"The only problem was what President-elect Bush wanted from me and "every American." "I ask you to pray for this great nation," he said. "I ask your prayers for leaders from both parties," and for their families too, while we're at it. Whatever else I might have been inclined to think of Bush's call for comity, with his simple little request, his assumption that prayer is some sort of miracle Vicks VapoRub for the national charley horse, it was clear that his hands were reaching for any hands but mine. "
"In an age when flamboyantly gay characters are sitcom staples, a Jew was but a few flutters of a butterfly wing away from being in line for the presidency and women account for a record-smiting 13 percent of the Senate, nothing seems as despised, illicit and un-American as atheism."
"So who in her right mind would want to be an atheist in America today, a place where presidential candidates compete for the honor of divining "what Jesus would do," and where Senator Joseph Lieberman can declare that we shouldn't deceive ourselves into thinking that our constitutional "freedom of religion" means "freedom from religion," or "indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion," and for his atheism-baiting receive the lightest possible slap on the wrist from his more secularized Jewish counterparts?"
"Who would want to be the low man on the voter poll? When asked in 1999 whether they would consider voting for a woman for president, 92 percent of Americans said yes, up from 76 percent in 1978; 95 percent of respondents would vote for a black, a gain of 22 points since 1978; Jews were up to 92 percent from 82 in the votability index; even homosexuals have soared in popularity, acceptable presidential fodder to 59 percent of Americans today, compared with 26 percent in 1978. But atheists, well, there's no saving them. Of all the categories in this particular Gallup poll, they scraped bottom, considered worthy candidates by only 49 percent of Americans, a gain of a mere 9 percent since 1978. "Throughout American history, there's been this belief that our country has a covenant with God and that a deity watches over America," says Michael Cromartie, vice president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington. Atheism, in other words, is practically unpatriotic."
"It's enough to make one tell a nosy pollster, oh, yes, I believe in God. It's enough to make one not want to discuss belief in the first place, or to reach for palatable terms like "secular humanist," or "freethinker," or "agnostic," which sound so much less dogmatic than "atheist," so much less cocksure".
Letter to Angier from Paul Grobstein
"there is something to be said for a revival of pagan peevishness and outspokenness. It's not that I would presume to do something as foolish and insulting as try to convert a believer. Arguments over the question of whether God exists are ancient, recurring, sometimes stimulating but more often tedious. Arrogance and righteousness are nondenominational vices that entice the churched and unchurched alike."
""There remains a sense among a lot of Americans that someone who actively doesn't believe in God might not be morally reliable, or might not be fully trustworthy," says James Turner, a professor of history and philosophy of science at Notre Dame. Yet the canard that godliness and goodliness are linked in any way but typographically must be taken on faith, for no evidence supports it. In one classic study, sociologists at the University of Washington compared students who were part of the "Jesus people" movement with a comparable group of professed atheists and found that atheists were no more likely to cheat on tests than were Christians and no less likely to volunteer at a hospital for the mentally disabled. Recent data compiled on the religious views among federal prisoners show that nonbelievers account for less than 1 percent of the total, significantly lower than for America as a whole. Admittedly, some of those true-believing inmates may have converted post-incarceration, but the data that exist in no way support the notion that atheism promotes criminal behavior."
" In fact, the foundations of ethical behavior not only predate the world's major religions; they also predate the rise of Homo sapiens."
"Believers and doubters alike will always be with us -- and it's just possible that we need each other more than we know. As Kevin McCullough, a member of the Fellowship of Christian Firefighters, told me of his debate with the doubting Monson: "If he's seeking the truth, I don't think he's there yet. But he makes me think, and he brings up good points, and that's good for me. It helps strengthen my own beliefs.""
" From my godless perspective, the devout remind me that it is human nature to thirst after meaning and to desire an expansion of purpose beyond the cramped Manhattan studio of self and its immediate relations. In her brief and beautiful book, "The Sacred Depths of Nature," Ursula Goodenough, a cell biologist, articulates a sensibility that she calls "religious naturalism," a profound appreciation of the genuine workings of nature, conjoined with a commitment to preserving that natural world in all its staggering, interdependent splendor. Or call it transcendent atheism: I may not believe in life after death, but what a gift it is to be alive now."