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.”
Thank "GOD" for Dawkins, Hitchens, and Sam Harris. Remember back to when you gave up your belief in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny. That should have happened at about age 6. Try imagining something lasting forever. Even the Bible sets a time line, aren't the first words "In the beginning.... Listen to the Blood, Sweat, and Tears song "And when I die". There is more truth in those lirics than most Bible verses.
Hitchens had himself waterboarded. I like to remember him that way.
What do you mean. Hitchens attempting to actually test a claim, such as ' waterboarding in not torture?' I guess he could have gone on ' faith' that it wasn't just as authorities were telling everyone.
I talk to the tooth fairy. She's nice, tells me all sorts of stuff. I swear I'm not crazy.
The tooth fairy is just another god:
Can Jesus eat smarties or do they fall through the holes in his hands? Just sayin'
And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerve in the brain of Jupiter. But may we hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this most venerated reformer of human errors.
-Thomas Jefferson, Letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823
What put an end to Greek mythology?
Robert Brown: Roman mythology.
What put an end to Greek/Roman mythology?
The problem is no matter which side your on neither is solid. Science or our knowledge of the earth/universe hasn't disproved God. Science has given us so many good things but also more question than answers which is what you can also say about God. The positive is one day each of use will know who made the better choice because death is inevitable; science tells us that and science can't prevent it. We will have the answer; there is a light at the end of the tunnel or there is just nothing. I'm in no hurry to absolutely find out...
There is no such thing as an athiest. These are just folks who want their weekends off and feel no compulsion to serve their fellow man. What is really surprising is that they think others are stupid enough to buy into beliefs that even they don't hold.
That's non-nonsensical hogwash.
You are laughably simple-minded.
I just love you southern folk
As an atheist attorney, I do tons of pro bono work because I like helping the disadvantaged. What have you done for your community lately?
In my experience, atheists are frequently more willing to help their fellow man than so called Christians are. The religious right votes almost exclusively GOP, thus they are in favor of ending every kind of social program we have. Since those social programs were set up with the intent to help the poor, the sick, and the elderly, we atheists that tend to vote Dem are in favor of cutting things like defense and increasing taxes on the rich.
So, a question for all of you "Christians", do you think Jesus is more in favor of helping the poor, the sick, and the elderly, or in favor of giving tax breaks to the rich and corporations, and starting unnecessary wars?
Do some research man. Morales and the golden rule have nothing to do with your religion, they predate all moderrn religions – how morale are American Christiaans? We atheists are just simple folk who do not believe in imaginary friends or their promises or threats. We do not spend our Sundays repenting for all of our sins and promising not to do it again while dropping the whole idea in the parking lot on the way out.
There are plenty of secular charities on this planet doing billions in service to humanity each year.... most of the existing wars on this planet are happening due to religious differences and intolerance. Your argument is void.
What have I done? Let's see. Treat the poor and homeless each month, travel to 3rd world countries providing free medical care, ditto for africa, ditto for eastern europe, give to maternity homes, build furniture for immigrants. You know, the stuff all us right wing christians do. You're welcome.
I'm coming out Richard telling you get the hell out of my country and go back to the island and preach Satan to your people!
Now that's a nice Christain respose, You and your faux Christian hypocrisy sicken me. You should start walkimg the walk instead of talking the talk my friend!
Leave it to the religious to go down the path of xenophobia and isolationism simply because they can't come to terms with the fact that others don't believe what they do.
This is my country too and I say he can stay....and so can you. We want people of all types....apparently the religious only want sheep.
What are you so afraid of? Doesn't your faith strengthen you? Why censor people if you are so sure you are right?
Atheists don't believe in Satan moron. Another in the long list of "Christians" who have absolutely no concept of what it means to act "Christ like".
Hey idiot! No god no devil. What is it you do not understand about the word atheist? Oh wait a minute I forgot , You are an idiot
Most of the people there are from the US – deal with that.
Just because some so called Christians can't handle people being atheist doesn't make atheism right. Choosing either side is difficult. There is no solid prof either way, to many unknowns. The only positive is one day we will have the answer; there is a light at the end of the tunnel unless or there is just nothing. We don't all have to be christian or atheist, its OK.
People who truly know the bible know its better to help out their fellow man then fight over something that has no end. Rational people can chose to agree to disagree and have an occasional healthy debate as new information becomes available. By no stretch is either side of this absolute.
I am part of a VERY LARGE religious organization. Just think if I came out of the closet, announcing my atheism.
I have bills to pay, and it would destroy family members. Besides, being good and responsible is being good and responsible. Do not need "gods" help to do my job.
The same arguments being used to disprove God can be used to disprove that love does not exist. It's just a feeling. If God does not exist, then people do not feel love either. I dare any Atheist to prove to me that they love somebody else. They can't. It's just a feeling.
I don't think anyone will dispute that people are motivated, perhaps in large part, by feelings or that some feelings are highly prized and sought-after. What is there to prove? Love is a feeling. Many people experience it.
Love is based on neuron receiver chemicals in own brains, that's all. No magical hocus pocus.
You are correct; love is a feeling caused by a chemical reaction in the brain.. God likely does not exist because there's no evidence for his existence.. That's why god believers can believe anything that they want to believe about their god–he doesn't provide proof for any god belief versus another god belief.. Meanwhile, people of all different god beliefs use the same chemistry and math..
Oh, and stimulating a particular portion of the brain will cause a "spiritual experience.". It's just a feeling.
Several good studies have shown that MRI's can spot changes in the brain. When your spouse enters the room, we can "see" that change: love. Of course, large amounts of chocolate have the same influence!
You are sooooooooo stupid
@fabjan: love is a few things, but love is real......and testible. "The feeling of happiness and other feelings when a person is in love is because of the changes and interactions of different hormones in our brain. It is not true that the heart is the center of love because the adrenaline, dopamine, fenylethylamine, endorphin and oxytocin in the brain are the one responsible for the thrills when a person is in love.
-When someone is in love, dopamine gives a person the same feeling as when he/she is in co-caine use. That’s why they wanted to see the one they love.
-Fenylethylamine make the heartbeat faster, breath more rapidly, and the palms of your hands sweating and your cheeks and genitals get an extra blood flow and you start to feel happier.
-When you’re in love, your adrenaline causes the reaction that you’re on standby all the way. Your pupils get bigger, your heart rate goes up, your breathing gets faster and you are not so hungry because your digestive system starts to work slower.
-Endorphin is the natural morphine in our body. When you are in love it has the same effects as her-oine and opi-um which cause you to feel more happy and joyful.
-Oxytocin is also called the mother hormone or cuddle hormone because when a mom breastfeeds her baby, this hormone is produced in big quant.ities. When you caress this hormone is produced too. It makes you feel linked, takes away fear and makes you feel confident"
Is it no longer politically correct to bigoted against the Klan?
What confounds me is how anyone who is religious claims that they were created by their god. They defend this belief with all their heart. My argument is, if we as a society were created in the image of said god, have they not failed miserably??
perhaps you have!
No. I think that your understanding of what the phrase "in the image of," means is what has failed you miserably. The phrase does not mean that humans are supposed to behave like God, or are supposed to be perfect. It merely means that they posses some qualities that may resemble God's. These qualities are not defined, so an argument can be made for a very superficial "in the image of," e.g.- "we just look like God," all the way to more profound ones such such as the ability to understand good and evil. The fact that you don't understand these nuances merely indicates that you are definitely not the poster child for clear, rational, coherent thought, and yet you are here, pretending to tell others that they are wrong? Funny.
2nd Law of Thermodynamics: entropy is always increasing. This law applies at the molecular level as well as at the macro level and in social systems. It also applies to biological systems; man specifically. March as you will but you are certainly not victims as the article would suggest. Be careful. The forecast calls for thunderstorms. Someone may be struck by lightning, but that would just be a coincidence, right?
Might want to re-study thermodynamics, and entropy. You are not correct in your reasoning.
Reload, are you seriously implying that God is going to be hitting atheists with lightning bolts? First off, if someone does get hit for all we know Zeus did it. Second...I'll write my second point later, I'm laughing too hard at your post.
The more you learn about Christianity the more apt you are to become atheist because you become educated that religion is a huge hoax
No use discussing this with you. You have reached your conclusions and suggest that you are not able to change your mind about anything.
Religion is a corporation like any other, out to make money by selling a product to naive people who buy it up like junkies looking for a fix.
Open your eyes people and realize that the "beliefs" you hold so dear are not your own and were forced upon you as a child. The more you buy into the gimmick, the more you contribute to the scam.
Believe in whatever god you want to, but please detach yourself from this corporation before it consumes all the best parts of you.
It's not about a religion. It's about your personal relationship with God. People are imperfect. But He is perfect.
Part of what you posted is correct just as it was when Jesus was on earth. The religions that preach the health and wealth message, send your money, & etc. are no different than the Pharisees.
KLN, "...personal relationship with God..."
This is 20th century religio-psychobabble.
Your's is a minimalist simple analogy to a far more complex issue. If you think one's own spirituality and the meaning derived from any man's life can be equated or limited to a corporation model than you probably haven't stopped to think about what it means to be human. I am not an atheist but I respect anyone else's position. To each their own. I just know that having faith is based on a belief and belief is something you can actually feel confident in proving. That is where I am. I hope their rally goes well for them.
@KLN – And I say you can't have a personal relationship with a non-existent being. But you are right in a way...there is a difference between faith and religion – so keep your faith and drop the religion. Is it that difficult?
@CC – I disagree that religion and faith are that complex. As I said to KLN, I do differentiate between faith and religion....but you're naive if you think religion as an insitution doesn't have the exact same goal as any other corporation does – to make money.
So again, keep your faith, just drop the religion.
I'll be praying for all those that gather for this demonstration. Praying that eventually they will acknowledge there is a God and that He loves them very much. I believe they know that deep down in their soul. They know there is an intelligent Creator. We are not random atoms bouncing around the universe. We are here for a purpose. That purpose is to know, love and serve God and to be welcomed into His kingdom as his children. I wouldn't want to live here on earth any other way.
I understand that you are brain-washed and know nothing about Christianity however please prove your point. Bet ya can't !!
How do you know that there was A Creator? Just one? Why not two? Or four? How can you possibly prove that there was a creator? Isn't that just....faith?
KLN, I'd pray for YOU if it did anything. As it stands, I'll just feel sorry for you. Maybe I shouldn't. They say people with Downs Syndrome are some of the happiest people there are. Maybe your ignorance provides you with a similar comfort / naivety.
Outwardly, your comments about "praying for non-believers" because they "know deep in their hearts" that God exists seems benign. But truthfully? It's hateful. You're claiming to have intimate knowledge of a person's inner thoughts; you're saying that we're liars in need of reformation. At the core of it, you're denying who we are. And that's hateful.
@KLN "We are here for a purpose. That purpose is to know, love and serve God and to be welcomed into His kingdom as his children."
So let me get this straight, God created us so that we can love and serve him? Wow, what a narcissist he must be. Can you imagine a friend telling you that the only reason they had kids was so that the kids can love and serve them? This doesn't sound flawed to you?
There are millions of AGNOSTICS as well, that say either way, you cannot prove nor disprove 'god'. So religion is not that important to them, and they embrace secularism. I am one of those people.
What would God need to do to prove his existence for you? I challenge you to read the Bible. It's a long history of his intervention into the lives of those here on earth. He cares about you and desperately wants you to know Him.
KLN, many of us former Christians became atheists simply because we DID read the Bible. Once we realized that Christianity caused cognitive dissonance – and every other theist religion on earth did as well – atheism became inevitable.
An omniscient "God" would know *precisely* what proof is acceptable to each and every one of us individually.
An omnipotent "God" would be able to provide it.
An all-loving "God" would do so.
An all-perfect "God" would not "desperately want" anything.
KLN – as a 10 year old I found the bible laughable. A great fairy tale, but then so was Grimm's and it didn't cause me to worship anything. All we ask is that you recognize that some believe and some don't. We just don't want you incessantly shoving your beliefs down our throats.
Prayer changes things .
Why don't you leave that to atheists to decide for themselves. Millions of innocent people have been slaughtered over the years in the name of some god or another, while atheists have never banded together to wipe out non-believers in the name of atheism. That speaks more to me than anything you might have to say.
If God has a plan, would he change it because you ask him to? Why is your preference more important than his plan? What about Free Will?
Please provide empirical evidence for that claim.
Not sure I follow your logic, but I ocncede you feel atheism hurts those around others. I don't understand it, nor could you really explain it, I'd bet. Just like religion, lack of religion is (or should be) a personal choice and not be pushed upon others. If both believers and non-believers can agree on that, the world would be a much better place overall....
@ Mark Bowden
"Please provide empirical evidence for that claim."–Don't you think you're waisting your time asking a Bible thumper for empirical evidence, or for any evidence at all for that matter? They all think that what's in a Christians' heart doesn't exist in other people's hearts and that's because god gives it to them.
I do not need to fear punishment in an imaginary afterlife in order to follow a moral path in this life. Morality is not religion. A Moral Compass is independent of religious thought. What does it say about one who carries the 'Fear Of God' around as a motivator? Like little children, hiding from an angry parent, hoping not to have their broken toys discovered.
Additionally, science is not exactly anti religion. It is simply the record of investigations into the world as we find it, and a list of possible reasons why it is that way. If science was to discover any hint of this God then it would no doubt be reported far and wide. And that discovery should not be so difficult if God were to exist in the way he or she is supposed to. There is not one shred of evidence to be found in support of that belief.
Exactly – religion and morality are not synonymous.
Without an external reference point (i.e., God) your moral path is whatever you think is right. That is pretty frightening. Of course, the fact that you even desire to have a moral path is pretty convincing proof that there is a God. In a purely mechanical, Darwinian world, a moral path makes absolutely no sense. Neither do abstractions like justice, love, right/wrong. If you say there is no God, but are unwilling to admit that your "love" for anyone is just a biochemical reaction over which you have no control, you are being incredibly intellectually dishonest.
Greg – "In a purely mechanical, Darwinian world, a moral path makes absolutely no sense." False. Tribes that worked together and cared for each other would tend to survive better and pass on those traits.
Ed, what if they survived because they stole from other tribes, regardless of motive? Native American tribes raided each other regularly. Might still makes right in Darwinism.
There is a lot of talk about lack of or no evidence of God's existence. I propose to you where is the evidence that disproves his existence but more than that how do we discount the existence of the Devil? So much evil and hate in this world its hard for me to believe the Devil doesn't exist; he has to have his hand in on some of this stuff. Sure some people are just not right but some stuff that goes on has to be motivated by a evil power. So if there is a evil power the Devil does that mean there must be a God? Science has no answer for this it's up to the individual to figure this out. I don't think it is disillusion to be on either side, its a tough choice there is no definitive. The positive is one day each of use will know who made the better choice because death is inevitable; science tells us that and science can't prevent it. I like that most of all that one day we will have the answer, there is a light at the end of the tunnel unless of course there is just nothing.
Also people say religion sparks wars and there are many examples of this...but I would think reasonable people who believe or don't would know/understand God doesn't need help. We are not here to judge or carry out Gods judgement, not every believer is war hungry or ready to shove religion down your face. Most people I know agree to disagree and are fine with people doing what they feel is right regardless of who's "right or wrong". So long as everyone plays nice why does it matter what you or I believe in. Sure we have to defend our rights as humans but God doesn't need help carrying out judgement (He's God he doesn't need anyone, he's self sufficient). People who truly serve God know this all the other stuff is not driven by religion its by man's agenda. Don't obscure the logic; know religion before you bash it better yet know God. No where in the Christian bible does it call for believers to carry out Gods judgement. People drive wars not religion or God; they use religion as a self righteous ploy but anyone logical can see this. We don't all have to be christian or atheist, its OK don't take it personal.
Time to come out of the closet!
I have no way of knowing which side is correct, and it seems to be impossible to prove either way, so I'll just sit back, listen to an old Blood, Sweat and Tears CD. Especially the line that says, "I swear there ain't no heaven and I pray there ain't no hell." All of you, have fun.
This article didn't say who would be giving the opening and closing prayers.
Prayer changes things .
Prayer only changes things for those that prayer to want to feel better about themselves. Perhaps it makes them in a happioer mood – so that changes things for those people, sure. Perhaps some of those listening feel better that others care about the prayer subject as well. So, sharing of happy thoughts. I won't argue that.
But to say, as some do, just pray and all your worries, dangers will go away – and your prayers will be answered – I'd like ot take that bet. Wouldn't we have peace on earth, goodwill to men if that were so? Even amongst Christians there is nto peace and happiness.
Dang I like your post it makes sense, I understand your point of view. Let me help you out...don't fall into the idea that serving God exempts you from all the bad/evil in the world. Serving God doesn't do that; most people don't believe in God because of the fact of all the bad stuff that goes on in this world. How could God let this stuff happen? To both believers and non believers bad things will come, God promised in this world you will find trouble but to take heart in the fact the he overcame the world. The main purpose behind serving God is the hope that one day all the bad will be wiped away that somehow all the stuff we went through will work out for the better. Serving God isn't easy and most the time it's a struggle between good and evil.
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