Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Unpopular

In yesterday's New York Times (print edition, online 4/26), More Atheists Shout It From The Rooftops, author Laurie Goodstein confirms what I've feared all along - by being an atheist, I have doomed my children to a life of unpopularity and loneliness.

Despite changing attitudes, polls continue to show that atheists are ranked lower than any other minority or religious group when Americans are asked whether they would vote for or approve of their child marrying a member of that group.
The article reports that while those who report themselves as Christian are declining in numbers, those who claimed "no religion" is the only growth group throughout all 50 states, which, I cannot but think is a good thing.

(Graphic from The New York Times 4/27/09).


Regarding atheists as a group, however, is a bit more of a problem for me. While the author rightly points out that "A spate of best-selling books on atheism also popularized the notion that nonbelief is not just an argument but a cause, like environmentalism or muscular dystrophy," I think those books are more of a disservice to those of us who have no god. They conflate lack of belief with principles that bind together. Atheism is no more a principle or a philosophy than agnomism.

Dedication to reason, with which atheism is often wrongly confused, is a principle, and one that many of the groups discussed in the article report to embrace. That's a good thing, particularly in the realm of politics where the separation of church and state is constantly threatened.

But back to the personal level, I am actually not fearful that I am dooming my children to a life of alienation and loneliness. My concern regarding religion and their happiness is limited to this: I pray they never fall prey to loving someone who in turn lashes out at them for lacking the internal contradiction true believers must live with. The more rational my children become, the less this is a concern.

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