But only a start. A new poll finds an encouraging level of doubt among Americans.
Nearly half of Americans are not sure God exists, according to a poll that also found divisions among the public on whether God is male or female or whether God has a human form and has control over events.
The survey conducted by Harris Poll found that 42 percent of US adults are not “absolutely certain” there is a God compared to 34 percent who felt that way when asked the same question three years ago.
Among the various religious groups, 76 percent of Protestants, 64 percent of Catholics and 30 percent of Jews said they are “absolutely certain” there is a God while 93 percent of Christians who describe themselves as “Born Again” feel certain God exists.
When questioned on whether God is male or female, 36 percent of respondents said they think God is male, 37 percent said neither male nor female and 10 percent said “both male and female.”
Only one percent think of God as a female, according to the poll.
Asked whether God has a human form, 41 percent said they think of God as “a spirit or power than can take on human form but is not inherently human.”
As to whether God controls events on Earth, 29 percent believe that to be the case while 44 percent said God “observes but does not control what happens on Earth”.
Rising levels of uncertainty about such a silly entity is good news. Next we should start hammering on those 36% who think God is male, for instance, and get them to explain their belief. How do they know he’s male? Does he he have a penis? How big is it? What does he use it for? I suspect that most of the people who responded in the affirmative have no idea where their dogma originates—they just assume—and haven’t thought through the implications of their assertions at all.
It would also be good to wake up and mobilize all those doubters. Muriel Gray has some suggestions for unifying principles, although I’m not too keen on her term for this group (“Enlightenists”?):
Enlightenists believe in the awe-inspiring, wonder, beauty and complexity of the universe, and aspire to unpick its mysteries by reason, constant questioning, observation, experiment, and analysis of evidence. The bedrock of our morality is empathy, from which logically springs love, forgiveness, tolerance and a profound desire to make a just, egalitarian society and reduce suffering. The more knowledge a person has, the more they question and understand the real world, and the more they are required to analyse what is true then the greater the increase in empathy. Enlightenists care and wish to do good not because a vengeful God tells them to, but because intelligence suggests it is the only and the right thing to do.
She also wants state-funded Enlightenist schools to oppose those crappy superstition (i.e., religious) schools. I’m not enthused about that—anything that takes resources away from the public schools is not a good thing in my book—but the idea that we freethinkers ought to be lobbying more is a good one. Richard Dawkins made a similar point, that even in the US freethinkers outnumber Jews, but the political difference is that only one of us has an effective lobby.
Once we got our schools and started churning out multiracial youngsters free from any kind of manipulation, save that of being taught to question everything, we could start our political lobbying. Why should religious concerns be put above ours? Why shouldn’t we have the right to be appeased when we are offended by religion, the way the religious whine like toddlers when someone shakes a stick at their myths? Why shouldn’t we be consulted and treated with respect as a community? Why are the sincerely held beliefs I’ve outlined inferior to those of a Christian, Jew or a Muslim? You think I’m joking. I’m not. I pay my tax. I want representation too.
All we need are a few charismatic freethinkers bold enough to state their views and rally all the people disgusted with the Christianists. I think there’s a solid constituency there, but no one is exploiting it.