Category: Atheism

A Schism Within Atheism

crack in wall

A recent article by NPR religion correspondent Barbara Bradley Hagerty entitled “A Bitter Rift Divides Atheists” describes a growing schism within secularism.

What’s causing the split? A debate over the best way to proselytize.

“Classic” atheists believe religious people should be treated with respect. For instance, old-school atheist Paul Kurtz founded the Center for Inquiry three decades ago to offer a positive alternative to religion. However he intentionally seeks common ground with religious groups, building alliances with them to tackle issues like climate change.

On the other hand, “neo-atheists” advocate a more in-your-face approach. For example, God Is Not Great author Christopher Hitchens recently had this to say to an audience at the University of Toronto:

“I think religion should be treated with ridicule, hatred and contempt, and I claim that right.”

September’s Blasphemy Day celebrations created a flashpoint for the brewing controversy. But Stuart Jordan, a scientific advisor at the Center for Inquiry, says the argument goes way beyond that day. He believes this issue will decide the future of the atheist movement:

“It’s really a national debate among people with a secular orientation about how far do we want to go in promoting a secular society…”

To read the article in its entirety, click here.

Why I Like the Idea of Atheist Chaplains

rutgers

The 26 official chaplains at Rutgers University represent a broad spectrum of beliefs and practices. But last spring Rutgers threw the net even wider by approving psychology instructor Gary Brill—an avowed atheist—as the university’s first humanist chaplain. Rutgers is only the fourth campus in the U.S. to do so.

To read a recent New Jersey Newsroom article on Brill, click here.

I predict this new trend will spread across the nation over the next few years. And I think that’s actually a good thing.

Why? Because some people falsely assume that because humanism/atheism denies the existence of God, its adherents base their decision to subscribe to this view solely on fact and reason. But atheism/humanism is a belief system, as clearly as any organized religion is a belief system. I think having humanist chaplaincy posts on universities will help students realize this.

What do you think?

Atheists Launch Ad Campaign on Britian’s Buses

atheist-bus

Yesterday marked the launch of Britain’s first atheist ad campaign on buses. The idea was conceived by a woman named Ariane Sherine. Her plan was to place ads promoting atheism on 30 London buses. But then Richard Dawkins and the British Humanist Association got behind the campaign. The groundswell of support grew so strong that eventually enough money was donated to the cause to place ads on 800 buses!

You can read all about it in a Times Online article entitled “Richard Dawkins launches ‘There is no God’ adverts on buses across Britain“.

I think it’s very exciting to see this kind of continued interest generated in “the God issue”. Contrary to what Dawkins has been quoted as saying, thinking is not anathema to religion. Jesus urged his followers to love God with all of their heart, soul, mind and strength. I hope the bus campaign awakens secular Brits, who might not normally ponder the metaphysical, out of their slumber in order to ask and seek the answers to the big questions of life.

What do you think of the campaign?