03 April 2014

Conservatism Limiting the Growth of Atheism??

I have my doubts about small government libertarian conservative politics if we want to grow atheism and free-thought in the United States. Recently, the questions surrounding atheism and conservative politics came up in connection to American Atheists President David Silverman attending this years CPAC Conference ("David Silverman: CPAC is crawling with closet atheists").

I’ve read Phil Zuckerman’s Society Without God and I’m currently reading David Niose’s Nonbeliever Nation. Both books make a similar point about growing atheism and secularism in a democracy. Secular atheist-friendly societies appear arise naturally in situations where there is a strong social safety net. Niose (page 197) makes the following observation about this correlation in his book:
“As modern developed countries learn to educate, provide health care, and ensure the general welfare of a diverse population, there is less reliance on religious community and charity. This partly explains why conservative religion so often abhors the modern social welfare state, where the public sector fills many roles once served by religion. It’s little wonder that secularity is most prominent in the social democracies of Europe, where the notion of the public sector serving many essential community needs is widely accepted.”
For a small-government conservative or libertarian conservative atheist, this may seem frustrating. After all, conservative politics may have the unintended side-effect of keeping religion alive and limiting the growth of atheism.

[Cross-posted from philosophicalpenguins.wordpress.com]