Ebonmuse looks closely at the religious trends at Daylight Atheism. The recent rates of growth/decline are especially interesting. It turns out that the fast growing “religion” is secularlism.
I have to wonder how much more quickly attitudes would change (away from systems involving supernatural claims) if the mainstream media would stop walking on eggshells when it discussed religion. What if the media truly welcomed the voices of skepticism? When someone claims to be a devout Catholic, for example, why not make it clear that this set of beliefs (because of the transubstantiation) involves cannibalism? When it is claimed that the Bible is literally true, why not invite questions like this: “Isn’t the Bible a book that encourages slavery?“ Sunshine is a great disinfectant
I’m not denying that one can occasionally hear voices of dissent and disbelief on the mainstream airwaves. For the most part, though, it is still outrageous to question the fundamental beliefs of the most popular religions (Sorry Mormons. The big religions are ganging up on you. Actually, Mitt Romney is bringing some much-needed sunshine onto the practices of Mormonism).
If someone claimed that the Earth had two moons or that copper did not conduct electricity, we would be shocked an disappointed if the media stood silent and simply moved on to a different topic. I sense that we are moving toward a day when we we hear the media raise the obvious questions needed when people make baseless religious claims.
What is my hope? I’ll be satisfied when, someday, the mainstream media is willing to interlace assertions of traditional Christian beliefs right alongside direct skeptical questions like these:
- Can you really feed thousands with a single basket of fish and loaves? Has that ever happened since the invention of videocameras?
- What do we really know about the original writings of the Bible? Who changed the Bible, and why?
- What does cognitive science say about why people believe in many things that are not true?
- Isn’t there a dark side to New Testament morality?
- What are the powerful social reasons for belonging to a religion, reasons that have nothing to do with whether the beliefs have any basis in reality? For example, would children tend to follow their parents’ religion if that religion weren’t crammed down their throats when those children were young? And see here.
- Is the threat of hell really the best basis for a moral system?
- Aren’t there many other religions out there? Isn’t it true that Christianity is only one of them and that they ALL claim to be the one true religion? What should that fact do to the confidence level of believers?
- Should we really be looking to ancient writings of scientifically ignorant people when determining how to practice birth control?
- Is it a good idea to force little children to recite things that are obviously untrue (e.g., that the world is 6,000 years old)?
(And as Ebonmuse discusses on his site), Do religious beliefs really improve the quality of life in any meaningful way?
Let the people hear the pro’s and con’s and then decide. No debate should be one-sided. Religion should be no exception. Whenever we hear about the love and peace brought be religion, we should also hear about the wars and ignorance wrought by religious bureacracies. In many cases, the Emperor has no clothes, and it’s time for the people to hear the obvious objections to the many traditional religious claims that are commonly voiced.
Wouldn’t we be better off if we focused on actively trying to just get along, without all of the supernatural claims? Based on the article by Ebonmuse, we can get along without superstition and we can get along well.