Deus e deus (II)

A associação entrou em contatato com a jornalista Alexandra Lucas Coelho, que gentilmente nos enviou a segunda parte do seu artigo para ser reproduzida aqui.


Deus e deus (II)
– Qual é a sua religião?
Em todos os países islâmicos onde estive me fizeram esta pergunta. Não nas casas mais ricas, sempre nas mais pobres, talvez porque entre os pobres a religião é o pão e o cobertor, e quando tudo em volta é terrível as pessoas falam do essencial.
A pergunta nunca foi, como seria na Europa, ou entre ricos:
– É religiosa?
Porque nestas casas não ter fé é a pior desgraça, e o primeiro pensamento em relação a um estranho em visita nunca é o pior. Parte-se do princípio de que ele não vive nessa desgraça, de que terá outra fé, mas sempre uma fé. E enquanto assim for, podemos conversar, somos de alguma maneira próximos.
Uma vez, em Peshawar, a grande cidade paquistanesa que faz fronteira com o Afeganistão a norte, essa pergunta transformou-se num interrogatório hostil. Foi dias depois do 11 de Setembro, quando a todo o momento se esperava que os céus se enchessem de caças americanos, e eu estava em reportagem numa madrassa próxima dos partidos islâmicos mais radicais. A atmosfera era explosiva. Aquela pergunta já não era aquela pergunta, era outra.
Mas nas restantes memórias que tenho, de me sentar, e vir o chá ou o café, a pergunta era mesmo essa. A de quem só quer ser tranquilizado.
Não é lata nenhuma, a lata é toda nossa que entramos pelas casas a querer saber da vida.
E o que respondo sempre, desde a primeira, espontânea vez, é isto:
– Fui educada como católica.
Não é toda a verdade, mas é verdade nisto, que neste caso será o mais importante: essa experiência de deus, esse universo religioso é parte de mim desde que me lembro. E depois de responder assim não há insistência, como se a barreira tivesse ficado para trás. Não sendo muito, esta resposta tem sido o suficiente.
O que quero dizer é que talvez menos convívio com deus me levasse a escrever Deus sem pensar muito nisso. Mas esse convívio existiu sempre, involuntariamente do lado de dentro até à adolescência (baptismo, primeira comunhão, crisma), e depois voluntariamente do lado de fora.
Que significa isto? Que não creio em deus, mas deus me interessa porque me interessam as pessoas, e milhões de milhões de pessoas em todo o mundo acreditam em algum ou vários deuses.
Ou seja, crendo eu que não foi deus quem criou os homens, mas são os homens que criam deus, deus interessa-me como permanente criação humana.
Além de existir na história desde que os homens existem, a criação de deus está em alguma da mais sublime arte, seja ela poesia, música, pintura ou arquitectura, dos aztecas ao Cântico dos Cânticos, de Bach aos boddhisatvas, de Bellini à Mesquita de Córdova.
E então, em todos os lugares é isto, corro igrejas, mesquitas e sinagogas, mosteiros, templos e grutas, da Toscânia à Costa do Malabar, de Pitões das Júnias a Damasco, do Harlem à Mafalala, lugares onde os homens mergulham em si próprios e se transcendem, em comunhão com algo maior a que chamam Deus, deuses, nirvana ou natureza.
(continua)

Deus e deus

Mais uma vez abrimos uma exceção e, devido a sua relevância, abrimos este espaço a uma postagem que não está ligada às atividades da organização. O artigo abaixo reflete com clareza e precisão a posição da Atea com relação à palavra deus, já abordado na página Imprensa.

Ateísmo na New Scientist

A revista de divulgação científica New Scientist trouxe em seu último número um artigo e um editorial a respeito de ateísmo. Dada a importância do evento, excepcionalmente abrimos este espaço para essas matérias.


Editorial: Time to accept that atheism, not god, is odd

IF YOU’RE one of those committed atheists in the Richard Dawkins mould who dreams of ridding the world of religious mumbo-jumbo, prepare yourself for a disappointment: there is no good evidence that education leads to secularisation.

In fact, the more we learn about the “god instinct” and the refusal of religion to fade away under the onslaught of progress, the more the non-religious mindset looks like the odd man out. That is why anthropologists, psychologists and social scientists are now putting irreligion under the microscope in the same way they once did with religious belief (see “Where do atheists come from?”).

The aim is not to discredit atheism but to understand how so many people can override a way of thinking that seems to come so naturally. For that reason, atheists should welcome the new scrutiny.

Atheism still has a great deal to commend it, not least that it doesn’t need supernatural beings to make sense of the world. Let’s hope the study of atheism leads to new insights into how to challenge such irrationality.


Where do atheists come from?

 HERE’s a fact to flatter the unbelievers among you: the bright young things at the University of Oxford are among the most godless groups ever studied in the UK. Of 728 students surveyed in 2007, 48.9 per cent claimed not to believe in any god, with 49.6 per cent claiming no religious affiliation. And while a very small number of Britons typically label themselves as “atheist” or “agnostic” (most surveys put it at about 5 per cent), an astonishing 57.3 per cent of the Oxford sample did.

This may come as no surprise. After all, atheism is the natural stance of the educated and the informed, is it not? It is only to be expected that Oxford students should be wise to what their own professor Richard Dawkins calls “self-indulgent, thought-denying skyhookery” – and others call “faith”. The old Enlightenment caricature, it seems, is true after all: where Reason reigns, God retires.

Of course, things are never quite that simple. Within the sample, for instance, the postgraduates (that is, the even-better educated) were notably more religious than the undergraduates, in terms of both belief in God and self-description. Although the greater number of non-Europeans in the postgraduate population is almost certainly a significant factor here, evidence from elsewhere backs the idea that there is no straightforward relationship between atheism and education.

Let’s look at some results from the World Values Survey, an international attempt to assess the global state of socio-cultural, moral, religious and political values. The 2005 results show that while there is a clear positive correlation between education and lack of belief in God, the effect is slightly weaker, not stronger, among those with a university education (14.8 per cent were non-believers) compared with those whose highest attainment was secondary level (17.2 per cent).

What is more, the survey shows a far stronger correlation between education and certain “irrational” beliefs: for example, only 29.6 per cent of those without even an elementary education believe in telepathy, compared with 51.8 per cent of people with degree-level education.

Closer to home, an analysis of the 2008 British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey by David Voas of the University of Manchester reveals that the historical correlation between being educated and being “non-religious” has not only weakened but reversed. Looking at white British people, for example, the findings show that only around 25 per cent of men aged between 25 and 34 claiming “no religion” have degrees, compared with around 40 per cent of those describing themselves as religious. For women in the same age group, the difference is less marked but the trend is the same. The picture is more complicated across different ethnic groups, although the overall trend remains the same.

It appears that Enlightenment assumptions about the decline of religion as the population becomes more educated will no longer do – at least, not without considerable qualification. Why is it that, despite the long history of the study of religion, the picture seems to be getting more and not less confused about what it means to believe in God? We, and the scholars who gathered in December last year for a conference at Wolfson College, University of Oxford, think we may have the answer. The problems stem from a long-term, collective blind spot in research: atheism itself.

This oversight might seem remarkable (or remarkably obtuse on the part of the social scientists) but it is one with deep historical roots. Many of social science’s 19th-century founders, including Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, Émile Durkheim, Auguste Comte and Max Weber, were unbelievers, or “religiously unmusical”, as Weber memorably put it. For them, religion was the great explicandum: how, they wondered, could so many people believe in something so absurd? What they failed to recognise was that their own, taken-for-granted, “lack” of belief might itself be amenable to inquiry.

Ironically, sociologists, psychologists, economists and, particularly, cognitive anthropologists have become so skilled at explaining why humans seem to have such a widespread bias towards theistic beliefs that a new question readily presents itself: if religion comes so naturally to us, why are so many people, especially in western Europe, apparently resistant to it? In the UK, for example, a sizeable 43 per cent said they had “no religion” in the 2008 BSA survey.

Moreover, social scientists themselves consistently rank as the most atheistic of all academics: see a recent study by Neil Gross at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, and Solon Simmons of the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University, Arlington, Virginia (Sociology of Religion, in press).

What we need now is a scientific study not of the theistic, but the atheistic mind. We need to discover why some people do not “get” the supernatural agency many cognitive scientists argue comes automatically to our brains. Is this capacity non-existent in the non-religious, or is it rerouted, undermined or overwritten – and under what conditions?

 Psychologically, we need to know how the self functions without theistic belief, and how our emotional resources might be altered by its absence. Anthropologically, we need to understand how people without religion make sense of their lives, how they find meaning, and how non-theistic systems of thought are embedded in, and shape, the different cultures in which they are present. Sociologically, we need to know how these alternative meaning-making systems are shared between societies, how they unite or divide us, and whether non-religious groups contain pro-social elements commonly associated with religion itself.

For all these reasons and more – not to mention the sheer thrill of entering uncharted waters – we set up the international and interdisciplinary Non-religion and Secularity Research Network in late 2008. The Wolfson meeting was the NSRN’s inaugural conference, only the second event on this topic ever to be held in Europe. (The first was convened by the Vatican in 1969: make of that what you will.)

The conference presented the first fruits of research in this area – and discussed how much still needs to be done. One of the first tasks is to develop a common academic vocabulary. In this article, for instance, we have danced between “atheistic”, “non-theistic”, “non-religious”, “unbelieving” and “godless” as if they were synonyms. They’re not.

Interesting findings have, however, begun to emerge; some providing insight into the relationship between education and atheism. Voas, also a keynote speaker at the Wolfson conference, says one reason why a greater number of religious people are degree-holders may be that “better educated people have typically reflected on religion and have the self-confidence to come down decisively, on one side or the other”. The issue is not which idea – atheism or theism – is more stupid than the other, but that education helps us either to work out or simply to communicate our beliefs, no matter what they are.

He also notes the observation by another keynote presenter, Colin Campbell of the University of York, whose 1971 book Toward a Sociology of Irreligionhad until very recently been a lone voice in the wilderness. Campbell argues that though the educated are often the first to articulate a new cultural perspective, if that perspective becomes popular, it will spread across the population. As a result, the education levels associated with that perspective naturally average out. So it is that the relationship between intelligence or education and cultural shifts may not be as significant as they first appear.

Everybody stands to benefit from wider and more systematic research of the atheistic or non-religious. The believers may take heart from the fact that the most comprehensive studies no longer suggest the unreligious are cleverer or more lettered than them. But the non-believers might also comfort themselves that they are no longer outside the mainstream. They have become a “normal” and significant part of many societies. And researchers ignore them at their peril.

Profile

Lois Lee is a PhD student at the University of Cambridge and founder-director of the Non-religion and Secularity Research Network (NSRN). Stephen Bullivant is a research fellow at St Mary’s University College, Twickenham, and Wolfson College, University of Oxford

Jornal publica nota da Atea

Graças ao empenho de uma dedicada associada da entidade que mora no estado do Rio de Janeiro, o jornal Primeira Hora publicou no último dia 2 a nota da Atea à imprensa referente ao estudo sobre moralidade e ateísmo, recentemente postada aqui. A entidade agradece de público aqui a iniciativa de sua associada.

ATEA protesta contra PL que exclui ateus

A ATEA enviou hoje o email abaixo ao deputado pastor Pedro Ribeiro referente ao Projeto de Lei 6783/10, que cria um serviço telefônico “com a finalidade de atender denúncias relativas a abuso, discriminação e intolerância contra qualquer denominação religiosa”.


Prezado deputado

Acabei de tomar conhecimento da tramitação do PL 6783/10, de sua autoria, e gostaria de
parabenizá-lo por incluir aqueles que não pertencem “a uma determiada congregação”. No
entanto, quando a a justificativa menciona “congregações”, ela atende única e
exclusivamente o público cristão, o que exclui todas as demais milhares de religiões
representadas no país, e nenhuma delas possui “congregações”. Com isso, ao invés de
atenuar a discriminação religiosa, a lei corre o perigo de aprofundá-la.

Além disso, e mais importante, o PL exclui deliberadamente os casos de abuso,
discriminação e intolerância contra os sem-religião, que pelo último censo constituem
cerca de 8% da população brasileira, e sofrem justamente por sua posição com relação à
religião, em especial no caso dos ateus. Uma pesquisa da Fundação Perseu Abramo, por
exemplo, apontou que 42% dos brasileiros temrepulsa, ódio ou antipatia para com ateus,
número supeior àquele relativo a todos os demais grupos pesquisados, incluindo usuários
de drogas, prostitutas, gays e transexuais, entre outros.

Criar um serviço de denúncias que não protege um dos grupos mais discriminados é uma
maneira certa de justificar e aprofundar o preconceito, deixando a mensagem clara de que
há cidadãos que merecem ser protegidos, e há cidadãos que não merecem. Em nome da
associação Brasileira de Ateus e Agnósticos, enviamos ao deputado este pedido para que o
texto do Projeto de Lei seja revisto de maneira a incluir todo tipo de posição comrelação
à religião.

Atenciosamente

A Diretoria

Associação Brasileira de Ateus e Agnósticos
www.atea.org.br

Sugerimos a todos os interessados que se manifestem também através do email dep.pastorpedroribeiro@gmail.com.

Artigos sobre ateísmo

Eis o pedido que a presidência da entidade recebeu e que repassamos a todos os interessados:


Call for Articles:

Dear friends,
I am working to compile for publication a book of essays/articles
about the experiences of atheists around the world.
I am from the United States, where religion is usually a personal
matter and one’s beliefs or non-beliefs do not necessarily affect
their public lives.  I live in the middle-east, where a person’s
religion is very public, even printed their national identity card,
and people of different religions have different legal systems.  It is
a much different experience being atheist in the USA and being an
atheist in the middle-east.
I am very interested to hear about the experience of atheists in
different cultures and societies around the world.  Our beliefs are
similar, but the way they affect our lives is very different.

For this reason, I am seeking contributions of articles from atheists
and non-believers around the world.  I am especially interested to
hear from atheists in non-western countries, countries which espouse a
state religion, and countries where the majority religion is
non-theistic or polytheistic.
I would like submissions to include both personal experience and the
facts of your environment.  Some questions to consider:
What is your experience as an atheist in your country? Are you open
about your non-belief or must you keep your atheism a secret? Are you
discriminated against for your atheism? How does your day-to-day life
compare with the lives of religious believers in your country? How
does your atheism affect your family life? Do you celebrate holidays?
What struggles do you face, if any, as a non-believer? Does your
country list a religion on your identity card, and if so, is “atheist”
allowed as a response? Do you face legal restrictions due to your
beliefs?

I would like submissions to be at least 1000 words long, and up to 5000 words.
Please assume that readers have little knowledge of your
country’s majority religion and explain that cultural context from
which you write.
Pseudonyms (fake names) are allowed if necessary.

Please submit your essays to

jennifer (dot) thorson (at) uwmalumni (dot) com



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