Many people who either cannot see evidence for the existence of gods or are convinced that gods do not exist (there’s a difference) keep to themselves and never speak of it, watching in bemusement as their loved ones structure their twenty-first century lives according to the words of pre-scientific Bronze Age nomads and shepherds.
Or perhaps they haven’t given much thought to their position on the supernatural — or are frightened for one reason or another — so when asked their beliefs, they’ll write or say the same thing as their family. In some cases this can be an act of self-preservation, as much of the world does not enjoy religious freedom (yet) and can be punished severely. However, for most in the West this normally revolves around our relationships with family, friends and colleagues.
Wherever you live, the unfortunate result of this passive acquiescence is that governments and organisations with a strong religious ideology are then able to claim that the percentage of religious believers is far higher than is actually true (this can be skewed further by families with a domineering religious parent, or parents who take their babies to be christened or equivalent). Religious Tolerance states that, as of 2000, one-third of the world’s population is Christian, 19.6% is Muslim, 13.4% is Hindu, 12.7% are non-religious, and has atheism at 2.5%. They state that non-religious includes those with “no formal, organized religion include agnostics, freethinkers, humanists, secularists, etc” but clearly consider atheists to be a separate category. I think this is misguided at best — I consider myself a Secular Humanist (i.e. humanist), which is very much an atheist world view. One could also say that non-theists (i.e. all those without religion) are 15.2% of the world population, and thus the third-largest group, but that wouldn’t be entirely accurate, either.
So with all these statistical fun and games taking place from the school classroom to the highest seats of government power, isn’t it time we stood up to be counted?
Funny you should ask! Next week is the start of the ‘A’ Week on Facebook campaign (29 March to 6 April, 2010), hence the scarlet letter ‘A’ image at the top of this post. From the campaign’s front page:
Good without God? Imagine Facebook with ‘A’s all across the site showing the world is full of people who are ‘good without God‘ and don’t need religion to influence their lives. Imagine the awareness we can raise during ‘A’ Week On Facebook if 1,000s of people take part. Imagine… you can be a part of making a difference…
Details on how to go about joining this campaign can be found at its website:
Simply follow the recommended steps, then you’re good to go!
In the past I’ve been reticent to connect myself with groups such as the Out Campaign, as I consider many of them to be too aggressive to otherwise normal people who just happen to believe in a sky fairy. However, in this case I think the value of a worldwide Facebook atheist awareness campaign outweighs any differences I may have. So those who know me on Facebook can see that my profile picture is now showing the scarlet letter in support of the campaign.
Perhaps this will put paid to the oft-quoted fallacy that atheists are a tiny but vocal minority.
I hope you’ll consider joining the campaign, and look forward to a week of increasing the general public’s awareness of atheists and atheism by showing that:
- It’s okay to be atheist
- It’s okay to let others know you’re atheist
- We’re not all aggressive iconoclasts
- We don’t hate everyone
- We’re not all “angry at God” or “punishing God” for something
- Not all of us reached this point after a traumatic event
- Not all of us insist your unexplained events are hallucination or mental illness
For most of us, atheism is simply a logical process held up to the light and examined critically.
Now imagine my surprise and delight to discover that someone has taken Still Alive and turned it into a brilliant science education and anti-Creationism video:
How cool is that? It made me laugh, I can tell you. My congratulations to the mixer/masher from whose mind this sprung.