Atheists: More hated than Muslims and da gays

This isn’t new research, but someone recently posted it on Facebook. As far as I remember, I don’t have a post about how hated atheists are.

The most recent study was conducted by the University of Minnesota, which found that atheists ranked lower than “Muslims, recent immigrants, gays and lesbians and other minority groups in ‘sharing their vision of American society.’ Atheists are also the minority group most Americans are least willing to allow their children to marry.” The results from two of the most important questions”

This group does not at all agree with my vision of American society…

Atheist: 39.6%

Muslims: 26.3%

Homosexuals: 22.6%

Hispanics: 20%

Conservative Christians: 13.5%

Recent Immigrants: 12.5%

Jews: 7.6%

I would disapprove if my child wanted to marry a member of this group….

Atheist: 47.6%

Muslim: 33.5%

African-American 27.2%

Asian-Americans: 18.5%

Hispanics: 18.5%

Jews: 11.8%

Conservative Christians: 6.9%

Whites: 2.3%

I thought this was funny in light of PZ’s recent post about his wedding anniversary:

Today is my wedding anniversary. I’ve been married to the same woman for 31 years, without ever straying. Newt Gingrich has been married 3 times, divorced one wife while she was recovering from surgery, and has had extra-marital affairs.

Guess who is considered the defender of traditional sexual morality?

The reason PZ gives is that Gingrich represents an asymmetric societal structure where patriarchal power is deemed moral and worthy and pesty things like fairness and equality are just hippie garbage. Religion is the cornerstone of it all. (Or, to put in PZ’s absolute favoritististist word, privilege. But religion is a better and more accurate answer.)

Beyond the funny marriage part (states, by the way, with the highest religiosity? Yep, highest divorce rates*), I have a hypothesis to explain why people blindly hate atheists so much. Well, at least why the religious hate us so much. It’s probably just because atheists do so much better on religious tests than they do. Jealousy is an ugly beast.

*That doesn’t mean religion makes people divorce. I think a better explanation is that poorly educated people tend to be more religious; poorly educated people also tend to be lower on the socioeconomic ladder. It would make sense for them to marry younger (and I’m sure religious pressure helps to hurry things up as well).

PZ’s talk

I just got back from PZ’s talk. It was pretty exciting seeing a guy whose writing I’ve been following for such a long time.

He spent some time explaining explaining Crackergate. Really, when you hear it in person, it just gets all the most absurd. People actually believe he was holding Jesus hostage. One person asked him if he thought anyone would have noticed if he didn’t publicize his actions. The response was that he only destroyed one cracker and actually has a whole bag of them still at his home. If he’s been holding Jesus hostage for over a year now, people seem to be caring less and less with time. It’s a “flash in the pan” sort of thing.

I’m proud to say that I occupied a fair amount of the question time. I’m not proud that I may have prevented someone else from speaking up (and I doubt I did since plenty of people asked their own questions), but I’m glad I got to ask him the things which interested me. I would have regretted missing out on the opportunity. Hell, he’s out for a beer or a bite to eat right now with some people from the talk. I have no idea why I decided to just go home. That, I regret.062

One question I asked was about strategies against creationism. I told of how I have a friend who was a long time creationist (though not of the young Earth variety). He would repeatedly say he had studied the evidence for evolution and that he found it inadequate. I would engage him on a rhetorical level, speaking of the strength of the evidence, how it underlies all facts of biology, how it is the only thing which made sense of the fossil record and our genetic relatedness with other animals. But none of this said why evolution is true. Eventually I got fed up with the rhetoric and went right to town. I followed various chapters of Jerry Coyne’s Why Evolution is True and really pressed him for answers. I knew he would have no creationist response because there is none. All creationism offers is canards, hand-waving, emotional appeals, and other fallacious arguments which do not engage actual evidence. I found success. This friend now accepts the validity of evolution. Of course, he also inserts a Ken Miller-style God and the incorrect argument that intelligence is inevitable. But none-the-less, I am genuinely ecstatic that he has come around on a good portion of the science. So I asked PZ what he thought the best strategy was. One the one hand, we want to maintain a strong rhetoric that denounces creationism as loony and silly and not worthy of in-depth engagement, but on the other hand, we need to engage them on a deeper level to carve away their unscientific beliefs. Do we act like they deserve attention or do we try to denounce them?

PZ’s answer was that “we need multiple approaches”. We need to use all the tools at our disposal to fight such an insipid form of thought. Cornering ourselves into one strategy will not work. We have the Ken Miller’s and Francis Collins’ and Eugenie Scott’s and Jerry Coyne’s and Richard Dawkins’ of the world, and they all offer a different approach to the problem of creationism. It’s hard to disagree with this answer. The only approach not worth trying is that of silence. Allowing these people solo voices can only do harm and undermine democracy. (The last two lines contain my response, not PZ’s, though he may agree with it.)

Oh, and most important of all? Tomorrow is Blasphemy Day (and here).

The purpose of Blasphemy Day is not to promote hate or violence; it is to support free speech, support the right to criticize and satirize religion, and to oppose any resolutions or laws, binding or otherwise, that discourage or inhibit free speech of any kind. While many perceive blasphemy as insulting and offensive, this event is not about getting enjoyment out of ridiculing and insulting others; rather, it was created as a reaction against those who would seek to take away the right to satirize and criticize a particular set of beliefs given a privileged status over other beliefs. Criticism and dissent towards opposing views is the only way in which any nation with any modicum of freedom can exist. Without this essential liberty, those in power are those best able to manipulate others will suppress and silence dissent by labeling it “defamation” or “blasphemy” or whatever other bogey words they can use to stifle opposition by turning popular sentiment against it. Please, do not let them do this.

As usual, humanists are relying upon broad principles and consistent beliefs which go beyond the mere-ness of the individual. I hope that even the religious will appreciate the sentiment behind tomorrow (and I’m sure some will). Do not tread upon the rights of the individual for the sake of your beliefs. No set of beliefs are to be held sacred or above reproach.

PZ's talk

I just got back from PZ’s talk. It was pretty exciting seeing a guy whose writing I’ve been following for such a long time.

He spent some time explaining explaining Crackergate. Really, when you hear it in person, it just gets all the most absurd. People actually believe he was holding Jesus hostage. One person asked him if he thought anyone would have noticed if he didn’t publicize his actions. The response was that he only destroyed one cracker and actually has a whole bag of them still at his home. If he’s been holding Jesus hostage for over a year now, people seem to be caring less and less with time. It’s a “flash in the pan” sort of thing.

I’m proud to say that I occupied a fair amount of the question time. I’m not proud that I may have prevented someone else from speaking up (and I doubt I did since plenty of people asked their own questions), but I’m glad I got to ask him the things which interested me. I would have regretted missing out on the opportunity. Hell, he’s out for a beer or a bite to eat right now with some people from the talk. I have no idea why I decided to just go home. That, I regret.062

One question I asked was about strategies against creationism. I told of how I have a friend who was a long time creationist (though not of the young Earth variety). He would repeatedly say he had studied the evidence for evolution and that he found it inadequate. I would engage him on a rhetorical level, speaking of the strength of the evidence, how it underlies all facts of biology, how it is the only thing which made sense of the fossil record and our genetic relatedness with other animals. But none of this said why evolution is true. Eventually I got fed up with the rhetoric and went right to town. I followed various chapters of Jerry Coyne’s Why Evolution is True and really pressed him for answers. I knew he would have no creationist response because there is none. All creationism offers is canards, hand-waving, emotional appeals, and other fallacious arguments which do not engage actual evidence. I found success. This friend now accepts the validity of evolution. Of course, he also inserts a Ken Miller-style God and the incorrect argument that intelligence is inevitable. But none-the-less, I am genuinely ecstatic that he has come around on a good portion of the science. So I asked PZ what he thought the best strategy was. One the one hand, we want to maintain a strong rhetoric that denounces creationism as loony and silly and not worthy of in-depth engagement, but on the other hand, we need to engage them on a deeper level to carve away their unscientific beliefs. Do we act like they deserve attention or do we try to denounce them?

PZ’s answer was that “we need multiple approaches”. We need to use all the tools at our disposal to fight such an insipid form of thought. Cornering ourselves into one strategy will not work. We have the Ken Miller’s and Francis Collins’ and Eugenie Scott’s and Jerry Coyne’s and Richard Dawkins’ of the world, and they all offer a different approach to the problem of creationism. It’s hard to disagree with this answer. The only approach not worth trying is that of silence. Allowing these people solo voices can only do harm and undermine democracy. (The last two lines contain my response, not PZ’s, though he may agree with it.)

Oh, and most important of all? Tomorrow is Blasphemy Day (and here).

The purpose of Blasphemy Day is not to promote hate or violence; it is to support free speech, support the right to criticize and satirize religion, and to oppose any resolutions or laws, binding or otherwise, that discourage or inhibit free speech of any kind. While many perceive blasphemy as insulting and offensive, this event is not about getting enjoyment out of ridiculing and insulting others; rather, it was created as a reaction against those who would seek to take away the right to satirize and criticize a particular set of beliefs given a privileged status over other beliefs. Criticism and dissent towards opposing views is the only way in which any nation with any modicum of freedom can exist. Without this essential liberty, those in power are those best able to manipulate others will suppress and silence dissent by labeling it “defamation” or “blasphemy” or whatever other bogey words they can use to stifle opposition by turning popular sentiment against it. Please, do not let them do this.

As usual, humanists are relying upon broad principles and consistent beliefs which go beyond the mere-ness of the individual. I hope that even the religious will appreciate the sentiment behind tomorrow (and I’m sure some will). Do not tread upon the rights of the individual for the sake of your beliefs. No set of beliefs are to be held sacred or above reproach.