On the decline of Theism and the effects of fear

I feel cold as razor blade
CC - photo credit: confusedvision

I just read this excellent article (hat tip: Pharyngula) about the last century’s trends in religiosy and, for a non-theist like me, it certainly perks up the ol’ optimism. Even though theists in the recent years have been claiming that theism is on the comeback while secularism and irreligiousness was just a passing fad, the cold hard data once again, forms the proverbial thorn in their soft underbelly of wishful thinking.

While this post is partly to advertise the article, I also wanted to comment on part of it that triggered a long standing wish of mine, which is to start talking about my own philosophy of life, but I’ll try to avoid getting into specific labels at this point.

In the article then, it is explained how religion’s drop in popularity is more closely related to socioeconomic reasons rather than being the result of proselytisation from the “New Atheists”. It is shown how most European countries see their religious population percentage drop with a positive correlation to socialism or socialistic policies. Indeed, some of the more socialistic Countries of Europe seem to have, for the first time, a majority or non-religious people.

I will not go into detail on this, as the article makes the case much better than I ever could, however it did raise a very interesting point. That US high religiosity has much to do with the lack of a social net for the population, and the easy way with which one can go bankrupt and never recover. Indeed this constant fear that the population lives with, is what drives so many people turn to religion or spiritualism for comfort. It is no wonder that the larger percentage of religious people resides in the poorer rural areas.

Of course this is a result of the rabid anti-socialism that is prevalent in the American society ever since the First Red Scare. Because of the huge negative emotions and reactions that being labeled “left” carries, socialist policies like universal health care, have failed to become reality which, among others, rightly earns U.S. their label as the aberrant example of a developed nation.

But what does this have to do with my own philosophy? Well, the correlation between non-theism and social safety reminded my of one of the building blocks for it, Epicurism.

As a philosophy, Epicurism was one of the first ((if not the first. Not absolutely certain on this)) who explicitly espoused materialism and a form of deism as a method to reduce fear and personal suffering. Especially because this kind of materialism instructed a radical reduction of human needs to the bare necessities, it allowed people to reduce their anxiety and fear which further chipped away at their theism.

It strikes me as brilliant then (( In a bad way)), that in the U.S., where the exact opposite of this materialism is promoted, (namely crass commercialism) the fear and anxiety increases and leads to even stronger theism. Indeed, theism itself quite often wraps itself around commercialism (or is it the other way around?) and takes away a sizable amount of money from the “flock” in exchange for blissful uncertainty. It’s like a drug who’s withdrawal symptom is fear.

I can’t help but wonder at the masterful mental construction this has created in the minds of U.S. Americans today.

  • Greed → Commercialism / Consumerism.
  • Consumerism → Fear. (“You have to buy more stuff, or the society will collapse“)
  • Commercialism → Fear. (Lack, or reduced, social security keeping people scared of sudden mishaps)
  • Fear → Greed. (“You have to have wealth or power to be happy“)
  • Fear ↔ Traditionalism / Conservatism. (“We must return to our old values to save our society“)
  • Fear ↔ Nationalism / Xenophobia. (“We must protect the homeland in order to survive and prosper“)
  • Fear ↔ Authoritarianism. (“We need to reduce freedom in order to prevent societal problems and terrorism“)
  • Fear ↔ Theism. (I don’t think I need to explain this.)

It’s a vicious cycle. It is no wonder that all these values and beliefs go together most of the time and generally, if someone has one, it is quite probable that he will have at least some of the others as well. All of them feed the fear, and fear feeds them all.

Does it surprise anyone that most Clergy have authority? Does it surprise anyone that most Clergy are conservative and most Conservatives crave authority? Does it surprise anyone that pure capitalists tend to be religious ((Even Objectivists who exhibit the most pure form of Capitalism display a certain religiousness)).

Finally, does it surprise anyone that fascism embodies all of these together in a nice round package?

Fear is the common denominator, and any philosophy that is designed to reduce fear is bound to reduce the person’s attachment to these values. This is why so many atheists seem confident, progressive, liberal and socialistic. They all lack the necessary levels of fear to be anything else ((I would also like to mention here that one can repel fear with anger as well, but only until his anger subsides. This is why atheism based on “anger at god” never lasts)).

What we need to do, is not attempt to convert people to atheism or non-theism. What we need to be doing is to change the society in ways that reduce fear. As that happens, slowly these values will start retreating due to lack of empowerment.

Only 99.99%

From a Christian blog, on a discussion that has ended up arguing against evolution, we get this amazing comment (Emphasis mine):

I find it a bit humorous that only 99.99% of evolutionary biologists believe in evolution. What do you do with the other .01%?

It seriously cannot get any more inane than this. I guess the part that is really humorous is lost on him.

So what do you all think? What should we do with the rather impressive 0.01% of evolutionary biologists that do not believe in evolution?

What if the god of Atheism was real?

This is directed to all my theist readers: What would you do if the god of atheism was real?
Imagine a God that provides no proof, or even hint, of his existence. He will only reward people who have lived their life believing that no gods existed, including him, and have reached this conclusion through critical and rational thinking.
If your life ends as an Atheist/Agnostic, you will be rewarded. If not…

How would you deal with this?

This is directed to all my theist readers: What would you do if the god of atheism was real?
Imagine a God that provides no proof, or even hint, of his existence. He will only reward people who have lived their life believing that no gods existed, including him, and have reached this conclusion through critical and rational thinking.
If your life ends as an Atheist/Agnostic, you will be rewarded. If not…

How would you deal with this?

This query was triggered by a recent question directed to Atheists by a Christian. It asked directly on how would we react if we ever discovered that the evangelical abrahamic deity existed, no matter how that happened.
What follows is some analysis and thoughts on the question posed. You can jump directly to my question details from here

Now, as others stated and is furthermore plainly obvious, this is a kind of a Pascal’s wager. The inquirer is simply attempting to make us think of the consequences of being wrong. This may sound like a scary concept for someone who is already a Christian or recently deconverted, and indeed it is one of the reasons why some people remain christians, even in the face of overwhelming evidence. The fate of eternal punishment is just too great of a threat to even contemplate switching. A powerful meme in its own right.

Unfortunately, this does not work the same way on atheists and agnostics who know the facts and are not cowed by threats. This is readily apparent from many of the replies where the answer given is one of defiance, even in the face of eternal torment.

However, what is interesting is the own author’s own reply when the question is switched (as indeed is easy to do with any Pascal’s wager) and directed back at him, in the form of the existence of Allah. Read for yourselves:

NZskep, if tomorrow I found out that Allah was true, I’d become a Muslim as fast as I could recite in Arabic “Allah hu akbar, bismillahi rahman hu rahim, la illa il allah, Mohammed rasul Allah”.

Why? Because if that is the truth then it’s the truth. I don’t really have a choice if I’m a truth seeker. I have to accept it.

That also goes for Hinduism, Buddhism or even African Animism and of course if there is no god then I’ll become an Atheist..tomorrow.

No questions, no if’s and’s or but’s.

This is unsurprising really. The author claims to be a truth seeker and would instantly convert to Allah, Hinduism, Dodecatheism or whatever, if only those deities made themselves undeniably real.

It is nothing more than the user displaying his Atheism/Agnosticism in regards to those other deities and then, like the rest of us, demanding proof that is not only undeniable, but also superior to the proof he has on his current god.

Surprisingly, he further claims that if there is no god, then he’ll become an atheist…tomorrow. Im not certain if this “…tomorrow” has some other meaning but what he is asking is again, undeniable proof for the non-existence of god. Barring the fact that you cannot prove a negative, this undeniable proof already exists in the many philosophical, scriptural and empirical problems all theistic religions face. The fact that he chooses not to consider them only shows that he is not really willing to look at it.

However, this apparent willingness to test his own beliefs leads me to the question I posted at the start of this post. I can even spicy it up a little to avoid some responses that might be directed to me.

  • Do you feel defiant that this God allows the problem of evil to exist? Then be aware that this god has no power over this world/reality/life but all power over your life-after-death.
  • You should not believe that life-after-death exists either.
  • Do you believe that it’s better to believe to your current god because his punishment is horrible and/or eternal? Then be aware that the God of Atheists torture is not simply burning in a lake of fire stuff (that’s for wussies anyway). Expect eternal torment that you cannot even imagine. If you can imagine it…it’s worse.
  • Do you feel that just because I assert this god exists that he is obviously not real? Well, think again. You cannot prove he does not exist any more that I can prove yours does not either. Personally, I don’t believe he exists…but he could.
  • He does not care if you’ve been good or bad, only that you don’t believe in any gods.
  • Btw, the cousin god of woo-woo will punish you appropriately if you should believe in any “alternative” stuff that have no proof either. No homeopathy, acupuncture, i-ching, ghosts etc or to the eternal suffering you go.

I think I’ve covered all the bases so lets hear it my theist readers (And I hope my atheist readers may help spread the question around): What would you do if the god of atheism was real?


I agree with this stance, but I think the author is not taking it far enough. Not only that, but I would never dream of naming such a lovable part of my anatomy which is also capable of providing me with such pleasure, with a name like that. (unless of course I am misunderstanding which part he meant)

I will therefore propose that this name only belongs to what comes out of the body, from a specific rear area.

For example:

“Oh man, I just dumped a huge Mohamed! I think I might have clogged your toilet.”


“Sorry I can’t eat that spicy food or my Mohameds are going to have a Jihad against me tomorrow…”

Better no?

Quote of the Day: Mental Masturbation

OMG, this must be like the best quote I’ve seen in a while

…If you prefer mental masturbation, then go back to Philosophy 101 and stroke your intellectual penis with the other pseudointellectuals until you squirt happy little fantasies all over each other. But don’t waste our time with your blathering bullshit.

Just. LOL!

Seriously, there guys have become one of my favorite stops on the net. Their snarkiness is quite refreshing:)

I have a quote in my mind

As I was taking a bath, a quote started to materialize in my mind.

“Saying that creationism is valid because evolution has some gaps, is like saying that a circle is truly a square because you cannot define all the digits of Pi.”

Does it make sense to anyone? Too geeky perhaps? Ideas to improve it?