Skip to comments.Is God dead? Atheism finds a market in U.S
Posted on 10/18/2006 5:25:05 PM PDT by wagglebee
CHICAGO (Reuters) - A fresh wave of atheistic books has hit the market this autumn, some climbing onto best-seller lists in what proponents see as a backlash against the way religion is entwined in politics.
"Religion is fragmenting the human community," said Sam Harris, author of "Letter to a Christian Nation," No. 11 on the New York Times nonfiction list on October 15.
There is a "huge visibility and political empowerment of religion. President George W. Bush uses his first veto to deny funding for stem cell research and scientists everywhere are horrified," he said in an interview.
Religious polarization is part of many world conflicts, he said, including those involving Israel and Iran, "but it's never discussed. I consider it the story of our time, what religion is doing to us. But there are very few people calling a spade a spade."
His "Letter," a blunt 96-page pocket-sized book condensing arguments against belief in quick-fire volleys, appeared on the Times list just ahead of "The God Delusion," by Richard Dawkins, a scientist at Oxford University and long-time atheist.
In addition, Harris' "The End of Faith," a 2004 work which prompted his "Letter" as a response to critics, is holding the No. 13 Times spot among nonfiction paperbacks.
Publishers Weekly said the business has seen "a striking number of impassioned critiques of religion -- any religion, but Christianity in particular," a probably inevitable development given "the super-soaking of American politics and culture with religion in recent years."
Paul Kurtz, founder of the Council for Secular Humanism and publisher of Free Inquiry magazine, said, "The American public is really disturbed about the role of religion in U.S. government policy, particularly with the Bush administration and the breakdown of church-state separation, and secondly with the conflict in the Mideast."
They are turning to free thought and secular humanism and publishers have recognized a taste for that, he added.
"I've published 45 books, many critical of religion," Kurtz said. "I think in America we have this notion of tolerance ... it was considered bad taste to criticize religion. But I think now there are profound questions about age-old hatreds."
The Rev. James Halstead, chairman of the Department of Religious Studies at Chicago's DePaul University, says the phenomenon is really "a ripple caused by the book publishing industry."
"These books cause no new thought or moral commitment. The arguments are centuries old," he told Reuters. Some believers, he added, "are no better. Their conception of God, the Divine-Human-World relationship are much too simplistic and materialistic."
Too often, he said, the concept "God" is misused "to legitimate the self and to beat up other people ... to rehash that same old theistic and atheistic arguments is a waste of time, energy and paper."
Dr. Timothy Larsen, professor of theology at Wheaton College in Illinois, says any growth in interest in atheism is a reflection of the strength of religion -- the former being a parasite that feeds off the latter.
That happened late in the 19th century America when an era of intense religious conviction gave rise to voices like famed agnostic Robert Ingersoll, he said.
For Christianity, he said, "It's very important for people of faith to realize how unsettling and threatening their posture and rhetoric and practice can feel to others. So it's an opportunity for the church to look at itself and say 'we have done things ... that make other people uncomfortable.' It is an opportunity for dialogue."
Larsen, author of the soon-to-be-published "Crisis of Doubt," added that in some sense atheism is "a disappointment with God and with the church. Some of these are people we wounded that we should be handling pastorally rather than with aggressive knockdown debate."
These are also probably some of the same people Harris says he's hearing from after his two books.
"Many, many readers feel utterly isolated in their communities," he said. "They are surrounded by cult members, from their point of view, and are unable to disclose their feelings."
"I get a lot of e-mail just expressing incredible relief that they are not alone ... relieved that I'm writing something that couldn't be said," Harris added.
Actually two are, your secular atheism is one and Muhammad's death cult is the other, and you seem to be allied with one another against our Judeo-Christian culture.
Reuters, we all know who you speak for.
The fool says in his heart,
"There is no God."
Bring it on baby! Light always overcomes the darkness.
Amen! He's clearly not dead...but sometimes I wonder whether He really gives a damn about us or not considering what we put Him through.
".......and the breakdown of church-state separation......."
OK, my BS meter just went off.
Oh boy...Not another evolution thread. ;-)
Most of them are so wrapped up in their own polemics that they have become nothing more than pathetic anti-Christians with the same false hypocritical philosophy. They just slap a new label on it hoping nobody will notice - - they replace the idea of "avoiding sin" with "morals."
Morality and all of its associated ideals are rooted entirely in the presupposition some higher power defines what is correct for human behavior.
Today, "morals" are a religious pagan philosophy of esoteric hobgoblins. Transfiguration is a pantheon of fantasies as the medium of infinitization. Others get derision for having an unwavering Judaic belief in Yahweh or Yeshua, although their critics and enemies will evangelize insertion of phantasmagoric fetishisms into secular law.
"There is no God."
Great bible quote! Here are a few more of similar quality and wisdom:
Wherefore my bowels shall sound like a harp for Moab, and mine inward parts for Kirharesh. (Isaiah 16:11)
"and lusted after her paramours there, whose members were like those of donkeys, and whose emission was like that of stallions." (Ezekiel 23: 21, NRSV)
"But Rabshakeh said unto them, Hath my master sent me to thy master, and to thee, to speak these words? hath he not sent me to the men which sit on the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you?" (II Kings 18:27)
Yep. Plenty of wisdom in the good-book.
I'm starting to think that having a book on the New York Times best seller list is like getting a Nobel Peace Prize. It just don't mean $hit anymore.
Or simply don't need them.
"There are people who don't believe in Hell until they get there"
There's a village atheist in my small South Carolina hometown, always writing in to the local paper, denouncing believers as ignorant superstitious peasants, threatening to sue local churches for ringing their Sunday bells and invading `his space', but most of all, proclaiming the intellectual superiority of himself and his fellow "brights" (his term!).
Yep, atheists are smarter than everybody else. Don't believe it? Just ask 'em.
It is really ironic in my view that atheism is held by many to be the 'educated' view. Irrespective of he details of what one believes, it is much less defensible, logically, to believe that all of existence has no meaning, than to believe that there is a reason we are here.
Atheism = self-deception carried to the extreme!