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Any public theists you think are closet atheists?

Brian63

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[This refers to only public figures and not private ones, and only ones that make their theistic and religious beliefs public knowledge (and might even be evangelical to some degree), not ones that keep it a personal and private matter.]

The phrasing of the OP probably went a bit too far, and this applies to not just closet atheists, but can also include closet agnostics, or anyone with just more doubts about religion than they publicly let on.

It seems pretty much inevitable that churches, denominations, and religious cultures of all varieties will have some people that secretly harbor doubts about their religious views, and just do not say anything about it to anyone else around them. Do you think there are any similar *public* figures who do so as well?

I sometimes lurk over at the website of evangelist Ray Comfort, and he often is very argumentative against atheism, and many of his "arguments" turn out to be more preachy than substantive. To me then, it appears that he is probably trying to convince himself of having some kind of reason to believe---as much as he is trying to convince anybody else, and he is not doing too well with it. Unfortunately, the atheists that frequently post in response to him often do not extend any compassion to him, but are more jerkish. So even if Ray is secretly having some doubts (as I think all theists are prone to do, even the most hyper-fundamentalist among them), I do not know what is likely to be the result, as other atheists are not being helpful in any sense, but just combative. One of the things I dislike about the common atheist culture is how poor many are in terms of compassion and sensitivity to other people, even ones with unfortunate religious views, and instead just have a general preference for insulting them and dehumanizing them.

Any public theists you think currently harbor lots of doubts about their beliefs, or have in the past (such as ones that are not alive anymore, for instance...or also the ones that are currently alive)?

Thanks,

Brian
 

marc

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At least half the politicians out there probably would count.

Probably a good number of televangelists and faith healers as well.
 

Tom Sawyer

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Jesus.

He was clearly just making shit up as he went along and nobody who thought that the Old Testament god was real would have tried to pull something like that. That dude was one mean motherfucker.
 

Brian63

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The phrasing of the OP probably went a bit too far...

Just for the sake of posterity, that should read "phrasing of the thread title" instead. Oops. I pretty much can never write a post without some mistake in it.

Brian
 

Underseer

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At least half the politicians out there probably would count.

Probably a good number of televangelists and faith healers as well.

Half? Where are you getting that estimate from?

Even with our numbers growing as they are, the most optimistic statistics put us at 5% to 10% of the population. Thus we can conclude that around the same percent of politicians are atheists.
 

Petrel

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Even with our numbers growing as they are, the most optimistic statistics put us at 5% to 10% of the population. Thus we can conclude that around the same percent of politicians are atheists.
What they say and what they do are very much more than 10% at odds. At least half the chest-beating Christians act in a way that Jesus would certainly disapprove of, if not roll up a his robe to beat them for. If the popes and rulers truly believed in a god who could send them to hell, they wouldn't dare behave the they do.
 

marc

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Half? Where are you getting that estimate from?

From my butt of course. :D

Even with our numbers growing as they are, the most optimistic statistics put us at 5% to 10% of the population. Thus we can conclude that around the same percent of politicians are atheists.

No, we can't conclude that. Just because that is the percentage among the general population, that doesn't necessarily carry over to a specific profession. Are only 5-10% of scientist atheists? From the education level of many politicians, and the general amount of BS many of them spew, I would think a good amount of them only give lip service to any actual beliefs. That does not necessarily mean the think of themselves as atheists, but they seem to use religion as a useful tool to sway the gullible.
 

RavenSky

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Not really a public figure, but several years ago I wrote to the head of a national interfaith organization to complement him on an article he'd had published. When he wrote back, it turned out he was an atheist. :D
 

Sheshbazzar

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Half? Where are you getting that estimate from?

Even with our numbers growing as they are, the most optimistic statistics put us at 5% to 10% of the population. Thus we can conclude that around the same percent of politicians are atheists.
The figures are fudge. 90% to 95% of the population believe it is their patriotic duty to claim to be a god believer whether they actually hold any such belief or not.

To publicly state one is a nonbeliever is frowned upon, and can have social (and HUGE political) disadvantages, always easier to chime in with the crowd, say what they expect to hear, and go with the flow.

When it comes to 'god', people are not willing to be perfectly straightforward about what they actually believe.
Lip service to the prevailing status quo is an all purpose panacea for peace employed by most.

Honestly, outside of my wife of 46 years, 99.9% of my own family, even my own children have little or no idea that I am an atheist, because I am quite skillful at avoiding discussions religion or making any blatantly negative statements about god or religion.

Most assume because they have at some time heard me accurately quote a Bible verse, or have some knowledge of my interest, and abilities to recite and write in Hebrew, (as well as my advanced age and long and full beard :) ) that I am a very religious person.

I never have to lie about what I believe, because even my cousins who are ordained Pastors are notably not at all comfortable inquiring about my beliefs or thoughts on god or religion.
If they feel inclined to lead a prayer or whatever when I am present, I keep silent. If they ask me to lead any form of prayer, I simply politely defer.
About the only time or occasion they will ever hear me cite Scripture will be if some form of ugly hate speech enters into the conversation, then I am quite adept at coming up with a subtle text that will either silence the hate expressions, or cause a change of subject.

They invite my wife and I to their worship services almost weekly, we smile and politely thank them, sometimes even say 'maybe' but in the last twenty years have never went.

My wife was the first to decide and state that she was an atheist, it took a decade, and my introduction to IIDB to win me over.
I take a lot of my social clues from her as she is a terrific outgoing 'people person', and I am quite reserved, and can slag off almost anything under the excuse that I'm about 80% deaf. 'Huh? What's that? my hearing aid won't go no louder, cain't unnerstan ya', 'What do you mean?'
 
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jonJ

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Half? Where are you getting that estimate from?

Even with our numbers growing as they are, the most optimistic statistics put us at 5% to 10% of the population. Thus we can conclude that around the same percent of politicians are atheists.

I doubt this is true, because politicians and theists tend to have the same core beliefs: in particular, they believe in communal action. They like to get people working together, to do things for the good of the people, to make rules and laws for the people's benefit. Whereas atheists, in my view, are still predominantly loners and individualists. They are less likely to become politicians because they mistrust communal agendas and prefer to let people make their own decisions as much as possible. I suspect the overlapping goals of politicians and theists will ensure a higher proportion of theists among politicians than the general population for some time to come.
 

dockeen

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I don't know how many of us who went through childhood with songs of 'Jesus loves me, this I know...",
and nightly prayers and learning that atheists were devil worshiping, child eating monsters will ever be able to embrace the term, and implications of being called an atheist. Not helped by the fact that there are still many around us who still believe atheist is identically equal to evil.

And yes, I mean in what we think of ourselves inside the privacy of our own head.
 

Brian63

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http://www.onthebox.us/2014/04/words-of-comfort-cannot-prove-hell.html

Wow, Ray really turned the nasty tone and rhetoric up a notch today, against us atheists. I really feel bad for him. I know conversions and deconversions, or any kind of major upheaval in one's worldview, can sometimes be stressful, emotional, and even psychologically devastating. It looks to me like that is what he is going through. Unfortunately I am not able (real-life constraints) to get into any kind of discussion with him about it, and I suspect he would not reply to me in the first place. I do wish other atheists were not so combative against him though, and had some more compassion and sympathy instead. Wow.

Brian
 

Keith&Co.

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I don't know how many of us who went through childhood with songs of 'Jesus loves me, this I know...",
and nightly prayers and learning that atheists were devil worshiping, child eating monsters will ever be able to embrace the term, and implications of being called an atheist. Not helped by the fact that there are still many around us who still believe atheist is identically equal to evil.

And yes, I mean in what we think of ourselves inside the privacy of our own head.
I guess it depends on your route to deconversion.

The people that toldme atheists were evil were also those that lost a lot of credibility about some really basic things, long before i became an atheist. MY self-image never changed. I was the guy trying to be basically good, while trying to find God. And finding only more platitudes, ignorance and an unwillingness to question authorities.
Atheism was just something i realized one morning, while still searching.

So when people say
I'm a christian and I think that...ATHEISTS ARE STUPID!! YOU SHOULD LOVE JESUS AND BELIEVE IN THE BIBLE!! ATHEISM IS ONLY A ONE WAY TICKET TO HELL!!!
, i dismiss it as easily as the ones who tell me:
Feminist, eh? That means you must be a lesbian, too
or
I see by your disgust with Lott that you are black

Swing and a miss, each time.
 

Wiploc

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I doubt this is true, because politicians and theists tend to have the same core beliefs: in particular, they believe in communal action. They like to get people working together, to do things for the good of the people, to make rules and laws for the people's benefit.

Why wouldn't atheists agree with that?



Whereas atheists, in my view, are still predominantly loners and individualists.

We shouldn't be viewed as anti-social just because we don't go to church.



They are less likely to become politicians because they mistrust communal agendas and prefer to let people make their own decisions as much as possible.

That's how political conservatives describe themselves. Nobody says conservatives tend to atheism.

I do agree that politicians---in the USA, at least---are less likely to admit that they are atheists.



I suspect the overlapping goals of politicians and theists will ensure a higher proportion of theists among politicians than the general population for some time to come.

I don't buy it.
 

ramoss

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I guess it depends on your route to deconversion.
The people that toldme atheists were evil were also those that lost a lot of credibility about some really basic things, long before i became an atheist. MY self-image never changed. I was the guy trying to be basically good, while trying to find God. And finding only more platitudes, ignorance and an unwillingness to question authorities.
.

A few years back, I took in a young lady who got kicked out of mother's house when she turned 18, and made sure she got through high school, and I am making sure she gets through college. She told me that I show much more compassion and charity than people who claim to be 'righteous' because they are Christian. She varied in her religious mindset, but she certainly is not a fan of organized religion, and Christianity in specific. All the people who helped her the most were either atheist or Jewish.

Maybe one day she'll become an atheist.. but until then, it doesn't matter to her that someone is an atheist, and that should be good enough.
 

Jolly_Penguin

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Yes, agree. I suspect that many of the popes throughtout history have been atheists. I would be surprised if more than 70% were believers.
 
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