Congress

Atheist Announces From Foxhole

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The mysterious "non-theist" member of Congress was revealed today to be hot-blooded , 75-year-old Pete Stark of California . It's not the boldest announcement in the world. Stark is consistently ranked among the most liberal members on the Hill, and hails from a decidedly leftist district, so I doubt it'll cost him many votes. Though I guess you do have to admire the guy's moxie to wait until advancing years to announce his doubt about an afterlife.

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  1. Cue massive circle jerk debating existence of God.
    3…2…1…

  2. Gozer the Gozarian is a god.

  3. You know what it means when a liberal announces he’s an atheist and it’s blogged on H&R?

    Liberals and libertarians blogging together–mass hysteria!

  4. So, basically, we’ve got Congressman Eric Cartman as poster boy for atheism?

  5. Yeah, it’s cool and historical and all. But what we need, is for someone nominated to the SCOTUS or Cabinet or Something like that to ‘come out’. Then, once a couple of people are forced to fess up, everyone will feel obligated, like with the ‘I smoked dope in college’ thing.

  6. Unitarian – I was right.

  7. We’re still not going to see a politician admitting to liking Moxie any time soon.

  8. At a time when more politicians are putting on airs of religiosity, I don’t see more politicians being honest on this issue.

  9. We’re still not going to see a politician admitting to liking Moxie any time soon.

    People who like Moxie should be on a registry. If you’ll drink that filth with a smile, there’s no telling what you’re capable of.

  10. so I doubt it’ll cost him many votes.

    Votes? Perhaps he should be worried about, I don’t know – burning in hell for eternity? Sheesh.

  11. He’s a politician. Odds are, he’d be burning in hell anyway.

    Hmmmm, maybe atheism for congressmen is a reversed Pascal’s wager.

  12. Stark is the first open nontheist in the history of the Congress.

    Isn’t that debatable? Could deists be counted as non-theists? Deism was hip at one time.

    Unitarian – I was right.

    Shocking, eh?

  13. atheist for president even if he or she were the most qualified for the office.

    Joke, right? Does this mean that Georgie-Porgie was the “most qualified”. Excuse me for a minute, I’m not feeling well.

  14. Jimmy: No. It means they asked the respondents to imagine a candidate that supported whatever they believe in, except that he or she is an atheist.

  15. Why should we care about this?

    Non-theist? Atheist? Secularist? Dontcareist? Humanists? are these really discrete segments, or just BS names for a wide range of people who just never really bothered with religion, know nothing about it, and proudly announce their seperate identity?

    Reasonoids seem to inject the term “anti-theist” from time to time, implying a coming war between the FreeThinkers and the Deluded.

    Is it that he’s bold enough to announce he doesnt really care about religion in a country where most people say they do, but dont? Color me unimpressed. It stinks of the same kind of fake victimization that ‘christians’ invent… a la War on Christmas. Everyone seems to coopt each others tactics.

    I think the whole “theist/non theist” dichotomy is bullshit. The vast majority is in the grey middle area between dyed-in-the-wool church-every-weekers, and people who want to remove any reference to the word God from public speech.

  16. hignumber,

    At the very least deism assumes some sort of clockwinding God (keep in mind that unlike our appreciation of it today, deism meant all sorts of things to all sorts of people in the 18th century – indeed, it was often used by those skeptics who wanted to get out from under charges of atheism*).

    *Given the legal and social issues associated with accepting such a description as one’s own such efforts aren’t surprising.

  17. Given that most politicians think and act like they are gods, can they really be atheists?

  18. Anyway, I think that it is safe to say that deism was generally a means to make religious belief more rational in nature (at least for a certain portion of society – religion in its old garb was appropriate for the masses as a means of social control). Whether one agrees with these views they were commonly held positions during the 18th century.

  19. GILMORE
    Speaking only for myself. I think when someone expresses a religious belief, they are saying the equivalent of “I am ignorant and gullible”. Furthermore, at least since the Reagan years, the religious right has been pushing an agenda of evil, and I’d like to think atheists were more immune to that kind of “the government should be used to do what we know is right”. Although that’s really just wishful thinking.

  20. meh.

    Ultra-liberal announces as non-theist, (avoiding the shocking label of atheist), yeah, so?

    I can not count the number of times I have been ‘assaulted’ in atheist forums for being a non-leftist. The few freethinkers, conservatives and libertarians there, are too cowed by peer pressure to stand up and argue against them. Try to use reason on the global warming controversy in an atheist forum and see just how much un-reason they are capable of.

    As noted above, what is needed is for more atheists in the republican rank and file to stand up to THAT peer pressure and tell the radical religous right to ‘suck it’.

    I am tired of pointing to Robert Ingersol, someone more current is needed.

    Atheists need to stop the quiet-man routine in both atheist and conservative forums if they want to be respected. Cowering in an intellectual corner is no way to advance you equality.

  21. I cry salty ham tears for you, tomWright.

  22. I’m grateful for the believers. On Sunday there is less competition for an early tee time, the lakes are quieter for us fishermen and I feel safer in my deer stand.

  23. jimmy smith,

    Plus, after the Rapture we’ll be able to snag all of their shit. Dibs on Falwell’s house!

  24. Grotius,

    If a deist, 18th century or otherwise, doesn’t believe in a personal god, is that atheism?

  25. highnumber,

    Well, in modern day common meaning deism isn’t atheistic (as that term is typically used today). In the 18th century some might have considered it atheistic not because it denied all Gods but because it denied a particular type of God.

    Anyway, as far as I know the modern day atheist who published and openly admitted his atheism was the Baron D’Holbach – who wasn’t a deist.

  26. …the first modern day…

    I’m using the term “modern” because he is an Elightenment figure.

  27. Warren =

    I think when someone expresses a religious belief, they are saying the equivalent of “I am ignorant and gullible”. Furthermore, at least since the Reagan years, the religious right has been pushing an agenda of evil…

    You mean like Thomas Aquinas? or John Locke?

    Which religion? Oh, ALL religions, right? All religions require equal amounts of ignorance and gullibility. So fundy Qtubists are as ignorant as ‘rational deists’. Any metaphysical argument means you’re an idiot. Very Freethinking of you.

    You are extending religious people ‘expressing themselves’ to = ‘taking control of government’.

    Is it worth pointing out that the whole point of separation of Church and State was to ENABLE people to have differing religious POVs in america? Not to rid the public sphere of the expression of religion?

    Yes, the Religious Right tries to control certain debates, like abortion… but extending that to somehow encroaching on the fundemental basis of our constitution, turning the country into a theocracy is…well, Ignorant and Gullible.

    BTW, you use the term ‘evil’….. in, uh, what sense exactly is anything ‘evil’ in a god-free universe again? (apologies, Neitzche)

    JG

  28. GILMORE,

    I do not judge all theists equally harshly. I do however know that none of them believe in the one true faith even though it is available to them. So yes, they are all, at least a little bit, ignorant and gullible.

    I agree with your point about separation of church and state.

    I define evil as; humans that cause other humans to suffer.

    FWIW When religious people talk about good and evil I hear; Evil is what God says it is, and I’ll tell you what he says.

  29. In 1968 the SCOTUS decided Atheism is a religion.

    Discuss…

  30. “Perhaps he should be worried about, I don’t know – burning in hell for eternity?”

    People with brains don’t worry about such nonsense, only knee-jerk reactionaries that can’t think for themselves do.

  31. Why can’t Atheists get elected?

    Exhibit A

    “Perhaps he should be worried about, I don’t know – burning in hell for eternity?”

    People with brains don’t worry about such nonsense, only knee-jerk reactionaries that can’t think for themselves do.

  32. “in, uh, what sense exactly is anything ‘evil’ in a god-free universe”

    The existence of God is not necessary for evil to exist. If God doesn’t exist and somebody murders somebody, that is evil. “Thou shall not kill” doesn’t have to be spelled out in a commandment for us to know it’s evil. Likewise, we can tell when some command in the Bible is an evil command such as when it tells us we should stone gays. Our moral values are independent of any commands in the Bible.

  33. Dakota,

    Most people believe because it’s easier to believe than it is to think. You’re right, atheists can’t get elected because their honest and most people don’t want to hear that honesty. They want to keep on deluding themselves.

  34. ” I do however know that none of them believe in the one true faith”

    How do you know there is one true faith? People generally believe the faith they were broght up to believe in is the one true faith.

  35. “In 1968 the SCOTUS decided Atheism is a religion.”

    Atheism is not a religion. It is a lack of a religion and a lack of a belief in God and the supernatural.

  36. “…All religions require equal amounts of ignorance and gullibility?”

    I’m sure it varies.

  37. Atheism is not a religion. It is a lack of a religion and a lack of a belief in God and the supernatural.

    Maybe for some this is true. I’ve known many an atheist to claim as fact that there is no God. This is not simply a lack of belief; it is an actual belief.

  38. Look, we’ve already got an abortion debate going in another thread. This is simply not the day for a debate about the different categories of atheism/agnosticism/whatever.

  39. “The existence of God is not necessary for evil to exist”

    Tell that to neitzche.

    Seriously… just because you say so?

  40. “I define evil as; humans that cause other humans to suffer.”

    Another way of putting it = “hell is other people” 🙂

    So is this YOUR definition, or THE DEFINITION.

    It may matter when someone accuses you of living in a relativistic self-defined universe, claiming to reason but impervious to it since you can’t resort to objective definitions.

  41. Definitions of Athiesm

    http://www.carm.org/atheism/atheism.htm

    Strong vs. Weak – is the distinction above about “Belief in No God” (i.e. a faith based methaphysical assumption)… and the weaker, lack of a religion.

    They also clarify that ethics and morality is fundamentally relative in athiesm… despite these de facto claims here that ‘oh, but of course Evil exists’… despite no case to be made for it.

  42. Sound and Fury signifying not much here.

    If I write down ten things on a piece of paper and say that my grandma, who baked the universe whole in an apple pie 30 years ago (including false memories), says these things are evil, do I get the benefit of claiming my definition of evil is objective?

    I mean, it is all written down and everything.

  43. Well, I’ll stand up. I’m a proud atheist.

    I’m not proud of being an atheist, I’m just… proud. It’s something I do.

    Vote for me. Not insane.

  44. Not sure if I would call Pete Stark’s district “decidely leftist”, though being close to Berkeley and Oakland it leans towards the left.

    I believe the district voted against gay marriage when there was the proposition ballet (in 1999/2000?) in California.

    It is a Democratic majority district, though I think Pete’s many years of incumbency is due to his ability to bring home the bacon as such in a favorable district. Perhaps he is an example of why term limits are desirable.

  45. I am a Catholic libertarian. Frankly, I really don’t care about the whole thing.

  46. do I get the benefit of claiming my definition of evil is objective?

    Sure. You just introduced Grandma’s ApplePieism.

    It’s more tenable than just saying, “Because”…

  47. At age 75… I suspect he’ll be finding out one way or the other fairly soon.

  48. At age 75… I suspect he’ll be finding out one way or the other fairly soon.

    The bitch of it is, he will only find out if he’s wrong. Here’s to hoping I’m surprised when I die.

  49. Just like Marxists who think that a tyranny of the “peasants” is a valid response to the atrocities of feudalism, far too many atheists think that the abuse that they’ve endured at the hands of theists justifies dismissing the religious as ignorant and such. As an atheist who has endured a great deal of abuse from theists (and who knows a GREAT deal about many religions), I am equally dismayed by abusive behavior from all sides.

  50. Of course atheism is a religion! As Woody Allen said: The non-existence of God cannot be proven; it’s something we must take on faith.

  51. I believe the district voted against gay marriage when there was the proposition ballet (in 1999/2000?) in California.

    Yeah, I remember. I was going to vote in that one before I found out they made you wear toe shoes to do it. Those things just kill my feet.

  52. Robert Ingersoll on the death of his brother:
    “Yet, after all, it may be best, just in the happiest, sunniest hour of all the voyage, while eager winds are kissing every sail, to dash against the unseen rock, and in an instant hear the billows roar above a sunken ship. For, whether in mid-sea or ‘mong the breakers of the farther shore, a wreck at last must mark the end of each and all. And every life, no matter if its every hour is rich with love and every moment jeweled with a joy, will, at its close, become a tragedy as sad and deep and dark as can be woven of the warp and woof of mystery and death.” Bon Voyage.
    http://www.bartleby.com/268/10/9.html

  53. Does being an atheist mean you believe there is no afterlife? I don’t think so. There could be an aferlife with no god.

  54. Jim O’Sullivan: Dammit, what the hell are you talking about? Surely you know there is a difference between believing something on faith and the concept of religion? I have faith that people like you will be more careful with language, does that make me religious? Faith and religion, while intertwined, are not synonyms.

  55. I can’t believe the gall of Pete Stark to deny the existance of the Flying Spaghetti Monster! Click on the url I linked to my handel to learn more about our creator, the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

  56. The bitch of it is, he will only find out if he’s wrong.

    So how many believers are so for insurance purposes?

  57. Warren said,
    “I’d like to think atheists were more immune to that kind of “the government should be used to do what we know is right”.”

    I think it should be pointed out that, in the 20th century, self-professed atheists used the police power of the state to kill more people than all the religious wars ever fought combined in the pursuit of their various visions of Utopia.

    He also said
    “I define evil as; humans that cause other humans to suffer.”

    If that’s the case then atheists are the greatest evil that has ever plagued mankind.

  58. I can’t fault Pete Stark for waiting until he was old to to announce he was a “non-theist”.

    Thomas Paine wrote the “The Age of Reason”, an assault on organized religion, when he believed he was about to be executed. He said he waited until late in life because he knew the trouble it would cause.

  59. I’m trying to understand the advantage. If any jackass can write anything they want on a piece of paper and call it Evil, what is the moral significance of the paper itself? Isn’t the content really at issue here?

    I’m sorry, but “Don’t eat porkchops,” is not better than anything someone comes up with at random.

  60. Supposedly (a bit of an pre-urban legend) Voltaire on his death bed was asked by a priest to renounce the devil and all his works. Voltaire replied, “Father, at this stage, I would prefer not to make any new enemies.”

  61. Hey…how many of you remember that Fortney “Pete” Stark used to be a republican!

  62. I’ll add there is a perception by some (few) that atheists are angry towards those who hold religious beliefs.

    Well, Pete Stark is a posterboy of angry…look at the foul mouth and the way he has sounded off against those who disagree with him, be it fellow congress members or constituents. Not sure if reasonable atheists who favor civil discourse would want to Pete Stark to be their public face in Congress.

  63. What truly annoys me is the smug (and fundamentally mistaken) assertion that atheism is somehow rational in the face of a tuned universe. To get around that, evidence free multiple universes are posited, so many that any number of improbabilities in the observed world can be waved away with the observation that we’re just the lucky universe in the multiverse that has everything “right”. Of course, when you have that large a number of universes, anything improbable becomes probable. The one exception that they cannot tolerate in their multiverse theories is that God becomes probable too.

  64. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the existence of God is probable, but the universe is too weird to claim that a god or gods are impossible. The fact that we exist at all is amazing to me (and the fact that anything exists is amazing to me).

  65. TM Lucas:

    Weak athiesm is certainly rational in the face of a “tuned” universe. It professes that an answer to the question as to why the universe is suitable for intelligent life is not known to science. It does not wish to posit God, as it is a cop out; rather, it admits to our ignorance but holds out hope that there may be rational answers in the future. Admitting one’s ignorance–in that it leaves open the possibility of overcoming that ignorance–is certainly more rational than plugging up the ignorance with God.

    Also, there are metaphysical assumptions in calling the universe “tuned” in the first place. “Capable of producing intelligent life” is better.

  66. To be clear, what most athiests and Russellian agnostsitcs view as irrational is the certitude with which the religious speak while having no knowledge whatsoever. Not just to say there is something out there, but to say that this particular story describes what that something is, that the something is infinitely loving (unless, apparently, you ask too many questions), and so forth.

    It is just as though I met you on the street and gave you a spiel about how worried I was about you because you hadn’t heard about grannyapplepieism. It just sounds nuts unless you are already tuned to the same channel.

    It is more rational to either say you don’t know, because you don’t. In defense of the solid athiest, it is also reasonable to say “Well, I can’t prove a question designed to be unprovable, but I can view it with equal suspicion to other claims of the paranormal. If people can walk on water, why not telekinesis and pet telepathy?”

  67. “If that’s the case then atheists are the greatest evil that has ever plagued mankind.”

    Change atheists to theists, and you’d have a true statement.

    Nothing kills more people than religion.

  68. And yet that phrase,

    “I know there ain’t no Heaven but I pray there ain’t no Hell”

    Keeps people up long into the night, doesn’t it?

  69. I have dark side that appreciates that, even though atheists are ever anxious to clamorously extol their learned opinions on God, He, in turn, is content to wait until after they die to let them know what He thinks about them.

    Some call that patience, others call that mercy.

  70. “…(and fundamentally mistaken) assertion that atheism is somehow rational in the face of a tuned universe”

    Why would you say the universe is tuned? For all we know the constants we observe in the universe would turn out the same if we reran big bang a million times. There is no data on how likely our universe is. Of course we could only find ourselves in a universe that supportsour kind of like- not so amazing.

  71. I meant “supports our kind of life”

  72. B. Pike,

    What you say is interesting. Would you please tell more about the mind of our omniscient creator?

  73. “I have dark side that appreciates that, even though atheists are ever anxious to clamorously extol their learned opinions on God, He, in turn, is content to wait until after they die to let them know what He thinks about them.”

    Not that this happens much, but I’m with Stupendous here. You seem to be suggesting:

    1) Atheists have no ‘learned’ opinions about god.

    2) You do.

    3) What you know of him indicates that he is simultaneously petty (in that the worst thing you can do is not worship him) and malevolent (if you don’t worship him, eternal torment the likes of which you can’t imagine is your reward).

  74. “Nothing kills more people than religion.”

    Atheists murdered over 100 million people in the 20th century alone. When it comes to slaughter the religious are pikers by comparison.

  75. Well if your Granny of the Sainted Apple Pie had …oh…invented a warp drive out of the contents of her purse aka done something impossible, and had five hundred witnesses on many different occasions attest to the fact that the warp drive worked….I’d listen to your Granny. Of course, that wouldn’t even be one-tenth the proof of Christianity, but hey, she’d be worth listening to.

    It wouldn’t be rational to dismiss her without significant study.

  76. The non-belief in something has “killed?”

    WOW!

  77. “Proof of Christianity?”

    WOW!

  78. The belief of non-belief is a religion?

    WOW!

  79. or better

    The non-belief of belief is belief.

    WOW!

  80. GILMORE

    CARM is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose purpose is to equip Christians and refute error. Learn about biblical Christianity so you can know God better, be more sanctified, and identify false teachings

    Great place for an unbiased definition for atheism…

    HAHAHHAH

  81. Carl: Atheists killed 100 million people? And Religious people killed zero? How many atheists killed in the name of atheism? As far as I know, there has never been an atheist war. On the other hand, there have been countless religious wars where the killing was in the name of some deity.

    “Learn about biblical Christianity so you can know God better, be more sanctified, and identify false teachings.

    Americans are the most ignorant about the bible, yet the most religious western country. Europeans know more about the bible, yet are less religious. I’m sure this is because Europeans are significantly inferior to us blessed, cherished-by-God, salt of the earth Americans.

  82. “Atheists killed 100 million people?”

    Yes.

    “And Religious people killed zero?”

    No, religious people killed lots of folks too.

    “How many atheists killed in the name of atheism?”

    Start counting with Lennin, Stalin, Mao, etc; all of whom slaughtered countless numbers of their own people, not in battle, but with famine, gulags, cultural purges, etc., etc. They murdered in the name of “economic justice” and a belief in the perfectibility of mankind, ideas based on philosophical materialism (a philosophy which rather precludes the notion of God).

    “there have been countless religious wars where the killing was in the name of some deity.”

    The various communist regimes of the 20th century killed more of their own people than all the religious wars ever fought combined, including the Great Taiping Rebellion in China.

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