The Future of Atheism: Beyond the Question of God

By Chris Mooney | December 4, 2010 12:18 pm

My latest Point of Inquiry episode just went up. Here’s the description:

Recently at Pomona College in California, three atheists—one of them a Point of Inquiry host—got together to debate the future of the movement.

And some sparks flew.

Topics raised included the rise of the so-called “nones” (those professing “no religion” in surveys), the lack of representation for atheists in the U.S. Congress, and the debate between moderate or “live-and-let-live” atheism as opposed to a louder and more aggressive version.

Despite their disagreement, it was clear that it’s an exciting time for the movement, as atheism becomes more visible in American life. Where do we go from here?

The students in the packed audience have that in their hands.

Panel participants were:

David Silverman, president of American Atheists. Mr. Silverman attended Brandeis University and specialized in computer science; he worked as an inventor at Bell Labs for 8 years. He then served at American Atheists as national spokesperson, vice president, and finally president, a post he assumed this year.

Hemant Mehta writes the “Friendly Atheist” blog and serves on the board of directors of the Foundation Beyond Belief and the Secular Student Alliance. He has also appeared on the front page of the Wall Street Journal and is author of the book I Sold My Soul on eBay, released in 2007.

Chris Mooney
is a host of Point of Inquiry.

Again, you can listen here.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Announcements, point of inquiry

Comments (9)

Links to this Post

  1. Darwiniana » The future of atheism | December 5, 2010
  1. How about a little more info here Chris or what’s the point?

  2. Wil

    “Where do we go from here?”

    Well, travel to any Islamic nation and publicly lecture that Allah does not exist, and therefore Mohammed was either insane, or was a lying con artist. See where that gets you.

    Should you choose to attempt this, I hope you are a very, very fast runner.

  3. Chris Owens

    In my opinion we should be careful of how hard we challenge religion. If we are seen as being too combative, it will give the moral high ground to the religious in many people’s mind. This would do little for our acceptance in society at large. However, we should remain vocal and open about our stance and continue to educate others about the many misconceptions about atheists. We must strike a balnce between being silent and being overly vocal.

  4. Charles Schmidt

    What someone’s religious belief or lack of I care about as much as the sexual preference that others have. As long as both sides do not interfere with my life or me they are free to do and believe what they wish but leave me out of it. They have their freedom and I have mine.

  5. John Loop

    Charles….. exactly.
    Many atheists commit the same “sin” that the fundamentalists do – “you are wrong and I am right….” When you believe you are in possession of the truth, I run as far from you as I can…. – that includes atheists and fundamentalists! The “true believers” are a plague. I BELIEVE that neither of you are in possession of the truth. It seems to be a very relative thing outside of science, and even there it is getting pretty fuzzy in physics, isn’t it!
    My truth super cedes yours 😉

  6. Ezra

    I’d like to know, soul-less one, although admittedly at no personal trouble or cost.

    Assuming you do one day succeed in convincing us all to change our fMRI reaction scans for whatever reasons and by whatever method, how does a world of atheists improve it?
    The same population subset distributions (like sociopaths) will still be there.

  7. Ian

    Yes indeed – where to from here? Where do atheist source their authority from? As Benedict XVI said recently “Scientists do not create the world; they learn about it and attempt to imitate it, following the laws and intelligibility that nature manifests to us. The scientist’s experience as a human being is therefore that of perceiving a constant, a law, a logos that he has not created but that he has instead observed: in fact, it leads us to admit the existence of an all-powerful Reason, which is other than that of man, and which sustains the world.”

    I do not equate science with atheism here, but I think the atheist would need to “admit the existence of an all-powerful Reason” too.

  8. TD


    First, it sounds to me the Pope has an antiquited view of science. Second, are you (and I suppose the Pope), really trying to say that “Reason” is the reason we should believe in a creator, when the very concept of faith is the most unreasonable thing a human being can be asked to accept?


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About Chris Mooney

Chris is a science and political journalist and commentator and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science--dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American--Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write "The Intersection" blog together for Discover blogs. For a longer bio and contact information, see here.


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