Morale of the atheist movement

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David Silverman, in his 2018 address to the American Atheists organization convention, said: "We are suffering a level of defeatism that I have never seen before...".[1]

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines morale as "the mental and emotional condition (as of enthusiasm, confidence, or loyalty) of an individual or group with regard to the function or tasks at hand)".[2]

Numerous atheists have declared that the "atheist movement is dead" or that it is dying (see: Decline of the atheist movement)[3]

Groups/organizations which unsuccessfully meet challenges and/or face future challenges which they believe they cannot successfully overcome, often: are dispirited; experience infighting; have less respect for each other; distance themselves from one another; have members who are less likely to take the initiative; become pessimistic and are also far less effective.[4]

At the 2018 American Atheists National Convention, the ex-president of the American Atheists organization David Silverman declared:

It is a hard time to be an atheist activist. This has affected us. And it has affected our community... has really affected us. We are suffering a level of defeatism that I have never seen before...

We feel the loss. And we feel like we have lost. We feel like we lost the election... We see this cascade of attack coming down at us over and over from all different directions and we feel like it's over. I have heard so many times it makes me sick. It makes me sad. It feels like we lost.

The apathy that follows. It doesn't matter. We can't win anyways. It's useless to fight. This apathy is infecting us. It's hurting us.

And people are reacting to each other now. And so that is causing a division. Lots and lots of division in our movement. Hard, bad division... And that has resulted in a splintering and factioning of the movement that I have never seen before and none of us have.

In other words, we're in a bad situation and it's getting worse.[5]

From a global perspective, the world's percentage of atheists has been shrinking and many secular countries have experienced a significant amount of immigration from the citizens of religious countries (see: Desecularization and Global atheism statistics).

Eric Kaufmann, a professor at Birkbeck College, University of London whose work focuses on how demographic changes affects religion/politics, points out that that the atheist population has a sub-replacement fertility rate while religious fundamentalists have high rates of birth (See: Atheism and fertility rates). .[6]

On December 23, 2012, Professor Eric Kaufmann who teaches at Birbeck College, University of London and whose academic research specialty is how demographic changes affect religion/irreligion and politics, wrote:

I argue that 97% of the world's population growth is taking place in the developing world, where 95% of people are religious.

On the other hand, the secular West and East Asia has very low fertility and a rapidly aging population... In the coming decades, the developed world's demand for workers to pay its pensions and work in its service sector will soar alongside the booming supply of young people in the third world. Ergo, we can expect significant immigration to the secular West which will import religious revival on the back of ethnic change. In addition, those with religious beliefs tend to have higher birth rates than the secular population, with fundamentalists having far larger families. The epicentre of these trends will be in immigration gateway cities like New York (a third white), Amsterdam (half Dutch), Los Angeles (28% white), and London, 45% white British. [7]

Various schisms occurring within the atheist movement and widespread infighting, has had an adverse effect on various atheist organizations (See: Atheist factions). Divisions within the atheist movement have caused a marked decline in the movement (see: Decline of the atheist movement). For example, atheist organizations have experienced large drops in donations to their organizations (see: Atheist organizations and fundraising).

Most atheists are apathetic when it comes to sharing atheism with others - especially when compared to evangelistic religions such as Christianity (see: Atheism and apathy).

Eric Kaufmann, an agnostic professor whose academic research specialty is how demographic changes affect religion/irreligion and politics, wrote in 2010:

Worldwide, the march of religion can probably only be reversed by a renewed, self-aware secularism. Today, it appears exhausted and lacking in confidence... Secularism's greatest triumphs owe less to science than to popular social movements like nationalism, socialism and 1960s anarchist-liberalism. Ironically, secularism's demographic deficit means that it will probably only succeed in the twenty-first century if it can create a secular form of 'religious' enthusiasm.[8]

In March 2015, the atheist philosopher John Gray in an article at The Guardian titled What scares the new atheists reported: "Today, it’s clear that no grand march is under way...The resurgence of religion is a worldwide development...For secular thinkers, the continuing vitality of religion calls into question the belief that history underpins their values."[9]

In 2018, the atheist PZ Myers quotes an atheist activist who declares: "It’s quite depressing that movement Atheism has turned into such a joke. I valued it so much once."[10] Furthermore, Myers says the atheist movement is in "shambles" and this is "quite depressing" for him.[10] Myers also wrote: "... the optimism is fading and is being consumed by a new anger at the incompetence and betrayal of the self-appointed atheist leadership."[11] See also: Atheism and leadership

YouTube atheist Thunderf00t

YouTube atheist Thunderfoot said about the atheist movement after the Reason Rally 2016 had a very low turnout:

I'm not sure there is anything in this movement worth saving. Hitchens is dead. Dawkins simply doesn't have the energy for this sort of thing anymore. Harris went his own way. And Dennett just kind of blended into the background. So what do you think when the largest gathering of the nonreligious in history pulls in... I don't know. Maybe 2,000 people. Is there anything worth saving?[12]

In 2011, atheist Jacques Berlinerblau declared: "The Golden Age of Secularism has passed."[13]

In recent times, the number of people attending atheist conferences has grown smaller.[14][15][16] Atheist David Smalley wrote: "And we wonder why we’re losing elections, losing funding, and our conferences are getting smaller."[15]

Atheists, demoralization and politics

See also: Atheism and politics and Donald Trump and American atheists

Atheist Dr. Gordon Stein wrote:

Atheism has long ceased to be a rare and oft-ignored philosophical outlook...It has transformed itself into an active political programme with clear objectives which, though they vary from state to state, unequivocally include the elimination of state religion, religious education, and the enshrinement of scientism."[17]

Atheists commonly use the political realm to advance their atheistic ideology (see: Political activities of atheists).

Traditionally, atheists have leaned left politically politically (see: Atheism and politics and secular left). At the present time, the secular left is losing power in the Western World and other regions of the world (see: Decline of the secular left). For example, 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." (See: Atheism and communism).[18]

The American atheist activist Eddie Tabash said at the 2010 Michigan Atheists State Convention:

In every generation there has been a promising beginning of a true vanguard movement that will finally achieve widespread public acceptance for nonbelief. Yet, in each generation there has been an ultimately disappointing failure to actually register the naturalistic alternative to supernatural claims in the public consciousness...

Now given the confounding extent to which religion is entrenched in our society, it could take a minimum of 100 years of sustained, intense effort to even begin to cut into the current monolithic stranglehold that religion has on American mass culture, [19]

The likelihood that the American atheist population will engage in 100 years of sustained, intense atheist activism is remote (see: Atheism and apathy and Views on atheists and Demographics and trends in American secularism).

Also, a 100-year sustained and intense effort of atheist activism would require a high degree of cohesiveness and cooperation among atheists. Tabash said in a speech to the Michigan Atheists State Convention, "Since we are a bit of a cantankerous, opinionated lot...".[20] See also: Atheist factions and Atheism and social skills

Tabash said in a 2007 speech to the Atheist Alliance International organization: "The other likely future is one in which by a shift of only one vote on the United States Supreme Court, we will essentially become a theocracy in which all branches of government we be freed to favor religion collectively over nonbelief."[21]

The new atheist Sam Harris said concerning the label of atheist, "It's right next to child molester as a designation."(see also: Distrust of atheists)[22][23]

Traditionally, it is very difficult for an atheist to be elected to a political office in the United States. See: Sociology of "atheism is un-American" view

Currently, President Donald Trump is allying with evangelical Christians and the balance of power the on the United States Supreme Court is tipping towards the conservative side of the political spectrum (see: Donald Trump and evangelicals and Donald Trump and American atheists). The U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was appointed by Trump, is a judge who has ruled in favor of religious liberty in his past decisions.[24] U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, who was also nominated to the court by Trump, gave a favorable ruling in the Hobby Lobby case in respect to religious liberty.[25]

At the American Atheists 2018 convention, David Silverman, ex-president of the American Atheists organization, gave a speech entitled, "How the mighty get back up". The speech alluded to the pro-religious rights agenda of the Trump administration (See: Donald Trump and American atheists). During the speech Silverman said regarding American atheists, "We are suffering a level of defeatism that I have never seen before" (see also: Secular leftists and psychogenic illness).[26] Later in 2018, Silverman was fired due to allegations of financial conflicts and sexual assault (see also: Atheism and sexism).[27]

Eric Kaufmann wrote in his 2010 book Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth? concerning the United States:

High evangelical fertility rates more than compensated for losses to liberal Protestant sects during the twentieth century. In recent decades, white secularism has surged, but Latino and Asian religious immigration has taken up the slack, keeping secularism at bay. Across denominations, the fertility advantage of religious fundamentalists of all colours is significant and growing. After 2020, their demographic weight will begin to tip the balance in the culture wars towards the conservative side, ramping up pressure on hot-button issues such as abortion. By the end of the century, three quarters of America may be pro-life. Their activism will leap over the borders of the 'Redeemer Nation' to evangelize the world. Already, the rise of the World Congress of Families has launched a global religious right, its arms stretching across the bloody lines of the War on Terror to embrace the entire Abrahamic family.[28]

Atheism and its retention rate in individuals

In 2012, a Georgetown University study was published indicating that about 30 percent of those who grow up in an atheist household in the United States remain atheists as adults.[29]

See also: Atheism and its retention rate in individuals and Atheism and loneliness

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.[30] 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."[30] See also: Atheism and children

Abandonment of atheism in atheistic communist countries

See: Abandonment of atheism in atheistic communist countries

Growth of religious fundamentalism and the atheist movement

See also: Growth of religious fundamentalism and Growth of evangelical Christianity

Religious fundamentalism has risen to worldwide prominence ever since the 1970s.[31] In 1970, the percentage of the global population which are atheists began to shrink also (see: Growth of religious fundamentalism and Growth of evangelical Christianity and Desecularization).

According to Eric Kaufmann:

It will be a century or more before the world completes its demographic transition. There is still too much smoke in the air for us to pick out the peaks and valleys of the emerging social order. This much seems certain: without a new [secular liberal] ideology to inspire social cohesion, fundamentalism cannot be stopped. The religious shall inherit the earth.[32]

At a conference Kaufmann said of religious demographic projections concerning the 21st century:

Part of the reason I think demography is very important, at least if we are going to speak about the future, is that it is the most predictable of the social sciences.

...if you look at a population and its age structure now. You can tell a lot about the future. ...So by looking at the relative age structure of different populations you can already say a lot about the future...

...Religious fundamentalism is going to be on the increase in the future and not just out there in the developing world..., but in the developed world as well.[33]

Conservative/fundamentalist religion and creationism

See also: Global creationism

Johns Hopkins University Press reported in 2014: "Over the past forty years, creationism has spread swiftly among European Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Hindus, and Muslims, even as anti-creationists sought to smother its flames."[34] Picture above was taken at Johns Hopkins University

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: Atheism and evolution and Atheism and beliefs).[35]

In June 2014, the American atheist Sikivu Hutchinson wrote in the Washington Post that atheist organizations generally focus on church/state separation and creationism issues and not the concerns the less affluent African-American population faces.[36] Hutchinson also mentioned that church organizations do offer significant help to poor African-Americans.[36] See also: Western atheism and race

On October 4, 2014, the Vancouver Sun reported that evolutionism is rejected by hundreds of millions of evangelical Christians and Muslims around the world.[37]

Specifically, the Vancouver Sun declared:

Creationism, a religious world view that adamantly rejects Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, is on the rise among evangelical Protestants and most of the world’s Muslims.

It is not only the majority of residents in Muslim countries such as Pakistan, Indonesia and Turkey who strongly reject the teaching that humans and other species evolved over millions of years from less complex creatures. So do tens of millions of evangelical Christians in North America (as well as South America and Africa).

Overall, [Nidhal Guessoum, a Middle Eastern physics and astronomy professor] who teaches at the American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, estimates roughly 60 per cent of the world’s Muslims are creationists, including many living in the U.S. and Canada.

Even though poll results about evolution vary based on the questions asked, Salman Hameed reported in the journal Science that strong anti-evolution majorities exist in Turkey, Indonesia, Malaysia, Egypt and Pakistan. The latter is among Canada’s top six source countries for immigrants...

An Angus-Reid survey found 43 per cent of Americans accept the creationist teaching that the Earth is less than 10,000 years old, which means they reject the...view the universe began roughly 13 billion years ago.[38]

Europe, which is the home of a large percentage of the world's atheists, has seen a significant amount of Muslim and evangelical Christian immigrants who are creationists. Johns Hopkins University Press reported in 2014: "Over the past forty years, creationism has spread swiftly among European Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Hindus, and Muslims, even as anti-creationists sought to smother its flames."[34]

In addition, China has the world's largest atheist population and the rapid growth of biblical creationism/Evangelical Christianity in China may have a significant impact on the number of individuals in the world who believe in evolution and also on global atheism (see: China and biblical creationism and Asian atheism).

New Atheism and creationism

See also: Global creationism

New Atheism is a type of militant atheism. The new atheist Richard Dawkins said about New Atheism, "[O]ur struggle is not so much an intellectual struggle, as a political one: What are we going to do about it?”.[39]

The new atheist Victor J. Stenger wrote:

The message of new atheism is that it is time to take a far less accommodating attitude toward religion, including moderate religion, than had been exhibited in previous years by atheist authors and, in particular, non-believing scientists.

Science, in the United States, is locked in a battle with conservative Christians over the teaching of evolution and creationism in the schools.[40]

In recent years Britain, the birthplace of Darwinism, has seen a large influx of Muslim immigrants. Most religious Muslims are creationists.[41] In the UK, between the years 2001 and 2009 the Muslim population increased nearly 10 times faster than the non-Muslim population.[42] See also: Islam and belief in creationism

The British newspaper The Telegraph reported in an article entitled Richard Dawkins: Muslim parents 'import creationism' into schools:

Prof Dawkins, a well-known atheist, also blamed the Government for accommodating religious views and allowing creationism to be taught in schools.

"Most devout Muslims are creationists so when you go to schools, there are a large number of children of Islamic parents who trot out what they have been taught," Prof Dawkins said in a Sunday newspaper interview.

"Teachers are bending over backwards to respect home prejudices that children have been brought up with. The Government could do more, but it doesn't want to because it is fanatical about multiculturalism and the need to respect the different traditions from which these children come."[43]

Atheism and debate

See also: Atheism and debate and Rebuttals to atheist arguments

As far as atheism debates, the majority of the public debates are Atheism vs. Christianity debates (although there have been a few Atheism vs. Islam debates).

Although atheists commonly claim there are reasonable arguments for atheism, the quality of atheist debate has been quite poor from the proponents of atheism.

Please see:

Notable cases of prominent atheists being reluctant to debate

See also: Atheism and cowardice and Atheism vs. Christianity

Beginning in the latter part of the 20th century, there were a number of notable instances of prominent atheists being reluctant to debate (see: Atheism and cowardice).

In the 21st century, the cowardice associated with atheism has become so obvious that it is making newspaper headlines.[44] On May 14, 2011, the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph published a news story entitled Richard Dawkins accused of cowardice for refusing to debate existence of God.[45] In The Daily Telegraph article Dr. Daniel Came, a member of the Faculty of Philosophy at Oxford University was quoted as writing to fellow atheist Richard Dawkins concerning his refusal to debate Dr. William Lane Craig, "The absence of a debate with the foremost apologist for Christian theism is a glaring omission on your CV and is of course apt to be interpreted as cowardice on your part."[45]

A majority of the most prominent and vocal defenders of the naturalistic evolutionary position since World War II have been atheists.[46] After doing poorly in a series of debates in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, evolutionists are generally reluctant to debate (see: Creation vs. evolution debates).

Atheism vs. Christianity debates

See also: Atheism vs. Christianity debates

As far as Christianity vs. atheism debates, the most well-known debater on the Christian side of the aisle is William Lane Craig. This is due to the large number of Christian vs. atheism debates he has engage in and the quality of his debate performances.[47] Atheist Sam Harris described William Lane Craig as “the one Christian apologist who has put the fear of God into many of my fellow atheists”.[48]

The atheist Luke Muehlhauser wrote about Craig:

William Lane Craig is a prolific Christian philosopher, apologist, author, and public debater. He is the best debater – on any topic – that I’ve ever heard. As far as I can tell, he has won nearly all his debates with atheists. When debating him, atheists have consistently failed to put forward solid arguments, and consistently failed to point out the flaws in Craig’s arguments.

I’m not the only one who thinks Craig has won nearly all his debates. For some atheists, it is rather maddening.

Craig is a skilled debater, an encyclopedia of facts and quotes, and a careful rhetorician. If you make a logical mistake, Craig knows exactly how to skewer you for it (and for this, I respect him). He holds prepared and persuasive responses to everything an atheist might say, and atheists usually fail to clearly point out the logical flaws in what Craig has to say. Also, Craig does a great job of summarizing the points and counterpoints that have been raised during a debate, and presents them in a way to show he has decisively won. His opponents are never that organized or clear.

This is especially embarrassing for atheists because Craig’s arguments and debates are easily available, and he uses the same arguments all the time.[47]

William Lane Craig debates:

See also


External links



  1. David Silverman - How the Mighty Get Back Up
  2. Definition of morale, Merriam-Webster dictionary
  3. Confidence in teams and organisations, Center For Confidence and well-being]
  4. David Silverman - How the Mighty Get Back Up
  5. 97% of the world's population growth is taking place in the developing world, where 95% of people are religious, Tuesday, April 30, 2013
  6. Shall the religious inherit the earth? - Eric Kaufmann
  7. What scares the new atheists by John Gray, The Guardian, March 3, 2016
  8. 10.0 10.1 Atheist Activists Lament a Movement in “Shambles” by David Klinghoffer
  9. The Atheist Disillusionment by PZ Myers, September 27, 2014
  10. Even atheists bash 'Reason Rally'
  11. Berlinerblau, Jacques (February 4, 2011). "Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast". The Chronicle of Higher Education/Brainstorm blog. Retrieved on May 29, 2015.
  12. Whoever I Don’t Like Is Ruining the Atheist Movement by Jeremiah Traeger
  13. 15.0 15.1 Reasonably Controversial: How the Regressive Left Is Killing the Atheist Movement by David Smalley
  14. #ReasonRally Crash n burn. Thanks SJWs! by Thunderf00t
  15. Gordon Stein, Encyclopedia of Politics and Religion, 74.
  16. 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.”
  17. Atheists Speak Up - Eddie Tabash
  18. Atheists Speak Up - Eddie Tabash - Part 2 of 4
  19. Eddie Tabash: Speech and Q&A at AAI 07
  20. Roberts, Jessica, et al. (June 19, 2007). "Interview with an atheist". News21. Retrieved on July 30, 2014.
  21. NEWSWEEK Poll: 90% Believe in God, Newsweek 2007
  22. These 6 Cases Show How Brett Kavanaugh Might Rule on Religious Freedom, Daily Signal, 2018
  23. Neil Gorsuch Has a Record of Protecting Religious Minorities, Time magazine, 2017
  24. David Silverman - How the Mighty Get Back Up
  25. This Firebrand Atheist Was Just Fired After Allegations Of Financial Conflicts And Sexual Assault
  26. Why is the year 2020 a key year for Christian creationists and pro-lifers?
  27. Nazworth, Nap (July 11, 2012). "Study: atheists have lowest 'retention rate' compared to religious groups".
  28. 30.0 30.1 Study: Atheists Have Lowest 'Retention Rate' Compared to Religious Groups
  29. The Rise of Religious Fundamentalism, Annual Review of Sociology, 2006, Vol. 32:127-144
  30. The Stork Theory By Allan C. Carlson, February 28, 2018
  31. Eric Kaufmann - Religion, Demography and Politics in the 21st Century
  32. 34.0 34.1 Creationism spreading in Europe
  33. 36.0 36.1 Atheism has a big race problem that no one’s talking about by Dr. Sikivu Hutchinson, Washington Post June 16, 2014
  34. Evolution rejected by hundreds of millions of Muslims and evangelicals, Vancouver Sun, October 4, 2014
  35. Evolution rejected by hundreds of millions of Muslims and evangelicals, Vancouver Sun, October 4, 2014. 9:12 am
  36. Faithless: The politics of new atheism by Steven Kettell
  37. WHAT’S NEW ABOUT THE NEW ATHEISM? by Victor J. Stenger
  38. Hameed S (2008). "Bracing for Islamic creationism". Science 322 (5908): 1637–8.
  39. Muslim population 'rising 10 times faster than rest of society' 30 January 2009, Richard Kerbaj, The Sunday Times
  40. Richard Dawkins: Muslim parents 'import creationism' into schools, The Telegraph
  41. Multiple references:
  42. 45.0 45.1 Richard Dawkins accused of cowardice for refusing to debate existence of God, The Daily Telegraph, May 14, 2011
  43. Multiple references:
  44. 47.0 47.1 William Lane Craig’s Debates (Reviews)