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Patheos Writer Questions NatGeo’s Ability to take a “Truthful, Fact-based Look at Atheism”


“Atheism is no more a religion than off is a TV channel” says Friendly Atheist writer to NatGeo’s recent look at non-believers.

It didn’t take long for Gabe Bullard’s article entitled The World’s Newest Major Religion: No Religion (published in the April 22, 2016 edition of National Geographic) to lightning rod debate on several fronts.

Patheos Writer Questions NatGeo’s Ability to take a “Truthful, Fact-based Look at Atheism”[/tweetthis]

Believers and non-believers (terms I now use while typing on eggshells based on blog response to the article) went head-to-head on the message board attached to the article. “Christians won’t be happy ‘til this country is a theocracy,” stated one commenter in response to another who said “Liberalism demands singular thought among its believers.”

But Terry Firma’s post on the Friendly Atheist page at questioned National Geographic’s ability to produce an unbiased, fact-based article on atheism.

Firma took Bullard and his article to task on several fronts. First, he disliked the title because it implies that atheism is a religion, a notion he describes as “somewhat taunting.”

More of Bullard’s language insults Firma, particularly the statement that secularists are “united by a common belief that they do not believe.” Firma wonder if Bullard is trying to say that there exists faith in every atheist “deep down inside.”

To be fair, there is a lot that Firma likes about the article and agrees to as fact. For example, that the need for and influence of religion is waning as society modernizes. Bullard states that France, the Netherlands, and New Zealand will soon have a majority secular population, while the United Kingdom and Australia will no longer have a Christian majority in the near future. And that in other parts of the world (Africa especially), religion is growing so quickly that the share of the world population claimed by those with no religious affiliation will actually shrink in the next 25 years.

It seems that Bullard got the statistics right, but his understanding of and language used to describe atheism were off and, in some cases, offensive.

Read Terry Firma’s full thoughts here.


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