Dave Wilton dave at WILTON.NET
Sun Dec 20 23:43:15 UTC 2009

"Strong atheism" has nothing to do with militancy. Richard Dawkins, for
example, is a "weak atheist," labeling himself as a 6.5 on a 1-7 scale of
certainty. Dawkins does not say, "God does not exist," at least not when he
is choosing his words with care.

My experience with talking to people is that atheism is a *lot* more common
in the US than polls indicate. It's just they are in the closet. The social
pressure to publicly acknowledge some sort of religious faith is tremendous.
But I don't know how many regular church-goers I've met who've told me they
don't really believe in God. People won't even let others admit to being
atheists. When I filled out the form for my army ID ("dog") tags, which list
name, rank, social security number, blood type, and religion, I checked the
"atheist" box on the form. The tags came back as "no religious preference."
Comedian Julia Sweeney tells the story of how she admitted to her mother,
with great trepidation, that she didn't believe in God. Her mother replied,
"that's okay dear, as long as you're not one of those atheists."

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of
Robin Hamilton
Sent: Sunday, December 20, 2009 2:35 PM
Subject: Re: atheist

From: "Dave Wilton" <dave at WILTON.NET>

> Vanishingly few people are
> strong atheists because the position is as irrational and faith-based as
> the
> theist position.

Perhaps strong (militant) atheists are commoner in Britain (where they are
frequently members of the National Secular Society) than in the US.
Rational or not, it's a distinct and strongly-held belief among some here.


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