in rural Paris, Iowa, and Wordpress

Could Atheism Become Trendy?

A vintage photo of San Antonio Church that I like.

Outdoor Mass, 26 September 2010: Confirmation in the Faith.

My own atheism does not prevent me from being enormously fond of my neighborhood plaza a half block away that is dominated by San Antonio Church. The activities and fiestas that take place there in the plaza are usually sponsored by the Church and work to the financial benefit of the Church.

Atheism emerged from the shadows in Mexico when the great Mexican atheist, Ignacio Ramirez, acknowledged as the best orator and writer in the Mexico of his time, asserted God’s non-existence in no uncertain terms before the Literary Academy of St. John Lateran in 1837. Ignacio Ramirez was from this city. One of the three major markets in town is named after him.

Atheism came to power after the Revolution of 1910, particularly in the figure of President Plutarco Calles who undertook brutal measures to suppress the Church. The country was then plunged into the the bloody nightmare of the War of the Cristeros from 1926 through 1929 when the peasants of western Mexico resisted.

Over the last decade in my own country and in Great Britain we have seen the advent of the so-called New Atheists, writers and philosophers like Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and Christopher Hitchens, when he was still alive. Their first wave of books on the subject limned the harm done by belief in God, in their minds at least. We are now seeing another wave of books exploring questions such as how morality is possible without God. As if these questions have not been pawed over enough already through history.

It strikes me that these men are attempting to increase the market share of atheism, which currently stands at a less than robust 2% of the market in my own country, the United States of America. The fact that only 2% of Americans describe themselves as “atheist” inspires confidence in me that I am probably on the right track with my own atheism. It is for this reason that I view the effort to increase atheism’s market share with alarm. Should these writers and thinkers meet with some success and should a significant number of Americans begin describing themselves as “atheist” rather than “spiritual but not religious” on dating sites, for example, then I will be forced to reëxamine my own atheism.

5 Responses to “Could Atheism Become Trendy?”

  1. sonnyboy3

    I became an antheist when I was around 12 or so. I had really grown sick of being forced to go to Sunday School, church services and various church related activites. I was brought up in the Southern Baptist Church. However I soon found that when I prayed I was talking to myself.

    Reply
    • StephenBrassawe

      It is probably a genetic thing, sonnyboy. One either has the mitochondrial DNA marker for religion or one does not. You obviously do not.

      Reply
  2. iowadaughter

    This is a tricky one, my friend. Human beings have had a need for a belief system since we first climbed out of the ooze. Our finite minds cannot grasp the reason for our puny existence. The names of the gods may have changed over the ages but the reason for needing them has not.

    Unfortunately, man has this overwhelming need to destroy each other as well. Attacking another’s belief system is just one more reason to justify killing. If a group can force their belief system on others or expunge an entire group of a certain belief then they have the power. Which is what it always, always comes down to. Power.

    Atheists are no different. An atheist’s belief in the absence of deities is just as strong as a theist’s belief in deities. In my opinion, belief is belief. If a belief is what an individual holds to be true than anyone outside of that belief must be untrue or wrong. Therein lies the problem.

    It saddens me that humankind has changed so little. We still must force our truth on those we find untrue. It is the forcing I have a problem with. I do not like atheists or theists trying to force me to believe one way or the other. The theists have the power now and they will not give it up easily. If your atheists gain ground and come to power the possibility of great carnage will ensue. I do not think they are one iota more enlightened than anyone else.

    Greater minds than mine have debated this topic. I am ignorant on many things, but my own quest for the truth leads me to believe that there is no one truth, which of course, must be wrong.

    Reply
    • StephenBrassawe

      This is why I was careful always to refer to “my own atheism.” My own atheism is not an evangelical atheism such as that espoused by the writers whom I named. Life is a difficult proposition, particularly the part of life called death. I do not begrudge anyone else whatever device they find helpful in negotiating life . . . as long as they leave me alone. Everyone else is free to examine the entrails of goats for guidance in these things if they wish as far as I am concerned. I shall not think the less of them for it. I simply chose not to myself.

      Reply
  3. A Mighty Fortress | The Solipsist

    […] and really lean into “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” I’ll tell you, it is enough to shake a man’s utter lack of faith right down to its solid foundations. It’ll bring tears to your eyes. 20.917292 -100.745351 […]

    Reply

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