By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – A coalition of atheist and secular organizations are coming together on Saturday to hold what is being billed at the largest gathering of atheists in history.
David Silverman, chairman of the event committee and president of the American Atheists, said the rally is aimed at uniting atheist organizations and letting the religious know that there are nonbelievers among them.
“We need to stress to the theists that we are here,” Silverman said. “Atheism is growing in all 50 states. What people don’t seem to understand is all we demand at American Atheists is equality.”
Silverman initially told CNN that the rally would draw anywhere between 10,000 and 20,000 people to the National Mall, and the National Park Service has planned for 30,000 people. With thunderstorms forecast for Saturday, however, Silverman told CNN on Thursday that he expects somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 people.
The cost of the event is around $300,000, Silverman said, but philanthropist Todd Stiefel, Founder of the Stiefel Freethought Foundation, is supplying half the money.
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The rally has been a catalyst for protests by the Westboro Baptist Church, a group well known for its picketing of funerals of American servicemen and servicewomen. Westboro Baptist has been granted a permit for the “grassy area between 14th and 15th” streets, according to Carol Johnson, a communications officer for the National Park Service.
Though a press release for the reason rally touts 17 groups planning to protest, only the Westboro Baptist Church has applied and obtained a permit. Johnson said rally organizers have notified the Park Service of other possible protest groups, but none of those have applied for a permit.
The rally's long list of speakers and presenters runs the gamut from intellectuals to celebrities to comedians. The event is headlined by Oxford professor and author Richard Dawkins.
Dawkins, who is widely regarded as the most respected figure in atheism, is lending his voice to this event because he says freedom for atheists is “constantly under threat from people who would like to turn this country into some sort of a theocracy.”
“The Reason Rally is part of an effort to combat the attack of the theocrats,” Dawkins told CNN. “There is in this country at the moment a great revival of atheism, and the number of atheists in the country is much larger than people realize.”
Atheist organizer takes ‘movement’ to nation’s capital
At a press conference for the event, Silverman was adamant that the rally won't be the last. He didn't say whether it will be become an annual tradition, but he intends a higher profile for atheists in the future.
“The next step after the rally is all eyes on the election,” Silverman said. “We want to post hard questions to the candidates.”
Dawkins, too, related the rally to politics.
“The nonbelieving constituency has not been vocal enough, and it therefore has been politic for them to be ignored by their congressmen, by their senators,” Dawkins said.
Directing his comments at Congress, Dawkins said, “You have been neglecting them, overlooking them and riding roughshod over them as though they didn’t exist. Well, they do exist and they outnumber some of the other lobbies that you have been so assiduously sucking up to all these years.”
The America Atheists also are holding their annual convention in Bethesda, Maryland, and the Secular Coalition for America has scheduled its “Lobby Day for Reason” on Friday.
The weekend is part of a larger blitz by a coalition of atheists to “win” equality in American culture, Silverman said.
“We are the last group against whom it is politically correct to be bigoted,” he said. “That is something that needs to change and I am very confident that we will within 20 years.”
Noone knows for sure if we have a 'creator'. Although I think all religion is largely BS, I would never presume to know the truth, because I don't.. noone does (take that to the bank), which is why I'd never call myself an atheist. You don't know: stop claiming you do. Both sides!
Atheists don't claim to "know" there is no deity out there. This is a misconception. Most atheists are simply evidence based, and don't see any evidence of those deities, and until evidence of such a deity shows up an atheist will not accept the slim likelyhood of such an existance as a foundation for their life. There is a distinction between saying "there is probably not" and "there is absolutely not."
I can't prove there is no invisible dragon in my coffee cup, I simply don't believe there is based on the lack of evidence.
If someone were to find a way to photograph invisible dragons I would certainly be willing to re-examine my position.
Invisible dragon in your coffee cup? LOL! Oh, I like that one. ^_^
At any rate, its not a good comparison since your coffee cup is a limited space that you as an individual can entirely see. The whole of the universe leaves that a little bigger than a coffee cup, and religious people will always claim a god exists "where we can't see yet." I realize the fallicy of this, but that doesn't stop it from being the trend.
The tea cup analogy Dawkins uses is a good one.
If you need any indication of why the separation of church and state is important, please see exhibit A: Rick Santorum. As an atheist, I am glad atheists are becoming more bold and vocal, though I still find the concept of an atheist group somewhat silly. I think they did much better by calling this the "Reason Rally" than the "Atheist Rally". Atheism is better described as anti-theism, because we have the contrary position to theists. When you really think about it though, the idea that you have to identify as this shows the ridiculous influence of religion on human thinking. No one has to go around saying they are an "anti-fairy" or "anti-gremlin" person to demostrate they don't believe in faries or gremlins. Yet we have to have a term for the lack of belief in invisible all powerful beings who live in the sky. Rubbish....
No scientific evidence ever supports a magic man in the sky.
Largest gathering of aetheists in history? Didn't we used to call that the USSR?
It was kind of the opposite there – they were christians/muslims etc, but afraid to say so. We are atheiests, and thanks to the web, we can finally speak out.
Communism is not atheism. Communism is a governmental style, not a belief, which holds all power to the state. Religion takes power away from the state, so in communism it gets stamped down. This has ZERO to do with atheism, and you do not create an "atheist nation" by oppressing religious people. They ARE still religious, even if they live in an oppressive communist nation.
And just so you know, one of the most staunch anti-Communists/pro capitalists ever was Ayn Rand, who also was a fervent athiest. Let's not stereotype if we can help it.
Not really. The Soviet Union was made up mostly of closeted believers.
I beleive spirituality is good, but organized religions are a big reason for the wars, the bigotry, and the ignorance that persist throughout the world and much of the U.S. The "bible belt" South is the worst of the lot. Born Again Christians and Southern Baptists are the most ignorant, and bigoted of them all. Devout Catholics are close behind. If someone wants a do good, intelligent commuity to spend time with on Sunday mornings, check out the Unitarian Universalists. The most educated of all denominations, one of the most socially active fighting for civility and justice, and the least of organized religious organizations that crave your cash and your blind allegiance to idiotic religious babblings from a book that is anything but devinely inspired.
Yes, the unitarians are better than most religions, but still essentially christian which is just silly.
You don't need any religion to be 'spiritual', you only need it to be deluded.
"Just like any civilization in the past that had turned its back to God"
didn't Rome embrace christianity right before its demise?
I'm theist, but I fully support my atheist friends in this. Every person's conscience is their own.
You are a rare gem.
I don't understand why this upsets theists so much. Unless perhaps its that it forces them to pause a moment and question the nonsense they profess to be truth. Atheists aren't stopping you from believing in silly. Go right a head, fill your boots. We're just saying we don't have to drinkk the koolaid.
but it upsets you that the theists don't want to drink your Koolaid? The problem with all these self righteous groups is that they think the answer to all their problems is to attack and blame someone else. Why can't a group simply state its goals and desires and move forward with them without attacking another group? Because its not about reaching their goals, its all about spreading some hate and attacking the other guy. When was the last time a religious person actually prevented you from thinking the way you wanted? ummm never, none has ever stopped me and I am surrounded with theists, they only one holding you back is you.
not at all, I'm not asking you to join. I'm simply asking you and those like you to acknowledge that your beliefs aren't the absolute truth for everyone and that should be OK.
As for religion preventing me from thinking I would direct you to every religion based law currently on the books. There is not one single atheist law preventing you from being religious, your churches are tax free.
I also didn't see one word about this rally attacking anyone, in fact there are many protests attacking them.
At my age, the only way I can can experience a second coming is with Viagra.
LOL I like that
I just don't understand why some people have such a problem with faith. Just because you can't see it or touch it doesn't mean it's not there. It seems that the problem with atheists is that they just don't like the idea of there being a power out there greater than themselves. I don't really understand what this rally is supposed to be about; they aren't going to be able to change the minds of Christians just like Christians aren't going to be able to change their minds.
We don't care if there is or is not a power greater than ourselves – there's NO reason to believe there is one. We simply rail against making up such powers (you don't) and want you to use reason, evidence and knowledge in your life and not spread around mythological ignorance that slows progress and spreads derision.
"Just because you can't see it or touch it doesn't mean it's not there."
The thing is, this is the very definition of something being not there.
"It seems that the problem with atheists is that they just don't like the idea of there being a power out there greater than themselves."
Actually it's been proven that it's just a chemical reaction in your brain, nothing else.
instead of mischaracterizing atheism you might try asking one why they don't believe, or is that too scarry for you?
I for one have no problem with believers, most of my family are Baptists and nearly all of my friends are theists. Ask yourself instead what is your problem with us.
My mind was once changed, and others will be as well. Religious people CAN learn to think for themselves, and more publicity and support will allow those people to branch out against the religious controls and oppression in their lives.
Believe me when I say there are plenty of "soft" Christians out there who don't really believe, but don't know that there are other options out there for them.
Christians and other believers don't like the possibility of their fairytale not being true. Just because you can't explain something does not mean "Well it must be god" Muslims believe they are right, Christians Believe they are right, Mormons believe they are right, but they all can be wrong.
I am an atheist (lower case) and I also believe in powers greater than my singular self, whether it is "humankind" or "the rhythm of the universe" or "the great magnet"... Just because you are in your boat with your life vest on does not mean I am adrift at sea... btw, morality was not created by, nor does it rely on religious faith...
the point is to let people who do not believe in god know there are others out there. It's surprising how hard it is to "come out" as a non-believer.
May I suggest you read the article to gain understanding? It's about protecting the US against becoming a theocracy.
Well that also means that atheists can be wrong too.
You're projecting. The religious want to believe, it gives them comfort. But wanting something to be true doesn't make it so. Athiests don't desire any particular truth, they merely look at the evidence to determine what is most likely true.
You are missing the point, "Chirstian".
The rally is to show everyone that there is a significant (and growing) minority of citizens who are not theists. Atheism is not a philosophy or religion, it is just freedom to think and live without the yoke of an imposed belief system. I believe that christians can be good or bad in spite of their religious beliefs. Atheists can be good or bad independent of a their "god free" way of living. Personally, I live by the golden rule because it's the right thing to do for me and for the people around me. I don't live my life in fear of (or obedience to) a "god" or "satan".
Atheism in an of itself is not a dangerous dogma, just as Christianity and Islam are not in and of themselves dangerous dogmas.
However, the sort of authoritarian, militant atheism practiced by Richard Dawkins and his followers is extremely dangerous, just as is any sort of relgious fundamentalism.
There is no such thing as "militant atheism." The only thing Dawkins does is SPEAK OUT. He writes books, teaches, and speaks. For you to call that "militant" just demonstrates your religious bias, and a lack of critical thinking skills.
So I hear your propostion, what's you proof?
Can you please provide an example of "authoritarian, militant atheism" and how it is dangerous?
What is the "atheist dogma". I love how you guys can just change what words mean and then argue with your straw dogs to make yourselves feel better. Then again, you follow a book that claims that god had to flood the earth after angels had s3x with humans to birth "nephlim".
Think Atheist Butcher Joseph Stalin
Richard Dawkins is a mediocre intellet with an overblown ego and an authoritarian personality.
He tries to pass his pseudo-science off as sure truth, which he then tries to cram down everybody else's throat with his pomposity and self-righteousness.
Nobody cares if you LIKE Dawkins or not. What matters is your lack of real perspective, and trying to use ridiculous terms like "militant" for people without one militant action to their name. He could be the most disgusting man on the planet, that still doesn't mean he's "militant." You bid to an extreme simply because you don't LIKE him or atheism, or atheists, and that is utterly ridiculous.
Here we go, "militant" atheism again. You speak out against injustice and get labeled "militant". The same way blacks were once labeled "uppity". Thing is, atheists are the least militant people imaginable. Do we have training camps where we learn to make bomb vests? Do we have sunday meetings where we're threatened with fire and brimstone? Do we have militias that play GI Joe in the Michigan woods? No, it's the religious that do all those things. Who's militant now?
Silverman claims atheists deserve "equal treatment" and are targeted by bigots, implying that such treatment is wrong. Says who? What value system is he using to measure what is right and wrong? Frankly, if there is no God, there is no absolute truth, and thus no absolute standard of morality by which any of us should abide. I would ask Sliverman to leave me alone in my desire to remain bigoted and to deny "equality" to atheists, because in my worldview, those positions are perfectly right and acceptable. His imposition and interpretation of what is right and wrong sounds an awful like the intolerant imposition of just another "religious" worldview.
We are selfish creatures by nature, yet our survival depends on cooperation. In order to balance these two conflicting instincts, mankind has had to develop rules that allow room for both.
These rules are not the same for all communities – hence we've had so many different types of religion and government throughout history.
Religion binds communities together by giving a common frame of reference. Shared fears (like divine retribution), hopes (like going to heaven) and rituals allow the instinct for self preservation to extend beyond one's self and immediate family.
This is why the great majority of evolutionary biologists find no conflict between religion and science – as long as religion is recognized solely as a social adaptation.
Morality is a covenent amongst groups of humans for how best to cooperate.
No God or religion required
Rick, ask yourself this. Why is it that prisons are filled with born again christians? Why aren't bands of atheists roaming the streets creating mayhem? I'm so tired of this false notion that godless iin amoral. Prove it Rick. Show me some statistics of higher crime rates in less religious countries. If you have the courage to search you'll in fact find the the rate of violent crime, teen pregnancy, drug addiction, Murder, etc. is higher in the most religious countries and lower in places like Finland that are 50% or more atheist. But of course you're not really interest in facts when lies support your narrow world view.
Don't all human beings deserve equal treatment? I respect your faith as I would hope you would respect my lack of faith. I believe Matthew 7:12 said it best with "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets."
That sounds like good advice whether you are religious or not.
I agree to a point, Doc, but would you agree that if we were to sift through the differences in moral codes, we would find that there are certain moral "adaptations" that appear to be universal among all societies and all humankind? If we could distill all morality and ethics to their most basic principles (e.g. "all human beings must cooperate"...), my question would then be "where did those basic principles come from?"
@Rick: I am sorry, but you still have not demonstrated why a "god" is necessary. Can you provide examples of what moral standards would look like without a concept of your god, and then with a concept of your god for comparrison?
To what universals are you referring?
Just look at the different moral perspectives in the Old Testament and the New Testament.
Morality is not absolute.
Our culture has a very strong cannibalism taboo, but it cannot be "human nature" to feel repulsed by it as virtually every branch of the human species has praticed it at some point in their development.
The Wari, The Kuru, Fore, Caribs, Fijians, Popayans, Serengipeans, are all fairly modern examples (within the last 500 years).
Indeed, Christians from the 1st Crusade consumed the fallen Arabs at Maarat.
Binerwurs in India ate the sick amongst them to please Kali.
The Karankawa, an indigenous Texan tribe, ritualistically consumed their enemies to gain their strength.
The Aztecs believed in transubstantiation. They consumed their human sacrifices in the belief that the dead literally became a part of the God to whom they were given.
Just be thankful that the modern form is limited to wafers and wine!
We cannot define moral standards without God. Try all you want but the worship of God has been around since Neanderthal. Our western culture is based on a Western Christian World-View. You cannot get that out of your head because it is part of you in varying degrees.
@Doc–Fascinating examples, and I mean that sincerely. So if there are no moral absolutes, then morality is dictated by common, socially accepted human behaviors over time–is that a fair synopsis of what you're saying? The fact that various tribes and groups practiced cannibalism over centuries would indicate that at one time, that was considered an acceptable moral principle? My dilemma, then, is what happens when those acceptable principles of codes of morality collide–who is right (or which culture is correct) and what is the basis for determining which course to follow? If no form of morality is absolutely correct, wouldn't that lead to anarchy and chaos?
As a species, we are at a cross roads.
Never before have we been so aware of our brethren across the planet as now. Instant, global communication has made the reality of moral relativism apparant to all. Tribalism is no longer tenable and we must arrive at a new convenant for cooperation.
This is something that early Chrstianity realized, arguably way ahead of its time. The Old Testament was full of rules and relguations for Hebrews only... you'll not the passages referring to slavery wherein Jewish people could be indentured slaves, but foreigners were property to be passed down the generations. But the followers of Jesus Christ wanted to spread their morality to the gentiles as well – and therefore negated some of the more absurb rules that most people would find unpalatable (ie: many of the procsriptions and rituals in Leviticus).
In order to form a global union, all religions are going to have to make similar adjustments.
Anarchy and chaos will not follow in the wake of religion's waning influence. People still need to work together to survive. In the modern age, we need to cooperate on a global instead of tribal level – thus far, the best we've been able to come up are international standards of law, which are effective but limited in their scope in that they deal with only the most egregious trangressions (ie: genocide trials at the Hague).
There is, of course, resistance to moral relativism. It forces those who have wielded great influence on their tribes, like the Vatican, to cede their power and claims to infallibility. For the Abrahamic faiths, there are stories in the literature that warn against working together. The tale of the Tower of Babel, for example. According to that, the last time humans worked together to achieve a common goal, God struck it down and separated us into tribes who could not effectively communicate, thus hindering our progress as a species and ensuring sectarian strife.
Now, I certainly don't have the answer as to what rules we all could agree on! But I'm confident that we'll get there, by the skin of our teeth and probably at the last minute, under threat of mutually assured destruction.
But Adam the bible and all other relgious writings are pure fiction, nothing but fairytales.
Pretty Stoked for this rally. I don't consider myself an Atheist, but more of a skeptic. I was raised in the Church and left when things started adding up. My lack of faith does not make me a bad person or a good person. Everybody likes to point to Tim Tebow as some holier than now person because "He's a Christian" He's no better or worse than somebody who does not believe the way he does. Teaching our kids to think without the constraints of religion should be one of the most important goals for the next generation.
Jack said: "Teaching our kids to think without the constraints of religion should be one of the most important goals for the next generation."
Teaching our kids to think without the constraints of dogma should be one of the most important goals for the next generation.
Unfortunately, with Richard Dawkins and his acolytes, it's just replacing one dogmatically held belief system with another.
What Dogma is that? Science?
I really wish I lived near this place, but I'm not even close. I'd totally attend if I was able to. Heck, I'd drive a couple days if it meant I could attend, but even that wouldn't cover one-way of my trip.
It really helps to see fellow secularists and non-religious people banding together against the religious hordes we have to deal with constantly. I only wish this movement could have happened sooner... but the things I have experienced have made me who I am, and I'm not ashamed of that.
Hey these athiests sound like a group of people who are organized under a certain belief to press an agenda as a united body of followers..... HMMMM sounds exactly like a religion, only their god is a false and arrogant belief that they hold the corner stone on logic and reason.. oh ya and Mr dawkins lol.... have fun with your hypocritical failure of a movement. Ladies and gentlemen welcome to the new atheist movement. Embarrassing itself for years to come.
Incorrect. They are organized around a set of non-beliefs and for the purpose of stamping out ignorance. According to you, any organization that is formed around a cause must be religious with a god at the center. This is the problem with arguing with mythology followers. You guys just don't have the ability to form logical thoughts.
And this is coming from someone who clearly doesn't understand that athiests simply don't have a god. Yeah, brilliant. And you think you're logical? Yeah. Right. (Okay, if YOU see the "'light", move quickly towards it!)
"only their god is a false and arrogant belief that they hold the corner stone on logic and reason.. " nothing judgemental about that.
Al you dont know my beliefs at all.. so i dont know why you are assuming im a christian. silly.. but there goes the arrogance again, that is the belief that atheism is a default position of humanity and that they have in fact a non belief. Heres where their precious logic fails. You cant prove there isnt a God as much a christian cant prove there is a god, therefore its a belief, not simply an absence of one. To make a proof statement such as "there is no god" requires one to justify that statement. unlike the statement "i dont know if there is a god" which is agnosticism. religion doesnt require a divine figure, only a set of beliefs, practices and dogmas and or rituals. many religions dont believe in a god at all but worship something else. Hence the modern day atheist!
Its not non-belief that motivated them, its a specific set of beliefs that are tangental to their non-belief that motivate them. Someone who simply does not believe in God gets to sleep in on Sundays. Dawkins and his group have a set of beliefs about religion that motivates them (and indeed considering how poorly supported some of their ideas are, they border on a religious belief all their own).
@Garrett You have serious issues.
This is not a belief but a rejection of it + he says that it is stupid that somebody has to run for congress or senate and be a believer to be elected. Those people do not believe in an unproven god with no evidence so it is nothing like a religion, that is why it is called reason rally, because they want people to reject faith based dogma and use there minds and not relinquish authority no an imaginary friend.
One needs to be careful when one looks at what they claim. They claim they have no belief but...
1. They say "it is stupid that..." In other words, they actually have a positive belief.
2. They claim there is no evidence for god. What they really mean is that there is no scientific evidence for God. I.e., God, a meta-physical reality (or not if you don't believe in him), cannot be observed through repeated physical observation. Evidence that would be accepted in a court room, like eye witness testimony is rejected out of hand as not being evidence. In other words, they believe in a certain standard of evidence.
3. That since they don't believe in God, that God must be imaginary. I certainly agree that in scientific reason, only positive statements must be proven since you can't prove a negative. So it might reasonable conclusion to prove there is no God... But once you assert that God must be imaginary, you no longer are rejecting belief in him, you are making a specific claim about God (i.e., that he is imaginary). Prove it!
They are gonna make the city smell like the feces that they inhaled so hard it stuck to their brains.
you are clearly an intelligent person. i am getting this quote embroidered on a pillow.
It's amazing how many Americans now spit on the beliefs and values that our founder fathers established this country with to suit their own person goals and agendas. I do believe there is a God that created everything and is still active in our lives today. I also believe that he sacrificed his Son Jesus Christ to die for our sins. Just like any civilization in the past that had turned its back to God, this country is slowly imploding on itself and will be destroyed. It's amazing how much scientific and historical data supports what is written in the Bible if people take the time to research it.
Historical data shows the more this country turns away from the teachings of the Bible, the more and more it begins to implode. In order to reverse the course of this ship as a nation, we need to turn back to the basic principles our founding fathers laid and put trust back into God and not into man.
As I read through some of these posts, I will pray for you all.
You should let the founders who were not christian know that they founded us on christian "beliefs and values". LOL.
dude you know they were deists right?
You are completely right. It is amazing how the more the U.S turns away from God, and takes him out of their schools etc etc, the more the country falls deeper into a hole. Atheists are hypocrites nothing more. They complain that they dont want religion shoved down their throats yet they trry to do the exact same thing. A March? really? People wake up God is real and loves you but you turn your back on Him. Whether you beleive in Him or not He is still exists. Dont be decieved by this low level "wordly" knowledge.
Alex said, "Just like any civilization in the past that had turned its back to God, this country is slowly imploding on itself and will be destroyed"
You do realize you are saying that Zeus, Ra, Mithra and thousands of other gods exist.
Bro, there is ZERO scientific evidence that supports the Bible? Are you kidding us or yourself? Where is the study about how an OCEAN was partied in Half? The virgin female that gave birth to a human?
and most importantly, the part about an invisible man that created a planet..considering how there are billions and billions of planets, its odd that we say a god created this one
interesting how the word "lie" is actually inside the word "beLIEve". hmmn.
There is NO scientific of historical evidence that supports the bible.
Okay. Please tell me what scientific research supports creationist theory and the bible in general? Most of the things I've read actually tend to make the story in the bible look like the musings of ignorant people who lacked the knowledge to understand the world around them.
Alex, please stop linking believing in god to values. I would say I am more than less atheist, yet I have more values than most people. This is the problem with this country, the founding fathers set it up to be a Christian country. Things have changed though. As more cultures immigrated here, more religions did too. You all really need to accept this and move on.
@dave And your evidence to say otherwise? I thought so. There are many scriptures proving Jesus existed. These scriptures write of great things He has done yet you choose not to believe in Him. SCience dates the scriptures back thousands of years ago so they are obviously real. Science has yet to prove alot of things. If science cant prove it now it doesnt means its untrue.
Did you read that in bible? Obviously you have not read American History. Many of the Founding Fathers were afraid of organized relgion. Thomas Jefferson made his bible by cutting the parts he liked and discarding the rest.
3wtrtef, you need to understand the meaning of circular logic.
The Bible does not prove itself.
Richard Dawkins is God-like!
The God Delusion is nothing but one huge contradiction.
You mean that it points out the constant contradictions and silliness of the bible.
for someone such as yourself who relishes delusions, you should be all over it
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