Tuesday, September 22, 2009


One Order of Gander Sauce, Please!

Here is PZ Myers discussing the new report on that 15% of Americans who responded "No Religion" to the American Religious Identification Survey that shows that only 10% of the "nones" identify as atheists:

Those "Nones" don't believe in a Bearded Ape of Cosmic Proportions, they aren't propping up the local priestly den of ignorance with donations, and Pat Robertson is still confident that every one of them will burn in hell. Most are not as vocal or as confident as the spokespeople for atheism are, but then, most of the people who have been filling church pews for centuries haven't been as noisy or assertive about their faith as have the priests and bishops and deacons, but no demographers have therefore felt compelled to split definitions and point out the weakness of Christianity by declaring only some tiny percentage to be church leaders.

Don't fall for their subtle attempts to divide the unbelievers. Religious institutions would love to see atheists continually demonized, even by, especially by, agnostics. It furthers their ends, not ours. There is no meaningful division — we are all abandoning the old superstitions together.

Hmmm ...

I'm sorry, but where is the danger that agnostics will start "demonizing" atheists? I can't see agnostics doing that ... unless PZ means criticizing them (or some subset of them) for perceived excesses. And why shouldn't agnostics do that? Simply because there is no "meaningful division" between atheists and agnostics?

So, let me get that straight ...

Since agnostics share common aims with atheists, they should engage in ... what's the word I'm looking for? ... self-censorship in order to better achieve the joint goals of the two groups?

Now, didn't I recently hear some people arguing that any suggestion along those lines would be highly improper? Who was that? Don't tell me! It'll come to me.

I have seen several personal incidents of people who classify themselves as agnostics demonize atheists, usually because they don't know what the terms atheism and agnosticism actually mean.
Well I'm sure I share some common aims with some atheists (even though myzilplx has written that atheists aren't a group per se), just as I share some common aims with some Hindus, Muslims, Catholics etc.

Doesn't mean I share all the same beliefs as them, just that there is some overlap.

Perhaps all the nones are closet atheists, then again the US citizens do seem to shop around and mix'n'match their spiritual beliefs so, perhaps the nones are having a rest before picking a belief set more accomodating to their desires.

If it pleases myrrh to count everyone who isn't part of an established (state recognised) religion as an atheist and to include Deists and Agnostic Theists in that group he is welcome. No harm in him indulging his beliefs, as long as he doesn't harm others.

The problem with the survey results is that 51% of nones state that they either believe in a "higher power" (who the authors call "deists" -- 24%) or believe that there is definitely a God (27%). They then break down agnostics into "hard agnostics" (there is no way to know -- 19%) and "soft" ("I'm not sure" -- 16%).

PZ has engaged John Wilkins (and my humble self) in the past over the definition of agnostics/atheists, taking the old "agnostics (of our type) are the same as atheists" position, so I doubt he was using the term totally unadvisedly.

No harm in him indulging his beliefs, as long as he doesn't harm others.

Heh. Exactly!
What I find interesting are the comments in response to one of the conductors of the survey, Ryan Cragun (a.k.a. rcragun.myopenid.com), like "'Social science' is the single greatest hoax since Adam." And these guys wonder why they get likened to fundamentalists.
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