Sunday, January 20, 2008

Strong atheists prepare for battle against religion

"Strong atheists prepare for battle against religion
Atheism is an increasingly stronger and well organized participant in the political debate in the Western world. This in particular, is due to that Atheists generally have better education and are more involved in politics.

By Morten Rasmussen and Sidsel Nyholm

With conferences, professional debaters and political backing Atheism has in few years become a professional participant in the discussion about science, religion and politics. In Denmark, Ateistisk Selskab experienced an annual doubling of its membership, so the organisation now has 750 members. In Sweden, Riksdagen [the parliament] is discussing a bill about state funding of the Swedish atheists in Humanisterna, that today amounts to 4200 persons and every day get another 10 nye members. In Norway the non-religious Human-Etisk Forbund already state funded and with its 67.000 members [72.000 as of 2008] it is only to be surpassed by the Norwegian [state]church.

In the book "Gudløs"["Godless"], that will soon be out, the religion sociologist Peter Lüchau, at the University of Copenhagen, has taken a closer look at how the atheists scored in a large European value survey. According to him it is in particular the profile of the atheists, that has gained them a lot of ground in the debate in the western world.
– Atheists are not ordinary people. Statistics show that they have a higher level of education, are more left oriented and are clearly more poltically active than the average European. They are used to act when they are not satisfied, and in particular, they have the resources and ability to get in the media, says Peter Lüchau.
Outspoken atheists like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris have additionally put their mark on the bestseller lists with their books, that with titles like "The God Delusion" and "The End of Faith" directly attack religion. And with increasing media coverage follows a growing interest, says Morten Warmind, religion sociologist at the University of Copenhagen.
– If you send a TV programme about making candles, more people will start to make candles. And as religion generally fills more debate, it's a natural consequence that atheism also appear in the media and thereby creates more interest, says Morten Warmind and stresses that the increasingly professional atheism corresponds with a growing religiosity.

–The debate on religion has become more polarized during the last few years. It means that there's suddenly an involvement among people whom earlier only had an interest for the subject, but wasn't organized according to their values and outlook. And this goes for both camps, says Morten Warmind.
In an interview with Kristeligt Dagblad today, one of the world's most prominent atheists, Richard Dawkins, is still bent on a direct confrontation with religion.
– I don't care about the non-believers who try to play around with liberal clergy and say that "It doesn't matter all that much, if we believe in God or not, as long as we're all happy and jolly together", he says and urges the world's "closet atheists" to stand up and be counted.

Kristeligt Dagblad, 05. jan 2008

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