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I was asked this question the other day, and I found it a bit difficult to answer.  I myself have been an atheist since age 15 (20 years sane), and primarily have been a registered Democrat for most of my life.

That said, I wouldn't call myself liberal in the modern sense of the word.  Despite the present day polling, I think in a general sense most atheists wouldn't qualify as liberals either.  Modern liberalism has a touchy-feely quality not germane to most atheists.

Now liberalism in the traditional sense might better fit the sensibilities of an atheist.  Indeed most atheists fit politically into one of three groups.  Progressives, Libertarians or Neo-Conservatives.

At the polls, however, when push comes to shove, atheists vote Democrat.  Why is that?

Atheism has a profound effect on political positions.  On almost any major issue atheists tend to arrive at very different conclusions than their religious counter-parts.  Even when their interests seem to align, how they get there is wildly different.

I can't speak for all atheists, but I have noticed some common themes among other atheists I've known.  In the most general sense it seems that atheists tend to gravitate to concrete policies rather than idealistic principles.

An example of this would be the desire for universal human rights.  There is a moralistic approach to human rights, which is predominant on the left.  Atheists tend to be carry the same values, but come upon it in a far more rational sense.  To most atheists I know, human rights represent a pragmatic must for a healthy society.  The whole 'this is how we should act' notion is almost nonsensical.  It is more a matter of what yields the best outcome.

Global warming is another area I see this accidental overlap with some environmentalists.  There are many, who believe in a sort natural order which humans should adhere to.  Atheists don't tend to see a moral need for conservation, but rather recognize the practical balance between consumption and conservation.  Sustainability isn't a moral good.  It is just the only rational way to maintain a society.

In these overlaps I think the answer to my question lies.  Atheists vote Democrat, because Democrats have taken more pragmatic positions.

I don't think anyone really becomes an atheist.  Rather one lets go of all notions they'd like to believe, but just can't rationalize to themselves anymore.  It is a moment of brutal honesty, where you say to yourself that you better start dealing with the world the way it actually is.  In doing so you let go of many of the should's and should not's, which lack any clear reasons.

For some reason many religious people think that this diminishes the role of humans, but I would disagree.  The need for liberty is essential in an atheist's quest.  Survival trumps noble sacrifice, so the mechanisms for survival become far more important in an atheist's worldview.  Society exists to serve the individuals who make it up.

Republicans don't feel the need to proactively fix problems, because at the heart of their theology, God will figure out whatever we leave undone.  There is no such solace in atheism.  Either we fix the problem, or we suffer as a result of our own inaction.  This is probably why some atheists have chased the neo-conservative remake the world nonsense.

At the same time atheists are cautious of institutional power, which probably explains the libertarian overlaps.  The enlightenment philosophies closely related with early atheism reject the dominance of institutional tradition over human experience.

Perhaps this is just another rambling diary, but I really did find the question interesting.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Because when you can't put it off... (13+ / 0-)

    ...to the afterlife, you try harder to make a better, kinder world here on earth.

    Do you not see that it is the grossest idolatry to speak of the market as though it were the rival of God?

    by kismet on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 05:06:25 AM PDT

  •  Generalize much? n/t (13+ / 0-)

    This is a load of unsubstantiated twaddle.

    •  Agreed.... (4+ / 0-)

      Links showing that atheists (all? some? most?) vote democratic?

      •  And that we're more pragmatic than others (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dirkster42, Dr Teeth

        or less moralistic.  Or that we're more rational.  Or that we reach our positions in a manner different than others.

        Unsubstantiated twaddle indeed.

        My voting Democratic has virtually nothing to do with my atheism and vice versa.

        "If you trust you are not critical; if you are critical you do not trust" by our own Dauphin

        by gustynpip on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 08:26:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  salon had a pretty interesting article on this not (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dr Teeth

        within the past week or so...

        In America, atheists, agnostics and the nonreligious are pro-choice by a 49-percentage-point margin, an overwhelming majority. To put this in perspective, the nonreligious are substantially more pro-choice than women; they’re even more pro-choice than registered Democrats (who, by contrast, support reproductive rights by a mere 30-point margin).

        This is a strong argument for the fundamentally religious and faith-based nature of anti-abortion arguments. As people lose their religious beliefs, their anti-choice views drop away as well. If anti-abortion views were based on evidence and reason, then we’d have every right to expect that the atheist community would be more evenly divided, and that there wouldn’t be such a chasm between the religious and the nonreligious on the issue of choice. This is the same unobjectionable logic we use to conclude that rejection of evolution is driven mostly by religious belief.

        But it’s not just reproductive rights where we see this progressive pattern. A Pew survey from 2009 asked about the permissibility of torturing people suspected of terrorism. The religiously unaffiliated and those who never attend church were more likely than Catholics, evangelicals or mainline Protestants to say that torture can rarely or never be justified. The nonreligious were also more likely than Protestants, Catholics or Mormons to oppose the war in Iraq. And of course, the nonreligious support marriage equality by a stratospheric 76% margin.

        No System of Justice Can Rise Above the Ethics of Those Who Administer It. (Wickersham Commission 1929)

        by No Exit on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 10:05:07 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Where are the stats that validate this theory? (9+ / 0-)

    If somebody asked me that, I would have replied "Why must Republicans stereotype everyone?"

    •  There is no stats (0+ / 0-)

      Polling shows that most atheists vote Democrat, but I'm just drawing on personal experience.  If you have some sort of data driven answer, I'd be happy to hear it.

      •  here's a testable hypothesis I think is correct: (12+ / 0-)

        The reason most atheists and agnostics vote D is because the R party has become infested with religious right extremism of the worst kind, and espousing that belief system has become a litmus test in the R party.

        If you don't subscribe to religious right extremism and don't want to lie about it, and don't want to live in an encroaching theocracy that will likely threaten your freedom of conscience, you don't vote for Rs.

        There are atheist R libertarians (hardcore Randians) and neocons (Karl Rove et.al.) but these are relative political minorities, and not a single one of them has a ghost's chance in a skeptic's convention of getting elected to public office above the level of dog-catcher.  

        There are also atheist gazillionaires who vote R because they are in positions where encroaching theocracy won't touch them, and they think they can buy their way out of getting sent to fundamentalist thought-reform camps, and they value their money more than the general principle of freedom of conscience for others.

        "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

        by G2geek on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 06:26:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Karl Rove is not an atheist (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dr Teeth

          He was taking out of context in a debate 10 years ago.

          Republicans are far more socialist than Democrats. Just because they want to redistribute the wealth upwards does not make it any better.

          by MrAnon on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 08:50:54 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  either way, use it for all it's worth. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Dr Teeth

            Since we're trying to get Rs to stay home from the polls, and since Rs tend to subscribe to religious extremism, calling Rove an atheist is perfectly acceptable.  Lump him in with Ayn Rand in passing, quote Rand's stuff about how she despised Jesus for being a "weakling," etc.

            Guilt by association? Hell yeah. So?

            Any tactic that isn't violent or seriously illegal, is OK.  

            "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

            by G2geek on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 11:57:31 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Fair enough (0+ / 0-)

              We can paint the current Republican party as "anti-Christian" based on its hatred of the poor and cold attidute. We can quote scripture where Jesus said "it is easier for a camel to enter the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God", etc.

              Republicans are far more socialist than Democrats. Just because they want to redistribute the wealth upwards does not make it any better.

              by MrAnon on Tue Aug 14, 2012 at 09:08:00 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  They Don't (6+ / 0-)

    Robert M. Price, the scholar and author of "The Christ Myth Theory and Its Problems" and "The Case Against the Case for Christ" is an ardent Republican.  Michael Shermer is a Randian and a Libertarian.  I've been a member of the skeptical movement for 20 years and I find that it breaks down to about 70% liberal and 30% conservative - with good portions of both sides trending toward the extreme fringe of their political pole.  

    No one can terrorize a whole nation, unless we are all his accomplices. - Edward R. Murrow

    by CrazyHorse on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 05:11:13 AM PDT

    •  Shermer is a Randian? (5+ / 0-)

      Most interesting.  I'll keep that in mind if I ever get a chance to post something he's likely to see.  

      Surprising that anyone who adheres to scientific rationalism would also adhere to Randism, which is a substitute form of irrationalism.  And yeah I'd tell him that directly, and eagerly look forward to debating it with him.  

      And just in case his version of Libertarianism is anti-ecological, I have a tested & well-proven way of dealing with that issue conclusively.  Keywords "externality" and "consenting adult transactions."  

      "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

      by G2geek on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 06:30:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Off topic: you have mail (nt) (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dr Teeth, G2geek, commonmass

        If religion means a way of life, and life's necessities are food, clothing, and shelter, then we should not separate religion from economics. - Malcolm X

        by dirkster42 on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 08:42:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  got it; will be writing back tonight. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dirkster42, commonmass

          I was programming a switch over the weekend, didn't have a decent stretch of unbroken time to get into the mode to write back.  Unlike DK postings and minor household cleaning, which I do in between other tasks.  Email is like phone calls: full attention to the conversation.  Tonight I have some free time, assuming today's installation goes as planned and I'm not stuck in the field until way late.  

          "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

          by G2geek on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 09:03:08 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  70/30 seems to indicate that, in general (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dr Teeth

      they do.

      When banjos are outlawed, only outlaws will have banjos.

      by Bisbonian on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 06:31:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  "20 years sane"? (10+ / 0-)

    So, then, I can assume you think that believers, such as myself, are...insane?

    I have friends who are atheists. My favorite uncle is an atheist. While I disagree with their views, I respect their positions.

    For some reason, though, certain atheists (such as yourself and my uncle) feel no need to show respect for the position of believers.

    Anyway, to try to answer your diary's question now: It might have something to do with the fact that so many GOP politicians wrap themselves around the Bible in such nauseating and often phony fashion.

    Just look at Paul Ryan. On one hand, he purports to be a Christian. On the other, he worships at the altar of Ayn Rand. This is the equivalent of telling folks you root equally hard for the Yankees and Red Sox.

    Those of us with functioning brains tend to be able to see through such nonsense.

    How about I believe in the unlucky ones?

    by BenderRodriguez on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 05:12:21 AM PDT

    •  Yes, but insanity isn't so bad (5+ / 0-)

      Religious people openly say they believe in something without any evidence to support it.

      In other words they extend their belief systems beyond the bounds of any reality they can perceive.

      How is that different from any delusional thinking?

      •  Well, to hazard a guess, (6+ / 0-)

        "delusional thinking" typically seems to incorporate a way of looking at life that puts the observer (the delusional thinker) in a debilitating position. It makes the delusional thinker unable to interact in normal society.

        On the other hand, a person who has faith has just that-- "faith". The whole idea behind faith is that you're willing to accept a premise despite the lack of visible evidence, because you have faith that at some level, somewhere and somehow, it is true. Other than that, the believer is able to function in normal society.

        It is possible to have a delusional complex that incorporates religious notions-- for example, the idea that global warming (backed by evidence) is not a problem because Jesus will magically fix things (a debilitating delusion with religious roots at its base) but you don't want to paint yourself into a corner by declaring that "all these fish must therefore be salmon".

        The human mind is a fantastic, wonderful, complex tool, able to see multiple layers of reasoning and able to identify and keep track of many complex thoughts at once. An intelligent, rational person would be able to see that, instead of just lumping all things into one category and all other things into another category and being done with it. That is simplistic and immature reductionist thinking; the work of the intellectually lazy.

        My .02, anyway. ;-)

      •  Read some William James. (6+ / 0-)

        The delusional kind of thinking is getting tied up on philosophical questions on which there might never be consensus.

        Moving beyond the endless and fairly pointless debate and focusing ones energies elsewhere is far more rational than beating a dead horse forever.

        That's the American Philosophical School of Pragmatism.

        Pragmatism is the only school which effectively deals with the question of the reliability of sense data, too.

        An Fhirinn an aghaidh an t'Saoghail. (The truth against the world.) Is treasa tuath na tighearna. (The common people are mightier than the lords.)

        by OllieGarkey on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 05:41:41 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  OK guys, cut the crap: here's what'up with this: (7+ / 0-)

        Religious belief is mediated by at least two areas of the brain.  The degree and type of activity of these areas is highly correlated with religious experiences and beliefs.  

        One of these involves "deeply-felt sense of personal meaning in relation to something larger than self."  Strictly speaking that does not produce or entail religion as-such, for example one might have deep feelings of awe in relation to the natural world as elucidated by science.  

        The other of these areas involves the concept of a deity specifically.  

        Most human traits vary along a normal curve.  Thus we would expect that degree of activity or interconnectedness of each of these areas of the brain varies accordingly.  And from this we get the spectrum of subjective experiences about religion and feelings about religion, that in turn determine individual beliefs about religion, both for and against.  

        Delusional beliefs are those that are provably disjunct from empirical reality.  

        However when you can't demonstrate empirical evidence for or against something being real (e.g. a deity, a hereafter), the matter is left open to subjective attitudes and opinions.  

        Many subjective attitudes and preferences are not susceptible to empirical treatment.  Which form of music is "better" and which is "worse"...?  Which brand of ice cream tastes best?  I could run around extolling the virtues of Strauss Farms ice cream while you tell me I'm delusional and some other brand tastes better.  So?

        Where religion becomes delusional is where it becomes provably disjunct from empirical reality: for example when someone believes that their deity will save them from all manner of danger.  But areligious and irreligious delusions are every bit as dangerous, for example Lysenkoism, not to mention all the various "master race" theories.  

        It's easy, but ultimately disingenuous, to ascribe delusion to differences of opinions about purely subjective matters.  The religious right does that all the time about sexuality.  

        "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

        by G2geek on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 06:47:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  er..superstitions aren't 'insanity'. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dr Teeth

        neither are religions.

        The reality we  have access to is INFINITESMALLY SMALL.  There's nothing 'insane' about believing things that may lie beyond its bounds.  Maybe not rational, sure.  But insane?  Of course not.

    •  I'm curious (9+ / 0-)

      Why is it that someone's belief in a supreme deity must be respected?  

      I'm not saying I don't respect you, but I'm wondering why the religious part of the person is so deserving of respect.

      Is it possible that I can disrespect someone's belief in a supernatural deity, but at the same time respect them for whatever other reasons I find more deserving of respect?

      Someone mentioned Michael Shermer.  He's a libertarian, so I don't have much respect for many of his political positions, outside of social issues.  I do respect his tenacity, and his advocacy for skepticism.  

      What is it about the belief in a supernatural deity that should command respect?

      •  Just being a decent human being? (4+ / 0-)

        Why would you not want to respect another person's belief?  Exactly what purpose is served by disrespecting someone else's belief?

        Respect is not the same as agreement.  It is, however, basic common courtesy that enables society to function in a positive way.

        The disrespect shown by the right for those with different beliefs and the resulting gridlock in this country should alone be a sufficient reason for showing respect to those with different beliefs.

        "If you trust you are not critical; if you are critical you do not trust" by our own Dauphin

        by gustynpip on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 08:33:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That doesn't explain anything (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dr Teeth

          That just says that in your world view, religion is one special belief that commands respect.  

          It specifically avoids answering the question I asked.  

          I don't respect every opinion that anyone holds.  What is it about religious belief that commands respect?  

          I'm sure there are plenty of things for which you have no respect, but religion  is one that gets a special place.  

          My question is specifically why religion deserves respect.

          •  Wrong. It says that in my world view, you (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Dr Teeth

            respect others' beliefs about anything as long as those beliefs are not hurting you or someone else.  Period.  I don't care whether they're religious beliefs or any other beliefs.  That doesn't mean you can't discuss them, argue about them, try to change the other person's opinion.  But you do all those things respectfully.

            I'm thinking you have a different idea of respect than do I.  I don't have to agree and I don't have to think your belief makes sense or even that it might be right in order for me to respect it.  Respect simply means not being rude and obnoxious about your disagreement and not treating the person with that belief as an idiot.  If you disagree with that concept of treating someone with a different religious view, I don't think there's anything left to discuss.  

            About the only kinds of things I don't respect are things like the belief it's okay to mistreat people or animals, that others don't have the right to make their own decisions, that one group of people is inferior to another, etc.  Religious beliefs are certainly not in that category unless the person or religion is claiming the right to do those things.  Which many do and I can't say I respect those.  But simply the belief in a supreme being?  I can quite easily respect  anyone who holds that belief.

            "If you trust you are not critical; if you are critical you do not trust" by our own Dauphin

            by gustynpip on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 01:24:50 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Well, it's ONLY expected to be respected if it's (4+ / 0-)

        the Supreme Being of the Abrahamic religions.

        Zeus, Jupiter, Thor, Woten, etc etc etc, not so much.

        Because you know, there is just so much more evidence for Jehovah than for Zeus, right?

        WTF!?!?!?! When did I move to the Republic of Gilead?!

        by IARXPHD on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 08:37:39 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Ask Karl Rove. n/t (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dr Teeth, dirkster42

    Romney-Ryan is like Dole-Kemp for amateurs..

    by Bush Bites on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 05:13:10 AM PDT

  •  BTW: A lot of libertarian athiests vote Repub. (5+ / 0-)

    Romney-Ryan is like Dole-Kemp for amateurs..

    by Bush Bites on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 05:13:41 AM PDT

  •  Seeing the world as arbitrary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dr Teeth, Wee Mama

    with no divine safety net or do-over.  It's up to us to do the best we can.

    For me, facing that I couldn't sustain belief in a parental God meant facing this horrible, arbitrary meaninglessness.  Made me suicidal.

    Keeping my view a bit smaller and trying to contribute in a positive way has kept me from despair.

    Nice explanation--just wanted to add how scary it has been for me.

    •  It was scary for me too (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      political mutt

      It is  much scarier world, when there is no divine plan at work.

      •  speaking only for myself... (7+ / 0-)

        ... the notion that this is part of some divine plan is scarier than the idea that what we see is what we get. At least I can make sense of the latter scenario.

        Let us all have the strength to see the humanity in our enemies, and the courage to let them see the humanity in ourselves.

        by Nowhere Man on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 05:27:54 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I can see the comfort (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          political mutt, bobtmn

          It would be nice to believe that there is a sense of universal justice, where suffering righteously is rewarded and the wicked are punished.

          I find the cruelest part of Christianity is the idea that somehow the suffering felt by the poor and disenfranchised is somehow noble.  Christians would be a lot more pissed at a rigged system, if they weren't lead to believe this.

          •  The idea that suffering/poverty is noble (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Dr Teeth, Nowhere Man

            is a, not the, Christian position.

            It's not the position of the Social Gospel (see Walter Rauschenbusch), Christian Realism (see Reinhold Niebuhr), or Liberation Theology (see Gustavo Gutierrez), to name three very significant movements in twentieth-century Christian theology.

            If religion means a way of life, and life's necessities are food, clothing, and shelter, then we should not separate religion from economics. - Malcolm X

            by dirkster42 on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 08:42:26 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  OTOH (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              dirkster42, Dr Teeth

              I remember a Pope -- pretty sure it was John Paul II -- telling parents who were unable to conceive a baby that they should consider their suffering as an opportunity to join with Jesus in his suffering on the cross. So there is that.

              I agree with your larger point, though: Though I'm not even sure that there was a historical Jesus, obviously somebody came up with the words attributed to him. And from what (relatively little) I know, I believe that the liberal Christian movements are much more in line with those teachings.

              Let us all have the strength to see the humanity in our enemies, and the courage to let them see the humanity in ourselves.

              by Nowhere Man on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 09:15:34 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Yep - (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Nowhere Man, Dr Teeth

                the idea is a Christian position, no doubt - and one that has as much to do with the calamities of the fourteenth century, when the idea really takes off, as with anything inherent in the Gospels (Thomas of Kempis is one who takes it to an extreme, and is oddly macho about it).  It's just not the only stance Christians take.

                If religion means a way of life, and life's necessities are food, clothing, and shelter, then we should not separate religion from economics. - Malcolm X

                by dirkster42 on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 10:07:30 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  Quite frankly (5+ / 0-)

        I think it a much saner world that recognises that man alone is responsible for outcomes.

        We caused it, we can fix it and anything else is just a meaningless distraction.

        I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
        but I fear we will remain Democrats.

        by twigg on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 05:32:50 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I've never really understood this. (5+ / 0-)

        I've never understood this sentiment, and to me the notion of the Christian god has always been horrifying. But then I've been atheist all my life, so I probably can't understand what it's like to be in a religion.  The religious claims, as I hear them (Not necessarily what people actually believe) go something like this:

        There is a being out there that exists who has an enormous interest in my daily life, and is watching everything I do.

        If I don't live my life by a set of inscrutable divine rules, I will be punished for eternity.  Yet there is no objective measure to discover the correct set of rules so that they could be accurately followed.  The fact that no objective measure exists leads to religious fractioning in the form of splintering groups and sects.

        Worse than that, there are forces at work, 'worldly' forces, bent on undermining my confidence in the validity of the correct set, if I even happen to stumble upon the absolute correct combination of divine laws.  The world is fundamentally corrupted, and will lie to my senses in an attempt to trick me away from obedience to the divine laws.

        That's always seemed more like a horror story than any kind of thing to celebrate.

        The notion of a divine plan seems scarier to me than none at all.  Hopefully my perspective on this is clear enough to understand.  Perspective makes all the difference, I suppose, but this is just something I've never really understood how it could be squared with objective reality.

      •  that's a subjective attitude too. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        GreenPA, dirkster42, Dr Teeth, trumpeter

        One can feel perfectly at home in the universe, with or without belief in a deity.

        One can feel threatened and scared, with or without belief in a deity.

        See also the phrase "God-fearing."

        Fear as the basis for one's relationship to the universe at-large doesn't depend on the presence or absence of religious belief: it's a pervasive emotional state, and it can change.  

        "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

        by G2geek on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 07:05:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  It's not scary at all (5+ / 0-)

      If you think of "divine plan" as "laws of physics" and realize that everything proceeds from there.

      It may not be a human-centric "plan" but it is a somewhat deterministic world anyway.  Things aren't truly random -- they are the result of many interactions on all levels of the physical world.  We think of them as random because we often don't fully understand their cause.  Science makes this easier to understand and accept -- and science also reveals a wondrous world that we are only beginning to comprehend.   If you're looking for truth or elegance or beauty, just go outside and look up at night.  It's truly an awesome sight to behold, the Universe.

    •  Andre Comte-Sponville's book (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dr Teeth, political mutt, dirkster42

      The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality has helped to make atheism a joyous experience for me.  Who knows, maybe you could find it beneficial too.

      Picture a bright blue ball just spinnin' spinnin' free. It's dizzy with possibility.

      by lockewasright on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 05:47:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lockewasright, Dr Teeth, dirkster42

        I will take a look if I have time.

        Actually I've come a long way from those early days and am happy with my views. I think that a lot of it was a matter of hormonal changes when I had children, though, rather than philosophy!  It's kind of nice to be genetically programmed to have something important and meaningful in life.

        •  I was skeptical at best as I picked the book up. (5+ / 0-)

          Words like "spiritual" turn me off.  I have no more respect for the concept of a spirit than I do for the gifts of Miss Cleo, the reading of people's auras, or Dionne Warwick's psychotic friends network.  

          I am more comfortable discussing "spirituality" as emotional contentment.  That way we aren't wandering into the imaginary by not being selective with our terms.  Still, the book has helped me to realize how extremely powerful learning to reject hope can be and what a valuable and necessary step it is in learning to live for the moment, re-prioritize, and cherish the experience of life and connection with others that it can contain.  It helps one to recognize that life is actually one instant.  Time which has passed is irretrievably gone and therefore not very relevant to this moment and time not yet arrived is even less relevant as it has not and may not ever arrive.  I am not explaining it nearly as well as the author does so I am going to shut up now.

          Picture a bright blue ball just spinnin' spinnin' free. It's dizzy with possibility.

          by lockewasright on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 06:06:05 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You explain well enough (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            lockewasright, Dr Teeth

            to make me really want to read it.

            I never thought in terms of "rejecting hope" but it makes sense in terms of taking responsibility for what I can do in the now.

            •  Hope by definition is not focused on the present (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              political mutt, dirkster42, Dr Teeth

              but future.  Where the hope is for happiness it can gate (serve as an obstacle to) taking joy in life NOW.  I would not ever suggest rejecting hope where it pertains to having foresight, making good decisions, and remaining ever focused on strategically positioning one's self to enjoy positive results or to change one's circumstance to be more to their liking.  It is about granting ourselves permission to enjoy the process, enjoy the experience in the meantime.

              Here is a quote from Groucho Marx that I stumbled upon.  I normally expect humor in his quotes, but this one is simply a pearl of wisdom.  I am trying and failing to put it in practice.  I am getting better at it though.

                   

              “I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn't arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I'm going to be happy in it.” ~ Groucho Marx
              I wouldn't call that a universal axiom, but I would say that the exceptions are, in fact, exceptions.  

              Picture a bright blue ball just spinnin' spinnin' free. It's dizzy with possibility.

              by lockewasright on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 07:45:50 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Interesting question. (7+ / 0-)

    I'm an atheist, but I vote Democrat based on my childhood experiences. It has nothing to do with my religious beliefs or lack thereof.

  •  Rationalism (8+ / 0-)

    Atheists, by definition, tend to embrace rationalism over, well, 'faith'. Now, most Democrats are certainly religious. However, fewer are than Republicans, and more of them that are tend to jettison inane literalism in favor of some sort of nebulous belief that doesn't conflict much or at all with observed reality.

    Further, they tend not to loathe and despise education and science.

    Q: members of which party tend to believe the Earth is 6,000 years old and in that time suffered a global flood? (despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary of both of these claims)

    Hint - it's not the Democratic Party

    I shouldn't even need to get into which party's interpretation of the Establishment Clause is preferred by Democrats.

    •  An athiest preference for rationalism, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dr Teeth, dirkster42

      or for rationalism over faith? I don't much have it.

      I see all people's beliefs as coming from a complex interrelated mix of emotion and rationalism. Also, in our mix, are things like culturally learned attitudes and prejudices and beliefs and information.

      It's hard to separate any distinct "rationalism" out. Emotion influences thought, and thought influences emotion. They are always intertwined to some degree. The human mind just works that way.

      Also, logic requires premises. Premises are unprovable. Belief in premises is thus a faith. There is no escaping this.

      Faith in premises can take two forms. A more fundamentalist literalist belief in premises. Premises are true. Or a more pragmatic form akin to modern liberal Christianity, where you both believe your premises, and you don't. Premises are useful.

      On the whole, I don't think this is necessarily bad, either. Strip the emotion out of our emotion/rationalism calculating mix, and we'd be much dumber.

  •  Can't vote Democrat, it's Democratic (5+ / 0-)

    This is obviously trollish, because you either vote FOR a Democrat, or vote FOR a Republican.

    You can't vote Democrat, you can vote democratic, which is proper grammar.  Democrat is a noun, not an adjective or adverb.

    Only republicans say vote democrat

  •  This atheist has not voted GOP (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dr Teeth, G2geek, gnbhull, Laconic Lib

    Since George Bush the Elder told me that I'm not a real patriot.

    I figured, fuck you too, George.  I have never even considered voting GOP since then.

  •  I would suggest that Atheists (4+ / 0-)

    as a group, trend more towards critical thinking. I am not saying that believers don't think critically, just that more of them don't.

    If one sets aside the idiocy, and critically looks at policy, then more people would vote Democrat, given the current choices.

    If enough of us do that, then we will get Better Democrats.

    I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
    but I fear we will remain Democrats.

    by twigg on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 05:35:59 AM PDT

  •  I prefer reality based governing. (9+ / 0-)

    I can't speak for anyone other than myself, but I find the democratic party as a place welcoming of atheists and of science based solutions to problems.

    The latter appeals to me more than the former, but I can't disregard the distaste I have for the culture wars the right is constantly waging using religion as a justification.  Apart from that, I consider a great deal social good, ethical and moral positions the democratic party promotes to be objectively worthy ideals worth fighting for.

    Helping the poor.  Educating children.  Healing the sick.  Allowing people to marry whom they love and raise families with them.  Reducing pollution while ensuring outdated regulations are removed.  And of course, dedication towards the future with more money for science and infrastructure.

    Good public policy should be compassionate and smart.  And that's just not where the conservative movement is right now.  What matters is what impact the policy actually has, not what it sounds like.

    I was not raised in a religious household, and thus have had very little exposure to the kind of right wing religious appeals that leads one to be hateful and delusional.  I have lived in a scientific based world all my life, and Democrats have a slightly higher chance of addressing real problems instead of prostrating themselves before imaginary ones.

  •  I don't think this statement is an accurate (5+ / 0-)

    way of describing non-belief:

    I don't think anyone really becomes an atheist. Rather one lets go of all notions they'd like to believe, but just can't rationalize to themselves anymore. It is a moment of brutal honesty, where you say to yourself that you better start dealing with the world the way it actually is.
    For myself, non-belief began at a very early age but for the most part the non-believers I know arrived at their world view after a long and tortuous journey. In effect, they BECAME atheists over time, not in some "moment of brutal honesty." I don't think there is ever a "lightbulb" moment, it is more of a process.

    Also, your arrogance towards those with faith, implying they are insane, is ridiculous and will not win you any friends. My philosophy is, "Whatever gets you through the night." We're all in this together. We don't have to be adversarial. If, according to your question, atheists vote Democratic, then it would follow that we are compassionate, understanding, and not rigid in our ideology. You should practice that.

    •  It is probably different for everyone (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      No Exit

      I view it as a moment, but it was series of questions leading up to the moment I'm referring to.  It was a moment when the house of cards fell, but I had been pulling them out on the way.

      As for people of faith, I don't really care.  I've had some very bad experience at the hands of the faithful, so I have a healthy dose of fear when interacting anyway.  If they choose to ignore me, that is market improvement.

      •  Do you think all people of faith are the same? (6+ / 0-)

        You have no problem saying that arriving at non-belief is probably different for everyone, then you turn around and lump all people of faith into one big negative lump. As a fellow atheist, I am dismayed at your blindness.

        •  I think they all share a common trait (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ashaman, No Exit

          That trait is faith.

          Now perhaps you can treat that as minor, but go ask a honest Christian what they believe your fate is.

          They will give you one of two answers

          1) That is up to God (a dodge)

          or

          2) That you are going to burn in hell (what they believe)

          Any person of faith comes at every interaction with a certainty unique to the faithful.

          You and I could discuss the best way to wash dishes, and we might have different opinions.  At the end of it all, we could objectively evaluate the actual best way.  We could come to agreement.

          Faith is not an opinion.  It can not be challenged, because it has no basis to be challenged on.

          Every single person of faith is a unique human with many different qualities.  That said, faith is a powerful one, and it is always relevant.

          •  I get the feeling you don't understand (9+ / 0-)

            Christianity very well. We see a lot of Christians who are, indeed, as black-and-white as you portray them but there are plenty of Christian thinkers--both alive and dead--who would give you far more than the two answers you seem to think all Christians would give you.

            Faith can, indeed, be challenged by the very people who practice it and it is challenged by Christians--their own faith--every day of the week. Not everyone who is a Christian is a narrow literalist. Not every Christian thinks the earth is 6000 years old. Not every Christian is even a theist. Yes, you read that right: there are plenty of Christians who are not just agnostics, but atheists. As the retired Episcopal Bishop of Newark, John Shelby Spong once said, the existence of the God of the Bible and the historical existence of Jesus of Nazareth is totally immaterial to the practice of Christianity.

            There is a lot going on out there in Christian thought that you're missing, probably because you are unaware it's out there. I can't  blame you for not being aware of it--what folks outside of the intellectual circles in Christianity are mostly familiar with is evangelical and fundamentalist Christianity which gets more press and its adherents are more likely to talk about it than those of us wonky bookish theology types.

            I'll bet that if you spent a week at say Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, MA just talking to professors and seminarians alike you would encounter agnostics, atheists, universalists, neo-pagans and theists, all interested in wrestling with theological concepts and most of them clergy or people studying to be clergy or academic theologians. I have a feeling you would be very, very surprised at the thinking you found in such an institution.

            I know what Mitt Romney is hiding: Mitt Romney. equalitymaine.org

            by commonmass on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 06:19:37 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  you missed (3) (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Wee Mama, Ahianne, commonmass, Dr Teeth

            Progressive Christians might say 3) You're probably going to heaven unless you did some pretty horrible stuff to others and didn't make a sincere and thorough effort to fix it or substantially change the attitudes and outlooks that led to it.

            "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

            by G2geek on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 06:58:22 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  there's an atheist Christian on DK. (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            GreenPA, commonmass, Dr Teeth, Rumarhazzit

            I think it's GenXAngster (sp?), who said she's a complete atheist but she thinks Jesus was a radical dude with a lot of darn good ideas.  

            One might call that "philosophical Christianity" as distinct from "religious Christianity," and use the term "Christian" in that context much the same way as one uses the term "Platonic" or "Kantian" or "Jeffersonian" etc.  

            "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

            by G2geek on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 07:09:21 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  That's an odd statement. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Dr Teeth

              That sounds like a word game more than anything else.  At that point, it sounds like one is abusing the meaning of the term 'Christian' so much as it doesn't have any value as a word.

              For example, the divinity of Jesus seems to be the most important element of Christianity as a group.  And that is certainly a religious claim and belief.

              We do have names for viewpoints like that without attaching words with religious connotations to it.  Humanist springs to mind.

              Plus, with that you aren't left having to dismiss the sillier stories you're associating yourself with.  Cursing a fig tree?  Really?

              •  you ought to have that conversation with... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Dr Teeth

                .... GenXAngster herself, since I can't speak for her in the kind of detail you're asking for.  

                Though, I don't go around trying to tell people on my side of the fence what they "are."  I'd rather let them define for themselves what they "are," even if that means having to build up equivalence charts to mesh their language with mine.

                There may also be entire sets of implicit assumptions that have to be dealt with in one way or another.

                And if someone describes themselves as an atheistic Christian, it may also be that one of their beliefs is that "Jesus said a bunch of stuff about God, and a bunch of stuff that was predicated on God, but if there is no God, then all of those statements are mistakes that we can subtract out or adjust in some way."  

                We certainly do that with Plato and Aristotle et. al., rather than invalidating everything they said just because they happened to hold some of the polytheistic Greek beliefs.  

                And there are plenty of atheists who deeply respect Martin Luther King, while at the same time making adjustments for his belief that there is a deity, as compared with their own that there is not a deity.  

                "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

                by G2geek on Tue Aug 14, 2012 at 12:52:39 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  The vast majority (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dr Teeth

        The vast majority of people who claim to be either theists, or atheists have done very little actual investigation into arguments for and against.

        Hardly anyone wants to admit to being an atheist.  

        It's one of the least respected cohorts when it comes to polling.

  •  Because they are self-directed and don't (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dr Teeth

    need leaders to tell them what to do.

    Willard's forte = "catch 'n' cage". He's not into "catch and release."

    by hannah on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 05:58:54 AM PDT

  •  Atheism=Dem/reality; authoritarian delusions=Rep. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dr Teeth, Ashaman, Isaacsdad

    I think it's really quite simple. Atheism posits a universe that is what it is; no scary imaginary bearded invisible father in the sky required to explain anything. And the Democratic party, at this point in U.S. history, is the only major party that is even remotely based in reality.

    Today's Republican party, by contrast, is authoritarian, delusional, and blindly loyal to crazy ideas that have been repeatedly proven to be false (like, tax cuts increase government revenue; trickle-down works; bombs are always the solution; and marriage equality threatens the universe). Hence it's the natural party of the religious fundamentalist.

  •  dislike of delusional cults (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dr Teeth

    Atheists tend to dislike delusional cults, which is what the Republican party has become. You can't make good decisions when you don't understand the facts, and you can't understand the facts when you hold beliefs based on what makes you feel good rather than what the evidence supports.

  •  From my experience (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dr Teeth

    in the scientific community where there are a lot of atheists, there seems to also be a lot of "rational thinking". This leads to a lot of questions on policies of both sides, but particular questions when one says to leave it in God's hands, or that God's law forbids such and such. That's like the ultimate way of ending a rational discussion because its hard to rationalize God, particularly to someone who doesn't believe.

    Interested in learning about math, probability, or Computer Science and their connections to the real world? Learn more at my site: http://www.learninglover.com, or visit me on Twitter: @MindAfterMath

    by LEARNINGlover on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 06:24:41 AM PDT

  •  Rational vs. ideological (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    happy camper, Dr Teeth

    I came to my atheism by way of serious consideration and investigation, and a willingness to be wrong.  

    I came to my political positions in much the same way.  

    I'm sure that painting so broadly will win you complaints.

    Maybe that's just what happens when you build your own weltanschauung, as opposed to having one written for you a few thousand years ago.

  •  Because Republicans (3+ / 0-)

    are, by their own choice, the party of religious nutbars. They ignore such problems as global climate change because they believe Jesus will return within their lifetimes and make the matter moot. They justify many of their positions by attributing them to God or the Bible, which precludes any discussion or, most importantly, compromise.

    In politics at least, religion is the last refuge of scoundrels.

    "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

    by happy camper on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 06:49:34 AM PDT

  •  Excuse me? (6+ / 0-)
    Modern liberalism has a touchy-feely quality not germane to most atheists.
    WTF does liberalism have to do with "touchy-feely". If "touchy-feely" means empathy, I think you are 100% wrong - that is exactly what makes us, us, and not them. Liberals are about helping your neighbor. Conservatives are about "I got mine, get your own, and get off my lawn."

    I am progressive. I am liberal. I make no apologies. - Kos

    My political compass: - 8.38,-6.97

    by pucklady on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 07:27:32 AM PDT

  •  Please fix title. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rigcath, commonmass, Dr Teeth, trumpeter

    It should either be "Why Do Atheists Vote Democratic?" or "Why Do Atheists Vote for Democrats?"

    It's way too early in the morning, after a night of mediocre sleep, for me to deal with the Frank Luntz rendering of the term.

    If religion means a way of life, and life's necessities are food, clothing, and shelter, then we should not separate religion from economics. - Malcolm X

    by dirkster42 on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 08:27:48 AM PDT

  •  That's easy. The "Christians" who run the GOP (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dr Teeth

    would just as soon round us all up, throw us in a prison and slaughter us.

    WTF!?!?!?! When did I move to the Republic of Gilead?!

    by IARXPHD on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 08:29:24 AM PDT

  •  Dunno (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dirkster42, Dr Teeth

    I have a whole group of friends who are atheists who vote for Ron Paul.

    Too Folk For You. - Schmidting in the Punch Bowl - verb - Committing an unexpected and underhanded political act intended to "spoil the party."

    by TooFolkGR on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 08:37:10 AM PDT

  •  Are you S.E. Cupp? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    commonmass, Dr Teeth, trumpeter
    "An example of this would be the desire for universal human rights.  There is a moralistic approach to human rights, which is predominant on the left.  Atheists tend to be carry the same values, but come upon it in a far more rational sense.  To most atheists I know, human rights represent a pragmatic must for a healthy society.  The whole 'this is how we should act' notion is almost nonsensical.  It is more a matter of what yields the best outcome.

    Global warming is another area I see this accidental overlap with some environmentalists.  There are many, who believe in a sort natural order which humans should adhere to.  Atheists don't tend to see a moral need for conservation, but rather recognize the practical balance between consumption and conservation.  Sustainability isn't a moral good. It is just the only rational way to maintain a society."

    I think you're buying into the fundies' assertion that there can be no morality without religion/that atheists don't have morals or empathy because those come from god. Listen, I'm an atheist, and I think it would be impossible not to think about either of these issues in terms of morality.  

    Defining human rights has always been about coming up with basic moral principles that apply to all people, regardless of religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. The pragmatic (because society benefits) basis for caring about human rights is a result of this attempt to circumscribe a system of secular universal morals, not separate or in opposition to it.

    Global warming/sustainability is also absolutely a moral issue: is it morally okay for us to destroy the world in which future generations must live? Is sacrificing the long-term future of the planet for our short-term gain morally acceptable? Is robbing your own children and grandchildren of a livable ecosystem all right if doing so give us iPhones? I don't think so, for the same reason that stealing someone's car would benefit me and harm them, both from a pragmatic and moral sense. What sustains my passion about global warming is my moral stance on the issue--which of course informs the pragmatic, societal cost vs. benefit argument, instead of existing separately from it.

    "In an individual, selfishness uglifies the soul; for the human species, selfishness is extinction." -Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell

    by rigcath on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 08:39:17 AM PDT

  •  the most likely reason (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dr Teeth

    is that liberals are far more likely to become atheists.

    liberals are much much more open to non-traditional culture, and much more likely to question traditional culture.  conservatives generally are the opposite.

    traditional christianity, the dominant religion of US, also tends to have much more conservative views than liberals on the status of women, gays, religious minorities, etc.

    and there is a sort of snowball effect.  as non-conservatives  become less religious, religious leaders cater to the followers they still retain (disproportionally conservatives, especially among whites).  as that religious split has opened, and religion has become more politicized, (conservative christians control the R party) more non-conservatives are driven away from religion more or less out of political/cultural alienation.

  •  Improper question. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dirkster42, Dr Teeth, commonmass

    "Why do*atheists vote D?" is petitio principii.
    "Why *might
    an atheist vote D?" is what is really being discussed above and no doubt parts of it apply to some such persons.

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

    by enhydra lutris on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 10:00:29 AM PDT

  •  I rejected religion at the age of 4 or so. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dr Teeth, trumpeter
    I don't think anyone really becomes an atheist.  Rather one lets go of all notions they'd like to believe, but just can't rationalize to themselves anymore.  It is a moment of brutal honesty, where you say to yourself that you better start dealing with the world the way it actually is.  In doing so you let go of many of the should's and should not's, which lack any clear reasons.
    I faced a lot of anger and frustration because as a child, I was supposed to believe what I was damn well told to believe and respect my elders.

    My grandparents were unhappy, as were many in my family. It was less about friends because these were not ideas which I was sharing except for not liking going to church and sitting through so much nonsense, which at my young age, i refused to rationalize as truth.

    When I heard a preacher tell me I needed to anchor my soul with (G,g)od to 'be strong', my immeidate response was that I could not depend on a (G,g)od. I decided I was the rock I would have to anchor myself to if I wanted to be strong. Again, this did not go over well.

    All of the contradictions, the claims that 'it's all real', the finger wagging about 'how I better believe', I found it all disgusting from an early age and little changed as I grew up.

    -6.38, -6.21: Lamented and assured to the lights and towns below, Faster than the speed of sound, Faster than we thought we'd go, Beneath the sound of hope...

    by Vayle on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 10:42:31 AM PDT

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