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11/23/2007                                                                                       View Comments

Which century are we in?

By Billy Braun

Is it my imagination, or are we seeing a rise of ignorance in our culture? In spite of all the recent successful books supporting the rationalist viewpoint, there seems to be a fresh revival of superstition and gullibility among the general public. The mass media is saturated with programs promoting the notion that accepting the claims of psychics, mediums, ufologists, evangelists etc, is scientifically supported and reasonable.

Are we (at least in America) seeing a re-birth of the Dark Ages? Will this "push-back" of stupidity grow in the near future?

I'd be curious to see how readers gauge this situation, so, use this poll to vote your estimation of the urgency of the situation.

Also, do you see things getting better or getting worse?

Thanks.

Note to Christians: I DO NOT want your opinion on this issue. If you understand the question, you will recognize that it places YOU as part of the problem, so, please resist the urge to "help".

 

39 comments:

RubyHypatia said...

It's the same-old, same-old. Psychics and mediums and such have yet to go away.

Carl K said...

I see what is happening as more a splitting of our culture into subcultures, than as a uniform trend in our culture. It's not just between believers and disbelievers. Those who believe are splitting between the evangelicals who *really* believe and those who take a more practical and realistic approach to their belief.

I think the number of disbelievers is growing, and I am heartened by the fairly large number of young people who are really skeptical about religion, and particularly theistic religion.

It does seem to be a pretty regional thing. The atheists are growing in urban areas, the evangelicals are hardening in the traditional Bible Belt and less urbanized areas.

I think that eventually most people have to come to terms with reality, which means muting their religious zeal, or partitioning it into some part of themselves that only occasionally exhibits itself. Or becoming a functional atheist if not a declared one.

Jeremiah said...

It certainly seems like America is dumbed down, but I am very encouraged by several things: Europe seems to be very secular -- religion is losing it's grip over there (Norway is a great example); in the US, we've had many good books on atheism published by notable people in the US and some are getting on popular shows like Lou Dobbs; religion is being discussed on some popular TV shows like House; there are lots of great websites (like this one) that I'm sure didn't exist 10 years ago' there is a place for people to turn.

Yet, it does beg the question, how does religion hold sway over otherwise intelligent people?

R. Black said...

I did some research in the area of censorship. While I still believe the amount of censorship in America is ridiculous, I found that there are NO BANNED books or movies. Well, except of course, something illegal such as child pornography. We might not be able to show anything we want on TV or the radio, but in the privacy of our own homes just about anything goes.

In other countries however, they have no problems banning materials. In most of these countries they don't ban books or movies lightly, but they do, do it. These are fairly secular countries as well. Germany seems to be the worst out of the secular countries.

The point I am making, is that America truly is "special". I hate the idea that someday America might be thrown so far into a dark age, that I might actually move to a different country to regain my freedom. As a result I wouldn't have the same freedom I experience here in America, today, because some materials might be banned.

Anonymous said...

I'm from Italy,(so sorry 4 my bad english)
As atheist,ecologist,animalist and humanist, i'm observing this times with very worry...I mean in this case the situation about the irrational and superstitious belief which is scattering (especially in america since 9/11/01) in our countries.
So, here in italy we've the political control of priests and popes, there we've the evangelist(and televangelist) of my dear George...morons and dumbass who speak in tongues, who handle snakes, who contact phantoms, who wait for the rapture, or wait the alien abduction...who wait for the 2012 and a new spiritual evolution and who want the return of christ...The problem is that we're in 2007, and many problems are fully compatible with the christians prophecy.The paranormal phenomena (crop circles, ufo, etc) gave space to the ufologist,which feed evangelicals alarms to strengthen their sermons...It's everything tragically and organically connected...you know the system.So, what we can do seriously now?The problems for humanity are real, i mean ecologically, demographically, etc...
I see too much hypocrisy, weakness, ignorance, obstinacy(or faith), arrogance and it scare me...
i've been out from mine evangelical experience 5 months ago,and i stayed there for about 6 months..few time but enough to understand how much the religious thinking is dangerous..and that scared me...
I'm really scared about the approaching period...i fear for my planet, my races, my brothers and sisters, my humanity...i really fear for it.Man we must try something (i don't want seem apocalyptic as an xstian but the situation need some intervention).

casper said...

You would think that with all the scientific advancements, discoveries, and flow of information that people would abandon the supernatural. But many don't. They are so overwhelmed by reality that they turn to the supernatural because it feels comfortable; it gives them a warm-fuzzy feeling. I've got several otherwise rational friends who've gone that route. England is a good example of that.

I feel that we as a species aren't ready for the complete abandonment of supernatural beliefs - including that evil we call religion - at least not yet. we are like a planet of 10-year olds fighting amongst each other, believing in make-believe, and making a mess out of our world.

[slap slap] Wow, I needed that, this whole topic is depressing. Please, someone write something inspirational! Quick!

Derrick.

Lorena said...

"The mass media is saturated with programs promoting the notion that accepting the claims of psychics, mediums, ufologists, evangelists etc, is scientifically supported and reasonable."

Not your imagination. It's been growing for a few years, unfortunately.

xrayman said...

A fine example that says a lot about middle America is the fact that that the complete proven fraud(so called psychic) Sylvia Brown still has tons of idiodic followers and Montel Williams welcomes her on the show and acts as if she is legit. Obviously the only reason he does it is because she brings big ratings. People buy into this bullshit and I just don't get it. I stopped believing in psychics long before I stopped believing in God.

So long as fools are willing to part with their money these people will not go away and if it weren't for fools parting with there money these people would be no where to be found.

DUG said...

I've experienced the "Kick-Your-Ass-for-christ"-"mentality" a number of times,....and I live in So. California-!

I can only imagine the types of things that can-and-do-happen whilst living in a 'true' booble-belt zone.

In certain areas of America, there is certainly 'shunning',...can't get a job,....nobody will sell You groceries-/-provide-services to You in ANY way....aren't 'allowed-to' participate in an equal manner in public-sponsored-activity/ies...etc.

Although there aren't any "Atheist-Only"
water-fountains/bathrooms,...etc.
(yet, I really wouldn't put it past 'them')

We ALL know (or 'should' IMPO) that if the pat robertson-s (etc) had their way, it'd be almost EXACTLY the SAME as sharia-law,...if not WORSE-!-!

As far as "Do I personally think/feel that things are getting better-or-worse-?

Unfortunately, I think/feel that the situation is likely to follow the 'usual' "theist-pattern/s".

(Read: Abortion clinic bombings)
(Posting "abortion-doctors" particulars and calling the equivalent of a 'Jihad' calling for them being murdered,...etc)

We ALL need to remember,... these 'people' ARE NOT RATIONAL,...

Long Live Rationality-!-!-!

I'm sorry to sound so 'gloom-and-doom' about this subject, but, that is how I personally see it.

AtheistToothFairy said...

xrayman said...
A fine example that says a lot about middle America is the fact that that the complete proven fraud(so called psychic) Sylvia Brown still has tons of idiotic followers and Montel Williams welcomes her on the show and acts as if she is legit
--
Xray',

I also noticed that England also has the equivalent of Sylvia psychic in their ranks and they follow her like sheep, just like the fans here follow Sylvia.
Rumors have it that Montel does NOT believe Sylvia is legit, but as you said, he's out for the ratings, and Ratings=$$$$ and money is the bottom line in most endeavors.

She has been caught so many times in being wrong that one would think her believers would have seen her true colors by now, but oh no, they are just as blind to her shenanigans as the religious are with their gods.

Ditto for guy's like John Edwards, who is clearly a talented salesmen of nothing more than cold-readings to the unsuspecting. The unsuspecting are sure he is talking to their dead relatives and they walk away with a phoney message from them.
This is no less than a CRUEL joke to play on the weak minded !!

I have to admit that at his peak, he was quite popular in the USA and even managed to fool a professional coworker I worked with, who had gone for a private 'reading' from Edwards. As smart as this coworker was in his occupation, he failed to see through Edward's trickery when it came to his own self interest.
Why...Because he WANTED to believe that Edwards could really talk to the dead, so that just proved to me that a deep desire to believe in anything is one that will also cripple your cognitive abilities.

As I've said before, I've sure known my share of folks who held beliefs of things supernatural and nothing you can say can talk them out of their oddball beliefs.
They all have such FAITH in what they WISH to believe that they are blind to how crazy it really is.

While I do see a decline in attendance for your more mainstream non-Evangelical churches of Christianity, it sure does seem that we are growing in population for both the fundie types and those who have a need to buy into just about anything supernatural, as well as all this 'new-age' stuff that seems to attract a lot of attention these days.

Did you ever wonder how easy it might be to get rich quick, if you didn't have the ethics that said it's not fair to cheat folks. I'm pretty sure most of us here could make a fortune selling some crazy product or pushing some supernatural belief.
Alas, most of us here who live without religion, seem to have more ethics than those who claim a religious value system in their lives and so we wouldn't treat other folks that cruelly.


ATF (Who is hoping someone can give me a new name for the xmas tree, as I don't like the name 'holiday tree' either???)

Andrew said...

Part of the problem is that science is not delivering on the extravagant promised it made to our parents and grandparents.

People see that in the twentieth century, it threatens as much as it offers...wmds all kinds; chemical, biological, nuclear...mind control, genetic engineering (which you know some governments will use to create slaves and warriors.)

And all of this produced by atheistic science (Dawkins assures us science is atheistic and that most scientists are atheists.)

Sure, fundies may talk about the end of the world...but the masses realize that science has made it possible.

.:webmaster:. said...

How about fir or evergreen tree? As in, "We put up an evergreen tree for the December holiday season." Or, "We decorated the holiday fir tree with photos of the family."

nm156 said...

Hi Andrew,

Have you posted here before? Your last line made me realize I've seen it on this site before, perhaps word-for-word. Not sure if it was you or not.

.:webmaster:. said...

Yes, Andrew has posted under many different names, and that posting was one of his regular rants.

Scientists developed atomic weaponry at the behest of "Christian" American leadership funded with "Christian" America's tax money.

Andrew seems to conclude that his statement that nuclear weaponry exists lends credence to the assertion that a flying, un-dead god-man who was squeezed out from between a woman's legs some 2,000 years ago, about nine months after the woman was impregnated by a disembodied holy ghost.

In other words, because science has come up with miraculous power source that can be misused, mythology is real. And, the discovery of natural sources of power with tremendous destructive potential somehow makes the ignorance of pre-scientific history desirable.

Andrew, however, doesn't seem to equate that if his god is real, his god created atomic energy and people merely discovered it. It is the god who is to blame for placing the tree of knowledge in the garden where it would be discovered, not the man or the woman.

Further, what could be more heinous than promising to torture most of humanity for all eternity? I'll take the risks of real life over the delusions of mythology. However, too many, just like Andrew, have apparently lost the capacity for rational thought.

John of Indiana said...

This was SUPPOSED to be the 21st Century, but sometimes I wonder...Mythology seems to be gaining more converts every day. I have a co-worker who's working on his Master's, yet was sucked in by the promise of "The Promise", got all hot over the "law" of attraction, and now has acquired a study Buy-bull and thinks it's all true, and has no problem with the idea that only ONE "law" from the book of Leviticus is talked about as still in effect even though we all LOVE shellfish and cotton-poly clothing...

H. L. Mencken foretold the rise of PretzelDunce Caligula and I'm afraid more of Mike Judge's "Idiocracy" may come to pass than the 1960's promise of a 10-hour workweek and flying cars that we keep in our automated houses...

Liquid Egg Product said...

Rationality does not claim to have all the answers. But I find that rationalism and its supporters do a very poor job of engaging emotion, being much more interested in iron-clad, logical proof. (Logically winning arguments aren't always the best way to convince people).

Mysticisms give people "answers" to the unknown, and appeal more to human feeling. People will overlook obvious failures of these systems because they don't want to lose something that makes them happy. So mysticism remains.

There will always be some proportion of the two until there's a fundamental change in human nature.

Optimalist Thinker said...

The problem here is that "thinking" brings about its own demise. Animals function according to the programming given to them. Human beings are somewhat unique in that we began foregoing our "programming" to rationalize things out. As a result, we have complex societies, etc. The problem is that as we began to think more, the more we had to assign a purpose to everything. Eventually, this purpose could only be rationalized as coming from fictitious beings called gods because of all the faulty logic. Without a god, everything suddenly becomes pointless, and we just make our loop back around to the fact that we are animals only now we are fully concious of the pointlessness of our existence. Thus, thinking had two outcomes: one is that thinking had to stop in order to protect the thinker from depression and the other is that thinking had to continue in order to lead people back to the start of why they began thinking in the first place. This is why psychics, mediums, etc. will never go away; like it or not, supernaturalism is one end product of thinking.

Anonymous said...

Of course superstition is still rampant. It's human nature to cling to the irrational over the rational. Outside of religion, look at how easily unfounded "urban legends" are established and propagated ... even a quick look at Snopes (www.snopes.com) shows how easily people (even smart people!) fall prey to stupidity.

American hyperreligiosity is only one aspect of this problem. Unfortunately there are no easy solutions to the wide appeal of lunacy and idiocy.

Can't Spell Christ Without Shit said...

Andrew Said:
"genetic engineering (which you know some governments will use to create slaves and warriors.)"

I think you have been watching the Star Trek Movie "Wrath of Kahn" too much Andy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khan_Noonien_Singh

Anonymous said...

R Black is trumpeting the freedoms that American's hold but what he can't see is the moral decline of this great country. If certain books or movies speak blasphemy of the Lord they SHOULD be banned and the government should act to do so. This is one nation under GOD. All these blasphemies should be abolished. God has his hands in government and law and politics and i sincerely believe this election will be decided by the faithful. Personally I hope Fred Thompson wins because this country needs the type of values that are held dear in the south. God, family, and country. Do you liberals see the order? God is FIRST. I will pray that you atheist will come to see the light of the lord shone upon your thinking.

jim earl said...

Thanks for the laugh, anon! If another Bush puppet wins next year, then it will only prove that America is indeed dumb as a rock, sorta like Bush.

rickyusvi said...

Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies.” —Christine McVie and Eddy Quintela

John of Indiana said...

Oh, bruddah, a real, live Taliborn-again...

"This is one nation under GOD..."

And which god would THAT be? The Muslim's? the Hebrews? this strange god that ignores the people who cry out for him the most? Or, is it perhaps the god of guys like Bob Tilton, Creflo Doller and Richard Roberts?

"Personally I hope Fred Thompson wins because this country needs the type of values that are held dear in the south..."

You mean those "Traditional Values" of Racism, Misogeny, and pride in being a fifth-grade drop-out dumbass? Last I heard, Granpa Fred had raised what, $375.89 in campaign funds? If he gets appointed President, then this country IS done for.


"Do you liberals see the order?"

Why do you Fundies ALWAYS assume that anyone who doesn't swallow your faerie tale is a Liberal? Is that because Liberals are SMARTER than mouth-breathing BushBots?



"God is FIRST. I will pray that you atheist will come to see the light of the lord shone upon your thinking..."


We've already had light shown upon our thinking. It's you, Bubba, who needs enlightenment.

Yeah, I know, another hit-and-run idiot, but it still felt good to ridicule it...

R.Black said...

Hey I am just glad someone mentioned me. First thing I noticed from his post, freedom bad...freedom very bad. No he didn't use those exact words, but that is what he was implying.

And no, no one is falling for your trolling.

billybee said...

Hey anon.......... I'd hoped that you would respect my wish. I intended the poll to be for unbelievers. But since you are here, Howdy! Take a look around and you might notice that this site is for FORMER guys like you. Nothing you say will be news. So. knock yer self out....
Uh.....you gotta name? If not, I'm thinking "Bubbu" is probably gonna stick.

Mandy said...

Anonymous Wrote: "Personally I hope Fred Thompson wins because this country needs the type of values that are held dear in the south..."

You sound like a typical redneck biggot.

I was told recently that Dr. James Dobson with Focus On The Family said that he will not vote for Fred Thompson, and he is telling christians not to vote for him either, because Fred Thompson has said that he supports gay marriage.

If that's true, then I am sorry to burst your "Arrogant Self-Righteous Holier Than Thou Bubble" Anonymous.

Then again, No, I am sorry to burst your bubble.

The days of Conservative Christians being in power are numbered.

Mandy said...

Billybee Wrote: "Uh.....you gotta name? If not, I'm thinking "Bubbu" is probably gonna stick."

I have one better. We'll call him "Jethro Bodine".

Anonymous said...

Not only do I support Fred Thompson because of the type of values that are held dear in the south. I am also proud to say that my mother and father are brother and sister, and like my father, I honored his precious Southern Values by marryin' my sister too.

I also have 4 junk cars sittin' around in my yard up on center blocks with chickens runnin' around, and a rebel flag flyin' high up on my flag pole.

The police have to come out every week to my trailer caus' I beat on my sister/wife too much anytime I get drunk, caus' she always burns my taters anytime she tries to cook 'em.

Anybody got a chaw of chewin' tobacco?

Anonymous said...

Even tho' I'm a racist biggot from the south, I do go ta church anytime da' door is open. I always ask God to forgive me of my sins, and he's always faithful to do so,

Jesus is comin' back real soon, so everybody better git ready, caus' he ain't comin' back on no donkey, no siree, he is comin' back and he is gonna open a can of 100 percent Holy Ghost whoop ass on all of you hethens!!!

Praze the Lard! Glory!!!!

Ricky said...

Haha! I like the extra information you've given us, Anonymous! I laughed so hard!

(Hmm...That's a good idea! Since so many anonymous people "fire and forget" their spiel, seemingly never coming back to further argue their lost cause, we might as well get some laughs out of it!)

Anonymous said...

Ok...the gig is up. I'm the ORIGNAL anonymous poster that lambasted person freedoms and put in a plug for Fred Thompson. My confession.. I'm an atheist. It was a mean joke/parody. But it just revealed something to me...It was kinda funny seeing everyone get in a tizzy from the comments..My fellow skeptics..what if...just what if...a segment of these christians actually know the whole thing is BS but just revel in seeing us drive ourselves mad trying to convey logic and reason. I must admit it was a guilty pleasure seeing the reactions.

The Real Anonymous said...

NOOOOOO!!!!!

I'm the original anonymous!

I'm da' one who sits out in his yard wit da chickins runnin' 'round my trailer who married his sister.

stronger now said...

"...just what if...a segment of these christians actually know the whole thing is BS but just revel in seeing us drive ourselves mad trying to convey logic and reason."

1) I cannot see how one can be driven mad by conveying logic and reason. Has this ever happened?

2) I cannot change the fact that some people may wish to be disingenuous.

3) I will engage in conversations with people that may be dishonest in hopes that the honest ones may see logic and reason.

4) If the ones who are dishonest get some immature "kick" out of it..so be it.

What do you propose we do about it, anony? Or, are you being disingenuous now?

billybee said...

eokpfiHey I have a question.
I'm very new to the internet and I don't know what proper etiquette is for some of the web sites. Heres the situation: I was commenting on "GodTube" and all of my comments were deleted. I did not say anything mean or even critical. All I did was speak from the atheist perspective. Is that a no no....?
Some one please educate me
Thanks!!

Mandy said...

Billybee Wrote: "I was commenting on "GodTube" and all of my comments were deleted. I did not say anything mean or even critical. All I did was speak from the atheist perspective. Is that a no no....?"

Hi Billybee,

I am not surprised that your comments were deleted. Christians do not believe in being "Open Minded" so therefore they don't want people to know the real truth, so that is why they delete comments that go against the faulty christian belief system. They also believe in censorship of course.

Christians don't want the truth to be known about their cult. So that is why they delete comments that go against their belief system.

No matter how nice you were, it will not matter to them, because your comments might just get some of their cult members to open their mind and start thinking objectively.

Remember, according to the christian faith (Cult) it is wrong to think for oneself. Everyone is supposed to have the mind of Christ. Having intellectual thinking is of the devil according to the "Jesus Freaks".

R. Black said...

This is no joke or exaggeration.

I was playing a game online, battlefield 2142, and I went into a christian server. It had the usual christian server rules: "No cussing, no harassing, no cheating, this is a family friendly server so keep it nice"

Just for fun I typed in the message "Charles Darwin", and that is ALL I typed. I receieved a warning message about my language, so then I type "evolution". LOL, I wasn't just kicked off the server, I WAS BANNED! Being banned was worth the laugh.

Just to be fair, this WAS THE ONLY christian server that warned/kicked/banned me for saying those words. Most christian servers do have ridiculous rules, but not that ridiculous.

Can't Spell Christ Without Shit said...

R. Black,

Are you fucking kidding me?!!!!!

I would hate to imagine what kind of censorship rules christians would place on this whole country if they had complete control of it.

You ought to post the link. I'll go on there and say worse things than "Charles Darwin" and "Evolution". I'll say some things that will cause their servers to overload and have a complete meltdown.

whateverlolawants said...

Andrew,

Yeah, science really sucks, doesn't it? I hate how it's given us medicines, life-saving technologies, and this wonderful thing we call the internet.

Let's remember the difference between pure and applied science, shall we, and also not be so quick to dismiss science?

R. Black said...

cscwss,

No, sorry I do not have their server address. I haven't played BF2142 in three months, and I do not even have it installed anymore.