God In the Hands of Angry Sinners

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Are atheists angry? Rabbi Marc Gellman thinks so, and he wants to use his superpowers of compassion to bring light to the godless:

I don't know many religious folk who wake up thinking of new ways to aggravate atheists, but many people who do not believe in God seem to find the religion of their neighbors terribly offensive or oppressive, particularly if the folks next door are evangelical Christians. I just don't get it.

This must sound condescending and a large generalization, and I don't mean it that way, but I am tempted to believe that behind atheist anger there are oftentimes uncomfortable personal histories. Perhaps their atheism was the result of the tragic death of a loved one, or an angry degrading sermon, or an insensitive eulogy, or an unfeeling castigation of lifestyle choices or perhaps something even worse. I would ask for forgiveness from the angry atheists who write to me if I thought it would help…

I can agree to make peace with atheists whom I believe ask too little of life here on planet earth if they will agree to make peace with me and with other religious folk who perhaps have asked too much. I believe that the philosopher-rabbi Mordecai Kaplan was right when he said, "It is hell to live without hope, and religion saves people from hell." I urge my atheist brothers and sisters to see things as Spinoza urged, sub specie aeternitatis—"under the perspective of eternity."

His essay is not a serious consideration of the subject, but if Rabbi Gellman really wants to strike at the root of atheist rage, he should reconsider that horrendous bowtie. That thing's a red flag to a bull!

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  1. Maybe this sort of condescension is why athiests are so pissed off?

  2. There’s been some bad blood regarding religion/atheism here and and grylliade lately, so I’m not going to say 90% of what I think. But-

    His tone sounds a little bit like someone saying “Good sir, I meet you half way by accepting your apology for being a jerk.”

    Is it not possible to have a perspective of eternity without involving a god?

  3. A few things about the article:

    So we disagree about God.

    No. As far as atheists are concerned, there is nothing to disagree about!

    All religions must teach a way to discipline our animal urges, to overcome racism and materialism, selfishness and arrogance and the sinful oppression of the most vulnerable and the most innocent among us.

    Ok, here is one of my problems with religion in general. Namely, that religions assume that humankind is inherently wicked and that every person is inborn with evil and will to do harm to others. I don’t believe that at all.

    But our world is better and kinder and more hopeful because of the daily sacrifice and witness of millions of pious people over thousands of years.

    I think that’s an incredibly untrue statement and historically inacurate (back me up on this one, Hakluyt?). Countless people have died and suffered because they have had other people’s religious and cultural beliefs forced upon them unwillingly. Similarly, people seem to think that suffering in itself is a virtue, and I do blame that on Christianity (and Buddhism), so even many (masochistic?) religious people suffer willingly for some purported spiritual reward.

    And I also think he’s wrong in assuming that atheists don’t view the world sub specie aeternitatis. I’m certainly not as short-sighted as he’d like to believe I am. Maybe if people stopped making all of these stupid assumptions about non-believers, those heathen atheists in general would be less “angry”.

    The most important thing, as he says, is ?to get something done.? Now there’s an atheist I can believe in.

    This is one statement I agree with, and I think it’s fairly illustrative of Jewish culture (pardon the stereotype, but at least it’s a positive stereotype). I don’t think I’ve yet met a Jewish person who annoyed me with their faith, i.e. an Evangelical Jew. The Jewish people I have known prize hard work and education and I totally respect that. I certainly cannot say the same thing for many Christians.

    I’ve given a lot of thought to my anti-religion rants and I’ve sinced realized (again…I’ve had this revelation before) that some of my rants are no doubt offensive to religious people. And I realized that my anti-religion rants are virtually as useless as someone who is anti-drugs badmouthing heroin to heroin addicts. It’s also just as annoying — I hated the people who chastised drugs and drug users when I was experimenting because I figured it was none of their damn business and not affecting their body. I realize religion is analogous. It is pointless for me to spew my dislike of religion upon deaf ears, so I am trying to cut that out. I wouldn’t say atheist are “angry” as much as they are, like vehement straight-edgers, confused as to why anybody would want to put that stuff in their otherwise pure body. But to be honest, I think religion is potentially more dangerous than drugs are.

  4. Actually, it’s worse: “The only way you can be as you are is if one of us was insufficiently better than you. So I apologize.”

    His sentence “I don’t get it” is the most insightful part of the piece. A pity he doesn’t follow up on it, or stop to consider why evangelical Christians in particular might arouse atheist ire more than, say, Buddhists.

    Since I at one point in my misspent youth was an evangelical Christian, I can tell the Rabbi that they do indeed sit around thinking up new ways to antagonize atheists, who they are convinced surround them despite every survey to the contrary. Jews on the main don’t evangelize, which is one reason I greatly prefer their company.

    Of course that “hope to the hopeless” comment is one reason why I qualified my characterization of Jews. Obviously some of them feel like being horses’ asses on occasion.

  5. Yes, that would be the Baruch Spinoza who was excommunicated by his Jewish community in Amsterdam for heresy.

  6. Since I at one point in my misspent youth was an evangelical Christian, I can tell the Rabbi that they do indeed sit around thinking up new ways to antagonize atheists, who they are convinced surround them despite every survey to the contrary.

    No kidding. When I went to a Christian grade school, our teachers would tell us to lock up our school supplies because the PSR kids (public school religion program) were coming to use our classrooms and that they were worse than we were because we attended religious school! Let me tell you, I’ve never had worse behaved classmates than at the religious schools I’ve attended. Their shenanigans are unparalleled. That’s because the sheep-brained public school kids were taught to fall into line by mass public education.

  7. Yeah, smacky–

    You experimented with dangerous chemicals, I experimented with dangerous religions. Maybe my history is edgier than I give myself credit for. 😉

  8. Oh, yes, and I also forgot to mention that Spinoza thought that reason was preferable to religion as a means of attaining contentment.

  9. And another thing he said that I take issue with is that atheists need to try a little positivity. How exactly is religion correlated with positivity? I’d like to see the scientific studies done. I get hella negative vibes from religious communities and religious people all of the time. Some of the biggest pessimistic assholes I’ve ever met were religious. Not to mention the fact that assuming humanity by nature is mired in sin and evil isn’t exactly the most postive self-image one can have as a human…to my knowledge, that’s a religious point of view.

  10. Finally (and this is hopefully the last thing I will type since I’m sick of this topic), maybe some “atheists” are angry because some of the more outspoken fucks in the religious majority in the US has recently taken to claiming that religious people (and specifically, Christians)are persecuted! That would piss an atheist off as much as a black minority would be offended by the brief trend in the 90’s where “white middle-class men” claimed to be persecuted by the new cultural PC. That is an insult to true minorities, and I don’t think that can be met with anything but anger. I can’t stand it when religious people claim to be persecuted…nobody’s fucking persecuting you; this isn’t the Roman Empire and I haven’t snatched your firstborn and fed him to lions…

  11. I think there are studies showing religious people tend to have a more positive outlook on life than non-religious people. Of course, the type of person who blythely accepts the status quo is also likely to be religious, so I’m not sure there’s a cause-and-effect relationship.

    the religious majority in the US has recently taken to claiming that religious people (and specifically, Christians)are persecuted!

    But smacky, how else could you possibly account for people not following every precept of their professed religious organization? Obviously, there can be no human drive to have sex or enjoy alcohol, so it must be those darned atheists corrupting our noble youth again.

    It’s interesting how much their explanation overlaps with radical Marxism or feminism explanations of how class differences or gender differences arise. It’s all a blank slate, and the cultural environment is to blame.

    This would go a long way in explaining Bush’s evangelical economics, though.

  12. ‘Evolution moves toward greater complexity, greater elegance, greater knowledge, greater intelligence, greate beauty, greater creativity, and greater levels of subtle attributes such as love. In every monotheistic tradition God is likewise described as all of these qualities, only without any limitation… Of course, even the accelerating growth of evolution will never achieve an infinite level, but but as it explodes exponentially it moves rapidly in that direction. So evolution moves inexorably toward this conception of God, although never quite reaching this ideal. We can regard, therefore, the freeing of our thinking from the severe limitations of its biological form to be an essentially spiritual undertaking.’

    -Ray Kurzweil

    Amen, Brother! Preach the good word!

  13. I think the rabster makes one-half of a decent point, but his column is so one-sided. I get the impresstions that he doesn’t really know any atheists personally, nor has he talked to any.

    Most atheists are not habitually angry; they just don’t see any particular reason to embrace a nonrational belief.

    A few atheists do seem to be very angry at religion; I’ve known a couple. I can agree with one thing the rabbi says: “I am tempted to believe that behind atheist anger there are oftentimes uncomfortable personal histories.” I think this may often be true; at least I have a smattering of anecdotal evidence that makes me think so.

    However, I think the rabbi puts it too weakly: “Perhaps their atheism was the result of the tragic death of a loved one, or an angry degrading sermon, or an insensitive eulogy, or an unfeeling castigation of lifestyle choices or perhaps something even worse.”

    This strikes me as rather condescending. It’s like saying, “Maybe Malcolm X didn’t like white people because once a white person cut in front of him in line while waiting to see a movie, or snubbed him on Valentine’s Day, or something.” Drawing from my anecdotal knowledge, the angry type of atheist became angry because he was well and truly/repeatedly/thoroughly/intensely dicked over by a religious person. It doesn’t appear to occur to the rabbi that some religious people actually can be first-class dicks. Not does it seem to occur to him that atheists may have a real reason to feel threatened by believers, especially evangelical Christians, and especially by Christians who think the government should itself evangelize. There are also plenty of what I call passive-aggressive “nyah-nyah Christians” — the kinds who say things like, “I know I’m going to heaven but I also know that, unless you change your ways, you’re going to burn in hell; but I’ll pray for you.”

    As for the 3rd paragraph Tim C. quotes above, it strikes me as so much self-congratulatory mush.

    I think the part where he says, “I just don’t get it,” is probably true. Oops, Sandy already said that.

  14. G-d can be your imaginary friend only if you have a good imagination. If not, don’t worry about it.

  15. Stevo,

    But even your explanation that repeated bad encounters with one or more religious people is the cause of atheism is attributing atheism (I would argue incorrectly) to anecdotal evidence. It’s unfortunately just as misguided and patronizing as the Rabbi’s suggestions. I’m sure that there are many atheists/agnostics who are that way because of serious philisophical convictions and rational beliefs and not simply “bad encounters”.

  16. Stevo,

    But even your explanation that repeated bad encounters with one or more religious people is the cause of atheism is attributing atheism (I would argue incorrectly) to anecdotal evidence. It’s unfortunately just as misguided and patronizing as the Rabbi’s suggestions. I’m sure that there are many atheists/agnostics who are that way because of serious philisophical convictions and rational beliefs and not simply “bad encounters”.

  17. Stevo,

    After rereading your post, maybe you were already trying to make the point I just mentioned in my last post…I don’t know, my reading comprehension skills diminish very late in the evening/very early in the morning…

  18. And I’ve just discovered that the Reason server still crashes even in the middle of the night, with nobody causing excess traffic. I can always have faith in that if nothing else.

  19. Atheists can be pretty nasty. Stalin was an atheist (and an anti-Semite, of course) and atheism was the official religion of the former Soviet Union, a rather nasty place.
    A famous midrash– a rabbibic interpretive story-has G-d say of human beings, “Would they had abondoned me but kept my commandments.” Believing in G-d isn’t so important. Actions are all that really count.

  20. I often judge (to some extent) religious people by how I found out how they were religious. When someone says to you “I’m a Christian” (or whatever) right when you meet them, the best thing to do is run. But first, put one hand over your wallet or purse. If they keep Bible verses on their desk, etc., same thing. If they believe without having to make it known to the planet, I am a lot more inclined to trust them.

    I’ve known people whose lives were so wrapped up in church activities that it suffused their lives, and was inextricable from who they were. Still, if they were decent people, they would usually state their belief status (e.g., “I’m a Christian”) as a fact, not as a rebuke to anyone who might not instantly share all their views. They didn’t wear their Flanders-esque churchiness as a badge and proof of goodness to the world.

    Drawing from my anecdotal knowledge, the angry type of atheist became angry because he was well and truly/repeatedly/thoroughly/intensely dicked over by a religious person…

    True enough. I think that perhaps issues of taste kept the good rabbi from going into the Catholic pedophilia scandal, but if there are many former alter boys who become athiests, should that not be understandable? That they would be angry shows that they are still sane.

    There is often something in the religious mindset that is offended by the fact that someone would wholeheartedly and wholeheadedly reject faith as a principle. I think there are many believers who would be more comfortable with batshit crazy beliefs like Scientology than with someone who denies the very need for an “invisible means of support”.

    One thing that I never saw proposed in the article, although perhaps the last paragraph was an allusion to it, was that there might be intellectual reasons to not believe in God. That there is as much positive evidence for the existence of Santa Claus as their is for God. Wait…did that sound angry?

  21. BE A MAN AND LEAVE THIS POST INTACT.

    The Second Amendment serves absolutely no purpose. Most gun owners are far right. The government is now far right. The only time a far right constituency would ever take up arms would be in the event of a left wing takeover. But a left wing takeover will never happen because the far right beat them to it.

    You all say you believe in the right to bear arms but when push comes to shove you’ll be turning them in like good little acquiescent citizens. Of course, the amerinazi government will allow you to keep your small-caliber rifles and shotguns for deer hunting and small game, and that’ll be enough for you because that’s all you care about anyway. You’d never have courage enough to actually defend the United States of America against a military takeover from within.

    The automatic and semi-automatic weapons that give you parity with the military will be confiscated. I’m sorry. I meant, your automatic and semi-automatic weapons will be turned in. Out of fear. You won’t resist. You’ll make every excuse in the book why it’s your citizenly duty to abide by the law — just like the Germans did 70 years ago.

    I’d bet money on it. Besides they’re far right. And you’re far right. They’re your friends. They’d never do anything bad to you. Or your family.

    As long as you comply.

    In Jesus’ Glorious and Holy name,
    Dean Berry – Real American
    http://www.deanberryministries.org/index3.html
    dinoberry@frontiernet.net

  22. smacky — I didn’t intend to say that people were atheists because they’d been wronged by religious people. I was trying to say that this seemed to be reason some people were angry atheists.

    I realize this may not have been clear because, while trying to make the point, I quoted the rabbi, who does conflate “angry atheists” with “all atheists.” (Which I think is wrong.)

  23. …atheism was the official religion of the former Soviet Union, a rather nasty place…

    Communism was the official religion of the former Soviet Union. It, like any other religion, required faith to make it work. Since communism was an all-seeing world view that had it’s own version of metaphysical truth, it had to attack other religions, since they represented a threat to its very basis.

    a rabbinic interpretive story-has G-d say of human beings, “Would they had abondoned me but kept my commandments.” Believing in G-d isn’t so important. Actions are all that really count.

    Which goes back to smacky’s point about dealing with Jews being easier for many atheists than dealing with, say, evangelicals. Imagine a religious person judging you on your actions rather than your ability to recite platitudes.

  24. DEAN BERRY — BE AT LEAST A HALF-MAN AND MAKE AT LEAST A HALF-ASSED EFFORT TO FIND, OR WAIT FOR, A THREAD WHERE YOUR POST IS AT LEAST HALFWAY RELEVANT AND NOT A TOTAL NON SEQUITUR, SPAM-HOLE.

  25. I think that perhaps issues of taste kept the good rabbi from going into the Catholic pedophilia scandal, but if there are many former alter boys who become athiests, should that not be understandable? That they would be angry shows that they are still sane.

    It would be very understandable, but not particularly logical.

    Analogy: Some people have charged that the late Harry Browne, while running for US president on the Libertarian Party ticket, ripped off his campaign contributors because he frittered the money away on his various consultant friends instead of using it to run an effective campaign. If this is true, then I, who gave a fair amount of money to that Browne campaign, would feel mighty ripped off.

    It would be understandable if, as a result, I became deeply angry and disappointed with libertarian politics, and turned away from libertarian philosophy. But it would not be particularly logical, or sane.

  26. Stevo – I see your point, but even the most ardent, big “L” Libertarian did not see Browne as omniscient or omnipotent.

    FWIW – I also donated to the Browne campaign (and Flying Spaghetti Monster help me, to Carla Howell).

  27. Stevo – I see your point, but even the most ardent, big “L” Libertarian did not see Browne as omniscient or omnipotent.

    Right, and not even the most ardent believer thinks any member of the clergy is omniscient or omnipotent. I hope.

  28. I wish some brilliant human would figure out how an easy way to determine exactly how angry a particular person is — something like the way they measure the amount of hot stuff in chili peppers, the Scoville unit.

    Maybe they could call it the Gellman unit, in honor of this bozo.

  29. Religion has certainly caused more pain, suffering, and death than drugs, Smacky.

  30. What the hell???!! What rock did Dean Berry come out from under?

    The funny thing is, few things here at H&R have made me laugh as hard as I did after reading that.

  31. I can agree to make peace with atheists whom I believe ask too little of life here on planet earth if they will agree to make peace with me and with other religious folk who perhaps have asked too much.

    I recommend taking up “who” for everything, especially when you can’t tell whether “whom” is correct or not.

    The only case in modern English that requires “whom” is as the object of a fronted preposition, eg. “for whom.” And that’s because it’s a register conflict (formal : preposition moved from end of sentence to the head of its phrase, versus informal “who”), not a subjective/objective case error.

  32. Nobody likes it when their articles of faith are attacked. Not even atheists.

  33. I understand where he’s coming from. I mean, if the guy running our country talked to an imaginary friend every day and made a big deal of it, then we’d have every right to get angry, wouldn’t we?

    Oh, wait…

  34. Perhaps their religious beliefs were the result of the tragic death of a loved one, or a delusional sermon, or an emotional eulogy, or an absolution of lifestyle choices or perhaps something even worse. I would not ask for forgiveness from the religious nuts even if I thought it would help.

  35. Jerry Falwell recently reiterated his view that Jews cannot get into Heaven, and the Rabbi “doesn’t get it”?

    If James Dobson started publicly calling for a constitutional amendment banning non-Christian marriage, would the Rabbi “get it” then?

    What an idiot.

  36. I love how this topic gets everyone talking about ‘them’ (atheists, the religious, the others)…as if we humans are so homogenous that a single adjective can capture the diversity of thinking that an individual brings to their existence in this sphere (or any other). But I guess when a few of your ‘best friends are ‘them” then it’s intellectually easy to project that limited knowledge of the few onto the many…seems very Libertarian…not

  37. This rabbi’s a chump. It reads like the sort of thing a kindergarten teacher would write.

    Why do nonbelievers seem to be threatened by the idea of God?

    For the same reason that believers are threatened by atheists you moron.

    And I hate it when smug God botherers make it out as if all atheists read Camus, wear black polo necks, smoke cigarettes with holders and spend their time depressed in Paris.

    CAMUS SUCKS! I don’t need existentialism like I don’t need hope!

    I’ve got family, friends, sports, travel, books (which I actually read), movies, food, newspapers, coffee, music, the ‘hope’ of having kids some day and all manner of crap that keeps me cheerfully busy. I’m not worried about getting old – I am looking forward to having ear hair and making inappropriate smells in public.

    I don’t believe, want to believe, or NEED to believe in a guy with a beard, sandals and a temper.

    Plus, not wanting to lower the tone; That rabbi looks like a paedophile.

  38. The rabbi bases his entire argument on a false dichotomy that prioritizes faith over atheism, in effect conceiving of atheism as a consequence of or reaction to faith – even as some imperfect or damaged version of faith. The assumption that atheism represents a crisis of or rejection of faith is bizarre to someone who has never believed in God in the first place. Also, like pretty much everyone in the clergy, the rabbi doesn’t bother to define theological terms: a literary God of the Book in the mode of Harold Bloom’s more outlandish criticism I can get behind, like any other powerful metaphorical truth; your own personal Jesus is a lot harder to take on board.

  39. The one thing religion needs most of all is to be attacked. If it can’t look persecuted, it isn’t worth much. So, the article falls right into line.

    But those christians living next door to those atheists: which one is knocking at whose door with pamphlets in hand?

  40. Was Jesse Ventura angry when he said:

    “Organized religion is a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people who need strength in numbers. It tells people to go out and stick their noses in other people’s business.”

    Am I angry because I gratuitously tossed this quote into this thread?

  41. I forgot:

    Why are atheists so angry? Makes NO sense!

    http://www.strongatheism.net/shows/diary3-23.mp3

    Hey–if the 85% insists on being persecuted, the rest can get in on that action.

  42. That link was funny Alison.

    Is that your radio show?

  43. What I don’t get is how religous types of various faiths can stick together against atheists, It would seem to me that anyone of a faith different than your own would disbelieve in your god, and believe in a false one. How is that substantially different from disbelieving in your god, yet not believing in a false one?

  44. I can get along fine with all sorts of religious folks, but they get into this mindset which prevents them from having meaningful friendships with nonbelievers, because everything is so wrapped up in God. God will send them a job. God will send them a girlfriend. And if the job or the girlfriend doesn’t work out, they were actually straying from God’s plan, or they were being tested.

    So if you go to your fundie friend to discuss any of those things… it doesn’t work. If you’re a college kid who’s unsure what career path you want, well, you have to find what God wanted for your life, so you have to… find God. You can’t find meaningful relationships until you find God. Every single serious thing you could ever talk about comes back to finding God.

    So, if atheists are mad at religious people, I think it’s because they tried to be friends, but there was this giant God-shaped wall erected between them. Doesn’t give me much hope, personally.

  45. How is that substantially different from disbelieving in your god, yet not believing in a false one?

    I dunno. You got to remember that being religious is no different to being a sports-nut so you can maybe understand why a yankees and a red sox fan might side together to convert someone who thought baseball sucked. (I know nothing about baseball but I assumed that the yankees and red sox would be likely to hate one another?)

  46. I don’t know that that’s great example, mark. A better would example would be a Manchester U fan and a Yankees fan thinking that a cricket fan is better for enjoying one sport than someone who doesn’t like sports at all. Even that is inapt, because sports can exist without jeopardizing the exististence of other sports.

  47. It would be hard to argue, especially after reading this thread, that there isn’t something to the idea that at least a subset of athiests are oddly aggressive toward the religious.

    If you grant that religious folks in large part have the beliefs they say they have, you can see where the evangelical movement comes from. You seem like a nice guy, but you are going to suffer eternally if you don’t believe X. The act of evangelism can be seen as an act of compassion, just like they say it is.

    The question is, why don’t we take it that way? Both sides say that they feel the other holds them in contempt and that all discussions are condescending. This is almost certainly true in both cases, and is an inevitable result of having fundamentally different theories of knowledge. One guy sees the Word of God while the other sees something on the order of The Lord of the Rings. One guy sees irrational certainty in the unknown while the other sees willful denial of obvious universal truths.

  48. I’m glad there are at least some people here pointing out that these kind of monolithic characterizations of ‘religious’ and ‘atheists’ are just a self-satisfying exercise to make the ‘them’ (whomever the ‘them’ is for an individual) something easier to disregard.

    There’s nothing inherently bad about religion or atheism or any dogma.

    Its that the world, god bless it, is full of assholes who cant shut up.

    Making a big deal out of this fact is usually the provence of other assholes who cant shut up.

    I’ve mentioned repeatedly here that the hyper-anxiety about religion on Reason seems to be an achilles heel, where often very non-libertarian positions start being advocated (‘ban religion from public sphere’, etc).

    anyhoo, i think the rebbe’s cup overfloweth, but that aside, some comments here actually make an effort to prove his point. the fact that people are so uppity about their free-thinkingness seems a weakness. Why do other people’s opinions rankle so? If it’s dumb, ignore it. Granting it this kind of attention (newsworthyness) is just sniping for the opportunity to demonstrate your ‘rational’ superiority. And…inadvertently show your instinctive intolerance towards those you disagree with.

    I’m not a religious cat, but i have learned a lot from religion, one of which is, people mostly are dealing with the same problems, so forgive them their trespasses as they forgive your trespasses against them… or something like that. Myths and faith are part of everything people do, and drawing lines between ‘religious’ vs ‘other’ are mostly arbitrary. the fact is most people are the same, and use different words to say the same shit.

    jg

  49. When I went to a Christian grade school, our teachers would tell us to lock up our school supplies because the PSR kids (public school religion program) were coming to use our classrooms and that they were worse than we were because we attended religious school! Let me tell you, I’ve never had worse behaved classmates than at the religious schools I’ve attended. Their shenanigans are unparalleled.

    Smacky, if you were a real libertarian you’d be cool with the notion that public school students are more likely to steal than private school students!

    🙂

  50. Why do other people’s opinions rankle so?

    It’s never their opinions jg, it’s the actions they take due to their opinions. Just see yesterday’s sex toy thread for a tiny example of actions by the morally righteous. If a typical person of faith truly practiced a life of peace and understanding and non-interference in the lives of others, then everything would be hunky-dory. Its the overwhelming tendency of the God-loving faithful to seek to interfere in the name of God that leaves a nasty taste in my mouth when I consider religion.

  51. I know I normally post inane shit but the following is true.

    My dad’s decided to get big on God. He’s sixty four now, obviously thinking about the inevitable and has turned back to a Catholicism that he used to practice when he was a young man but got forgotten amongst kids, mortgage, career blah blah blah.

    And I would NEVER EVER knock the fact he’s turned back to the church because we all need to do what we need to do to get by.

    But he has started saying stuff that he just never would have before – ‘love the sinner not the sin’ is his favourite. And my dad is a strong headed guy, he’s argumentative and he doesn’t like being told what to do, so now that he’s back with Jesus he has started to develop that inate tone of moral supremacy that rankles so many people. It’s kinda creepy.

    And I know my dad and I know that the only reason he’s back there on Sundays is not because he believes but because he’s afraid of dying.

  52. The Rabbi is simply putting forth a variation of the belief held by many people of reigious faith that those without similar faith cannot be happy and that their disbelief MUST be a result of some emotional/psychological trauma. To the faithful, it is INCONCEIVABLE that an atheist can be a well-adjusted, moral and happy human being.

    It’s the same kind of thinking that leads many Christians to insist that homosexuals cannot possibly be happy and that their “lifestyle choice” is a result of psychological damage and self-loathing.

    Reminds me of how the Soviets used to view political dissidents. If a person opposed the communist government, they MUST have been insane and they therefore belonged in a mental institution.

  53. I think there is a part of us that has strength because we believe in it. I don’t know if I’d call that “faith” – maybe strength of will, determination, or even just a sense of humor. But I think a lot of people find that when they have an obstacle to overcome in life, whether that’s losing weight, quitting smoking, getting past something that hurt you, or hauling your butt out of the ditch, getting back on the bike and continuing to pedal after a spectacular wipe-out, they are able to do it because they believe they can. Some people believe that strength comes from an invisible man who lives in the sky and others believe it comes from within. I don’t really care what other people believe, but I draw the line when people try to push their dogmatic, doctrine-based beliefs onto others through government.

  54. If a typical person of faith truly practiced a life of peace and understanding and non-interference in the lives of others, then everything would be hunky-dory. Its the overwhelming tendency of the God-loving faithful to seek to interfere in the name of God that leaves a nasty taste in my mouth when I consider religion.

    Comment by: MP

    But, my military policeman friend, isnt it just this characterization of, “overwhelming tendency” that is totally misconstrued? If what you describe above is ‘hunky dory’, then that’s where we’re at.

    90% of ‘faithful’ (lay religious folk) dont bother anybody about their faith, and generally mind their own business, as any decent people do. It’s an obnoxious 10% that is being used to characterize the remainder. Just as it’s the obnoxious 10% on the other side screaming that they’re a ‘threat’. In fact, most issues like this often spin into meaningless exaggerated generalizations about the ‘other’ (a la the rebbe above) that are totally unrelated to how real people behave. It’s a cartoon reality that satisfies cartoonish imaginations about who the other person really is.

    The characterization of ‘the religious’ (as a monolithic bloc, regardless of actuall stripe of faith) as being intrusive and demanding, intolerant and interfering, is ridiculously exaggerated. And the reverse – where people of faith here describe themselves as ‘persecuted or opporessed’ is equal hyperbole.

    Re: your sex toys point = I dont think you need God, necessarily, to have the prudish busybodies in America get up in someone elses shit. I think you’re confusing assholes with the clothes they wear. I dont know if it would take a ‘Christians for Dildoes’ group to prove this point to you, but i think the more you talk to people the more you will appreciate that the distribution between ‘intolerant dickheads’ and ‘reasonable citizens’ is pretty much the same amongst all groups of people.

    Yours,
    JG

  55. Its the overwhelming tendency of the God-loving faithful to seek to interfere in the name of God that leaves a nasty taste in my mouth when I consider religion.

    You know, I think it’s probably a vocal and obnoxious minorty of the God-loving faithful. If, as the surveys say, only 3% of Americans are non-believers, 97% of the people you run across during any given day are going to be believers of some sort. How many folks you meet on any given day bother you about their religion? Even here in The Belly Of The Catholic Beast that is San Antonio on any given day for me it’s maybe one person. YMMV, but there sure is a lot of media attention played to William Donohue, Jerry Fallwell, Pat Robertson and their ilk. They act up the most, they get the attention. The same is true for the obnoxious atheist evangelicals like Michael Newdow.

    The lesson is that there are annoying jerks in the world, and some of those annoying jerks believe in God. The answer is unknowable, truly, so everybody needs to calm down and realize that it’s all a matter of belief. I’ve concluded that there is nothing supernatural, but I can’t prove it any more than someobody can point to anything other than a 2000 year old book written by nomadic sheep herders as proof that God is real.

    The folks upthread who mention actions as more important than the professed belief, I think, are correct. Blowing up an abortion clinic/federal building/office complex/city bus/whatever is what makes you a piece of filth, not believing in God. And I’m not sure the non-existence of religion would really have any effect on the outcome from those sorts of bad actors, they’d find something else to be on about.

    I also think atheists often underestimate the good bits of religious texts*, the interesting things you can learn, and the positive influences that religion has had. Believers often ignore the negatives and focus only on the positives, both sets are myopic and tend to use evidence in support of only their biases. Human tendency, just have to accept it, try to not annoy other people overmuch, and move on.

    *For my money 1 COR 13:4-7 is one of the most beautiful things ever put to words.

  56. Maybe some of we atheists are angry because the majority enact laws and rules and dole out harsh punishments largely based on their religion and since we think their religion is a delusion then such is what constitutes the foundation of so much that government is and does.

    And all the while religious people bask in their superiority over we atheists and condemn us to hell. That wouldn?t make someone angry? Just a bit? Especially when such opinions are based on foolish untruths.

    I know, I know, you would think that our being more intelligent and better lovers would more than compensate and we could just sit back and gloat. But sometimes you just have to allow yourself the time to get a little peeved.

  57. If, as the surveys say, only 3% of Americans are non-believers, 97% of the people you run across during any given day are going to be believers of some sort

    And never, ever believe surveys.

    If it says 97%, I bet the question will have been leading i.e have you ever believed? Would you be tempted to believe in times of crisis? Do you find the idea of a God comforting? Do you think about God everyday?

  58. People like to concoct theories about what motivates other people to disagree with them, since after all, those other people are wrong, so there must be something other than, say, reason, to explain their disagreement.

    At least that’s my theory.

  59. I am of the very firm opinion that there are really two groups of Atheists: those who when asked say “I am an Atheist” and those who respond with whatever nominal faith they were raised with/in. While maybe the first group really is below 5% I suspect that the second group, people who really don’t believe in the spirit in the sky but who are unwilling to self-identify as Atheist (for a whole host of reasons the least not being fear of the other person’s reaction) is a pretty big number.

  60. Just for fun, what if the rabbi was instead a Dem saying the same things about Reps (or vice versa)? Do you think Reps would find it wrongheaded and condenscending? And, if they argued the points, would it somehow “prove” their anger? Try this:

    I don’t know many Democrats who wake up thinking of new ways to aggravate Republicans, but many Republicans seem to find the politics of their neighbors terribly offensive or oppressive, particularly if the folks next door are liberal Democrats. I just don’t get it.

    This must sound condescending and a large generalization, and I don’t mean it that way, but I am tempted to believe that behind Republican anger there are oftentimes uncomfortable personal histories. Perhaps their Republicanism was the result of the tragic voting record of a loved one, or an angry degrading Howard Dean speech, or an insensitive political platform, or an unfeeling castigation of lifestyle choices or perhaps something even worse. I would ask for forgiveness from the angry Republicans who write to me if I thought it would help…

  61. “but many people who do not believe in God seem to find the religion of their neighbors terribly offensive or oppressive, particularly if the folks next door are evangelical Christians. I just don’t get it.”

    Wait a minute, I’m a Catholic and I find the religion of evangelical Christians to frequently be “offensive or oppressive”. Gellman needs to dig his head out of his ass and actually pay attention to what’s going on in the world.

  62. “The question is, why don’t we take it that way? ”

    well, there’s a threat there, the whole “impending doom and eternal hellfire” thing that kinda makes middle ground and understanding difficult, if not impossible, to approach.

    and i guess in atheism – especially internet dickface atheism – one sees the same kind of threat, but in a different direction. especially once you blend eschatology into this mix.

    which i suppose is part of the issue, mr. gilmore – internet dickface atheism is largely confined to the internet, or the occasional lawsuit. dickface christianity, on the other hand, is found in congress, in the scotus, in the white house, etc.

    that’s not something so easily written off, no matter how disengenuous or false this kind of public religion might be.

  63. Comment by: Timothy above –

    Good to know there are other people out there who share an evenhanded view. You pretty much said the same thing i did, at the same time.

    And i also agree – Cor 13 is probably the best stuff in the book. A lot of other texts have their own version of the same. The koran, if translated well, has much of the same. The basic idea of humility and compassion is universal, despite being infrequently practiced.

    JG

  64. And i also agree – Cor 13 is probably the best stuff in the book. A lot of other texts have their own version of the same. The koran, if translated well, has much of the same. The basic idea of humility and compassion is universal, despite being infrequently practiced.

    But do you think that humility and compassion are religious virtues or human virtues?

  65. smacky — I didn’t intend to say that people were atheists because they’d been wronged by religious people. I was trying to say that this seemed to be reason some people were angry atheists.

    I realize this may not have been clear because, while trying to make the point, I quoted the rabbi, who does conflate “angry atheists” with “all atheists.” (Which I think is wrong.)

    But I still think you’re assuming too much, Stevo. Why do people get angry at Jersey McJones and He Whose Name Must Not Be in The Thread Handle (farces)? People get angry at blog trolls because of their irrationality. Perhaps some atheists get worked up not because of any particular bad anecdotes but because their opposition is willfully irrational. You could make the same argument for dogmatic atheists, which is why I happen to be agnostic, which is I believe is the only honest way to be. The way I see it is that anyone who claims to know the eternal truth is likely completely full of horse puckey. Atheists usually don’t profess to know these things the way that religious people do by definition.

    There’s nothing inherently bad about religion or atheism or any dogma.

    GILMORE,

    Thank you for that. It is now obvious to me and everyone else here that you have no idea what you are talking about.

  66. those who respond with whatever nominal faith they were raised with/in.

    That’s me. I don’t believe in the spirit in the sky, but I do believe in root-root-rooting for the home team, so I’m a Catholic atheist. (For my money, the only interesting thing about religion is the interfaith competition, which is why I also can’t abide Born Again Christians?who always tell you that denominations don’t matter as long as you love Jesus.) It’s all about cultural affiliation, which is a lot more important than the mythology.

  67. Gilmore: I think it’s pretty valuable to try and draw good lessons from wherever you can. Paul’s letters often say valuable things, even if you don’t believe God is real. Solomon Maimon says interesting, provacative things. So does Kierkegaard, so do Sartre and Camus. I think too many people get hung up on where ideas came from rather than the quality of those ideas on their own merits.

  68. and i guess in atheism – especially internet dickface atheism –

    dhex,

    But when you say “dickface atheism on the internet” a lot of people categorize that as talking about atheism at all in a public forum when the topic of atheism comes up. If we went by most people’s definition of “dickface atheism” it would be, well, anything out of the mouth of an atheist on the topic of atheism. That doesn’t really seem fair. Likewise, if religous people come on a thread about atheism and talk about religion, why should atheists have to shut up on a thread about religion? It’s a valid question.

    The koran, if translated well, has much of the same.

    GILMORE,

    Have you read the Koran in the original Arabic? Do you even know how to read Arabic? If not, then you don’t even know what a good translation would be, would you.

    And Timothy and GILMORE,

    I’ve read Corinthians in the original Greek. That’s probably more than you have done. Don’t tell me that an atheist can’t appreciate beauty as much (or more) than a religious person can.

  69. “Oh, yes, and I also forgot to mention that Spinoza thought that reason was preferable to religion as a means of attaining contentment.”

    Well, yeah. Reason and logical thinking are somewhat inherent to the free market.

    Religion never got anyone a yacht, deck chair, and a gin and tonic.

  70. Smacky: I mean to imply no such thing. As a non-believer myself that’d be a silly damn thing to imply. And I can’t say as I’ve read anything in Greek, as I don’t speak any.

    My point is that I think a lot of people, regardless of their opinion on sky-friends, refuse to draw things from some sources because those sources don’t conform to their biases. That’s all I meant.

  71. Religion never got anyone a yacht, deck chair, and a gin and tonic.

    Well, actually…

  72. SMACKY =

    ” I happen to be agnostic, which is I believe is the only honest way to be.”

    I think that technically makes you a fundamentalist agnostic 🙂

    JG

  73. Just as a tale of hope in this tense thread, I’m a protestant who had an atheist office mate for about 8 months. He is one of the genuinely nicest guys I’ve ever known, and even though we live about 7 states away now we keep in touch. I’m sure that one key to our friendship is that neither has bludgeoned the other about God or a lack thereof.

    He once told me that organized religion made him nervous. My response was that a person’s belief system doesn’t make me nervous, it’s whether they’re willing to use force to convince me of it that makes me nervous. Atheists with guns are no more comforting than zealots with guns. Given that, I can see why a lot of atheists would be freaked out by Evangelical Christians and hardcore Catholics, as those are the two groups most prone to bringing coercion to the table.

  74. I haven’t ben able to figure out what label (re religion) would be appropriate for me to wear, so I think I will go without.

  75. Atheists with guns are no more comforting than zealots with guns

    Perhaps true but how many of those do we hear about?

  76. “But when you say “dickface atheism on the internet” a lot of people categorize that as talking about atheism at all in a public forum when the topic of atheism comes up.”

    that much is true sometimes.

    it is often considered an impolite topic, but religion as a whole usually is, and for good reason. like every thread ever on the topic here at hit and run, it mobilizes many fears.

    i dunno, to me it’s part of the playing field. being a minority in the holding of an opinion is part of the price of admission, really. as frustrating as that may be.

  77. Communism was the official religion of the former Soviet Union. It, like any other religion, required faith to make it work. Since communism was an all-seeing world view that had it’s own version of metaphysical truth, it had to attack other religions, since they represented a threat to its very basis.

    Communism is no more a religion than capitalism. Both are theories on the preferable way to organize an economy.

    I would submit that in the 20th century at least, atheist states were responsible for more death and misery than was religion. If you want to push the comparison interval past 1900 then religious states certainly begin to gain ground.

    Nevertheless, it makes little more sense to claim that religion causes misery on the basis of the crusades, inquisition, etc. than it does to claim that atheism causes misery on the basis of Stalin and Mao. Human suffering (as has been noted upthread) is generally tied more to means than ends. Asshole theists and atheists have caused a world of hurt on their fellow man. Non-asshole theists and atheists have done their fellow man a lot of good.

  78. Perhaps true but how many of those do we hear about?

    These days, not as many, though I’m pretty sure the Napali Maoists are atheists. As I said, the 20th century was kind of the heyday of atheists with guns. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure that, ceteris paribus, a theist Stalin would have been as destructive as an atheist Stalin.

  79. This page shows that non-religious/secular/agnostics rank number three in number of “adherents”.
    http://www.adherents.com/Religions_By_Adherents.html

    Seems to me that Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism
    exhibit the features of personality cults.

  80. Sort of like listening to Geroge Wallace wondering why so many darkies were angry at southern white folk.

    It must be some bad experience they had trying to get a drink at the water fountain.

  81. it is often considered an impolite topic, but religion as a whole usually is, and for good reason.

    See, I don’t really think that fear or discomfort are good reasons for avoiding a topic. Likewise, I don’t think a concern for politeness is really a valid concern these days anymore, either. If everything else in the realm of human discourse can be discussed, why should religion get some special backstage pass? Someone could argue that dissing communism in front of Kim Jong is impolite, too…should politeness really trump reason at all costs? I should hope not.

    i dunno, to me it’s part of the playing field. being a minority in the holding of an opinion is part of the price of admission, really. as frustrating as that may be.

    Of course being a minority is not going to be easy. That doesn’t mean that I have to conceal or sugarcoat my beliefs for anyone who believes to the contrary. I’m sure you wouldn’t want to do that with your libertarian perspectives — so why would I want to do that with my personal philosophy?

  82. “Well, actually…”

    Touch?

  83. That doesn’t mean that I have to conceal or sugarcoat my beliefs for anyone who believes to the contrary.

    And that’s really how it is, too. People categorize atheist discourse as “angry” so as to dismiss them. Atheists trying to defend their logic in public are treated like big kids trying to ruin Christmas for little kids by telling them there’s no Santa Claus. Nobody wants to hear it so the consensus is to tell the “angry Atheists” to stay quiet, lest Believers realize there might be a logical alternative to God.

  84. I’m only angry when religious folks insult me or condescend to me. I do find it funny that it really doesn’t come up much actually living in terrible, benighted Texas, but that a rabbi working in New York has put so much thought and effort into patronizing the non-religious.

    That being said, I think there are environments where obnoxious clergy or laymen co-religionists provoke people into atheism – places without many other options beyond one dominant church and/or religion. Even in the eeeevil Bible Belt?, if you disagree with the church you’re going to, you can find a subtly or grossly different denomination with remarkable ease – and that’s if you stay within Christianity. Even people interested in, say, Islam have resources they can turn to and social support if they want it. If, on the other hand, you have a (say) state-sanctioned church, with no competition (or some very marignalized competition), atheism moves very high on the short list of alternatives.

  85. “That doesn’t mean that I have to conceal or sugarcoat my beliefs for anyone who believes to the contrary. I’m sure you wouldn’t want to do that with your libertarian perspectives — so why would I want to do that with my personal philosophy?”

    well, see, i kinda do. i don’t get up in peoples’ joints too much about what i do and don’t think on a topic, generally speaking. (though i’m a big fan of stealth derailments, especially in mid-sized groups)

    but then again, my ambition in life is to be a viral marketer for good. i don’t think telling a typical bushitler nyu kid that he’s a fucking retard (or even arguing with him at face value) because the end result is “well, you’re a selfish libertarian” and i counter with “fuck you you fucking fuck how many fucking charities have you worked for you fucking fuck?” which is counterproductive and bad for my cholesteral/auras. and smug and stupid and besides the point.

    i tend to couch things in far more gentle terms, or just avoid them entirely.

    however, like with my “global elite created aids” friends, rather than arguing against the evidence, convoluted as it may be, or against their logic, as damaged and illogical as it may be, i find polite derailments to work best: i.e. what about simian hiv? a question, open ended, is always better than an argument, no matter how well-reasoned.

    unless your goal is to just make the other person angry, in which case you can really fucking press some buttons by helping their passions become more brittle and rigid. and that’s fun, too.

  86. But do you think that humility and compassion are religious virtues or human virtues?

    If you believe that religion was created by man to explain the unknowable, wouldn’t all religious virtues be human virtues?

  87. dhex,

    I see your tactics and I think you’re right that politeness is always more convincing than a strong argument that is perceived to be rude.

    I’ve realized for a while now that I would crash and burn on a debate team, if for no other reason than that my assertiveness puts people off.

  88. Smacky =

    It’s not your assertiveness 🙂

    It’s the assumption that you’ve proven your point before you’ve made it. Compelling arguments most often include counter-examples – i.e. disagree with yourself then counter those disagreements.

    Tossing out ‘i read greek’ isnt an argument, for instance. It’s feather fluffing.

    Mike (dhex), BTW, is big enough to rip the arms off of most people, so his penchant to avoid direct conflict is notably charitable of him.

    JG

  89. People categorize atheist discourse as “angry” so as to dismiss them.

    Hear, hear. Whenever this topic comes up, you always hear about “angry atheists”. Reminds me of the “militant midwives” forum a few weeks ago. I’m like, WTF are you talking about? I don’t live in a cave, and I have no experience of “angry atheists” (or angry midwives!).

    Mostly, what I see are atheists avoiding religious topics, well, religiously, because religious people often seem to be extremely threatened by the very idea of atheism. It’s as if they take atheism as a personal insult. It’s *wierd*.

    Coming as I do from a total lack of belief in the supernatural, I would guess that people who are defensive about their religion secretly feel embarrassed by having associated publicly with such nonsense. But I lack the mystical gene, I suppose, and I could be totally wrong there.

  90. Compelling arguments most often include counter-examples – i.e. disagree with yourself then counter those disagreements.

    Thank you, oh wise GILMORE, for showing me the error of my arguing ways. You clearly are the master of compelling arguments as is evidenced by your unsupported broad assertions.

    Tossing out ‘i read greek’ isnt an argument, for instance. It’s feather fluffing.

    Neither is tossing out made-up statistics or name-dropping the Koran to appear erudite, GILMORE. 😉

  91. I do have to admit that many of the posts in this thread fail in trying to refute the claim that atheists are angry. 😉

  92. The atheists I’ve talked to seem to have a problem with the “free expression” clause.

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    …but the establishment clause is only the half of it.

    You atheists out there, is it fair to say you’d just as soon the establishment clause were the only part of the first amendment dealing with religious freedom?

    …and considering modern history, do you think religious people have been more considerate of atheists rights, or do you think atheists have fared better under majority religious governments? In other words, for comparison, how would the free exercise of religion would fare in an atheist America?

  93. Was that garbled enough?

    I think most of the atheists I’ve talked to have a problem with the free exercise of religion, more so than the religious people I talk to have a problem with the establishment clause.

    I also think atheists fare much better under majority religious governments than religious people would fare under majority atheist governments.

  94. I think our esteemed rabbi, as well as religious people and atheists/agnostics of all stripes, make a mistake in assuming that atheists have “rejected” God/religion/whatever for some reason – like having negative experiences with religion or religious people.

    Here’s a novel idea: What about people who simply never accepted it in the first place? Most people implicitly assume you believe in God and were raised religious by default, so in order to be an atheist or agnostic you must have rejected your default settings. What if there never WAS a default? Not everyone was brought up believing in God.

    I consider myself to be an atheist, but I’m not dogmatic about it. It doesn’t mean I REFUSE to believe in God or that I’m determined not to. I simply started out as a blank slate and have never seen any credible evidence that would lead me to believe in the supernatural.

    It’s true that most people I know who believe in God either do so because they desperately want or need to believe it, or because they’ve been taught it from a young age and have never really questioned it. When I think of a person’s spirit burning brightly I think it is a human spirit, but my best friend thinks that power comes from God. We are still talking about the same thing, and he’s not trying to bomb an abortion clinic, so why should I care?

    The greatest rift in this debate will come from within the “believers” crowd itself – between the nutty, fundamentalist 10% and the rest of them, who are sick of having their names and beliefs smeared by the fundnutters. They’ve all given up on us godless heathens anyway, so I prefer to grab a bowl of popcorn and watch the mud wrestling from the sidelines.

  95. “In other words, for comparison, how would the free exercise of religion would fare in an atheist America?”

    Religious people would probably be viewed like Amway salespeople – weird, but harmless. It’s already that way in a lot of Europe, and nobody is throwing religious people into the stocks.

  96. You atheists out there, is it fair to say you’d just as soon the establishment clause were the only part of the first amendment dealing with religious freedom? …I think most of the atheists I’ve talked to have a problem with the free exercise of religion, more so than the religious people I talk to have a problem with the establishment clause.

    Damn, Ken. It’s hard to criticize someone else’s anecdotes, but since in my experience, atheists tend very strongly to support religious freedom, I have to say you’re pinging the Hell (pun intended) out of my bullshit detector – especially when you ask that sort of question on a libertarian site.

  97. So, enough about those mysterious atheists and their supposed anger. What’s the deal with religionists who get so worked up about athetists?

  98. Ack. Can’t type.

  99. “What’s the deal with religionists who get so worked up about athetists?”

    Well some religions teach that their job is to convert people. To be fair, they probably mean well – they think they’re saving your life. But it is damn annoying when they show up at your house and wake you up from sleeping off a hangover.

  100. “unless your goal is to just make the other person angry, in which case you can really fucking press some buttons by helping their passions become more brittle and rigid. and that’s fun, too.”

    I enjoy pushing peoples buttons and religious people piss me off, especially Ned Flanders-types. Does this mean I have issues? I mean, my childhood was relatively happy.

    Karl Marx had it right “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people.”

  101. Wow, a huge religion thread and not one comment from Hakulyut or Akira.

  102. Religious people would probably be viewed like Amway salespeople – weird, but harmless. It’s already that way in a lot of Europe, and nobody is throwing religious people into the stocks.

    I don’t know Pirate Jo. I suspect that speaking of religion in the workplace, for instance, might be treated like sexual harassment. …as one example.

  103. Aetheists aren’t angry people? I don’t know … have you seen grylliade lately? With all the fighting, and the yelling, and then the arguments about child support … it’s a message board that doubles as a broken home!

  104. Well some religions teach that their job is to convert people.

    That wouldn’t seem to apply to a rabbi, and I haven’t seen Ken overtly try to convert anyone here.

  105. I have to say you’re pinging the Hell (pun intended) out of my bullshit detector – especially when you ask that sort of question on a libertarian site.

    I’m not following.

    Are you suggesting that religion and libertarianism are somehow mutually exclusive?

  106. Aetheists aren’t angry people? I don’t know … have you seen grylliade lately?

    That’s an awfully broad generalization. I think the whole religion discussion came about because of a religious person’s complaint that not everybody is down with The Jesus.

    Wow, a huge religion thread and not one comment from Hakulyut or Akira.

    I somewhat understand why they don’t even bother anymore.

  107. I am certainly not as articulate as many of the posts I have read here. I am an atheist and yeah, the article pissed me off, so I guess I am angry at the moment. I am angry when the folks next door believe it is God’s will to “show me the light”. I am angry because folks as sure there must be some reason for my disillusionment with God, not the fact that I think that if there were a God, he must be the most sadistic deity alive. I am angry because I do not believe “our world is better and kinder and more hopeful because of the daily sacrifice and witness of millions of pious people over thousands of years.” As a matter of fact, I believe Christianity is the worst thing that happened to Western Civilization. There has been how many wars fought in the name of God? I’ve lost count. I am angry because there is plenty of food to feed the world but thousands starve every day and how many of the 85% actually contribute to making the world a better place by sacrificing one iota of their creature comforts? I am angry because God gave man dominion over the earth and watching “good Christians” decimate the planet and every living thing on it.
    It must be really convenient to take no responsibility as everything in life is God’s will I used to be all fucked up on drugs, now I am all fucked up on the Lord. Face it, a crutch is a crutch.
    Step off of soapbox and exit, stage left.

  108. My atheism is not arrived at through personal tragedy but through reason alone… our anger comes from being surrounded by irrational people.

    In one breath, you claim to believe that atheists don’t “need to be religious to be good”. Thank You, that’s true…

    However, a few short words later, you reveal your feeling that atheists are hostile because it makes them feel an “uncomfortable assault on our desires to do what we want when we want to do it”. So all atheists are hedonists, right? Spare me…

    Where does our anger come from? Maybe it’s from listening to followers of institutions that have murdered, repressed, and raped for 2 thousand years preach to us about controlling “our animal urges”. Believe me, if there is indeed a god, he’s malevolent.

  109. Are you suggesting that religion and libertarianism are somehow mutually exclusive?

    Not to speak for Eric, but how many people here, religious or not, call the curtailing of any freedom? I’ll grant that there are debates about exactly what free expression entails, and whether it’s fair to use public funds for religious purposes, be we generally oppose using public funds for any purpose.

  110. smacky,

    Sorry I wasn’t there to back you up.

    You know, I’ve read this fellow’s work before, and he probably gets the responses that he does for a reason.

  111. To non-atheists I say this: I’m not angry… I just don’t believe the same thing you do. It’s really that simple. If you can accept and respect that, then there’s as much chance that we’ll co-exist amicably as with any other person I meet. I’ll even discuss this difference intelligently and rationally if you’re so inclined. However, if you try to push your religion on me, be prepared for me to push back. It’s not your religion that I’ll be resisting, so much as your arrogance that you know best and your lack of respect for differing beliefs. Mine are just as valid as yours.

  112. “I am angry because there is plenty of food to feed the world but thousands starve every day and how many of the 85% actually contribute to making the world a better place by sacrificing one iota of their creature comforts?”

    Not to take this totally off-topic, but I don’t see how sacrificing even an iota of my creature comforts CAN help the thousands who starve every day. If the boatloads of money sent by the U.S. to Third World countries actually helped any of those people, I’d write them a check myself. But the problem with those places is their governments. Any comforts we give up so that we can send money and try to help those poor people just wind up being diverted into the same corrupt governments that use food as a weapon agains their own people in the first place. In that way, our contributions only make the situation worse.

  113. Wow! A personal apology from Hakluyt. I’m flattered.

    No need to apologize…I just missed your contributions to this particular subject matter.

    …and what you said about the responses this guy gets is right. In fact, I kind of forgot about his weakly-written article shortly after my first post and went on a tangent while trying to address other people’s comments.

  114. Smacky,

    ?????? ??? ??????? ?????? ?? ??? ?????????? ??????? ??? ?????? ????????? ???? ?????????

    Peace be with you.

    JG

  115. I have to say that Shmuley Boteach is a way radder rabbi. At least on TV, I’ve not read any of his books.

  116. Reading all of these comments has angered me. I myself, am not an atheist. I would be what people would call a “holy roller” so to speak. I do not go out and spout off and throw my religion and beliefs in other peoples faces because quite frankly, I don’t believe it would do any good whatsoever. People believe what they want to believe, and no one is going to change that. But I must agree, that its not fair that Christians who believe in God are supposed to put that aside and not shout it from the rooftop because it may offend someone who doesn’t believe in God. Yet, those who choose not to believe can sit there and offend believers. It’s not fair and it’s not right. I’m not saying that one religion is right or wrong here, but if the atheists want left alone and want to stop being belittled and badgered and called names, then the same should be done for us believers.

  117. I’m an ‘angry atheist’ because of one thing I believe hasn’t been mentioned yet. I’m angry because of the numbers of people dying today because they disagree about religion, AND that this will only escalate and/or continue to happen until everyone either agrees on one religion (won’t happen), or that god does not exist (too many weak minded people that need that crutch, herehere Jesse Ventura!) It looks to me that the next global conflict will be based on religion.

    I wish people would find the ability to not need religion to keep them from becoming convicted felons. Religion keeps people some people from acting impulsively, which positively helps society, but will be nulled out growing conflict between religions, and us athiests will be caught in the middle.

  118. Pirate Jo; No disagreement with you there. The Governments are corrupt and you can dump all the money in the world without changing a thing. But,I suppose,I was thinking more about the Children’s Christian fund where supposedly 90 cents out of every dollar goes to the children and the vatican, whose coffers match those of some countries. What are they doing? They are saying, condoms are bad, birth control is bad, go forth and multiply or go to hell. Some choice.

  119. But I still think you’re assuming too much, Stevo. Why do people get angry at Jersey McJones and He Whose Name Must Not Be in The Thread Handle (farces)? People get angry at blog trolls because of their irrationality. Perhaps some atheists get worked up not because of any particular bad anecdotes but because their opposition is willfully irrational.

    Ah. That is a point well made.

  120. “I have to say you’re pinging the Hell (pun intended) out of my bullshit detector – especially when you ask that sort of question on a libertarian site.”

    I’m not following.

    Are you suggesting that religion and libertarianism are somehow mutually exclusive?

    No, I’m suggesting that it is bizarre, even ridiculous, to ask nominally libertarian atheists posting on a libertarian site whether they support curtailing religious freedom.

  121. GILMORE,

    ha ha ha! Thanks! 😀

  122. spake Eric .5b =

    “it is bizarre, even ridiculous, to ask nominally libertarian atheists posting on a libertarian site whether they support curtailing religious freedom.”

    Really?

    Someone posted a while back to H&R that their concept of a more-perfect, libertarian state was one where religion was, “completely separated” from the public sphere.

    When I asked if people agreed with that, most did, to my surprise. I went off on a rant about how liberty *includes* freedom to exercise religion… and everyone got in a long tiff over it. You were there, i think. In any case, the prevailing view of H&R readers (aside from Captain holly, myself, and a few others?) was that increased regulation/marginalization of religion was a good thing.

    strange but true.

    JG

  123. You were there, i think.

    Dunno, I don’t remember a discussion like the one you mention. Perhaps a link or quotes that would explain your characterization of the debate?

  124. I’m a non-angry atheist.

    I’m also irrational.

    For example, I have all the kids I want yet I haven’t gone out searching for anything to reduce my sex drive. I’ll never make any money as a musician, but I haven’t looked into conditioning that would cause me to spend less time listening to music. I doubt my posts on H&R help anyone understand any subject, yet I post anyway.

    I do a variety of things for fun (did I mention I suck at straight pool?) that are beyond pointless.

    I’m having fun and not hurting anyone. The former is important to me. The latter should be important to libertarians.

    It seems to me to be irrational to get angry at blog trolls, but I’m not knocking irrationality. It just seems like it might be more fun to be less angry.

  125. I’m an ‘angry atheist’ because of one thing I believe hasn’t been mentioned yet. I’m angry because of the numbers of people dying today because they disagree about religion,

    Dude,

    I would’t get too worked up about that. I think religion tends to be more an excuse than a cause. Enough wars have been for other reasons (resources, alliances, wealth, influence, grudges, etc.) to support the idea that if we weren’t killing each other over religion, we’d still be killing each other.

    Gilmore,

    Was it increased regulation, or decreased influence of religion on legislation that people were arguing for. There is a difference. Either way, it shouldn’t be surprising that an atheist version of a better society included less religion, and only non-libertarian if people were coerced into giving up their faith.

  126. “What are they doing? They are saying, condoms are bad, birth control is bad, go forth and multiply or go to hell. Some choice.”

    Understood, Pat4Dogs! It’s irritating that the Vatican refuses to wake up and smell the poverty in these situations. In the worst of the Third World countries, many children do not survive, and there is no question that these people would be better off with some reliable birth control. In some cases they don’t use reliable birth control because they don’t have access to it, and in some cases they have clearly been brainwashed by religion. I do think the church is evil (or at least wrong) in these situations, but I’m afraid I also have to place some blame on the people themselves. They don’t HAVE to listen to that crap.

  127. Communism is no more a religion than capitalism. Both are theories on the preferable way to organize an economy.

    Pehaps when it was first proposed, Communism was a theory. Believing in it today would require faith.

    In any case, the prevailing view of H&R readers …was that increased regulation/marginalization of religion was a good thing

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but let me now add the Standard Libertarian Boilerplate ? to any previous remarks I made to clarify that: any criticism I made of non-coercive behavior among freely acting individuals should not be construed as advocacy of government regulation of that behavior.

  128. No, I’m suggesting that it is bizarre, even ridiculous, to ask nominally libertarian atheists posting on a libertarian site whether they support curtailing religious freedom.

    Yeah, I suppose you’re right.

    …and discussing apparent conflicts between establishment and free exercise–that isn’t just bizarre… …and speculating about whether religious people would fare as well in an atheist society as atheists have in a… …That isn’t just ridiculous–it boggles the mind!

    …especially on a libertarian website!

  129. GILMORE,

    That wasn’t very Christarded of you, by the way.

  130. That wasn’t very Christarded of you, by the way.

    My greek is rusty. I’m picking up something about hoping for a naked orbit and scorpions and whatnot. Clarification?

  131. That wasn’t very Christarded of you, by the way.

    My greek is rusty. I’m picking up something about naked orbits and scorpions. Please don’t make me look it all up in Liddel and Scott. Clarification?

  132. Love that server.

  133. For all the attention paid to atheists, who are less common than left-handed people and less prone to organize group efforts, you would think we are hybrid drivers. Now *there* is an annoying bunch of self-congratulating privelege seekers.

  134. Most of my fellow atheist friends get angry only on extreme provocation. Most of us most of the time are just incredulous when confronting silly beliefs.

    We’re actually remarkably tolerant. And why not? Let’s face it, belief in fairies and the efficacy of astrology don’t threaten us in a practical way. Unfortunately, some Judeo-Christian-Islamic notions do.

    Threats aren’t the only factor, though, and perhaps threats have been over-played in the discussion, here. There’s also the question of honesty.

    Sometimes in the public sphere, when we have to put up with false claims and extreme ignorance from people who believe the world was created less than 10,000 years ago, it’s hard not to get impatient. It’s not always easy being nice to a person who knowingly talks about, say, the history of our climate, only to discover the person doesn’t really believe an Ice Age happened. Instead, there was this Flood, see?

    Similarly, I’ve had many conversations about the limitations of Darwinian science and the possibility of Intelligent Design with people who believe fervently in something far more extreme than that: recent creation. They hold to completely falsified geological notions, they do not explore contradictory evidence, and only pick at gaps in knowledge of very difficult endeavors, like uncovering human prehistory and the natural history organic evolution.

    So, on these issues, when religious people are being quite demonstrably dishonest with themselves and with others, atheists sometimes lose their cool.

    What a shock.

    It will happen less when fewer people spout falsified beliefs in public . . . and base public policy on those beliefs.

    Of course, those “more sophisticated” Christian and Jews et al., who pick and choose which portion of their scriptures are to be taken “literally” and which to be taken with more nuance, to allow for a God but to appear less obviously nuts, these people don’t strike me as all that more honest. Why believe ANY of the fanciful ancient notions? If Genesis is all metaphor and pious myth, then what about Matthew, Mark, Luke and John? It’s not as if there’s any good historical evidence for any of it, the miracles least of all.

    I try to be circumspect, and in person I rarely ridicule another person’s religious beliefs. But most religious beliefs are ridiculous on the face of it, and in the arena of the Internet, I do sometimes play atheist know-it-all, and enjoy the role.

    Yes, sometimes the beliefs themselves are provocation enough. But provocation for anger? Not usually. Incredulity and ridicule and relentless criticism are enough.

    Many religious people interpret these responses (incredulity, ridicule and relentless criticism) AS anger, though, because anger they can dismiss, intellectually.

    Also: The fact that I find religious beliefs kind of creepy doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate many religious texts. I love the book of Jonah, for instance, and agree that Paul’s letter to the Corinthians is poetically beautiful. I also commend the doxology in Jude. Further, I like most of the Christians I meet and know — as I do the Buddhists I know. But when I hear (as I heard just today) an express defense of mass slaughter of species on the basis from the text in Genesis about “subduing the Earth,” or when someone dismisses the extreme likelihood of a magnetic pole shift because “Jesus will come first,” it pains me.

    It’s not always easy to bite one’s tongue. I’m thinking I should do it less, not more.

  135. I agree he doesnt get it. Has he not been paying attention to the near constant effort on the part of christian fundamentalists to inject their beliefs into science, government and schools? Really, he needs to get out of the temple more often.

    Though I dont believe his comments were intended as an honest reflection. I believe he was trying to further spread the idea that non-religous people are unhappy and angry. Ive seen that one before, as have most of you.

  136. Dear Marc,

    It is my view that your recent Newsweek column expressing your misunderstanding of “atheists” paints with too large a brush and promotes the well-worn and false perception that atheists are “angry at the idea of God” and that “religion” is solely required to prevent humanity from declining into some sort of selfish, hedonistic degradation.

    I am a happy and proactive atheist who often seeks out such public misperceptions in an attempt to bring clarity and a broader understanding of what it means (personally and publicly) to be an identified “non-believer” in immaterial supernatural beings and common religious assertions.

    Your column of April 26, 2006, is (in my view) a prime example of incorrect broad generalizations creating a straw man argument which the article then seeks to deconstruct. It was, even with your disclaimer to the contrary, still condescending in that it falsely excuses the bad behavior of religious leaders as those who may betray their “moral teaching” (by default) while implying that those without belief in God(s)ess(es) are failures or insufficient no matter how good they behave in this one life.

    In short, the message you send is that religion is always “good” while people may fail it, however, atheists can never reach that level of “goodness” without a belief in some deity. This, in my view, is incorrect to assert and demeaning.

    Worse, your words assail my personal human value and those like me (even though you do seem to want to wash your hands of doing so by offering your laudable closing sentence).

    Atheism is merely a non-belief in God(s)ess(es), nothing more.

    It certainly says nothing else regarding one’s moral/ethical system or life stance or even their demeanor. For instance, I am also a police officer, loving father of three wonderful children and husband (married to the same beautiful woman for 16 years).

    If you are interested, you may read a little bit more about my own recent personal experiences, behavior and values as a non-believer in God(s)ess(es) here:

    http://www.thehumanist.org/humanist/articles/Schlicht.Hurricane.pdf

    To be sure, I can (admittedly) become rather lively in political expression when encountering any encroachment on personal liberty by those who would seek to impose religious indoctrination via legal statute upon me through control of government or those who seem to purposely mischaracterize atheism in order to promote their own religion.

    This should not be misconstrued as “anger at the idea of God” (whichever one of the thousands are particularly purported to exist during any given conversation with a respective adherent), rather, it is a proactive attempt to maintain freedom within secular guidelines and to promote an honest examination of concepts and claims.

    This may be more of what you are experiencing when you perceive some atheist’s angst/anger at those who believe in the absolutism of their particular denomination or religious text and assert it as superior or as unquestionable “truth”.

    In any event, it is truly my hope that some common ground can be attained through this sort of dialogue and that peace can prevail in a secular society comprised of those with different worldviews.

    Sincerely,

    Det. Sgt. Steve Schlicht

  137. I often think, ‘Live and let live.’ The only problem with that is that others do not let me live. They impose themselves on me and my life with their religious beliefs with confrontational tries for coversion to their way of believing as well as the laws that are being passed based on religion that affect me and mine intimately or broadly. Hell yes I am angry! I live my life as respectfully and graciously as possible, but it really gets my back up when I’m told I’ll go to hell for my non-belief. I don’t tell them that they are sheep for following the good book of fiction or tell them that most of the people we know who are believers have some very unfaithlike doings going on. I am most furious at the scam of separation of church and state. Laws are being passed that infringe upon my right to control my body and for what should be a private life inside my own home because of some pious idiot in elected office is threatened by a women controlling her pain as well as her pleasure.

  138. I don’t tell them that they are sheep for following the good book of fiction or tell them that most of the people we know who are believers have some very unfaithlike doings going on.

    Wow, that’s interesting. …none of the atheists I know (offline) have that kind of willpower. …they all do those things.

    …not that I’m not buyin’ your spiel. …I’m sure you really don’t insult people’s faith; I’m sure you don’t point out the sins of the faithful either.

    I have no reason not to believe you. …and when there’s no objective evidence against something, there’s no reason not to believe in it.

  139. That wasn’t very Christarded of you, by the way.

    That makes sense. Did I ever mention having been ‘christian’? rereading the above, i think i only said most* faithful people (including buddhists, hindus, taoist, falun gong, hippy earth mother crystal wearing fatties, b’hai, Subgenii, jew for jesus, etc) dont fit the characterizations people make. A small minority of people who, like you, think their point of view is the ‘only honest way to be’. They also sometimes blow themselves up, for which i am sometimes thankful.

    Here, this is a good replacement for listening to me = http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/prem/200303/brooks

    I think i also said some of the stuff in their texts are worth checking out. (with the caveat that some translations vary in clarity) I hope this didnt mislead you into thinking i lead bible study class or handle snakes or anything.

    Oh, the greek was “I pray your naked body falls into a pit of flesh-eating scorpions” I dont know why that phrase came to me.

    David =

    “Gilmore, Was it increased regulation, or decreased influence of religion on legislation that people were arguing for. There is a difference. Either way, it shouldn’t be surprising that an atheist version of a better society included less religion, and only non-libertarian if people were coerced into giving up their faith.

    I think i have a link to the thread in my other mail account… No, there was no ‘influence of religion on legislation’ angle. I presume you mean things like abortion, creative design? What the case examples tended to be were to limit the exercise of religion in the public sphere – no use of ‘public’ land for displays, no use of public facilities (like an after school club for religious studies, etc)… i pointed out that they were basically advocating the ‘banned headscarves’ style of secularization that France endorses. As one person put it, ‘*complete* separation of church and state’.

    I pointed out that the establishment clause promises ‘freedom OF religion’ not ‘freedom FROM religion’, but people werent feeling me.

    Anyhoo

    A ha. Here is one
    https://www.reason.com/hitandrun/2006/01/congratulations_4.shtml#comments

    Ta
    JG

  140. erp – excuse me, ‘intelligent design’.

    darned interstate commerce.
    jg

  141. I enjoyed this comment for its wit: “I have no reason not to believe you. …and when there’s no objective evidence against something, there’s no reason not to believe in it.”

    But the final statement is a pitifully poor confession of the Gullible Man’s epistemology. I have NO objective evidence that Quetzalcoatl does not exist, but I’d be a fool to believe in this deity.

    I also have no objective evidence against the existence of moomentrolls, either. Still, I don’t believe in them.

    The Gullible Man’s epistemology is so nuts that I’m sure Ken S. doesn’t hold to it. Except perhaps in One case.

    And as to Mr. S’s challenge about atheists and the establishment clause/free exercise clause, I’ve few complaints about either, and I’m familiar with his manner of interpretation. I like the free exercise of religion, in part for the same reason H.L. Mencken enjoyed democracy: a more entertaining parade could hardly be imagined.

    In person, though, I’m very courteous to people who want to convert me. I often listen to their spiels. I rarely criticize their often quite offensive notions (the idea, for instance, that a deity who will not reveal himself to me nevertheless will condemn me to eternal torment for not accepting a “free gift” I never asked for and which offends my refined, post-bloodlust concept of justice).

  142. You say you enjoy the comment for its wit, and then you turn around and explain the joke away… …what you got of it anyway.

    I’ll promise not to use this as evidence that atheists don’t have any sense of humor if you promise not to use it as evidence that theists are inherently illogical.

  143. And as to Mr. S’s challenge about atheists and the establishment clause/free exercise clause, I’ve few complaints about either, and I’m familiar with his manner of interpretation.

    …and you know nothing of my manner of interpretation.

  144. I have NO objective evidence that Quetzalcoatl does not exist, but I’d be a fool to believe in this deity.

    I’ll eat your heart for that, Finn boy!

  145. Annoyed atheist more than angry atheist.

    I’m tired of religion’s basic inability to deal with crtical thought and the scientific method.
    I’m tired of some religious people’s relentless drive to make everyone as miserable as they are.
    Granted-this usually would apply to the fundies & cultists.
    Nominally religious people seem to go to church on a couple holidays and that’s it.

    But in real life I avoid religious discussions and just try to shield my children from religion’s vitriol.

  146. Believers also tend to push for strange laws with no secular purpose. A lot of intelligent believers can see the potential for harm in establishment, since every sect is someplace in the minority and so they can all sympathize. But then they go and support blue laws, sodomy laws, laws against intoxication, and all manner of regulation of private life.

  147. i only said most* faithful people (including buddhists, hindus, taoist, falun gong, hippy earth mother crystal wearing fatties, b’hai, Subgenii, jew for jesus, etc) dont fit the characterizations people make.

    I don’t recall where I said I dislike religion simply because of its adherents and for no other reason. But if you want to blow me off as a bigot, you’re free to ignore all of my other arguments (and I’ve given many throughout various threads).

    A small minority of people who, like you, think their point of view is the ‘only honest way to be’. They also sometimes blow themselves up, for which i am sometimes thankful.

    Oh yes, I am a “fundamentalist agnostic”, a truly threatening entity. Ha ha ha! That’s probably the stupidest thing I’ve heard all week.
    If you think I’m trying to convert anybody, you obviously don’t read my posts. Maybe I should revert back to freshman year in college mentality and qualify all of my opinions with, “for me…”.

    Alla will duly punish you for your belligerence and your poor Babelfish translations, GILMORE. 🙂

  148. Most religious believers are authoritarians.
    That creates a lot of public and private confrontations.
    So I don’t know that it’s about what I or someone else believes-it’s about what religious believers are trying to force on me.
    Compounded by the inability of many believers to understand basic scientific facts.

  149. Smacky =

    pax. Your wide ranging arguments have undone me. Did I call you a bigot? All you’ve done is tossed out defensive slander so far. I’ve offended you by calling for a little moderation apparently. Oh, then i asked you to die. But that came later.

    NML =

    This kind of shit is what i’m talking about –

    “Most religious believers are authoritarians…
    …Compounded by the inability of many believers to understand basic scientific facts.”

    So, i say “90%” of religious people are normal citizens just like you (very wordly, informed and tolerant!)…and I’m accused of ‘manipulating statistics’…

    then guys come out and spout nonsense like this, and you all nod your heads sagely.

    Right.

    JG

  150. I’ve offended you by calling for a little moderation apparently. Oh, then i asked you to die. But that came later.

    Yes, and I think this exhibits your level of tolerance quite nicely. You’re awfully violent for claiming to have such a tolerant and accepting viewpoint.

    …In other words, you’re full of shit. Sorry if I embarassed you by calling you out on your bullshit, but I prefer honest discussion.

    You are a turd. Now with all due respect, go flush yourself.

  151. Atheism is a zit on the ass of libertarianism. …that some people want to highlight as our best feature.

    I’m trying to think of groups that are less popular than atheists with the American people. …Let’s see, there’s NAMBLA. …Sorry, I can’t think of another political advocacy group with less mass appeal than atheists. …I was thinkin’ about the anti-immigration groups, you know, the “Minute Men” or whatever they call themselves, but, no, I think even they are more appealing to more Americans than atheists.

  152. So, i say “90%” of religious people are normal citizens just like you (very wordly, informed and tolerant!)…and I’m accused of ‘manipulating statistics’…
    GILMORE

    90% of religious people are not tolerant,very easily proven by the laws they are seeking to pass/and have passed in the US.
    Worldwide-even easier to prove.

    “Tolerance is a social, cultural and religious term applied to the collective and individual practice of not persecuting those who may believe, behave or act in ways of which one may not approve. It is closely related to the political concept of toleration. Authoritarian systems practice intolerance, the opposite of tolerance.”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tolerant

    Now certainly you can research to find out if 90% of organized religions are authoritarian or not.
    The answer is not going to support your position.

  153. Smacky =

    “I prefer honest discussion.”

    Why didnt you say so?

    .here is one of my problems with religion in general. Namely, that *religions assume that humankind is inherently wicked and that every person is inborn with evil and will to do harm to others*. I don’t believe that at all.

    Thats good. Because it’s not actually true to begin with. Even within mainstream Christianity, original sin differs vastly in significance or interpretation.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Original_sin

    “some of my rants are no doubt offensive to religious people”

    in this case, not offensive, but should be objectionable (to either religious or non religious people) because you are essentially casting your personal opinions = (e.g. “I certainly cannot say the same thing for many Christians”) in the form of some kind of pseudo- objective analysis that justifies making ridiculously overblown statements about “religion”, as though it is a monolithic entity, which it is not.

    “But to be honest, I think religion is potentially more dangerous than drugs are.

    Great. I assume being a reasonoid, you advocate the deregulation of drugs, no? 🙂 Which leads to the question, so what?

    If someone can use drugs responsibly, isnt it the person, not the substance, that’s ‘dangerous’? And it’s not religion that is responsible for any of the negative manifestations you try and identify, but in fact, shitty *people*?

    re: my earlier point – there’s a % of assholes in any camp that represent extremist positions – and you shouldnt paint the majority with your worst-case-scenario type of character portrait, because it simply isnt the case.

    ta

    JG

  154. “Atheism is a zit on the ass of libertarianism.” Comment by: Ken Shultz at April 28, 2006 01:35 PM

    Another amazing display of tolerance.

  155. Read the rest of the comment, NML. …for goodness’ sake. No one’s saying that atheists shouldn’t have all the rights everyone else has. but…

    There are some of us who are out here genuinely trying to persuade other people of libertarian ideas, to support libertarian ideas, etc. …and having to contend with something as unappealing as atheism (and atheism is unappealing) doesn’t help. …It would be one thing if atheism was somehow central to or necessary for libertarianism–but it isn’t.

    …and consider the damage. Of all the people out there who support abortion rights, what percentage do you think are atheist? When the people voted out everyone on the Dover School District Board who wanted to introduce ID and describe evolution as a theory, what percentage of those voters do you suppose were atheist? …I suspect it was a very small percentage. …which suggests that there are a lot more Christians out there that we need to appeal to. …and reading some of the comments above, I find myself subconciously hoping we lose!

    Communists! …I think the communists may be less popular than atheists too, although I think part of the reason people don’t like communists is because they also tend to be atheist. …but I’ll give you that one.

    So that makes two. NAMBLA, communists and atheists–I doubt Pepsi or Purina will be associating their brands with any of those groups any time soon. …Why do you think that is?

  156. NAMBLA, communists and atheists–I doubt Pepsi or Purina will be associating their brands with any of those groups any time soon. …Why do you think that is?

    Honestly, because those are minority groups. More money to be made by appealing to the majority.

    And Ken, I’m genuinely surprised at you — arguing to downplay personal beliefs in order to appeal to more people whom I, as a libertarian and an atheist, personally find unappealing!

    …In other words, if people aren’t capable of figuring out on their own that atheism and libertarianism aren’t the same thing, then they can go play in somone else’s sandbox for all I care!

  157. Surely, you don’t mean to suggest that the general public finds atheism appealing.

  158. Surely, you don’t mean to suggest that the general public finds atheism appealing.

    Ken,

    Of course not. But if libertarianism were to become the new right wing complete with outspoken Christards and all, I would certainly disassociate myself with libertarianism! You seem to be suggesting that by allowing atheists to speak their minds on threads about, say, atheism it is somehow damaging libertarians as a group. Yet if all libertarians sought to dismiss a leigitmate personal belief as “unappealing to the masses and therefore harmful”, the way you seem to be doing, I think those people would cease to be libertarian, philisophically speaking.

  159. Ken Shultz, Athiesm and Libertarianism are both pretty unpopular, and not due to their association. Most people hate both, independently.

    About what I mentioned earlier about believers tending to be big supporters of the regulation of private life, … I should point out that the RCC has a fairly well established line of teaching about the impossibility of establishing a paradise on Earth. When atheists ran things, they didn’t have that, and things didn’t work out so well.

  160. And Ken, I’m genuinely surprised at you — arguing to downplay personal beliefs in order to appeal to more people whom I, as a libertarian and an atheist, personally find unappealing!

    I suspect there are many among us who do not agree that atheism is not central to libertarianism. …and I would love it if the libertarian movement was completely overwhelmed by those people’s enemies.

    …and I’m sorry if you find Christians unappealing. …but we do live in a country with a big democratic component, and demographically speaking, people are basically Christian. If we’re trying to influence policy and culture, then unnecessarily offending their religious sensibilities seems irrational to me.

    I suppose I’ve made a name for myself, in part, by offending the sensibilities of certain individuals who seemed oh so dominated by ideas they hadn’t really thought through–and I do that with some of the fundamentalists I know too on policy issues.

    At least one fundamentalist I know told me she voted for Badnarik in the last election. …Once again, those were Christians that voted out the Dover School Board. Christians are not the enemy–they’re the battleground. …and offending Christianity just for the sake of offending Christianity is simply ceding a big portion of the battlefield.

  161. For NML

    “I believe in capitalism and the free enterprise system and private property ownership. . . . people should have the right to own property, to work hard, to achieve, to earn, and to win.”
    ….

    – Jerry Falwell

    Those religious kooks! 🙂

    FYI – this is not an endorsement of that crazy fat fucker… just a point about meeting the enemy and seeing they is us. 🙂

    JG

  162. But if libertarianism were to become the new right wing complete with outspoken Christards and all, I would certainly disassociate myself with libertarianism!

    There’s a certain school of libertarian thought that I find particularly unappealing. …partly because it seems to suggest that being right isn’t good enough–you have to be right for the right reasons.

    I’ve read other’s comments, on occasion, in which Christians have said that Jesus was a libertarian. As long as they’re on board for the program, why do you care if they agree with you on their reasoning?

    As long as they’re against the Patriot Act, the Drug War, teaching theology in public schools, etc., etc., …

  163. …and offending Christianity just for the sake of offending Christianity is simply ceding a big portion of the battlefield.

    Ken,

    First of all, that last quote you quoted from me was said entirely tongue-in-cheek…you didn’t seem to pick up on that.

    Secondly, who ever said my aim is to offend people? I believe that’s one of the reasons I am a so-called “angry” atheist (which is strange because I’m not even an atheist)…to wit:

    When people refuse to discuss a part of their lives in rational terms because it offends their delicate sensibilities, they are admitting that they are won over by irrationality. End of story.

  164. “There are some of us who are out here genuinely trying to persuade other people of libertarian ideas, to support libertarian ideas, etc. …and having to contend with something as unappealing as atheism (and atheism is unappealing) doesn’t help. …It would be one thing if atheism was somehow central to or necessary for libertarianism–but it isn’t.” Ken Shultz

    Hmmm. I find libertarianism distinctly unpopular among a lot of athiests.
    Libertarianism is about freedom. You’re going to find or persuade more for libertarianism in an atheist group, primarily as atheists are more open to accepting worldviews based on science & facts.
    But still a tiny tiny group.

    Really face it-libertarianism is so terribly unpopular that only a huge breakdown in our economic system is going to get any converts!

  165. I suspect you’re right in that when I hear Christains referred to so, I do tend to associate those references with people I know and care about. …but I think a lot of the people we’re trying to appeal to do that too. …and I don’t think we gain much when we do that.

    Honestly, I think that when you picture a fundamentalist Christian it may look a lot different than the picture in my head. I’ve shown you fundamentalist Christians I believe to be marginally pro-Choice as an organization, for instance. Christianity is not inherently opressive, and there are millions of Christians out there that agree with you on policy–99%.

    …but there’s no political movement they’re aware of that clicks with what they think–or so they think. The problem may be that everytime they come across a libertarian, they get a stiff arm about their religious beliefs. …and we shouldn’t do that, we should welcome them.

    I myself haven’t always known everything I know now.

  166. Really face it-libertarianism is so terribly unpopular that only a huge breakdown in our economic system is going to get any converts!

    I read “Free to Choose” when I was about 12 or 13–it was during Ronald Reagan’s first run. In the back there was this graph showing (and this is from memory) the American Commmunist Party’s platform from the ’20s on one side; on the other side, it showed the policies of The New Deal. Have you ever seen that graphic?

    Single Member Districts make third party victories difficult if not impossible, but as Friedman’s example showed, sometimes, when things are really bad, one of the two big parties will lift another party’s platform–and that could happen with us!

  167. Gilmore_
    “If we are going to save America and evangelize the world, we cannot accommodate secular philosophies that are diametrically opposed to Christian truth … We need to pull out all the stops to recruit and train 25 million Americans to become informed pro-moral activists whose voices can be heard in the halls of Congress.
    I am convinced that America can be turned around if we will all get serious about the Master’s business. It may be late, but it is never too late to do what is right. We need an old-fashioned, God-honoring, Christ-exalting revival to turn American back to God. America can be saved!
    — Jerry Falwell, “Moral Majority Report” for September, 1984″

    Jerry is not my friend.

  168. …and, I should add NML, culture shift is probably more important than politics. …or, rather, politics tends to follow culture. …or so it seems to me. …and if that’s true, than that’s just more of a reason to appeal to Christians.

    I’ve said this to others before, but I should add that there’s already a lot of anti-government sentiment embedded in fundamentalist Christianity. Many fundamentalist Christians are predisposed to being extremely mistrustful of government.

  169. I’ve said this to others before, but I should add that there’s already a lot of anti-government sentiment embedded in fundamentalist Christianity. Many fundamentalist Christians are predisposed to being extremely mistrustful of government.

    Yes, and one of the big reasons fundies are mistrustful of government is because they don’t want the government teaching their offspring about that awful evolutionary theory. They want to teach their kids the myths of the Bible as scientific truth…and I think it’s their right to, but I would seriously worry about the direction our country would take when that generation of fundie-taught kids become adults running the country.

    sometimes, when things are really bad, one of the two big parties will lift another party’s platform–and that could happen with us!

    I could only hope that it would be the left-wingers who would lift the libertarian economic platform. Otherwise, it would just be the same old Right Wing Christian Republican party with traditional Republican fiscal policy.

  170. Actually, they’re mistrustful of government because they believe the New Testament teaches that God’s Kingdom is a heavenly kingdom, and anyone that that tries to hold power over others is flying in the face of that. They also believe that the world is going to end in a one world government, and that this government is going to take away their bibles and their rights.

    …and then they go out and vote against school board members that want to teach ID, and then they go out and vote for pro-choice candidates.

  171. I could only hope that it would be the left-wingers who would lift the libertarian economic platform. Otherwise, it would just be the same old Right Wing Christian Republican party with traditional Republican fiscal policy.

    Whichever party, as long as they lift the whole thing.

    I’m not old enough to remember when the Democrats dominated the south, but it was in my lifetime. They were the ones leading the fight against civil rights back then, and that wasn’t so long ago.

    The Democrats in congress now don’t impress me as having been the defenders of civil rights in opposition–I have little doubt that they would have done better as a majority. …You already know what I think of the Republicans.

  172. In closing, I’d just ask, smacky, that you consider that Christians in general (and indeed, fundamentalists specifically) may be a lot different than advertised. They make up more than 80% of us, and for a group of people that large and that dynamic, it’s hard to find anything that’s true of all of them. …and considering that we’re about 50/50 in this country come every presidential election, half of them seem to be in opposition to the other half at any given time. …which suggests that about half, at any given time, probably agree with you on a whole lot of issues.

  173. Ken,

    If you really think atheists defending their beliefs on a thread about…atheism (or defending them anywhere else when attacked for that matter) is somehow a threat to the religious majority, then you can keep worrying yourself sick. I personally think it’s an unrealistic worry and that maybe the real reason you think atheists should keep their mouths shut is that you would rather just not hear other people’s non-religious viewpoints that you already said are “unappealing” to you as a religious person. Well tough cookies, Ken.

    I personally am not going to put on a mask in order to lure more people to libertarianism who would otherwise have me burning in their concept of hell. That would be me dissembling, and that’s dishonest. The religious people who really respect personal choice will support libertarian causes regardless of how many unsightly atheists there are who support the same cause. And if they don’t, then they aren’t really tolerant.

  174. …You already know what I think of the Republicans.

    Refresh my memory.

  175. I firmly believe in religious freedom but the same consideration is NOT extended to others by the fundamentalist & Religious Right.

    You’re lumping the fundamentalist and Religious Right together, and that’s a mistake. While everyone in the religous right is a fundamentalist, not every fundmanentalist is in the Religious Right.

    …while you’re not going to find a lot of bleeding hearts cryin’ for the plight of pornographers, there are plenty, nay, multitudes of Christians and fundamentalist Christians that support civil rights. Like I keep saying, fundamentalists do not all fall on the same side of any political issue. …there are pro-choice Baptists. The Adventist Church, essentially, takes a pro-choice position organizationally, and they are most certainly fundamentalists. …and there are more than 15 million of them.

    Christians make up, what, 90% of the US population? …They also make up a huge proportion of the opposition to any political issue. The big, loud ones who say all the dopey things–they get a whole hell of a lot of media attention. …and if you think I’m hard on libertarians who come down hard on Christians, you should see what I do to fundamentalist Christians who come down hard against libertarian ideas.

    …I do it from the Bible, you know.

  176. Refresh my memory.

    Oh for goodness sake!

    I’m pretty sure RC Dean and all the usual Republicans around here think of me as a Republican basher. Go look at any thread in which they’re talkin’ about the libertarians and the Republicans splitting, and I’m calling the Republicans a bunch of traitors! I’ve lambasted the Republican Party and everyone in it for years and years now.

    I’ve lambasted them for the Iraq War, the torture scandals, Gonzales and Rumsfeld, Katrina, the budget deficit, opposing free trade. I’ve lambasted them for immigration, the Patriot Act, FISA. I can’t think of anything good to say about them. …To the point that cooler heads have suggested that I might have really crossed the line into Republican bashing.

  177. I personally think it’s an unrealistic worry and that maybe the real reason you think atheists should keep their mouths shut is that you would rather just not hear other people’s non-religious viewpoints that you already said are “unappealing” to you as a religious person. Well tough cookies, Ken.

    I didn’t say they were unappealing to me; I said they were unappealing to the people we’re trying to appeal to. …and I’m not a particularly relgious person anymore–actually, I haven’t been to church (other than weddings, funerals and one holiday) for, oh, I’d say fifteen years now.

    ..even so, that’s a fallacy smacky. Atheism is appealing or unappealing to the average American regardless of whether I’m religious.

  178. I personally am not going to put on a mask in order to lure more people to libertarianism who would otherwise have me burning in their concept of hell. That would be me dissembling, and that’s dishonest. The religious people who really respect personal choice will support libertarian causes regardless of how many unsightly atheists there are who support the same cause. And if they don’t, then they aren’t really tolerant.

    Actually, I don’t think most people who see you call them “Christards”, or whatever, will listen to much of what you say. …I doubt they’ll spend much time here reading what the rest of say either.

  179. actually, I haven’t been to church (other than weddings, funerals and one holiday) for, oh, I’d say fifteen years now

    Ken-
    That may be why you don’t understand.
    My husband and I didn’t get a 14 year anniversary card from my inlaws. Why? We’re not really married as we were not married in the Catholic Church.
    Do you think that people who will vote the way they are told,obey when they are told not to read certain books and see certain movies are going to join the libertarians? True, true and true-I’m not making it up.

    Words fail me.

    Pick a few churches and go to the services, stay for coffee hour.
    I think you may need to see it in person.

  180. Wow. I’ve managed to lose my sympathy for atheists and theists both after reading the last half or so of this thread.

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