The Cycle | July 24, 2012
>>> they're going through such an emotional time right now. but my congregation yesterday in church i discussed the reality of evil and you know the big question, we always get back to you, is there evil in the world? i delivered a message yesterday based on a verse in the bible in romans, 12:21 , that says, don't let evil overcome you.
>> that was the pastor on our show yesterday offering spiritual guidance to many in the aurora community after the shooting. what about nonbelievers? well, the exact number of secular americans like myself is open to debate. evidence that americans are increasingly less tied to for formal religion. when asked to identify the religious identity 16% said none, that's up from near zero in 1940s and 50s based on gallup tracking. the next guest says number of nonbelievers is as many as 1 in 5. david niose, president of the american human association. david , author of nonbeliever nation the rise of secular americans . first, clear up terminology, briefly. you throw a lot of words out there, secular, nonbelievers, atheists, who are you really talking about here?
>> well, we're talking about nonreligious americans , s.e., people who probably don't go to church and are at least apathetic about their religious belief , not on board with all of the religious --
>> wait, are they believers? do they believe in god?
>> most are not, although it's really worth noting that a lot of americans are rather apathetic about the question. they might be inclined to say, yes, i believe, but they live naturalistic way without relying on supernatural answers. so in that way, we should understand with any categorization there's always some gray area . and i think we could say some secular americans might be inclined to say that they believe but you know the core of the secular movement is certainly nonbelievers.
>> well, so, david , i mean, ever since ka perscapernics. someone has been declaring death o. god. inexplicably he persists, there's something to this thousands-year-old thing. do you think nonbelievers will be a majority in the country or anywhere in the world? mr. i think it's certainly possible. in western europe there large percentages and the trend's in that direction. religion can be understood as a natural phenomenon . in fact, there have been books recently writ been that and i refer to it in my own book. it's understandable why humans as very intelligent answers would invent supernatural explanations for things. but what we're finding, as we move forward as human beings that we can fill in most of those gaps without supernaturalism.
>> david i appreciated a lot of what i read in your book, especially the idea the religious right, which tried to shape the discussion to say that they are the true americans and the others, the rest of us, are not i appreciated that idea of reclaiming it's not un-american to be a nonbeliever, to be nonreligious but i wondered, would it be possible for a nonreligious person to become president of the united states ? i would suggest perhaps no because the religious people would punish him or her and the nonreligious would not flock to that person as evangelical christians or jews would rally around someone of their faith.
>> we think the trend is in that direction. in fact the polling seems to show that. last month, for the first time ever a poll came out showing that a majority of americans would vote for a qualified atheist president. it was only 54%, which is not an acceptable number. we want that number to be higher. but it's much higher than it was the first time the poll was conducted back in the 1950s , only 18% said yes. so, clearly the trend is in that direction. it's also worth pointing out, among young people , the number was 70%. so certainly the generations coming up are more tal rant of secularity than the older generation.
>> i'm an atheist. something i never understood. why would nonbelievers want to rebel against organized religion by organizing themselves around a system of nonbelief? i mean, what's the goal here? why is it important for you as a nonbeliever to get recognition somehow and to be recognized and acknowledged as a majority or growing minority?
>> that's a great question. and really the answer is that the opposition to the religious right thus far for the first 25 years, let's state the religious right to 1980 when the moral majority came on the scene, for the first 25 years, the opposition to the religious right was a dismal failure. why was that? mainly the opposition came from two sectors. it came from liberal and moderate politicians claiming to be religious themselves and advocacy groups which were also quick to associate themselves with religion. now we need that opposition, that's great. but something was missing. what was missing was something, anybody's standing up for the dignity of secular americans , of nonbelievers. that's what the movement is all. we're not trying to organize around disbelief as if disbelief is a way of life that everyone should flock to. what we're organizing around is the idea that we are part of the american tapestry.
>> well, david niose, i appreciate it. thanks for joining us.