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Atheist Meme of the Day: Atheist Activism Does Work

Scarlet letter Today’s Atheist Meme of the Day. Pass this on; or don’t; or edit it as you see fit; or make up your own. Enjoy!

Trying to persuade people out of religious belief does sometimes work, and is not a waste of time. Rates of non-belief are going up dramatically, around the US and around the world — especially among young people. Clearly, the atheist movement is doing something right. Pass it on: if we say it enough times to enough people, it may get across.

Comments

  1. FromThe3rdStomachOfChutulu says

    Speaking as a former believer (so fresh in fact, that even as I wonder how the hell I ever believed this rubbish in the first place, I still rant & rave at non-exisitent “god” at times -parts of my brain are apparently stubborn at catching up-) I want to say that the atheist blogosphere (discovered via Pandagon; go figure) provided plenty of fodder for thought and support.
    Admittedly, I was on my way already as an agnostic (but again, a very fresh agnostic), nonehtless, what I loved about the part of the atheist blogosphere that includes snark, sex posivity, feminism and science, is that it seemed more authentic, alive and relatable than the squeaky clean religious popular culture I was first familiar with.
    I think that’s at least part of what lures the sheep from the edges of the flocks :)

  2. llewelly says

    Don’t the accomdationists have reams of studies proving Dawkins has never sold any books, PZ Myers has never gotten any hits, and nobody knows who Jerry Coyne is? What, you say, no cites? Well, I’m sure they’ve got evidence somewheres …

  3. Halo says

    This is a logical fallacy:
    1) there is an atheist movement now
    2) atheist numbers are on the rise
    conclusion: therefore 1 caused 2.

  4. Valhar2000 says

    Well, Halo is right, the most this shows is that the activism is not actually harmful to an appreciable degree.
    On the other hand, all of the “firebrands” admit, time and again, that they are not in the business of converting anyone, nor do they believe that their current methods would accomplish this task. They all seem, instead, to want to reach those who are already atheists but are afraid to admit it.

  5. Kassul says

    @Halo
    Certainly those two premises alone don’t justify the conclusion, but I expect we can make a good effort toward including other justified premises that strengthen the argument?
    eg: That advertisement, by and large, works rather well for raising consciousness and persuading people. And that the current atheist movement, such as it is, includes much advertising.
    We can’t still PROVE that the actions of some prominent out atheists plays a causal role in why so many people are becoming out atheists themselves, but I do think it’s a plausible hypothesis. Anecdotes of deconversions aren’t themselves data, but they do provide a *poke poke* to go investigate this.
    A time machine would be handy for testing this sort of thing out, but is prohibitively expensive.
    How would you suggest we could test this? What would you count as evidence that the atheist movement plays a causal role in the rise of out atheism? What would you say is evidence against that hypothesis?

  6. DSimon says

    Kassul, I think we’d first have to have a statistically sound survey of how atheists feel about atheist activism, i.e. whether it personally had anything to do with them being an atheist, and whether they can name any particular atheist activists they like or dislike.
    My guess is that the answers include a lot of “Well, don’t get me wrong, I’m an atheist, but that Dawkins guy is a jerk!” without any claimed knowledge about jerky things Dawkins has supposedly done. There’s been a strong meme these past few years that the “New” (read: publically not closeted) atheists are meanies, and at least some atheists have bought into it.
    That’s a potentially major confounding factor, meaning we need to look not at the percentage of people who like atheist activism, but rather the influence that atheist activism is having on new atheists.
    So, we’d do the survey again at regular intervals. The hypothesis is falsified if there’s a non-positive trend in new atheists (people that lost their theistic beliefs between the last survey and the current one) that see atheist activism as a good thing.

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