Appreciation

If you’re interested, check out my interview with the New Republic in a piece called, “The Atheist’s Guide to Christmas.” I’m very grateful that they gave me the opportunity to speak about this topic, which never would have been up for discussion ten years ago.

Religion is loosening its grip here in America–even in places like Texas–thanks in large part to people like you and me speaking up about our lack of faith, writing about losing our religion and raising our kids without it. Every time we speak up and say, “I don’t believe in god,” we desensitize believers. We change the perception of what it means not to believe in god.  When we come out to family, friends and neighbors, people who once thought of us as “good Christians,” we prove that there is no link between belief and morality.

No discovery, no invention, no movement is the act of a single person.  It is years of building upon the discoveries and actions and ideas of previous generations. In the case of a social movement, it takes millions of people changing their attitudes, actions and beliefs.  For secularism, it has included the work of scientists and historians and people who are willing to listen, read and make their own conclusions. According to the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI),  two recent surveys of Americans found these interesting religious trends:

Belief in the historical accuracy of the Christmas story in the Bible has dropped 18 percentage points during the last decade. In 2004, two-thirds (67%) of Americans said that the story of Christmas was historically accurate, compared to only 24% who said it was a theological story.

In 2004, only 13 percent of Americans believed the Bible was not the word of God but was written by men and  82 percent believed that the Bible is the word of God.  A 2013 survey found that 30 percent of Americans now believe that the Bible is not the word of God but a book written by men and 63 percent believe that the Bible is the word of God.

Americans are questioning the veracity of what they’ve been told and of what they are reading in the Bible. Many of the people surveyed still believe in God, but now they are questioning the facts of their religion. Once believers start turning away from church, it is a lot easier to turn from God. At the very least, there will be more understanding between those who still believe and those who do not as people come realize that the Bible does not hold the facts, that God is just wishful thinking.

The loud and proud Evangelicals have also experienced a sharp decline in numbers over the last ten years, and indeed, appear to be part of a dying church. With the rise of the nones and their exodus out of the church, with the lack of faith in so many young adults and with the children you and I are bringing up as atheists, agnostics and freethinkers, religion is unraveling at the seams.

Some say Christianity will experience a resurgence, but they, of course, are hopeful Christians. It is more likely that religion will hang on like a loose tooth and that a segment of our population will remain devout, but that most of us will lose religion and belief all together. Our humanness, rather than our disparate beliefs in the god narrative, will unite us.

You and I and our friends who believe as we do are making rapid social changes. We are bringing a lot of different faces to atheism—not just white academics—but women and men and young people of all shapes, sizes and colors. We are taking this movement mainstream.

Thank you for walking with me and for being part of this change. I appreciate all the conversations we’ve had, the guest posts and the links you’ve shared with me.

Have safe and happy Christmas and New Year’s celebrations. Talk to you next year!

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31 responses to “Appreciation

  1. Today is Festivus, and Debbie gave us an early present!

    YAY!

    I sincerely hope everyone enjoys whatever celebrations you enact, and that your families are happy and safe.

    I’m already cooking!

    • Thanks, Derrick! You would, no doubt, be the official chef of the atheist movement. Can you come up with heavenly treats for the godless?!!

      • Ooohhh! A cooking challenge! I will get right on that. I am thinking something light, bright, and full of goodness without being overbearing or unnecessary complicated. Ideas are already percolating!

      • Thanks Deb! Although I am not on a day-to-day basis fighting your fights and attending your battles, I honestly believe that spreading of sanity is a group effort and a global one.
        Happy Holidays to you and your loved-ones from a wintry country faraway.

  2. That “New Republic” interview turned out very well. Thanks for representing sanity. And best wishes to all.

  3. I recently read “12 Rooms on the Nile,” a fictitious account of Florence Nightingale meeting Gustave Flaubert in Egypt. What was accurately captured was the fact that Nightingale was a woman who wanted to DO something to help others and use her mind but her well-to-do family was offended by such ideas because in their society rich people didnt’ work. I’ve been thinking so much about this story because it really helped me to see that we are ‘victims’ of SOCIETY much much more than we realize. We cater and cave in to societal pressures about many things. By being an OUTSPOKEN atheist, I can buck the current societal trends and create a new normal. Alas, I don’t think I’ll ever do it with the finesse and style that you, Deborah:)

    • Hi Trishia, Sounds like an interesting book.

      What you said here is so true: “We cater and cave in to societal pressures about many things.” And the sad thing is that, even though I know it’s true, I will still cater and cave at times.

      You have plenty of finesse and style. You’re very kind, and I wish we could all meet and hang out….I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you on FB and on here!

      And I know why you have a cold! (Are you still rubbing that in!) ;)

  4. I’m so glad I found your blog this year, Deborah! I really enjoy it. And so excited for you with your new book!!! Awesome! I can’t wait to get it! Happy Holidays to you and yours. Peace and Joy ~

  5. No, thank YOU! Sincerely.

  6. “that you have,” —- I’ll blame my incomplete sentence on my cold/sinus infection:)

  7. Wishing you and your family a joyful week, Deb.

  8. Debbie, fellow blogger, ubi dubium, http://boldquestions.wordpress.com/ shared the following video with her readers and I felt it was appropriate for this post.

    so come out.
    you have been waiting long enough.
    you’re done with all the talk talk talk with nothing on the table.
    it’s time to come on out.
    there will be no sign from above.
    you’ll only hear the knock knock knock of your own heart as signal.

    if you are afraid, come out.
    if you are awake, come out.
    come out and level up.

    begin again.
    dynamite the dam on the flow.
    your body feels the tock tock tock of time as it hammers.
    lord we are all cinders
    from a fire burning long ago,
    but here it is the knock knock knock of your own heart that matters.

    if you are afraid, come forth.
    if you are alone, come forth now.
    everybody here has loved and lost,
    so level up and love again.

    call it any name you need.
    call it your 2.0, your rebirth, whatever –
    so long as you can feel it all,
    so long as all your doors are flung wide.
    call it your day no. 1 in the rest of forever.

    if you are afraid, give more.
    if you are alive, give more now.
    everybody here has seams and scars.
    so what. level up.

    let your faith die.
    bring your wonder.
    yes, you are only one.
    no, it is not enough
    but if you lift your eyes, I am your brother.
    and this is all we need.
    and this is where we start.
    this is the day we greet.
    this is the day, no other.

    (credits
    from Aims, released 24 September 2013
    Produced by Cason Cooley and Vienna Teng)

  9. I always hope that the behavior of the ‘loud and proud’ sort is similar to events in dog training. When training a difficult dog, one will seem to be making modest progress when suddenly the dog just become MORE of an issue than ever, often being utterly obnoxious and disobedient. Trainers say this means the dog finally KNOWS the unacceptable crap is not going to fly any longer and is just blowing out the stops before acknowledging the reality of how it will be; they call these flares of nasty “extinction events”.

    So, I keep hoping that all the violent outbursts against women, atheists, agnostics, and non-Christian traditions ARE similar — meaning that deep inside the deeply religiously delusional ‘We are right/you are damned’ crew is getting the message.

  10. @syrbal-labrys I love the insights you bring. As I was reading about “difficult dogs” it reminded me of my teenager. Similar behavior–he’s pulling out all of the stops. Maybe I can hope that these are “extinction events”?

    It makes sense for religion, though. Although it may not become completely extinct, a lot of the behaviors and attitudes will….Nice.

  11. Love this post, Deb! I’m so glad to have found your blog and gotten to know you. Happy Holidays!

  12. Appreciation for those that reason (like Deb), and in doing so shine a light for others to follow –

    In a world of complex and continuing problems, in a world full of frustrations and irritations, America’s leadership must be guided by the lights of learning and reason – or else those who confuse rhetoric with reality and the plausible with the possible will gain the popular ascendancy with their seemingly swift and simple solutions to every world problem.

    There will always be dissident voices heard in the land, expressing opposition without alternative, finding fault but never favor, perceiving gloom on every side and seeking influence without responsibility. Those voices are inevitable.

    But today other voices are heard in the land – voices preaching doctrines wholly unrelated to reality . . . At a time when the national debt is steadily being reduced in terms of its burden on our economy, they see that debt as the single greatest threat to our security. At a time when we are steadily reducing the number of Federal employees serving every thousand citizens, they fear those supposed hordes of civil servants far more than the actual hordes of opposing armies.

    We cannot expect that everyone, to use the phrase of a decade ago, will “talk sense to the American people.” But we can hope that fewer people will listen to nonsense. And the notion that this Nation is headed for defeat through deficit, or that strength is but a matter of slogans, is nothing but just plain nonsense.

    ~ JFK in undelivered speech

    Read more at http://www.prosebeforehos.com/article-of-the-day/12/23/jfk-tea-party/#kayYJdMMCXXe1IQ0.99

    • @LanceThruster Wow. That is powerful. Thank you for posting it.

      One of our fellow bloggers sent this quote to me from JFK’s Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961 . “Asking His help, and His blessing, but knowing that here on Earth, God’s work must truly be our own.” This is a great quote for the religious and nonreligious. We are, after all, in this together, no matter our beliefs about where we came from or where we are going.

  13. I often read your blog, but seldom leave a comment. But, I do enjoy your thoughtful posts.
    All the best to you and yours for a lovely Holiday Season!!

  14. I also enjoy reading your blog often, Deborah. Thanks for being a voice of sanity. Have a safe, peaceful and happy holiday season!

  15. I know that most Christians believe that God is a good and loving god, and wants people to do good things. I believe that most people want to do good things and behave morally. I also believe that many Christians haven’t really read the Bible, or just read certain passages in church. This is understandable, as the Bible is hard to read due to its archaic language and obscure references. Also many priests and preachers don’t like to read certain passages in the Bible because they present a message of hate not love.

  16. If there happens to be reincarnation, in my next life I would like to come back as your soul mate. I love the way your mind works. Happy New Year!

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