Religion

The Least-Liked Minority Group? Atheists.

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Atheist Evil
The Evil of Atheism

As I reported a couple of years back, research shows that believers trust atheists about as much they do rapists. A new study published in The Journal of Applied Social Psychology reports that atheists are the most disliked minority group. From the abstract: 

Prejudice against atheists is pervasive in the United States. Atheists lag behind virtually all other minority groups on measures of social acceptance. The sociofunctional approach suggests that distrust is at the core of anti-atheist prejudice, thus making it qualitatively different than prejudice against other disadvantaged groups. Accordingly, this research examined political bias against atheists, gays, and Blacks and the affective content accompanying such biases. Results indicated that atheists suffered the largest deficit in voting intentions from Christian participants, and this deficit was accompanied by distrust, disgust, and fear, thereby suggesting that the affective content of anti-atheist prejudice is both broader and more extreme than prejudice against other historically disadvantaged groups.

Distrust, disgust, and fear? Surely, that's a bit of an overreaction to intellectual smugness. As an out-atheist since my teens, I have, to my knowledge, never experienced any prejudice on account of my non-belief. (Well, there was this one dinner party at our house during which the wife of one of my wife's colleagues expressed considerable shock upon learning that I am an atheist. Apparently, I was the first atheist she'd ever met. On subsequent social occasions, she has never been in the same room with me again. Perhaps that's just a coincidence.)

Will anti-atheist bigotry abate in the future? As I have previously noted:

Time magazine in 2012 listed "The Rise of the Nones" as one of the biggest trends in the United States. It turns out that the fastest-growing religious group in the U.S. is Americans who list their religious affiliation as "none." A 2007 survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found that 16 percent of Americans are unaffiliated with any religious group; about half of them could be described as secular unaffiliated. Twenty-five percent of Americans ages 18 to 29 are unaffiliated with any particular religion. If this trend toward nonbelief continues, it's going to be harder and harder for believers to continue to practice bigotry against atheists. Nonbelievers are their children, their relatives, friends, neighbors, and co-workers.

I suspect that "othering" atheists will fall out of fashion as growing familiarity with non-believers eventually breeds acceptance.

See also Reason TV's report on the biggest atheist gathering in history in March, 2012 below:

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  1. Those anti-religionists give atheists a bad name.

    1. Lol. I was going to say something similar. If only the loudest members of the community didn’t insist on being assholes to absolutely everyone.

      1. Kind of like if the “2A long gun carriers” didn’t insist on bringing their AR’s to dinner, people might hear their message a little more clearly.

        I have to say, other than some personal friends, the athiests I see in print, TV and other media do tend to be the blowhard pricks who are very hard impossible to accept….much less “like”. Which, I admit, makes me shut off their message….cause if you’re an asshole, I don’t wanna listen…sorry.

        1. No, not like that at all.

          You can bring the atheism to the table, just dont be an ass about it.

          1. I think the “overplaying it” part was what I was after. “Don’t try so hard…”

            Whatever.

      2. Yeah, but these are longstanding attitudes from before anyone had heard of Richard Dawkins. I get that people don’t like those folks and whatever, that’s cool, but I don’t believe that’s the source of results like this.

        1. To a certain extent, you are correct. In the particular circle I run in, I find the following to be true: I decidedly don’t give a shit about people’s religious beliefs, including beliefs that there is nothing about which to be religious. Until they push them on me. At least the Jehovah’s Witness and Mormons are polite and don’t treat me like I have brain damage because I don’t express instant and total agreement with them. They don’t start with their proselytizing with: “How can you possibly believe…” (often something that I don’t believe at all)

          1. I agree superstitious people are a bit sensitive about the items they’ve chosen off the mythological salad bar.
            What really rocks me is how my fellow atheists could give a non-financial shit about a Moses statue, Christmas tree or manger scene on the courthouse lawn. Would they express comparable outrage over a statue of the Cat in the Hat?

          2. I have a friend who is married to an atheist. He has recently begun telling her she’s an idiot, both in private and in public. I have started to frankly deplore him. I think I’d react this way without regard to his denomination. Turn out, when you treat others poorly, they don’t like you. He’s going to be really sad if she decides not to put up with his act anymore, because he married above him whether he realizes it or not.

      3. I know. Fucking atheists always knocking on my door, putting doorknob hangers there if I’m not home, leaving pamphlets on my windshield, trying to get me to go to their meetings. All unsolicited.

        Assholes.

      4. Why is it “being an asshole” when you’re trying to help someone out of a delusion?

    2. Meh. My suspicion is that you’ll find a**holes in any particular religious or philosophical movement who presume their membership on the team makes them superior. It’s just most people know enough religious folks to know those people aren’t the totality in most religions. Atheists are still rare enough that these sorts are stil more likely to be a lot of people’s main exposure.

      1. I met this Buddhist once…wow, was he a jerk!

        1. Teh Dali Lama is a total douche bag.

        2. Of course, Buddhists are atheists, so….

          1. Buddhists are atheists

            Yes and no. If you mean Buddhists don’t believe in a creator god in the vein of the Abrahamic God, then yes. However, traditional Buddhism recognizes the classical Hindu deities as beings of greater power than humans, who have immensely long life-spans, but did not create the universe and the worship of them is strongly discouraged by Buddhism.

            Similarly, most sects of Mahayana Buddhism do believe in the devotional worship of enlightened beings of compassion (bodhisattvas), which from an outsider’s persective might seem like a belief in a deity.

            1. No, I read on the internet that Buddhists were atheists.

              Granted, I just now read on the Internets that some Buddhists are not atheists, but since I read the first statement first, I have to go with that.

              1. PRIMACY CLAUSE, BITCHEZ!

              2. Since atheism is a religion, and Buddhists are atheists, Buddhists are religious.

                  1. Isn’t atheism a religion like bald is a hair color?

            2. Apparently Buddhism started off as atheistic and certain branches acquired belief in Hindu deities (like Christianity appropriating attributes of certain pagan deities to the Saints as a way of Christianizing the cultures of new converts). Which has had the effect of the non-atheist Buddhists now outnumber the atheist Buddhists.

            3. They sound more like agnostics.

          2. Basically nontheists rather atheist. Belief in other non-human beings that still denies their necessity for salvation.

            Part of the Buddhist legend, if I recall, is that even the devas and higher deities “bowed down” so to speak or respected the newly enlightened human Siddartha.

          1. That section on the sand where there was only one set of footprints? That’s where I left you to get a Chicago-style Hot Dog and an ROC Coca-Cola.

            1. God, I love me some Chicago style dogs. The best? From “Happy Daz” in Lima, OH. Fokin’ EPIC Chgo Dog. Mmmmm!

              Now I haz a hungry…and I don’t want to drive to Lima….:(

              1. I ate a meal in Lima once…once.

                1. heh – yeah – REALLY nice town ๐Ÿ™‚ I lived in Ottawa, a little farmtown straight north of Lima. But GREAT hot dogs in Lima…mmmm!!

                  1. Oddly, the best hot dog I ever had was in Argentina.

      2. Yeah, I think that about covers it. I’m an atheist but don’t preach it and don’t hate on religious people. Don’t bring it up but don’t shy away from it either. I’m in the Bible belt where there is a church (and a bar) walking distance from anywhere. Yet, I’ve never experianced any type of bad treatment when my atheism has come up. There was a chick who was concerned about my lack of belief in a soul but that was about it. When I see facebook posts from these assholes from some of these asshole anti-religious sanctamonious progs though it makes ME hate atheist. What a bunch of prigs.

        1. “When I see facebook posts from these assholes from some of these asshole anti-religious sanctamonious progs though it makes ME hate atheist.”

          Well, given it’s proglodytes you’re talking about, maybe they hate on religious people becuase they fail to acknowledge their One True God – The State.

          1. My mind is not for rent to any god or government.

        2. asshole anti-religious sanctimonious progs

          So, Buttplug.

      3. I would think that any member of religious or philosophic movement would identify their ideas as superior to other opposing views, or else there would be little point to joining. Maybe for the parties?

    3. Nailed it. When Dawkins claims that teaching one’s children one’s deeply and sincerely held religious beliefs is a form of “child abuse”, there is reason to distrust him and his ilk.

      1. I am an atheist and I am considering finding a church to go to for the sake of my kid. How fucking strange is that?

        1. If nothing else, one is broadening the child’s cultural horizons.

          I don’t recommend a church that has no windows.

          1. I’m trying to find one that doesn’t have a lot of singing. I really hate the singing.

            1. Quakers. Seriously.

              1. There aren’t any in my area. I’m quite limited, which is part of why I haven’t settled on anything.

            2. I am purposely late to church every week to miss the “everyone go around and greet each other” part of the service.

              1. I’ll have a four year old in tow, so it would be unwise for me to be habitually late.

              2. I am purposely late to church every week to miss the “everyone go around and greet each other” part of the service.

                That’s one of the good things about Catholicism. No meet-and-greet before or after mass. You do have to do that handshake of peace thing mid-service, but it can be perfunctory.

            3. Strange, I find singing the only redeeming quality in churches

        2. Churches are social hubs with all sorts of useful attributes. And early, regular exposure to an organized religion can inoculate kids against the more pernicious pseudo-religions later in life.

          1. Using churches as a memetic vaccine? Love it.

        3. I think that’s cool. Maybe try Presbyterian? As I always say – “it’s like having no religiion at all :)”

          Although at ours – LOTS of singing.

        4. Unitarians exist for some reason. I guess that is it.

        5. I am an atheist and I am considering finding a church to go to for the sake of my kid. How fucking strange is that?

          Why? I mean literally, why…I find this just baffling.

          1. For me to meet some of the locals and do some community stuff. I’ve lived here (a town of like 5K people) for most of ten years but I really don’t know that many people. For the little one to learn Bible stories that are part of our culture, get a dose of good old fashioned Christian morality, and make some friends.

          2. Why? I mean literally, why…I find this just baffling.

            I can certainly sympathize with sarc. As someone who spent a better part of his life (thus far anyway) in academia;

            Why peer review? I don’t mean simply reproducing an experiment either. A group of arcane priests affirming the work of another arcane priest in a religion I’ll never, in any appreciable way, subscribe to is just baffling to me.

        6. I am an atheist and I am considering finding a church to go to for the sake of my kid. How fucking strange is that?

          Good call. Nothing drives a person to atheism like church. Worked for me.

          1. Nothing drives a person to atheism like church.

            You might be the one guy who would understand me being an atheist who earned a ministerial degree 25 years ago.

        7. You should start taking them to local Democratic Party meetings, too.

      2. Of course, that’s reason to distrust Dawkins, not atheists i general.

    4. That certainly doesn’t help, but a lot of people really don’t seem to understand that you can be moral without belief in the divine (or in many cases divine punishment). They think that atheism means amorality. It amazes me how many people I encounter who actually say that the fear of God is what prevents them from doing bad things. And that really helps me avoid being anti-religion. Apparently some people do need it, absurd as it may seem to me.

      1. It amazes me how many people I encounter who actually say that the fear of God is what prevents them from doing bad things. And that really helps me avoid being anti-religion. Apparently some people do need it, absurd as it may seem to me.

        Well said.

      2. They think that atheism means amorality.

        That’s because in many cases that is exactly what it means.

        1. I don’t know if it means that. It just coincides sometimes (often? I’m not sure, I don’t know many militant atheists). And while I might not always agree with the conclusions people reach, I’d say that most people who aren’t complete sociopaths have some sort of morality. “whatever my feelings tell me” is a system of morality, if a bad one.

        2. In other words, I think that a lot of distrust of atheists is actually more a priori and not so much because of experience with actual atheists. Especially for more deeply religious people. Among the casually religious and agnostic the obnoxious anti-religionists probably do more to hurt the reputations of reasonable atheists.

        3. That’s because in many cases that is exactly what it means.

          It’s only ‘amorality’ to a person whose conception of morality is this irrational code of conduct handed down from a magical superbeing.

          It amazes me how many people I encounter who actually say that the fear of God is what prevents them from doing bad things.

          I think those people should be ashamed that it takes fear of reprisals from a fictitious superbeing to help them not steal, rape and murder other human beings.

          Basing your sense of right and wrong on the writings of some desert dwelling goat herders that died a few thousand years ago, seems like a rather unstable foundation to build upon.

          1. It’s only ‘amorality’ to a person whose conception of morality is this irrational code of conduct handed down from a magical superbeing.

            Not true. I derive my morality from the principles of natural law. But there are many people who do neither. They don’t fear a superbeing, they have no principles, and they do not respect the legislated morality of man. They are amoral. And they’re killing each other on the streets in big cities every day.

            1. Not true. I derive my morality from the principles of natural law. But there are many people who do neither. They don’t fear a superbeing, they have no principles, and they do not respect the legislated morality of man. They are amoral. And they’re killing each other on the streets in big cities every day.

              Amoral means “lacking moral content”, a rock is amoral, a protozoa is amoral, the sky is amoral. A human being disregarding the life, liberty and property of other human beings is immoral. A sociopath is typically immoral, even if they are unable to distinguish what morality is.

              1. Great. Now it’s a matter of semantics?

                Whatever. I’m still going with amoral, even if it is wrong. Because as I view it immoral means disregarding known morality, while amoral means having no morality to disregard.

                1. Great. Now it’s a matter of semantics?

                  It’s a matter of definitions. Words mean things. If you use the wrong word, it sends the wrong message which I guess is great if you’re into wasting other people’s time, not for much else though.

                  Whatever. I’m still going with amoral, even if it is wrong. Because as I view it immoral means disregarding known morality, while amoral means having no morality to disregard.

                  Great. If words and concepts mean whatever you prefer them to mean, then you’re never wrong.

                  It would seem that in order to continue this conversation with you, I’d have to explain Philosophy 101 just so we could eventually be speaking the same language.

              2. A sociopath is typically immoral, even if they are unable to distinguish what morality is.

                I think you need to take another look at sociopathology. They know what moral behavior is, or they couldn’t mimic it.

          2. Basing your sense of right and wrong on the writings of some desert dwelling goat herders that died a few thousand years ago, seems like a rather unstable foundation to build upon.

            This is precisely the type of statement that makes so many people assume atheists are all assholes.

            1. I’m sorry, here I thought the bible was written down by people thousands of years ago, whose conceptions of morality is thousands of years out of date.

              If it makes me an asshole to disbelieve the claim that a magic superbeing wrote that barbaric and contradictory code of morality, then I’d happily be a rational asshole than an irrational believer.

              1. Judge not lest ye be judged. Oh, too late. Asshole.

              2. Your facts aren’t wrong and they aren’t what would make many people think you are being an asshole. The condescending tone is. It also seems dismissive of 2,000 years worth of critical theological study of the Bible.

                If you had instead said something like

                “I don’t attribute anything in the Bible to divine revelation. I think it is merely a collection of subjective and sometimes contradictory social norms written by people who did not have the benefit of all the knowledge we possess today, and I don’t find it to be very well reasoned. Therefore, it doesn’t provide the type of foundation that I want to build my moral code on.”

                then a lot of people might disagree with you, and strongly, but I don’t think they would say you were being an asshole.

                1. Your facts aren’t wrong and they aren’t what would make many people think you are being an asshole. The condescending tone is. It also seems dismissive of 2,000 years worth of critical theological study of the Bible.

                  What’s condescending, exactly? Do I owe your belief system the same reverence you give it? 2,000 years of criticism? I remember most of those 2,000 years being spent torturing and murdering all those who criticized even the most mundane biblical claims.

                2. So the only way to criticize the validity of your religion, is to accept it’s premise and use it’s own terminology? I prefer to use the word ‘mythology’ to the word ‘theology’ for example. You taking offense is like a communist getting offended when Murray Rothbard writes about the economy without using words like “proletariat” and “wage slavery”. I describe things as they are, as best I can discern. Your paragraph isn’t bad though. I’ll fix it.

                  “I don’t attribute anything in the Bible to divine revelationsupernatural forces. I think it is merely a collection of subjective and sometimesoften contradictory social norms written by people who did not have the benefit of all the knowledge we possess todaymurdered babies and more at the supposed command of their god, and I don’t find it to be very well reasonedwhile it clearly poorly reasoned, it’s worst attribute is it’s to moral repugnance. Therefore, it doesn’t provide the type of foundation that I want to build my moral code onit’s an immoral belief system a relic of man’s ancient ignorance.”

                  then a lot of people might disagree with you, and strongly, but I don’t think they would say you were being an asshole.

                  Not at all the case. When someone asks me if I’m a Christian and I give them an honest response, they give me their honest disgust most of the time

      3. It amazes me how many people I encounter who actually say that the fear of God is what prevents them from doing bad things.

        It depends on what they mean by “bad things”.

        Yeah, they may not murder, or break into people’s homes and steal televisions, but I bet they gossip, worry, and engage in other activities which violate the Two Commandments.

        1. Well, as long as it works for things that actually victimize other people, I don’t care if they still “sin” in some other ways.

          1. Gossip can destroy people’s lives, but it isn’t really considered a “major sin”.

            People who habitually worry can drive themselves into an early grave, or make really bad decisions that ripple out and hurt others.

            Still, the purpose of Redemption is not to make people moral, but to establish a relationship between the creature and his Creator, which would not otherwise be possible. Becoming a “good person” is (should be) a secondary effect.

    5. That reminds me of Marc Maron’s bit from Thinky Pain on atheists (YouTube failed me).

    6. I like that term. It actually covers my experiences with “these people.”

  2. In the Olympics of Suffering, it’s clearly atheism, then slavery, then the holocaust.

  3. Maybe someone can answer me. What is the term for someone who suspects there is a god, but isn’t really sure, and is quite certain that the matter can’t be proven either way (and really doesn’t think it matters a whole lot)?

      1. Thanks.

    1. ag?nos?tic
      ag?n?stik/
      noun
      noun: agnostic; plural noun: agnostics

      1.
      a person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena; a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God.
      synonyms: skeptic, doubter, doubting Thomas, cynic;

      1. Thanks.

      2. Agnosticism as defined here makes a contradictory claim. “nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena

        If nothing can be known about the existence or nature of god, then to make the claim of unknowableness of god is an affirmative claim to the contrary of the premise.

        I think a better definition for agnostics if we aren’t going to call them a species of ‘weak atheism’ is to call them people who don’t care enough to think on it too much. (which is certainly a form of non-belief)

        1. No. Mathematics has a concept of indeterminate. An answer which is neither known nor knowable. You can believe that the question of God’s existence is indeterminate without violating the principle that it is indeterminate.

          1. The laws of mathematics don’t exactly cover extra-dimensional supernatural realms. But yes there are lots of things that can’t be definitively known, but those things dwell within reality and can be logically deduced. We can’t know exactly whats under the ground 10 miles beneath your feet, but we can study volcanoes and extrapolate the laws of nature to infer what’s below.

            However by your standard, anything that can’t be disproven with negative evidence must exist. That doesn’t just include your god, but if you are to be consistent then you must accept the existence of all sorts of things whose non-existence hasn’t been proven; like unicorns, leprechauns and Santa Claus.

    2. …”(and really doesn’t think it matters a whole lot)?”
      What do you call someone who doesn’t watch the news?

      1. But, that’s not strictly true. The important stuff I think you’re talking about doesn’t stem from the existance or non-existance of God, but rather people’s particular beliefs about the existance or non-existance of God.

        1. “The important stuff I think you’re talking about doesn’t stem from the existance or non-existance of God, but rather people’s particular beliefs about the existance or non-existance of God.”

          So the people who flew those planes into those buildings were not really concerned with their ‘god’?

          1. Of course they were. But, whether God actually exists or not has very little bearing on their belief.

            1. Saying how unlikely there is to be a god, let alone your specific local god(s) illustrates how irrational it is to assume something to be true without evidence.

              Once you open this window of irrationality, it makes it easier for desperate and sad people to be manipulated into these things.

              The terrorists thought themselves heroes and martyrs because of a deeply flawed moral system based in this irrationality. To be consistent, we should attack all forms of this irrationality, down to benign things like horoscopes

              1. Horoscopes cause 9/11. Got it. Glad we have all these atheists who can use their Spock-like logic to show the flaws in theism.

                1. Got it. Glad we have all these theists to make irrational beliefs look like the only rational options.

          2. Did the actual existence of their god make a difference in the outcome?

            1. A question I like to ask of religious people is if it matters whether what they believe is true or not.

              1. Have you gotten anyone to say “Not really…”?

                1. A few times, yes. But those were people already moving away from the formal religions they were brought up in. A lot more people say they have to think about it.

            2. You know what blew my mind? Indiana Jones is completely superfluous in Raiders of the Lost Ark. If he hadn’t been there to fight the Nazis, absolutely nothing different would have happened.

    3. Militant Agnostic; “I don’t know, and you don’t either!”

      1. Damn! I think I like that label.

      2. “I don’t think! I KNOW!”

        “I don’t think you know EITHER!”

    4. There is also nontheism. Technically atheism is a subset of nontheism, but there is also a large portion of nontheism that does not intersect.

      It’s different from agnosticism because being agnostic implies that you don’t know and perhaps you may never know, but it may matter once you do know, that proof of existence would change your world view.

      Nontheism implies it ultimately doesn’t matter.

      1. Thanks. Sounds pretty close, as well.

      2. Aren’t nontheism and atheism synonymous? I mean, that’s what the a in atheism means. It just means not theism. Atheism is a broad category that includes agnosticism.

    5. Sounds like an Apathetic Agnostic to me… we don’t know, and we don’t care.

      1. That’s a species of atheism termed ‘weak atheism’.

      2. Not so sure. My view is more “We can’t know, and it is, or at least should be, beside the point.”

        1. If we “can’t know” then how are you sure of the unknowableness?

          1. Figure out what 0/0 is and get back to me.

            1. Well nothing divided by nothing is nothing. If it’s not nothing, it’s too arbitrary to matter. And nothing as the basis for your barbaric code of irrational morality sounds pretty much like what you would expect for a belief that requires so little thought of it’s adherents.

  4. “The Least-Liked Minority Group? Atheists.”
    Right up there with math teachers.
    (BTW, I don’t recall signing a release for that photo of me)

    1. I loved your work in The Evil of Atheism 2: Electric Boogaloo!

  5. I thought serial killers were the least liked minority.

    Right behind deep dish pizza makers.

    1. Maybe “Dexter” made serial killers cool?

      1. The deep dish pizza makers are sadly out of luck.

    2. Where do mayonnaise artisans place in this minority dislike list?

      1. Eighth Circle of Hell

      2. Mayonnaise artisans are heroes who should be celebrated. Unless they have neck beards and sleeve tattoos.

  6. other disadvantaged groups

    Wait, how are atheists disadvantaged?

    1. Christfags refuse to live their lives the way atheists want, and that makes them sad.

    2. Politically. It’s hard to get elected if you don’t at least pretend to be somewhat religious. Otherwise, I can’t think of much.

      1. As an atheist I consider that an advantage. Being unelectable means less temptation to do evil.

        1. Good point. But libertarian atheists are a special case in that way.

      2. Otherwise, I can’t think of much.

        I was castigated at my own grandmother’s funeral because some lady asked me whether I looked forward to seeing granny in heaven.

        I’ts not like atheists have to use a separate drinking fountain, but it is however completely socially acceptable to be a dick to non-believers and accuse them of oppressing your faith simply because they don’t believe. People don’t like being told that their belief is false or irrational, and every time an atheist answers a question about the status of their own supernatural beliefs, every Christian in a 5 mile radius takes it as a personal affront.

        1. I think it’s hard to avoid clashes. If an atheist says his true thoughts, e.g. “I think the bible is absurd,” it’s hard not to take that as a personal attack if you cherish the bible.

          1. I think it is the use of the word absurd that sets people off. If instead an atheist said “I think everything in Bible attributed to God or the Devil is more easily explained without either”, would people react the same way? I suspect not. I’m Catholic, and I would actually agree with that statement.

            1. I’d prefer to speak my mind rather than mince words although it’s maybe not the best strategy. Perhaps I should preface things with a disclaimer such as “I’m not making any claim about your intelligence, your worth as a human being, or anything of the sort.” See my exchange with John below.

              1. And I’m not personally offended if you call my beliefs absurd. But then I have a thick skin. I’m just trying to point out why other people might get offended, and a way of stating things that might be more diplomatic.

            2. I think it is the use of the word absurd that sets people off. If instead an atheist said “I think everything in Bible attributed to God or the Devil is more easily explained without either”, would people react the same way? I suspect not. I’m Catholic, and I would actually agree with that statement.

              That’s not reasonable. I shouldn’t have to moderate the truth. I think aside from some historical insights to a backwards corner of the world during a backwards time, nothing supernatural in the bible is true or relevant. I shouldn’t have to say something that you, as a Catholic, would agree with in order for you to be civil.

              Christianity is false, but I understand for some people all they hear is me saying is “You’re never going to see your dead family again!”. Other people’s emotional response is not my problem.

          2. I don’t know if I think that the Bible is absurd. I think it is a work of fiction (perhaps very loosely historical fiction) and best understood as the product of a certain time and place, but that’s different.

          3. I actually like the Bible even though I think it’s entirely fictional. There’s a lot of nice poetry in it.

            1. Sure. And it’s a major basis of the Western literary tradition. At least as important and worthy of appreciation as other ancient and classical literature that has survived. Some parts are a bit dry or repetitive, but I’ve enjoyed reading many parts of the Bible.

    3. Our Jesus fish oppress them.

      1. Atheists are swimming upstream…

        1. But in a river of unsuppressed sexual exploits, right? Seems like a win to me.

    4. As it says in the article, they’re deemed untrustworthy because they don’t believe in a deity.

  7. My atheism is like my libertarianism, typically kept to myself. Experience has shown me that what works for me often doesn’t for others. To quote a favorite libertarian atheist, Penn Jillette, “I don’t know what is best for anyone else and neither do you.”

    That said, I will gladly discuss either, but will not initiate the discussion and try to be a gentleman with my opinions during the discussion.

    1. I know what’s best for you, but I’m not going to tell you what it is.

      Well, except for this one little hint: avoid the forex.

    2. Penn Jillette does also call out religion and other bullshit on several occasions though

    3. Yes libertarianism isn’t for people dedicated to living immorally at the expense of others. Everyone else who wants to live by some sort of logically consistent morality, there’s libertarianism.

      As for religion, I don’t see whats so smug or self-righteous about telling the superstitious guy making supernatural claims, that he’ll need empirical evidence to qualify as anything more than a person with an irrational opinion.

      1. I’m not sure that every true statement can be tested empirically.

        1. I’m not sure that every true statement can be tested empirically.

          How do you know it’s true then?

          1. Goedel’s Incompleteness Theorem

            1. That really has little to do with truth or even knowledge, though. All it can tell you is that there are statements which are valid, but cannot be derived through a finite, mechanical logical process.

              1. Yes, but any sort of truth not tied to validity derived through a finite, mechanical logical process is going to be to some extent arbitrary.

          2. You can’t. That doesn’t mean it isn’t either true or not, though. Knowledge is a tricky thing. Can you really know if you truly know something outside of your own subjective experience?

            That is part of why I like to ask people if it matters whether their beliefs are true or not.

            1. Can you truly know something INSIDE your own subjective experience? Can you trust your senses and your brain? That is, does the information collected by your senses and interpreted by your brain give you a proper view of reality, or are they conditioned to ensure your survival?

              Does it matter?

              1. Can you truly know something INSIDE your own subjective experience? Can you trust your senses and your brain? That is, does the information collected by your senses and interpreted by your brain give you a proper view of reality, or are they conditioned to ensure your survival?

                What’s a proper view of reality? You’d have to endorse the irrational Platonic Ideal to even argue the point.

                I think I can trust my senses in my as decoded by my brain. I successfully drove to work today and I successfully avoided walking into a woodchipper too.

                Does it matter?

                If it didn’t matter we wouldn’t recognize or discuss it. The undetectable tea pot in orbit around the crab nebula doesn’t matter because even it is real, it’s too far removed and irrelevant to be worth pursuing the truth of it. Whereas epistemology and understanding reality, do matter.

                1. even if it is*

          3. “The only true statement is that which is empirically tested” is a statement that cannot, to my mind, be empirically tested.

            1. Any falsifiable statement can be empirically tested. So all you have to do is make a true statement which is also unfalsifiable to disprove the statement.

              1. Any falsifiable statement can be empirically tested.

                ^^Is this a falsifiable statement?

                1. “The only true statement is that which is empirically tested”

                  1. Let me back up. And this is a philosophy-logic question apart from the whole “there is a God/the Cosmos is all that there is, ever was, etc.”. Are there non-falsifiable statements that are nevertheless true?

                    1. I suppose tautologies, which is what you are using to make your thin point in this discussion, would be an example of non falsifiable true statements.

                    2. Are there non-falsifiable statements that are nevertheless true?

                      If you assume that for any non-self-referential statement X, either X or not X is true, then yes.

                      These are questions that philosopher logicians haven’t really come up with satisfying answers to.

                    3. Are there non-falsifiable statements that are nevertheless true?

                      I have yet to see non-falsifiable objective truth that can be reasonably proven as true.

      2. It is probably the assumption that anyone who is religious is superstitious and irrational.

        1. It is probably the assumption that anyone who is religious is superstitious and irrational.

          Well it’s a belief in supernatural claims, without evidence. You can call it what you want, I’ll call it what it is.

  8. Maybe it is because Atheists so often dislike religious people that religious people don’t like them? I know a lot of religious people of a variety of faiths, from Christian to Muslim to Hindu to Buddhist. None of the religious people I know have a bad word to say about “religion” or other religious people. They might not agree with them but they seem to at lest respect each other. Public atheists in contrast seem to constantly harp on how “religion” is the root of all evil in the world. Note, they never say this or that religion. They say religion, which means a person of any faith is included in the denunciation.

    The public face of atheism is people like Bill Maher and Ronald Dawkins. That is not a good way to be liked.

    1. sarcasmic|6.13.14 @ 10:11AM|#

      Those anti-religionists give atheists a bad name.

      1. And right you are.

        1. Ronald Dawkins

          Must be Richard’s brother ๐Ÿ˜‰

          1. Ronald Dworkin, Richard Dawkins, the names blur.

        2. John gives superstitious, anti-science bible thumpers a bad name.

    2. Whoa, anti-religion people are anti-religion, how weird..

      I don’t think it is wrong to attack ideas you view as damaging to critical thinking skills, and most atheists I meet attack the ideas, not the people.

      1. Apparently they are not too good about giving that impression. Religious people don’t agree with each other either. Yet, they can agree that, at least according to this, that atheists are even worse.

        Maybe being disliked isn’t a big deal. Who says being liked matters? But, if being disliked is a big deal or does matter, atheists only have themselves to blame for being that way. They have a bad habit of being incredibly dismissive and insulting of religious people. It is not surprise that that doesn’t get them any friends or engender any respect from their opponents.

        It is not that atheists are disliked for disagreeing. It is that atheists often seem incapable of just disagreeing and instead of saying “I don’t think that is true” say things like “that position is irrational and superstitious and only someone profoundly ignorant could hold it”.

        In short atheism tends to attract assholes. I don’t know why it attracts assholes and the fact that it does attract assholes doesn’t say anything about its truthfulness but it does. And that fact makes atheists disliked in a way no other metaphysical view is.

        1. Like I said earlier, I think it’s hard to avoid clashes. If I speak my mind and say something like “I think the bible is full of absurdities” it’s almost automatically taken as a personal attack, no?

          1. Good for you. You are free to tell people they are full of shit all you like. But they are free to tell you the same thing. If you want to be an opinionated asshole, be one. I am often one myself. But don’t then whine about how everyone doesn’t like you. You can’t have it both ways.

            1. I have made no claims about you’re overall intelligence, your worth as a human being, or anything like that, and you took my simple view of the bible as a personal attack. (I have deep respect for Ron Paul, and he is a conservative Christian for example.) I wish that wouldn’t automatically happen.

              Yet the bigger problem is that atheists are not simply disliked but seen as untrwustworthy. I don’t think that’s justified.

              1. Yes, people tend to hold their political and their religious views in very personal way. And Atheists are no different. I have often told atheists on here that they are either just closet theists who have substituted “reason” or “natural rights” for God or just living in denial and pretending that their view of morality has some kind of precedence over any other. I am not attacking them personally anymore than you are attacking Christians personally. Trust me when I tell you it doesn’t go over that way and it results in all kinds of gnashing of teeth and self righteous claims of how dare I accuse them of being immoral.

                Metaphysical issues are difficult and people’s views often deeply personal. Generally most religious people avoid getting into throw downs with people of other faiths because they understand how personal and nasty it can get. I would never go up to a Jew and say “you know, just exactly where do you get off thinking the world was created for the Jews and shirking your responsibility to enlighten the world with the message God gave you?” While the issue of the duty of Jews to evangelize is an interesting debate, it is not very smart of me to try and have such, if I want to have any Jewish friends anyway.

                Maybe it is that atheists don’t understand that and thus don’t realize the social costs associated with attacking people’s religion.

                1. I would prefer to have conversations about things, especially about atheism since I think there are so many misunderstandings about what it means or doesn’t mean for me to not believe in a deity (especially the untrustworthy part). In internet discussions it’s very easy to say insensitive things, and I’ve become aware that I need to explicitly say things that I took for granted in order to not completely turn people off.

                  1. Eric, I get into with atheists on this board all of the time. And I enjoy doing it. But I can tell you from experience that atheists hold their views just as personally and are just as likely to get angry when they are attacked as anyone else. It is just human nature.

                    The more I think about it, the more I think that the reason why atheists tend to be more disliked is that theists in this society at least are taught to avoid directly attacking other people’s religious views and atheists are not. If Christians started to make it a habit of going around telling everyone how they are headed for hell or how their religion is superstition or worse inspired by evil to lead them to hell, Christians would pass atheists on the way to the top of the most disliked list very quickly. Yet, atheists go around telling anyone who will listen how religion is irrational and the source of evil in the world and anyone who believes in such is a fool or worse. Yeah, that is going to engender some pretty personal animosities.

                    1. Especially on the internet, I don’t clearly see that one group inserts itself more so than any other. Atheists make plenty of comments on Christian videos on youtube and viceversa, and I don’t have a problem with that either way. I can also certainly believe that people who are atheists take things personally. Maybe all people involved in such discussions (Christians, atheists, and everyone else) should also start using disclaimers like I’ve considered above. It would probably help everyone out. I’m going to keep talking about these things because I think it’s good to talk about them. If somebody doesn’t want to have a conversation, they don’t have to. And if somebody can’t face a different point of view, then so be it.

                      Aside from that, the main issue the poll showed (despite the poor title of the article) is that atheists are considered untrustworthy, and I think that is unjustified. I’d like to change that by engaging in civil conversations, something that I unfortunately haven’t always been observant of. But now after this conversation to be even safer, I plan on using a disclaimer whenever I get involved in such discussions. I think this is just one example of how engaging with people can be very helpful.

                2. Maybe it is that all religious people share the fact that they hold irrational beliefs. When you know you are both questioning matters of faith rather than opinion it is easier to get along on those grounds. I have never argued with a religious person who claimed they had the high ground re: rationality.

                  1. Maybe it is that all religious people share the fact that they hold irrational beliefs. When you know you are both questioning matters of faith rather than opinion it is easier to get along on those grounds. I have never argued with a religious person who claimed they had the high ground re: rationality.

                    Maybe so. Because telling people their core beliefs are irrational would never engender any animosity on their part.

                    Beyond that, if you think all religious thought is irrational, you are a half wit who has never had a deep thought in your life. It is one thing to believe that religion is mistaken. That is a perfectly reasonable view held by lots of very reasonable and smart people over the years. But to believe that it is irrational, just shows that you neither understand the questions posed by the debate nor have given them any real thought. That is just a laughable and stupid position.

                    1. All religious people hold irrational beliefs does not mean all religious thought is irrational. If you are going to throw out insults, you should read more clearly first. All religions hold beliefs based on faith. Faith is, by definition, irrational. The core belief of theistic religions is that god exists. They take this on faith, which is irrational. Most honest religious folk I have dealt with will admit this. As long as they are comfortable in this fact I have no problem with them. When they try to argue as if their faith is the basis for some logical structure, I take issue.

                    2. Faith is, by definition, irrational.

                      I disagree. By definition, faith is confidence or trust in some person or thing.

                      The trust may turn out to be misplaced, but if there is prior evidence or experience upon which one relies when placing faith in a person or thing, then it can hardly be called irrational.

                    3. Having a reason that you believe something doesn’t automatically make it rational. Those reasons can be false and the evidence and be misrepresented and misunderstood. Your personal reasoning for beleiving isn’t rational or there would be some way to verify the veracity to a 3rd parties. How do you convince others it’s true? Not with evidence.

          2. Yes, it would be like telling a libertarian that the NAP was ridiculously naive and childish.

            1. “An unregulated free market? Don’t be so naive! It would devolve into a brutal dictatorship in short order! We have to have a (slightly less brutal) dictatorship to avoid this unfortunate outcome!”

            2. I didn’t use the words “ridiculously naive” or “childish.” Don’t put words in my mouth to make me fit your narrative.

            3. But that would still be attacking the idea and not the person. If the person takes it personally, then that’s their problem.

            4. Yes, it would be like telling a libertarian that the NAP was ridiculously naive and childish.

              I would ask the person to demonstrate the claim.

        2. Sometimes religious people ask why atheist do not think their faith is true. What is the best honest response other than, “Your beliefs are irrational and contradictory?”

          1. And the honest answer is “My faith is perfectly rational and non-contradictory.”

            1. Faith is necessarily irrational. It means belief without evidence. That is irrational. You are free to have faith, but let’s not pretend faith has its basis in reason. I have yet to meet the religion which is not self contradictory. Maybe yours is the first.

              1. Faith is necessarily irrational.

                Do you have empirical evidence to back that statement?

                1. I like to use the definitions of words as they are used by human beings. So my evidence would be that faith has a definition. Faith is the opposite of reason. It is not an insult necessarily. Some just choose to be offended by the fact that their beliefs are backed up by faith, not reason.

                  1. Faith is the opposite of reason.

                    I would say, rather, that faith is the opposite of unbelief. It can be reasonable to believe something without empirical proof.

                    1. Fortunately we do not need to base the discussion on your poor understanding of basic concepts such as faith, reason , rationality and empiricism.

                    2. Rejecting Lemmiwinks preferred definition of words != poor understanding of words.

      2. Except that “religion” is not an idea or even a set of ideas; it’s a category. What I tend to see from anti-theists as their argument (Sam Harris in particular) is a random grab-bag of things done by people of various religious traditions that most people today would agree are bad, which are then used to attack a strawman called “religion” as being self-contradictory and evil. This approach is never countenanced when it comes to “science” (“bad men in lab coats did bad things, therefore science is bad”) or atheism itself, which has lots of blood on its hands if evaluated in such a broad and irrational way.

        1. This. The Dawkinses of the world love to point out bad stuff done in the name of religion, and then automatically assume that religion is the cause. As if religion is the only thing that can persuade people to do violence against others.

        2. The central idea behind any religion is that you can assume something is true without any evidence for it. Once you accept that premise, there are an infinite amount of different ideas of course. The problem is that first step away from evidence is where irrationality comes in and opens the door for all of the different weird things that come.

          It is inconsistent to say that moderate religions are legitimate morally, while extreme forms are not, because both have equally strong claims to the truth if they don’t need evidence

          I wonder how atheism has blood on it’s hands though. The classic example is communism, but farmers didn’t starve because of atheism, it was the political philosophy.

          1. The central idea behind any religion ethical philosophy is that you can assume something is true without any evidence for it.

            “You shouldn’t kill.” Do you have any material proof for this view, or is it a subjective preference which you have elevated to a certain status out of convenience to your own moral prejudices? A system constructed on rationality must fall by the same sword, and the dirty secret of ethics is that there is no self-consistent system of ethics which makes any sort of sense, or any system which does not have a hell of a lot of starting premises. Atheists are exactly like theists, only they assume the existence of a rational proof which has not yet been discovered, rather than of a God.

            1. Atheists are exactly like theists, only they assume the existence of a rational proof which has not yet been discovered, rather than of a God.

              I’m an atheist and I assume no such thing. Ethics and morals have no empirical foundation. This is obvious. But you can start with a few mutually agreed upon premises and rationally arrive at certain moral conclusions. But again, they need mutual agreement to succeed. There is no such real thing as “natural law.” Rights don’t exist anywhere but people’s minds and so they just have to get together and agree on the moral ways they can interact.

              1. But you can start with a few mutually agreed upon premises and rationally arrive at certain moral conclusions.

                You certainly can do that. But what you cannot do is ever justify why your agreed upon premises are better than anyone else premises.

                Rationality is morally and value neutral. I can use valid reasoning and logic to get any conclusion I want. I just have to start with the appropriate set of assumptions. The central problem for human ethics is what should those assumptions be and how do we know one set of assumptions are proper where others are not. And without a higher authority (God) to appeal to, there is no way to answer that question. That is why natural rights supporters are often just theists who have changed their language. Instead of having a leap of faith to believe in God, they take a leap of faith to believe in a set of assumptions and “rights” that they view as supreme. To me that is just God without attributing him a human agency.

                1. You certainly can do that. But what you cannot do is ever justify why your agreed upon premises are better than anyone else premises.

                  You can justify it, just not by pure logic. So? But I think anyone can see that basing a moral code on “it’s what leads to the most people being happiest” is much better than “because an invisible being threatened me with eternal pain.”

                  1. I think anyone can see that basing a moral code on “it’s what leads to the most people being happiest” is much better than “because an invisible being threatened me with eternal pain.”

                    They both seem like arbitrary non-sequiturs to me from the point of view of rationality, and indeed the former has been used to justify far more pain and ignorance than the latter — though both characterizations seem like childish caricatures of utilitarian and Christian ethical systems, respectively.

                    1. They both seem like arbitrary non-sequiturs to me from the point of view of rationality

                      I just said there’s no such thing as a rational moral code. But your system of interacting with others being based on the thoughts and feelings of those actual other people is at least more adaptable and robust in the long term than basing it on the interpretations of writings of ancient people who thought they were talking to an imaginary being.

                    2. system of interacting with others being based on the thoughts and feelings of those actual other people is at least more adaptable and robust in the long term than basing it on the interpretations of writings of ancient people who thought they were talking to an imaginary being

                      1) Evidently not. After 2000+ years and incredible amounts of change over that period, the Christian ethics system seems pretty damn robust and adaptable to me — to say nothing of Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism, etc. Certainly far more so than the Cult of Reason in the 19th century and the various atheist moral systems out there.

                      2) Are “adaptability” and “robustness” good things for a moral code? Maybe super-fragile moral codes which can be traced down a certain lineage of thought/metaphysics are in fact preferable, given our limited knowledge base.

                      Ultimately, you’re giving an opinion — one not held by most people on the planet, and one which has little bearing on what the historical record suggests is or is not an adaptable or robust moral code.

                    3. Evidently not. After 2000+ years and incredible amounts of change over that period, the Christian ethics system seems pretty damn robust and adaptable to me

                      Perhaps. They did eventually stop torturing and killing people for not believing, but that probably had less to do with the Christian ethical system and more to do with humanist ethics counteracting them.

                      Ultimately, you’re giving an opinion

                      I never said otherwise and I hope to sway the opinion of anyone who bases their moral code on ancient mystical books.

                    4. They did eventually stop torturing and killing people for not believing

                      More accurate would be to say that they started off with the inflexible and dogmatic viewpoint that murder and torture were wrong, and ~500-1000 years in were flexible enough to adapt to new circumstances. Now they’ve re-adopted their anterior stances, perhaps because they are more suited to modernity (whatever that might be). Isn’t that what you ask for out of your moral code?

                      I hope to sway the opinion of anyone who bases their moral code on ancient mystical books.

                      Good luck with that. So far, I don’t think that weak and undefined appeals to “sensibility” and “adaptability” are gonna cut it.

                    5. Good luck with that. So far, I don’t think that weak and undefined appeals to “sensibility” and “adaptability” are gonna cut it.

                      I guess I should just threaten you will eternal pain. Would that be more effective?

                  2. Is making people happy a good thing? People seem to prefer to be anxious, negative, and miserable. Maybe making them happy would violate their natures, and thus be a “bad thing.”

                    1. Again, though, cavalier, the moral code that you have just expressed still has a more sensible basis than “threats of eternal pain from sky god.”

                    2. No Juice, the moral code is this. If God created man in his own image, than all men are of equal dignity before God. We are all equal because we are all measured not versus each other but by God. I can’t claim to be more equal than you because you are made in God image and by God just like I am. Since we are both equal, I can’t claim the right to use you as a tool towards some end. We are both ends in ourselves.

                      Once you get to the point of saying all people are equal and of equal dignity, then you can reason out all of the natural rights that we like. If there is a God and that God created man, man isn’t just another animal but a creature created in the image of God. If that is true, then nasty things like utilitarianism and eugenics become demonstrably evil.

                      you are a good example of why I find that so many atheists are ignorant. If you think Christian ethics is about some arbitrary threat of hell and nothing else, you are profoundly ignorant about both ethics and religion. And yet, that doesn’t stop you from smugly claiming everyone but you is irrational. Stop projecting.

                    3. If you think Christian ethics is about some arbitrary threat of hell and nothing else, you are profoundly ignorant about both ethics and religion.

                      Hell is the stick. Pleasing God and getting into heaven is the carrot. Christian ethics is no more complicated than that no matter how you may want to dress it up.

                      Is there any Christian ethic that you are opposed to? If so, would you pray to God to change it or would you try to convince other Christians that it’s wrong? Praying to God obviously wouldn’t change anything but that’s the only way you think you might be able to avoid hell. What am I saying? To change a Christian ethic all you have to do is re-interpret a Bible passage or just ignore it altogether.

                    4. Funny, the reasons I became a Christian had nothing to do with either heaven or hell — indeed, neither heaven nor hell are a particular focus of the New Testament (though they do feature).

                    5. Funny, the reasons I became a Christian had nothing to do with either heaven or hell

                      Then what was it? Once you TRULY believed in hell, as in you have faith that it most certainly exists, you aren’t trying to stay out? The fact that the New Testament only mentions hell a couple of times, both as explicit threats, doesn’t diminish the fact that hell is the overriding disincentive for breaking the rules.

                    6. Hell is a place of judgement. It is a function of a divine being who acts as both judge and creator and who sees himself as responsible for consequences of both of these roles. There is no reason for me to fear justice in the hereafter anymore than there is for me to fear justice wrt murder in today’s world: I am not a murderer, and I love justice when it is correctly applied to this area. I am not God and fall far short of that standard, so in my unredeemed state I suppose I would have feared justice had I believed in God at that point. My approach to ethics has justice and punishment as an effect, rather than a cause or impetus, for morality.

                  3. But I think anyone can see that basing a moral code on “it’s what leads to the most people being happiest” is much better than “because an invisible being threatened me with eternal pain.”

                    That is ridiculous. First, for your statement to even make sense, you have to assume what “happiness” means and that it has some kind of a priori meaning. I would say ruling the earth and the lesser races would have made the Germans happy. If happiness is the standard, why were they wrong in trying to achieve it?

                    The first thing you have to establish in ethics is why anyone but the individual doing the thinking is important. Why should the interests of other humans be more important than my own interests such that I should sacrifice my own happiness and well being for the sake of theirs? If you can’t answer that question, and you really can’t without appealing to some higher authority, you can justify any ethic beyond what is good for me.

                    1. By “happiness” I simply mean that people are peacefully getting along, even people of different religions. Germans ruling the world might make them happy but not everyone else. The Nazis and slave drivers in the US thought they were doing God’s work by the way.

                      Though with that said, the interests of other humans should only matter in relation to your own happiness (should I say contentedness or satisfaction instead?). When everyone thinks that way, they have to come together and figure out a way that avoids mutual destruction and supports mutual benefit. And again! there is no rational basis for this to happen. There’s no rational basis for existence at all, so rationality is totally irrelevant here.

                      Since there is no higher authority to appeal to, your last sentence is meaningless. You can only appeal to others to make concessions for you and in return you do the same. It’s totally pointless to go that one step further and say that your irrational moral feelings come from God instead of from a survival instinct.

            2. Is there anything more pathetic than an atheist who professes a faith in some objective measure of Good and Bad?

              But you are overly broad in drawing your parallel between atheists and theists. While theists always have an external source of ethics, there are many atheists who simply say that, yes, there are no self-consistent systems of ethics; that we make our choices based on our own sense of what is good for us, which for the great bulk of humanity is normal niceness and sometimes great self-sacrifice.

              In this way Christopher Hitchens would brush aside this question of self-consistency in competing systems of ethics,contending that it irrelevant: what really matters for happiness is conduct not the rationalization. “Name one moral or ethical action or behaviour committed or carried out by a believer that could not have been committed or carried out by an atheist. Name one immoral or unethical action or behaviour that has been committed or carried out in the name of God.”

              1. And Hitchens was a half wit when it came to the subject. He was just begging the question. Yeah, we all are free to act as we like. There is nothing about our metaphysical views that constrains our free will. But that is not the point. The point is, what are the right acts to take and how can we even know if there is such a thing as a “right” act. Yeah, I can do whatever I want. The question is, is there any basis to judge what that is or should be.

                1. Yeah, I can do whatever I want. The question is, is there any basis to judge what that is or should be.

                  If you mean any outside, external, objective basis to judge, then the obvious answer is, No. No evidence whatsoever of such an obscure object of human desiring. Nope, sorry, you are your own judge. All contentions to the contrary fail the test of science and logic. You might, however, have to deal with other equally ignorant humans.

                  And that that the answer is, no, there is no way to know what is a “right” act should not be particularly scary. It might sometimes disorient us, given that we speak in a language and with memes evolved over thousands of years during which we believed in supernatural personalities. To long for divine guidance because you fear gazing at the abyss is childish. First, stop gazing and start a garden.

          2. It is inconsistent to say that moderate religions are legitimate morally, while extreme forms are not, because both have equally strong claims to the truth if they don’t need evidenceI’d never thought of it like that. If you follow that thinking to its logical limit, then the most legitimate religion would be the one that makes the fewest evidence-free claims.

            1. the most legitimate religion would be the one that makes the fewest evidence-free claims

              I like it.

              Science has one central tenet of faith. Feynman succinctly puts it: Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.

              And I would contend there is much evidence to back that claim up.

      3. So when religious people argue that atheism is damaging to critical thinking skills, you’re fine with that?

        1. They can argue what they like. They just can’t expect atheists to like them for it. And even if atheism is damaging to critical thinking skills, it is wonderful for your denial skills. It teaches you to pretend there is no just thing as the abyss.

    3. “The public face of atheism is people like Bill Maher and Ronald Dawkins. That is not a good way to be liked.”

      But, that would be akin to saying the public face of Christianity is Orel Roberts and Jerry Falwell. Okay, I guess, as far as it goes. Of course, it doesn’t exactly describe a whole bunch of Christians.

      1. Maybe it is my Catholic bias, but I suspect that if you stopped random people on the street and asked them who the most famous living Christian is, or who the most recognizable face of Christianity is, they would say the Pope. That is almost certainly true on a global scale. And economic attitudes aside, the last few Popes have been eminently more likable than Maher or Dawkins (IMO).

        1. I see where you’re coming from, and the Pope is what I would call a special case, no other Christian religious leader can lay anywhere near as close a claim to being CEO of Christianity, Inc. As such, he’s there becuase of his organization, and not so much his personal opinion.

    4. People of different religions respect each other? Maybe sometimes, but they’ll go to war with each other at the drop of a hat. Hell, they’ll go to war if they are different sects of the same religion, like what’s going on in Iraq and Syria right now.

      1. In our society they generally respect each other. You tell me the last time you saw a Christian and a Jew or a Catholic and a Baptist at a water cooler going at it over religion or a group of Evangelicals out protesting in front of a Cathedral wanting to stop the papist menace. In contrast, I see atheists starting arguments with theists and protesting religion pretty frequently. In other societies, religious people do get into it. But here not so much. But if we had a group of religious people that didn’t respect others and spent their time explaining how everyone else was evil, they wouldn’t be very well liked.

        Atheists spend a lot of time going around attacking people’s religious views. Doing that is going to make you very disliked very quickly.

        1. Atheists protest outside churches? The only time I can see that happening is when the church in question is trying to limit rights in some way. Maybe it’s a gay marriage thing or a thing where some parents aren’t providing medical care to their kid, or something like that. I’ve never heard of a group of atheists outside of a church protesting the tenets of the religion itself just because.

          I think the theists that get butthurt over atheists disputing their religious beliefs just don’t like hearing things that cause them cognitive dissonance.

          1. Atheists sue over crosses on war memorials. They sued over the Astronauts reading Genesis from the orbit of the moon on Christmas Eve.

            I think the theists that get butthurt over atheists disputing their religious beliefs just don’t like hearing things that cause them cognitive dissonance.

            No one likes hearing that. But neither do atheists. That is the entire point. Atheists are so thin skinned and threatened they sue over Santa and someone saying a prayer during their valedictorian speech. If anyone walks around butt hurt it is atheists. Theists are not the ones butt hurt. Atheists are the ones constantly butt hurt and the rest of society doesn’t like them because of it.

            Basically, you spend your life telling the world how everyone but you is irrational and then have the nerve to whine about how no one likes you. find a new identity besides being butt hurt and you will get along better.

            1. Atheists sue over crosses on war memorials.

              Was it a violation of the first amendment? Theists sue all the time for that too.

              They sued over the Astronauts reading Genesis from the orbit of the moon on Christmas Eve.

              Never heard that one, but ok that’s stupid. Again, theists don’t have a monopoly on this type of thing so of course atheists are going to get in on the stupidity from time to time.

              No one likes hearing that. But neither do atheists.

              I don’t think theist concepts are ever going to cause cognitive dissonance in an atheist.

              Atheists are so thin skinned and threatened they sue over Santa and someone saying a prayer during their valedictorian speech. If anyone walks around butt hurt it is atheists. Theists are not the ones butt hurt. Atheists are the ones constantly butt hurt and the rest of society doesn’t like them because of it.

              Some atheists take the first amendment very seriously and some take it a bit too far, but wouldn’t theists react the exact same way if they thought their religious freedom was being threatened? US Christians don’t seem to realize that when lawsuits and controversy arise it’s reactive. Atheists read the first amendment, then look at In God WE Trust on their money and the 10 commandments on the courthouse and think, hey wtf? How would Christians feel if the money said “In Gods We Trust” or had The Eightfold Path on the door to the courthouse? You know millions would be loudly expressing their displeasure.

              1. Was it a violation of the first amendment? Theists sue all the time for that too.

                No. But many atheists would like to read the first amendment to mean freedom from religion rather than freedom of religion. And theists naturally disagree. Atheists never seem to be content with being free to think and do what they like. They more often are only content if other people are prevented from expressing their views in anything but the most private and government approved settings. They literally sue over members of a city council praying before a meeting, as if they are not free to say what they like before meetings and their voters free to vote them out of office for it.

                How would Christians feel if the money said “In Gods We Trust” or had The Eightfold Path on the door to the courthouse?

                Who gives a shit? If the majority of the country decided that was their values, I would expect Christians get over it. If someone coerces you to do something, then they are wrong. But no one ever has a right to expect the government to be totally free of any reference to or symbol of the dominant religion or culture of its population. If I moved to Israel, I wouldn’t bitch and moan about there being a star of David on the money. As long as I was free to think and act as I want, I am okay with majority deciding what goes on the money or in the town square.

                1. No. But many atheists would like to read the first amendment to mean freedom from religion rather than freedom of religion.

                  A specific religious symbol on “public” land could be construed as a violation, just like mandates to purchase insurance that covers contraceptives.

                  Atheists never seem to be content with being free to think and do what they like.

                  Yeah, why can’t they just get with the program and be forced to fund religious symbols and activities? And support laws based on nothing more than religious views?

                  Who gives a shit? If the majority of the country decided that was their values,

                  So if 51% of the country suddenly became atheist, which is a distinct future possibility, you wouldn’t care one wit when they tear those religious symbols off the money and courthouses? And if you don’t care then, why care now? It doesn’t matter either way, right? And it matters a lot more to the atheists than it does to you, right? So why care? Take them off and stop casting magic spells at government meetings. It doesn’t to you matter anyway.

            2. Wouldn’t fit the character limit…

              Basically, you spend your life telling the world how everyone but you is irrational and then have the nerve to whine about how no one likes you. find a new identity besides being butt hurt and you will get along better.

              On a weekly basis I get people knocking on my door trying to tell me that I’m going to hell and need saving. If theists stopped doing that (and trying to enact laws that enforce their religion on others) we can all get along a lot better.

              1. “On a weekly basis I get people knocking on my door trying to tell me that I’m going to hell and need saving.”

                I rather doubt that happens with that kind of frequency.

                And could you give an example of what you mean by “enforce their religion on others”. Right now, the trend I’m seeing is secularists attempting to use the law to force their beliefs on the religious (see the Hobby Lobby case, forcing religious bakers to serve celebrations of homosexuality).

  9. Oh, and posting strictly as an atheist:
    FYI:
    The Reason web-guy didn’t know we were having comment-function difficulties when I contacted him last night; he’s been logging hit rates and they haven’t changed much.
    So if you are as frustrated as I am at losing a paragraph or two and having to retype it, you might go right to the bottom of the page to locate the contacts and let him know.
    My 2014 donation is a good bit smaller than the 2013 amount and shrinking every time another comment gets lost in the ozone.!
    ($10 off this morning already)

  10. Couldn’t happen to a nicer group of smug, self righteous know it alls. They’re really no different than Baptists.

    And for the record I’m confident there is no god, but don’t really care. Or care to talk about it. Or anything. What’s the term for doesn’t give a shit at all because Agnostic does not really cover it.

      1. I like it and may have to start using that instead of atheist.

        1. The Jacket’s Wikipedia page calls his religion Apatheism.

          And of course, there’s that H&R poster named Apatheist.

    1. I’m also pretty firmly atheist, but I do rather enjoy discussing theology with certain open minded religious people. Faith of that sort is something I really don’t understand, so it is interesting to me.

    2. Nontheist. But that’s a pretty broad umbrella. Perhaps specifically, non-atheist, non-agnositc, irreligious nontheist.

  11. believers trust atheists about as much they do rapists.

    Is STEVE SMITH an atheist?

    1. STEVE SMITH IS GOD OF RAPE. STEVE SMITHA DEITY. BOW DOWN AND TAKE IN ASS.

  12. As said above, your group will get a bad rep when it’s most visible and vocal members are total dicks to people that don’t agree with them.

    But I’ve noticed in general that atheism seems to attract insufferably smug and ignorant people that think they are smart because they feel superior to the bible-thumpers. That also isn’t good for the image.

    1. Being an atheist doesn’t do much. Identifying as an atheist often means you’re a prick.

      1. I would have said the same of those who identify with supernatural claims that call for the death of non-believers.

      2. You could say that about libertarianism or any other set of ideas and it would be just as valid. Do you think Reason as a libertarian magazine is a bunch of pricks?

  13. I think an even more marginalized minority is people who do not vote. Tell someone that and watch what happens.

    1. “If you don’t vote, you don’t have the right to complain!”

      “If you don’t vote, then only the bad people will win elections!”

      “If you don’t vote, then our side won’t have a mandate to do what we want!”

      1. There are days I wish I could just openly sell my vote.

      2. I once posed the question on facebook whether it is a good idea to promote voting so heavily on the runup to an election, given that anybody remotely informed will be making an informed decision on voting anyway, and it will only convince apathetic people to go to the polls and vote while uninformed.

        The backlash I got from progs was downright scary. Everything from SOSHUL CUNTRAKKKT to DYSINFRACHIZZZEMENT to YOU DON’T DESERVE TO COMPLANEZ. That was just for questioning the get out the vote campaigns.

        1. THIS. I publicly declared my intention to vote no more.

          Holy FUCK! You’d have thought I murdered my kids and posted it to FB.

          So – as some have noted re: atheism, I just don’t talk about my a-voteism any more…

          1. Except here….cause it was interacting with people here who got me thinking about it in the first place ๐Ÿ™‚

            /Safe Harbor For Freaks

          2. It is interesting, isn’t it?

            As an aside, what’s the answer to the second argument I listed? If the liberty-oriented people don’t vote, won’t the statists that get elected as a result simply make more and more bad laws?

            1. That seems to happen whether or not I vote.

              1. Granted, but the return argument is that you need to continue to vote while persuading other like-minded people to vote.

            2. If you can pull it off, I’d go with the “Hitler v. Stalin” hypothetical. When you have a choice between bad and a different flavor of bad, sometimes abstaining is a good thing.

              There are also philosophical arguments about not lending your support to a farcical voting system that puts even the most liberty-minded candidate into a crony-infested lobbyist hellhole, grinds them up, and spits out a corrupted politican. When you elect somebody to go into a den of temptation that only a super-human could reject, you can only vote for super-humans.

    2. In college, I wrote a long, humorous essay on why it’s OK not to vote for the student newspaper. The responses were amusing.

    3. I told my mom that I have never voted in my life. She was kinda shocked and said that it was my right. I know, that’s why I choose not to. B b but Obama sucks so much! And Romney is not going to be the same? Or worse? I want no hand in it. I’m not against voting per se, but I haven’t seen anyone on the ballot worth voting for. And I pay attention.

  14. Not shockingly, some of this is the same tribalism that feeds into TEAM!!!, but some of this is (as sarcasmic and John eluded to) the public face of both religion and atheism in the country. When you have Maher and Dawkins v. Robertson and Falwell, it’s clear why both sides may harbor resentment toward one another.

    Most my Christian libertarian friends are pretty cool with atheists (we have to be, given the strong atheist support for libertarianism). We just base our not meddling in others’ lives on scripture rather than independently established moral codes. Not shockingly, many of us aren’t cool with many facets of mainstream “christianity.”

    1. Wow, i used “not shockingly” twice in the same comment. I submit myself to be stoned in the town square at sundown.

      1. I am SHOCKED…

  15. “Distrust, disgust, and fear? Surely, that’s a bit of an overreaction to intellectual smugness.”

    No, it is not.

    1. “You make me feel dumb, so I hate you.”

      It’s a very human reaction.

      1. More: “You are not as smart as you think you are. Get over yourself.”

        1. One can make another feel ignorant and uninformed if one can control the terms of the debate.

  16. So this is what it feels like being UNprivileged. As I suspected…it’s not bad at all.

    Oh wait, that’s not the correct victim mentality.

    STOP othering me. Where’s my entitlements? That’s hate speech. I need to be a protected class. You don’t know what it’s like to be me. You MUST make me a wedding cake. You need to refer to me as “it”. Vote yes on atheist affirmative action!

    1. I am my dog’s parent, not his “owner”. I. AM. HIS. PARENT!!!!

  17. My suspicion is that the main reason atheism is held in such low regard is because virtually all of the large, well-known initiatives coming from that camp have almost universally been either disastrous (Communism, etc.) or off-putting to all who are inclined to something other than strident evangelical atheism (e.g., Dawkins).

    This is probably why in all of these polls there is a subset of atheists who themselves hold “prejudiced” attitudes towards their coreligionists.

    1. Do you think communism is a branch or offshoot of atheism or something?

  18. All an atheist is is someone who doesn’t believe in gods. Everything else about them is everything else you could say about any other human. Some are assholes, some are not. Just like believers.

    1. BUT… BUT TEAM!!!!!!!!111!!!!

      Is it really a surprise that tribalism infests religion/atheism just as much as politics?

    2. But the ones who are assholes have a bad habit of fucking with people in annoying and public ways. Take for example, those fish signs Catholics put on their cars. I am not a Catholic and don’t have one of those things. The fact that they do doesn’t bother me or concern me. What did atheists do? They started making their own little fish signs with feet. They couldn’t just come up with their own sign, they had to make one that tweaked someone else’s sign. That is a just being a dick. And if you want to be a dick, that is your right, but you can’t then complain when people don’t like you. I don’t like those Coexist bumper stickers and I don’t have a sticker of my own making fun of it. But if I did, I would expect that the people who do have those stickers would think I was a dick and wouldn’t like me very much.

      It is a small example I know. But it is an illustrative example of how many atheists just can’t help but be dicks in very public and annoying ways. That is why people don’t like them.

      1. I actually liked the “Darwin Fish”. I thought it clever, and a nice tweak to people who seem to think publically identifying one’s self as a Christian is a thing to do. Jesus said almost the opposite: “Go into your closet to pray; wash your face to hide the fact that you are fasting; if you give alms, give them in secret.” A Christian should be identified by his actions–love for his fellow Christians and good works–not the religious paraphernalia he flashes.

        1. Besides, the fish (whether with legs or not) is a great way to identify the drivers to avoid like the plague. For whatever reason, they are the Nicoles of driving.

          Also, the scripture “Go into your closet to pray; wash your face to hide the fact that you are fasting; if you give alms, give them in secret.” doesn’t mean hide your faith from all, and practice it in private. In context, it means don’t make a spectacle of yourself while practicing your faith. The Pharisees of the time had a habit of prayer as a street show, giving as loudly and publicly as possible, and generally making everybody aware of every little practice of their faith. Whether fish on cars is in that same vein is debatable (i tend to agree with you that it’s showboating).

          1. “In context, it means don’t make a spectacle of yourself while practicing your faith.”

            That’s what I was trying to say.

        2. I don’t really care about either sign one way or another. But I can definitely understand how the people with the fish signs would find the Darwin signs insulting. It is not a clever tweak. It is just needlessly antagonizing people.

          If I make a Coexist bumper sticker that had a mushroom cloud in the background, that would be a tweak too and a comment on how wars, by settling conflicts allow us to coexist. I mean we seem to coexist quite well with the Japanese thanks to some measure to the A bomb. But I wouldn’t expect the people who have those bumper stickers to like my tweak very much.

          1. No one is coexisting with the people killed by those bombs and wars so I don’t get your point.

            1. We are coexisting with the people who remain, aren’t we? The point is that by deterring future aggression and eliminating those who refuse to live in peace, violence allows us to coexist. To put it at the individual level, I coexist peacefully with my neighbors in part because of my owning a weapon makes the option of not coexisting with me much less attractive.

              1. What would also allow people to coexist is just plain old pacifism. Yeah, let’s keep our weapons around just in case, but coexistence shouldn’t be enforced by fear of battle just like doing good shouldn’t be enforced by fear of hell.

              2. The point is that by deterring future aggression and eliminating those who refuse to live in peace, violence allows us to coexist.

                That must have been the divine logic behind the genocide of the Amalekites and all those other scores of divinely murdered men, women and children.

                1. Evil people deserve death.

                  All people are evil.

                  Therefore, all people deserve death.

                  You don’t have to like it, but now that I’ve explained it to you, you can’t deny the logic.

                  And yes, that means I deserve death too. If God were to call for my immediate death, I would say it’s totally just, even if I’d rather not die right now.

                  1. Evil people deserve death.

                    All people are evil.

                    Therefore, all people deserve death.

                    You don’t have to like it, but now that I’ve explained it to you, you can’t deny the logic.

                    I can’t deny the logic you say? Watch me. I deny that babies are evil and I deny that all people are evil. You want to make that claim, you’ll need to demonstrate it’s validity.

                    But I love how you claim that if your god murdered a busload of babies, it would be just and moral. You are a thoroughly immoral person.

          2. You should definitely make that bumper sticker, John.

      2. “Take for example, those fish signs Catholics put on their cars.”

        /if that’s the case, the Darwin fish is an ironic response, since Catholicism does not have a doctrinal problem with evolution.

        1. This. I had never considered it a response to Catholicism. Catholics officially accept evolution. Plus, as a guy who was raised Methodist, I’m surprised to learn that the fish was a Catholic symbol. There are more fish in Arkansas than Catholics, to be sure.

          1. The fish is an ancient Christian symbol and the Catholic Church considers itself the unbroken continuation of the church the Apostles founded.

      3. I always wanted to get the fish AND the fish with the feet and put them nose to nose as though they were kissing.

        Why can’t we just all get along?

        1. I’m envisioning a nativity scene with the fish, the fish with the legs, the FSM fish, and a few of the other derivatives. That would probably piss everybody off.

          1. I could also put them in a 69.

    3. The atheist subculture seems to encourage its assholes more than most. When your group’s public actions include filing lawsuits against war memorial monuments for having religious imagery, it is hard to shake the “unreasonable prick” image.

      1. Were they forced to partly fund that war memorial?

        1. The case that I am thinking of, no. The monument was on publically owned land but the monument was built and maintained with private funds, in large part from veteran groups.

          1. Hmm, that seems to be a bit of a grey area, but I looked up the story and it was out in the middle of a desert. Meh. But it’s kind of the same thing as the 10 commandments monuments that people out up in front of courthouses. It’s privately funded but on “public” land. I guess in those cases, the government can’t discriminate and has to allow all comers and it gets hairy.

  19. Maybe slightly on topic:

    Brat’s comments about government and the monopoly of force seem to be getting some attention from the media, but I found this quote from the same essary to be more interesting

    Capitalism is here to stay, and we need a church model that corresponds to that reality. Read Nietzsche. Nietzsche’s diagnosis of the weak modern Christian democratic man was spot on. Jesus was a great man. Jesus said he was the Son of God. Jesus made things happen. Jesus had faith. Jesus actually made people better. Then came the Christians. What happened? What went wrong? We appear to be a bit passive. Hitler came along, and he did not meet with unified resistance. I have the sinking feeling that it could all happen again, quite easily. The church should rise up higher than Nietzsche could see and prove him wrong. We should love our neighbor so much that we actually believe in right and wrong, and do something about it. If we all did the right thing and had the guts to spread the word, we would not need the government to backstop every action we take. [emphasis mine]

    (cont.)

    1. (cont.)

      It’s not the most eloquent bit of writing, but it starts to make a case for smaller government that might actually resonate with a lot of Christians. It can make a nice rebuttal to people like Pope Francis that want to see government step in to restrain capitalism.

      It’s still too early to say for sure, but this guy might actually be a pretty good thing for the small government movement.

      1. It needs to be pointed out to the Social Conservatives that God’s Law (which was good) was insufficient to make a person righteous. How much less effective, then, are laws passed by fallible men and women?

        If Social Conservatives want a society to adhere to the moral program they support, then they need to abandon trying to get the government to pass the “right laws”, and start following Christ’s example and commands to the Church.

        Expecting the FedGov to solve any problem is like expecting Elmer Fudd to catch you a rabbit.

        1. dammit, the squirrelz ate my good response to this…. i’ll have to repost in a little bit, after cutting myself and crying.

          1. Always copy a long response. Then use the “Preview” button. If nothing shows up on “Preview”, then open a second tab and paste the response there.

            It usually works.

        2. that God’s Law (which was good) was insufficient to make a person righteous.

          Yes, in the sense that God Himself handing down the Law in a series of miracles, revelations, and stone tablets was insufficient to compel man to follow His Law.

          No, in the sense that God’s Law, when followed in thought and in action, is completely sufficient to make a person righteous. The point, though, is that it is impossible (except when God Himself becomes human).

          What needs to be hammered home to the SoCons is that God created an inviolable free will. It is so sacred to Him that he allows man to utilize his free will for evil without constraining it. If God, the perfect arbiter of morality, is not willing to constrain free will for the sake of personal morality, who the hell are we to do so? What authority does an imperfect State have that God does not? Why should man be subjected to the coercive and imperfect moral laws of an imperfect State run by imperfect men, if the perfect God values free will and the ability to convince others to abstain from sin over the coercive force that he rightfully possesses?

          Generally SoCons and religious Progs stutter and spit when they’re confronted with this train of thought. They end up muttering words like “naive” and “childish” and “oversimplified.”

          1. I heard some other religious group say that the Devil gave man free will? Who should I believe and why?

            1. “Let us make man in our own image…” Genesis 1:26 (This implies free will).

              “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” Galatians 5:1

              There are plenty of others.

              The other religious group that told you otherwise is very wrong. I’ve read through the entire Bible multiple times and there is no reference to the Devil making anything whatsoever. He actually only appears very rarely.

              1. Hmmmm. They read the Bible too, and their interpretation is different. But I suppose I can take you at your word that your version of the truth supersedes the hundreds if not thousands of different interpretations that other people have, none of you with evidence, but nevermind that.

    2. I agree with his assessment of the modern Western Christian. They are passive and they don’t stand up for their beliefs and worse, they don’t take their beliefs seriously and on their own terms.

      And he also absolutely right that government coercion is the coward’s way out. The solution to people doing self destructive and sinful things is not to throw them in prison, it is to convince them why doing those things are wrong. No amount of law and force is going to fix a broken society. Modern Western Christians, so often being lazy and insincere, like to pretend it can and worship government and force rather than God.

      1. They’re not True Scotsmen Christians, you know.

        1. None of us are.

        2. They are true Christians, just stupid. They violate 2 Corinthians 10:4 “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.” and 1 Corinthians 5:9-13.

  20. The International Humanist and Ethical Union reports on anti-atheist persecution throughout the world.

    They rate the U.S. as “Mostly Satisfactory.”

    That’s better than Canada, which has “Systemic Discrimination.”

    http://freethoughtreport.com/map/

    1. (But you have to move the map a bit to see North America)

    2. Canada? Really? The Canadians are too drunk to discriminate. I don’t believe that.

      1. I found the Canada part of their report:

        “Canada

        “The constitution and other laws and policies protect freedom or thought, conscience and religion, as well as
        the right to the freedoms of expression, association and assembly.

        “Six of the ten provinces provide partial or full funding to religious schools. Most of these publicly funded
        religious schools are Roman Catholic, although five
        provinces allow other denominations to run publicly funded schools. Publicly funded religious schools can discriminate on religious grounds in hiring and in accepting students. Around 16 percent of the Canadian population claims no religious affiliation, yet
        in the vast low-population expanses of Canada, the religious school may well be the only public school within a reasonable distance for many non-religious students.

        “Ontario province funds Catholic religious education while providing no funding for other religious
        schools. One third of Ontario’s public schools (around 1,400) are Catholic schools receiving 100% of
        their funding from the government. Catholic schools discriminate against non-Catholics in hiring
        staff. Catholic schools can also exclude non-Catholic children.”

        http://freethoughtreport.com/download-the-report/

        1. So basically allowing religious schools access to public money is “discriminating against atheists” by these people’s definition. Yeah, whatever.

          1. My takeaway is that *even these guys* acknowledge this country is “Mostly Satisfactory”

          2. John, just a word of explanation. In Ontario, there are two sources of public funding for education; property taxes collected by local school boards and grants from the provincial government which come from general revenues.

            Now, the interesting thing is that every local government area has two school boards with taxing powers. One is called typically the East Bumfuck School Board while the other is called the East Bumfuck School Separate Board. The separate school board is for catholics, although most of them allow no catholics to attend. Local residents choose which system to support by registering to vote in local elections as Public or Separate School supporters. On can make the claim that there is no discrimination here.

            The provincial grants are a bigger problem since they come from general revenues so everyone, including Baptists and atheists are having their taxes go to support Papists.

            Another problem on both accounts is that only Catholics get to have their own “Separate” tax supported school system. I’d say this isn’t just “discriminating against atheists” but every other religion out there.

            1. Of course the Ontario system was set up when their worldview was that there were only two religions, Micks and Prods.

              And except for a few Scots, Scotch-Irish and Welsh immigrants who were Presbyterian or Methodist the Prods were mostly Anglican.

              It never occurred to anyone at all that Jews or Muslims or Eastern Orthodox (the people carried in on later waves of immigration) deserved any consideration at all.

  21. Why are atheists often seen as untrustworthy?

    My answer, because I have less reason to think that they will tell the truth (if they think they can get away with it). At least a person who calls themselves “Christian” presumably thinks they will be judged for their lies. Likely that concept is drawn into their ideas about other religions (even if it doesn’t make total sense for all of them.)

    Now you probably don’t like that answer (and I can’t really blame you), but you should probably accept that the logic is there. You don’t think I’ll be judged for my lies, but you know that I think I will be. That’s a tremendous incentive to tell the truth, and one that atheists don’t have.

    Yes, they have other reasons to tell the truth, simplicity and principle being 2 good ones. But we also know that humans are prone to do what is in their own perceived best interest… and often principle fails to back that up. After all, if no-one sees you break your principle, then who cares?

    Not a complete point, and not meant to be an attack, just a point.

    1. People are judged for their lies while they are alive too.

      You make a decent incomplete point there. This is one part of why, as an atheist, I think religion does some good. Some people have such a limited moral sense that they can only understand it as based on consequences, temporal or divine. So even if religion is completely made up, it’s good to have something to keep such people in line.
      Though I think that many religious people see lying as a minor enough sin that it doesn’t discourage them from lying as much as you seem to think. But as long as it keeps them from robbing and murdering, I’m pretty happy.

      1. Fair points all around. Any “Christians” who think lying is OK should learn how Holy their God is…

        “People are judged for their lies while they are alive too.”

        That’s why I point out that people will lie if they think they can get away with it. It’s typical risk/reward behavior.

        (BTW, I incorrectly simplify why Christians should avoid lying. Christianity isn’t a religion of dos and don’ts, but a relationship with God. One should treat their loved ones well and Christians should obey God because of love, not consequences.)

        Thanks for the courteous reply.

      2. Does it keep people in line though? Or is it a smokescreen? Some of the biggest crooks I’ve ever met could never shut up
        about Jesus.

  22. I remember Rev. Jesse Jackson’s “…atheists and pornographers, poisonin’ our chillun…” speech of the mid-80s.

    From then on, it was unholy war against the Believers for me.

  23. “The Journal of Applied Social Psychology reports that atheists are the most disliked minority group.”

    I find this statement a bit ridiculous. To NOT believe something does not automatically make me a member of some “minority group” to be assigned a place at the trough or relegated to the periphery of society. Granted, there are organized, active, aggressive anti-religionists who go by the moniker “atheist”; I also find them unpleasant.
    I am an atheist simply in that I don’t have faith in a higher power. I resent and resist the modern democratic tendency to pigeonhole me, hang a tag around my neck and shunt me off into some subgroup to await further sociopolitical processing.

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