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Nonbeliever Nation Afterthoughts

03/20/2013

This book falls directly into the “political atheism” genre that other writers like Ed Brayton and Michael De Dora exemplify. The book does a good job at enraging by looking at how reasonable and accepting of science and different religious views politicians were at the beginning of the 20th century. After a few problematic events, like atheistic communism and Ronald Reagan, things turned swiftly against any type of freethinkers, and religion became a de facto part of political life. In God We Trust was shoved onto dollars, and Under God was shoved into the pledge. Believers equated religious belief to patriotism. That is starting to change. . . finally.

Niose gives a good overview of the different areas that political atheists are at the front lines of. There’s the intermingling of religion and government, including unconstitutional endorsements of religion, especially Christianity. There’s bad history, with people claiming that the founding fathers began this country based on Judeo-Christian values. There’s the common slur against atheists that we are immoral and untrustworthy (and thus unfit for any type of public office). Niose also provides a look into the future, with nonbelievers growing faster than any other religious orientation, and beginning to have some public sway.

Good intro to political atheism, with a decent coverage of sources and a slightly deeper look at most issues than, say, blog posts. I wonder how well this would work on those who already agree though. I have a feeling that “In God We Trust” on dollar bills is just one of those issues that doesn’t annoy people who already believe in God, and its hard to show why its so bothersome.

The chapter on morality wasn’t that great. It wasn’t a philosophy book, but I found the moral foundations a bit thin. It’ll be nice to find a book that treats morality reasonably, and I have yet to see a good examination of the subject, except by perhaps Alonzo Fyfe and Luke Muehlhauser.

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