Subject: Introduction to Atheism

Agnosticism

This lecture will attempt to engage the topic of agnosticism, its definition, its history, its relation to atheism, the various stances embraced by agnostics, and end with an extended quote by one of its most famous proponents, Robert Ingersoll, called the “Great Agnostic.” I am most indebted to Robin Le Poidevin’s Agnosticism, and Bernard Lightman’s The Origins of Agnosticism. Le Poidevin’s volume was indispensible, not only for its facts, but for the keen insights which helped create this lecture. My talk owes a great deal to the Van A. Harvey’s and Aaron Holland’s essays on Agnosticism, as well. Before I discuss the history of agnosticism, I am going to open with a broad definition of the term, as well as with the general meanings of atheism, deism, skepticism and theism. There are many definitions of each term and but I am setting very wide perimeters in order to keep the various categories clear, rather than engaging

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Indian Atheism

India is known for its varied spiritual traditions, but there is a very strong naturalist tradition in that country, as well.  In this lecture I shall be discussing naturalism versus theism, the concepts of karma, reincarnation and moksha, and some of the ancient atheistic thinkers and schools in India.  My final and most important focus will be on the ancient school of thinkers, known as Carvaka and Lokayata, at their height in the 5th and 6th Centuries BCE, who exemplified the naturalist tradition of India.  They were, according to Lavanan, the foremost materialistic philosophers of ancient India.  Lavanan is the director of the Atheist Center in India. While some other thinkers, religious groups and sects embraced either outright atheism or some form of atheism, very few schools rejected belief in some sort of karma.  We have already discussed karma from a Buddhist and general Eastern point of view in a previous lecture

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Atheist Websites

There are a great many atheist websites and blogs on the internet. Meetup alone carries 545 atheist Meetups whose memberships vary from two to several hundred. Websites can focus on local or regional concerns. The focus of this list is on websites that address atheist issues on a broader scale. Atheist Scholar plans to add to this list over time. For an idea of the number of atheist web sites available, see the Huge List of Atheist Websites on the Atheism United wiki. When we use quote marks the text is coming directly from the website. Without quote marks the text is our summary of the site. Secular Support Recovering From Religion Secular Therapist Project, Atheist Youth Secular Student Alliance Camp Quest Addiction Recovery Two best known secular recovery from addiction groups, Lifering and Secular Organizations for Sobriety Secular Celebrations and Celebrants Sunday Assemblies Humanist Chaplaincies Secular CelebrantsAmerican Atheists http://www.atheists.org “Since 1963, American Atheists

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Atheist Activism

The 21st Century has seen the rise of the New Atheism, which has had an energizing and beneficial effect on the atheist community, not only on morale, but on the numbers of new members to swell our numbers and influence.  The term New Atheism putatively had its origin in the November 6, 2006 Wired Magazine article about what the writer believed was a completely new secular movement.  In the present day, five important authors are known to have advanced the cause of atheism.  They are Sam Harris, The End of Faith, (2004;) Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, (2006;) Daniel C. Dennett , Breaking the Spell, (2006;) Christopher Hitchens, God is not Great,( 2007;) and Victor J. Stenger, How Science Shows that God Does Not Exist, (2007.) They are the originators of the New Atheism, with Harris, Dawkins, Dennet, and Hitchens also labeled as The Four Horsemen. The New Atheists believe that scientific discovery has advanced so greatly, that

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Atheist Demographics

Finding an estimate for the number of atheists during our colonial period is very difficult. But naming disbelievers, agnostics and deists as identified by their words is easier. We only need to think of Thomas Jefferson for a beginning. (Please consult Atheism and the Law on this web site.) There were many religious denominations in the colonial period, but attendance at best estimates was four percent of the population. In the present day, at least two out of three citizens identify with a denomination. Congregations at that time were few and far between.  Commerce was the driving force that held the most common bond. Making a living, or sustaining oneself in any fashion, demanded a great deal of energy and required tolerance and cooperation.  Some of the unaffiliated could have been unbelievers but there were no statistical gatherings at that time.[1] Today who are the atheists? What are their major

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Introduction to Atheist Studies

In 2007, the World Fact Book of the United States stated that there were an estimated 157,529,444 people worldwide who were atheists.  Translated to the current population statistics, there would be about 170, 088, 267 atheists in the world today.  Approximately 16% to 20% of Americans do not identify with a particular religion.  Of that group around 2/3 identify themselves as secular, agnostic, or post-atheist (indifferent to theist propositions.) (See Atheist Demographics) In the United States around the 1900’s there were a few thousand avowed atheists.  Today there are a few million.  The time of atheism has come of age.  Atheists desire not only activism and community with others of like mind, but knowledge of our history, our value and philosophical systems, and our life stance, based on science and rationality.  Freethinkers need to take their place politically, intellectually and socially. Atheists have a proud and defiant history; their successful future is unfolding. 

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What is Atheism?

Atheism eliminates the need for intermediary aid to interpret the world for us and to make prescriptive demands for moral and ethical practices based on supernatural and superstitious premises.  Atheists have made up their minds there is no god, no heaven, no immortal soul that lives on after death and therefore no punishment or reward in an imaginary afterlife. Atheists are both intelligent and brave.  They are intelligent for having thought their way out of a false religious concept in which our American culture is saturated and brave because of the social penalties exacted by a religious society on non-believer. There is a premise that atheism is not a philosophy, that it is simply not a belief in god.  That is true.  But why should atheists stop with that designation and define atheism with one more negative? Theists denigrate us by attempting to characterize atheists as immoral, unhappy, and adrift.  Such obstructionist

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