Here’s a crazy thought: atheism needs more money

Do you remember the Daniel Dennet lecture a few months ago regarding a pilot study he was conducting about atheist priests still giving sermons? If you never watched it and have an hour to kill, I highly recommend going back and checking it out. If you want the short version of what the hell that must be like, check out this article:  The main theme seems to be: “I can’t quit my job because I’m an expert in nonsense and have no marketable skills.”

If you think about it, the reason these guys can’t leave their shitty jobs is they have bills to pay, and apparently duping people with supernatural nonsense is still where it’s at. I joke around about the fact preachers are experts at fairy tales, but when the reality of that hits home, and in particular threatens your wallet, I’m sure we’d probably do the same thing.

I had a thought while reading the article however; are their skills not marketable at all outside preaching? If they were so effective convincing people  God exists, why couldn’t they do something similar to show people that “He” doesn’t for a living?

Sure, you could say the real problem is there’s really no money in it. Fair enough. But why not? We’ve seen time and time again that religionists have deep pockets, while our measly track record isn’t even in the same league. We’re goddamn amateurs when it comes to this stuff, and I think it’s time we started changing that fact. We’ve got to get in the habit of supporting more organizations, or if you aren’t personally satisfied with the ones existing today, maybe start your own. We need clear, concise goals. We need dedicated and smart people to make them happen, and most of all, we need some fucking money.

Am I alone in thinking it might be time for atheists to start thinking about really doing more to help the cause?

Comments (8)

  • avatar


    what do we want? we want the people to think and see by themselves the truth, there is no god.

    if we start an “atheist church” we will end up with the same dumb people “having faith” in what we said.

    What i mean it’s really dificult to reach large groups of people at once without became a church.

    the path to the truth is, sadly a really slow one

  • avatar


    english is not my native tongue, excuse my grammar

  • avatar


    It depends what you mean by “the cause”.

    If you mean “the cause of atheism”, then i have trouble getting behind that. Like the humanism campaign, i think it’s a waste of $200’000, that many could have done a lot of good. I’m not sure spending money to “advertise” atheism is worth it.

    If you mean the cause of simply promoting secular organizations, organizations who’s goal is to increase scientific literacy, to fight pseudoscience, to improve education (science, math, reading, etc in general) etc, i can get behind that.

    At the same time, while i don’t think advertising atheism is money well spent, there are certainly holes in that argument. Atheists are severely underrepresented (when it comes to things like politics, education policy, etc) so maybe part of the answer is to be more vocal and campaign and advertise. We’re a minority, but a pretty large (albeit not very vocal) minority. Maybe promoting atheism is money well spent. Maybe someone sees the ads and it gives them the feeling of “i’m not alone in thinking X Y Z”. Growing up in the catholic school system before the wide availability of the internet meant i never had that feeling. I was very isolated in my beliefs. It’s easier to find others now with the internet, but maybe physical ad campaigns will help atheists who aren’t “out of the closet” so to speak.

    At the end of the day, i suppose i’m simply a bit cynical about the idea for a couple of reasons.
    1) I feel this stuff is largely preaching to the choir, it seems to be dismissed outside the atheist community.
    2) I haven’t seen it done well, that doesn’t mean it can’t be done well, it just makes me skeptical.

    As an aside, i suppose this is sort of the gift and curse of atheism/free thinking/critical thinking or whatever that i’m constantly trying to see the other side of an argument. I throw out an argument (e.g. advertising atheism is a waste) and then refute my own argument (e.g. maybe there are tangible benefits to it). On the plus side it means i can argue with myself, haha.

  • avatar

    Men's Battle Plan

    I agree. One reason we (Christians) have “deep pockets” isn’t because we are any richer but because we are bigger givers. Most people I know (although it’s not the norm) give to the church at least 10% of there income.

    Wouldn’t it be great to see people start giving a secular tithe of 10% of their income?

  • avatar


    That’s called charity, Battle Plan. XD Tithing harks from the days when the church was in charge and if you didn’t give them your cash and your subservience you were burned as a witch. Plus, of course, the reason there’s not a secular tithe is that atheists are, the vast majority of the time, a lot more savvy about thinking things through – hell, thinking over stuff that a lot of people didn’t think over is how a lot of us, myself included, left religious lifestyles behind. With that in mind, and given the way such a tiny amount of tithing goes toward preachers’ and priests’ income (unless televangelists get in on the act) compared to the proportion of it that becomes profit for the church as an organisation, it’s a lot clearer why a secular tithe wouldn’t really work. People are less willing to just give someone their money and trust them.

    Fuck, in fact, I’ll go you one further: there is something analogous to a tithe in a secular society. Taxation!

  • avatar

    Men's Battle Plan

    Great point Aegis.

    Although the tithe is alive and well in every church today, if you don’t give then we will not burn you.

    “Plus, of course, the reason there’s not a secular tithe is that atheists are, the vast majority of the time, a lot more savvy about thinking things through” Aegis
    So the more you think through giving to charity the less you want to give?
    *Sidenote: It’s hard to get through talking with an atheist without one of you pointing how much smarter you are than everyone else. *

    My point was that I agree with Jake that the atheist movement needs to pick up a little steam. To do this you guys need to get a little more organized. I’ve heard excuses from atheists that Christians have such a huge head start, since we’ve been around longer, that this is reason why Christians have so many charities.

    But I would love to see this changed and non-religious people start to help more as a group of atheist.

    And I believe the best way to do this is for every citizen to start giving 10% of their money.

  • avatar


    Tithing isnt giving to charity, its giving to the church. which they then pay priests and other bullshit, then maybe a bit goes to charity. I hate how religious take one thing and try to call it another.

    Who would every athiest give 10% to? I would gladly give money to secular charities. But the idea that athiests everywhere are going to give 10% to some entity just isnt going to happen.

  • avatar


    I was going to make exactly the same point Thiga; tithing is NOT charity, if anything it’s an investment (if you believe you are actually going to heaven that is). Money that is tithed helps very few, in fact it makes matters worse in a lot of cases if you look at what many churches use their funds for (promotion of superstition and right wing causes). In fact, people who tithe probably won’t give to genuinely worthy causes, as they believe they’re doing enough already by paying to have the church roof repaired or fighting to have creationism taught in schools.

    Whatever MBP says, Atheists are just as charitable as believers – with the added bonus that their money normally does more good.

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