Atheism, Secular Humanism, and the Rise of the Nones
According to public-opinion surveys by the Pew Research Center, the percentage of Americans who are religiously unaffiliated — describing themselves as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” (the Nones) — jumped more than 6 percentage points, from 16.1 percent to 22.8 percent, between 2007 and 2014. And the trend continues.
This increase has been was across all generations — 2 percentage points among the Silent Generation (born 1928-1945); 3 points for Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964); 4 points for Generation X (born 1965-1980); 9 points for older Millennials (born 1981-1989).
The Nones refer to themselves variously as atheists, agnostics, skeptics, freethinkers and, of course, secular humanists.
By definition, atheists are people who have determined — through the use of reason — that there is no evidence for the existence of a god and therefore no good reason to waste time worshipping one. Atheism is a conclusion about the world — and not, as the religious right would have it, a competing religion. Atheists don’t believe in a god. Atheists have no dogma to follow. Atheists’ ethical principles are not dictated by a holy book of specious origin, or by what self-serving theologians tell them to think. Atheists’ moral principles are arrived at through reason. So despite what the religious right would have us believe, atheists are not — by definition or by their nature — immoral or nihilistic.
A secular humanist is an atheist who follows the Golden Rule (something that can’t be said about many Christians). Once again, the religious right would have us believe that secular humanism is a competing religion. But although it has its principles, secular humanism does not make obedience to them contingent on the will of a Great Arbiter in the Sky. A good definition of secular humanism is provided by the Council for Secular Humanism.
FASHA Past President Richard E. Wackrow is the author of two books: Beginner’s Guide to Blasphemy (2016) and Who’s Winning the War on Terror (2012).
He writes about subjects of interest to atheists and secular humanists in newspapers across Montana. And he is regular contributor to Daily Kos:
Welcome to the War on Christmas, Year 59
It’s Time to Give Blasphemy the Respect it Deserves
Why Are the Religious Entitled to Special Treatment?
How the Election of Donald Trump Defined True Christianity
“Religious Freedom”: A Euphemism for Our Times
Better Without God
Theodicy: Making Excuses for God
Nothing Fails Like Prayer
Are Religion and Science Compatible?
Is Secular Humanism Really a Religion?
Why Are Atheists Excluded from the “COEXIST” Club?
He has had major articles about the war on terror and airport security published in Skeptical Inquirer and Skeptic magazines.
E.B. “Doc” Eiselein is FASHA’s resident expert on religion.
He earned his Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Arizona. His has worked as an applied media anthropologist in the private sector, and serves as an adjunct instructor and continuing-education instructor at Flathead Valley Community College in Kalispell. Doc is the author of two books: A Very Short Introduction to the Origins of Language and Religion and The Origins of Language and Religion. Both of these may be purchased directly from him at any FASHA meeting.
He is a prolific contributor to Daily Kos (under the byline Ojibwa) on a wide variety of subjects, including religion and Native American culture. Here are links to just some of his Daily Kos columns dealing with religion:
International Blasphemy Rights Day, 2017
Agnosticism: Street Prophets Coffee Hour
History 101: An Eighteenth Century Atheist
International Blasphemy Rights Day, 2015
Jesus on Toast
Origins of English: Theism, Deism, Atheism, and More
Religious Respect: Street Prophets Sunday
Religion 101: Christian Icons (Photo Diary)
Religion 101: Atheism
Religion 101: Blasphemy
Religion 101: Ceremonies and Experiences
Religion 101: Creation Science and Intelligent Design
Religion 101: Deism
Religion 101: Good Without God (Book Review)
Religion 101: Heresy
Religion 101: Humanism
Religion 101: Orthodox Christian Icons (Photo Diary)
Religion 101: Religion and Ancient Civilizations
Religion 101: Rites of Passage
Religion 101: The Idea of an Afterlife
Religion 101: What is Comparative Religion?
Religion 101: Zoroaster’s Vision