Atheism and groupthink

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The Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg was turned into a Temple of Reason by the Cult of Reason. See: Atheist cults

Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of individuals in which the quest for harmony/conformity within the group results in irrational and/or poor decision-making.

The atheist website Atheist Revolution declared about segments of the atheist population:

We've seen various cliques emerge, some of which have largely abandoned critical thinking for dogma. This mutual admiration society strikes me as being antithetical to free thought, as similar ideas are rewarded through promotion while diverse perspectives receive less attention. This sets the stage for a type of groupthink that runs counter to big tent atheism...

By elevating some in our movement to the level of celebrities, I fear we have cheapened it through irrational hero worship.[1]

The Shadow to Light Christian blog says about the atheist movement and groupthink:

...more and more of us are starting to view the atheist movement as being cult-like...

It is this irrational hero worship that not only prevents many within the atheist movement from criticizing people like Dawkins and Harris, but it causes them to behave in an overly protective and defensive manner of such leaders, especially when the criticism comes from a theist or accomodationist.

...what we have is a group of people drifting toward group think and hero worship, where a sense of belonging is maintained by erecting online gated communities from which to toss out rhetorical bombs at theists. Yet because this group is only unified by its admiration for its leaders and its hatred of religion, it takes very little to start some nasty infighting. Recognition of such problems is the first step in trying to correct them.[2]

The atheist Jerry Coyne said about atheist conferences which he attended:

But to me the speakers and talks have often seemed repetitive: the same crew of jet-set skeptics giving the same talks.

...a few things bothered me, most notably the air of self-congratulation (which I excused on the grounds of enthusiastic people finding like-minded folks for the first time), the “fanboyness” directed at some of the famous atheists (they hardly let poor Richard alone, and I’m not sure he liked that!), and the lameness of quite a few of the talks. Again, how much new can you say about atheism?[3]

The atheist columnist Galen Broaddus wrote about atheist groupthink:

...I am practically beside myself with rage at how many atheists in the movement have conducted themselves in particular over the past few weeks. These are largely people who openly castigate religious people for their credulity, for their lack of compassion, for their groupthink and wagon-circling — only to perfectly and completely obliviously act out those same behaviors.[4]

Atheist worldview

See also: Atheist worldview

Although many atheists deny that atheism is a worldview, atheists commonly share a number of beliefs such as naturalism, belief in evolution/abiogenesis.[5]

Atheist indoctrination

See also: Atheist indoctrination and Rebuttals to atheist arguments

Jewish columnist Dennis Prager has stated that a causal factor of atheism is the "secular indoctrination of a generation."[6] Prager stated that "From elementary school through graduate school, only one way of looking at the world – the secular – is presented. The typical individual in the Western world receives as secular an indoctrination as the typical European received a religious one in the Middle Ages."[7] See also: Atheism and critical thinking and Rebuttals to atheist arguments

In 2013, an study found that academia was less likely to hire evangelical Christians due to discriminatory attitudes.[8] See also: Atheism and intolerance

Atheists have focused considerable efforts on the public schools in order to indoctrinate young people into atheistic beliefs.[9][10]

Atheism and diversity

See also: Atheism and diversity

Homogeneous groups are more apt to engage in groupthink compared to diverse and harmonious groups (Diverse groups which engage in infighting due to member differences impede potential creativity benefits due to diversity).[11]

Atheism and geographic/cultural diversity

See also: Atheism and culture

The Bible has been translated into 518 languages and 2,798 languages have at least some portion of the Bible.[12] Charles Darwin's book The Origin of the Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life has merely been translated into 35 languages.[13]

The current atheist population mostly resides in East Asia (particularly China) and in secular Europe/Australia primarily among whites.[14] See: Western atheism and race

Contrastly, in terms of its geographic distribution, Christianity is the most globally diverse religion.[15]

Since World War II a majority of the most prominent and vocal defenders of the evolutionary position which employs methodological naturalism have been atheists and agnostics (see also: Causes of evolutionary belief).[16] Charles Darwin's evolutionary book The Origin of the Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life has been translated into 35 languages.[17]

The Bible has been translated into 518 languages and 2,798 languages have at least some portion of the Bible.[18] In addition, the Christian community is far more evangelistic than the atheist community and Christian missionaries are throughout the world.

Western atheism and gender diversity

See also: Atheism and women

The atheist and evolutionist PZ Myers giving a presentation to a group that is likely largely made up of white males.[19][20][21] In June of 2010, PZ Myers commented that atheist meetings tend to be significantly more attended by males.[22]

In 2016, Atheist Alliance International (AAI) conducted an annually reoccurring atheist census project and found: "At the time of writing, the Atheist Census Project recorded that on average worldwide 73.2% of respondents were male. The result is consistent with other research... As such, the focus of many scholarly papers has been on seeking to explain this persistent observation."[23]

In 2015, BloombergView reported concerning the United States: "According to a much-discussed 2012 report from the Pew Research Center on Religion and Public Life, ...women are 52 percent of the U.S. population but only 36 percent of atheists and agnostics.[24]

Western atheism and race

See also: Western atheism and race

In 2015, BloombergView reported concerning the United States:

According to a much-discussed 2012 report from the Pew Research Center on Religion and Public Life, only 3 percent of U.S. atheists and agnostics are black, 6 percent are Hispanic, and 4 percent are Asian. Some 82 percent are white. (The relevant figures for the population at large at the time of the survey were 66 percent white, 11 percent black, 15 percent Hispanic, 5 percent Asian.)

...Craig Keener, in his huge review of claims of miracles in a wide variety of cultures, concludes that routine rejection of the possibility of the supernatural represents an impulse that is deeply Eurocentric.[25]

Atheism as a nerd subset of the population

See also: Atheist nerds

As noted above, homogeneous populations are more apt to engage in groupthink.

In 2013, the atheist PZ Myers declared:

If we're going to expand our base and we're going to draw in more people to recognize the virtues of living in a secular world, we need to appeal to more than just that geek and nerd subset of the population. We need to have a wider base. ...I seriously believe that we're on the cusp of a crisis. We're not there yet but it's looming in front of us. Will we adapt and thrive and change the world? Or will we remain an avocation for a prosperous and largely irrelevant subset of the population? Will we become something more than a scattered society of internet nerds? That's what we have to do.[26]

In response, David Klinghoffer at Evolution News and Views wrote:

A crisis looms, in Myers's view, because he looks around himself and sees a not very promising basis for a mass movement. He's right. There is indeed a quality of geeky isolation from reality, common sense, and the fullness of life that I see as a motif in atheist and Darwin activism alike.[27]

Atheism/Christianity and personal wealth diversity

See: Atheism/Christianity and socioeconomic status diversity

Atheist factions, infighting and creativity loss

As noted above, infighting within populations/groups reduces creativity. Atheists engage in a significant amount of infighting - often for trivial reasons (See: Atheist factions).

Part of the reason for the significant amount of infighting is that much of the communication between atheists is over the internet and subject to internet flaming/miscommunication due the relative sparcity of local meetings compared to religious groups (see: Internet atheism).

Furthermore, the atheist population has a significant amount of individuals with poor social skills (see: Atheism and social/interpersonal intelligence).

Atheists and leftist politics

As far as politics, most atheists belong to the secular left (see: Atheism and politics).

According to the University of Cambridge, historically, the "most notable spread of atheism was achieved through the success of the 1917 Russian Revolution, which brought the Marxist-Leninists to power."[28] See: Atheism and communism

Although their indoctrination was rejected by many individuals, like all communist regimes, the Soviet Union employed a significant amount of atheist indoctrination.[29]

American atheists and politics

According to the Pew Forum, in the United States: "About two-thirds of atheists (69%) identify as Democrats (or lean in that direction), and a majority (56%) call themselves political liberals (compared with just one-in-ten who say they are conservatives).[30] A Harris interactive poll found that most American atheists are liberal.[31]

Chinese atheists and groupthink

With its large population, China has the largest population of atheists.[32][33]

According to China Daily, “One significant way Asian cultures differ from Western cultures is that they place group identity over individual identity. This factor limits the ability of Asians to think outside the box. “[34]

Eurozone crises, European economic stagnation and groupthink

See also: Eurozone Crisis

In 2014, the Pew Research Forum indicated that Europe will go from 11% of the world's population to 7% of the world's population by 2050.[35]

From a global perspective, Europe is more secular/atheistic than the rest of the world although it does have a considerable amount of religious immigrants who have higher birth rates (see: Secular Europe).

The Euro is a badly designed currency.[36]

A description of the book Eurozone Dystopia: Groupthink and Denial on a Grand Scale by Professor of Economics William Mitchell, states:

Eurozone Dystopia traces the origin of the Eurozone and shows ...the monetary system that is deeply flawed and destined to fail. It argues that the political class in Europe is trapped in a destructive groupthink which prevents it from seeing their own policy failures. Millions are unemployed as a result and the member states are caught in a cycle of persistent stagnation and rising social instability.[37]

Politico indicates about the Europe's economic problems:

What is dispiriting is that we ponder these arguments so infrequently. In fact, the minimal prerequisites for a working monetary union are not discussed upfront and transparently anywhere. With politicians focused on the median voter, and media that generate group-think, the eurozone muddles through, just barely surviving.[38]

James Lewis and Justine Aristea wrote at The American Thinker about the European politics and American Democrats copying the European model:

Europe is their model. Every batty new idea they have is copied from the glorious European Union. Twenty years ago they still celebrated the Soviet Union, until that house of cards crumbled. Now they have shifted their fantasy paradise to Europe.

Over there, fifty years of increasingly centralized control have made it impossible for voters to be heard. The political parties are stuck in GroupThink. Only the fascist "protest" parties agitate for reform. The ruling class doesn't listen. They don't have to -- they don't have to run for election.

So European voters fled to the fascists to express their rage and despair. Imagine one out of four US voters going for Lincoln Rockwell, and you get the idea.[39]

Reddit atheism, modern atheism and hateful groupthink

See also: Reddit atheism

The atheist website Nonprophetstatus.com declared concerning Reddit atheism:

Readers familiar with Reddit’s atheism community, r/atheism, may not be surprised to learn that I think it exemplifies many negative aspects of modern atheism — hatred, prejudice, and belief by cultural conformation rather than rational inquiry." [40] - Vlad Chituc at Nonprophetstatus.com

Atheist cults

See also: Atheist cults

Within the atheist religion, there are and have been a number of atheist cults and atheist groups which have had a cultish following. Some of these cults/groups still exist today. In 2015, FtBCon which is an online conference organized by the Freethought Blogs network, recognized that nonreligious/secular cults exist (for example, the atheist cult of objectivism).[41]

The atheist cults or atheist groups which have had a cultish following which have formed in history or exist today are often a result of factors such as: utopian thinking, fanatical devolution to various atheistic ideologies, a poor understanding of science/technology (or a penchant for materialist pseudoscientific thinking) and wishful thinking.

For a list of atheist cults and cults which has a sizable percentage of atheists, please see: Atheist cults

Richard Dawkins' cult of personality

See also: Richard Dawkins' cult of personality

On August 16, 2014, Andrew Brown wrote an article for The Spectator entitled The bizarre – and costly – cult of Richard Dawkins which declared:

...the Richard Dawkins website offers followers the chance to join the ‘Reason Circle’, which, like Dante’s Hell, is arranged in concentric circles. For $85 a month, you get discounts on his merchandise, and the chance to meet ‘Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science personalities’. Obviously that’s not enough to meet the man himself. For that you pay $210 a month — or $5,000 a year — for the chance to attend an event where he will speak...

But the $85 a month just touches the hem of rationality. After the neophyte passes through the successively more expensive ‘Darwin Circle’ and then the ‘Evolution Circle’, he attains the innermost circle, where for $100,000 a year or more he gets to have a private breakfast or lunch with Richard Dawkins, and a reserved table at an invitation-only circle event with ‘Richard’ as well as ‘all the benefits listed above’, so he still gets a discount on his Richard Dawkins T-shirt saying ‘Religion — together we can find a cure.’

The website suggests that donations of up to $500,000 a year will be accepted for the privilege of eating with him once a year: at this level of contribution you become a member of something called ‘The Magic of Reality Circle’. I don’t think any irony is intended.

At this point it is obvious to everyone except the participants that what we have here is a religion without the good bits.[42]

According to The Richest, "Richard Dawkins..has an estimated net worth of $135 million ($100 euro) according to the Sunday Times in 2012."[43]

Vox Day noted that the Richard Dawkins cult is similar to the cult of Scientology.[44] Dawkins was one of the founders of the New Atheism movement. The New Atheism movement, which has waned in recent years, was called a cult by the agnostic, journalist Bryan Appleyard in a 2012 article in the New Statesman in which he describes the abusive behavior of New Atheists.[45] Although the New Atheism movement does not perfectly fit the various characteristics of a cult, it does fit some of the characteristics.[46]

Waning influence of Richard Dawkins' cult of personality

The number of Dawkian atheists has significantly diminished post Elevatorgate and due to his generally abrasive manner, Dawkins does retain a small cult following (See: Richard Dawkins' loss of influence). The Dawkian atheists have been able to retain Richard Dawkins being labeled as an atheist in his Wikipedia article despite Dawkins repeatedly and adamantly declaring that he is an agnostic and/or flip-flopping his public persona between atheism and agnosticism (See: Richard Dawkins and agnosticism).

Atheism and critical thinking

See also: Atheism and critical thinking and Rebuttals to atheist arguments

Tony Wichowsk of the Christian Apologetics Alliance wrote:

,,,I have encountered numerous atheists and other critics of Christianity who by all accounts have stopped thinking critically themselves. The common perception among them is that by being critical of religion (particularly Christianity in the west), they are exercising critical thinking. However, critical thinking implies not only questioning authority and commonly held views, but your own views as well.

Critical thinking has often been popularly described as “thinking about thinking.” Stephen Brookfield is an award winning expert on education and teaching critical thinking skills. Below is his definition of what critical thinking really is.

"Critical thinking describes the process we use to uncover and check our assumptions. First we need to find out what our assumptions are. We may know some of these already (these we call explicit assumptions) but others we are unaware of (implicit assumptions)…. Once we know what our assumptions are, we enter the second phase of critical thinking, that of research. We try to check out our assumptions to make sure they are accurate and valid… The third and final phase of critical thinking puts the first two stages into practice by applying our analysis to our decisions. Decisions based on critical thinking are more likely to be ones we feel confident about and to have the effects we want them to have.”

– Stephen Brookfield Developing critical thinkers: Challenging adults to explore alternative ways of thinking and acting. (1987, Page 9)

If an atheist wants to be a good critical thinker, and not simply a cynic, I would recommend that he or she would do as Brookfield suggests, and check their assumptions. This might entail opening a book by an apologist that they do not like, such as William Lane Craig or a conservative text critic like Daniel B Wallace, and be open minded that they might have some things right.

Checking multiple sources that disagree with each-other and weighing the evidence in your mind is sometimes tedious, but in the end it is worth it.[47]

The fallacy of exclusion is a logical fallacy where "Important evidence which would undermine an inductive argument is excluded from consideration. The requirement that all relevant information be included is called the 'principle of total evidence'.".[48] Atheists avoiding and ignoring the many legitimate arguments against atheism and for theism are engaging in fallacious reasoning (see also: Rebuttals to atheist arguments).

Atheism, cults and retention rates

See also: Atheism and its retention rate in individuals

In 2012, a Georgetown University study was published indicating that only about 30 percent of those who grow up in an atheist household in the United States remain atheists as adults.[49]

The historian Philip Jenkins wrote in the Wall Street Journal:

Cults had no great power to brainwash, as indicated by their embarrassingly poor retention rates. Most recruits stuck around for a year or two before drifting away, either gravitating to a new group or returning to normal life. This revolving-door effect makes solid statistics hard to come by, but the work of scholars such as J. Gordon Melton suggests that all sects combined were influencing a few hundred thousand people at any given time.[50]

In 2012, a Georgetown University study was published indicating that in the United States only about 30 percent of those who grow up in an atheist household remain atheists as adults.[51] According to Dr. Mark Gray, "of those raised as atheists, 30% are now affiliated with a Protestant denomination, 10% are Catholic, 2% are Jewish, 1% are Mormon, and 1% are Pagan."[52] See also: Atheism and poor relationships with parents

In 2012, a study by the General Social Survey of the social science research organization NORC at the University of Chicago found that belief in God rises with age, even in atheistic nations [53] (For more information, please see: Atheism and immaturity).

Abandonment of atheism in atheistic communist countries

See: Abandonment of atheism in atheistic communist countries

Atheism is an emaciated and unnecessarily limiting view of the world

See also: Evidence for Christianity

In addition to atheists engaging in groupthink, atheism offers a very limiting view of the world.

The ex-atheist Alister McGrath argues that atheism is an emaciated and unnecessary limiting view of the world and it does not answer the deeper existential questions.[54] For example, McGrath argues that atheism cannot give a person objective meaning and the ultimate purpose of their life (see also: Atheism and meaninglessness and Hopelessness of atheism and Atheism and purpose).[55][56][57]

While recognizing the benefits of reason/science, McGrath also points out the limitations of reason/science in terms of the type of questions that they can answer.[58] See also: Limitations of science

The ex-atheist C.S. Lewis wrote: "I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen not only because I see it but because by it I see everything else.”[59] Lewis also wrote: "If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning."

Furthermore, there is no proof and evidence that atheism is true, atheist arguments are easily rebutted and there is compelling evidence for Christianity and the existence of God (Rebuttals to atheist arguments and Evidence for Christianity and Arguments for the existence of God).

Atheism and culture

See also: Atheism and culture

A diverse population often produces a wide variety of cultural works.

Atheism has not produced any outstanding cultural achievements and it has had a negative effect on cultures (see: Atheism and culture).

For additional information, please see:

Quotes

See also: Atheism and the brain and Atheism quotes

Lewis and his wife Joy

C.S. Lewis wrote in his book Mere Christianity:

And immortality makes this other difference, which, by the by, has a connection with the difference between totalitarianism and democracy. If individuals live only seventy years, then a state, or a nation, or a civilisation, which may last for a thousand years, is more important than an individual. But if Christianity is true, then the individual is not only more important but incomparably more important, for he is everlasting and the life of a state or a civilisation, compared with his, is only a moment.[60]

C.S. Lewis also wrote:

In reading Chesterton, as in reading MacDonald, I did not know what I was letting myself in for. A young man who wishes to remain a sound Atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. There are traps everywhere — “Bibles laid open, millions of surprises,” as Herbert says, “fine nets and stratagems.” God is, if I may say it, very unscrupulous.[61]

"We must also wonder why atheists call themselves ‘freethinkers’ if they believe thoughts are the results of atomic motion in the brain obeying the fixed laws of chemistry. By their own philosophy, they can’t help what they believe! - Jonathan Sarfati[62]

See also

Notes

  1. Feeling Disillusioned With the Atheist Movement, Atheist Revolution
  2. Becoming Disillusioned with the Atheist Movement, Shadow to Light blog
  3. Are there too many atheist meetings? by Jerry Coyne
  4. I’m Opting Out of the Movement by Galen Broaddus
  5. How atheism is being sold in America
  6. How atheism is being sold in America
  7. Suspicions Confirmed: Academia Shutting Out Conservative Professors
  8. The atheist indoctrination project
  9. [Atheists to do religious education in schools] by Dr. Don Batten
  10. Does Diversity in the Workplace Help or Hinder Teamwork?
  11. Bible translations
  12. Darwin in translation
  13. A surprising map of where the world’s atheists live, By Max Fisher and Caitlin Dewey, Washington Post, May 23, 2013
  14. Darwin in translation
  15. Bible translations
  16. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/16/us/16beliefs.html?_r=1
  17. http://www.conservapedia.com/Racial_demographics_of_the_Richard_Dawkins%27_audience
  18. http://www.conservapedia.com/Atheism_appears_to_be_significantly_less_appealing_to_women
  19. http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/06/the_woman_problem.php
  20. AAI Position Statement - Gender Balance
  21. Carter, Stephen L. (March 27, 2015). "The atheism gap". BloombergView.
  22. The Atheism Gap By Stephen L. Carter, BloombergView, Mar 27, 2015 4:26 PM EDT
  23. in Seattle, PZ Myers Reflects Candidly on His Constituency
  24. in Seattle, PZ Myers Reflects Candidly on His Constituency
  25. Investigating atheism: Marxism. University of Cambridge (2008). Retrieved on July 17, 2014. “The most notable spread of atheism was achieved through the success of the 1917 Russian Revolution, which brought the Marxist-Leninists to power. For the first time in history, atheism thus became the official ideology of a state.”
  26. Forced Secularization in Soviet Russia: Why an Atheistic Monopoly Failed
  27. 7 facts about atheists, Pew Forum
  28. Atheists & Agnostics in America Tend to be Politically Liberal
  29. Top 50 Countries With Highest Proportion of Atheists / Agnostics (Zuckerman, 2005)
  30. A surprising map of where the world’s atheists live, Washington Post By Max Fisher and Caitlin Dewey May 23, 2013
  31. Group over individual
  32. 10 projections for the global population in 2050 By Rakesh Kochhar, Pew Research Forum, February 3, 2014
  33. The Swiss Franc and The Tragedy of the Euro
  34. Eurozone Dystopia: Groupthink and Denial on a Grand Scale
  35. Europe’s economic group-think, Politico, European Edition
  36. Dangerous Times: How Euro-socialism Set off a Fascist Bomb By James Lewis and Justine Aristea, American Thinker
  37. [1]
  38. The bizarre – and costly – cult of Richard Dawkins, The Spectator, Andrew Brown 16 August 2014
  39. Richard Dawkins Net Worth
  40. The Cult of Dicky Dawkins
  41. The God wars by Bryan Appleyard, New Statesman
  42. How cultish is the New Atheism?
  43. What Is the Value of Freethought
  44. http://onegoodmove.org/fallacy/exclus.htm
  45. http://www.christianpost.com/news/study-atheists-have-lowest-retention-rate-compared-to-religious-groups-78029/ Study: Atheists Have Lowest 'Retention Rate' Compared to Religious Groups
  46. How We Became Obsessed With Cults by Philip Jenkins, Wall Street Journal
  47. Study: Atheists Have Lowest 'Retention Rate' Compared to Religious Groups
  48. Study: Atheists Have Lowest 'Retention Rate' Compared to Religious Groups
  49. Belief in God rises with age, even in atheist nations
  50. Facing the Canon with Alister McGrath
  51. Why faith makes sense: Developing a Christian mind - Alister McGrath
  52. Clear Voices 2014 - Alister McGrath - C. S. Lewis’s Vision of the Christianity
  53. Christianity makes sense of the world, C.S. Lewis Institute
  54. Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis, Book 3
  55. C.S. Lewis / “Surprised By Joy: The Shape Of My Early Life”
  56. Using the Bible to prove the Bible? by Jonathan Sarfati