This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

← Americans: Undecided About God?

Americans: Undecided About God? - Comments

Lapin Diabolique's Avatar Comment 1 by Lapin Diabolique

"Nones don’t get hung up on whether a religion is “true” or not, and instead subscribe to William James’s maxim that “truth is what works.” If a certain spiritual practice makes us better people — more loving, less angry — then it is necessarily good, and by extension “true.”"

Sure, don't get hung up on insignificant details about whether the thoughts rattling around your head actually map on to reality, as long as you get that warm feeling in your tummy and smile like a sanctimonious blissninny.

What a jackass!

Sun, 11 Dec 2011 12:11:12 UTC | #897765

Mr DArcy's Avatar Comment 2 by Mr DArcy

Gosh! What a lot of words, and so little to say!

My religion? None!

Sun, 11 Dec 2011 12:12:01 UTC | #897766

Pete.K's Avatar Comment 3 by Pete.K

Poor old Eric seems to be a bit confused, he calls himself a 'none' but paints a picture of an agnostic. One thing is right though, it is religion that is the problem, believe in whatever god you want, but don't allow anyone else to fill your head with crap, and keep religion out of politics at all costs.

Sun, 11 Dec 2011 12:16:40 UTC | #897769

some asshole's Avatar Comment 4 by some asshole

Nones don’t get hung up on whether a religion is “true” or not, and instead subscribe to William James’s maxim that “truth is what works.” If a certain spiritual practice makes us better people — more loving, less angry — then it is necessarily good, and by extension “true.”

This sounds exactly like the present-day method used to justify shoving religion down our throats. It makes people "better"--hell you can't be moral without it--and who care's if it's "true"? I think the only person who would say something like this is someone with a nonrational mind who didn't happen to be strongly indoctrinated into a particular religion.

I imagine a religious space that celebrates doubt, encourages experimentation and allows one to utter the word God without embarrassment. A religious operating system for the Nones among us. And for all of us.

Sure, "all of us", except for atheists. As always. And what is there to "experiment" with? Are there actually people who think god will suddenly reveal itself to us, and they'll finally figure it all out--as if people haven't been struggling to achieve that for ages, with nothing to show for it except misery, strife, and violence?

Sun, 11 Dec 2011 13:06:08 UTC | #897781

dandelion fluff's Avatar Comment 5 by dandelion fluff

Irrational.

And for the years I was a None (post-catholicism), I absolutely did care whether my theist ideas were true. Of course, that's how I wound up atheist. Maybe to have stability as a None, you have to not care?

Sun, 11 Dec 2011 13:11:25 UTC | #897783

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 6 by Alan4discussion

@OP - We are more religiously polarized than ever. In my secular, urban and urbane world, God is rarely spoken of, except in mocking, derisive tones. It is acceptable to cite the latest academic study on, say, happiness or, even better, whip out a brain scan, but God? He is for suckers, and Republicans.

Fortunately, the suckers and Republicans seem less common in other developed countries.

I have posted this link before, but if we are comparing figures its worth looking at statistics on other countries.

http://www.kirainet.com/english/the-least-religious-countries/

Sun, 11 Dec 2011 13:43:01 UTC | #897788

Egon Voolavon's Avatar Comment 7 by Egon Voolavon

"Apparently, a growing number of Americans are running from organized religion, but by no means running from God."

Yes indeed, I note lots of people saying they don't do "organised religion", but they sure do (a) God. Ironically one that has been flogged to death, through the centuries, by that same organised religion they reject. Nice one!

I fully understand why they feel they must subscribe to some supernatural thing, given cultural conditioning over the centuries, has established it's perfectly normal to think Gods exist. Just a given without question, traditional subscription en mass. Passed on from one generation to another, something I note as a 'Heritable Sin'.

They who do (thier) God but not religion, pretend to be more intellectually honest, yet when asked which God it is they do, the general answer is; "there is only one God". The rational skeptic explains there has been, and is, many Gods. To which the reply is, or certainly implies... "Oh silly you, they Gods [generally with a lower case g ] are the mere constructs of the human imagination. Just something/s deluded people have been culturally conditioned to accept exist, or is their society norm" ..."We pray for them".

I am so happy to be 'abnormal.

All the Best.

Sun, 11 Dec 2011 13:45:14 UTC | #897790

kev_s's Avatar Comment 8 by kev_s

Sound like Eric is almost there ... just needs to go one more step.

Sun, 11 Dec 2011 13:50:01 UTC | #897793

justinesaracen's Avatar Comment 9 by justinesaracen

A fairly eloquent rehashing of the Comfort apology for religion. I get it from most of my believing and quasi-believing (i.e. lazy) friends.

Sun, 11 Dec 2011 13:52:38 UTC | #897794

RomeStu's Avatar Comment 10 by RomeStu

This is obviously a load of wishy-washy can't-decide/won't decide tosh ..... BUT it is still a massive step towards future rationality in the USA. The "nones" may be hanging onto their comfort blanket in a loose way, but it is an important progression in reducing the social and political power of the organised religions.

Softly softly catchee monkey! It is really only a short step from "none" to atheist. Also remember that in the USA the word atheist has such incredibly strong negative connotations that "nones" may well become the socially-acceptable face of atheism.

Sun, 11 Dec 2011 14:01:59 UTC | #897798

QuestioningKat's Avatar Comment 11 by QuestioningKat

OK Let's all just attack the poor guy because he doesn't agree with us. We can focus on his flawed thinking or realize that he has put himself on the line by writing his personal experience in an article. I see this as a call for change but not knowing where to go next.

Let's look at what he said. They are looking for an optimistic, happy environment. They are looking for "personal development" in which sources of inspiration are diverse and self-motivated. They are looking for a moral compass free of dogma, politics, and self righteous babble. They may or may not want community, but possibly so. The fact is that churches like this already exist - Unitarian, Unity, and Baha'i. The question is whether or not we as a community have the life enriching environment that they seek. They look out at the atheist community and what do they see? A community dominated by middle-aged, opinionated, men.

Sun, 11 Dec 2011 14:05:58 UTC | #897799

78rpm's Avatar Comment 12 by 78rpm

QuestioningKat (Comment 11), could you describe for us in more detail how "the atheist community" is "dominated by middle-aged, opinionated men?"

Sun, 11 Dec 2011 14:17:26 UTC | #897801

blu28's Avatar Comment 13 by blu28

Wait. According to this article, 12% say that they have no religious affiliation, but that only 7 percent of those are atheists? Wouldn't all atheists say they have no religious affiliation? Then that would imply that only .12*.07=.008 or 0.8% of Americans would self-identify as atheists. But even the PEW report (which many believe underestimates the number) puts the percentage of atheists at 5%.

In any case, this just highlights the reality in what Chesterton said, that what comes after a belief in God is not belief in nothing, but belief in anything. Atheism and rationality does not currently offer what these people seek. It is up to us to develop the next step, the rational, spiritual, post-religion movement that fills the gap. Is that Secular Humanism? I don't know. If it is, then we need to market it better. This is an action item people, get back to me on this.

Sun, 11 Dec 2011 14:18:31 UTC | #897802

TobySaunders's Avatar Comment 14 by TobySaunders

That Postmodern claim, "truth is whatever works" is destructive to rational thinking, yet, in the same article he claims to respect rationalism. Also, that claim that 'nones' don't believe in God (a god, more accurately) but hope to one day doesn't seem quite right to me... maybe it's true, but I'm not sure if that is the author's intuition or what... it doesn't match with my anecdotal encounters with these people, for better or worse.

Sun, 11 Dec 2011 14:26:44 UTC | #897805

AlexP's Avatar Comment 15 by AlexP

I don't quite understand why so often people seem to have the opinion that religion should be "nice", should "make us happy" or was supposed to make us "better human beings".

Why? If you think religions need to serve humanity and human wellbeing, you're already moving the focus away from god and towards humans. Now, I certainly consider that a huge step in the right direction, but why, then, bother with god at all? Just focus on furthering human wellbeing without taking a detour through the divine.

Some religions are nicer that others, some at least more bearable or tolerable. But that doesn't make them "right" or even "better". At least not as far as interpreting the word and will of god is concerned, and that's what religions should care about - if you're still taking them seriously, that is.

And if you don't - then you have to dismiss them all, whether what they preach sounds nice or not. If your shoes start talking to you, you're going insane. That doesn't change only because what they tell you to do happens to be sensible.

Sun, 11 Dec 2011 14:35:59 UTC | #897808

Kurt75's Avatar Comment 16 by Kurt75

Nones? No thanks.

Nones may not believe in God, but we hope to one day... Truth is what works.

I'm having trouble comprehending this. It's something I might say as a joke, something so absurd it's funny. When I was a Christian, I was incredibly worried about what was true. How can you hope to believe in something? Hope for confirmation of something, hope to understand something. Hope that something is true. These I understand.

How can people even have such a mushy, vague interpretation of what the word "true" means?

Maybe the question is why he hopes to believe in god. He mentions middle age and a health scare, so I guess he's afraid of dying. Ok, I can hope to discover, learn, or find evidence that mental life continues after death somehow. But hope to believe it? Nonsense.

I see echoes of a point made by Hitchens: religion taps into the lowly desire to be a slave--to have the burden of choice and responsibility lifted. This guy just hasn't yet found the scam that works for him (and is therefore "true"). No, he needs a "Steve Jobs" of fraudsters to totally reinvent the way we are suckered.

ok, back to work.

Sun, 11 Dec 2011 14:41:48 UTC | #897812

Starcrash's Avatar Comment 17 by Starcrash

I used to have a couple Wikkan roommates. One night, we were listening to some rock music that was blatantly about rejecting theism, and one of the roommates said "I love this song! I agree with him totally when he says that I don't need your God!" I had read about what Wikka on Wikipedia (naturally) and asked "Don't you believe in a god? Two of them, in fact?" He blushed, and his Wikkan girlfriend crossed her arms and shot him a look, although I couldn't help but notice that she hadn't picked up on this until after I pointed it out.

They were both "nones", but they didn't want to be thought of as atheists. Sure, they practiced a few Wikkan rituals, but they only did this with other Wikkan friends and only once in a long while. They dodged the question about why they believed in Wikka, just like another roommate did when I questioned him about why he believed in a "higher power". It would seem that belief in a god, any god, is just more comfortable than professing disbelief.

Sun, 11 Dec 2011 14:48:57 UTC | #897813

debaser71's Avatar Comment 18 by debaser71

The article, IMO, is an example of shallow thinking on the subject...granted most article aren't even in the shallow water at all.

Sun, 11 Dec 2011 14:52:06 UTC | #897814

some asshole's Avatar Comment 19 by some asshole

Comment 10 by RomeStu :

This is obviously a load of wishy-washy can't-decide/won't decide tosh ..... BUT it is still a massive step towards future rationality in the USA. The "nones" may be hanging onto their comfort blanket in a loose way, but it is an important progression in reducing the social and political power of the organised religions.

Softly softly catchee monkey! It is really only a short step from "none" to atheist. Also remember that in the USA the word atheist has such incredibly strong negative connotations that "nones" may well become the socially-acceptable face of atheism.

To hell with that. There is only one "step" toward putting religion in its place. The only "progression" needed is for religionists to get their boot off our throats.

The first mistake would be to think that there could possibly be friendly, open discussion on the topic of religion and god. It's unimaginably quixotic to think that it would not devolve into the same type of nonsense we see all around us right now. We're not talking about a single organization that encourages thinking; we are talking about things on a societal level here. Even if "not being a Christian" became less stigmatized, atheists would still end up with the shit end of the stick.

Sun, 11 Dec 2011 15:10:23 UTC | #897818

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 20 by Jos Gibbons

Not only does his misdefining of the nones so as to exclude atheists in order to characterise the nones as centrists lead to his understating the nones' prevalence, thereby undermining his defence of them, but he defines truth as that which works while also not caring about it, therefore not caring about what works, which misses the point of such a redefining of truth away from the correspondence-to-facts meaning of the term. He's not thinking properly.

Sun, 11 Dec 2011 15:17:15 UTC | #897819

gortsilas's Avatar Comment 21 by gortsilas

"Nones" are people smart enough to realize that religion is bullshit but not smart enough to realize god is fictional. What a shame.

Sun, 11 Dec 2011 15:32:03 UTC | #897824

Crazycharlie's Avatar Comment 22 by Crazycharlie

"Nones" hope to believe in god someday? What god exactly? Mush-headed nonsense. He's no rationalist. Oh that's right, I'm an angry atheist. I'm just too livid to understand the subleties of his arguement.

Sun, 11 Dec 2011 15:35:10 UTC | #897827

yanquetino's Avatar Comment 23 by yanquetino

Wishy-washy, namby-pamby, fence-sitting waffle. I suppose he also shrugs and stands on the side-lines about whether or not there are fairies, leprechauns, goblins, and unicorns. Such spineless abstention is precisely why religion continues to comandeer more privilege than it deserves. This Weiner needs a set of cojones.

Sun, 11 Dec 2011 15:46:40 UTC | #897829

QuestioningKat's Avatar Comment 24 by QuestioningKat

Comment 12 by 78rpm :

QuestioningKat (Comment 11), could you describe for us in more detail how "the atheist community" is "dominated by middle-aged, opinionated men?"

Fortunately your question is off topic, so we can avoid that argument. The best thing to do is to start counting. Count posts, count photographs, videos, etc.

Sun, 11 Dec 2011 16:08:11 UTC | #897840

Red Dog's Avatar Comment 25 by Red Dog

Comment 21 by gortsilas :

"Nones" are people smart enough to realize that religion is bullshit but not smart enough to realize god is fictional. What a shame.

I'm not so sure. In the case of people like Mr. Weiner I don't think its a lack of intelligence but rather greed and a lack of moral courage. People like Weiner realize that its still easier to get along in society and to publish your vapid books and NY Times articles by saying you aren't religious rather than making the logical step of admitting you are an atheist.

Sun, 11 Dec 2011 16:09:49 UTC | #897841

Red Dog's Avatar Comment 26 by Red Dog

Comment 11 by QuestioningKat :

OK Let's all just attack the poor guy because he doesn't agree with us. We can focus on his flawed thinking or realize that he has put himself on the line by writing his personal experience in an article. I see this as a call for change but not knowing where to go next.

He's not putting himself on the line with this article he's promoting his book. From the end of the NY Times article:

Eric Weiner is the author, most recently, of “Man Seeks God: My Flirtations with the Divine.”

Sun, 11 Dec 2011 16:13:10 UTC | #897842

nemahariver's Avatar Comment 27 by nemahariver

I wonder how many of the "Nones" are actually closet atheists.

Sun, 11 Dec 2011 16:16:26 UTC | #897843

ridelo's Avatar Comment 28 by ridelo

Some people care about truth. Some about what works.

Sun, 11 Dec 2011 16:34:50 UTC | #897849

strangebrew's Avatar Comment 29 by strangebrew

OP

The answer, I think, lies in the sort of entrepreneurial spirit that has long defined America, including religious America.

I really do not think adding another money making scam ...dreamt up...decorated by twisted rational and delivered to a bunch of vacuous sheeple with cud for brains and no taste in delusion is going to make much of a difference.

What chummy seems to be whining about is that there is a bunch of agnostics that apparently have not a clue about what they are being agnostic about. Eric seems to want so badly to be religious but the choice in stock is not inspiring. He is not a none as such...just a lost theist.

Sun, 11 Dec 2011 16:51:05 UTC | #897855

Red Dog's Avatar Comment 30 by Red Dog

Comment 28 by ridelo :

Some people care about truth. Some about what works.

And you don't find anything wrong with saying "I'll just believe what makes me feel good"?

To me it seems like the ultimate betrayal of our humanity. Humans differ from other animals because we can figure stuff out. To just abandon that and say "I'll believe what makes me feel good" just trivializes the basic questions of religion and philosophy. Its why in some ways I have more respect for fundamentalist theists then I do for people like the author of this article.

Sun, 11 Dec 2011 17:25:08 UTC | #897877