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http://www.superscholar.org/features/influential-atheists/

 

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Go back a few hundred years, and atheism was very much a minority position. Those who were atheists would have been ostracized by society and possibly even killed (as in burned at the stake, depending on how far back you go). Fast forward to the present, and atheism is far less objectionable, and in some circles even the dominant view.

 

In the new millennium, prominent atheists abound. One website, www.celebatheists.com, is even dedicated to listing celebrity atheists. Celebrity atheists are wide-ranging and include people like Mark Zuckerberg, Lance Armstrong, and Jodie Foster. Even so, they don’t make it on to our list of influential living atheists. Why? Because they, like so many other atheists, don’t make a big deal out of their atheism. They live their lives without God, but are happy to let other people live their lives with God.

 

To make it on SuperScholar’s list of influential living atheists, an atheist can’t merely disbelieve in God but also must actively encourage others to disbelieve in God. But even that isn’t enough to make our list. Bill Maher and Penn & Teller, for instance, use their prominence as entertainers to promote atheism. But they do so mainly as popularists, not as scholars attempting to make a considered case against theism and for atheism.

 

Thus, to make it on our list, an atheist needs not only to be actively promoting atheism but also to do so as scholars in scholarly forums – this is, after all, SuperScholar! All the names below fit that bill. They are notable scholars in their own right and they use their scholarship to promote atheism explicitly or to promote forms of thought that make belief in God untenable.

 

Many of the scholars listed here have given new life to atheism, inviting the term “neo-atheism” to describe their impact and movement. Since the rise of neo-atheism in the last decade, public acceptance of atheism in the United States has vastly increased. In Gallup polls until ten years ago, those willing to call themselves atheists hovered around 10 percent. It’s now up to just under 15 percent.

 

Whether this atheistic upsurge in polls indicates an actual increase in the number of atheists or just a greater willingness of atheists to be known as such, it underscores a seismic shift in our culture away from belief in God and toward more secular ways of viewing the world.

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Guest Speed Racer

I never understood evangelical atheism. On an individual level in most cases, I think religion does a lot to improve one's quality of life, and the quality of life of others in their inner circle. I think churches are good sources of social change in most cases, too. I never understood the desire to recruit people away from that.

 

This isn't to say that religion is a good political force, because I don't necessarily think that it is. This isn't to say either that atheists are useless to their selves, others and communities, nor that I believe that atheists have a poor quality of life. It's just to me that I've never understood the, "I don't believe, so you shouldn't either - leave the church that's improving your life socially, stat."

 

And I don't go to church.

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I never understood evangelical atheism.

Meh. I don't do it myself, but I can understand why people do. I often wish the populace weren't so benighted, and I think the world would probably be in better shape without religion, superstition, belief in supernatural stuff, etc.

 

It's a mostly futile pursuit, which is the main reason I don't engage in it, but I appreciate some of those who do.

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I never understood evangelical atheism. On an individual level in most cases, I think religion does a lot to improve one's quality of life, and the quality of life of others in their inner circle. I think churches are good sources of social change in most cases, too. I never understood the desire to recruit people away from that.

 

This isn't to say that religion is a good political force, because I don't necessarily think that it is. This isn't to say either that atheists are useless to their selves, others and communities, nor that I believe that atheists have a poor quality of life. It's just to me that I've never understood the, "I don't believe, so you shouldn't either - leave the church that's improving your life socially, stat."

 

And I don't go to church.

 

 

"I don't believe, so you shouldn't either - leave the church that's improving your life socially, stat."

 

Who exactly are you quoting there? Not one of 25 the people in that list that is for sure. I agree with you about the -I think churches are good sources of social change in most cases- part though. Do you not think athiest should express what they think and believe?

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Who exactly are you quoting there? Not one of 25 the people in that list that is for sure.

 

Agreed - good point. Most, if not all of the people on that list have pretty much stated that they wouldn't do away with religion even if it was within their power to do so. I've read most of E.O Wilson's books, followed his career, etc - I cannot think of a single instance in which he's ever expressed the belief that religion should be abolished.

 

As a list of brilliant thinkers, scholars and philosphers it's not bad, otherwise, it's a pretty shitty list.

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I honestly could care less if one chooses to not believe in God or anything. Actually, I shouldn't say "care less", 'cause I DO wish that everyone in the world believed in Jesus.

 

But some don't. And that's how it is. And I understand it.

 

I have a good friend who is a devout, almost rabid atheist. And he likes to send everyone articles that are pro-atheist in content or youtube clips of atheists giving speeches, etc. And when I get one of his emails, I might skim over it but then delete it, and don't think about it anymore. I don't understand what he's trying to do.

 

NOTHING I read or hear is gonna change my faith. NOTHING.

 

So I'm puzzled by this article's line: "To make it on SuperScholar’s list of influential living atheists, an atheist can’t merely disbelieve in God but also must actively encourage others to disbelieve in God."

 

As a Christian, I don't encourage atheists to believe in Jesus. I tell my friend I'd like it if he believed in Jesus, but that's it. When he starts trying to push my buttons on reasons he think God doesn't exist, it seriously goes in one ear and out the other. I don't care what he thinks about it. He can think what he wants. But nothing he says is gonna jolt my faith. I feel like it bugs my friend and many atheists in general that I have faith in God.

 

Contrastly, it bugs me ZERO that he and other atheists believe in nothing. It's his life. It's his soul (if he thinks he has one). It doesn't bother me. I pray for him. And I pray that he can stumble onto God. But I don't push his buttons or try to convince him to change.

 

Why are some atheists so hell-bent on changing Christians?

 

I know SOME Christians are rabid and say stupid things about atheists. But most of us Christians think atheists have every right to think how they do. It doesn't bother us. We wish it weren't so, but it's your life (and afterlife) to live.

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As a Christian, I don't encourage atheists to believe in Jesus.

 

Why are some atheists so hell-bent on changing Christians?

 

I know SOME Christians are rabid and say stupid things about atheists. But most of us Christians think atheists have every right to think how they do. It doesn't bother us. We wish it weren't so, but it's your life (and afterlife) to live.

 

I guess I see it from a different perspective. I think atheists have much more religion thrown in their face on a daily basis. And even though you personally don't try to change atheists into believers, conversion is a huge tenet of many people's religion. I have never had someone show up at my door trying to convert me to atheism. I don't have friends posting on facebook how happy they are today that god is not in their life. I certainly would not try to convert anyone either way but I could see from an atheists perspective, religion has caused a myriad of ills in society (you know what they are, I'm not going to list them). It personally frightens the hell out of me when a politician (like Dubya) proclaims that he is literally making decisions based on what god tells him. Atheists are the minority in this country and it's much less accepted then being religious. Think about the very slim chance of an atheist president being elected anytime in the near future.

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I guess I see it from a different perspective. I think atheists have much more religion thrown in their face on a daily basis. And even though you personally don't try to change atheists into believers, conversion is a huge tenet of many people's religion. I have never had someone show up at my door trying to convert me to atheism. I don't have friends posting on facebook how happy they are today that god is not in their life. I certainly would not try to convert anyone either way but I could see from an atheists perspective, religion has caused a myriad of ills in society (you know what they are, I'm not going to list them). It personally frightens the hell out of me when a politician (like Dubya) proclaims that he is literally making decisions based on what god tells him. Atheists are the minority in this country and it's much less accepted then being religious. Think about the very slim chance of an atheist president being elected anytime in the near future.

I agree with this. I'm a practicing Catholic and personally have no problem with agnostics or atheists - yet even I can see that religion, especially Christianity, is everywhere in our society. I completely understand why some atheists feel like they're under attack, because I also get tired of it... especially when it's used abused in politics.

 

And electing an atheist or agnostic president? Absolutely zero chance that'll ever happen in our lifetime or our kids' lifetimes. I seriously doubt we'll ever elect a non-Christian to that office, let alone a non-believer.

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Guest Speed Racer

"I don't believe, so you shouldn't either - leave the church that's improving your life socially, stat."

 

Who exactly are you quoting there? Not one of 25 the people in that list that is for sure. I agree with you about the -I think churches are good sources of social change in most cases- part though. Do you not think athiest should express what they think and believe?

 

I'm not quoting, I'm paraphrasing. But, the list says this:

 

To make it on SuperScholar’s list of influential living atheists, an atheist can’t merely disbelieve in God but also must actively encourage others to disbelieve in God.

 

I'm friends with a few vocal athiests, one who belongs to a local organization that aims to bring athiesm into the community. I certainly don't think that athiests should not be allowed to express what they think and believe, but I do see athiesm - not believing in something - as taking away from rather than adding to one's life. (Eeesh, not athiesm itself, but telling others they should not believe in a god, either.)

 

That being said, I'm not wild about any sort of evangelicalism - whether it's Christianity, political canvassing or OMIGODILOVEU2USHOULD2!

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I certainly don't think that athiests should not be allowed to express what they think and believe, but I do see athiesm - not believing in something - as taking away from rather than adding to one's life.

 

 

I wouldn't characterize athiesm as "not believing in something".

 

Edit: Actually I know by definition that's what it means. :lol

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I think that with both Christianity and Atheism it is the vocal minority which talks the loudest and asks the bossiest. In the case of the Christians, it's the right-wing fundamentalists, and in the case of the atheists, it's the left-wing intellectuals. The two seems to have little in common, but I actually think that there is something they share: dogmatism.

 

Unfortunately, they're the ones who control the debate, as most most people who are more towards the "center" can't be bothered to participate.

 

Incidentally, I'm a left-wing hopeful doubter.

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Atheists attempt to approach everything scientifically. Therefore, every belief or non-belief will have a certain margin of error. Atheists do not claim to know any "absolute truths" the way dogmatic religions do.

 

Religious people must often reject evidence that tenants of their belief system are false, based only on their faith. However, if an Atheist was to encounter evidence for the existence of god (or the Flying Spaghetti Monster), they would be forced to re-evaluate their beliefs and might possibly alter them if the evidence was compelling.

 

It is the receptivity of Atheists to re-evaluate the facts based on new evidence that prevents them from being dogmatic - imo.

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Guest Speed Racer

It is the receptivity of Atheists to re-evaluate the facts based on new evidence that prevents them from being dogmatic - imo.

 

This implies, if I might be so bold, that only atheists re-evaluate their beliefs - no?

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Atheists attempt to approach everything scientifically. Therefore, every belief or non-belief will have a certain margin of error. Atheists do not claim to know any "absolute truths" the way dogmatic religions do.

 

Religious people must often reject evidence that tenants of their belief system are false, based only on their faith. However, if an Atheist was to encounter evidence for the existence of god (or the Flying Spaghetti Monster), they would be forced to re-evaluate their beliefs and might possibly alter them if the evidence was compelling.

 

It is the receptivity of Atheists to re-evaluate the facts based on new evidence that prevents them from being dogmatic - imo.

Your fallacy is in equating atheism and science. There are are atheists who are not people of science. More importantly, there are scientists who are people of faith.

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Saying "atheists don't...and believers do..." is no more accurate than starting a sentence with "men don't...and women do..."

Men don't have vaginas and women do... accurate, no?

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Guest Speed Racer

You know, I almost included that as the exception, but I thought we could manage to move past that ourselves. Then I thought people might throw in known variances in that lone exception and then I just got tired of typing and thinking. :lol

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