The last word on religion and atheism

So is religiosity on the increase, or is it shrinking on a global scale?

I suppose in the end there’s no real scientific way to measure this, but it’s interesting that at Easter the numbers get rolled out to justify either side of the argument.

Tapu Misa’s column in the New Zealand Herald today makes the claim that the number of believers across all faiths is growing and that secularism is on the decline.

Of the world’s 6.8 billion people, 2.3 billion are Christians, 1.57 billion are Muslims, 800 million are Hindus, and 600 million are Buddhists. [Religion undergoing startling resurrection]

But Tapu does admit that secularism is on the rise in the West and it is this news which motivates fundamentalists like the Anglican archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, to claim that atheism is a form of idolatry.

Yeah, exactly: “What?”

Dr Jensen said in his Good Friday sermon at Sydney’s St Andrew’s Cathedral that atheism was a form idolatry.

“As we can see by the sheer passion and virulence of the atheist – they seem to hate the Christian God – we are not dealing here with cool philosophy up against faith without a brain,” Dr Jensen told worshippers.

“Atheism is every bit of a religious commitment as Christianity itself.

“It represents the latest version of the human assault on God, born out of resentment that we do not in fact rule the world and that God calls on us to submit our lives to him.

“It is a form of idolatry in which we worship ourselves.”

Cardinal Pell of St Mary’s Cathedral delivered a similar attack on atheism in his Easter message yesterday. He praised government organisations “paid for by the Christian majority” for helping make the Australian way of life the envy of the world, but noted that atheists sponsored no community services.

The new Catholic Bishop of Parramatta, in Sydney’s west, Anthony Fisher, continued the attack in his Easter message.

“Last century we tried godlessness on a grand scale and the effects were devastating: Nazism, Stalinism, Pol Pot-ery, mass murder, abortion and broken relationships – all promoted by state-imposed atheism,” he said. [Believers who hate god]

Sorry Cardinal Pell, you nasty piece of swaddled lunacy, but many community services are non-religious. You think you have a monopoly on charity. Damn you, you self-righteous and idolatrous wanker.

Oh, OK, the same crap arguments about religion and ethics. We’ve had this conversation.

Time to move on.

There is a website devoted to calculating which is the world’s fasted growing religion – it’s actually Zorastrianism, but from a small base. Fastest Growing Religion

However, other data suggests that agnosticism and atheism is growing, particularly in the USA.

A study done by the Graduate Center of the City University of New York found that the percentage of the population that describes itself as “nonreligious” more than doubled from 1990 to 2001, from 14.3 million to 29.4 million people. The only other group to show growth was Muslims. . .
A study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that 16 percent of Americans (about 35 million) consider themselves “unaffiliated” — a category that includes “unaffiliated believers,” “secularists” and atheists/agnostics.
The latter terms — atheists and agnostics — are lumped together, says Green, because they share so many similarities. But there is a subtle difference: Atheists forthrightly affirm that there is no God; agnostics simply say as humans we can never know. Together, they constitute about 3 percent of the American population. [In the Agora]

And I like this site, which exposes religious discrimination against secularists and atheists.

The survey here from 2008, give me hope too.

You see, like all questions around religion, there is a challenge to orthodoxy around every corner.

2 Responses to The last word on religion and atheism

  1. Debra Hunt says:

    Why are atheists offended at being accused of idolatry? Idolatry is something that God tells people not to do, and if you don’t believe in God, why care if you break that law?
    I guess all Dr Jensen was trying to say was that atheists, like religious people, and like all people, can’t prove absolutely that they are right.
    So there is a degree of faith there, even for atheists.

  2. Godlessons says:

    @Debra – I’m not worried about being called an idolater, mainly because I worship nothing. On the other hand, all religions worship idols. Any time you feel admiration or devotion to anything, you worship it. If you were not an idol worshiper, you would have no problem with me putting a bible in the toilet and having a bowel movement on it. What about a cross? You fool yourself when you think you don’t worship idols.

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