I’m an atheist, as you all know, but I really don’t get the point of this nonsense. Here’s a billboard on display in Times Square this year:
I thought one of the real benefits of being an atheist is that you didn’t have to get into pitched battles with people about what they believed in- I didn’t realize that because I don’t believe, I have to choose some side and work to convince people there is no God. That’s not what I signed up for. I just thought the whole thing was nonsense, and left it at that. I didn’t realize by taking that stance I had to actively work to convince other people there is no God. What’s the point in that, and why is this good for me and them?
I don’t believe in a lot of things. I don’t believe in unicorns or Santa Claus, but I don’t feel like i have to go out and actively work to persuade people they don’t exist. Why do I have to take on this endeavor?
Now don’t get me wrong, I’ll be as uppity as all get out when the religious nuts decide they think their deity should dictate how I and my friends live, but otherwise, I really don’t care- as long as you are not affecting me, whatever blows your trumpet, I say.
And is there any other group in the world other than atheists.org whose organizing principle is not believing in something? Whole thing just seems weird and counter-intuitive. Basically, being an atheist isn’t a license to be a total fucking dick.
I believe that the obnoxious behavior on some the part of some atheists is a direct reaction to the obnoxious behavior on the part of some Christians.
I got no problem with Christianity. As Paul said, Faith is the evidence of things unseen.
But, jeez oh man, Christians can be really annoying.
Amen to that, Brother!
According to news articles at the time, it was put up as a counter to a Christian billboard there.
@NotMax: How is “I DON’T BELIEVE IN ANYTHING” an effective or logical counter to “I BELIEVE IN GOD?”
Villago Delenda Est
John, you don’t need to go around demanding people believe (or not believe) as you do.
That’s the job for assholes like Huckabee and Robertson. (both the Duck Dynasty guy, and vile disgrace to the USMC Pat).
And, like Frank, atheist obnoxiousness is a direct reaction to “Christian” obnoxiousness.
Villago Delenda Est
You do to believe in something.
That Lily needs a hug, right now.
Act on your belief.
I’m all for grandfathering in “In God We Trust” on money. Doesn’t bother me. And “one nation under God” in the pledge? May as well grandfather that in, too, though the pledge creeps me out generally. 10 Commandments? Nah. Only stealing and killing ever made it into law. No reason for that at the courthouse.
I think it worse for someone like me. I’m not a christian or a jew or a muslim or any named religious group you can think of…but neither am I an atheist. I believe in a divine, a spiritual existence that is largely beyond comprehension but provides a certain comfort. And I believe that this divine presence provides comfort and, if you will, guidance to everyone and everything. You don’t have to “believe” or “have faith” anymore than you need to believe in gravity. It just is. A truth. An eternal, unchanging truth. And there is no way path to gain a glimmer of this truth. In fact I know plenty of atheist who, in my mind, totally grasp this truth. But, my spiritual beliefs don’t even rate outrage and hate like yours. Just completely and totally disregarded. I don’t mind, because, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks or believes…but sometimes the way that Christians (and muslims and some jews as well) are so sure of their belief in the “one, true way” really jags me off. No one has a monopoly on truth. There are many ways to play the game, many ways to get to the end. I really wish religious people would just keep that shit to themselves. And not trivialize my beliefs ( or an atheist’s) simply because it is different from theirs.
My reading of the New Testament boils the message of Jesus down to four words*
some of his follows need to get on with that advice.
Villago Delenda Est
Well, you see, this is the problem.
One of the central tenets of the religious nuts is that they are required to “save” everyone. Which means it’s their duty to impose their fucked-up mindset on everyone, at the point of a sword, if necessary. If they don’t do this, they’ll be punished for their failure to act. The entire Nation is going to hell, taking them with it, if they don’t ram their fucking shit down everyone’s throats.
J R in WV
I swing from atheist to agnostic and back depending on the time of year it is.
My Mom was agnostic when I was young. As she succumbed to COPD from smoking PallMalls, she converted to atheist, and got stronger in that conviction the closer to death she got. Amazing bravery!
My Dad on the other hand was a staunch atheist all his life – until Mom died. He then began to hope, just a little, that in an afterlife he could find Mom. They were lovers, you see; and he missed her so much.
That didn’t keep him from fighting the grim reaper for every additional day, as long as he was able to. Once he was done, he told the medical folks he was done, and Hospice took over. They were angels. I was with him every day towards the end. We watched football together, though he was really drifting away. I kept the sound off, and held his hand.
Keep up the good work, John! And get that car out of the field, someone might think there was a road over there!
Well, see, you’re talking about the religious atheists here!
And I use that in the special, American-exceptionalism sense of the word where “religious” means “My team rulez, yer team droolz”. People growing up where religious differences have actual real-world consequences learn to be “tolerant”, in the sense of not mouthing off too much in places where members of The Other Team might take offense. Even places where one religious group had a vast majority didn’t usually go full-bore fvckwad, because real winners don’t need to get all in-yer-face. Only when things were going seriously pear-shaped on the economic/social front did the Powers in Charge decide to hold public witch-burnings and Jew-pogroms, to placate their angry god.
Here in America, right now, being “religious” is like picking a sports team — you’re in it because you grew up in the ritual, or you like the team colors, or you want to piss off the people you hate. Or you’re in it, like so many professional Christians, for the money. The Atheisticans who put up that billboard are a low-rent version of the Westboro Baptist Church — they don’t wanna convert anyone, they just wanna piss the other team off.
Obnoxious assholes are obnoxious assholes, irregardless of religious belief or lack thereof.
That said, sometimes some of the self-described ‘Christians’ I know can be really annoying at times.
My son tells me that part of the reason that he identifies as an agnostic rather than as an atheist is that so many atheists are such total condescending assholes.
Don’t forget to send Richard Dawkins that memo. Some atheists can be as annoying as god botherers usually are.
Just because some atheists choose to do jerkwad stuff doesn’t mean you have to, or have to be associated with it. You didn’t sign on to anything; rather, by being an atheist, you’re (okay, we’re) signing on to nothing. You’re not responsible for what they did, you don’t have to answer for it, and if it pisses you off (which it clearly does) you can blast them for it (which you clearly did). The billboard strikes me as juvenile, counterproductive and foolish — like, somebody’s really going to see it and say, “Whoa … yeah! They’re right!”? — but it doesn’t put my nose any further out of joint than it usually is.
I can’t think of any large population that doesn’t have a significant subset of dicks; unfortunately, it’s often the dicks that the media like to cover (see Palin, Sarah). Non-dicks just aren’t that interesting (i.e., Dicks of Duck Dynasty)
I believe in the one true prophet, who’s words must never, ever be questioned, and who was also born into the public discourse in an immaculate conception – GlenEd Snowdenwald.
We progressives must all support billboards for this prophet, like this group did:
Whose side are you on, my fellow liberals!?!?
I thought about joining Agnostics.org but I just can’t decide whether it makes sense or not.
Paul Constant, professed atheist, talks about a much-less-obnoxious billboard in Salt Lake City:
My oldest daughter, an avid consumer of facts and at the age of 11 rather over-literal, caught sight of a billboard proclaiming that Christ was the “reason for the season,” and responded with furrowed brow, “I thought the reason for the season is the 23 degree tilt to the Earth’s axis.”
But The Big Sky‘s too big to let it get him down.
OT but I wanted to make sure John knows this.
A long time ago you found out that putting new windshield wipers on your car made you feel like you were driving a new car and wanted more car tips.
Well here is one I just found out.
You know the plastic covers over your headlights? They get scratched and yellow over time and really degrades your headlights output. You can buff them to shiny and new. You can use a cloth and toothpaste (the actual paste not gel) or swap out the cloth for a wool buffing attachment for your drill.
I did 2 buffings on mine in under 15 minutes and they look and function like new.
You can also buy a kit fairly cheap at your local auto supply place that has everything you need in it.
Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader
You’re only an atheist because you’re too lazy to learn a new religion.
Some people, regardless of faith, are just pushy douchebags. Such is life. Many would probably say that it stems from insecurity, but I don’t buy that. I just think some people are dicks and that that immutable human truth cuts across any and every population in roughly equal proportion.
@J.D. Rhoades: I can buy that. I just can’t imagine ever feeling secure enough in my understanding of either the universe or of the human heart to say authoritatively that I believe or disbelieve in anything. The older I get, the more I learn: SHIT IS COMPLICATED, YO.
Tim Minchin’s Christmas song for non-believers: White Wine in the Sun
@Suzanne: Having said all of that….going to church tonight, and not out of any CYA motivations.
I tend to get riled about rigthwing nuts because they are know-nothing know-it-alls who love to jeer and gloat and be all around d-bags.
I hate it when lefties do that too and this kind of douchebaggery does no one any good.
@LesGS: Phil Plait has a greeting card for your daughter!
Bill E Pilgrim
I have no problem with atheists or anyone else being vocally critical of religion. It’s a profoundly stupid billboard, however.
I was reflecting a lot this week on the nature of Christmas, especially in the US, prompted by the fact that this is the first one I’ve spent here in quite a few years. Thinking about it having both religious roots and secular traditions — and even older secular roots, actually.
My conclusion was that it’s so special to Americans because it’s one of the few times we stop working and pay attention to this other part of life — festivity, community, putting up decorations, gathering together, and so on. Other countries do it too but I don’t think it’s such a contrast to the rest of the year, they tend to spread it out a little, work to live rather than live to work, and all that.
Anyway but to crawl back to the original point, Christmas is a cultural tradition to a lot of people more than it is a religious festival, but the name is the name, it comes from a certain place, that’s its history. You could just as logically object by saying that you don’t need “mass” during Christmas — meh.
You don’t need to believe in saints to live in Saint Louis, either. So what?
I used to say I was agnostic because the term atheist seemed like a four letter word to me. I blame 8 years of catholic school for that; but I am an atheist. I simply don’t believe in an organized, religious deity. Is there possibly a higher order being out there in the universe? Sure. Hell, if I were a betting man, I would say yes. But that comes with the caveat that what I believe in is evolution, and not out of the ether supernatural beings.
My one issue here is that when I look at Duck Dynasty and the reaction, climate change deniers and the all round lack of belief in science in the country, there is a facet of religiosity that I think can be dangerous to people, and so I’m not sure if being a nice and kind atheist in every instance is always helpful.
PS: People should see Letting Go of God, Julia Sweeney’s one woman show about going from religious to atheist. Good stuff.
@Villago Delenda Est: NO!!! Saving people is NOT a universal Christian belief. There are several strands of Christianity, but only the evangelical fundamentalist one ever gets noticed. You did NOT see Rev. King proselytizing, nor Rev. William Sloane Coffin or Bishop Gene Robinson. Those who follow the teachings have NO need to shove anything down anyone’s throat or put notches on their belt to get to heaven – if they actually even believe in heaven. Look at all the people who worked on social justice from the Abolitionists to labor rights to women’s rights to LGBT rights, all FROM their beliefs but without ever imposing it or buying into the superstitious part of Christianity. We in the part of the teaching tradition are just as tired of the religious right and its narrow minded superstitious nonsense as you are. And we fight FOR your rights, too. See the faith groups with the Military Religious Freedom Foundation – out there for atheists as well as anyone else standing against the Dominionists. So no – it’s NOT a universal. It does get all the media hype, but it is NOT universal nor even the majority.
Jack the Second
Ain’t it annoying when the assholes are on your side?
Old Dan and Little Ann
My wife loves her some “It’s a Wonderful Life.” I think it sucks. Whatevs as the kids say.
Whole shitload of stuff I don’t believe.
Don’t see much point in fighting about it.
Y’all knock yourselves out.
I’m a Cultural Christian but also a very out of the closet atheist. I love Santa, most Xmas carols and even Midnight Mass at the local Catholic church. All well and good.
However, my beef with those who actually believe the Xian/Jewish/Islamic Kool Aid is that all three of those religions believe (from there humorous books of silly walks) that the creator of the universe is a self-confessed, multiple-occasion, mass-murdering maniac with whom they wish to spend eternity in a “loving embrace” – good luck with that one.
If I see religious groups fighting against something like women’s rights or LGBTQ rights I think it’s worth pushing back, even if I’m not a member of a persecuted group.
I didn’t put up the billboard, so am the wrong party to ask. Nor shall I be goaded into defending it; was merely mentioning what rationale was given by those who sponsored it.
What would you propose as a visible public rejoinder to the huge Put Christ Back in Christmas billboard on the same street which they were mimicking?
@Churchlady320: Preach it, sister!
Evolution and belief in God are not mutually exclusive. Not trying to proselytize, just stating fact.
My issue is that belief in an Invisible Sky Fairy in general indicates a lack of rigor in any intellectual undertaking. But I feel the same about religious unbelievers who believe in the power of crystals, immunization threats etc.
Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader
@NotMax: “Let’s put Christ back in Christian first.”
My dad died in between Thanksgiving and Christmas five years ago. He was scared shitless that he hadn’t been a good enough person to get into heaven and there wasn’t much I could do about that because he knew I wasn’t a believer. The relationship between my dad and sister (who is a believing Christian) had gotten really shitty due to her making a lot of life-end desicions that he didn’t agree with (she was making smart decisions, but even on his deathbed he felt like he should still be living independently). On the day we knew he was going to go, I was with him holding his hand, trying to talk to him and having trouble with what to say when I just finally blurted out that God was going to bless him. I didn’t say ‘Your God’, even though that’s how I was feeling about it, but he needed to hear it right then and there from one of his kids, and I think that what I said to him was true. About ten minutes after I’d said it, the nurse cleared us out of the room so she could give him a shot, and while he was left alone for a few seconds, he snuck out. I have no idea if he got to go where he wanted, but I hope what I said helped him across whatever border needed to be crossed.
Did you hear that kerplunk? That was my eyes rolling right the fuck out of my head.
What percentage of atheists find god within 10 minutes of passing away? 80%? 90%?
Haha, a friend forwarded this. Fucking awesome. “Save Africa” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbqA6o8_WC0&feature=youtu.be
Also too, as someone who has rejected all religion and one, many or any gods for far longer than you’ve been alive, I can tell you what I do believe in:
We are here for a while, then we die and that’s it. So it’s more palatable to be nice to each other during the one trip around the track.
No deeper meaning – life is a result of a series of random events over eons, some combinations of which happened to work out advantageously for life to succeed for a while, nothing more.
No, Donnie, these men are nihilists. There’s nothing to be afraid of.”
Well I think that’s the crux of it. That’s basically the definition of fundamentalism, regardless of the flavor — Christian, Muslim, Jew, Atheist, Libertarian, it doesn’t matter. If someone is telling you their way is the only way and there’s no room for any other belief system, then they’re a fundamentalist.
I’m an anti-fundamentalist, myself.
What’s so alarming about so many of these fundamentalists these days is that they not only don’t view other beliefs as valid, but they view them as threatening. And thereby one gets militance. Militant fundamentalism is fucking dangerous.
I was just thinking tonight, that if I were either Christian or atheist (and notice I’m not saying either way), I would never admit it publicly, because of all the dickheads out there that I would seem to be validating.
Believe what you want. Whatever gets you through the day/night/brief time on Earth is OK by me.
@Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader
Amen (as it were).
Posting the picture of just the anti billboard without the context for its erection is disingenuous, also too.
Death to extremists!
I have zero problem with anyone who chooses to be an atheist, but I have a huge problem with atheists who mock and belittle people of faith for believing in “imaginary sky gods” and such. That is being a dick.
It’s one of my biggest beefs with Bill Maher. He goes at every religious debate from the premise that all Christians are fundiegelicals who believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible.
@Suzanne: A friend and I often go to one church on Christmas Eve and another Christmas morning. We do it to hear the music. We usually go to a Lutheran Church and an Episcopal Church. This year each of us is on the tired side and we aren’t doing it but we usually really look forward to it.
Bill E Pilgrim
Well I guess to some degree that depends on whether “within 10 minutes of” means ten minutes before, or ten minutes after.
Is your objection to their tone or content? If an atheist phrased their opinion politely, e.g. “there is no evidence for any god and it it illogical to be believe in one” would you be OK with it?
“Keep Yuletide Pagan!”
There’s evangelical xtians, there’s evangelical atheists.
@NotMax: Sorry, mate. Can’t go with that.
Too much hubris. It’s a big goddamned universe, and we haven’t left the cradle.
I accept that we can’t know what we don’t know, and that we should endeavor to learn what we can (quicker/faster = better, IMHO), but crib-proclamations about the living-room wallpaper don’t carry much weight.
Praise Jesus, but I was already randy enough before I saw this.
I don’t buy that atheists don’t believe in anything.
They believe in the objective physical reality that they can observe and deduce. I got no problem with that, as long as they behave in an ethical manner.
Frankly, as someone who has read the Christian Bible several times over (it helped me immensely during my first divorce), I doubt that Biblical Jesus would have had any problem with that. He was far more concerned with persons not being dicks to each other, as one commenter so eloquently put it, then with who believed in what magical sky creature.
I remember a friend I had in college, a guy who had been raised Irish Catholic, who figuratively locked himself in his dorm room one weekend determined to read the four Gospels. He emerged late Sunday saying, “He was nothing like what I was taught. Nothing at all.” (Having attended Catholic churches for the 18 years during which I was married to an Italian Catholic, I can now easily believe that.)
Ultimately, any religious teaching, when you drill down to its origins, is about ethics, about not being dicks to each other.
Anything above and beyond that is about elites perpetuating themselves.
When legislators are all up in my uterus because Jesus, you’re goddamn right religion affects the hell out of me, so more power to some public opposition. The reason for those billboards is to let closeted atheists know they are not alone, and encourage coming out of the closet. If atheists politely sit back and consider religion beyond criticism, we will continue to have religion foisted on us by laws inspired by “religious nuts.”
@Bill E Pilgrim: At ten minutes after, who cares? Their body is now worm food.
BTW didn’t know you were still stateside. I think I’d rather be in Paris right now personally.
I’d probably lean towards, say, directing people to donate to a food bank if they want to experience the true meaning of Christmas, but I’m a big softy like that.
When I was visiting my mom this summer, she made me watch some episodes of the Long Island Medium, which was unexpectedly interesting because it seemed pretty clear to me that she was telling people what she thought they needed to hear about their deceased loved ones. If (as happened to one woman) your 12-year-old son died in a light plane crash, what you want to hear is that he died immediately and suffered no pain, but you’re not going to be able to get that reassurance from a doctor or psychologist the way you would from someone who claims to be able to speak directly to your dead relative.
And it used to be a small, very small, universe.
What does size have to do with it?
I never intimated that this little orb was the only locale with life (nor would I ever think it so). Indeed, there are near-infinite chances of there being be lots of things which would fall under the label of being living throughout the cosmos (some of which may be extinct by circumstance, others yet to come into being). Variety is, after all, the spice of life.
What the televangelists and their Faux News equivalents don’t get is that the longer they play the grifter Christian-pay-me-money for Heaven or the Christian-pay-me-money for this or that economic or social policy the fewer people with any education are going to play. And they will be left with relatively poor rubes. It’s all about education.
@Old Dan and Little Ann: I get being tired or bored of it from seeing it so much, but I don’t get how someone, especially here at a so-called liberal or progressive blog, would say it “sucks.” It’s an incredibly well-made movie for the era, and the themes should warm the hearts of any liberal, even though Director Frank Capra was a Republican until the day he dies. Shows how much the public discourse has shifted since the movie was made.
@NotMax: Oh, for want of a Like button.
Seriously, no one should need some external excuse to simply act with kindness and consideration of those who share the world with them. Sadly, far too many people seem to find those external excuses as reasons to act in any fashion other than kind and considerate.
I’m a lapsed Lutheran. :-) I simply don’t buy the God described in the Bible, and since Lutherans are sola scriptura and all that, I’m done with religion. That being said, I would say that there are two types of Christians out there – foot washers and finger pointers. I’ll break bread with the foot washers any day.
I believe in the Church of BJ,
Fuck you all, and may Steve bless us, every one.
Bill E Pilgrim
@Yatsuno: I just thought it was funny that the first time I read that, I actually assumed it meant after. Then realized he probably meant before.
Does make a difference, I mean I can make a pretty good guess if it’s before, but if we’re talking about after, well then it’s really going to be a guess. I know what I think about it (similar to what you do, it sounds like) but really, who knows?
Been on this side of the puddle for a couple months. Two more before going back. It’s interesting. The food’s not as good, on the other hand the public bathrooms are better.
I think that’s where the current strategy falls apart, though. You shouldn’t be criticizing their religion, because it’s true that they have a Constitutional right to believe whatever they want. You should be pointing out that they’re trying to impose their beliefs on other people who don’t share those beliefs and who also have a Constitutional right to believe whatever they want. IMO, the pluralism strategy works much better, because it points out the disagreements even between people who all call themselves “Christians.” (Did you know the 10 Commandments are different for Catholics and Protestants? So shouldn’t people be pointing out that the 10 Commandments posters are imposing a specific version that only applies to a specific group of Christians and leaves others out?)
Um, there’s no evidence for a lack of god, either–that whole “can’t prove a negative” thing–so there’s only no logical need for a god.
As a matter of fact, one could argue that there’s plenty of evidence that humans need their gods for their own deep reasons, so expecting populations to be areligious is, itself, illogical.
Attempt to burn down atheists’ Saturnalia billboard in South Jersey
And a headline worthy of going into the keeper file:
Oklahoma puts freeze on monuments at statehouse for monkey god, Satan
@Bill E Pilgrim: My opinion: your journey has already been unique up until this point. Why should that stop because the nature of your energy is changing? I don’t believe it’s total lights out as that ignores the part of us that is energy. Next step over? Infinite as the multiverses.
Someday I plan to spend a Christmas in Europe. The traditions are so wonderful.
@Mnemosyne (iPhone): It’s a fucking billboard, not a manifesto. And why should theists be privileged to have opinions without anyone objecting? Certainly no one thinks twice about objecting to atheists’ opinions.
Villago Delenda Est
Not universal, but the ones tossing up the billboards are invariably the ones who believe it’s mandatory that they “save” the “unsaved”.
And they’ll do it by force if they have to. Christian Dominionism is outright evil.
Dead Ernest (Thought Wrangler)
@Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader:
I think the why for what it is that what popped into my mind* is:
1. the ‘put the c… back into c…’ rhythm & alliteration.
2. when Loretta Lynn said it, it kinda ended up sort of stuck in my mind.
(* “I’m here to put the [email protected] back in country”)
And as I scrolled down this thread I figured, ‘I bet JSF -t.l. is gonna be the one to bring up what Loretta said’ …but no.
My faith is …stirred, not shaken, but it is stirred.
Bill E Pilgrim
Well yes it’s 110 volts here and 220 over there, but I don’t see why that…
Oh sorry. I think I’m getting mixed up about which journeys we’re talking about here.
Do spend one over there, it’s everything it’s cracked up to be. On Christmas Eve we always go around to various churches to hear the music, and I can think of only one person I’ve done that with who had any religious interest (in keeping with this thread).
I think your argument might hinge on what you mean by ‘prove’. If you mean ‘prove’ with 100% mathematical certainty, then sure, that would be hard to achieve.
However, if we lower the requirement to 99.9% certainty then we approach my personal standard for my atheism. I think the fact that there is no evidence for a god is quite strong evidence that god does not exist.If god existed, there should be evidence. There is none: studies of prayer found no benefit, amputees are never healed, weeping statues all have scientific explanations, etc. etc. Therefore, we can conclude with a high degree of confidence that god does not exist.
Try telling a fundamentalist Christian that you’re a Roman Catholic and see how respectful they are of your religious opinions even though you’re both theists.
The problem is not theists’ beliefs being privileged about atheists’ beliefs. It’s that the beliefs of fundamentalists are being privileged above everyone else’s beliefs, including those of other theists.
@NotMax: A monument to Hanuman would be teh awesome, but I’d like one for Ganesha even better (and, hell, Republicans should like him, at least from his appearance).
It’s ok for gays to be proud, be in parades and people faces with teh gay, but not athiests?
You seem to think movements get somewhere by being pushovers.
Typical democrats, surrender monkeys in the War on Christmas.
@Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader:
I’m not saying I would put this up on a billboard but, what popped into my mind, probably because when Loretta Lynn said it (*), what she said pretty much seared itself into my memory, and because it follows the rhythm & alliteration of ‘put the c… back into c…’
But I also thought, ‘if anyone is going to bring Loretta’s comment to this thread, it’ll be JSF.’ but no.
If I had any faith in you JSF, it would probably be shaken.
* what Loretta said is not to WP’s liking. I’ll try to write, or allude to it in a comment to follow. If anyone is interested, doesn’t know, it is probably Googleable.
Dead Ernest (Thought Wrangler)
I should know by now that when WP says ‘your comment could not be published’ WP is just trying to set me up for ridicule.
Actually, that is not true; there have been studies on prayer and similar activities (for example, meditation) that have shown benefit internally to the one doing the praying (or meditating). As for external benefits, well, I have no idea how such a test would be devised that would be scientifically meaningful.
@Mnemosyne (iPhone): When the dogma of the prevailing religion in your country oppresses women and denounces gays, other religions, and the non-religious, and that dogma influences law and politics, then the privilege of theists IS a problem, a big problem.
Basically, being an atheist isn’t a license to be a total fucking dick.
You need a license for that? So around half the country should be paying the rest of us to put up with them? And who are the asshole police?
“We’re All Alone Here. No, That’s Not Queer. Get Used To It!” …?
Unfortunately, you’re are focusing on the activities of people that this thread has described as dicks; fortunately, that are far more non-dicks than dicks if one cares to look without bias.
What is the “prevailing religion” of the United States? Saying “Christianity” is like when neocons were saying during the Iraq War that “Islam” was somehow monolithic so it made perfect sense to overthrow a secular Muslim dictator and let the Sunni minority take over — after all, they were all Muslims and that’s all anyone needed to know, right?
Do you really, honestly think that the beliefs of Progressive National Baptist Convention churches are exactly the same as the beliefs of the Southern Baptist Convention churches, so no leaders of either church should have a public voice?
@NotMax: I’d just ignore it, actually, like I always do with religious shit. I guess I don’t understand why I have to provide a rejoinder. What the fuck is the rejoinder to null, anyway?
@Villago Delenda Est: You got it right. There is a difference between aggressive proselytizing and defense. Atheists act in defense of a free society. If you do not protect, you will be subjected to their rules.
That stuff is in the HOLY BOOKS accepted by Christian and Jewish dicks and non-dicks alike. It’s not like the non-dicks eject the dicks from their religion. In fact, the non-dicks are people who ignore the wretched dictates of their professed religion in favor of the golden rule and natural empathy. But by continuing to profess a religion whose strictures they ignore, they give cover to the zealots who do follow the book to the letter.
Whatever the dick to non-dick ratio is, that shit is happening, and religion contributes to it. I’m not a heterosexual cis white male like John Cole, so I don’t have the luxury of not rocking the boat. Nothing changes without the boat getting rocked.
I don’t care what anyone’s religion is. I do care that the privileged, majority religion contributes to oppression. Why don’t you?
Who said that? I’m arguing against silencing ATHEIST voices by calling them dicks for advancing their ideas.
Now we are into the territory of Mnemosyne; you paint with a very broad brush here. There are lots of versions of the Holy Books you malign as monolithic and lots of religionS (yes, plural here) under the broad umbrella of Judeo-Christianity. I don’t know what one denomination, or even one Church within a particular denomination, is supposed to do to “eject” people. The entire concept is silly; I’d propose instead of ejection there is edification.
Same answer as above. I’m sure there are some dick moves made by some dick people. You call it oppression and blame it on all that share the same Faith (hmmm, which war from the 20th Century had those undertones of blaming all of a particular religion for the actions of a few in that Faith… which one … which one).
Bottom line, you see oppression (dicks) while I see far more efforts to feed people that are hungry and house people from cold winter nights (nondicks).
@Mnemosyne (iPhone): Leaders of both Baptist sects are entitled to have a public voice (as bat-shit crazy as either voice is – and I was brought up in the Second Baptist Church in a small Texas town), but that right is met with all other public voices. No one is denying any Christians their public rights in this country. We do, in fact, privilege them by allowing them special tax status. We literally pay for their freedom to worship as they see fit.
When Christians want to act in a Christ-like way, I say go for it. That might be a pleasant circumstance. But if you are a Commandant for Christ, then (insert foul-mouthed diatribe here).
Are you a woman? Are you gay? I assume neither if you don’t see how oppression of women and gays is a FEATURE, not a bug of any sect based on the Bible, Torah, or Koran.
MY bottom line is, I don’t care about the religion (or lack of it) of individuals, and I don’t care if they act like dicks or not. I care about systemic harm perpetrated by institutions and public opinion.
As an atheist, I have to agree that sign is pretty obnoxious. For the most part, I think the world would be a better place w/o religion, but I pretty much live and let live in my daily life. Also, I may not believe in god or gods, or that Jesus is the son of god, but the stories about him (true or not) have valuable lessons for all: charity, empathy, kindness, tolerance, all things we could use more of in the world. It’s fine to celebrate a holiday that has its roots in that tradition if it helps us recall those traits. There’s no need to be an asshole about the roots of Christmas.
You and me both. I have militant atheists in the family and I’ve given up doing anything but tuning them out, much as I love them, because they don’t listen to anything I say on any religious (or anti-religious) topic; they just start arguing and telling me how I’m wrong. It gets really tiresome — just as tiresome as the cousin who’s an idiot fundiegelical and who never listens to what I say either. (And I’m not exactly a believer, either, as I was the product of a mixed marriage (a non-practicing Jew and an ex-Congregationalist who became Unitarians) and I don’t go to any church. I tell people now, “I’m not a believer, I’m more of a ‘hoper’.”) I guess what I really “believe” is, being dogmatic about your beliefs is stupid no matter what those beliefs are.
Robert Heinlein — a “hard” science-fiction author if there ever was one — pointed out that “logic” is not necessarily the final criterion of anything, and that relying on logic to convince people has major limitations. Or as one of the ancient Church Fathers, I forget which, said, “I believe because it’s absurd.” Personally I’m not sure if what I believe is true, but I hope it is, although I’m willing to accept that it might not be.
@Lauren: I went to a pretty liberal Methodist church tonight, and the pastor straight up said that Rick Warren was wrong. FWIW.
Most Christian denominations are not in the habit of kicking people out. The LDS excepted. But the idea of kicking anyone out for not being “good enough” or what have you is not really how that works. So there is no ejecting of any dicks. Not to mention that there is no One Christian Organization. There are hundreds of denominations, each with their own history and flavor, and even within denominations there are differences from church to church. The pastor that baptized me as a baby was arrested for protesting in favor of gay marriage, but the church my cousins went to was super-anti-queers. Both Presbyterian.
Most of us who feel some call of faith in some form feel pretty strongly that we should NOT be driven out. That the only way their minds will be truly changed (not just shamed into shutting up until they’re in private) is by coming into fellowship and friendship with others who don’t think and act like they do. This strategy only works if we all try to be nice to each other. Which is a challenge, I admit.
John’s going to have to give up atheism and start praying because it’s going to take a miracle to get his car out of that field.
@smike: I knew it was there. Every town I’ve ever been to had a First Baptist and now, finally, I know where the long-elusive Second Baptist is.
Militant atheists are annoying, not only because of their fundamentalist attitude of, “I’m right, you’re wrong, end of discussion. Also too, fuck you,” but also their equating all things remotely spiritual to fundamentalist Christian/Muslim assholes. Yeah, my spiritual views which I keep to my own damn self and my disorganized religion’s lack of any leadership hierarchy is exactly the same as those shitheads that love to condemn everyone in sight because their pastor/priest/whatever told them to. Of course my view of doing whatever you want provided you aren’t hurting anyone is exactly the same as willfully misinterpreting some holy book to justify whatever the bigotry of the month is! Live and let live IS exactly the same as killing all nonbelievers, how could I have been so blind!?!
At least the atheists that aren’t militant are fun to hang out with, and generally have a great sense of humor.
No. Are you a Christian? Because, apparently, unless one is a member of some group (I’m only using your rules here), one can’t know how it feels to be something.
Sorry, I missed a word. Studies of “intercessory prayer” found no benefit.
@Frank: Everyone I’ve known who sat down and read the Bible by themselves, (including my 14 year old self,) comes away from the experience with the same conviction as your friend; I’ve been lied to. They then set about on a spiritual quest, or conclude the whole thing is pointless; that can vary by personality.
Because none of the fundamentalists do that. They get “guided bible study” and Catholics, in particular, actually worship doctrine far more. Islam has passages which contradicts the hardline practices of their militants, and so forth.
While the more mellow and tolerant and loving a religion is practiced, the more they all start looking alike.
There, where they meet, am I.
Except that believers are dogmatic, almost by definition, but perhaps not always with the arrogance component (“Characterized by an authoritative, arrogant assertion of unproved or unprovable principles”).
Religions make many claims and many of them are testable. And science is slowly proving those claims to be false. E.g. two humans started the population, the Earth is 5000 years old, etc.
If someone came to you and said “there are invisible gnomes living in my garden” would you treat their views with respect? You would not be dogmatic at all that they were wrong? I’m sure you’d be polite to them as a person, but what about towards their views?
One has to work to separate the myth from the non-myth (I’m not so bold as to call it scientific truth). Was the world created in 7 days? No. Is the Earth several thousand years old? No. Was there a Noah that carried 2 of each animal? No. Was there a Great Flood? Probably (many cultures share this story).
that’s some funny stuff.
Well said John. As long as the theists don’t bother me I don’t care what they do.
Here’s a flowchart to help with that.
How very simple (I’ll let you decide if that is a compliment or not).
Look, I get the feeling – but the Christian Taliban no longer fall under the “not affecting me” category. Hell, based on their diabolical partnership with the oil and coal weasels, I’d say they’ve now moved firmly into “actively trying to destroy the species”.
And that’s not even considering their ongoing efforts to stuff their imaginary friend into education, or the million+ dead their anointed leader left the Iraqis with, etc etc ET FUCKIN CETERA.
If they wanna whine about atheists proselytizing, let them get the Space-Shuttle-sized beam outta their own eye first.
The Other Chuck
I’m a strident atheist — not even an agnostic — an outright atheist. But fuck if most atheist groups aren’t the nastiest bunch of assholes. It’s the preachy self-righteousness of a church without the community spirit.
What algorithm do you use to decide which parts of the Bible are literal and which parts are metaphor?
@gbear: Moments like those are when you break out John 3:16 and tell him it’s all good, that belief is enough.
John, I don’t get a whole lot of atheist vibe from your – agnostic is the feel I get. People seem to take agnosticism as a weak sister when what it does is look at all sides and, “this is just silly,” and as a loosely defined deist with strong agnostic leanings I do find the whole argument tiresome and give a rat’s ass what anybody believes right up until it is enforced. That is when my back goes up and I’m willing to get tough.
That’s fine. You just stay on the sidelines while some people fight back against the relentless attempt to make the country into a theocracy. We can now glimpse the day, maybe thirty years down the road, when only a minority of Americans believe in the highly-detailed nonsense which is organized religion. I think we’re likely to be a far more highly developed and compassionate country when we don’t have a majority insisting that each of them is uniquely qualified to understand the mind of a non-existent super creature. For the first time since the Fourth Century, Western societies will be free to develop without the dead weight of religious zealots calling the shots.
Many blogs have commented repeatedly about how the answer to Republican bullying is to fight back. I applaud those, such as the people who arranged for this billboard, who are ready to fight the evangelicals on their own ground, using their own tactics.
@EnfantTerrible: My problem with religion is that most people never get past the first rung or two of faith, as if you were 50 years old and still sitting in first grade. Screw that. If you’re going to have faith, and faith can be a wonderful thing, it should be nurtured and encouraged to grow, not merely maintained and guarded as if the introduction of new ideas would kill it like kudzu kills trees down South.
My ideal church would be something that (1) didn’t require money, and (2) had goals to be reached, like students in a university have goals. What you want is a degree. With the degree, you are qualified to speak to others on matters of your faith, strictly pro bono, of course. Even with the degree, there are further goals to be reached, research to be done, projects to complete. You’re never done until you expire, but you’re not stuck, forever a freshman, at the basic level where too many people are encouraged to feel content.
Any “clergy” in my church agree to accept no salary and their functions are mainly administrative in nature.
And it wouldn’t matter the religious background from whence you came, or whether you still embrace said background. It would be more of an extension of your existing faith (or non-faith) than a substitute for it. You could even continue going to that church if they’d still have you. And why not? If you’re a Jew, your goal would be to become an even better Jew. Or Muslim. Or Southern Baptist. Whatever. There would be room for everybody there – so much better for stimulating debate. The first rule would be, of course, to be excellent to each other, and leave that “one true faith” nonsense at the door.
I suspect that would work out about as well as Communism did in practice.
Tell that to the Estonians, Swedes, Denmarkoids, Japanese….
@chuck butcher: the atheist does not believe there’s a god. the agnostic does not know and does not believe you know either,andmay not believe this is knowable at all.