Atheist Summer Camp

From the Sacramento Bee:

At Camp Quest, campers may not believe in God, but they do have faith in their community.

On Sunday evening, 49 children from across the western United States arrived at the camp nestled in the hills outside Nevada City. It is one of five summer camps in the country for the children of atheists and other nonbelievers.
. . .
Their activities, however, have a decidedly secular twist.

Campers play games that encourage critical thinking such as one called Evolution and another where they are asked to prove something invisible doesn’t exist.

Before meals, they learn about freethinking heroes such as Margaret Sanger and Isaac Asimov.

Sanger was certainly an atheist. Her battlecry was “No gods. No masters.” One wonders if the freethinking curriculum includes a discussion of Sanger’s “progressive” ideas on eugenics and race, including her advocacy of birth control and sterilization of blacks.

While their parents are atheists or freethinkers, many of the children said they are unsure of their beliefs. Hinckley said she is not ready to label herself an atheist.

“I don’t really believe in God,” said Hinckley. “But really, I’m just not sure.”

That’s exactly the kind of thinking-for-yourself that is encouraged at Camp Quest.

One lesson in critical thinking involved a campfire story about an invisible monster name Schree. Camp staffers pretend they believe that a monster exists because their parents told them so or a friend who told them about it is really cool. They promise to pay a camper $10 to prove it doesn’t exist. No camper has ever won.

“It helps them learn that these kind of arguments don’t go anywhere,” said Lindstrom. “And that they shouldn’t believe everything they hear.”

One reason these kind of arguments don’t go anywhere is the lack of critical thinking skills displayed by those who claim that belief in God is equivalent to belief in “an invisible monster named Scree,” unicorns or the Easter bunny.

The International Programs Center, U.S. Census Bureau estimates the total world population is 6,773,000,000 as of July 23, 2009. According to, anywhere from 88% to 96% of the world population believe in God. I would wager that the percentage of adults who profess belief in Scree, unicorns and the Easter bunny is much closer to zero than to the total number of attendees at Camp Quest atheist summer camp.

If God is an illusion, He would seem to be a stubbornly persistent illusion that causes even disbelievers to go through so much effort to deny Him.

Personally I don’t believe in Scree, unicorns or the Easter bunny, but I am not quite so heavily invested in my disbelief as atheists. In fact, to date I’ve expended zero effort to convince others that these invisible critters don’t exist. One wonders why atheists spend so much time arguing against the existence God (and telling us how much they dislike Him), when their own critical thinking exercises are intended to show that such debates are pointless.

The very existence of atheism is inexplicable if you accept the atheists’ unexamined assertion that belief in God is equivalent to belief in other alleged imaginary beings. So far Dawkins, Dennett et al. have written zero books regarding the existence vel non of leperchauns. I’ve never been confronted by an angry and defiant disbeliever in Thor. And I’ve yet to see even a single bumper sticker mocking the Tooth Fairy. Like the Sherlock Holmes mystery involving the dog that didn’t bark during the night, it’s a curious singularity to see these “New” Atheists barking only at God. The atheists’ obvious response is that refutations of other imaginary creatures are unnecessary because no one believes in these things.


That’s why comparisons to Scree and other imaginary creatures fail to explain the persistence of belief in a transcendental Creator, but say a great deal about atheists themselves. As G.K. Chesterton said “If there was no God, there would be no atheists.”

Hat tip: Jewish World Review


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