Atheism on the Rise

Thursday, August 16, 2012

1 in 20 Americans now identify as "athiest," a five-fold increase since 2005. Kimberly Winston, correspondent for the Religion News Service, discusses a new poll that shows an uptick in atheism, and a drop in religiosity, in the United States.


Kimberly Winston

Comments [68]

Ed from Larchmont

Funny, they call the Chinese government 'influence of communism'. In China there could not be churches, no Masses, no Bibles, official teaching of atheism in all the government schools.

But now the Church is growing fast in China (as well as Africa and South America). On any given Sunday there are more people in a Christian church in China than there are in Western Europe. Which is why the pope is calling for the new evangelization of Europe. It's amazing that atheism in China is only 47 percent.

Aug. 22 2012 08:19 AM
Danny Handelman from Ottawa Ontario

The influence of religion would be considerably reduced if they weren't exempt from corporate income, property or parsonage taxes, did not receive preferential sales tax treatment, have contributions tax deductible and did not directly and indirectly subsidize religious schools. The influence of religion would also be reduced if society became more urban and less suburban and rural by making it more profitable for builders to build upward rather than outward, through elimination of height and minimum setback restrictions, require maximum automobile parking of 0 and integration of residential and commercial use of land for infill, decreasing impact fees to 0 for infill and increased for low-density and basing property taxes on the value of land alone rather than both land and building.

Aug. 20 2012 04:17 PM
kevin from upper LS

@ZuZi reasonable people, accept that there aren't linguini monsters on mars,so, the proportionality of your argument is skewed. however,humans been arguing for the certitude of god[s]for years. spare us the specious sophistry now,please. you're shifting the locus of the argument,in an attempt to make a completely illogical point. it's apples and oranges. belief in a god, or non-belief, are just as viable,and just as non-proveable. i can respect both,just keep your preaching to yourself. as to zuzi's culinary allusions, your logic just makes me hungry ..yum...

Aug. 17 2012 07:45 PM
zuzi from NYC

Reply to "kevin from upper LS".
Kevin alleges "one can't prove non-existence, anymore than one can prove existence. what a waste of grey matter."
It is a flaw in logic to ask someone to prove a negative. That is, it is a flaw in logic to ask someone to prove the non-existence of god. It is like saying: since you cannot disprove the existence of a spaghetti monster on Jupiter, such monster exists. The burden falls on those who assert the existence of god (or, e.g., a unicorn) to prove such existence.

Aug. 17 2012 06:46 PM
kevin from upper LS

atheism, is just is another religion...snore bores. one can't prove non-existence, anymore than one can prove existence. what a waste of grey matter. who gives a rip ? pseudo-intellectual,anti-anti, navel gazing.

Aug. 17 2012 12:27 PM
DTorres from Manhattan

I was born and raised in a Pentecostal Church by the name
of Iglesia Christiana del Salvador.
My grandmother, Lina Astacio, was one of its founder.
My mother was married in that church and I was "presented" to God,
as were my sisters, in that church as well.
We were not allowed to socialize with people
that were not part of that religionchurch.
Growing up in East Harlem and the South Bronx, the atmosphere in the
church kept us safe. We spent all day Sunday, Bible School classes in the am, a big lunch, consisting of arroz con gandules, pernil, avocado,
flan for dessert and the inevitable cake from Valencia and then evening
church service.
As an adult, I realized, that nobody really ever walked on water,
virgins do not give birth, not in the era anyway, no one could turn 6 pieces
of fish into a meal for thousands, and that anyone nailed to two pieces
of wood, does not rise again, he's dead.

But still, I remember my time fondly.
I still recognize the couple in the photo, the white haired woman,
is Maria Antonia and the man sitting next to her is Ceclio.
Rev. Cecilio took over after Nazario Cintron either left or died.
I haven't been there in 30 years or more.

Aug. 16 2012 06:09 PM
Marcos from the Bronx

Intolerant secularism, and fundamentalism in religion has led to a discrediting of the word "Religion".

This has led people who are religious to avoid the term religion. Many of the most fundamentalist sectors of Christianity have become to say that being Christian is not a religion. And people who do a variety of activities with a religious level of devotion whose value they know mainly via subjective spiritual experience, from "Fandom", to meditation, to Bikram Yoga, do not recognize the religiosity in their own lives, choices, and values. This is a huge problem! We cannot allow the word "religion" to become a slur.

I think religion is a succinct description of how spirituality is lived by individuals and communities. If "Religion" is a dirty word then we cannot have honest discourse this huge sector of human experience. Individuals will not have a clear way to understand their motivations. And conversations between religions and non-relgious folk become quite difficult, Especially because the biggest segment of people who have rejected the term "religion" are Christian fundamentalists. Do a google search for: "Jesus Christ not religion" for some context.

Here's one extreme example:

Humanist's are campaigning to encourage people to overcome prejudice, and have the courage to identify themselves as atheists. That's fine. But, I think it's even more important for us to recognize religion in un-expected and new expressions in our lives. It's important for those of us who are spiritual to have the courage to admit that we are also religious.

Aug. 16 2012 02:10 PM

@gary from queens

My online name here is from my initials "me" combined with "at wnyc".

You're pretty much shown your intelligence to me by countering my statement by starting your "oh so smart" response with Meathead.

For the record, I grew up in a religious family, (I myself would probably be closest described at agnostic), so too this day have many intelligent religious friends. It's the stupid ones that bug me. I don't really see any point in getting to know the ones who spew nonsense and often hate beneath their veil of religion. My point was that I understand why a lot of people have grown disgusted with those folk, and want nothing to do with them - and to suggest that may be one reason for a rise in atheism.

Perhaps Jesus wouldn't cover contraception, but he certainly wouldn't want them to be born just to be hungry or unable to get treatment for illness. He certainly wouldn't fund tax cuts for the rich with basic service costs for the poor. There has been a movement of late to re-launch the bible as this pro-Capitalist ok with war tome and to shy over social responsibilities and community morality.

And for the factual record, healthcare coverage doesn't directly cover mouthwash or dental floss. That can probably be covered by a tax avoiding HSA account (tax expenditures), but it's not part of any insurance program.

I know there's plenty of people who do integrate religious and secular and scientific beliefs together for their decision making. But there's also plenty who preach one thing and act another way, and there's plenty that seem to be integrating their religious belief with magic and fantastical thinking, which I think turns off people who otherwise might be religious.

Aug. 16 2012 01:31 PM

The most annoying thing between the science/faith discussion is that people don't understand that science simply does not take any a stand based on the concept of god/God being untestable by the scientific process. Science CANNOT claim there is no god/God because it simply cannot test the hypothesis, so it views it outside its realm.

What's more annoying though is that people outside of science don't realize how much "faith" is actually inside science. Our understanding of the universe and the formulas that explain it rely on Dark Energy and Dark Matter making up 96% of the mass-energy universe. The only proof of them currently is their necessity for our formulas to work. The search is on at places like CERN for this missing mass-energy, but in the meantime scientists have not thrown out the formulas just because they are reliant on things that "do not exist"

Logically, one would think one cannot be adamant about not believing, and yet factually, many atheists are not only adamant, but also make the mistake of equating their understanding of the non-existence of god/God, (an unmeasurable idea), to a measurable idea such as the passage of time. Since no fact was actually measured, no statement either way could be logically made, other than "I don't know".

Aug. 16 2012 01:00 PM
Ed from Larchmont

One thing, the term 'believe in' is a bit off. God isn't an idea, but a Person.

Aug. 16 2012 12:44 PM
Sol M.

Oops I meant NOT late for a meeting :)

Aug. 16 2012 12:25 PM

Christianity, Judaism and Islam are all Abrahamic religions worshipping the same God. An honest believer could believe the Commandment: "Thou Shalt Not Kill" as opposed to supporting wars and occupations.

It's an interesting development that many of today's most religulous are also the most ardent supporters of wars and of economic and political policies that would hurt the poor and favor the rich.

Aug. 16 2012 12:24 PM
Sol M. from Manhattan

It is so annoying every time a person says "you cannot prove or disprove the existence of God." There is no reason to prove that there is no God, just like you do not have to disprove the existence of unicorns or fairy dust. It is the person that holds a belief who has the burden of proof. It is also annoying (and not at all comparable) when a person says that atheists are just as adament in their dis-belief in God, than deists are of their belief in God. That is not a logical statment; you cannot be adament about not believing, you would not accuse a person of being extremely defensive when s/he is absolutely sure that s/he is late for a meeting. It is not an argument, it is a statement.

Aug. 16 2012 12:20 PM
Susan from Croton on Hudson

Kimberly states that the high percentage of atheists in China may be in part due to the fact that many Chinese are Buddhists, and Buddhism is an atheistic religion. This in incorrect.

Most Americans who study and practice Buddhism understand it to be a religion that lacks deities, and they find that to be part of its appeal. But find me a Chinese Buddhist whose practice does not include devotion to and faith in Amito fo (Amitabha Buddha), Guanyin pusa (Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva), and any of a number of other deities in the Buddhist pantheon.

Aug. 16 2012 12:10 PM

Actually Ed, I think the new atheists are saying: until I see God's face, I'm not gonna believe in something there's no proof of. Kind-of the way they view the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy.

I myself think "not believing" without proof is also an act of believe, so disagree with "the new atheists" on that basis. But to call them "fools" for not believing your beliefs is, well, foolish to say the least.

Aug. 16 2012 12:03 PM
Ed from Larchmont

An honest atheist could say the prayer 'I don't believe in you, God, but if you are there, show yourself to me'.

Aug. 16 2012 11:58 AM
Ed from Larchmont

The new atheists would say to God's face 'there is no God'. Hmmm. It's not so much that they don't believe in God, but they prefer that there not be God.

The fool in his heart says there is no God. (Psalms)

Aug. 16 2012 11:57 AM

To jgarbuz:

I don't think you have to force yourself to choose. You can believe [if you want] that god [whatever your concept of god is] wrote the recipe for the universe and science is figuring that recipe out.

Science itself still has some pretty big mysteries, such as what happened before the Big Bang and the fact that our current mathematical description of how the universe [accurately] works relies on the yet undiscovered Dark Energy and Dark Matter accounting for 96% of the universe. (Perhaps this is in the mist of discovery at CERN...).

I myself feel you can't really know one way or another for absolute certain if god exists or does not. But I don't really see why those who believe in a god can't integrate science into that story.

Aug. 16 2012 11:51 AM
Holly from NYC

I am an atheist and I think the hardest part about being honest about it is the way believers view you when they find out you are an atheist. Being atheist does not mean you have no morals. It's horrible the assumptions people make. Somehow, although there seems to be a public understanding that in America we respect people of all religions, (although this is not always followed through) 'No religion' is fair game for discrimination.

Aug. 16 2012 11:50 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

People often confuse their disdain for organized religion with questioning the existence of a "god." Two separate things.

Aug. 16 2012 11:48 AM

Really wonderful treatment of this issue Brian! Thanks for exploring the methodology of the study and the changes in social trends that it implies. The callers were really insightful, too.

Aug. 16 2012 11:45 AM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

Tariq Ali, a Muslim intellectual, has described himself as a Muslim by culture but not as a believer in Allah.
He stated in Islam, Empire, and the Left: Conversation with Tariq Ali: "I grew up an atheist. I make no secret of it. It was acceptable. In fact, when I think back, none of my friends were believers. None of them were religious; maybe a few were believers. But very few were religious in temperament."

Aug. 16 2012 11:42 AM
Michael Rahimi from Mamaroneck

If we define Atheism as not believing that there was a God who created the heavens and the earth, then there are far more than 5% of Americans who are Atheists. Many of these people are just afraid to admit it for fear of offending others etc..How are you defining Atheism?

Aug. 16 2012 11:42 AM

I'm not sure about God, but regardless, I have trouble with the label "atheist." Labeling oneself--and even more so, forming groups--on the basis of not believing something seems depressing and pointless to me. It's defining oneself in reference to something else. And at that, at simply *not being* it. Doesn't sound like much of an identity.

Aug. 16 2012 11:41 AM
james andrea from Brick, NJ

Aside from the recent books making it more 'popular' and easier to self-identify, I was surprised to hear some statistic that there was a considerable number of CHURCH-GOERS who admitted to being atheist/agnostic and were only attending because a spouse did and/or for the social attraction/benefits.

Aug. 16 2012 11:40 AM
Elsie from Brooklyn

In a country which is supposed to be revered for its religious tolerance, I've always been baffled by the hostility that many Americans have towards atheists. I am an atheist, and I have come to this conclusion after quite a lot of reflection. The people who associate atheism with satanism are particularly amusing - since satanism is a Christian idea, so in order to believe in Satan, one would also have to admit to the validity of Christianity.

I think it's telling that the countries with the highest education rates also tend to have the highest rates of atheism. I think it's also telling that some of the most corrupt countries (Mexico, Italy) are often listed as the most religious.

I would also like to say that I find people who claim they are spiritual but not religious to be a bit intellectually disingenuous. Spiritual people take their belief system as seriously (if not more so) than religious people. I receive far more lectures by crystal-owning, yoga-practicing spiritual types than born-again Christians.

I do not believe in god - any god. I do not believe there is a system that humans can magically tap into to make us "one" with the world. I have no problem with people needing to cling to a narrative to get through their day, but I do wish they would stop confusing their spiritual needs with the "truth".

Aug. 16 2012 11:40 AM
Caroline from Staten Island

My family was Roman Catholic...long ago, the Church taught if you weren't baptized you would go to Limbo and never see the face of God...Well, as a young girl who loved her dolls and loved little babies, I knew there were babies who died before baptism, and I thought it was unfair no to let them go to heaven. I said I WANTED to go to LIMBO to take care of the babies.
I never got over the unfairness of "Our Loving Father in Heaven" There was no turning back.

Aug. 16 2012 11:40 AM

I think more people are athiest or agnostic but don't admit it for social and professional reasons. I lived in Salt Lake City for 7 years and knew many Mormons who didn't believe in the teachings of the church but didn't want to be on the outside of the community.

Aug. 16 2012 11:40 AM
Robert from NYC

Yes don't be afraid to offend them if they offend you with their god in your face. Yes, let's all get along but keep your religion out of my face and I'll keep my atheism out of yours!

Aug. 16 2012 11:40 AM
The Truth from Becky

Ephesians 4:5

Aug. 16 2012 11:40 AM
Ash in Chelsea

I abandoned religion years ago -- despite a religious upbringing -- as being based on superstitious and supernatural beliefs. I include people who claim to be "spiritual" in the same group as all diests. I don't say that I am an atheist; I say that I am not a diest (not believing in any god). As I have grown older and witnessed what deists do, I have become more impatient with them. (Do you think America could elect an atheist for President in 2012?)

Aug. 16 2012 11:38 AM
Juli from Skillman, NJ

I have wondered, as of late, whether people are giving up on the idea of God because organized religion has become so ridiculous.

It seems as though, organized religion is the basis for refusing to accept science, logic, and, quite frankly, emotional compassion for others. If you show a tendency towards these ideas, you are ostracized by the church environment.

I have wondered if atheism might decrease if people began to acknowledge that perhaps God does not have anything to do with organized religion. I think that if people begin to adopt this philosophy, they may be more accepting of a good and peaceful deity. Until we face that as a possible disconnect, we might be continually seeing the increase in atheism.

Aug. 16 2012 11:38 AM
gary from queens


How about this: Would Jesus favor healthcare coverage for non-essential low cost items such as contraception, mouthwash and dental floss, which is not the reason we have "insurance"?!

Meathead, religious people integrate their religious biases into their secular knowledge to a point where it is hard to determine where the one leaves off and the other begins.

So don't be so quick to assume that their assessments on any issue, science or politics, is based solely on theology.

Try getting to know some of them. Smart ones. you'll see.

Aug. 16 2012 11:38 AM
Joan Jacobus from NJ

I am a Born Again Atheist. Started on the rout to Atheism during my 12 years of perfect attendance in a Presbyterian Sunday school. I paid attention and asked questions the teachers could not answer! I am not spiritual.

One does not need a god to be moral or ethical. Do you suppose those priests really believe there is a god and he approves of their behavior with little boys?

Found it amusing that after 9/11 so many people had "God bless America" bumper stickers. If God were going to bless America why would he/she allow it to happen? If there is a god, he/she is neglecting all those children around the world who are orphaned, starving and working 14hrs a day 7 days a week in factories.

I adopted 2 older children as a single parent. Good thing my agencies did not ask for a religious test. Some do.

Aug. 16 2012 11:38 AM

The europeans- we're told-are predominently atheists now and perhaps that's where we are going.Perhaps that is why many muslim countries insist on being theocracies; they correctly intuit that secular democracy leads,over time,inexorably to atheism.Perhaps when we're a nation of atheists we'll look back on these "fanatic" muslims and say they were the last defenders of [not just islam]but religion itself.

Aug. 16 2012 11:37 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Why wasn't the question phrased, "Do you believe in God (or gods), Yes or No?

Forget about "spirituality." If you are "spiritual" in means you are trying to believe in something supernatural. Believing in spirits, or gods , or God is all in effect, the same. "Religion" means nothing. Those are just man-made rituals. The question simply is, does one believe or not believe in the supernatural at any level.

Aug. 16 2012 11:37 AM
BobK from CT

I explored spirituality for years and found certain connections to things in different religions. Things that seemed truthful to me. However, each and every time those pure truths were ruined by the religious dogma and the desire to control behavior and collect money.

At the end of my journey, I discovered that belief in "god" was stupid and delusional, but still feel that there is something more to life than meets the eye.

So call me an open-minded atheist. But I'm gonna need proof. I can't take it on "faith."

Aug. 16 2012 11:37 AM

I have no problem with atheism -- it's a wonderful counterbalance to the self-righteious religious majority that thinks religion is the only way to be a moral and good person. On the other hand, confirmed atheists believe in their non-belief with the same fervor and self-importance as religious people.

Fact is, the existence of god is something we cannot prove one way or another. Some choose to believe, others choose not to and both groups are absolutely, totally, completely sure that they are right!

What we humans have is a universal need to make sense of our existence, through either religiosity, spirituality, agnosticism or atheism. BUT NONE OF US KNOWS DIDDLY SQUAT.

Aug. 16 2012 11:37 AM
albert kaufman from Marine Park

The only reasonable choice is agnosticism

Aug. 16 2012 11:36 AM
wendy from nyc

I've been a ("born again") atheist since age 15, over 40 years ago. I've always been open about it, even proud. It's not as taboo in nyc as it once was, but it is often dismissed by others although I've probably given its validity more thought than most have to their religion. When I spend time in other cultures - Africa, Middle East, I don't generally admit it because people don't understand or think it is evil.

Aug. 16 2012 11:35 AM
BK from NJ

If you read something like "God Is Not Great" by Chris Hitchens, how can you argue with the history he re-tells? The Crusades didn't happen? The Inisition? The Catholic priest molestation scandals? Conflict in Sudan of Muslim vs Christian? Religion has been responsible for more death destruction and conflict than anything else in history
Yes- sign me up for that!!

Aug. 16 2012 11:35 AM
Enrique from Hillcrest, NY

I've been an atheist ever since I could remember - at least since 2nd grade when I started learning science - and I was in Catholic school from 4th grade until I went to college so I was often mocked or sent to the Dean's office for not accepting there was a god.

I'm glad more people are willing to admit it today then in the past.

Aug. 16 2012 11:34 AM
albert kaufman from Marine Park

I think your guest should be saying "theist" rather than "deist". Check the dictionary

Aug. 16 2012 11:34 AM
Rachel from Brooklyn

The rise in atheism has less to do with 9/11 and more to do with the rise of the internet. Giving every individual the ability to talk to anyone else across the globe means a much quicker break down in cultural barriers (religion being a huge part of cultural barriers.

Aug. 16 2012 11:34 AM
Evan from queens

The poll didn't account for people that aren't religious and aren't atheist. I think people are more disenchanted with religion but still believe in a god.

Aug. 16 2012 11:33 AM

Is there not a question missing in the survey regarding spirituality vs. religious?

Aug. 16 2012 11:33 AM
Nancy from Harlem

I've been an atheist since I was about 6, but have recently become almost militantly so. I think it's due to, yes, the religious fundamentalism abroad in the world but especially the Christian fundamentalism in this country, and its influence in U.S. government. I want freedom of religion for believers but respect and freedom FROM religion for non-believers, and I don't want the government legislating Christian "values".

Aug. 16 2012 11:33 AM
Molly from NJ

I've always been an atheist, and I've always said so. I do think other people accept it more easily now, though. I remember years ago I told someone I worked with in Ohio that I was an atheist and she gasped and said "I always thought you were such a nice person." I refrained from pointing out all the evils done in the name of religion.

Aug. 16 2012 11:33 AM

There's a difference between religion and spirituality. I'm an atheist but not in the Christian sense of what constitutes an atheist.....

Aug. 16 2012 11:32 AM
John A.

Catholic 20 years, Agnostic 20 years, Catholic 12 years.
I "reformulated" my beliefs against GWB's warmongering, for one thing.
Church is supposed to be a community of peace-lovers, and you can use it for such, if with some effort.

Aug. 16 2012 11:32 AM
Mike from RYE, NY


Aug. 16 2012 11:32 AM
J Reilly from Bellmore, NY

I am uncertain about my spiritual beliefs, but, since the fundamentalists have claimed exclusive ownership of the adjective "Christian", I would prefer to say that I'm atheist.

Aug. 16 2012 11:31 AM
Ed from Larchmont

The other thing about these books is that they were silly and uninformed in their statements about religion or history.

Aug. 16 2012 11:29 AM
Ed from Larchmont

Such a same that whether God is real or not is a scientific question, not a matter of public opinion. 1 in 20 people. Sounds impressive, indeed.

Aug. 16 2012 11:28 AM
Carlos from Manhattan

I used to be agnostic until I realized I was just an uncommitted atheist.

Aug. 16 2012 11:28 AM
Robert from NYC

Growth of Atheism in America? I say to that, thank god!

Aug. 16 2012 11:27 AM
Ed from Larchmont

People are less likely to associate themselves with a religion these days.

Aug. 16 2012 11:26 AM
John A

Could you please mention "Hedonism" in this segment? The blog pages of the 16-28 age group tend to be obsessed with all of the following: Drug culture, Sex for its own sake, and yes: Satanism (as a symbolic flag for athiesm).

Aug. 16 2012 11:23 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

I have tried hard to cling to my belief in the existence of God because (a) my mother, despite all she went through and lost in the Holocaust remained a woman of faith despite all, and (b) because the Jewish state still exists against all the odds.

However, it is very difficult when science seems to have rationally explained so much of what was not known and understood just in the last decade alone. You don't need the supernatural to explain most anything anymore. Nonetheless, the feeling that we are just the result of very random material events, and that our existence is utterly pointless and meaningless is quite disheartening and frightfully disturbing to most of us. So to be a person of pure faith today is rationally difficult to defend. But being totally bereft of any hope, or meaning or future is difficult for the mind to want to accept.

Some people of religious bent might argue that this is exactly the final dividing line, between faith and reason, i.e. that we must fihjnally choose, and woe to the faithless! Clearly, true atheists will pooh pooh such notions as utterly delusional refusal to submit to the bitter cold truth of reality. I peronally have no good answer, because my faith is very weak at this point. I wish I had mom's uncompromising faith.

Aug. 16 2012 11:21 AM

hjs11211 has a great point.

Right now in our country it seems "being religious" has become synonymous with NOT believing in science in general, specifically from the arguments over evolution and human impact on climate (Causality).
Also the fact that the loudest religious voices in politics take a strong "no" on the personal choices of abortion and sexual orientation, but are not equally vocal on community responsibilities to help the poor or fund education, and are silent about America's wars.

Would Jesus favor tax cuts for rich while cutting grandma's health care? How come in my copy of the bible in the story of the miracle of the loaves and fish there's no comment of how Jesus praised the merchants who recognized a supply/demand imbalance and quickly jacked their prices to make mass profits? Etc etc

I don't think it's necessarily religion or god that people are turning away from, they just don't understand the paradoxes of this wide swath of America that has cloaked themselves in Worship, War and Wealth.

Aug. 16 2012 11:17 AM

Personally I'm glad to see atheist and agnostic rappers going mainstream. In the past atheist rappers tended to be marginalized Marxists far from MTV or pop airwaves but in the last year some atheist capitalist rappers have appeared on major labels. I always found it hypocritical and aesthetically unpleasing when a rapper spends most of his album bragging about being a ruthless capitalist with a decadent lifestyle and then throwing in a couple of sappy Jesus tracks as an afterthought. Leave that behavior for the Republicans.

Aug. 16 2012 11:05 AM
John A

I just spent over a year following athiest thought on YouTube. It's been 95% "lame" with some tidbits to help brush up on my reasoning. (But, show me a greater place to waste time than in YouTube comments. Yikes.)
Some of the greatest philosophers in all history were (and still are) Catholic. Religion need not be fundamentalist. I would agree that the subgroup that is the fundamentalists tends to erase deep thought to an unacceptable level, and I enjoy thinking things through.

Aug. 16 2012 11:02 AM
BK from NJ

Maybe more people are comfortable "coming out" as atheist because they are tired of the hypocrisy we see every day. Like
Evamgelicals who call Mitt and the Mormons a cult. Because the Evangelicals sacred book said a guy was the child of a god in the sky, walked on water, turned water into wine, and came back from the dead. The Evangelicals, who get on their knees and chant to their god in the sky are real, while the Mormons who get on their knees and chant to their god in the sky who spoke to them through a guy in upstate NY are a crazy cult. A little self awareness is in order....

Aug. 16 2012 10:50 AM
Beth from CT

There are over one million members on's atheism subreddit. Clearly there is a growing interest in this area.

Aug. 16 2012 10:46 AM

It’s really not that I don’t believe. it’s that all those religious people seem so CRAZY that drove me from god

Aug. 16 2012 10:10 AM
Ed from Larchmont

There is also a rise in the seriously devout religious.

But the new atheists aren't like the old ones: the old ones argued rationally for a point of view. The new ones believe in atheism as a creed: it's their religion that there is no God.

Aug. 16 2012 09:55 AM
oscar from ny

Wasnt it written that at the end of times people will start loosing their religion "rem :/"..this particularly scares me because i think that now more than ever you need the spirit of beign a human to survive this cancer that has overwhelmed this generation. Now more than ever your faith should increase, your actions are now what will define your future, so i can just warn my friends here; stay in the alert and be good.
Ps: why let these devils take even the invisible? good deeds and that will be your faith, god will follow..imagine if their is a hell fire..why take a chance?

Aug. 16 2012 09:00 AM
gary from queens

I'm 60 and I've always been an atheist. I worked for American Atheists in the 1970s. Today I oppose teaching creationism and intelligent design in science class, and favor strict separation of church and state. So I'm glad that there are more atheists.

But religion has an important place in society. Because as I got older, I realized that on certain public policy issues, I found myself on the side of the moral ethic, and opposing the utilitarian ethic. And in those situations, I found religionists as welcome allies, regardless of how their starting biases got them there. Perhaps others may experience the same thing when the right issue comes along.

The abuse of the utilitarian ethic should concern all of us, left or right, whether it concerns vaccination rights, stem cells, cloning, patenting life, etc. This kind of abuse by government authority is starkly illustrated in an 11-page story I read over 30 years ago: “The Jigsaw Man” was written by Larry Niven for Harlan Ellison’s classic science fiction anthology, Dangerous Visions (1967)—prior to the first sucessful heart transplant, yet it presented a ‘vision’ that medical ethicists have debated since then.

Put very simply: If in the future, certain promises in the biological sciences are fulfilled, it may not just be fetuses ending up on the short end of the stick against nice people who have diseases. In “The Jigsaw Man”, medicine has perfected organ transplantation to the point in which every portion of a deceased person’s body can be made available to people who need them to replace their old or failed organs.

Sounds like a nice world to live in. Except the normal death rate soon became unable to compete with the increased demand for new body parts. The desire for immortality through organ transplantation was so great that the body politic made adjustments in the laws. First, condemned convicts in prison were kept alive only for the purpose of harvesting their organs for transplantation into other people. Eventually, to keep up with the still growing demand for organs, laws were amended to condemn to death people who were arrested for tax fraud, or litering the street.

We think that we're protected from that future by our Constitutional protections. But in reality, some of what has occurred in the past is more similar to Larry Niven’s scenario, in which our laws and personal liberties are adjusted to conform to the utilitarian imperatives created by new technologies, social arrangements, national threats (etc.)—imperatives as perceived by the majority, and enforced through government.

Aug. 16 2012 08:58 AM

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