Atheism and groupthink
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.
|“|| 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.
In 2018, the atheist PZ Myers wrote:
|“||I noticed the “troubling turn” about 8 years ago, as more and more atheists began to rally around two themes: the Glorious Leaders who were fonts of inarguable Reason & Logic, and a definition of atheism that exempted them from all social responsibility or ethical obligation.||”|
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.
|“|| 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?
The atheist blogger 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.||”|
The atheist Neil Carter wrote in 2015: "atheists are just as prone to tribalism as are the members of any religion they oppose..."
- 1 Atheist worldview
- 2 Atheist indoctrination
- 3 Atheism and diversity
- 4 Atheists and leftist politics
- 5 Chinese atheists and groupthink
- 6 Eurozone crises, European economic stagnation and groupthink
- 7 Reddit atheism, modern atheism and hateful groupthink
- 8 Atheist cults
- 9 Atheism and critical thinking
- 10 Atheism, cults and retention rates
- 11 Atheism is an emaciated and unnecessarily limiting view of the world
- 12 Atheism and culture
- 13 Quotes
- 14 See also
- 15 Notes
See also: Atheist worldview
Jewish columnist Dennis Prager has stated that a causal factor of atheism is the "secular indoctrination of a generation." 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." See also: Atheism and critical thinking and Rebuttals to atheist arguments
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).
Atheism and geographic/cultural diversity
See also: Atheism and culture
Contrastly, in terms of its geographic distribution, Christianity is the most globally diverse religion.
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). 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.
The Bible has been translated into 518 languages and 2,798 languages have at least some portion of the Bible. 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
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."
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.
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.
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.||”|
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.||”|
Atheism/Christianity and personal wealth 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
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
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). A Harris interactive poll found that most American atheists are liberal.
Chinese atheists and groupthink
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. “
Eurozone crises, European economic stagnation and groupthink
See also: Eurozone Crisis
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).
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.||”|
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.||”|
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.
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."  - Vlad Chituc at Nonprophetstatus.com||”|
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).
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
|“|| ...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.
According to The Richest, "Richard Dawkins..has an estimated net worth of $135 million ($100 euro) according to the Sunday Times in 2012."
Vox Day noted that the Richard Dawkins cult is similar to the cult of Scientology. 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. Although the New Atheism movement does not perfectly fit the various characteristics of a cult, it does fit some of the characteristics.
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
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.
– 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.
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'.". 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
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.||”|
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. 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." 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  (For more information, please see: Atheism and immaturity).
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. 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).
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. 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.” 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:
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.||”|
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.||”|
"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
- Feeling Disillusioned With the Atheist Movement, Atheist Revolution
- Get out of my head, Eiynah! by PZ Myers
- A shambolic atheist community faces some tough choices by Denyse O'Leary
- Becoming Disillusioned with the Atheist Movement, Shadow to Light blog
- Are there too many atheist meetings? by Jerry Coyne
- I’m Opting Out of the Movement by Galen Broaddus
- http://www.patheos.com/blogs/godlessindixie/2015/09/27/why-abrasive-atheism-will-always-sell-better/ Why Abrasive Atheism Will Always Sell Better] by Neil Carter
- How atheism is being sold in America
- How atheism is being sold in America
- Suspicions Confirmed: Academia Shutting Out Conservative Professors
- The atheist indoctrination project
- [Atheists to do religious education in schools] by Dr. Don Batten
- Does Diversity in the Workplace Help or Hinder Teamwork?
- Bible translations
- Darwin in translation
- A surprising map of where the world’s atheists live, By Max Fisher and Caitlin Dewey, Washington Post, May 23, 2013
- Darwin in translation
- Bible translations
- AAI Position Statement - Gender Balance
- Carter, Stephen L. (March 27, 2015). "The atheism gap". BloombergView.
- The Atheism Gap By Stephen L. Carter, BloombergView, Mar 27, 2015 4:26 PM EDT
- in Seattle, PZ Myers Reflects Candidly on His Constituency
- in Seattle, PZ Myers Reflects Candidly on His Constituency
- 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.”
- Forced Secularization in Soviet Russia: Why an Atheistic Monopoly Failed
- 7 facts about atheists, Pew Forum
- Atheists & Agnostics in America Tend to be Politically Liberal
- Top 50 Countries With Highest Proportion of Atheists / Agnostics (Zuckerman, 2005)
- A surprising map of where the world’s atheists live, Washington Post By Max Fisher and Caitlin Dewey May 23, 2013
- Group over individual
- 10 projections for the global population in 2050 By Rakesh Kochhar, Pew Research Forum, February 3, 2014
- The Swiss Franc and The Tragedy of the Euro
- Eurozone Dystopia: Groupthink and Denial on a Grand Scale
- Europe’s economic group-think, Politico, European Edition
- Dangerous Times: How Euro-socialism Set off a Fascist Bomb By James Lewis and Justine Aristea, American Thinker
- The bizarre – and costly – cult of Richard Dawkins, The Spectator, Andrew Brown 16 August 2014
- Richard Dawkins Net Worth
- The Cult of Dicky Dawkins
- The God wars by Bryan Appleyard, New Statesman
- How cultish is the New Atheism?
- What Is the Value of Freethought
- 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
- How We Became Obsessed With Cults by Philip Jenkins, Wall Street Journal
- Study: Atheists Have Lowest 'Retention Rate' Compared to Religious Groups
- Study: Atheists Have Lowest 'Retention Rate' Compared to Religious Groups
- Belief in God rises with age, even in atheist nations
- Facing the Canon with Alister McGrath
- Why faith makes sense: Developing a Christian mind - Alister McGrath
- Clear Voices 2014 - Alister McGrath - C. S. Lewis’s Vision of the Christianity
- Christianity makes sense of the world, C.S. Lewis Institute
- Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis, Book 3
- C.S. Lewis / “Surprised By Joy: The Shape Of My Early Life”
- Using the Bible to prove the Bible? by Jonathan Sarfati