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Old 07-17-2001, 03:08 PM   #121
Nomad
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Quote:
Originally posted by turtonm:

I was waiting for you to wade into this one with some peripheral point, and look, here you huffing and puffing just like your old self about a side issue.
Thanks Michael, it is good to be back. On the other hand, if you hadn't been so sloppy in your methodology, we wouldn't be having this discussion now would we?

So tell you what: defend the site YOU offered, and show how it helped make your point that 40-60% of all scientists and engineers in North America are atheists, and we can talk. Since it doesn't do that however, try again, go digging, and come up with another site that "proves" your point.

After you fail to do that, you can then safely withdraw your bold assertion, admit that it came straight out of your head, and we can move on.

Quote:
When Layman or you present some evidence in support of Layman's assertion that forcible indoctrination created more athiests in China than we otherwise would expect, I'll be impressed with your scholarship.
Just to help you out here, Layman and I are two different people, so it is not my own scholarship that is in question here. On the other hand, since you feel free to offer bold conjecture and wild speculation as evidence, and dismiss the Encylopedia Britannica (didn't you used to use this source yourself?), the 2001 World Almanac and other scholarly sources out of hand, I wonder why Layman would be even interested in trying to have a rational evidence based discussion with you.

It is his choice however. In the meantime, I hope the other sites you used did actually support your case. This particular one certainly didn't.

Quote:
It is actually irrevelant to Layman's original assertion how many atheists there are in N. America.
The number appears to be 1.6 million. What source do you have to show otherwise?

Quote:
The numbers for the scientific and engineering population in the US are sound, and we both know, however much you huff and puff, that that subgroup is proportionately far more atheist than the general population.
The actual figure, whether it is 20 or 30 or 40 or 50 or 60 percent, is not all that important. Any one of those numbers makes hash of Layman's claim that there are only 1.6 million atheists in the US.
Yes, they would. But do you have a source to support your claims for ANY percentage amount? After all, if the World Almanac is just making up their own numbers, I am sure that you can produce something concrete counter their claims. Remember Michael, Layman is not making up his figures. You on the other hand, appear to have nothing more than your faith and beliefs to rely on.

Quote:
Among my links on atheism is this on scientists:
http://www.freethoughtforum.org/Athe..._doubt_god.htm
From your site:

Nature magazine replicated Leuba's study in 1996 and 1997.  The results: no big surprise --60.7% of general scientists expressed doubt, while more prominent scientists were up to 93%.

What was the method of the study please? What were the questions asked? Does doubt=disbelief in all gods, or merely agnosticism? I do believe that there is a distinction between the two.

Quote:
I have now disposed of this sideshow three times, and am still awaiting arguments from your side in support of Layman's thesis.
LOL. Nice try Michael. You stepped into this all on your own, and offered your feeble sources. Now try and do better, and support your claims. After all, if they were side issues, you would not have brought them up, would you?

Nomad

P.S. Did it ever occur to you that an atheist web site might not be the best source for objective material on how many atheists there are? Just curious.

[ July 17, 2001: Message edited by: Nomad ]
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Old 07-17-2001, 04:38 PM   #122
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>yawn< The studies cited on scientists, engineers and atheism cover a wide range of years, and show that, in the main, such people are more atheist than the general population. Different studies have produced different figures, which is why I used a range "40-60% atheist."

You seem shocked by this conclusion, which has been widely recognized at least anecdotally for about 150 years, and has been supported by solid surveys since the first part of the last century.

Here is an article from: http://www.boston.com/globe/search/s...ngs/110998.htm

Last year, researchers Edward Larson and Larry Witham reported in Nature magazine a 1996 survey of the religious beliefs of scientists. They queried 1,000 biological and physical scientists and mathematicians randomly drawn from the 1995 American Men and Women of Science. About 40 percent of the scientists professed believe in God or an afterlife. Roughly 45 percent disbelieved, and 15 percent were doubters.

Interestingly, these numbers have not significantly changed since a similar survey was conducted by James Leuba in 1916.


Leuba's work has been a staple of social science knowledge since he did it 90 years ago, of course.

Usually I assume that the people I am talking with have some background knowledge of the world. I'm surprised you haven't heard of it.

Come to think of it, I'm not surprised.

Now, if there are 12.5 million scientists and engineers in the US, and we generously concede 5% to error, that means somewhere around 40% of them must be atheists. Now, you can do the math, but that is a lot more than the Almanac says are atheists in the general population. Believe it or not >gasp< the Almanac is wrong.

Now, if you want the some reliable figures on atheism for the US, you should try the NORC GSS, which has been reliably coming in at 6-8% atheism in the general population now for a quarter-century. But I can't really expect you to have that as a piece of background knowledge, since you are not American and not a social science guy. So here's a link to the NORC numbers:
http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/GSS/rnd19...orts/soc26.htm

There's the link, and we can kiss the almanac's figures bye-bye. If you read all the data, you will find the NORC and Gallup numbers closely track each other. The NORC GSS, BTW, is widely considered the most detailed and authoritative social survey. I've used their data myself in research. It, umm, destroys an unsupported number in a sloppily-compiled almanac.

After all, if they were side issues, you would not have brought them up, would you?

Alas, it was Layman who brought in this ridiculously low number. Having disposed of this topic for the fourth time, can we have some evidence for Layman's assertion now? Or are you going to scour the exchange for other sideshows you can play around with?

Of course, if you want a side issue, you should probably talk to Layman. He's been arguing that Christianity is polytheism for the last 40 or so posts.

Michael
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Old 07-17-2001, 07:22 PM   #123
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My apologies for the delay, but I had some trouble getting onto the SecWeb and have been very busy at work. And, to be honest, the tone of the debate has been rather draining. So I still plan on responding to your previous post, but wanted to address this one now. It demonstrates further methodological difficulties on your interpretation of the data.

Quote:
Originally posted by turtonm:
[QB]>yawn< The studies cited on scientists, engineers and atheism cover a wide range of years, and show that, in the main, such people are more atheist than the general population. Different studies have produced different figures, which is why I used a range "40-60% atheist."
That's fine that you say this, but you have provided no support for the rather sweeping claim that 40-60% of all scientists and engineers are atheists.

None of your sources purports to test for atheism among all "scientists and engineers." Nor have you even attempted to define what you mean by "scientists and engineers."

You've attempted to use a grab bag of sources in an attempt to support what you think must be true. Unfortunately, once you look inside there really is nothing in the bag.

Quote:
You seem shocked by this conclusion, which has been widely recognized at least anecdotally for about 150 years, and has been supported by solid surveys since the first part of the last century.
What conclusion? That there are 12.5 million "scientists and engineers" in the United States? I'd like a source for that, but more importantly I'd like a definition for it. That 40% of all "scientists and engineers" are atheists? You've provided no support for that statement. I might agree broadly that we are more likely to find atheists among our "leading scientists," but that gets you nowhere. You've utterly failed to provide any support for your point.

Quote:
Here is an article from: http://www.boston.com/globe/search/s...ngs/110998.htm

Last year, researchers Edward Larson and Larry Witham reported in Nature magazine a 1996 survey of the religious beliefs of scientists. They queried 1,000 biological and physical scientists and mathematicians randomly drawn from the 1995 American Men and Women of Science. About 40 percent of the scientists professed believe in God or an afterlife. Roughly 45 percent disbelieved, and 15 percent were doubters.

Interestingly, these numbers have not significantly changed since a similar survey was conducted by James Leuba in 1916.
This test only polled members of the 1995 Men and Women of Science. Is their membership at the 12.5 million level? No. In fact their directory includes only about 126,000 scientists. Which nets you about 50,400 if we take the 40% number as accurate for the Larson study. Statistically insignificant.

Quote:
Leuba's work has been a staple of social science knowledge since he did it 90 years ago, of course.
As far as it goes, fine. But Lueba's work didn't test the overall number of atheists in the United States. Nor did he test the total number of atheist "scientists and engineers." And his test looked for doubt about the existence of God, not about whether the test subjects were atheists. In other words, he didn't even test for atheism, but agnosticism. Those expressing doubt about the existence of God includes agnostics. Not just atheists.

Quote:
Usually I assume that the people I am talking with have some background knowledge of the world. I'm surprised you haven't heard of it.
I can't speak for Nomad, but I have heard of such studies. But I have yet to see any of these studies support your position that 40% of the 12.5 million "scientists and engineers" in the United States are atheists.

Quote:
Now, if there are 12.5 million scientists and engineers in the US, and we generously concede 5% to error, that means somewhere around 40% of them must be atheists. Now, you can do the math, but that is a lot more than the Almanac says are atheists in the general population. Believe it or not >gasp< the Almanac is wrong.
What kind of scientists?

What kind of engineers?

What test shows that 40% of all "scientists and engineers" are atheists?

And could I get a link to the 12.5 million "scientists and engineers" number?

You have provided none of this data. And what you have provided you have misconstrued.

Quote:
Now, if you want the some reliable figures on atheism for the US, you should try the NORC GSS, which has been reliably coming in at 6-8% atheism in the general population now for a quarter-century. But I can't really expect you to have that as a piece of background knowledge, since you are not American and not a social science guy. So here's a link to the NORC numbers:
http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/GSS/rnd19...orts/soc26.htm
I was a social science guy and I used the GSS in my Advanced Research and Statistics class. And I read the lengthy article on the other end of that post. In vain it seems. It doesn't seem to even measure the number of atheists in the United States. It measures "none," which includes "agnostics, atheists, non-believers, those with no religious preference, and similar designations." If you would like feel free to cut and paste the relevant NORC poll reporting the % of atheists in the United States. I could have missed it in the latest link you have provided.

So here we are after more than a hundred posts and you have YET to provide a single source contradicting the World Almanac's 1.6 million atheists numbers.

Quote:
There's the link, and we can kiss the almanac's figures bye-bye. If you read all the data, you will find the NORC and Gallup numbers closely track each other. The NORC GSS, BTW, is widely considered the most detailed and authoritative social survey. I've used their data myself in research. It, umm, destroys an unsupported number in a sloppily-compiled almanac.
I've patiently explained time and again that I am speaking only about atheists. I have always specifically excluded agnostics, as have my sources, from my discussion. You, once again seek to use definintional games and include that which has been expressly excluded to make your point. And once again you fail.

Quote:
Alas, it was Layman who brought in this ridiculously low number. Having disposed of this topic for the fourth time, can we have some evidence for Layman's assertion now? Or are you going to scour the exchange for other sideshows you can play around with?
No, it was Layman who relied on the World Alamanac which is the only source so far that expressly reported atheists in North America. I can't help it if the number of atheists in North America is ridiculously low. I'm thankful for it but not responsible for it.

And I think this is a very informative discussion and very relevant to our ongoing discussion because it once again demonstrates your methodological errors and inconsistencies. Errors and inconsistencies which permeate your entire argument. Such as counting Asian "nonreligious" as definitionally atheists while counting Hungarian "nonreligious" as definitionally not atheists. Such as relying on a missionary website for your number of atheists in Japan (which you misrepresented anywy) but refusing to use the number of atheists in Vietnam from another missionary website.

Quote:
Of course, if you want a side issue, you should probably talk to Layman. He's been arguing that Christianity is polytheism for the last 40 or so posts.
Another untruth.

[ July 17, 2001: Message edited by: Layman ]
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Old 07-17-2001, 08:29 PM   #124
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Quote:
Originally posted by turtonm:

>yawn< The studies cited on scientists, engineers and atheism cover a wide range of years, and show that, in the main, such people are more atheist than the general population. Different studies have produced different figures, which is why I used a range "40-60% atheist."
Hmm... you had backed off in your last post, and said that it might be as low as 20%. I see you are back to your dogmatic self. Please give us a solid report to back up your claims Michael. Your assertions based on your faith are not very interesting.

Quote:
You seem shocked by this conclusion, which has been widely recognized at least anecdotally for about 150 years, and has been supported by solid surveys since the first part of the last century.
I'm not even remotely interested in anecdotal evidence or beliefs. I want to see something solid from you Micheal. Surely you can come up with something.

Quote:
Here is an article from: http://www.boston.com/globe/search/s...ngs/110998.htm

Last year, researchers Edward Larson and Larry Witham reported in Nature magazine a 1996 survey of the religious beliefs of scientists. They queried 1,000 biological and physical scientists and mathematicians randomly drawn from the 1995 American Men and Women of Science. About 40 percent of the scientists professed believe in God or an afterlife. Roughly 45 percent disbelieved, and 15 percent were doubters.
I suppose that you did not notice that this site is quoting the EXACT same Nature magazine report as you offered in your last post. You still have not told us its methodology or questions, nor have you told us if you equate doubts about the existence of God(s) with atheism. My understanding is that the doubters are called agnostics.

Quote:
Interestingly, these numbers have not significantly changed since a similar survey was conducted by James Leuba in 1916.
Of course, if the report was created to prove a narrow point, then I guess there shouldn't be a surprise. What does surprise me is your level of credulity here Michael. As a sceptic, I would have thought your demand for evidenciary support would be much higher.

Quote:
Leuba's work has been a staple of social science knowledge since he did it 90 years ago, of course.
Yeah, whatever. The methodology of this study looks pretty suspect. What was the sample size? How were people screened and tested? How many studies since have backed up it's findings? One? Come on Michael, this is pathetic.

Quote:
Usually I assume that the people I am talking with have some background knowledge of the world. I'm surprised you haven't heard of it.
Your insults will not save you hear Michael. You have scrambled to find something, ANYTHING to support your previously held beliefs, and thus far you haven't offered us anything more than air. The World Almanac may be run by a bunch of goof ball know nothings, but until you offer us something solid to look at, you are blowing a lot of smoke.

Quote:
Now, if there are 12.5 million scientists and engineers in the US, and we generously concede 5% to error, that means somewhere around 40% of them must be atheists. Now, you can do the math, but that is a lot more than the Almanac says are atheists in the general population. Believe it or not >gasp< the Almanac is wrong.
Prove that 40%+ of ALL engineers and scientists in North America are atheists. Agnostics do not count. Show us the proof Michael. We both know it isn't there, however. So perhaps you will just admit you got carried away, and back off of your ridiculous claim.

Quote:
Now, if you want the some reliable figures on atheism for the US, you should try the NORC GSS, which has been reliably coming in at 6-8% atheism in the general population now for a quarter-century. But I can't really expect you to have that as a piece of background knowledge, since you are not American and not a social science guy. So here's a link to the NORC numbers:
http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/GSS/rnd19...orts/soc26.htm
I wish I could say that I thought you were joking Michael. No religious affiliation does not equal atheists. You should know that. So do not spread these kind of distortions and manipulations. It may play well with the masses here on the SecWeb, but it is plainly dishonest.

Now, go find some real numbers, and make sure that they talk about atheists alone. This study tells us that between 6 and 10 percent of the population has no religion. Big deal. Show us how many are atheists. And make sure the data is newer than 1988.

Quote:
There's the link, and we can kiss the almanac's figures bye-bye. If you read all the data, you will find the NORC and Gallup numbers closely track each other. The NORC GSS, BTW, is widely considered the most detailed and authoritative social survey. I've used their data myself in research.
I hope you are more honest in your presentation of your data in your personal research than you are here on the SecWeb. Do not confuse NORC with atheist again please.

Quote:
It, umm, destroys an unsupported number in a sloppily-compiled almanac.
No, you have just betrayed your own sloppiness, and by now, I would have to call it dishonesty as well. Do better.

Quote:
Nomad: After all, if they were side issues, you would not have brought them up, would you?

Michael: Alas, it was Layman who brought in this ridiculously low number.
Thus far Layman has provided the ONLY solid numbers on actual atheists in North America. We have gotten nothing but bluster and insults from you, as well as dishonest presentation of the data you DO have.

Quote:
Having disposed of this topic for the fourth time, can we have some evidence for Layman's assertion now? Or are you going to scour the exchange for other sideshows you can play around with?
As I have time, I will go through the rest of your posts and see what crops up. Thus far we have seen so much BS from you, I don't think I need to go any farther. If, however, you are prepared to admit your error, and just tell us that you got carried away in your zeal, then I think we can safely drop the topic and move on.

Quote:
Of course, if you want a side issue, you should probably talk to Layman. He's been arguing that Christianity is polytheism for the last 40 or so posts.
Offer a quote to support this please. Layman has called it a lie, and knowing Layman's beliefs, I think he is correct in calling you on it.

Back up your beliefs Michael. That is what sceptics are supposed to do. Remember?

Nomad
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Old 07-18-2001, 05:54 AM   #125
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Although he hasn't realized it, Layman has been arguing that Christ-inanity is polytheism several times in this latest discussion:

Layman:

So no, I'm not counting Buddhists as atheists.

and again, Layman accepts Buddhists as theists:

Even according to your source, Adherents.com, between 80%-90% of Japanese are adherents to Shintoism or Buddhism (there is a large measure of overlap), not atheism.

Inasmuch as Buddhists have no gods, but do have certain supernatural beings, such as demons and Bodhisattvas, and supernatural concepts, this is interesting. For Layman accepts this as theism.

But in another thread long ago, Layman rejected such things as representing theism. For example, he said:

Actually, if you remember, I said that I understood the argument on the trinity. I just disagree with it. What I found absurd was your statements about belief in angels and satan rendering a belief polytheistic.

Well Turton. We have radically different ideas of what constitutes monotheism. You seem to think it means those who believe only in ONE spirit creature. No angels, no demons, no satan. Just one spirit creature. This throws Islam, Judaism, and Christianity out the window. In fact, I'm not sure anything is left. So what good is the label and why have so many scholars used it to refer to Judaism, Islam, and Christianity?

Of course, you have to read the whole discussion Is Christianity Polytheism to get the full flavor of Layman's taking offense at the idea that supernatural creatures with minor powers turn his religion into polytheism.

This is typical Layman definition-shifting. When Layman needs minor supernatural creatures to make someone theistic, why, Buddhists are theists. However, when such minor supernatural creatures would turn Christianity into polytheism, he rejects them utterly as evidence of a separate theism.

So basically, theism, monotheism and polytheism are whatever Layman says they are, whenever he needs them to be. And in our current thread, they are theistic. In the old thread, they weren't theistic, else Christianity would be polytheistic religion.

So clear this up for me, Layman. Are Buddhists theists, and thus Christianity is polytheism, or are Buddhists atheists (which would do lots of damage to your original claim about atheism and China? Or what? Or does the definition shift whenever you need it to?

That brings up the discussion we had in this thread, which Nomad and Layman have been studiously ignoring in their most recent posts. Are you ever going to demonstrate that the atheists of China were created by State coercion, or will you retract your various erroneous claims regarding atheists created during this century?

Michael
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Old 07-18-2001, 07:43 AM   #126
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As for our sideshow, for the fifth time:

Larson and Witham did two surveys, one in 1996 of "lesser scientists" in 1996, and one of "greater scientists" in 1998. 61% of lesser scientists expressed doubt or disbelief. Only 7% of greater scientists came out with some form of belief in the later studies.

Like I said, these studies are well-known, and replicate other studies that show basically the same thing for the last century, give or take a decade.

And yes, Layman, I gave you a reference to the 12.5 million scientists and engineers. I can't help it if you had a sudden attack of inability to read.

Now, Barna, NORC GSS, Gallup all put atheists/agnostics at ~7% of the population. Your figure for 1.6 million atheists has no methodological basis you have been able to provide, and has no definition either -- are they counting only people labeled as atheists, or anyone with unbelief? Or what?

An atheist, Layman, is anyone who does not believe in gods. Period. Most agnostics are atheists. Some atheists believe in esp and the supernatural -- does that make them theists? The vast majority of people in the 7% would be atheists by the standard definition: unbelief in gods. Their other beliefs, or their take on unbelief, is not relevant, which is why surveys sensibly lump them together.

It is easy to see why your number is so ridiculous. ~7% of the US population is roughly 20 million. Now according to you, 1.6 million or so atheists in N. America, the rest agnostics and non-believers or whatever. Your claim amounts to saying that all the rest of those people are theists of one sort or another. That is clearly wrong.

We cannot say for certain what the exact number of atheists in North American is, but is it certainly higher than 1.6 million, which is all I need to demonstrate. I do not know where the almanac or Britannica

You can accept or reject solid survey numbers as you wish, that is your affair. If you want to believe that there are only 1.6 million atheists in all of North America, go ahead. Actually, that number is not only lower than the figure for scientists and engineers who are atheists, it is also in the midrange of estimates of the total number of Buddhists in North America (from as low as 750,000 to as high as 6 million, nobody really knows). And Buddhists are atheists, as the Dalai Lama says.

Perhaps, if you can tell me what an atheist is, we can figure out how many there are. On the other hand, if you wish to declare victory and run away, go right ahead. I trust the gentle readers of this debate will make their own judgements.

I can see why you don't like the "tone" of the debate. Inability to make your case can do that to you.

So, when will I see evidence that coercion produce anamolously large numbers of atheists in China?

Michael

[ July 18, 2001: Message edited by: turtonm ]
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Old 07-18-2001, 10:19 PM   #127
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I have to hand it to you Michael, this post of yours has to be one of the biggest displays of confused thinking and disingenuous presentation of the facts yet seen on these boards.

The question was simple, offer a quote that showed that Layman was arguing that Christianity equals polytheism. The best you could do in response was to say that since Layman considers Buddhism to be a form of theism, then Christianity is polytheistic. Please tell me that you are joking here, since there is no other way to look at this outrageous statement.

If all Buddhists are atheists, then just say so, then prove it. If some are, however, theists, then what are you talking about here? You did know that there are more kinds of theists out there than just monotheists like Christians, Jews and Muslims? Polytheists and pantheists also happen to be theists, and many Buddhists do, in fact, fall into this category.

Now, stop being silly, and try not to let yourself get carried away again. I asked you to prove that Layman argues that Christianity is polytheistic, you have failed to do so (no surprise there, since your claim was a lie). And the less said about your idiotic claim that Christians worship Satan, the better. I would have thought you would have wanted to drop that topic long ago. Would you care to try and defend that view again?

Quote:
{Snip long confused post leading to Michael's ridiculous follow up below}

So clear this up for me, Layman. Are Buddhists theists, and thus Christianity is polytheism, or are Buddhists atheists ...?
I'm going to assume that you are not as confused as you sound here Michael. An atheist rejects belief in any type of God(s) or divine beings. Some, but not all Buddhists are atheists by this definition. But do not call all of them atheists. Such a claim would be as ridiculous as when you tried to equate agnosticism with atheism in your studies on the beliefs of scientists and engineers.

Quote:
That brings up the discussion we had in this thread, which Nomad and Layman have been studiously ignoring in their most recent posts. Are you ever going to demonstrate that the atheists of China were created by State coercion, or will you retract your various erroneous claims regarding atheists created during this century?
How I do love irony. You are the one that tried to turn agnostics into atheists (by claiming that those that hold no religious affiliation in various studies are all atheists). When you stop misrepresenting yourself and your data then perhaps it would be possible to treat you more seriously. As it stands right now, you are simply digging yourself deeper and deeper into your hole of your own creation. You haven't done this badly SINCE the "Christians are Satan worshippers" incident you triggered a few months back.

Calm down Michael. Avoid making overly ambitious claims, and admit when you have erred. It will make things much easier for you, and confirm for us that you are, in fact, still rational.

Nomad

[ July 18, 2001: Message edited by: Nomad ]
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Old 07-18-2001, 10:35 PM   #128
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I'm not even going to bother quoting from Michael's last post. It is getting so increasingly desperate and nonsensical as to be simply embarrassing.

Thus, I am going to resort to something very mundane. The question is, who is an atheist?

Michael says that it includes Buddhists and agnostics as groups. Now, let's see what the dictionary says.

From Webster's.com

Main Entry: athe·ism
1 (archaic)
2 a : a disbelief in the existence of deity b : the doctrine that there is no deity


Enough said there. Looks pretty clear.

Main Entry: ag·nos·tic

: a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality (as God) is unknown and prob. unknowable; broadly : one who is not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of God or a god


Again, very plain. Since an agnostic, by definition [b]is not committed to believing in either the existence or non-existence of God or a god, then he or she is not an atheist.

Finally, as for Buddhists, if Michael can demonstrate that all Buddhists are atheists, then he can make a valid claim. If he cannot do this, then he should simply admit his excessive zeal in trying to win a point, and withdraw his assertions.

I remain hopeful that he will come to his senses.

Nomad

[ July 18, 2001: Message edited by: Nomad ]
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Old 07-18-2001, 11:39 PM   #129
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Nomad: The definition of "atheist" that most of us atheists go by is that an atheist is a person who does not have a belief in one or more gods. A "strong atheist" affirmatively denies that there is a god; a "weak atheist" just has no belief in a god, but does not try to prove that there is no god. Agnostics properly defined are weak atheists under this scheme, unless you are using the word "agnostic" to mean someone who can't make up his mind if there is a god.

Buddhists do not believe in a supreme being, although they do believe in a spiritual dimension to life, and some Buddhists belive in spirits or ghosts or other paranormal beings. I recall that the current Pope descibed Buddhism as atheistic, and the only Buddhists who objected were some in Ceylon who worried about losing their government religious subsidy.

So no Buddhists believe in a "supreme being" comparable to Jehovah. Some Buddhists believe in other spirits comparable to Christian angels, saints or devils. If the Buddhists' belief in spirits makes them theistic, then the Christians who believe in angels, saints, or devils must be polytheistic. It's very simple. But it's just a word game.

All this is completely beside the point. Mike started this thread on the Shroud of Turin. Layman then made the assertion that communism was the only factor explaining atheism, and most atheists were that way because of communist indoctrination. Mike rose to the challenge and has been refuting that canard with reams of statistics.

I take all the statistics with a grain of salt, because I don't think most people responding to a survey in this country are going to identify themselves as atheists, just because of the social stigma. (Even people who act like atheists, only go to church under family pressure, resent organized religion, will claim to believe in some sort of god.)

But I take great offense at the idea that only communism could explain the fact that people do not believe in god. Atheism was around before communism, and will survive it.

In fact, I think that with the demise of communism, more people may be willing to identify themselves as atheists. Time will tell.
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Old 07-19-2001, 04:41 AM   #130
Jack the Bodiless
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I am more than a little surprised that two regular contributors to SecWeb are unaware of the whole atheist/agnostic issue.

Virtually ALL atheists are agnostics, and most agnostics are atheists. Dictionary definitions on this subject are notoriously inaccurate (especially Websters, which has been attacked for this on many occasions). Atheism is certainly NOT "the doctrine that there is no deity". If you believe in a God (or pantheon of gods), you are a theist: otherwise, you are an atheist. An agnostic is one who considers that the nature of the divine is unknowable: agnostics are either theist or atheist, depending on whether they consider the existence of deities to be "probable" or "improbable". Most consider the existence of deities to be unlikely.

And most are reluctant to use the word "atheist" precisely because of the general ignorance and confusion about what the word means: they believe that it refers to an impossible "certainty" that There Is No God. Hence, the word is rarely used on surveys even by those who are actually atheists. But "No religion" certainly does mean "atheist".

Though what any of this has to do with the Shroud of Turin is beyond my comprehension...
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