Well, all this is interesting to me, anyway, and that's what matters here. The Internet is a terrible thing for someone like me, who finds almost everything interesting.
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Non-religious voters decided the election?
I'm not surprised that 70% of non-religious Americans voted for Barack Obama. In fact, I'm surprised it wasn't higher. Although there are conservative atheists, I suspect that this is a natural result of being evidence-based, rather than faith-based.
Of course, most of those people probably don't call themselves atheists. Even Cenk Uygur calls himself an agnostic. (Note that being an agnostic doesn't keep you from being an atheist, too - I'm both, myself - but many agnostics do use the term as a replacement for the 'atheist' label.)
Many others, as Cenk* points out, call themselves 'spiritual' - and might even believe in a god, like the deists among our Founding Fathers - but reject specific religions. (I suspect that most of these people are headed in the right direction, but just can't make that final step.)
But the non-religious are a huge and growing minority in America. Even atheists and agnostics, as a subset of this group, are larger than Jews and Muslims combined - and larger than Mormons and Seventh-Day Adventists combined, too (in fact, we're nearly as large as all four of them put together).
(Note that that Pew Research survey was taken more than five years ago, and the specifically non-religious part of "unaffiliated" was only about ten percent of the population then. But from what I've seen elsewhere, that number has been growing strongly, especially among the young.)
So it is funny how little attention is paid to us, isn't it? Both political parties try to appeal to other minorities, but they shun us non-believers like the plague. Well, we tend to be actively hated by believers. Even when the faith-based are tolerant of religious beliefs that completely contradict their own, they tend to be bitterly opposed to people who don't see a good reason to believe any of it.
Still, you'd think that the media would pay some attention to us (other than Fox 'News' blaming atheists, among others, for all the sins of the world). Of course, the media didn't pay any attention to gay people, either, before they came out of the closet. And for one reason or another, most atheists aren't eager to advertise their disbelief. (Here's one example.)
I do disagree with Cenk about one thing, though. Well, a couple of things, actually. First, not believing in a god implies nothing else about our beliefs when it comes to politics or economics. OK, I suppose we'd all oppose a theocracy, and that's probably why 70% of us voted against the Republican candidate. But it doesn't imply anything else.
I wish it did. I wish that being a non-believer meant, inevitably, that you were evidence-based, not faith-based. But despite my comments at the beginning of this post, that's probably a stretch. And even if it were true, there's still plenty of room for reasonable people to disagree. Just because today's Republican Party is batshit crazy, that doesn't mean that all conservative thinking necessarily has to be crazy. (It just seems that way.)
But more importantly, I disagree that we non-believers should be an "organized voting block," as Cenk suggests. Partly, that's because, as I said above, non-belief doesn't imply anything but non-belief. (If he'd said that evidence-based people should form a voting block, I'd be more in favor of that, but it would still be difficult.) And partly, it's because we're not just a minority, we're a hated minority.
But mostly, I oppose forming a non-believer voting block for the same reason I oppose Christian voting blocks or Muslim voting blocks. I believe in the separation of church and state. Your religious beliefs should have nothing to do with your political affiliation, and that applies just as much to non-belief as to any other religious belief.
Sure, we non-believers will naturally tend to oppose theocracies. We do tend to support - strongly support - the separation of church and state. But so do many religious believers - and for the exact same reasons we do. The separation of church and state is not an 'atheist issue.' After all, Thomas Jefferson's "wall of separation" letter was written in response to the concerns of Baptists.
No, I really don't want America's political landscape to be fragmented on the basis of religion. If you think about it, there's almost nothing less American than that. That's not the American way.
*PS. Should I be referring to Cenk Uygur by his first name? And Ana Kasparian, too? It's funny, but I just realized that I do that with both of them, but with hardly anyone else. I don't know. Maybe I've seen enough of these TYT video clips that they just feel like family. :)
I'm a skeptic. I think it makes sense to have reasons for what I believe, so I apportion my belief to the evidence. You're welcome to disagree. Please, tell me I'm wrong. I probably don't agree with anyone about everything. Why should disagreement be a problem? Check the Pages section below for series posts and links to book reviews and game posts, as well as contact info. I have varied interests, so there's a little bit of everything here. I encourage you to look around. - Bill
We've all heard that a million monkeys banging on a million typewriters will eventually reproduce the entire works of Shakespeare. Now, thanks to the Internet, we know this is not true. - Robert Wilensky
It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong - Richard Feynman
The general root of superstition is that men observe when things hit, and not when they miss, and commit to memory the one, and pass over the other. - Sir Francis Bacon
When a whole nation is roaring Patriotism at the top of its voice, I am fain to explore the cleanness of its hands and purity of its heart. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Speculation is perfectly all right, but if you stay there you've only founded a superstition. If you test it, you've started a science. - Hal Clement
No matter how many times a theory meets its tests successfully, there can be no certainty that it will not be overthrown by the next observation. This, then, is a cornerstone of modern natural philosophy. It makes no claim of attaining ultimate truth. In fact, the phrase "ultimate truth" becomes meaningless, because there is no way in which enough observations can be made to make truth certain and, therefore, "ultimate". - Isaac Asimov
The government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion. - Treaty of Tripoli, passed unanimously by the U.S. Senate and signed by President John Adams (1797)
I don't doubt the sincerity of dowsers, but even after we've demonstrated that they can't produce results that are any better than chance they'll still go away believing in their abilities... It is like the mother whose son is caught shoplifting on tape. She wonders why someone would want to frame her child by producing a fake video. - James Randi
During many ages there were witches. The Bible said so. The Bible commanded that they should not be allowed to live. Therefore the Church ... imprisoned, tortured, hanged, and burned whole hordes and armies of witches, and washed the Christian world clean with their foul blood. Then it was discovered that there was no such thing as witches, and never had been. One does not know whether to laugh or to cry. - Mark Twain
Aristotle maintained that women have fewer teeth than men; although he was twice married, it never occurred to him to verify this statement by examining his wives' mouths. - Bertrand Russell
A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything. - Friedrich Nietzsche
I have been thinking that I would make a proposition to my Republican friends... that if they will stop telling lies about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them. - Adlai E. Stevenson, Jr.
This is not about proof. Science does not use proof. We favor evidence, and the work consists largely of the slow accumulation of evidence in support of ideas, not magically potent proofs that establish an idea as unassailable. - PZ Myers
No, people don't expect government to solve all their problems. But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a slight change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life, and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all. - President Barack Obama
The formula was very simple: build this really flexible, really open economy, tolerate creative destruction so dead capital is quickly redeployed to better ideas and companies, pour into it the most diverse, smart and energetic immigrants from every corner of the world and then stir and repeat, stir and repeat, stir and repeat, stir and repeat. - Shekhar Gupta
We are prodding, challenging, seeking contradictions or small, persistent residual errors, proposing alternative explanations, encouraging heresy. We give our highest rewards to those who convincingly disprove established beliefs. - Carl Sagan
We are all atheists about most of the gods that societies have ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further. - Richard Dawkins
120 million of us place the big bang 2,500 years after the Babylonians and Sumerians learned to brew beer. - Sam Harris
To kill a man is not to defend a doctrine, but to kill a man. - Michael Servetus, burned at the stake in 1553
Democracy is not about majority rule; it is about minority rights. If there is no culture of not simply tolerating minorities, but actually treating them with equal rights, real democracy can't take root. - Thomas L. Friedman
We cannot absolutely prove that those are in error who tell us that society has reached a turning point, that we have seen our best days. But so said all who came before us and with just as much apparent reason. - Thomas Macauley, 1830
It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can stop him from lynching me, and I think that's pretty important. - Martin Luther King, Jr.
We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven into an age of unreason if we dig deep into our history and remember we are not descended from fearful men. - Edward R. Murrow
The deepest sin against the human mind is to believe things without evidence. Science is simply common sense at its best - that is, rigidly accurate in observation, and merciless to fallacy in logic. - Thomas Huxley
There is no absurdity so obvious that it cannot be firmly planted in the human head if you only begin to impose it before the age of five, by constantly repeating it with an air of great solemnity. - Arthur Schopenhauer
Because religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person's life, freedom of religion affects every individual. ... Erecting the "wall of separation between church and state," therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society. - President Thomas Jefferson
To be elected in America, no matter from what party, the candidates have no choice but to year after year pledge to lower taxes further and further. We have become the nation of Ken and Barbie, looking good but very poor at the math. - Rack Jite
Invisible Pink Unicorns are beings of great spiritual power. We know this because they are capable of being invisible and pink at the same time. Like all religions, the Faith of the Invisible Pink Unicorns is based upon both logic and faith. We have faith that they are pink; we logically know that they are invisible because we can't see them. - Steve Eley
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