New Age Beliefs Among Atheists: Religion Is Just One Of the Hydra's Heads

hydra monster

I suspect that most of you are aware that many people believe in things like Tarot cards, astrology, crystals, psychics, homeopathy, the presence of spiritual energy in physical objects, reincarnation, etc. You are probably also aware that many nonreligious people believe these things too. Is "New Age beliefs" the best way to collectively refer to these things? Should they be separated out from more traditional religious beliefs like faith healing, demonic possession and exorcism, the power of prayer, heaven and hell, etc.? I mean, there's no more evidence to support any of the New Age beliefs than there is to support the old school religious beliefs. Do we have a label that encompasses both? "Woo" comes to mind as a candidate that could include both (and more), but I am having trouble coming up with another.

I've never been a fan of the commonly heard argument that humans need to believe things that aren't true. Of course, the evidence that many atheists believe in ghosts or hold various New Age beliefs does seem consistent with such a claim. I've known atheists who are quick to explain that they do not believe in gods due to the lack of evidence for their existence but do believe in other forms of woo. The lack of evidence there either doesn't bother them or they've managed to persuade themselves that there really is evidence to support this stuff. In that way, they don't see any inconsistency. There is no evidence for gods, but there is evidence for astrology, etc.


To the Christians Who Want to Know if Atheists Ever Pray to Their Preferred God

questions and answers

Many evangelical Christians are extremely fond of asking "gotcha" questions they get from their pastors because they believe such questions will open us heathens up to conversion. Strangely, these Christians must not think their "god" has the power to handle conversion on its own without their assistance. I don't know about you, but a supernatural being that requires human help and relies on trickery does not strike me as one worthy of the "god" label.

Anyway, one of the more common questions I see circulating on Twitter, from both Christians and atheists (or perhaps Christians posing as atheists), has to do with whether we atheists ever find ourselves tempted to pray to some sort of "god" when we are facing difficult circumstances. I have to admit that I've never understood what would possess anyone to ask such a question, but that's probably because I find it nonsensical. If I don't believe in gods, why would I pray to them? There wouldn't be any more point to doing so than there would be in praying to random superheroes or any other imaginary beings I might fancy, many of which seem an awful lot more interesting than most gods.


Confront Christian Extremism to Understand Texas Threat to Reproductive Rights

state of texas

It was not long ago that I explained I do not think it is possible to understand the situation in Afghanistan after the U.S. departure without considering the theocratic Islam (i.e., Islamism). The Taliban reminds us why this is so dangerous and why theocratic forms of government must be prevented from taking hold. The threat to human rights is very real. To understand what is so bad about the Taliban, we must confront Islamic extremism.

With attention quickly shifting to the dire situation unfolding in Texas, many are asking similar questions (i.e., "What's wrong with Texas?") as we were recently asking about Afghanistan. And while the answer is not the same, it is very similar. I do not believe we can understand what is happening in Texas without considering theocratic Christianity (i.e., Christian nationalism). Those who passed the draconian law restricting reproductive rights in Texas remind us why this is so dangerous and why theocracy must be prevented from taking hold within the United States (and dismantled where it has been allowed to take hold). To understand what is so bad about Texas and many other states, we must confront Christian extremism.


Atheist Nonconformity: Going Against the Grain Can Be Exhausting

football bleachers

This post was inspired by a comment from 1HappyHeathen on this post that struck a nerve. Thanks for the inspiration!

Sporting events, commencement ceremonies, and even government meetings often begin with a group display of respect for faith. Everyone is asked to stand, remove their hats, and/or bow their heads in prayer. And almost everyone does so even though some in attendance are undoubtedly atheists would prefer not to participate. We humans are social creatures, and the power of the group is tremendous in shaping our behavior. Going against the grain is rarely easy, especially in large public gatherings.

As I write these words, I have a clear image in my head of sitting in the bleachers at a football game and everyone standing to recite some sort of nationalistic pledge or anthem that makes reference to gods. I have seen it before many times, and I have participated in it many times without thinking too much about it. But I'm thinking about it now, and I realize that I do not agree with it. The god references do not belong here. And so I do not stand with everyone else. I feel the glares, and I hear the insults. I imagine young children asking their parents why I am not standing. It is terrifying. I have to will myself to brush it off, to somehow convince myself that I have every right to be here anyway. It is far from easy. But I won't go along with something in which I don't believe. I can't go along with something in which I don't believe.