I watched a discussion about the denigration of christian values among the western cultures. I noted the assertion, of what I'll call, a vacuum of religion, presently within western societies. However, although christianity was the catalyst for the presenter, and islam the provocateur and threat to the former, which was distasteful, it made me think.
For me, I see this argument, as more likely, a need for faith/religiosity showing in society. As the traditional western religious/religions are being chipped away at by disbelief and correct reasoning...these former believers in one faith, just replace their need for meaning in life, and belonging to something, with another faith...one that is familiar, and more likely to defend its dogma more vigorously. This familiar new religious belief, is islam. I believe one faith is being replaced by another...christianity, is being replaced by islam.
Atheists and reason, may be a significant catalyst for change, but we are doing a very poor job of supporting these people during this fundamental change/enlightenment. The needs of this growing population of disenfranchised spiritually inclined people, is not being met by the present atheistic environment. These people, with this deeply ingrained need for meaning and belonging, are searching for comforting answers that fill the voids that correct reasoning have opened. We as atheists, are not fulfilling their needs...we are failing these people. We have to be able to support these people in an understanding and empathetic way, while upholding the virtues of reason and its truths. It is one thing to point out their failure in reason...yet another, to hold their hand while reality sets in...which is also our responsibility.
We need to do better.
Any suggestions on how we can achieve this, would be greatly appreciated.
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I'm afraid I disagree ….
" I believe one faith is being replaced by another...Christianity, is being replaced by Islam. " …..
Granted …. but then why not "chip away" at Islam too …
" we are doing a very poor job of supporting these people during this fundamental change/enlightenment." …
Is it our responsibility to support them ??
I'm not sure it is …..
"We have to be able to support these people in an understanding and empathetic way" …
No..... we don't ….. we really don't..
Just my opinion..... you understand...… but you did ask.
If our actions have a byproduct that has concurrent effect on others, I think responsibility is warranted...so support should be considered, IMHO.
Especially, if these people are suffering from changes in their belief system that causes stress to them...or are indecisive in their consideration of new belief adoption.
As mostly a realism based secular humanitarian group we should care about others.
doG, when I read your OP, I heard, “We are our brothers’ keepers.”
Do I agree? Yes, and no. Yes, in that we live in a society and, IMO, are obligated to act responsibly in that membership. No, in that another’s decisions belong to them and as long as those decisions do not result in actions that damage another, we have no obligation to inject ourselves in them.
That being said, I sure don’t think treating someone like shit with whom I disagree is at all effective in demonstrating alternative ways of thinking. If this is one of your points, I fully agree with it.
If our actions have a byproduct that has concurrent effect on others, I think responsibility is warranted...so support should be considered, IMHO. I only talk of support for fellow species who may be having trouble with adaptation for issues they may have with the enlightenment we as atheists have initiated.
@doG: Don't be so sure....
Islam's rise appears to be largely due to unrestricted and encouraged birth rates and not conversion rates. Most modern believers are not much different than moderate Christians. Islam has a problem in that about 30% (from all I have read) are in fact extremists. (Extremist defined as people believing that shariah law should be the law of the land. People who want to live in a theocracy.) This is a very large group; however , it is not the majority.
Atheism on the other hand is growing at twice the rate of any religion and it is having an impact on Islamic youth. The Islamic young are not as restricted by their governments as many would like to believe. They do have access to the internet. They do have access to the debates, books, and information being spread by modern non-believers.
Finally, you must understand the fact that there are a whole lot of people in Islam who do not believe. These people still do their prayers 3 to 5 times a day. Still follow all the norms of the culture. And they KEEP THEIR DAMN HEADS DOWN LESS THEY LOSE THEM. As an analogy, look at the things that happen to Atheist families who come out as atheist in the Bible Belt. We may not imprison them for their lack of belief; however, not going along with the program can have some severe consequences.
I could not disagree more.
The Clergy Project
Freedom From Religion Foundation]
Atheist Alliance International
American Humanist Association
Center for Inquiry
Secular Student Aliance
Secular Coalition America
International Humanists and Ethical Union
Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers
League of Militant Atheists
Atheist Foundation of Australia
Brazilian Association of Atheists
International League of Non-religious
Union of Rational Atheists
Rational Response Squad
The Atheist Agenda
The Atheist Experience
Ex Muslims of North America
Recovering From Religion
American Humanist Association
Conway Hall Ethical Society
Maharashtra Rationalist Association
Mouvement laïque québécois
German Freethinkers League
Free-thinking Democratic League
Foundation Beyond Belief
North Texas Church of Freethought
Office for Science and Society
Rationalist Association of New South Wales
Union of Freethinkers of Finland
Young Humanists International
These are just some of the Major groups that can be located easily on the internet. If you really think that not enough is being done, START YOUR OWN GROUP. It's easy. MEET UP -
This is so easy that you could begin your new group in just seven days. Just place the add this week for next week and see who shows up. You don't even need any direction. That could be what you talk about in your first group meeting. All you need is one or two committed people and your group is off and running. If you think more should be done ---- STOP TALKING ABOUT IT AND DO IT.
NEED I GO INTO ALL THE TOP SELLING BOOKS?
I am asking for ideas for support for people that are considering atheism. One issue in particular being the loss of meaning in life. Having encountered this myself and witnessed it a multitude of times on these boards alone, I feel we could improve by having an empathetic and more caring overall answer for this group...and others...presently I don't know what to tell them that won't instill fear in them...which is not unlike fear they are leaving in consideration.
@doG: In that case you might want to post any position or expression made by a theist who converted and see how other atheists respond to it. I have not seen much, if anything, that I have had difficulty responding to.