RESPONSE TO COMMENTS
ON THE "FRIENDLY ATHEIST" BLOG
ABOUT MY CHAPTER ONE, POSTED THERE
[Note: Yes, amazingly, Hemant Mehta, one of America's most prominent atheists, posted Chapter 1 of my just-published book The End of Unbelief on his popular blog The Friendly Atheist, knowing his aggressively atheist readers would attack it -- and me -- mercilessly. They did not disappoint. Over 500 comments made me feel their passionate contempt for my views. Then Hemant was kind enough to let me write a response to those comments. The response was in five parts (which drew over 1,000 more comments). Here is the first part.]
My sincere thanks to Hemant for posting an excerpt from my new book on his widely read blog. I was prepared for a rough welcome, and I got one. On my own blog at shanehayes.com I wrote a posting captioned "Throwing Shane to the Lions." That's wry hyperbole, but Hemant's readers have sharp polemical teeth and claws, and I have literary scars to prove it.
Which Way Does the Tide Flow?
Many of you were understandably rankled by my saying that: "The tide of modern intellectual culture flows strongly toward atheism." Andrew EC spoke for many of you when he said:
Andrew and many of you ignored that my phrase "the tide" is a synonym for "the trend," and that the trend is different from the status quo. Yes, the status quo is still overwhelmingly Christian in America, but the trend is toward unbelief. It must rejoice your hearts that the number of American adults with no religion doubled between 1990 and 2008.
The American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) estimated that the 14.3 million who said they had no religion in 1990 had grown to 34.2 million by 2008. That represents 15% of the U. S. adult population (up from 8% in 1990), and indications are that it’s still growing. It could easily double again in the next eighteen years. Such trends tend to accelerate as they gain momentum.
The Pew Forum's U. S. Religious Landscape Survey figures are even worse -- from my point of view -- than ARIS's. Pew reports:
Between 1990 and 2008 the number of people in the U. S. who said they had no religion increased by 20 million. That's an increase, on average, of more than a million a year. If three of ten of those people with no religion are agnostics or atheists, that means their number is increasing at the rate of over 300,000 a year!