Hating Thy Neighbor

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Eugene and the Volokhs have a series of interesting, number-filled posts about America's hate affair with atheists; start here and scroll down.

Being more of an apagnostic myself, I have nothing useful to add to the discussion, except to suggest that there's something aesthetically ugly-sounding about the very word "atheist"; it's always struck me as evoking, I dunno, a frigid and snarly ape. Maybe the Deniers need some rebranding, though I suspect that, like most God-fearing Americans, they're not about to relinquish their hard-earned victimhood (ducks).

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  1. Let’s face it: This country is run by atheists. How else can you explain the fact that a store clerk said “Happy Holidays” to me?

    I dream of a day when a Christian can actually run for elected office…and not be sent to the atheist re-education camp.

  2. Ah, the power of atheists. I found this little tidbit in Mother Jones particularly enlightening. A lobbyist with a desk and a 100K budget. ooooohhhh…scary….

  3. I think all this professed dislike of atheist is just posturing by shallow ala carte theists who just want to be on the right side of pascal’s wager.
    It causes me too much cognitive dissonance when I think about this country that brags about how christian it is, a philosophy I am told that espouses tolerance and forgiveness, while contemporaneously executing and inprisioning more people than any other country on the planet.

  4. Why is there no “neutral” or “I don’t give a flying crap” option in that poll?

  5. On another thread somewhere, I noted that the problem is not christians or athiests, it is evangelicals in both camps. I’m an agnostic with serious doubts about deities of any sort, but I don’t actually get offended by displays of religiosity. I’ve always wondered at the psychology of the guy who wants to make a huge case out of In God We Trust or whathaveyou. It seems overly aggressive and petty to me.

  6. We tried rebranding ourselves as “brights,” but that sounds too smart-allecky, doesn’t it?
    How about “free-thinkers”?

  7. Agnostic, from Greek, meaning “without knowledge”, the primary definition is that the existence or nonexistance of God(s) is unknowable. Epistomological, not ontological!

    [/pedant]

    That said, as an atheist I can say I’d rather spend an afternoon with ten dozen mormon missionaries than a single moment listening to some evangelical atheist rave on and on about how dumb religious people are.

  8. Jason:

    i like it. let’s run with that a bit.

    EvangThumper vs EvangAtheist

    ET: feels persecuted at every turn
    EA: ditto

    EA: seeks to control the discourse by removing words and phrases to replace with their own words (forcing people to use their language)
    ET: seeks to control the discourse by removing dissent, discussion, etc.

    ET: seeks to use schools to further their agenda in the guise of something else (ID)
    EA: ditto. (heather has two mommies, no timed math tables – don’t wanna hurt their little kid’s “self esteem”)

    EA: aggressively spend (copuious?) free time on things low on the priority list (IGWT on currencies)
    ET: ditto (who gives a fuck if a clerk at a store can’t tell what religion someone is and gives a more general holiday greeting?)

    ding ding ding. Jason nailed it! we have overly-aggressive and petty little, small-dicked, closed-minded, anti-learning, pigskin-bus missing morons who want to control to get over the fact that they feel inferior (i dunno. i’d call those/ that camp “inferior”, so they might be on to something. hell – blind pig, cob of corn, etc) and don’t want to be able to recite the 50 states in alphabetical order or to run 1.5 miles in 12 minutes or whatever threshhold is needed to join the club. they wanna get rid of the club.

    fuckit. warren. make mine a quadruple grape nehi with a side of the cheapest bourbon you have.

  9. Viking M-

    I agree on most of it, except the stuff about “self esteem” and whatnot. Not all of the evangelical atheists care whether somebody’s feelings might get hurt. Indeed, some of them seem to enjoy hurting other people’s feelings.

  10. Jason, you nailed it. I used to get into online discussions with atheists, but gave up the practice long ago. You will find that on both sides there are people who have made up their minds and will not have them changed. The attacks (“You’re going to hell!” “What else do you believe in? The tooth fairy?”) betray a lack of confidence in the position by whoever is making them. If you wonder why these people make such a big deal over nothing issues, that is the reason.

  11. As I explained to a friend who was surprised to discover my atheism there are two ways of looking at it:

    Either all the scientific evidence that seems to refute just about every religion on the planet is proof that none of these particular versions of a deity exists and may very well be evidence that there is no deity at all; OR

    The deity has gone very far out of his/her way to provide evidence of his/her lack of existence (and has created a universe governed by processes that do not require a deity) that it would be insulting to that deity to go on believing he/she exists given all the evidence that he/she does not want us to.

  12. Thoreau:

    sorry that wasn’t clear: the “self esteem” was lifted from a masshole public school wonk who wanted to get rid of math tests, as those “hurt” self esteem. the connection between this EA and a EF would be that each wants to control the world and file off corners and potential sharp edges so their kids aren’t confronted with choices that could lead them away from the rigid, narrow system of belief.

    sorry again that it wasn’t clear!

    cheers!

  13. Indeed, some of them seem to enjoy hurting other people’s feelings.

    Wouldn’t be anyone whose name rhymes with “bury tunnels”, would it?

  14. David-

    I’ll just say that I’ve met evangelical atheists off-line.

  15. Timothy, ‘I’d rather spend an afternoon with ten dozen mormon missionaries’.
    So would I, if they are all female. That could prove interesting considering the support of polygamous relationships in both thier camp and mine. >;)

  16. Viking M
    I drink to numb the pain (inevitably at the loss of liberty at the hands of an ever expanding state). I don’t feel your pain. Is it that the world is full of asshats?

    Speaking as a devout (but not evangelical) atheist, I agree that there are plenty of atheist idiots around. But I don’t think you can lay any ills of society at their feet. OTOH I think that EC’s have gotten their hands on real power and have done, and continue to do, serious damage to the American way of life.

    I once came across someone’s website where he had made a list in response to the EC canard that atheists are in control and ruining society. I think the first item was:

    1. Only atheists can be elected to public office. Any Christian politician must at least pay lip-service to atheistic principals and must never be seen entering a church or praying if he has any hope of winning.

    Stuff like that. But I can’t find it now. The first ten or so items were pretty devastating. It got kinda nit-picky after that.

  17. But I don’t think you can lay any ills of society at their feet.

    That is a very fair point. I would never suggest that evangelical atheists are destroying society, but I would suggest that they annoy the hell out of me. I know some atheists who feel the same way.

  18. and warren: that item #1 doesn’t cause great pain?

    does anybody here believe that item to be, in any way, true, in general?

    here [bonks warren on head with copy of “heather has two mommies”, with the bookmark at the rather worn and sticky page 69 and the sweaty pillow fight]. how ’bout that drink πŸ™‚

  19. I would never suggest that evangelical atheists are destroying society, but I would suggest that they annoy the hell out of me. I know some atheists who feel the same way.

    Oh my yes. There comes a point where you stop just having an opinion and start being an asshole. I’ll openly admit that I have a problem (well problems, plural) with religion, but I don’t have a problem with religious people. It’s the atheists who want to, what, rip the scales from the eyes of the believers and force them to contemplate the void or whatever that give the rest of us a bad rap.

  20. timothy:

    The epistemological position of agnosticism implies the ontological position of weak atheism. To me, the only use of the ‘weak atheist’ term is to describe one who holds that position for other than epistemological reasons.

  21. While I don’t wrap myself in then mantle of “victimhood,” (I’ll leave that to the Fundies) I don’t think you can deny that the U.S. isn’t a society that’s friendly to unbelievers.

    Part of it, I guess, is the whole “godless commie” meme that still festers in the national mindset. Yes, the Soviet Union is long gone, but the Christian God has become as American as mom, apple pie, and water boarding. Of course, as we’ve seen, conservative Evangelicals and “Charismatic Catholics” (the RCC’s answer to Protestant Bible-beaters)blame atheists (along with gays and feminists) with just about everything from 9/11 to Katrina. Even among liberal, mainstream Christians, there is something anti-social in denying the existence of their particular deity.

    Then there is the perception of arrogance that allegedly comes with being an atheist. “You atheists think you’re soooo much smarter than the rest of us…” is a line I get quite often. No, I’m don’t claim to be smarter than a theist…OK, I know I’m smarter than some theists. However, I like to think I operate on a system of thinking that excludes “God-Did-It” (or any other supernatural source) as an answer for the questions that elude us. Then there is the age old fear that since non-believers “believe in nothing” and will therefore tolerate any act no matter reprehensible. That’s wrong too. Atheism is not born of nihilism any more than it’s born of arrogance. I just prefer to consider the questions of moral behavior on their face, rather than relying on a musty old book of ancient Hebrew fairy tales to tell me what’s right or wrong.

    While I certainly think that there are some who go a bit overboard, there are not enough atheists in this country to amount to much in the way of political clout as the fundamentalists do. (e.g. While Madalyn Murray O’Hair drew most of the Religious Right’s rancor over the decision in Abington School District v. Schempp, the suit was originally brought up by Christian parents. Ditto the recent Dover ID case.) Therefore, I don’t see why anyone could consider us a threat to the American way of life despite our supposed sway over the ACLU and the Democratic Party. That said, while I can’t think any who are asking for pity for atheists, when 50% of your fellow country has an unfavorable view of you due to your beliefs (or lack thereof), you might not be a “victim” but you’re definitely a “pariah.”

  22. Jason: Fair enough. I have to admit that my own theological position is a bit odd. I take the ontological position that no God, gods, or other supernatural forces exist, but I’m willing to conced epistomologically that it is impossible to know these things in the way that we know other facts. Mainly because the God hypothesis can’t be falsified nor even tested. My active non-belief in the existence of such things is, I think, pretty equivalent to a theists belief in them.

  23. I also don’t think agnosticism is incompatible with theism, really. One could take God on faith, but still be willing to accept that no proof can be had, making the answer unknowable. Indeed, IIRC from my years in church, there is a certain amount of “proof denies faith” in Christian teachings.

  24. Edit: …50% of your fellow countrymen…

  25. I don’t think you can deny that the U.S. isn’t a society that’s friendly to unbelievers.

    That sentence has way too many negatives. I had to get out a pen and paper to parse it.

  26. Viking M: I understand what you are trying to say, but your generalizations are a bit overdrawn. Of the atheists I know, htere is no more frequent support for ‘two mommies’ or ‘esteem’ than in the general population. They are just as evenly split politically as the populace, with a more likely chance they will support Green or Libertarian than most. If you assume Green-left and Libt.=right, they are pretty close to 50/50.

    I have so much to say on this, I am placing it on my site.

  27. If it’s any consolation to you atheists, you probably wouldn’t be the first ones in the camps if religious fundamentalists took over.

    That distinction will probably be reserved for members of other religions. Especially religions that are similar to their own but not quite the same.

  28. VM,
    OW hey! I’ll pour you one if that will settle you down. (Or are you a mean drunk?)

    I’ve never read it, but I thought Heather and her mommies came from teh gays. Why does Heather hate God?

    Also, one of us must be impervious to glaring sarcasm.

  29. Ummm…

    I’d like to point out that everyone is an atheist. Evangelical Christians don’t believe in Thor or Shiva do they? Atheists just disbelieve in one more myth.

    Religious people need to agree on the one true way then come argue with the atheists. Meanwhile us atheists will continue to work to better the life we have now. Not spend material and emotional resources
    on a super fairy in the sky.

    Sorry but all this “annoying atheist” crap was getting a bit ridiculous.

  30. Indeed, IIRC from my years in church, there is a certain amount of “proof denies faith” in Christian teachings.

    Funny you should mention it; at the JREF forums, they used to have an evangelical who posted under the ID of 1inChrist. Once, in a debate over creationism, he claimed that since science and logic could be used to make people conclude that God doesn’t exist, they must have been created by the devil. He also once proclaimed that God appeared to him and gave him the exact date that Bin Ladin would be captured. The day came, and the only thing that occurred was another Bin Ladin taped surfaced, but he declared it to be a miracle anyway since the tape had “captured Bin Ladin in our minds and our TV screens.”

    1inChrist hasn’t posted to JREF for a long time, but he’s been seen on other religious-oriented online forums. Funny you should mention it; at the JREF forums, they used to have an evangelical who posted under the ID of 1inChrist. Once, in a debate over creationism, he claimed that since science and logic could be used to make people conclude that God doesn’t exist, they must have been created by the devil. He also once proclaimed that God appeared to him and gave him the exact date that Bin Ladin would be captured. The day came, and the only thing that occurred was another Bin Ladin taped surfaced, but he declared it to be a miracle anyway since the tape had “captured Bin Ladin in our minds and our TV screens.”

    1inChrist hasn’t posted to JREF for a long time, but he’s been seen on other religious-oriented online forums.

  31. Akira: HEH. Man, gotta love nutjobs.

    Also, I’m impressed that you worked in a double post in one comment.

  32. That sentence has way too many negatives. I had to get out a pen and paper to parse it

    You know, Thoraeu… you’re right. That was a sucky line. Bad Akira! BAD, BAD AKIRA!

  33. “I don’t think atheists should be considered citizens. After all, it is ‘One Nation Under God.'”

    –paraphrase of the current President’s Daddy when he himself was President.

    But what the hell, I don’t respect him, either.

  34. Ooops, screwed up the italics. Well, if God exists, He knows what I meant.

  35. Hi Warren: no. am not. am a silly one.

    Hi Tom! i was speaking in terms of the evangelical (atheist, fundie) camps and was painting policy views in terms of flipsides. didn’t do it that well, hrumph.

    but sure: we have believers who get into celebrating all the december holidays, for example, and we have atheists not behaving like that masshole i know.

    and i do happen to believe that in terms of populations and noise in the current state of things, the EA is quieter and less intrusive than the EF (evangl. fundie). but then again, i always felt the “moral majority” was evil.

    looking forwards to seeing your thoughts over at Wrightwing.net.

  36. Also, I’m impressed that you worked in a double post in one comment.

    Whoa! Serves me right to cut/paste my posts into Word to check the grammar/spelling. I miss my Google tool bar.

  37. I take the ontological position

    Where’d you learn that one, at a seminary?

  38. Where’d you learn that one, at a seminary?

    In pretentious philosophical phrases 101. Also I got more of it in Philosophy of Science *shudder*.

  39. Thinking more on this, I’m reminded of joe’s comment the other day that christian traditionalists were primarily interested in marking territory. The essence of what annoys the atheist about the Christian seems to be exactly that, that the evangeligcal Christian in modern America continually demands some sort of recognition of preferred status.

    I agree that peeing on the post seems to be a feature of the landscape, but I’ve always felt that it was anoying, but kind of, well, desperate and sad. Certainly it is not something to spend too much time worrying about until and unless there are laws and policies that matter at stake.

  40. I am so damned tired of people who think that it’s evangelism that is wrong, and not the actual ideas one is evangelizing. I spent an hour talking about it on my show on Saturday.

    Even libertarians think that evangelizing christians and atheists are wrong for the speech itself, rather than their ideas! Look at the ideas for their truthfulness: what are they saying. Is it true or not?

    I’m not afraid of being called a fundie or an evangelical any more than I am afraid of being called an atheist.
    I will always say I am an atheist, no matter how socially uncomfortable it might be. It’s like believing in the existence of profanity. Someone’s distaste for a word that means “no god-belief” is based on their own lack of reason about a word, and I don’t intend on pandering to that nonsense.

  41. “One nation under god” sounds like the missionary position.

  42. Not when you consider that people are supposed to get on their knees to pray! πŸ™‚

  43. As for me, I’m just waiting for some other website to use the headline, “Reason magazine calls atheists ‘frigid and snarly apes’.”

    I put arguments (there are no debates, as far as I’ve heard) over the existence of God right up there with “Who was better – Kirk or Picard” and “Who would win in a fight – Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan.” People who engage in these topics just like to hear themselves bluster.

    -Keith

  44. David:

    that’s so canadians can watch the hockey game simultaneously.

  45. Even libertarians think that evangelizing christians and atheists are wrong for the speech itself, rather than their ideas! Look at the ideas for their truthfulness: what are they saying. Is it true or not?

    This is sort of essential to libertarianism. Folks can, and should, believe whatever they damn well please, but they can and should leave the rest of us the hell alone about it.

  46. I’m all in favor of the right of evangelizers to evangelize.

    I just reserve the right to bitch about it.

  47. Even libertarians think that evangelizing christians and atheists are wrong for the speech itself, rather than their ideas! Look at the ideas for their truthfulness: what are they saying. Is it true or not?

    No one can say for sure whether on not any of their speech is true. It comes to more of a “what’s true for you, may not be true for me” resolution. While I personally feel that all religion was made up by people as a means to control other people, I can’t prove that to something who doesn’t share that belief.

    I’ve had this fight before, for stating that how some atheists non-belief can take on a “religious” fervor, which I find both silly and ironic. In any case, I don’t think you’ll find many here who feel evangelizing one way or the other is wrong until it becomes a demand for legislation of belief, but that doesn’t exempt such evangelization from ridicule.

  48. This country is run by Atheists???

    Thoreau is a prolific an sincere commentator, and usually his posts are founded on reality. But this comment is absurd. I do not believe it is sarcastic (that’s not his style). Thoreau is still in the clutches of one of the most asinine religions on earth – Catholicism. Shit- the RCC would excommunicate anyone who used a fork when it became popular in the ninth century.

    Thoreau – it is time to wake up and take notice that we live in a quasi-theocracy.

    Personally I dislike evangelists of both Atheism and organized religions. I am constantly annoyed by Jehovah Witness’s, Mormons, Catholics, and even Baptist evangelicals. Even worse than the shitheads who wake me up on Saturday morning are the crooks on TV who promise salvation if you send them enough money. I am glad there are active atheists to counterbalance all the bastards who try to ramrod religion up my ass. At least these jerks don’t ring my doorbell to spew their venom.

  49. I’m all in favor of the right of evangelizers to evangelize.

    I just reserve the right to bitch about it.

    Exactly, it may be well within their rights, but it’s still annoying as hell.

  50. This country is run by Atheists???

    Thoreau is a prolific an sincere commentator, and usually his posts are founded on reality. But this comment is absurd. I do not believe it is sarcastic (that’s not his style). Thoreau is still in the clutches of one of the most asinine religions on earth – Catholicism. Shit- the RCC would excommunicate anyone who used a fork when it became popular in the ninth century.

    Thoreau – it is time to wake up and take notice that we live in a quasi-theocracy.

    Personally I dislike evangelists of both Atheism and organized religions. I am constantly annoyed by Jehovah Witness’s, Mormons, Catholics, and even Baptist evangelicals. Even worse than the shitheads who wake me up on Saturday morning are the crooks on TV who promise salvation if you send them enough money. I am glad there are active atheists to counterbalance all the bastards who try to ramrod religion up my ass. At least these jerks don’t ring my doorbell to spew their venom.

  51. Um, Crushinator, did you read the third and fourth sentences in my post?

    Definitely sarcastic.

  52. you know, if you move to these places called “cities” where they have “coffee” and “civilization” no one gives a flying fuck what sort of weak or strong or whatever atheist you are.

  53. ooooh. now you’re backtracking, thoreau. tsk tsk.
    heh
    πŸ™‚

  54. VM-

    I’m not backtracking or changing my story. I’m just saying that….

    (Here’s the part where you call me a liar.)

  55. dammit.

    i just learned what a ROFL-Copter is. and Lolloskates.

    jeez. i feel like “Howard” when Skroeder tells him that they’re now called “huey” and not “chopper”.

    πŸ™‚

    (how’z dat for an obscure movie reference, although i did have to look up “howard”‘s name.

  56. I pray to Crom the stern and unforgiving.

    But he seldom listens.

    He answers no prayers and merely tolerates our existance.

    He has given me a strong sword arm and fire in my heart.

    When I die I shall go before him and he will ask me the riddle of steel.

    If I do not know it he will cast me out.

    Crom laughs at your puny gods from his mountain.

  57. Back to the real issue at hand, It think that the public’s discomfort with atheists in government stems from from a fear of what they represent.

    They represent a troubling answer to this question. “How can a person be good and decent without God?” If an atheist can be a decent person without doing so to please a vengeful deity, then for some people, the whole system is shot. Nobody want to be a fool.

    Of course, we’re talking politicians, so matter what beliefs they claim to espouse, the likelihood of “good and decent” behavior is pretty small.

  58. An actual atheist doesn’t have anything to evangelize about, because the word ‘atheism’ simply describes a lack of belief in something. Unless, I don’t know, said atheist wanted to convince the whole world of the ultimate truth that he really does not believe in God.

  59. Back to the real issue at hand, It think that the public’s discomfort with atheists in government stems from from a fear of what they represent. They represent a troubling answer to this question. “How can a person be good and decent without God?” If an atheist can be a decent person without doing so to please a vengeful deity, then for some people, the whole system is shot. Nobody want to be a fool.

    I’ve always thought that if there IS a heaven, and a judgment where you get points and demerits based on the good and bad things you’ve done, then atheists should get extra points for goodness. After all–when I do good deeds it’s not because I’m expecting to get an eternal reward, and when I refrain from bad deeds it’s not because I’m afraid of hell. I’m just acting this way out of the goodness of my nonbelieving heart.

  60. “That is a very fair point. I would never suggest that evangelical atheists are destroying society, but I would suggest that they annoy the hell out of me. I know some atheists who feel the same way.”

    Very few people DON’T annoy the hell out of me, so that’s not a good argument.

  61. zach,
    Atheists need to evangelize about atheist rights. It’s kind of like gay rights.

    (Frisbeetarianism (n.), The belief that, when you die, your soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck there.)

  62. An actual atheist doesn’t have anything to evangelize about, because the word ‘atheism’ simply describes a lack of belief in something.

    Evangelical atheists are aghast that the people around them lack the capacity to think rationally (as their attachment to the concept of God indicates) and seek to show them that the true path to rational though it through foresaking God.

  63. Thoreau,

    Sorry if I misunderstood you. I do not recall your use of sarcasm in a zillion earlier threads, so I assumed it was meant in total sincerity.

    I am glad you cleared this up for me. I will remove from the “complete moron” column and place you back into the “folks worth listening to” column.

    I think Timothy has a good summary of the libertarian position. People should have the freedom to do anything they want until they detract from someone else’s freedom. Evangelical assaults (whether atheist or religious) take away from my freedom to be left alone. They also impact my freedom to raise my children the way I want to. I do not want the state to get involved in this. I suggest the proper way to deal with evangelicals is to tell them, in no uncertain terms, to fuck off and leave my family alone. Personal responsibility and individual action is the only way to deal with a deeply private issue such as religion.

  64. Ruthless, that’s not evangelizing, that’s politics. When Christians rally against abortion, for instance, they’re not evangelizing. They’re evangelizing when they give you a tract that says “God does not want you to go to HELL.” (Found that one on the bus a few months back.)

  65. I don’t think religion was created to control people. I think it was created as a way to interpret existence. I think it evolved into a means of control when people realized that faith could be manipulated. But even then, the people that do the manipulating are often true believers themselves.

    I’m an atheist. It’s how I choose to interpret existence. But, I would never begrudge anyone else’s interpretation. I might not agree with it, or think it’s silly, but whatever works for them is fine by me. I’ll even tolerate religious displays and “In God We Trust” as part of our cultural heritage. Just don’t try and force me to see things your way or live by your arbitrary standards of behavior. That’s when I get cranky and start poking holes in your belief system.

    By the way Keith, the answers are Krik and Bruce Lee. Everyone knows that.

  66. “I put arguments (there are no debates, as far as I’ve heard) over the existence of God right up there with “Who was better – Kirk or Picard” and “Who would win in a fight – Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan.” People who engage in these topics just like to hear themselves bluster.

    -Keith”

    Tag team match to settle it all:

    God + Kirk + Bruce Lee vs. Picard and Jackie Chan

  67. Conan! What is best in life?

  68. “An actual atheist doesn’t have anything to evangelize about, because the word ‘atheism’ simply describes a lack of belief in something.”

    Very true, however, I believe that your annoying atheist ( the one that has more likely a hatred of God than a disbelief in God) is as much an atheist as your evangelical Christianut is like a real Christian. I’m aware of the “No true Scotsman…” and all, but I think it’s fairly safe to say that people generally label themselves with regard to what they’d want to be, rather than what they are.

  69. Picard all the way.

  70. As a libertarian, I’m about to take a position that doesn’t seem on the surface all that libertarian. Basically, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about humility lately and I’ve decided that evangelical Christianity is way short on it, as is evangelical atheists. Neither side seems to have much modesty in the face of the mystery that is God/the universe what the hell ever you want to call it. So you believe it all with all your heart? That’s great– I wish I could. So you don’t believe any of it? Wonderful– I would even take that. But is it worth fighting over it so much? I mean, everybody acts like it’s all so CERTAIN. And it isn’t. At least not to me.

  71. To crush your enemies! To see them driven before you! And to hear the lamentations of their women!

    That and Moonpies!

  72. “I’ve always thought that if there IS a heaven, and a judgment where you get points and demerits based on the good and bad things you’ve done, then atheists should get extra points for goodness. After all–when I do good deeds it’s not because I’m expecting to get an eternal reward, and when I refrain from bad deeds it’s not because I’m afraid of hell. I’m just acting this way out of the goodness of my nonbelieving heart.”

    You mind if I use this the next time I have to defend my total apathy with god to some freaking religified person?

  73. Number 5…alive!

  74. Evangelical atheists are aghast that the people around them lack the capacity to think rationally (as their attachment to the concept of God indicates) and seek to show them that the true path to rational though it through foresaking God.

    Exactly. That’s not only atheism, but also the added belief that a belief in God precludes all or most other rational thought, which simply isn’t true.

    Wellfellow, I agree.

  75. Hey, Picard is great and everything, but Kirk is like a demigod. I mean, how many times did he save the galaxy? And even the universe once, I think. And Kirk would’ve never allowed some bratty kid on his bridge–that alone gives him the nod, in my book.

    On the other hand, Patrick Stewart beats William Shatner.

  76. Akira MacKenzie,

    Its this unfriendliness that theists like thoreau want to deny.

    Even among liberal, mainstream Christians, there is something anti-social in denying the existence of their particular deity.

    Oh definately. Being an atheist to most Christians, whatever their stripe, means being outside the social contract in a way that other religionists aren’t. This is reflected well in George Bush’s statement about atheists and in the “no atheists in foxholes” insult.

    StupendousMan!,

    It shouldn’t surprise you that an on the fence theist like thoreau should be annoyed with atheists.

    thoreau,

    You are evangelizing in an annoying way about what you consider evangelizing then.

    David,

    They fear us just like they used to fear black people in elected office (for some elements of the population obviously they still fear black people in office). Like most despised minorities we are both marginalized and vilified at the same time – feared and powerless.

  77. yeaaa, smacky.

    and religion is not there as a social control?????

    huh?

  78. Crushinator, thoreau, etc. basically want the freedom not to hear what other people think on open forums, which just strikes as me both stupid and futile.

  79. VM,

    Many aspects of religion are related to social control.

  80. >>>Kirk would’ve never allowed some bratty kid on his bridge

  81. Hey, smacky, did you see my idea for a Reason Saturnalia in our last religion thread?

  82. Exactly. That’s not only atheism, but also the added belief that a belief in God precludes all or most other rational thought, which simply isn’t true.

    I have to disagree: “belief in God” is a pretty big, singular belief to try and sqeeze in along with the rest of an “otherwise rational” mindset.

  83. VM,

    Indeed, there is much evidence to suggest that at least one of the rationales (or at least reasons why rulers supported it) for the Crusades in the Levant and elsewhere as well as the desire to pour military types into the New World by Spain was a means to control the violent tendecies of a religiously inclined warrior class and keep them from killing so close to home (of course, they had to practice on Jews before they set off to kill the Saracen or the Indio).

  84. Pro Libertate,

    I’m not sure I did. Which thread was it on?

  85. Here’s a relevant page from a site that mediageek tipped us off to on grylliade:

    http://redwing.hutman.net/~mreed/warriorshtm/atheist.htm

    See also “Deacon” for an interesting contrast.

    Other favorite profiles from that site: “Tireless Rebutter” and “Android”

  86. Hak: (of course – practice makes perfect)

    just seeing someone suggest that religion’s origins doesn’t have a component of social control was surprising!

    smacky – a funny incident at your k-8 school, just remembered. i was there once with a friend who was visiting a teacher of hers from when she went there, too. this would have been spring 1987, and there was an art project on the wall about “what america means” (i think for the 200th of the constitution) – one student had “non communist” and “god fearing” in his/her list.

    dunno maybe fourth grade (?) art…

  87. “I’ve always thought that if there IS a heaven, and a judgment where you get points and demerits based on the good and bad things you’ve done, then atheists should get extra points for goodness. After all–when I do good deeds it’s not because I’m expecting to get an eternal reward, and when I refrain from bad deeds it’s not because I’m afraid of hell. I’m just acting this way out of the goodness of my nonbelieving heart.” . . . You mind if I use this the next time I have to defend my total apathy with god to some freaking religified person?

    Go right ahead, TPG. You have my non-religious blessing.

  88. http://redwing.hutman.net/~mreed/warriorshtm/

    These profiles were some of the most hysterical things I’ve read in a long time. Thanks again to mediageek for sharing the link. I couldn’t stop laughing. I recognized so many of us!

  89. I would agree with Hak that there is no freedom to be left alone on a given topic per se. That observation does not imply that all flavors of commentary are especially useful, productive, effective or worth listenting to.

    My position is that people can say all sorts of things and be within their rights, but attack and defense on this particular topic tend to be high in noise and low in signal. Empirical claims can be discussed rationally, but after that, you are only passing judgement on the internal spaces of someone’s brain, which tends to be received as an insult for some reason.

  90. As a libertarian, I’m about to take a position that doesn’t seem on the surface all that libertarian. Basically, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about humility lately and I’ve decided that evangelical Christianity is way short on it, as is evangelical atheists. Neither side seems to have much modesty in the face of the mystery that is God/the universe what the hell ever you want to call it. So you believe it all with all your heart? That’s great– I wish I could. So you don’t believe any of it? Wonderful– I would even take that. But is it worth fighting over it so much? I mean, everybody acts like it’s all so CERTAIN. And it isn’t. At least not to me.

    You nailed it for me. I call myself an atheist because it is the closest definition of my beliefs, but the absolutism of that word troubles me as much as any religion. The truth is I don’t freaking know. And neither does anyone else. So why do we waste so much time on the arguments?

    I can’t hate religion because I can’t hate something that has inspired so many works of art and literature as well as good deeds. I can’t turn myself over fully to science because although it may be true that we are nothing more than a mass of chemical reactions, it’s kind of depressing. Both have plenty of atrocities to their credit so my scorecard is even there. The truth is both have something to offer when it comes to understanding existence. I happen to lean more to the science side, but that doesn’t mean that I dismiss faith outright.

    This is why Deism has always interested me. The idea that an entity, set it all in motion and walked away has always been appealing. Reason just doesn’t allow me to get there.

  91. Failing the geek test, I thought of that episode (there’s also “Charlie X”), too, but you must grant that Kirk only “allowed” such shenanigans when the kids in question had god-like powers. Not that he didn’t prevail in the end, anyway.

    With all apologies to poor Wil Wheaton, if I’d been Picard, Worf would’ve “accidentally” fired a phaser on the bridge in order to solve the problem. Kids and science fiction don’t mix. For you Battlestar Galactica fans out there, note how quickly the kid they tried to inflict upon us disappeared. Great move. No brats in Firefly, either.

  92. The flame warriors site is fantastic. I only periodically step in to grylliade, and missed it. Beautiful. Now, who is who?

  93. “I can’t turn myself over fully to science because although it may be true that we are nothing more than a mass of chemical reactions, it’s kind of depressing.”

    but science/not science is a false dichotomy, and you’re falling into the trap set by the ID people that the scientific method and the opinions of someone’s imaginary friend are on the same footing. Jason mentions the ontology vs the epistomology (or was it the one handed one who also likes time series? – apologies if so) of these areas.

    you don’t “believe in science”. you use it as a tool of inquiery. like you use philosophy. it’s a tool. it’s not an ends. it’s not THE ANSWER. you believe in the methodology, and you can test with use of experiemnt.

    religion helps some with questions, but it has a position of having the imaginary-friend-in-chief being ominicient and omnipotent. that implies the end-all, be-all. this thing “science” doesn’t do that, nor do practiontiers profess that. and a philosophical framework that is not judeo-christian helps others with those same questions.

    science without philosophy or ethic is void. religion encompasses it all, but it requires a leap of faith. the methods of science, as applied by the engineer gives us buildings, etc.

    i’d really like to hold up the caution sign when you’re doing the science vs religion scorecard.

  94. Both [religion and science] have plenty of atrocities to their credit so my scorecard is even there.

    Huh? What “atrocities” does science have on its scorecard? All manner of evil has been perpetrated in the name of religion for all of human civilization, how it could be even close much less even is unimaginable.

  95. I agree with Jason.

    Here’s what I don’t get: I have never, to the best of my recollection, told the non-theists on this forum (let alone non-Christian theists) that they are inherently immoral, doomed to hell, stupid, or any other sort of thing because of their lack of faith (or lack of Christian faith). I have clashed with some of the less reasonable theists on evolution and other issues.

    The only negative comment I’ve had about atheists is that I’ve observed that some of them annoy the hell out of me when they won’t shut up about it, and I’ve suggested that they are being ridiculous if they think that all theists are stupid. And, no matter what some might think, I’m not directing these observations to one individual in particular. I’m thinking of more than one person, including some people I know off-line.

    And for that I’m intolerant of dissent? Stupid and irrational?

    Please.

    Religious nuts may drink the Kool-Aid, but I think there are a few atheists (and, again, I’m not just referring to one person) who have skipped the flavoring and gone straight to the corn syrup.

  96. smacky, for you, I shall repost (for everyone else, the joke was that we threadites would do the role reversal in the Saturnalia celebration with the Reason editors and writers):
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    smacky, what will our cover story be about? It should be something libertarian with offbeat pop-culture references, I think πŸ˜‰

    No, wait, I have it. Remember that cool cover that Reason did for subscribers, where each cover had a satellite photo of the subscriber’s home? Let’s do the same thing, only this time, each cover will have a personally tailored ad hominem attack. That’s so us, as you so astutely noted.

    Io, Saturnalia!

    Comment by: Pro Libertate at December 10, 2005 11:41 AM
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Reviewing the totally irrelevant postings I’m responsible for in this thread, maybe I should add a non sequitur component to our publication.

  97. Jason Ligon,

    That observation does not imply that all flavors of commentary are especially useful, productive, effective or worth listenting to.

    That seems to be something that should be left up to the individual listener though. Plus, there is a predictive quality to your statement that seems to be problematic.

  98. “I have to disagree: “belief in God” is a pretty big, singular belief to try and sqeeze in along with the rest of an “otherwise rational” mindset.”

    Which probably explains why Thomas Aquinas was so irrational…

  99. ralphus,

    Deism is interesting, especially since it was a major influence on the “Founding Fathers”. I agree with all aspects of Deism except for one basic item – why is it necessary to believe in the existence of God? If he is irrelevant with respect to the daily operations of life on Earth, then what makes him so indispensable in the first place? If Deists require the Universe to be created by an all-powerful God, then why don’t they require another entity to create God? (I am loosely paraphrasing an argument of Betrand Russell)

  100. Why is it that we are able to see how ridiculous it is to believe in the existence of, say, Zeus, Thor, Ra, Anpu, Poseidon, Apollo or Demeter, but when it comes to Jehovah such a belief is accepted as reasonable? An ancient Greek might be very annoyed at you were you to go back in time and express an opinion that Zeus isn’t real–but you’d be right!

  101. thoreau,

    …I’ve observed that some of them annoy the hell out of me when they won’t shut up about it…

    Did you ever stop to think that has more to do with your religious proclivities than it does with what the person is saying? Honestly, someone who questions your entire worldview, or at least a large portion of it, has got to necessarily stick in your craw.

  102. Oh definately. Being an atheist to most Christians, whatever their stripe, means being outside the social contract in a way that other religionists aren’t. This is reflected well in George Bush’s statement about atheists and in the “no atheists in foxholes” insult.

    I’m an atheist, and almost all of my close friends are mainstream, liberal Christians, including my roommate. All of them understand that I’m an atheist and are fine with it. I may be an exception to the rule, but maybe it’s because I don’t call them stupid for their beliefs.

    I have to disagree: “belief in God” is a pretty big, singular belief to try and sqeeze in along with the rest of an “otherwise rational” mindset.

    It would seem so, but it’s not really, in practice. While religion in its purest form is static, the idea that God himself is at least somewhat rational allows the religious person’s own reason to inform their vision of God.

    I can’t turn myself over fully to science because although it may be true that we are nothing more than a mass of chemical reactions, it’s kind of depressing.

    No need to worry, because that’s not science. Science says “we at least are a mass of chemical reactions”, not at most.

  103. “No need to worry, because that’s not science. Science says “we at least are a mass of chemical reactions”, not at most.”

    well said.

  104. Annoying Atheist-

    I don’t find you annoying at all. You didn’t call me stupid, you didn’t accuse me of being inherently oppressive, you just asked a reasonable question.

    I would say that my quasi-Deist take on Christianity, with a much more minimalist God, is more reasonable (in light of contemporary knowledge) than pagan religions that believed that a pantheon of deities were actively meddling in the daily operation of the world. However, one could say that polytheism is nothing more than assigning different names to different aspects of the same God (don’t the Hindus believe that?). And that given their state of knowledge, divine intervention was a much more reasonable proposition.

  105. Why is it that we are able to see how ridiculous it is to believe in the existence of, say, Zeus, Thor, Ra, Anpu, Poseidon, Apollo or Demeter, but when it comes to Jehovah such a belief is accepted as reasonable?

    Reminds me of the quote from Stephen Roberts:

    “I contend that we are both atheists. 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.”

  106. wellfellow,

    Which probably explains why Thomas Aquinas was so irrational…

    In many ways, he was quite irrational. Aquinas is always used as a standardbearer for Christian rational thought, but honestly, many of the conclusions he came to (e.g., his view on how apostates should be put to the sword) were no more rational than Aristotle’s notions re: “natural slaves.”

  107. Why is it that we are able to see how ridiculous it is to believe in the existence of, say, Zeus, Thor, Ra, Anpu, Poseidon, Apollo or Demeter, but when it comes to Jehovah such a belief is accepted as reasonable? An ancient Greek might be very annoyed at you were you to go back in time and express an opinion that Zeus isn’t real–but you’d be right!

    Annoying Atheist,

    Thank you for saying one of the points I would have gotten around to eventually!

    The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    So, which Flame Warrior am I? πŸ™‚

  108. zach,

    I’m an atheist, and almost all of my close friends are mainstream, liberal Christians, including my roommate.

    You’re in college, right?

  109. smacky-

    You may be an atheist, but you aren’t “Atheist” from the flame warrior roster. You’re far too easy to get along with, and you lack the requisite fanaticism.

  110. smacky,

    Why is it that we are able to see how ridiculous it is to believe in the existence of, say, Zeus, Thor, Ra, Anpu, Poseidon, Apollo or Demeter, but when it comes to Jehovah such a belief is accepted as reasonable?

    Because Jehovah is an especially powerful meme. It’s difficult to attack orthodoxies and requires strong medicine and a proper amount of backbone.

  111. Hak,

    Sure enough, but given the context, you may be picking nits. This seems like the perfect being the enemy of the good. If one can’t say that, overall, Aristotle or Aquinas were rational, what value has that adjective when applied to a person?

  112. thoreau’s version of fanatic is anyone who makes him feel uncomfortable about his religious beliefs. He’s a pepto-bismol kind of person.

  113. You’re in college, right?

    Nope, never went. I work at a law firm (which I should be doing right now) and have my own place. Well, had my own place, until about a week ago. Now I have a roommate, and a lot more spending cash.

    That reminds me, maybe I ought to take that aforementioned “God does not want you to go to HELL!” tract down from the fridge…

  114. wellfellow,

    You know, I’m a big fan of Heidegger, but I don’t see it as picking nits to discuss his love affair with Nazism. Indeed, the practical application of any person’s thoughts should be used as a means to judge those thoughts. As to the proper term for what to call Aquinas or Aristotle, maybe we can work on that.

  115. As far as the Flame Warriors go:

    I see myself primarily as Yuk Yuk, although I one day aspire to be Godzilla.

    Other categories I fall into include: Archivist, Artful Dodger, Atheist, Me Too, Capitalista, Ego, Evil Clown, Grammarian, Lonely Guy, Perv, Strumpet, Troglodyte, Troller, and Xenophobe.

    And I swear to Bog, whoever is responsible for this site must know gaius marius personally.

  116. But hak: coming from a gastroenterologically-inclined lineage, i like pepto bismol!

    for acid heartburn, indegestion, upset stomach, diahrea…. and the virgin mary. New CHERRY pepto.

    it’s all falling into place, now. it is clear!
    πŸ™‚

  117. Hak:

    This is the predictive element:

    “Empirical claims can be discussed rationally, but after that, you are only passing judgement on the internal spaces of someone’s brain, which tends to be received as an insult for some reason.”

    It is nothing more than a regurgitation of Hume’s argument against theism as a way to know. There is no useful response to an attack on one’s inner space. We can talk reasonably about how I think x, y, and z are inconsistent behaviors for someone who professes to believe A, but the belief itself, if divorced from empirically verifiable specific claims, really has no truth value we can get at.

    At the end of the day, it is similar to the problem libertarians have with the world at large. There are policies that have empirical results (living wage) and there are professed values that can be analyzed for consistency with these results (utilitarianism), both of which can be debated reasonably in pulic spaces. However, if push comes to shove, and you have a liberal on your hands who does not profess to care about individual liberty at all, you are kind of done. The inner space value hierarchy is just different from yours. It sucks, but that is the way it is. Most people have different value hierarchies than libertarians, and screaming about dings to individual liberty only matters to those who place high value on individual liberty (as opposed to individual utility or group harmony, for example).

  118. It’s hard not to be an agnostic when you consider that most of our religious beliefs come from events and writings that are millennia old. While I have a gut feeling that there’s more to reality than what we see here, I don’t pretend that my feeling is a substitute for proof. Not to mention that it’s hubris of the highest order to pretend that we know the mind of God, assuming he exists.

    If there is a God, and there’s some teleological notion behind our existence, we’re obviously not meant to know what the heck is going on. Therefore, I come down in David Hume land–I can’t know anything about metaphysics, so I might as well take the universe that I perceive seriously. Which is why I favor science over religion when they conflict (not to mention that science has done much more good than religion ever has). I’ve argued with hardcore Christians that relying on the Bible instead of the universe (which they believe was created directly by God) makes no sense. I see it as a kind of epistemological “best evidence” rule.

    It’s hard for me to berate someone for their beliefs, provided that they don’t interfere too much with my life. Religion really fails as a shared experience and can only have meaning to an individual (as Carl Jung said, “Religion is a defense mechanism against religious experiences”).

    The reason that some atheists are so militant is obvious. When they see science being threatened by religion, they get concerned for the future. And, to risk quoting people one time too many, Pascal hit upon the biggest fear that we all have of religion when he said, “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.” True enough, though “religious conviction” should be defined broadly enough to accommodate the evils done by people like fascists and communists, too, who had a faith of a different sort.

  119. [tongue in cheek]

    citing carl jung doesn’t help the argument πŸ™‚

    [/tongue]

    πŸ™‚

  120. It’s hard not to be an agnostic when you consider that most of our religious beliefs come from events and writings that are millennia old.

    Why should it be hard to be agnostic, unless you assume that said writings are the only alternatives to “what we see here”?

  121. . We can talk reasonably about how I think x, y, and z are inconsistent behaviors for someone who professes to believe A, but the belief itself, if divorced from empirically verifiable specific claims, really has no truth value we can get at.

    I think that’s an excellent point and one this is missed in many debates. Everyone has some moral philosophy in order to distinguish “right” from “wrong.” And every moral philosophy must have some set of axioms which are accepted as self-evident truths upon which is built a framework of reasoning leading to certain implications. But if those axioms are quite different for different people, arguing on the surface about the desirability of some policy or another is inevitably missing the fundamental discussion that needs to occur.

  122. VM, yeah I agree. I just like the quote, not Jung or Campbell (who I heard the quote from in the first place).

    zach, I think that relying on the “alternatives”, such as they are, makes a whole lot more sense than relying on words that have almost certainly been distorted. Like I said, I can only speak for myself. From where I’m sitting, I’m not even sure any of you exist, let alone God πŸ™‚

  123. The reason that some atheists are so militant is obvious. When they see science being threatened by religion, they get concerned for the future. And, to risk quoting people one time too many, Pascal hit upon the biggest fear that we all have of religion when he said, “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.”

    Right, but don’t lump me in with the wannabe theocrats/witch burners/etc. Cuz I’m not one of them.

    It’s like when somebody criticizes a business on H&R. Even if the critic hasn’t said a word in favor of regulation, the critic is immediately accused of being a lefty. And if the critic explains that, he’s usually told “Yeah, well, most people who criticizes businesses think the problem should be fixed with regulation.”

    Yeah, well, maybe that’s true on other forums, but not here.

    I’m not one of the dumb theists. I’m not one of the militant theists. I’m not one of the theocrat theists. I’m completely harmless, fairly intelligent, and so totally not a fanatic. I’m not trying to shove anything down anybody’s throats. And by now everybody here ought to know that.

  124. Here’s the deal: Don’t lump me in with Jerry Falwell, and I won’t lump anybody here in with…um, name an atheist that you don’t like.

    See, I’m having a hard time thinking of an atheist villain! If I were such a fanatical, dangerous theist, I’d be able to rattle off the names of countless bad atheists.

  125. Why should it be hard to be agnostic,

    Well, I should think because it is largely a meaningless position. It is technically accurate, I suppose, in that it says we just don’t know. But what is it we don’t know? Nobody believes every proposition should be treated equally, yet agnosticism, as it is used, would seem to do just that. Are we agnostic as to the existence of Zeus, as mentioned above? Well, again, in some meaningless technical way, yes. But that meaninglessness applies just as much to the Christian God or the Muslim Allah or whichever other god one would propose.

  126. “thoreau’s version of fanatic is anyone who makes him feel uncomfortable about his religious beliefs. He’s a pepto-bismol kind of person.”

    yeah, that’s exactly it.

    or…he’s one of the more reasonable people on the entire interweb, and you’re a fucking tardbunny.

  127. Jason Ligon,

    Empirical claims can be discussed rationally, but after that, you are only passing judgement on the internal spaces of someone’s brain, which tends to be received as an insult for some reason.

    I find this problematic because passing such judgments can indeed change someone’s mind.

  128. “Well, I should think because it is largely a meaningless position.”

    hardly. in a manichean world where everyone has to pick a boring fuck side, it’s nice to know there are some people who can’t or won’t.

  129. i’d really like to hold up the caution sign when you’re doing the science vs religion scorecard.

    Understood and agreed. I didn’t phrase that well. I don’t fall into the science no science camp. If I did have a scorecard science would be way, way, way the fuck ahead. But I truly don’t look at this question that way. Religion has something to offer in that comparing mythologies offers insight into how humans think and the needs we all share. Science gives us a better understanding of what we are, but it often falls short on who we are. But I don’t think for a moment that a magic sky man did it is the answer to any question.

    Huh? What “atrocities” does science have on its scorecard? All manner of evil has been perpetrated in the name of religion for all of human civilization, how it could be even close much less even is unimaginable.

    Mengela, the Tuskegee experiments, turn of the century mental health, smoking bans….

    I shouldn’t have said the scorecard was even. Religion is ahead I agree. My point was that evil can be done “for the sake of science” can just as it can be done “in the name of God.”

    No need to worry, because that’s not science. Science says “we at least are a mass of chemical reactions”, not at most.

    Again a great point. I’m sorry I used the word science. I am not a doubter of science. Only a doubter of those who claim the have the definitive answers to existence.

    I agree with all aspects of Deism except for one basic item – why is it necessary to believe in the existence of God?

    Which is why my interest in it has never grown to acceptance of it. But I think the idea that there is a certain way the universe works and if you know the guidelines and adhere to them you will find life more enjoyable and fulfilling is a cool one. I just don’t know who’s set of guidelines are the right ones to go by. And I dont believe that a deity put the guidelines in place. But I do think that some religious thinkers might have stumbled upon some of them.

    My point, at its core, is that no one knows anything definitively about who we are and why we are here. Anyone who claims to is usually a horses’ ass whether they be theist or atheist. So let people believe what they want as long as they dont hurt anyone and lets argue about more important stuff.

    Like how Kirk would drop Picards limey ass with one fake judo chop to the chrome dome.

  130. I’m not one of the dumb theists. I’m not one of the militant theists. I’m not one of the theocrat theists. I’m completely harmless, fairly intelligent, and so totally not a fanatic. I’m not trying to shove anything down anybody’s throats. And by now everybody here ought to know that.

    All true. But my ability to respect someone is significantly diminished when they announce that they are adherents to the Catholic church. There is absolutely no reason why you should give a crap about my worthless opinion. But you also shouldn’t be surprised that your Catholicism is an albatross in your interelations with atheists.

  131. it’s nice to know there are some people who can’t or won’t.

    That might be true, but it doesn’t make it any less meaningless.

  132. “That might be true, but it doesn’t make it any less meaningless.”

    how so?

  133. thoreau, I didn’t mean to imply that all theists took positions that might justify a more militant brand of atheism. I was really only referring to religious fanatics who want to impose their will on others. Heck, you can take out “religious” in the previous sentence, for most situations. I’m still nominally Christian myself, something I retain mostly because it doesn’t interfere with my perceptions of reality. Not much, anyway πŸ˜‰

  134. Mengela, the Tuskegee experiments, turn of the century mental health, smoking bans….

    Um, none of these are the fault of science. Science was the method used in these occurrences. But was it “the axe” that killed ten people, or was it the insane, frenzied murderer wielding it? These all occurred because of some incorrect beliefs held by the people utilizing the sciences.

  135. Again a great point. I’m sorry I used the word science. I am not a doubter of science. Only a doubter of those who claim the have the definitive answers to existence.

    Sounds like you’d make a good scientist.

    (Well, I’m assuming the whole science skills part here, but you get my point.)

  136. Pro L: grin.

    Ralphus: cool. thanks. (JUDO CHOP!) and the double fist move, too πŸ™‚

    dhex. yooo da man. (what yooo in grad school for?)

    thoreau: the only thing you’re fanatical about is mastering your own body weight.
    (AND YOU DRIVE A DODGE STRATUS!!!!!!)

  137. And smacky, the Crusades weren’t the fault of Christianity, etc.

    I suppose one key difference (among many) is that religion mandates a code of ethics, whereas science is simply a tool which is neutral as to ethics. It might well be that mutiliating a person will advance scientific knowledge, but science itself does not mandate that this be done.

  138. Dear Jesus (oops, sorry), am I an Eagle Scout? I did provide HTML assistance once. Ugh, and I can see Yuk-Yuk in me, too. I must engage in some serious introspection at this time.

  139. (AND YOU DRIVE A DODGE STRATUS!!!!!!)

    Huh?

  140. Um, none of these are the fault of science. Science was the method used in these occurrences. But was it “the axe” that killed ten people, or was it the insane, frenzied murderer wielding it? These all occurred because of some incorrect beliefs held by the people utilizing the sciences.

    The same can be said of atrocities commited in the name of God. I never said that those things happend becuase of science. I said they were done in the name of science.

  141. Never finished that thought: But that won’t keep certain people from demanding certain things be done in the name of science, as if there were a holy mandate.

    Like spending my tax money on flying to Mars. Assholes.

  142. how so?

    Well, as I said, are “agnostics” agnostic about Zeus? Or how about Carl Sagan’s example of the invisible incorporeal fire breathing dragon in my garage? The point was that people use it to imply a certain inability to come to a conclusion about the truth of a claim based on the evidence at hand, which is fine as far as it goes; it’s just rather misleading when used to imply a certain equivalence of position between believers and non-believers in such claim. In other words, why is the person who is agnostic about God professing any less meaningless, or any more reasonable, an opinion than the person who is agnostic about the dragon in my garage?

  143. And smacky, the Crusades weren’t the fault of Christianity, etc.

    zach,

    Wrong. Belief in organized religion necessitates the view that your code of morality is somehow superior to others. Of course, you can say the same thing about people who believe in a particular social structure, economic structure, etc. Except the glaring difference is that there is real world evidence to back these other beliefs up, whereas religion divides people solely based on speculative ontology of existence, which is unknowable, and therefore futile, and therefore contemptible in my opinion.

  144. All true. But my ability to respect someone is significantly diminished when they announce that they are adherents to the Catholic church. There is absolutely no reason why you should give a crap about my worthless opinion. But you also shouldn’t be surprised that your Catholicism is an albatross in your interelations with atheists.

    Fair enough. But you should realize that there is a big difference between what the hierarchy says and what Catholics think.

    What’s odd is that many theists (Catholic or otherwise) are cool with that distinction. However, there’s an atheist (and I swear I’m not talking about you, MP, or anybody else on this forum, but rather somebody I know off the forum) who has lectured me on what I have to be if I want to call myself Catholic.

    Catholicism is a belief system with a culture and a tradition. These things go much deeper than any hierarchy.

  145. Didn’t one of the Crusades just sort of fizzle once they’d taken the economically significant city of Constantinople?

    I’m pretty sure that particular Crusade had very little to do with religion, no matter what the official propaganda said at the time.

    (And that little ignoble chapter in Catholic history was taught to me in Catholic school.)

  146. Thoreau: Dodge stratus = SNL routine where the dad would yell those things. and he finished up one with how many pushups (proxy for mastering body weight) he could do.

    no reference too obscure πŸ™‚

  147. What’s odd is that many theists (Catholic or otherwise) are cool with that distinction. However, there’s an atheist (and I swear I’m not talking about you, MP, or anybody else on this forum, but rather somebody I know off the forum) who has lectured me on what I have to be if I want to call myself Catholic.

    Catholicism is a belief system with a culture and a tradition.

    That’s the funny thing about Catholicism. It’s so much like traditional Judaism in that in many ways, and in many “Catholics” I know, they identify with its tradition and culture much more than it’s actual content and set of rules.

    Heck, I know someone in a friggin new age cult who still deigns to call himself “Catholic”. I can’t think of any other sect of Christianity that stretches its definition so broadly that it is virtually all-encompassing.

    I think tradition and culture are the two things that keep most of the non-true “Catholics” designating themselves as such…they simply can’t imagine otherwise. I just don’t understand it though…why not call a spade a spade? (You’ll go to hell! That’s why πŸ™‚ )

  148. Brian, my agnosticism goes for God/gods, period, any lingering Christian impulses not withstanding. For theists in general, it’s hardly irrational to suppose a creator, so long as they acknowledge that direct proof seems to be lacking. An atheist can’t prove his position any better than a theist can when it comes to the existence or nonexistence of anything other than perceived reality. He can certainly say “I don’t see anything here” and place the burden of proof on the theist, but that’s about it. Like I said, there’s no way to take the solipsism out of metaphysical beliefs.

  149. I think tradition and culture are the two things that keep most of the non-true “Catholics” designating themselves as such…they simply can’t imagine otherwise.

    It’s simple, really: I’m not leaving. If they want to be in a religion that doesn’t include me, they’ll have to leave. I ain’t going nowhere!

    Jesus wanted a universal church, unity among Christians. There’s plenty of room in the tent with that peace and love hippie, and, by God, I’m quite comfy and staying in the tent!

  150. Wrong. Belief in organized religion necessitates the view that your code of morality is somehow superior to others.

    True, but not all religions are militant about it. What was the last Buddhist atrocity you read about? Unless you count self-immolation I can’t think of any.

  151. By your silence, smacky, I take it that you don’t like my personalized ad hominem attack idea. Or maybe you just don’t exist. I don’t really have any proof of it, you know. Maybe you’re just Hakluyt’s alter ego or something πŸ™‚

  152. Pro Libertate,

    acknowledge, acknowledge.

    (I actually had seen you Saturnalia idea a few days ago…just forgot to respond).

  153. ohshit, ralphus.

    “it’s a tantric technique. the monks used it before going into battle”

    “apes don’t read philosophy” (just another goodie from same source)

  154. Hak:

    Passing judgements on the unverifiable has changed minds in your experience?

  155. thoreau,
    Is it like this:
    I’m a hillbilly even though I have my front teeth, and don’t smoke?

    By the way, I love you man!

  156. It’s simple, really: I’m not leaving. If they want to be in a religion that doesn’t include me, they’ll have to leave.

    And that’s exactly what I did.

    The funny thing is, it seems like the Catholics I know (having gone to both a Catholic gradschool and a Catholic college) never stop whining about how they need to expand their faith and popularize it.

    I guess my big issue is: why does anyone need anyone else to affirm their personal beliefs along with them? Thanks, but I’ll do it fine by myself. The fact that the Bandwagon Mentality can affect someone’s personal beliefs is scandalous to me and will remain so.

  157. An atheist can’t prove his position any better than a theist can when it comes to the existence or nonexistence of anything other than perceived reality.

    True enough. All opinions as to the existence of anything, including my dragon, are technically tentative and await further evidence. But I fail to see where the atheist is any different than the adragonist in saying that, absent evidence of such an extraordinary claim, it is entirely reasonable to “disbelieve” it, even if such disbelief is at some technical (and I would say largely superficial) level, a tentative position.

  158. Yes they do, VM, they just don’t understand it.

    smacky, acknowledge.

  159. “In other words, why is the person who is agnostic about God professing any less meaningless, or any more reasonable, an opinion than the person who is agnostic about the dragon in my garage?”

    one is a question about the ordering principles of the universe. if that’s not a topic worthy of human pondering, than i don’t know what is.

    the second is a strawman.

    carl sagan was a silly git, wasn’t he?

  160. Hakluyt,

    What’s with the sudden usage of “honestly” all of a sudden? Word of the day toilet paper?

  161. Zach,

    And smacky, the Crusades weren’t the fault of Christianity, etc.

    They were specifically the fault of the actors who brought them about – key in this regard are the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.

    …whereas science is simply a tool which is neutral as to ethics.

    Heh. Whatever. Science is not some archimedian point at a distance from human culture, etc., its a creation of humans and thus is as much concerned with ethics as humans are.

    thoreau,

    But you should realize that there is a big difference between what the hierarchy says and what Catholics think.

    This is always the defense of Catholics who are uncomfortable with what their faith teaches. Now imagine this, imagine a Republican stating that they remain a Republican even though they disagree with almost the entire platform of the Republican party. Such a claim would ring hollow to most, and similar claims by Catholics also ring hollow.

    Catholicism is a belief system with a culture and a tradition.

    That you know squat about.

    These things go much deeper than any hierarchy.

    You moron, the hierarchy is part of that culture and tradition. You cannot strip away the hierarchy from the tradition, because the tradition is many ways based on the hierarchy. You may be good in physics, but you’ve got your head up your ass when it comes to analyzing the nature of your Church’s history.

    Didn’t one of the Crusades just sort of fizzle once they’d taken the economically significant city of Constantinople?

    Your statement basically assumes that Latin Christians saw the Orthodox Christians as, well, Christians. You are essentially ignorant of the great prejudice between the two churches and how that play into the interactions between the two and how the Latin Church saw the latter as ripe for slaughter when it had the oppurtunity to get at them. Indeed, one of the many reasons why the Orthodox Church still has animus towards the Latin Church was because of the Latin Church’s efforts through secular rulers to kill or convert Orthodox Christians in Eastern Europe during the Reformation. So much for the beauty of your “history and tradition.”

    Jesus wanted a universal church, unity among Christians.

    He was also quite clear that one should shun one’s own family and never speak to them again if it was necessary. Just like every other cult.

    There’s plenty of room in the tent with that peace and love hippie, and, by God, I’m quite comfy and staying in the tent!

    That’s just the modern spin you put on things; it really has nothing to do with what was stated a little under 2,000 years ago (if one accepts that Christ actually existed). That is partly why religion is such a joke.

    smacky,

    Most Catholics, thoreau included here, don’t know squat about the history or tradition of their Church. They’re Catholics because they grew up Catholics, not because they’ve deeply analyzed their faith. If they’d deeply analyzed their faith they’d realize right off that their Christ never ordained anything like the Catholic Church that they belong to; that Pope is a mere Bishop that took on airs.

  162. smacky,
    I think the Bandwagon Mentality is crucial to the spread of organized religion. It would be nearly impossible to convert someone who had never been exposed to religious thought without the mutual support of other believers. It would be as difficult as selling the first telephone. The prospective convertee would be impressed by the multitudes that adhere to the belief system. “If a billion people believe this then there has to be something to it”

    You are a recovering Catholic. You had a front row seat in the theatre of absurd groupthink and have matured enough to start thinking for yourself. I also escaped the clutches of catholicism after a decade and a half of involuntary captivity. Like you, I abhor the herd mentality that stampedes individual thought, but it is obvious why it is crucial to the propagation of religious beliefs.

  163. What’s with the sudden usage of “honestly” all of a sudden?

    Gaaaah. Make that, “What’s with the usage of ‘honestly’ all of a sudden?” Preview is my friend . . .

  164. the second is a strawman.

    Nice way to avoid dealing with the issue.

    The fact that one issue claims to be about “ordering principles of the universe” doesn’t make the evidence for it (i.e. God) any different than my straw man. In fact, I’d say the opposite is true – if you are going to posit some grand ordering of the universe I’d expect you to have even more evidence and be even more skeptical of such claims than the silly dragon example. Instead you give one a pass and ignore the other.

  165. By the way, I love you man!

    That’s touching, Ruthless. I love you too, but only in a strictly friendly sense. We don’t have to hug or anything.

    And I have no desire to tell other people what bandwagon to jump on.

  166. awwwww. group hug. i’ll get the clingwrap.

  167. “it’s a tantric technique. the monks used it before going into battle”

    Ha!

    Ok. What was the last Quaker atrocity you read about.

    My point is that a sense of moral superiority doesn’t necessarily lead to the subjugation of your neighbors. If that were the case 95% of Hit & Run posters would be on permanent jihad.

  168. ohshit. that’s two now. fucking knocked over all sorts of shit during the fit of laughter.

    (and 95% is a little high for H&R readers, but i’d put that number at a comfortable 69%)

    (btw, does the Earlham College field hockey team count, grin. – for you, Norbette)

    πŸ™‚

  169. And a pedantic point. What I used was not a “strawman” or sham argument set up to be easily refuted. It was simply used to highlight the issues of evidence, tentative beliefs and the term “agnostic” with an extreme, yet no less relevant to those points, example.

    You’re sentence : “if that’s not a topic worthy of human pondering, than i don’t know what is” is much closer to a strawman. It essentially implies and refutes the sham argument that such a question is not worth pondering. I seriously doubt anyone would claim that such questions are not worth pondering.

  170. 69 is a comfortable percent, isn’t it? Exciting yet comfortable.

  171. Crushinator,

    Like you, I abhor the herd mentality that stampedes individual thought, but it is obvious why it is crucial to the propagation of religious beliefs.

    That’s why individualism, individual decision-making, etc. are the bane of religion’s existance.

  172. and 95% is a little high for H&R readers

    Is it? H&R readers have a lot of fine qualities, but deep down, we know we’re better than everyone else.

    As a matter of fact, I say we round up those infidel fuckers over at ThinkProgress and Redstate and put their heads on pikes just to prove our point.

    Who’s with me?

  173. I believe my work here is done.

  174. ralphus,

    The lack of genetic diversity in Amish communities based on the sort of conformism and arrogance they practice has led to a slow, ongoing atrocity in Amish communities. As to Quakers, well, they’ve largely bought into the dominat culture; they are nothing like (in general) they’re 17th century founders.

  175. yeah yeah, ‘zilla. here. have a cupcake.

    cupcake

    [dangles cupcake]

    dere yoo go. yeah. cupcake.

  176. or…he’s one of the more reasonable people on the entire interweb, and you’re a fucking tardbunny.

    congratulations, mr dhex, you actually made me cackle out loud.

  177. “deep down, we know we’re better than everyone else.”

    ralphus,
    Everyone whose mother loved him or her knows they’re better than everyone else.

  178. “The fact that one issue claims to be about “ordering principles of the universe” doesn’t make the evidence for it (i.e. God) any different than my straw man. In fact, I’d say the opposite is true – if you are going to posit some grand ordering of the universe I’d expect you to have even more evidence and be even more skeptical of such claims than the silly dragon example. Instead you give one a pass and ignore the other.”

    what lizards lurk in your garage is your own business, but it has no moral, philosophical, etc weight. outside of, perhaps, a slavish devotion to property rights?

    har har.

    i mean, i don’t see what’s being avoided here, in regards to agnosticism, which is clearly in this context being applied to the metaphysical/spiritual/religious/etc. humans have an inner life, which is heavily symbolic, even for the most “scientific” atheist or whatever the ultimate example might be in this case. some choose to order that inner life on different value systems, external and internal. and i’m good with it.

    what fucks people up – especially, in my experience, people who call themselves atheists as a point of identity – is that they assume such symbol systems are supposed to be as boring and lifeless as they are, and as literal. (hence the fundamentalist and their cult of annoyingness)

    what’s the proof of love? of friendship? of compassion? etc. are they meaningless?

    i suppose, at least until someone tries to take them away from you.

  179. Hak,

    Not saying religion is all good. What I’m saying is that just because someone thinks they are better than you doesn’t mean that they plan on purging your kind from the Earth.

  180. “Science is not some archimedian point at a distance from human culture, etc., its a creation of humans and thus is as much concerned with ethics as humans are”

    Heh. Ethics have no place in the scientific method. Or said another way, the scientific method has no mention of ethics. Some of the things Mengele did were great science, as was the Philadelphia Retin-A trial (done in the prison system). However, I certainly would never claim they were moral or even ethical. And in fact, the presence of certain nearly universal morals and ethics are one of the biggest stumbling blocks for the “social” sciences – the two are in direct opposition.

    Much evil can be done in the name of science. To think otherwise is to be willfully blind.

    I’m not a religious person (my mother in law refers to me as “the heathen”), but I can see the value in religion as an independent source of morality outside of what’s legal/illegal. So I’ve given up on being a “hater” and made my peace with religion. In many cases, the belief in an afterlife is a very libertarian friendly belief – you no longer have to justify respecting property rights on utilitarian grounds – acting morally is what you should do, even if you have a different subjective valuation of the costs vs. benefits.

    As long they aren’t trying to force their beliefs on me through the government or some other form of aggressive violence, I’m not going to fight with them. As usual, the real problem is with the state, not with whatever interest happens to couple with it at any given time…

  181. As long they aren’t trying to force their beliefs on me through the government

    But they are! Tax breaks for married couples? Exceptions for gay couples? Restricted speech? Slogans in our national pledge and on our currency? What do you classify these things as, if not forced morality?

  182. Abu Ben Adam,may his tribe increase
    Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace

    And saw, within the moonlight of his room

    Making it rich, like a lily in bloom

    An angel writing in a book of gold.

    Exceeding peace had made Abu Ben Adam bold

    And to the presence in his room he said

    ‘ What writest thou?’

    The vision raised its head

    And with a look of all sweet accord Answered:

    ‘The names of those who love the Lord.

    ‘And is mine one?’ said Abu.

    ‘Nay not so’ Replied the Angel

    Abu spoke more low

    But cheerily still and said

    ‘I pray thee then Write me as one that loves his fellow-men’

    The angel wrote and vanished.

    The next night it came again with awaking light

    And showed the names of whom love of God had blessed.

    And lo! Ben Adam’s name led all the rest.

  183. Everyone whose mother loved him or her knows they’re better than everyone else.

    My point. Religious intolerance is just a manifestation of this. If religion had never existed we would have found other reasons to slaughter and subjugate our neighbors. Instead of ?They don?t believe in Jesus! Kill them!? it would be ?They don?t have beards! Kill them!? Or some such nonsense. I argue that our propensity to commit atrocities has less to do with religion and more to do with us being mean little monkeys at heart.

  184. quasibill,

    Heh. Ethics have no place in the scientific method.

    That’s a statement about ethics by itself. Humans are involved in it; ergo, they’re going to make ethical decisions.

  185. ralphus,
    Jane Goodall needs to take you to the woodshed.

  186. As long they aren’t trying to force their beliefs on me through the government

    But they are! Tax breaks for married couples? Exceptions for gay couples? Restricted speech? Slogans in our national pledge and on our currency? What do you classify these things as, if not forced morality?

    Some of those, like speech restrictions and anit gay crap, are worth fighting. Others, like the pledge and Christmas, are just cultural things that don’t bug me. Tax breaks for marriage can be argued for on non-religious grounds because not every married couple is religious (personally, I think everyone should get a tax break). But I’m not blind to the fact the supporters of such measures see them as moral engineering. I don’t know, I guess I’ve just accepted that the majority of people don’t share my beliefs. As long as they don’t force me to adhere to theirs I’ll let them do their thing. If they go to far then I’ll go to court. Because the one old piece of parchment I do revere says I?ve got rights too.

  187. BTW, Mengele thought he was doing things which were quite ethical. I’ll reiterate again, Nazis weren’t nihilists.

  188. are we seriously suggesting that the hubris so inseperable from scientism, emancipation gluttony and the culture of techne has not let to some of the worst, albeit most abstract atrocities known to man? LOL mr. reason blogger.

  189. what’s the proof of love? of friendship? of compassion? etc. are they meaningless?

    Certainly not. And, for the record, I didn’t say religious belief was meaningless either; that’s clearly a personal feeling that can be very meaningful to some and not to others (such as me). I don’t really disagree with much of what you said, I think we were really addressing different questions and thinking of it in rather different ways.

  190. Most Catholics, thoreau included here, don’t know squat about the history or tradition of their Church.

    *taps on thoreau’s forehead* Hakluyt? You’re in there? I am BLOWN AWAY.

  191. BTW, Mengele thought he was doing things which were quite ethical. I’ll reiterate again, Nazis weren’t nihilists.

  192. “It causes me too much cognitive dissonance when I think about this country that brags about how christian it is, a philosophy I am told that espouses tolerance and forgiveness, while contemporaneously executing and inprisioning more people than any other country on the planet.”

    “And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the Lord, shall be put to death.” – Leviticus 24:16

  193. “What do you classify these things as, if not forced morality?”

    the rantings and ravings of those who are asleep, yet do not know it.

    “I don’t really disagree with much of what you said, I think we were really addressing different questions and thinking of it in rather different ways.”

    probably. i get that a lot.

  194. Ellie,

    *taps on Ellie’s brain* Is there any grey matter in there? Sounds hollow.

    Look, thoreau and I have had numerous conversations about the nature of his Church and not once, during those many conversations, has he ever evidenced any knowledge of his Church’s traditions or history. Its safe to say based on this body of evidence that my conclusion is correct.

  195. Ellie,

    Apparently sniffing out bullshit and making conclusions about the nature of an individual based on repeated experiences is something I’m just not allowed though. Yeah, that’s me rolling my eyes at you.

  196. Mr. F. Le Mur,

    Christians are invariably involved in hypocritically picking and chosing when they read the “Good Book” (what’s so good about it?).

  197. *taps on Ellie’s brain* Is there any grey matter in there? Sounds hollow.

    Apparently we are both extra-crispy.

  198. After reading the poll results, I’m puzzled that atheists are held in so much lower regard than the various brands of theists. I’ll just toss a few observations into the fray.

    1) You’ve got your theists, your agnostics, your atheists … and your anti-theists, the small “evangelical” minority of atheists.

    I suspect the vast majority of atheists view theists the same way I view people who buy lottery tickets all the time, or collect Precious Momements figurines, or who think Picard is a better dramatic character than Kirk — with a mixture of bemusement, puzzlement, and maybe a little bit of exasperation, but most of all tolerance. I don’t get worked up enough to make harping criticisms of such peculiarities, and neither do they.

    2) Unless beliefs or non-beliefs happen to come up in conversation — well, then they don’t come up. In the absence, most people tend to assume their neighbors believe pretty much the same as they do. Unless they make a point of it, I suspect the majority of atheists are simply under theist’s radar.

    3) The type of atheist who is most likely to make himself known to theists is the anti-theist minority. The is the guy who rouses himself to criticize, to tell his theist neighbors that they are morons, that their heads are up their asses, and how can you possibly believe that stupid shit, etc., etc. This kind of guy can be difficult to like. And to most theists, this guy represents “atheists.” Because the other, less obnoxious kind are far less visible.

    4) Organized religions have this major PR advantage: they establish and run charities and hospitals (the latter also doing considerable charity work, as well as being viewed as organs of dedication, selflessness, sacrifice, compassion, etc.) There are no comparably visible works of philanthropy by people gathered under the banner of atheism.

    5) Atheism has a major PR disadvantage: In recent history, some high-profile atheists took over the Russian Empire and China and scared the shit out of the world. Presumptively atheists, anyway — because they famously repressed religion, tortured priests and missionaries, etc. They also did many other bad things. These were really nasty guys, far scarier than even Jerry Falwell. I mean, American atheists are afraid of what theocrats might do to them? Theists have already seen what can happen when militant atheists (anti-theists) take charge.

    (Yes, I know — the totalitarian godless Commies acted like totalitarian godless Commies because they were Commies. The godlessness was not the main thing. I’m talking about perceptions here.)

    6) Last week somebody mentioned going to an atheists meeting, and I was bemused by the concept of “an organized irreligion.” But maybe this a good idea that should go even further. Maybe if atheists banded together, passed the collection plate around, and really organized and fundraised and gathered volunteers, they could established Unsainted

  199. Ellie,

    No I’m very bright, intelligent, etc., you are what you demonstrated yourself to be (as I stated above).

  200. There are no comparably visible works of philanthropy by people gathered under the banner of atheism.

    Because atheists don’t see fit to set up a charity in the name of atheism. There are plenty of secular, non-religious charities out there though and they are the ones I give my money too.

  201. But I couldn’t literally have a hollow skull. There was nothing figurative about your statement. You’re just completely unaware of the nature of human anatomy.

  202. “The same can be said of atrocities committed in the name of God. I never said that those things happened because of science. I said they were done in the name of science.”

    To expound on that notion a bit:

    Atrocities have been committed in the name of so many things; science, religion, wealth, dirty socks, shiny bicycles…

    But like dirty socks, science doesn’t advocate immorality. It is merely a method to discover models of our physical world that are useful.

    Religion on the other hand, actually advocates immorality, at least from my viewpoint. See Mr. Le Mur’s post for one example. There are many more…

    So when some atheist says religion has caused atrocities, he may actually believe that religion was the proximate cause, not just a coincident belief system of the principles.

  203. Also, atheist charities do exist, try: http://www.atheistcharity.org/

  204. science doesn’t advocate immorality. It is merely a method to discover models of our physical world that are useful.

    Religion on the other hand, actually advocates immorality,

    Thank you, TJ, for making the point I couldn’t quite put into words.

  205. Ellie,

    Heh. Whatever. The point is that I did not come to my conclusions re: Jennifer’s statement or thoreau’s knowledge based on ESP, etc., but upon the evidence at hand be it the context of her statement or thoreau’s vague blustering about Catholic tradition. You’d do better to attack the basis of those conclusions (of course I don’t really expect you too, since you’ve never shown much in the way of aptitude for such things – you’re just another jester here).

  206. “I suspect the vast majority of atheists view theists the same way I view people who buy lottery tickets all the time…”

    Stevo, that was perfect, just perfect.

  207. “I suspect the vast majority of atheists view theists the same way I view people who buy lottery tickets all the time…”

    What about people who think they’re going to retire on lottery winnings? Is that an acceptable analogy, too?

    This is the thread on which to hate your neighbor, right? It’s the “hating thread”?

    Is this thing on? [cough, cough]

    I may just demote myself to lurker status one of these days…

  208. Stevo-

    I’ve thought a little about atheist charities. There are plenty of non-religious charities out there, but many of them get help (in the form of volunteers and donations) from religious groups. A homeless shelter might not be officially religious, but there’s a good chance that a local church will volunteer to cook dinner there once per month, or something like that.

    Now, let’s imagine that a bunch of atheists open a shelter. A local clergyman shows up with a bunch of clothes donations and offers to bring a group by to cook dinner. The atheists face a few choices:

    1) Accept the offer. And grin and bear it when somebody says during dinner “Let’s thank the good people of St. Mary’s Church for bringing us dinner.” The theists just got some good PR.

    2) Accept it, but ask the minister to keep his affiliation on the down-low. Now, Christians are actually prepared to do those sorts of things to some extent (e.g. aid workers in Afghanistan had to keep quiet about their faith, and just stick to the food and medicine gig). But even the most liberal Christian minister will be, at the very least, disturbed by the rudeness of the request. Every other homeless shelter in the world gives donors and volunteers (churches, businesses, individuals, etc.) LOTS of free PR.

    And if it’s a fundie minister, there’s no way he’ll agree to keep quiet about his faith.

    So a major pool of donors and volunteers has just been treated rudely. Not a good way to run a charity.

    3) Just turn it down outright. Once again, a major pool of volunteers and donors have been alienated.

    So a non-religious charity can fluorish, and many do. But an openly atheist charity will be unable to cultivate the church ties that many charities rely on.

    Finally, real-world example: When I ran a totally secular juggling festival to raise money for a totally secular charity (rape crisis center, in memory of a local juggler who died in a violent crime), I certainly relied heavily on advertising in church bulletins. And I boosted the profits when I did so. It was a family friendly event for a good cause, and so the churches were a major asset.

    Lesson? Secular charity is fine, but charities that are openly anti-religion are missing out on a valuable resource.

  209. Last week somebody mentioned going to an atheists meeting, and I was bemused by the concept of “an organized irreligion.” But maybe this a good idea that should go even further.

    In my case, I didn’t become an atheist to get along, make friends, and influence people. My atheism, is a serious, contemplative, individualistic matter, not liscene for bake sales, study groups, square dances, and other “community” hive-mind activities that usually make up organized religions.

    Then again, maybe its the reclusive crumudgeon in me. I dislike the notion of people getting together for any purpose other than work, sex, and/or miniature wargaming. Unless you’re here to pay me, fuck me, or game with me, get off my lawn!

  210. CORRECTION:

    “When I helped run a totally secular juggling festival…”

    I was by no means the only organizer.

  211. smacky,

    This is the thread on which to hate your neighbor, right? It’s the “hating thread”?

    I assume that was meant to be a joke. πŸ™‚

  212. “There are no comparably visible works of philanthropy by people gathered under the banner of atheism.”

    “Because atheists don’t see fit to set up a charity in the name of atheism. There are plenty of secular, non-religious charities out there though and they are the ones I give my money too.”

    Yup, I’m sure atheists are very charitable and do many great works. But not in a way that enhances the reputation of atheism, as such, the way religious-run hospitals and charities do for their sponsors — which is my point.

    “Also, atheist charities do exist, try: http://www.atheistcharity.org/

    Yeah, only I’ve never heard of it, and neither has anyone else. The Web site is only “under construction” and there isn’t even a paragraph explaining what the organization is, why it does what it does, or saying anything good about atheists. It may be a very fine and effective organization, but the PR value to atheism is, so far, nada.

  213. Akira MacKenzie,

    My atheism, is a serious, contemplative, individualistic matter…

    We’re both gnostic atheists* apparently. πŸ™‚

    * Yes, I realize how contradictory that sounds.

  214. Stevo Darkly,

    Apparently you think like the Red Cross. πŸ™‚

  215. “I suspect the vast majority of atheists view theists the same way I view people who buy lottery tickets all the time…”

    What about people who think they’re going to retire on lottery winnings? Is that an acceptable analogy, too?

    smacky, from the atheist point of view, that is a beautiful analogy, actually.

    Oh, I guess there is this difference. If someone plans to retire on non-existent lottery winnings, they have to live with their decision. If someone dies expecting to go to a heavenly afterlife that doesn’t exist … they don’t. πŸ™‚

    Wait, I guess they do have to live with their decision, but in a different time-frame. That would be before the dying part.

  216. I assume that was meant to be a joke. πŸ™‚

    To an extent…

    …but if ever there were a thread created for atheists to voice their gripes, I’d say this would be it.

    So in that regard, people who don’t want to hear atheists griping about religious people can just leave.

    I mean in all fairness, it’s not like we wandered onto a thread about the Merry Christmas season or something.

  217. No I’m very bright, intelligent, etc., you are what you demonstrated yourself to be (as I stated above).

    The point is that I did not come to my conclusions re: Jennifer’s statement or thoreau’s knowledge based on ESP, etc., but upon the evidence at hand be it the context of her statement or thoreau’s vague blustering about Catholic tradition.

    Ah, so that’s what I’m missing when I read your statements. I was never able to follow your reasoning. Now I realize that your brain is operating on such a higher level than mine that I’ll never be able to match it. The deep, subtle arguments that you make are simply beyond the ken of mere mortals, O Hakluyt.

    Please, bless us with your teachings, Master! We will finally be able to pass this age of darkness where so-called “reasonableness” and “civility” are honored, and they will be revealed to be pathetic, hollow charades behind which hide all manner of errors. No longer will we have to cater to the whims of lesser beings who demand “politeness!” O brave new world that has such people in it!

  218. Akira,

    Unless you’re here to pay me, fuck me, or game with me, get off my lawn!

    Heh. I’m thinking of replacing my “no soliciting” sign with that one…

  219. mercy.

    can we get rid of circus clowns too?

    foam foam. froth froth.

    yes. in this brave new world we shall have noam chomsky dolls for everybody. the sweaty pillow fight scene on page 69 of Heather Has Two Mommies will be dramatically reenacted by actresses of your choice. Tom Cruise will not have been conceived. Yes this is a new world.

    That Kids! moron above would be in a group home where they monitor the internet better. yes.

    it is brave. it is new.

    and it’s all yours for the low, low price of 19.95.

    BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!!!

    WE ARE ALSO GIVING AWAY PUBLIC SCHOOL SUPERIOR SOCIALIZATION FREE! THAT’S RIGHT! THE VASTLY SUPERIOR AVERAGE PUBLIC SCHOOL SOCIALIZES SHOUTERS BETTER THAN ANYPLACE ELSE.

  220. smacky: I may just demote myself to lurker status one of these days…

    Don’t do that, please.

    And Hak: I’m trying to analyze the “good PR” effect of charities and other institutions that are sponsored by organized religions.

    Whether charities should operate, or be viewed, primarily as PR organs is another conversation. But I’m talking about PR and perceptions now, and naturally focusing on that for the purposes of this conversation.

  221. I mean in all fairness, it’s not like we wandered onto a thread about the Merry Christmas season or something.

    Which reminds me:

    I stayed on topic (mostly)!

    For once!

    I was at first shocked and dumbfounded that the thread and it’s title had some sort of relevance to my posts. And then…warmly satisfied. Much like wetting my pa–

    Uh, never mind.

  222. And then…warmly satisfied. Much like wetting my pa–

    Like wetting your pastry in a hot cup of coffee? That’s called “dunking.” Just FYI.

  223. cupcake!

    here’s a cupcake.

    dere yooo go. cupcake… good.

    [passes over copy of “Heathers” and a cleaned-off Noam]

  224. Stevo Darkly,

    That would be before the dying part.

    Ha ha ha ha.

    grylliade,

    I’ve explained these matters enough that I don’t need to explain them again. Honestly, you’re as bad as Dave W. discussing intelligent design.

    As to your child-like tirade, can’t you come up with something more interesting than the personality you like in a debating partner?

  225. It is said on the flame warriors roster that Admin is the most powerful warrior of all.

  226. the sweaty pillow fight scene on page 69 of Heather Has Two Mommies

    [secretively to VM]

    Are they naked?

    WHAT’S YOUR DAMAGE, VIKODING MUSE!?!

  227. It all comes back to cupcakes.

    Notice that I mentioned a bake sale earlier? My mind was already headed in this direction.

    Cupcakes and coffee. Nummy.

  228. Cupcakes and coffee. Nummy.

    Er, Stevo I wouldn’t drink that if I were…you…

  229. Why not, Basil?

  230. ….hmm, it’s a bit nutty.

  231. Akira – “My atheism, is a serious, contemplative, individualistic matter…”

    Amen, brotha! Preach on! (Hahah, j/k)

    But I must agree…that is how I think about the subject, as well.

    And theists don’t really bother me, I look at the belief in god much like I look at a belief in the tooth fairy a young child might have – no concern of my, but somewhat silly.

    Does that make me an annoying atheist?

  232. You’re cool, Lowdog.

    So is Akira, really. The man likes Firefly, after all.

    (Finally watched the first season on DVD; it’s now my favorite TV series of all time.)

    (Bad news? What bad news?)

  233. Lowdog,

    If you ever got into a conversation with a theist it would. From what I can tell, the agenda of folks like thoreau, who suffer some form of internal dissonance when they are confronted by atheists, is to advocate that atheists neuter themselves and not reveal their ideas.

  234. Stevo Darkly,

    You watched the “only” season you mean.

  235. Eskimo! Heather Duke underlined a lot of things in this copy of Moby Dick, but I believe the word “Eskimo”, underlined all by itself, is the key to understanding Heathers pain. On the surface, Heather Duke was the vivacious young lady we all knew her to be, but her soul was in Antarctica! Freezing with the knowledge of the way fellow teenagers can be cruel, the way that parents can be unresponsive. And as she writes so eloquently in her suicide note, the way that life can suck! We’ll all miss Sherwood’s little eskimo. Let’s just hope she’s rubbing noses with Jesus!

  236. Happy Howly Days to everyone! Dog rest ye merry in this marvelous season of joy. Deck the halls with bow-wows of holly!

    I shall now bless the Yuletide tree with holy water from my asperger.

    Fox dogbiscuitim.

  237. Stevo Darkly,

    You watched the “only” season you mean.

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

  238. Hakluyt – oh, I know. I drive my poor mother to tears at times when I tell her the realities of her religion. I don’t mean to be a jerk, but when I know the truth about something, I like to share. And my mom is a fairly intelligent woman, so as you say, there’s an internal dissonance going on there that baffles me.

    So lately she’s been going to the bible study groups at her church, and she tells me how the teacher, or whatever they call it, talks about how the bible is mostly just a metaphor, etc. So that makes me even more baffled, because if it’s just supposed to be a bunch of metaphors for how to live life (which I can actually agree with, to a point…not enough time/room here to really get into why, exactly…) then why is there some supreme being involved? I mean, you’ve got to realise it was written by people, and just because someone has a revelation about how to live, that doesn’t mean that it had to come from a god, does it? Can’t humans have revelations of their own? (Of course they can, and do, but I think everyone can follow me, here.)

    Thanks, Stevo.

    And I welcome the return of His Howliness!!!

  239. Rex Rover, you are so delusional that I can only assume you have rabies. You hide behind humor to disguise the obvious intellectual shortcomings of your absurd faith. You may claim to be a dog, but you’re a total pussy when somebody challenges the existence of your imaginary friend. You expect everybody else to be intellectually neutered, when you are the one who needs to see the vet.

    And I’m sure that if I kick this dog enough he’ll eventually conclude that he deserves it.

  240. Let’s face it: Rex Rover’s barking up the wrong tree if he thinks that his imaginary friend will give his life meaning.

  241. Anyway, given how ridiculous his faith is, I see no reason to apologize for gnawing on this bone of contention.

  242. grylliade,

    Of course thoreau could easily prove me wrong by detailing some of his claimed knowledge to you. He doesn’t of course.

  243. Christians are invariably involved in hypocritically picking and chosing when they read the “Good Book” (what’s so good about it?).

    A large part of what little I know about (historical) Christianity comes from the Malleus Maleficarum. Crazy shit.

  244. True statement: Religious people have done some immensely evil things, and are currently doing immensely evil things.

    True Statement: Thoreau is a religious person.

    Therefore: Thoreau has done some immensely evil things, and is currently doing immensely evil things.

    It’s not even the logical fallacy that gets me, so much as that the logical fallacy is coming from people spouting it while they claim to stand on the side of logic and reason.

    Another thought occurs to me: it is of course bullshit when religious people say that atheists are incapable of goodness or morality. And I don’t blame even the most obnoxious of my fellow atheists when they get pissed off at those who say that. But again, the irony kills me that some of the ones who get the most offended by knee-jerk “atheist = evil” attitudes have the quickest “faith = dumbass” reflexes.

    True Statement: There are some stupid-ass people of faith in the world.

    True Statement: Thoreau has faith.

    Draw your own conclusions, O Arbiters of Intellectualism.

  245. I have it on good authority that Rex Rover’s mother was a bitch.

  246. Anyway, Rex Rover and his poodle have no substantive arguments to make. They’ve left the field with their tails between their legs.

    So long, bitches!

  247. Thoreau seems to need a dog to kick. I’ll toss him this bone:

    “1) Accept the offer. And grin and bear it when somebody says during dinner “Let’s thank the good people of St. Mary’s Church for bringing us dinner.” The theists just got some good PR.”

    I wonder how this would work with the affiliations reversed, i.e. an atheist group gives a large enough donation to some religious charity that the atheists want some name recognition for said donation. What would the charity do?

    It’s probably happened somewhere, I just didn’t hear about it.

  248. Thoreau . . . is currently doing immensely evil things.

    Well, he doing mysterious work for the goverment, isn’t he? πŸ˜‰

  249. TJ-

    That’s a good question. My guess is that if the local Atheist Society or whatever showed up and cooked dinner at a homeless shelter, the shelter staff would probably ask the residents to give a warm round of applause to them, same as any donor.

    Of course, if there was some bad chemistry between a staff member and the dinner crew (due to an obnoxious streak in one or both parties), something nasty could always happen.

    But, having spent a lot of time as a shelter volunteer, I can assure you that kissing the donor’s ass is the normal state of affairs. It would take a truly obnoxious atheist to spark a confrontation in most cases.

  250. But, having spent a lot of time as a shelter volunteer, I can assure you that kissing the donor’s ass is the normal state of affairs. It would take a truly obnoxious atheist to spark a confrontation in most cases.

    I can think of a few who’d be up to the challenge.

  251. DON’T TALK TO ME LIKE THAT. I AM A DIVISION MANAGER IN CHARGE OF 29 PEOPLE! I DRIVE A DODGE STRATUS!

  252. “…the shelter staff would probably ask the residents to give a warm round of applause to them, same as any donor.”

    Probably true, as the homeless (and the shelter staff) aren’t in a position to be too fussy.
    (The only shelter volunteerism I’ve done was at an AIDs hospice, the place seemed downright secular).

    I was thinking more along the lines of those “donate more than xxx and get a plaque/brick/tile in the lobby” church fundraisers.

  253. In other news, those pernicious atheists have just persuaded an activist judge to cancel Christmas:

    http://www.theonion.com/content/node/43438

  254. In other news, those pernicious atheists have just persuaded an activist judge to cancel Christmas:

    http://www.theonion.com/content/node/43438

  255. Jennifer,

    Oh my goodness. If you are being serious, I must ask: can you be any more dishonest? No one here, not me, not anyone else, has ever created such a syllogism and you know it.

  256. Brian Courts,

    Better watch out, Jennifer is trolling.

  257. Atheists don’t have any named charities for the same reason scientists don’t. I mean who’s giving hard cash for the greater glory of science?
    Atheists are of the opinion science can fend for itself, and doesn’t need PR nor glory. Come to think of it, they have “faith” science can fend. Theists’ faith is weak.

  258. That’s only the beginning, Thoreau.

  259. Atheists are of the opinion science can fend for itself, and doesn’t need PR nor glory.

    On the other hand, Hit and Run has been making please-vote-best-blog posts every day for–I dunno, years it seems like now–and they’re winning the contest, so I hear.

    Perhaps humility doesn’t work when the stakes are big, huh?

  260. Ruthless,

    Apparently, at least to some, the fact that atheists don’t exactly like Christians means that atheists are inferior. I have to admit that aside from immediate relief needs or something like Habitat For Humanity, where the party getting the charity has an ownership and sweat equity interest, I’ve always been skeptical of charity to do more than simply stir whatever festering shit is on the ground.

  261. “stir whatever festering shit is on the ground.”

    Hakluyt,
    If we’re not careful, we’ll segue into corporate social responsibility here, but I hear you.
    (I can’t even get jiggy with Habitat, btw.)

  262. In other news, those pernicious atheists have just persuaded an activist judge to cancel Christmas:

    Hey thoreau, don’t blame it on us atheists. If you and all your Christian friends hadn’t gone around forcing your obnoxiously cheery “Merry Christmas!” down all of our throats everywhere we go we wouldn’t have had to employ the “nuclear option” in our War on Christmas. Bah humbug; It’s your own damn fault. But now that we’ve finally kicked your ass on this one, we’re coming for Easter next. Happy Holidays! πŸ˜‰

  263. … hoppin’ down the bunny trail.

  264. Rex Rover,

    There’s no room for prosthelytizing puppies here. NOW SKEDDADDLE!!

  265. Better watch out, Jennifer is trolling.

    Hakluyt,

    I was just taking the opportunity to facetiously suggest that anything the government is paying scientists to do must be immensely evil, not taking a stand on the issue of whether Jennifer’s remark was just a bit of humorous hyperbole to make a point or unnecessarily antagonistic (as if there is such a thing on H&R). As far as all that goes, I am not here often enough to know what happened between you and throeau and Jennifer (and I’m not sure I want to know! ;)~ ) but it sure seems things have gotten out of hand. Not that I’m one to suggest we “all just get along” since that would make for a rather boring thread, but it would be nice if we didn’t have some of the most frequent (and some of my favorite) commenters bringing some kind of perpetual grudge against one another to every thread. I don’t know who started it, or who is to blame, or even if that matters. I think I’ll just remain happily um.. agnostic on that issue. But in the spirit of celebration at the recent, yet long overdue, demise of Christmas can’t we just all gather around the Festivus Pole, have our Airing of Grievances and start the new year with, if not joy in our hearts, at least an absence of animosity in our… bowels? πŸ™‚

  266. God rest ye merry Gentlemen
    Let nothing ye dismay.

  267. Syllogism (n) [Middle English silogisme, from Old French, from Latin syllogismus, from Greek sullogismos, from sullogizesthai, to infer : sun-, syn- + logizesthai, to count, reckon (from logos, reason. See leg- in Indo-European Roots).]

    1. Logic. A form of deductive reasoning consisting of a major premise, a minor premise, and a conclusion; for example, All humans are mortal, the major premise, I am a human, the minor premise, therefore, I am mortal, the conclusion.
    2. Reasoning from the general to the specific; deduction.
    3. A statement which implies that someone in Darthmouth is having a dinner of Conrad, Nietschze, and his own large intestine.

    I don’t know, I thought Jennifer’s syllogism was pretty good.

  268. Brian Courts,

    Jennifer and thoreau have always been at war with Hakluyt. πŸ™‚

  269. Stille Nacht
    Heilige Nacht

    Gueten Abend zur alles

  270. Ellie,

    Only you would.

    True statement: Religious people have done some immensely evil things, and are currently doing immensely evil things.

    True Statement: Thoreau is a religious person.

    Therefore: Thoreau has done some immensely evil things, and is currently doing immensely evil things.

    This is the syllogism which Jennifer claims (see statement of hers below) has been uttered by someone against thoreau.

    It’s not even the logical fallacy that gets me, so much as that the logical fallacy is coming from people spouting it while they claim to stand on the side of logic and reason.

    Yet Jennifer knows very well that no one has ever actually made such a claim against thoreau (at least here on H&R). At best what Jennifer is up to is a strawman. Its a sham argument in other words. Jennifer is very fond of strawman arguments.

  271. Ellie,

    BTW, you are more than welcome to prove me wrong and come up with such a comment, but what I expect are more trite and tiresome efforts to insult me.

  272. Anyway, if one is trying to create some sort of victimhood here its Jennifer trying to make thoreau in a victim or a martyr, which is just beyond laughable.

  273. Stevo: Like the lottery description, mind if I add to it?

    Some theists are playing the lottery and planning to retire on the winnings. That’s pretty foolish, but not my problem. But I’m probably gonna make sure not to ask them for financial advice.

    Some theists are not only playing the lottery and planning to retire on the winnings, but also want to legally require us to play the lottery so we can retire on the winnings, too. They’re really obnoxious, and I don’t like them.

    And some theists are people who like to play slots on weekends for fun. They might wind up making money off of it, but that’s not why they do it-they do it because it makes their lives better. They enjoy it. They don’t do it for the payoff, but because it’s good for them in itself. I don’t understand how anyone finds playing slot machines fun, but it’s not foolish in the way type number one is. It’s just a different type of person.

    Incidentally, would this make militant atheists the people who want to make gambling illegal?

  274. Jadagul,

    In the sense of Soviet era squads of atheists wrecking churchs, etc. yes.

  275. BTW, you are more than welcome to prove me wrong and come up with such a comment, but what I expect are more trite and tiresome efforts to insult me.

    Well, I dunno about Ellie, but I got kind of tired trying to have an honest discussion with you. It’s too much work with no payoff, since it’s hard to argue with you. Go ahead and think it’s because you’re too much better than me at arguing, and I got tired of losing; I’m sure that’s what you’ll tell yourself when you jack off to the thought later. But honestly, you’re a troll. The insults were cathartic, but I don’t even care enough to mean them. You’re not a bad guy, but you are a troll, and I’m done.

  276. grylliade,

    Oh lord, do get over your victimhood mentality.

    As to honest discussions, you’re the one not willing to engage in one.

    …since it’s hard to argue with you.

    Boo hoo.

    …I’m sure that’s what you’ll tell yourself when you jack off to the thought later.

    Oh my, someone does think quite highly of themselves.

    I’m sure that’s what you’ll tell yourself when you jack off to the thought later.

    *yawn*

    You really won’t be missed.

  277. Ellie-

    One of the nicest, most inoffensive people that I knew in grad school went to Dartmouth.

  278. grylliade,
    Trolls are to be desired.
    Comments are to be cut off (or ignored) after smacky plants number 69.

  279. You really won’t be missed.

    Pffft. You think I’m leaving? How cute. No, I’m just not arguing with you anymore. I’m sure you won’t miss me, and I really don’t care.

    Things like this make me long for killfiles more places on the internet. Usenet had the right idea.

  280. One of the worst purveyors of hackneyed phrases and ideas I ever seen went to Dartmouth.

    Ruthless,

    Comments are to be cut off (or ignored) after smacky plants number 69.

    You’re going to have explain that one.

  281. grylliade,

    You think I’m leaving?

    No, I assume your going to live up to what you promised. You really won’t be missed by me, especially since you had nothing interesting to say.

  282. Jadagul: I like analogies in general, and yours in particular.

    Incidentally, would this make militant atheists the people who want to make gambling illegal?

    Heh. Bingo!

  283. Incidentally, would this make militant atheists the people who want to make gambling illegal?

    Um, no.

  284. Incidentally, would this make militant atheists the people who want to make gambling illegal?

    No, they’re the ones who insist that if we could get rid of gambling, all of our financial problems would disappear, too.

  285. Incidentally, would this make militant atheists the people who want to make gambling illegal?

    OK, not literally, but within the confines of the extended analogy, yes.

    And Jennifer just honed the analogy to its sharpest edge yet.

    I loves me a finely honed analogy.

  286. Jennifer, exactly. I was trying to come up with a closer fit, and that’s it.

    Most of them don’t want gambling to be illegal, per se; they just think that gambling is invented by the devil, and anyone who indulges in gambling is obviously stupid and corrupt. Whereas I don’t understand the rush my grandmother gets out of playing the slots, but as long as she doesn’t spend someone else’s money doing it I don’t really mind.

  287. Incidentally, would this make militant atheists the people who want to make gambling illegal?

    No, not at all. Militant atheists want to be left alone. Now, militant theists do want to make certain types of gambling illegal, and you’ll suffer the loss of your head if you do engage in certain types of gambling.

  288. Or they’ll burn you at the stake like the Christians did Servetus.

  289. ——————–> Point

    (—–Hakluyt

    πŸ™‚

  290. I bought some weed from a kid wearing a dartmouth t-shirt once.

  291. dhex,

    Ha ha ha. πŸ™‚

  292. Hakluyt,
    smacky always likes to get comment #69.
    After that, the discussion goes to pot, as it were.

  293. 1inChrist hasn’t posted to JREF for a long time, but he’s been seen on other religious-oriented online forums.

    Hey Akira! My S.O. used to frequent the JREF forums around that same time, and remembers 1inChrist. But according to him, 1inChrist was a satirical joke, and at one point even admitted as much. Hmmm….wonder if S.O. and you “know” each other. Good god, it’s geek convergence! LOL πŸ™‚

  294. i suggest we switch atheist for apathist.

    i have no idea if there is a higher power or not, and, frankly, i don’t care. if there is, and it feels some inexplicable urge to communicate with me, it’s got my number.

    and i have a very healthy skepticism to anyone who claims to communicate with such a power, and would like to introduce it to me.

    atheism implies far too strong a feeling – an active denial. not caring – and being left alone to not care – is a civil liberty one wishes was not under such virulent assualt.

  295. Apatheism. This is an elegant description of my feelings on the subject. If the evangelical religious fanatics or zealous atheists won’t leave us alone we will have to escalate to “Militant Apatheism”. In other words, I don’t care about the existence of God, but I will vigorously defend myself against anyone that pesters me to take a side on this issue.

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