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Beyond belief

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---DAMIAN Coburn once lived in a cult-like Catholic offshoot in which owning a new car was frowned upon as being too much like investing in a graven idol. But Coburn bought one anyway, and called it the Golden Calf. Anne Robinson was raised a Christian but as a teenager became a pentacle-wearing witch who was in touch with the earth goddess Gaia and performed magic spells to win love, or money. Aam grew up in a strict Bangladeshi Muslim family, where marriages were arranged, the Koran taken literally and a set of religious and cultural taboos were woven together into a complete way of life.

These three Australians are united by a religious upbringing. But in the past few years all have been united by something entirely different. They've shucked off their faith and become part of a growing world-wide movement - atheism.

What is driving this move is a matter for debate. Some say it's a reaction against religious terrorism, fundamentalism. Others that the habit of Kevin Rudd, Tony Abbott, Tony Blair and others of wearing their religion US-style on their sleeves has prompted a backlash, with people concerned about the political lobbying power of faith. Still others believe the children of 1960s hippies have grown up without strong childhood indoctrination and are now embracing rationalism and science.

The new atheism is bigger, more organised, and much more assertive than ever before. It's based on the belief that science explains everything we need to know about the world so there's no need for religion. Its founding texts are by scientist Richard Dawkins and writer Christopher Hitchens, and religion, in their eyes, is not just some harmless illusion, it's a dangerous, immoral force in society.
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Viewpoints: Why is faith falling in the...

- - BBC News Comments

A new poll suggests that atheism is on the rise in the US, while those who consider themselves religious has dropped. What's the cause? Two writers debate.

From Bible-Belt Pastor to Atheist Leader

Robert F. Worth - New York Times Comments

A great article about Jerry DeWitt and the growing presence of atheist communities

Playboy Interview with Richard Dawkins

Chip Rowe - Playboy Comments

Playboy Interview with Richard Dawkins

Atheists On Religion, Science, And...

- - YouTube - townsquare Comments

Cara Santa Maria (Senior Science Correspondent, leads this week's panel on 'The Point' to discuss these issues and more with Michael Shermer (Publisher - Skeptic Magazine), Sean Carroll (Theoretical Physicist - Caltech), and Edward Falzon (author of 'Being Gay Is Disgusting').

Atheists find a new venue for the...

Kimberly Winston - Washington Post Comments

Last weekend, the Atheist Film Festival showed more than a dozen films about separation of church and state, freedom of religion (and no religion), the conflict between science and religion in public schools.

Albert Einstein's Historic 1954 "God...

- - eBay auction Comments

Albert Einstein's Historic 1954 "God Letter" Handwritten Shortly Before His Death



Backlash as God forced into schools

Michael Bachelard - The Age 39 Comments

THE Victorian Education Department is forcing public primary schools to run Christian education classes taught by volunteers, angering parents and schools that do not want to host them.



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