it comes down more to politics in that case.
 
#11
What percentage of atheists believe in consciousness existing independent of brains? Just take a wild ass guess. Then out of those those, how many would accept a believe in higher forms of consciousness than human pervading nature?

Cheers,
Bill
Even if it were 0 (which it is not) I don't get what is gained by considering the two words to be synonymous.

Again: I think people tend to lose site of the purpose of words. They are to help us express meaning. Ask yourself: does merging the definitions of atheism and materialism help or hinder our ability to convey meaning? What benefit does it confer to merge them? And what do we do with the elements the original definitions didn't have in common?

Remember too that most people haven't a clue what the philosophy of "materialism" (or any philosophy for that matter) entails.
 
#12
Once you get over the idea of a vengeful omnipotence, watching our lives, sitting in judgment and way too focused on what we do with our genitals, everything else is just huff and puff on an internet forum isn't it?
 
#13
Here in northern Ireland people still fight over religion, it really sucks
Right - and I think it is very important to separate religion from most of what gets discussed here.

NDE's seem to give us a hint of what might follow death (unless you take them to be illusory - which seems unlikely for a number of reasons) and it doesn't really correspond to Christianity, and probably not to any organised religion.

In a way, this is what I would expect, because I see organised religion as possibly starting from some genuine ideas, but then layered on with politics, corruption, greed, ........ As a result, these religions tell you nothing about reality.

The mistake that many of the sceptics make, is to conflate the idea of religion with the ideas of a larger reality.

David
 
#15
I do think it is "trendy," if that is the right word for it. Lots of "liberal" sites seem to push the New Atheism-type atheism, complete with mocking of all religious and spiritual beliefs. They celebrate Harris, Dawkins, et al, as well as Neil "philosophy is dead" deGrasse Tyson. The comments on those articles are frustrating.
Have you ever read this essay by Bernardo? It's not entirely related to the topic at hand, but I think you might enjoy it.
 
#17
Have you ever read this essay by Bernardo? It's not entirely related to the topic at hand, but I think you might enjoy it.
Okay, I just read it. He sums it up pretty well. He certainly writes better than I!

The fundamentalist hysteria witnessed today stems from the fact that different factions involved in the so-called “culture war” attempt to make of science something it cannot be: a metaphysical position. In the process, they hijack and deface science, contributing to the general disorientation in our society regarding the nature of truth and the purpose of life. It is time we corrected this. It is time we understood that physics, while valuable and extremely important, just models the elements of the “game”: where to “shoot,” which “wall” to avoid, etc. The underlying nature of reality – the inner workings of the “computer running the game” – is an issue of metaphysics. It requires different methods to be properly assessed and understood. For as long as scientists like Stephen Hawking are allowed to make preposterous pseudo-philosophical pronouncements7 and not be either ignored or thoroughly ridiculed by the mainstream media – in exactlythe same way that, say, a famous artist would be ridiculed or ignored for making pseudo-scientific statements – our culture will fail to understand its predicament. Part and parcel of this overdue correction in our culture is the need to see materialism not as synonymous with science, but simply as a particular metaphysical interpretation of science; one that happens to be highly inflationary and to lack sufficient explanatory power.
 
#18
Is atheism or secularism indeed a result of a more educated populace, or, in the west especially, is it more of a form of social conformity?

[ . . . ]

I know that by percentage, atheists are still a minority (at least in the US) and by no means am I saying that religion is dead. However, any time atheism comes up in the media, the barrage of comments from the general public seem to be bent toward support of atheism, with the attitude that belief in a deity is "moronic", "childish", "nutty", etc.
Which would tend, IMHO, to push one who was on the fence toward atheism (or at least feigning atheism) so as not to feel left out or to feel ostracized as being one of those "true believers" which is usually translation for "idiot.
Polls show that the percentage of Americans who identify as non-religious has been increasing, but not by much. Rather, what has happened is that atheists in the US have become less inhibited about voicing what they've thought all along: that religion is pure nonsense.

The terrorist attacks on US targets by radical Muslims on 9/11/2001 prompted the now-prominent New Atheists—Harris, Dawkins, and others—to make public their view that religion is pernicious. Their pronouncements motivated American atheists, a previously timid minority, to come out of the closet and speak their minds. So it's not that atheism has become trendy, or that the number of atheists in the US has greatly increased; it's that atheists in the US have become more outspoken about their beliefs.
 
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#19
The terrorist attacks on US targets by radical Muslims on 9/11/2001 prompted the now-prominent New Atheists—Harris, Dawkins, and others—to make public their view that religion is pernicious. Their pronouncements motivated American atheists—a previously timid minority—to come out of the closet and speak their minds. So it's not that atheism has become trendy, or that the number of atheists in the US has greatly increased; it's that atheists in the US have become much more outspoken about their beliefs.
Are you saying the prominent New Atheists like Dawkins, etc, had NOT been making their view public before 9/11? You really think that American athiests before that were timid?

Seems to me that the only thing that changed is atheists in the West were given more of a platform for their views, especially about Muslims, a group, coincidentally, that the West were now at war with.
 
#20
The word atheism is somewhat vague - is it supposed to mean a positive belief in materialism, an absence of belief in the god of an organised religion, or the absence of belief in any god?

I am one of those who left Christianity behind many years ago - so by some measures I am an atheist. I still dislike Christianity for its cruelty, and yet I am classed as a 'proponent' here because I do suspect that consciousness isn't physical.

I think a lot of people in the West - particularly in Europe - left Christianity because of its malign effect on society. The war in Northern Ireland, the years of oppression of gay people - or indeed anyone whose sexuality didn't quite fit, the Crusades, the witch burnings, etc etc. Right now, it hardly needs to be said that Islam is no better!

I hope that something will replace the old religions, but it must place tolerance at its core.

David
When professional philosophers in the West use the term 'atheist' they usually just mean someone who doesn't believe in an all-loving, all-knowing, all-powerful God. I think this is a pretty good definition. It does mean, though, that there are a hell of a lot of atheists in the world.
 
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