[FoRK] Marketing atheism? No, thanks. (was: Brownback defines science)

Russell Turpin <deafbox at hotmail.com> on Fri Jun 1 15:56:56 PDT 2007

Lion Kimbro writes:
>That means you've got to study what's wrong with your message,
>listen to what people are hearing from y'all, and re-envisioning your 

Kimbro's spiel -- of which the above is a mercifully short snippet
-- assumes that there is some atheist program that I want people to
join, follow, and act upon.

There isn't.

It makes no more sense to market the kind of atheism I would like to
see, than it does to market Euclidean geometry or how to read a map.
People become the kind of atheist I hope more become when they are
able to look at religion with studied eyes, able to set aside their
childish programming, and recognize it is all nonsense. That doesn't
happen through better marketing.

None of the marketed messages that include some anti-theological
component are anything I want to see spread. Programs like Marxism
and Objectivism are just ideologies that swap fantasies of god for
fantasies of historical law or fantasies of man qua man, disguised as
True Philosophy, the Logos that will finally set you free, but that
actually traps you in yet another movement.

I have no interest in getting more people to believe there are no
gods for the same reasons they believe in Jesus, because their parents
and church taught them that, because they fell among a group of
believers in school, because they had a conversion experience, etc.
I would like to see more people start to realize that the beliefs they
so gained, whether in Jesus or Allah or Natural Rights or the Oneness
of the Universe, are all a tissue of fantasy. That will happen in only
a minority of cases. It cannot be forced.

What I want to increase can't be increased through marketing. It won't
help to find better leaders. It is just the intellectual journey that
each individual makes. Or more often, fails to make. About the only
social program I can imagine that would increase the kind of atheism
I want to see would be to push more and deeper courses in science,
history, and logic, and to somehow design schools that better jar
teenagers ties to the ideologies of their parents and peer groups. But
I don't know how to do that. Or how much it would help. The chimpanzee
need to belong is strong, and the human use of ideology to reinforce
group cohesiveness likely goes far back in our past.

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