New or new age religions have no more evidence going for them than the mainstream religions. Ironically many of them aren't new at all; they draw upon religions that pre-date Christianity.
They are seen as less credible because fewer people (and often younger people) believe in them, but even if they don't deserve any more respect they certainly don't deserve any less.
The logo is not specifically that of this site, but of the Rational Response Squad for which this site was created. It has God crossed out (rather than Allah, Vishnu, etc) presumably because the RRS is based in the USA where Christianity is the most powerful and influential instance of religion. It indicates a desire to remove God, and by extension religion, from people's lives. Not forcibly, because that would be not only cruel but ineffective. Ideally people will want to abandon religion. It's not a war between religions because atheism isn't a religion, it's merely a conclusion.
Even religious people make their judgements about religion, though they're generally more positive. The moderators here are not in accord over everything. To begin with, membership in the RRS isn't required. Some of us judge religion to be dangerous, some don't. Some of us see some possible benefits in certain specific applications of religion, some don't. The common ground is that we all judge all religions to be created by people, unsupported by applicable evidence and therefore most likely wrong.
Don't take "Anonymous Coward" too seriously. It's not aimed at theists, as some clear atheists have been stuck with it too. It's there to encourage people to register, frequent the site and enter into a dialogue with us, rather than drop in and take potshots. One question and answer is rarely enough to shift anyone's position. Besides, as it says on the right your login details here will work on all other sites in the RRS network. It's worth the effort.
I've never heard an atheist say "I don't believe in anything." Atheists don't neccesarily believe there is no god. Many are simple without a belief in God.
Here is more on the definitions of atheism and agnostic.
You're question is one of those questions that is generally on the "how to annoy an atheist" list of questions. Such questions are highly silly. Do you actually think we don't believe in anything? Don't you see how we can have beliefs about food preferences, clothing preferences, and entertainment preferences? And not have beliefs in gods?
There are literally hundreds of gods you don't believe in. I don't believe in those either. We are atheists in reference to all of those gods.
"I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.” - Stephen Roberts
Enjoy this video on what Pat Condell believes:
What soul? Where is this soul? I've never heard of a message I needed to heed from an "anonymous coward" about giving him/her a soul, explain more. Also, what is it I need to worry about being wrong about? If you're talking about my clothing. I'll agree that the striped pants and the plaid shirt I was wearing the other day were a complete mismatch... I just don't think we should call it "wrong" to wear plaid with stripes.
We seem to have a language barrier, could you try speaking "reality?" Maybe I'd understand better.
Question reposted from RRS forums visit the thread for side discussion about the intent of the Christians who Hemant is working with.
Response from Brian Sapient
I consider Hemant Mehta a friend, he is the real deal. Hemant takes a tact I feel I wish I could take, a tact I used to take before I realized someone needs to shake people up a bit. His interaction with theists are similar to mine with my closest family members who are theist. He is a good guy with a good "soul" which happens to be gone now as he sold it to a Christian. With that said Hemant has been succesful with a peaceful, gentle, and kind approach. We can't all be assholes or we wont make as big of an impact as we can or should be able to. I've joked with him that I have a pill of truth that I shove down the throat of the theist when they aren't looking and he has a glass of water that he politely hands to them so they can swallow it. He also can appreciate our role, the role of RRS and supports us as much as you could expect him to. Furthermore the SSA is a group he helps manage, a group that helps unite students on campuses with other freethinkers. The leadership of SSA much like Hemant is highly friendly and pleasant, and they are always willing to work with us so we can support each other. Recently I opened up with a personal story to a special email list of 30 atheists leaders, August Brunsman head of the SSA and Margaret Downey were the only ones to reach out to me and express their feelings about what I had expressed.
You should support Hemant, he supports us, and try to find the perfect balance of who you want to be between the two groups. Are you more stridents? Are you more peaceful in your approach? I say peaceful as he doesn't consider himself passive, however I consider myself peaceful as well. I think we can tell there is obviously some difference, and you can affix whatever word you want to it. The approx $600 he raised for his soul went to the SSA. The deal was that he would go to church for every $10 raised, and the man who won didn't hold him to such a high number. Hemant wrote about his journey and while he speaks about positive things he sees within the church he never once fell into a "god is real" position. He's polite, but he's not a sell-out. His book was a wise project, a project I support. I don't normally do this but considering that you are a skeptic, here is a free copy of his appearance on our show along with a link to purchase his book, in which 6% of the purchase price goes to RRS.
Show 57 Hemant Mehta "The Friendly Atheist"
His new book "How I sold my soul on Ebay" is out in April of '07, he discusses the book with us and some of his activist experiences including his work with The Secular Student Alliance. Medium Quality (download the show here)
It's because we actually have little desire to continue evolving as we have.
Natural selection is a reality in that it's the way things have happened so far. It's not an ideal, and it's not something to strive for. Many biologists like Richard Dawkins openly call for people to defy their Darwinian instincts.
Species that evolve become better suited to their surroundings. Humans have now developed the ability to change their surroundings completely, so evolution no longer serves the same purpose. It's still happening, but we don't know where it's taking us. Genetic research may allow us to take the reins and drive it ourselves.
I don't think humanity is being degraded by simply making those with various problems equal in society. It just means their issues aren't as important to us anymore. Besides, natural selection is still at play because now that such people have a level playing field, it's up to them to overcome their disabilities and procreate, and they'll self-evidently find that more difficult.
A quick point first: humans are also the most helpful species on the planet. We're the only species which deliberately makes entirely altruistic donations to people and creatures we'll never meet or be connected to in any way. Even if there are exceptions (I know of none), we do it a lot more than any other creature.
You assume that without some external influence, humans would be entirely good. That means you probably believe that humans were created by a god, in a better state than they are now.
With those two assumptions, yes, you can presuppose some malevolent counter-influence such as original sin and/or Satan in order to make evil possible in a world created and run by an omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent being. It's one possible solution to the age-old Problem of Evil, but one with its own pile of logical problems and without any evidence behind it.
On the other hand, you don't need these hypothetical influences to explain anything if you don't assume humans were created in the image of a god, or deliberately created at all.
If we have developed in response to our environment, being rewarded at different times by selfish acts and altruistic acts alike, and if we have risen above other animals in intelligence and ability to affect our environment, then without assuming anything else it makes perfect sense that we are collectively capable of and willing to commit the greatest acts of both what we call good and what we call evil. There is, in contrast to creation, mountains of evidence for this gradual development.
It seems like there's a disproportionate amount of evil in society because it's a worldwide and therefore HUGE society, and the news mostly jumps on negative stories. It's really a better world than that. Don't worry too much.