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Atheists Really Do Exist.

7 August, 2009

As I was leaving work today, I noticed an older woman sitting alone.  She sat on one of those walker/stools which have become quite popular.  I thought it odd as the park was closed.  So I stopped to ask, “Are you waiting for a ride?”

She smiled at me and, in a beautiful North Carolina Piedmont accent, replied. “Oh, yes.  My husband and I parked at the mall and he just walked over to get the car.  So I hope he’s picking me up.”

I thought for a moment and realized that there may be a problem.  The walkway to the mall is usually locked right at 5:00pm.  So it may already be locked, in which case this could get  difficult.  I explained the situation and told her that I would check an make sure he made it all the way up the ramp, and would also make sure that the main gate was still open so he could get back in.

She beamed at me and said, “Oh, you are so wonderful.  You are a good Christian and one of God’s people.”

I grimaced (internally).  Then I realized that, what the hell, it is past 5:15 and I’m not on duty.  “No, ma’am, I’m an atheist.”

“Pshaw.  You’re too nice to be an atheist,” she said.  And yes, she really did say ‘Pshaw.’  First time I’ve ever actually heard it used.

“I really am,” I replied.

“You can’t be an atheist.  You’re too nice.”

“Yes, I am.  And it has nothing to do with being nice or not.”

“Well, you just think you’re an atheist.  I’m not sure why you’re mad at God, but He still loves you.  You’ll accept him when your pain is resolved.”

“Ma’am, why would I hate something that does not exist?  I’ll go check to make sure that your husband made it to the parking area.  You have a good evening.”  And I walked away.

As I walked away, she said, “I know you’re a Christian.  You’re too nice to be a God hater.”

Her husband did make it to the parking area.  The front gate was still open.  I popped in a Haydn trumpet concerto and seethed.

Two things bothered me.

First, the denial that atheists exist.  I accept that there are people, a majority of the people on earth, in fact, who believe that there are supernatural beings who take an active interest in the doings of Homo sapiens sapiens.  I disagree with them, I think that they are living in a faith-based fantasy world which releases them from  responsibility for their own actions.  I think that their end-of-the-world mythologies encourage rapacious behaviour in the natural and man-made world.  I think that their mythologies have dangerously skewed our government and our education.  But I accept that they actually exist.

Too many theists (Christians, mostly (at least the ones of which I have read and the ones I have encountered)) deny that atheists exist.  The possibility that someone (like me) actually does not believe that god(s) exist is so far outside their limited world of thought that they do not believe in atheists.  (Which is even more remarkable when one considers that there is far more evidence for the existence of atheists than there is for the existence of any god(s).)  So, rather than accept that my lack of belief exists, they deny even the possibility of honest atheism.

Second, I am sick and tired of this absurdity that one must be a Christian to be good.  The aerobic shootings here in Pennsylvania were committed by an avowed theist.  MoJoey has recorded hundreds, possibly thousands, of instances in which preachers, ministers, pastors and youth pastors have been caught (and these are just the ones who have been caught) cheating, stealing, molesting and raping.  Christianity does not, based on ample evidence, make an individual a good person.

What about Stalin, or Pol Pot, or any other atheist who has committed atrocities?  The Marxist or Maoist leaders who have committed atrocities, committed genocide, did not commit these atrocities in the name of atheism;  they committed them in the name of Marx or Mao.  They simply substituted faith in the historical dialectic for faith in god(s). 

Christianity has, however, directly inspired genocide and other atrocities.  Carcassone was sacked in the name of god.  So was Jerusalem.  The Bogomils and the Albigensians were hunted to extinction.  The nation states of Central and South America were eliminated in the name of god and profit.  The terrorists blowing themselves up in the Middle East do so in the name of their god(s).  As did the terrorists in 2001.  As did Dr.  Tiller’s murderer.  I am not claiming that atheists do not commit crimes.   Some do.  We do not, in any instance of which I am currently aware, commit crimes in the name of atheism.

Atheists really do exist.  And, even without the rules laid down by an imaginary skydaddy,  we are not criminal reprobates, we don’t barbecue babies.  We are not anything other than rather boringly normal people.  Why are these two ideas so difficult for a theist to comprehend?

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91 comments

  1. I would also be angry if this happened to me.

    Why is it that theists think you have to believe in a god to be good? Would theists honestly go out and rampage and murder if they woke up in the morning and quit believing in gods?

    I believe that the reasons to be good are here with us on the earth – we, collectively, are the reasons to be good.

    Our existence, our continued existence, and our flourishing are reasons to cooperate and to be empathetic and respectful to one another.

    Why do we need a god to achieve this?


  2. I’ve asked theists that question, ” Would theists honestly go out and rampage and murder if they woke up in the morning and quit believing in gods?”

    And several times I’ve had theists tell me that yes, they would.

    Of course I don’t believe them. They think all their good impulses come from god and have an unrealistic idea about what they would be like w/o theism. Still, many theists actually think that without god they would be murders and rapists.


  3. They are trained to think this way, far more than I ever realized. I was working on a friend’s computer the other day while he had his TV on a 7th Day Adventist network. While I was busy on the phone with a 45 minute tech support call I could hear the TV. During those few minutes 4 or 5 preachers informed me that atheists are miserable, wretched, going to hell, evil, immoral, perverted,hate god/are mad at god, liars, deceivers, will never know peace or joy, and, of course, are fools. One went so far as to say that the purpose of science is to lead gullible people away from god and the truth of his word. That was less than an hour sample – these stations broadcast this crap 24 hours a day. My friend listens to this shit constantly and he repeats it almost word for word without even thinking.


  4. The word “Pshaw”. Odd, we bandied it about last weekend, a week ago today.
    We were camped, and one of our recent college grads was doing a crossword puzzle during some down time and was having some trouble with one of the clues.
    The clue was “Former Ruler of Iran”, so I said, “The Shah; ess aitch ae aitch”.
    My young friend says, “No, it’s spelled…” and he did so.
    We older folks looked at him and said, “The PSHAW of Iran”??!! with some incredulity.
    One of our number congratulated him on his recent graduation, but cautioned him to think about it carefully: he, an education major, had just been outspelled by a dyslexic, high school drop out, redneck.
    Life is sweet… So sweet…

    Don’t get upset about it, (((Billy))), this is a lense which the poor old dear has been taught to look through all her life, and it has been millenia in the grinding.

    If you do not conform to what their world view (projected upon them) is, then you must “really” be something else. Remember, we’re expected to be creeping about the world as some kind of amalgam of Richards III and Nixon, and some kind of Eric von Stroeheim evil charactors, and if you don’t conform to one thing then you must be another.

    The fact that there are atheists who live their lives like everyone else, are cheerful, helpful, honest is an affront and challenge which can’t be explained away except that, well, they “can’t really be” atheists. It’s how they cope with the “not me”, the people who don’t fit the rules they’ve made for themselves which make about as much sense as “step on a crack…” Life by slogan…sheesh.

    My mother was on a trip and a gentleman she knows delivered himself of the opinion that “there are no such things as REAL atheists”, and my mother told him “You’ve never met my son and his oldest son”.

    Don’t sweat it, “it don’t mean nuthin'”, as we used to say.


  5. we don’t barbecue babies

    I think Phillychief posted a pretty good Barbecued Baby recipe on his blog a couple of years ago. I prefer them lightly breaded and fried, myself, although some people prefer a heavier beer-based batter. 🙂

    I love your statement that there is far more evidence for atheists than there is for gods. Excellent! Unfortunately, many religiobots don’t have a clue about how to interpret evidence.


    • why the chaplain, i don’t feel touched by what you name us “religiobots”.
      But i’m a physicist, and interpreting the “facts” is something i do for a living.
      The poor debate here is going on for centuries, and so far science couldn’t deny the “facts”: one is : the universe is ordered. second, random doesn’t exist, third:lots of scientist even ” atheists” ones, think that universe is like a musical score and that there may be a ” conductor”.
      Now if you, chaplain or maybe have facts unknown to scientific community let us know them and see if it eally solves the case the most brilliant brains are debating over for centuries…just to answer one point to this genral post: “What about Stalin, or Pol Pot, or any other atheist who has committed atrocities?” no prolly not but it is interesting to note that those guys at least try to eliminate religion
      or at least weaken it…


      • Your arguments shame your Physicist credentials.
        1. The Universe is ordered. – what would a disordered Universe be like? To say the Universe is ordered is simply to say there are perceivable patterns. Pulsars emit radio waves in predictable patterns with no sentience. Evidence for God? Heck no. I’m surprised someone with a collegiate grasp of logic would make this mistake.
        2. Random doesn’t exist. – I assume you mean to say that there is no such thing as a random occurrence. Extrapolated, you’re saying that nothing happens without a predictable agent acting upon it. To cite this as your argument for the “First Mover” is invoking a regress that you give yourself free license to bring exception to.
        3. Argument from Design. – You should just be ashamed to bring this up. It’s the weakest argument in the scientific world. I am not going to deign a response. Just google it.
        To say that Stalin or Pol Pot “at least try to eliminate religion” gives no further credence to your argument at all. SMH.


  6. This is why the ad got pulled in Iowa, isn’t it? They found it offensive to suggest that there actually are atheists.


  7. You don’t barbecue babies! Everyone knows babies are supposed to be used for flavoring donuts.


  8. The possibility that someone (like me) actually does not believe that god(s) exist is so far outside their limited world of thought that they do not believe in atheists.

    Perfect summary, right there.

    Christianity has, however, directly inspired genocide and other atrocities.

    To be fair, so has evolution. Crimes have been committed in the name of natural selection.

    ..we are not criminal reprobates, we don’t barbecue babies. We are not anything other than rather boringly normal people. Why are these two ideas so difficult for a theist to comprehend?

    If it’s any consolation, neither of these ideas are difficult for me to comprehend – the sheepish people who think thusly seek an easy way to demonize the different – and that they find. The phenomena is not exclusive to religion.


    • To be even more fair, there are kind atheists and theists, and there are also crazy ones in both parties. 😛


  9. Crimes have been committed in the name of natural selection.

    I actually have to almost agree with thqat one. Spencerian economic Darwinism, a true perversion of the theory, allowed the social crime of unbridled capitalism in the theory that those to whom God has given the money and the resources are those best suited by economic selection to control said resources within the economic realm. To show any charity to the poor, you know, health care, food, education, fair wages, the right to collectively bargain — would allow those less suited to overpower and outbreed the wealthy and would destroy the world. Quite similar to some of the arguments made on FoKKKs News and by such groups as the Aryan Naiton.


  10. There’s a difference between “inspired by” and “in the name of”, which (((Billy))) correctly pointed out. For example, someone might kill an illegal immigrant in the name of America, but where does it say in American law we should kill illegal immigrants? Compare that to denying gays equal rights, inspired by some lines in Leviticus.

    Btw, I caught The Confederate States of America last night on IFC. Quite creepy, especially the late 20th century “family values” and the citing of Ephesians 6:5.


  11. Oops, I read that as from (((Billy))). Sorry Lurker. I should have noticed the absences of parentheses.


  12. -To be fair, so has evolution. Crimes have been committed in the name of natural selection.

    I dont think this is fair, considering the context of this discussion. I dont think Billy is arguing that “evolutionists” are good people, or that nobody commits crimes in the name of natural selection. This is about atheism. It frustrates me that frequently theists take it as a given that if one is an atheist, he or she is also a “darwinist”(<-is this the correct term?).


  13. And it’s not “natural selection” when people do it. People deliberately breed for specific traits or to breed out unwanted ones, while the environment’s (to go anthropomorphic for a moment) just “chooses” the characteristics that lead to things living long enough to pop out the next generation (it’s muddier than that, and I’ve probably misphrased it terribly, but that’s the gist). This is why there are so few slow, tasty animals. Cheetahs are delicious; sloth taste like crap.

    “Economic Darwinism” breeds out anybody who isn’t willing to move to some polluted third world shithole when his manufacturing job goes there. Hitler’s breeding program was an attempt to breed out “non-Aryan” traits, leaving a “pure germanic race” (whatever that is, since all men are mutts. My own family tree, for instance, has a wide range of hicks, from redneck all the way to white trash. Yes, I’m pink). Not only is that not natural selection (they banned Origin, if memory serves), that’s not even evolution. He was breeding to a “kind”, back to a mythical ideal. If anything, that’s biblical.


  14. Teleprompter: And what’s really scary? If they truly believe that god(s) or their ‘holy’ writings tell them to kill someone, they are still being good.

    Craig: I’ve never asked a theist that question. Now I think I never will. Thanks for scaring the shit out of me.

    Frank: The way to control a population? Keep them ignorant and scared. Which the type of Christianity you describe here does. In spades. I take that back. It does in no trump.

    Sarge: Thanks for the laugh. So, you say that denial is not just a river in Egypt? Agreed.

    And I really don’t sweat it. That’s what this blog is all about. I write about it, think it through, rant a little, and I’m done.

    Chappie: You gotta be careful deep-frying them. They’re already so tender that they can fall apart in the fryer which is a pain to clean.

    And thanks for the compliment. I think that is one of the better lines I’ve ever come up with.

    Philly: Basically, yes. The idea that there might be atheists is apparently very threatening to insecure Christians.

    Nan: Baby donuts? They don’t even have tyres!

    CL: Thanks for stopping by. Odd. I reread my post. I don’t see any mention of the word evolution, or the words natural selection in there. I was speaking of atheism which is, specifically, a lack of belief. One does not have to be an atheist to understand that evolution is the most effective explanation for the proliferation of life on earth. Nice jump, though.

    What atrocities have been done ‘in the name of natural selection’? Similar ideas (social Darwinism, the Aryan master race, eugenics) have been invoked as a rationale for unnatural selection — attempts at breeding ‘better’ humans.

    Please read what I actually write. I’ll be glad to defend that. What the hell am I doing defending something I didn’t even mention?

    Lurker: Spencerian ‘social Darwinism’ was not done in the name of natural selection. It just added a pseudo-scientific veneer to the attitudes of the wealthiest during of time of extreme economic disparity. The idea was used as a justification, but it was not done ‘in the name of’ natural selection.

    Philly: I didn’t point it out (that’s Lurker), but I agree.

    And Lurker? I think Philly just insulted you by thinking that you were me.

    Quixotic: I know at least one agnostic (more of a universal theist but he’s effectively an atheist) who believes the whole alien farmer idea to explain life on earth to you are correct: atheism and accepting evolution are not synonymous (there is a fair amount of overlap, though). CL’s non sequiter did, however, completely derail the thread.

    ‘Darwinist’ is the correct term if one is attempting to denigrate the theory of evolution. It is an attempt to deny all the research of the last 150 or so years which has supported, expanded, and confirmed Darwin’s theory. It also attempts to put the theory of evolution on the same level as young earth creationism — one persons ‘story’ about the creation of life.


  15. MO: Excellent.

    I think (and again, I’m an historian, not a biologist) that, in a non-stressed environment (or a minimally stressed environment) it comes down to which males the females will accept (or vice versa). This leads to weird mating patterns, plumage and colouration, dances, etc. In a stressed environment, things can (and do) change pretty damn quick (an English moth comes to mind) but you are correct that it comes down to living long enough to breed.

    And I agree that, by definition, if man is doing it, it is not natural selection.

    Heh, heh. Redneck plus white trash equals pink. Heh, heh.


  16. “…in a non-stressed environment (or a minimally stressed environment) it comes down to which males the females will accept (or vice versa).”
    Sexual selection still takes place in a stressed environment, it’s just that those who’ve wasted too much energy for the environment at the time on whacky plumage or bowery piles “naturally select” out by, y’know, starving to death (except, of course, for those that manage to get laid before said death).

    Alternately…
    Women say they want a sensitive man who can make them laugh, but they still go for the flashy jerk in the Porsche. Damn you, sexual selection! *Sniff*


  17. (((Billy)))

    Your main point was that you were “..sick and tired of this absurdity that one must be a Christian to be good.” I agreed that such is absurd, and I can’t help it that you and your guests chose to focus on the one point of mine they disagreed with, vs. the two points of mine I bet most everyone here agreed with. Consider it a lesson in seeing what we want to see, I suppose. Perhaps I’ll only post comments here that I’m confident folks will agree with, you know, to keep everything safe and clean.

    Anyways, one of your sub-arguments was that atheism doesn’t inspire crimes; Christianity does. I disagreed, so I spoke my mind. Atheism – and evolution – have inspired crimes.

    What atrocities have been done ‘in the name of natural selection’

    “I am prepared to fight and die for my cause… I, as a natural selector, will eliminate all who I see unfit, disgraces of human race and failures of natural selection.” -Pekka-Eric Auvinen, Jokela High School gunman.

    There are people who kill precisely because they don’t think they’ll ever be punished by God – because they don’t believe God exists – because they are atheists.


  18. Back to the original topic, i wanted to mention how pleased i was at the way you presented and defended your atheism. Specifically, the way you tactfully ended the exchange, allowing her to have the last word.

    Many of us have spent a long time thinking about where we stand on this faith issue, and hold our position with conviction. I personally find it harder to pick my battles properly when I am heavily invested, mentally/emotionaly/financially, in a topic.

    Though she may not have left this experience “believing in atheism”, i think the way you handled yourself is a perfect example of how we should all approach these subjects. Maybe this is one of many similar experiences this woman will have in the coming months/years that will eventually force her to look at things differently. We can only hope, and continue to identify ourselves as what we are: atheists.


  19. […] The Existence Of Atheists Iambilly tries to do it to an elderly stranger after helping her out of a jam she didn’t even realize […]


  20. cl “Anyways, one of your sub-arguments was that atheism doesn’t inspire crimes…”
    Atheism inspired that? I’d say it was more a combination of being bullied, mental issues and mis-medication. Atheism didn’t help, but neither necessarily would theism.
    Also, misuse of the term natural selection aside, in the end he naturally selected himself out of the gene pool.

    “There are people who kill precisely because they don’t think they’ll ever be punished by God – because they don’t believe God exists – because they are atheists.”
    There are people who kill precisely because they think they’ll be rewarded by God – because they believe God exists – because they are theists (not to mention the whole “Jesus washes away my sins” thing).
    Delusional is delusional, whether or not you take your inner voice to be your own or God’s.

    Quixotic “I think the way you handled yourself is a perfect example of how we should all approach these subjects.”
    Oh, yeah? Well I help old ladies cross the street all the time. Even when they struggle.


  21. Delusional is delusional, whether or not you take your inner voice to be your own or God’s.

    Exactly my point. Glad someone got it.


  22. Cl, now can you tell the millions of people that think God talks to them that? In the very least, it will be entertaining you see you running the hell away from a bunch of righteously angry Pentecostals. If you take on the sizeable “personal relationship with Jesus Christ” crowd as well, you’d better pick up some good running shoes first.


  23. As a Christian I’ve argued here before that God is not the Savior of Christians only. He will judge each according to their deeds, how they treat others – and yet God has mercy and considers the ignorance and motivations of each person.

    1 Timothy 1:13 I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.

    1 John 2:2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

    1 Timothy 4:9-10 This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe.

    There are some people who approach Christianity from a moral perspective – not only a perspective of weighing the evidence. For those who believe that Jesus taught that we should “love our neighbor as ourselves” and willfully don’t want to do that [do good] because they are choosing to be selfish and live like animals – they have made a moral choice to do wrong. Those who reject a belief in God in order to feel better about doing evil (and there are some who do that) they are not moral people period.

    For those who disbelieve in Jesus and some of his teachings because they see the evidence differently – there is no condemnation for them.

    Luke 12:10 And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.

    An atheist who treats others as he would like to be treated is much better off than one claiming to be a Christian who doesn’t. While many Christians teach that Christians will be forgiven for all their sins and argue that others will not be forgiven – Jesus instead gave a parable that those who knew what they should be doing will in the end be judged much more sharply than those who didn’t know. So, if a Christian hears in church or reads in his Bible that he should be doing good to others and believes it to be the will or word of God and then doesn’t do it – and an atheist with no compulsion, no conscious hope of any reward does the good instead – the atheist is far better off than the Christian.

    I am not telling you guys anything that you don’t know about doing good. That some Christians read the Bible differently than the louder crowd of Christians – maybe you didn’t know that – even some Christians who only listen to their Pastor, Preacher, Minister or Priest don’t have any clue that many Christians like Billy Graham (in his later years), C. S. Lewis, John Stott and even the Catholic Church have/had a more open attitude toward non-Christians.

    The injustices of this life – are a short time compared against eternity.

    Romans 5:18 Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.

    Because I don’t trust myself to engage in decent conversations here over the long term (without spending many hours) – I won’t check the box to be emailed of follow-up comments. Perhaps, I’ll pop back in. There are many things that I have to learn about science, and many other fields so I can’t spend hours in debate like I have in the past.

    A scripture in 2 Corinthians 12:11 says, “I am nothing.”

    And if there is no God … my short life in an unfathomably large universe bears out what scripture says regarding my insignificance and nothingness.

    However, if this universe was made by a super-intelligence there may be a built in extra-dimensional element to our existence.’

    If there is anything worth commenting on in my post – you all can discuss it among yourselves. I don’t think I can stop back in to read what you have written in order to reply in the next month or so. Don’t spend too much time preparing an argumentative post because I won’t be around to read it. (I was reminded today when my seven-year old son was sitting on the table between me and my keyboard and monitor – of someone suggesting printing a keyboard on her belly to get attention from a diligent computer blogger.)

    (I do have a job now – but it is not always full-time).

    Bye again and best wishes to you all, and some of you are particularly exceptional and gifted people! Craig, Philly chief, Modusoperandi and Billy.

    I am wasting time now … maybe I’ll drop by in another year.


    • See there’s the problem, you think citing a crap load of scripture is an argument. That’s mistake #1. Mistake #2 is thinking any of that matters a cunt hair to a non-believer.

      I suppose you can’t make a point without citing that book. Oh well.


  24. ..can you tell the millions of people that think God talks to them that?

    Sure. Just get me a venue.


    • cl “Sure. Just get me a venue.”
      You’ve got the whole interwebs!


  25. Atheists are people who are afraid to face the reality of God. You don’t want to answer to something that’s bigger than you. Atheists are going to have to answer to God one of these days, and when they appear before the creator of this universe, they are going to deeply regret all the times they were quoted scripture and told about God and were too bullheaded and stubborn to listen. Do you think the world created itself? Are you nuts? Did the watch you are wearing just “appear” out of nowhere, or did it have a maker? Do you think we were created out of nothing and our bodies made so intricately just by happenstance? Do you think that the earth was placed just far enough from the sun that we wouldn’t burn up, yet close enough that we couldn’t freeze? Come on, people, use your brains and your spirits and realize that you have been deceived into believing something that doesn’t even make sense. Even my 6-year-old knows there’s a God!


    • and I bet she also “knows” there’s a Santa Claus, too. 🙂

      Have a nice day


    • Praise the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY! Michele’s amazing and irrefutable logic has convinced me of the error of my ways as a sinful heathen! I bow down to the obvious Creator of the Universe and my One True Judge! I have been pricked in my heart with overwhelming guilt of the knowledge of my fallen nature! The trustfulness of Christ’s Atonement burns in my bosom!

      Did I mention Praise Jebus… I mean Jesus?


    • Michele “Atheists are people who are afraid to face the reality of God.”
      Theists are people who are afraid to face the reality of death. So there!
      “You don’t want to answer to something that’s bigger than you.”
      And what’s the kicker when you stand in front of Him? What’s the metric for a pass?
      “Did you believe the right thing?”
      That’s no standard. That’s a poor standard. Poor that’s a standard no.
      “Atheists are going to have to answer to God one of these days, and when they appear before the creator of this universe, they are going to deeply regret all the times they were quoted scripture and told about God and were too bullheaded and stubborn to listen.”
      Man, are you ever gonna be humbled when you meet Thor. I bet you don’t even know the names of all the Norse gods. You are so screwed.
      “Do you think the world created itself?”
      No.
      “Are you nuts?”
      A little. We all are. It’s the human condition.
      “Did the watch you are wearing just “appear” out of nowhere, or did it have a maker?”
      No. Yes. It did have a maker. That’s why I worship Timex. It takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’. Amen.
      “Do you think we were created out of nothing and our bodies made so intricately just by happenstance?”
      Do you know anything about evolution?
      “Do you think that the earth was placed just far enough from the sun that we wouldn’t burn up, yet close enough that we couldn’t freeze?”
      That’s the most self-centered thing I’ve heard all day. The conditions of the Earth weren’t made for us; we evolved to cope with it.
      “Come on, people, use your brains and your spirits and realize that you have been deceived into believing something that doesn’t even make sense.”
      That a godless universe implies no gods?
      “Even my 6-year-old knows there’s a God!”
      …and if you were in India, it’d be Vishnu. Vishnu kicks ass! Go Vishnu! Woo!


      • The only comment I will lower myself to address is the one about evolution. People who believe in it say we came from monkeys, or were something else before we became what we are now. Well, look around you in every zoo, monkeys are still making monkey babies, so if we evolved from them why are they still around? The theory of evolution to answer every single question about who we are and where we came from was created by people who, again, still don’t want to face the reality that there is a creator, so they came up with something else to explain human existence. If we evolved from the caveman — what’s next in the process? Why did we stop evolving? Does evolving ever stop? Obviously, if you believe we “evolved” from something, we should still be changing in the way we look, but we are not, and haven’t for a very, very, very long time. The world HAS evolved in moral and ethical ways, in technological advances, etc., but not in a very long time in our physical appearance. BECAUSE WE DIDN’T EVOLVE FROM SOMETHING ELSE!! Humans were created, with the first being Adam. For someone who seems to know so much, have you ever, ever really studied or tried to debunk Christianity? And, by that, I don’t mean that you just dabble in it or try to find another logical answer for everything, I mean really get deep into it. If you ever really did, you might see where Christians are coming from. This country was founded by men and women who had a deep devotion to God. The first schools in this country were started so that children could learn the Bible. George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and all the great presidents from this country’s inception believed in God. The Constitution, the Pledge of Allegiance, and our country’s song “God bless America” were penned by these great men. Even Obama believes in God. I guess all these great men and past presidents were just idiots and fools in your book. Or, it could be that Athiests are the ones who have fooled themselves and “evolved” through the years from what this country started out to be — A GOD FEARING COUNTRY! This will be my last comment on this site.


  26. No, we didn’t evolve from monkeys. We share a common ancestor and no, it’s not a system of progress but rather a system of mutations which may or may not be beneficial for survival. Please take some time to understand something BEFORE you decide not to accept it and please also read up on your American history. It’s truly shameful as an American to have such a poor knowledge of the history of this great country (especially when compared to other nations, it’s not that long), and it truly puts to shame the efforts of such great men as you mentioned to not have even a rudimentary knowledge.

    Oh and concerning Thor, any questions? LOL!


  27. Wow. I should know better than to read comments from Michele. The stupid, it burns.


  28. Michele “The only comment I will lower myself to address is the one about evolution.”
    …and then you go on to show that you know nothing about it.

    “Well, look around you in every zoo, monkeys are still making monkey babies, so if we evolved from them why are they still around?”
    If Protestantism descended from Catholicism, why are there still Catholics?

    “This will be my last comment on this site.”
    Pity. Are we that dangerous to your brittle faith? Are the facts and history of the universe too?


    Pick up a copy of Why Evolution is True. It’s a good primer on the basics. In the very least, after reading it you’ll know a little about what you’re arguing against.


  29. If Protestantism descended from Catholicism, why are there still Catholics?

    ROTFLMAO!


  30. MO: Ability to care for the young is rather important for a female (or a male, for that matter) when it comes to choosing a mate. I showed (((Wife))) my Ferrari before I proposed. A Matchbox Ferrari, but it was red.

    CL: And there are ones, like the guy in PA, who think it okay to kill because Jesus already erased all sins. Whether it is your instance, or the one I cite, either way, self-justification is not the same thing as doing something ‘in the name of.’

    And I did notice that you agreed with part of what I wrote. If a commenter just agrees, I recognize that. If a commenter agrees, but then goes somewhere else, I tend to react to the, shall we say, more interesting part.

    Quixotic: And, please notice, I was no rude to the woman who, basically, denied that I could exist.

    MO: Well said.

    CL: But how does one tell the difference?

    Thomas: I can toss some quotes from Dune or sundry other books which say different things. What’s your point?

    Philly: If your whole world is one book, then everyone must either recognize your book or be the enemy. And the enemy is anyone who just hasn’d ‘gotten it’ yet.

    Michele: Other than saying, “Thank you for proving my point,” I really can’t add to what others have said.

    Nan: Why were you not wearing your ‘anti-stupidity’ glasses? Sheesh. Do I have to post a warning label?

    MO: Congratulations on what may be the best comment ever. I plan to use that when confronted with the ‘why are there still monkeys’ absurdity.

    Philly: You sound like my teenage daughter, now.


  31. {{{billy}}} “I can toss some quotes from Dune or sundry other books which say different things. What’s your point?”
    As the Bene Gesserit say in the Litany Against Fear, “Fear is the mind-killer.” Amen.

    “Congratulations on what may be the best comment ever. I plan to use that when confronted with the ‘why are there still monkeys’ absurdity.”
    I didn’t come up with it. I merely pass it on.


  32. “the Pledge of Allegiance, and our country’s song “God bless America” were penned by these great men.”

    The Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892 to celebrate Columbus Day and sell flags. It didn’t even include the phase “under God” until 1954 during the Red Scare.

    “God Bless America” was written by Irving Berlin, a Jewish Russian immigrant, in 1918.

    Come on, Michele, use your brains. Or at least Wikipedia.


  33. But how does one tell the difference? (((Billy)))

    Between?


  34. MO: But religion is based on fear. And if fear is the mindkiller, then . . . . Oh. Right.

    Kate: Thanks for stopping by. I think that some theists are extremely resistant to research. After all, if they try to find the truth, they might find it. And what if it disagrees with their carefully constructed weltgeist.

    CL: Sorry. Should have phrased that more clearly. How does a believer differentiate between a psychotic break and a conversation with god(s)?


  35. A psychotic break/psychosomatic response is what everyone else/every other denomination/religion has. A conversation/religious experience is what you/your particular denomination has.


  36. Craig: Ah. Now I understand. So did that mean I didn’t have a depressive psychotic break some years back? It was an atheist experience?


  37. Exactly.


  38. Good thing I wasn’t a believer when it happened. This blog would be closer to something written by Michele.


  39. When I have a temporal lobe siezure it is often very, well, intresting. What’s real and what’s not is sometimes blurred. (Wear your safety equipment! I’ve been shot, hit by shrapnel, hit by a car and a few other things, but a bullet that hit my helmet, didn’t penetrate, but caused bruising, a cut that was butterflied and the docs said that was it cost me a whole lot. The interior damage was undiagnosed, worse than they thought, and progressive. The result is worse than everything else put together. All from a bang on the head)

    I have to wonder if some of the people who recieve “revelations” and experience “spiritual movement” might not have been experiencing much the same thing.

    The trick is to know what’s reality and what’s not, and even I can tell that.

    My own experience and what I have read of the


  40. Sarge: The tough part is, we learn to trust our senses. If our senses are out of whack, or the interpretation is off, reality can be a slippery idea. To a paranoid schizophrenic, the voices in the head are reality.


  41. … and I can’t help it that you and your guests chose to focus on the one point of mine they disagreed with, vs. the two points of mine I bet most everyone here agreed with. Consider it a lesson in seeing what we want to see, I suppose. Perhaps I’ll only post comments here that I’m confident folks will agree with, you know, to keep everything safe and clean.

    My, you’re touchy. Pray tell. If everyone’s in agreement on the issue, what more response did you expect? A pat on the back?

    No narcissism there.


  42. I agree with you completely, SI, and am going out of my way to post said agreement with you. This is what I, and indeed all of us do; post our agreements. If, perchance, I disagreed with you, I would not post anything, as that would be impolite.
    Lastly, rereading your comment, I continue to find myself in agreement with it. And you. Me. Agree.


    • And I agree with your agreement of my disagreement with cl, MO.

      My, you’re an agreeable fellow. If only the whole wide world could be so agreeable. Perhaps we could all get together and share a Coke. On a Swiss mountain top. Wouldn’t that be nice?


  43. SI,

    It has nothing to do with narcissism or being touchy, nor do I want a pat on the back. I wouldn’t have said anything, except that there was some concern over “thread derailment,” which I get sick of people whining about. Well, if people don’t want “thread derailment,” then they shouldn’t respond to that which isn’t related to the OP, much like you are right now (and I’ll bet nobody complains at you for thread derailment). As for me, I didn’t realize freethought had boundaries. Lastly, your own soapbox is probably the best place to discuss your personal issues with me.

    (((Billy))),

    How does a believer differentiate between a psychotic break and a conversation with god(s)?

    The same way I presume you do – with an extra helping of critical thinking.


  44. It has nothing to do with narcissism…

    Not from where I sit.

    then they shouldn’t respond to that which isn’t related to the OP, much like you are right now (and I’ll bet nobody complains at you for thread derailment).

    You’re absolutely…no, I take that back… conditionally right. They probably won’t complain about my thread derailment, because I usually don’t derail threads, so (((Billy))) cuts me some slack. I’d do the same for him.

    But since you derail threads for a living, it’s important to whine about it on a regular basis, in the improbable hope that you’ll stop. I’m not holding my breath though./end-derailment


  45. /end-derailment

    Wanna bet?

    I think I deraile the thread. CL just tossied in a gotcha and I’m th one who reaponded to it. And I partially agreed with CL. I think we can all agree on that?


  46. Corrrected:

    /end-derailment

    Wanna bet?

    I think I deraile the thread. CL just tossied in a gotcha and I’m th one who reaponded to it. And I partially agreed with CL. I think we can all agree on that?

    by Lurker 12 August, 2009 at 12:41 pm


  47. cl “…and I’ll bet nobody complains at you for thread derailment)”
    The only reason that I get away with derailing threads is because I bring nachos. It’s tough to argue with a mouthful of nachos.

    “The same way I presume you do – with an extra helping of critical thinking.”
    So how come they come to the wrong conclusion? How do “critical thinking” and “faith” compatiblize (note: not a word)?


  48. SI: Yeah. Rather self-centered, neh?

    MO & SI: Stop agreeing. It is not entertaining me.

    CL: Again, if a commenteer just agrees with my post, I recognize that and move on. If a commenteer adds something new, whether within the initial post or not, I respond to that. I apologize profusely for not immediately trumpeting your agreement.

    And critical thinking tends to be rather difficult for those brought up with the idea that there is a supernatural being who takes a personal interest in their life, that this supernatural being created us so that we would sin and then he could save some of us, and with the only proof being a bowdlerized, mistranslated, heavily edited, and committee-ized self-contradictory book.

    SI: I’m not going to complain about thread derailment. I may point it out, but all commenteers have the right to derail threads (and make themselves look like __________s) in this free speech zone. I’m a little less likely to point it out when it is a regular. Are you regular?

    Lurker: Noticing someone elses derailment does not constitute a derailment.

    MO: More jalapenos on the nachos and you will be (almost) correct.


  49. Are you regular?

    I’ll let you know in the morning.


    • You had to take it there, didn’t you?


      • Yes. Lob me a softball and I’ll swing…


  50. I had no idea you were a swinger. Much less a swinger with soft balls.


    • I thought we’d already established that they were big, not soft.


  51. Lurker,

    Yes.

    (((Billy)))

    I apologize profusely for not immediately trumpeting your agreement.

    Don’t be silly, (((Billy))), that’s not what I was asking for at all. For those who missed the point: say you come across some post P, and you think it doesn’t have relevance to the OP – you don’t have to engage it.

    As far as critical thinking is concerned, as it’s been said before: “Delusional is delusional, whether or not you take your inner voice to be your own or God’s.”

    Lastly, __________-ness is in the eye of the beholder, indeed.

    Modus,

    So how come they come to the wrong conclusion?

    Well, “they’ in that sentence represents the subset of believers who came to the wrong conclusion, and each case will probably be different. I think it’s safe to say a lack of critical thinking is likely to accompany most if not all of those cases.


  52. will wade through all the comments later. some good stuff there. Just wanted to say that I came out as an atheist to a friend of many years and he disowned me. No discussion, no desire to debate and understand, just a flat out dismissal. Oh well…


    • I’ve experienced a bizarre variant of that. I’ve known people who joined AA and were told they could no longer associate with the people currently in their lives (friends and family) who drink, so that was the last I ever heard from them.

      Typical religion/cult behavior. I wouldn’t take it personally.


      • brickbrat

        Obviously he wasn’t a friend. Reminds me of the saying, “If you lend a friend $20, and and you never hear from him again, it was probably worth it.”

        Philly

        AA’s not a cult, though it could take on those characteristics for people in the right mind frame. For most alcoholics, though, the decision is a matter of life or death, over which they have little control. I wouldn’t take it personally.


  53. cl: So how do we (or anyone) tell the difference?

    brickbat: Sorry to hear that. People suck, sometimes. I don’t know if this helps, but I ran over a guy with my car. A bunch of times. Maybe it was him.


  54. CL: Thank you for explaining how to respond to commenteers on my blog. I didn’t realize I was doing it wrong. Or is this just a special rule for you (and others like you)?

    And as far as delusions go, would you, or would you not, agree that if one is raised to disdain critical thinking, to ignore physical, observable and repeatable evidence, one is less likely to be able to discern delusion from reality?

    Brickbat: Thanks for stopping by. So far I’ve been lucky. The reaction among friends and family has been rather bland. The problem is, you challenged your friends version of reality — he may be so deeply into theist mode that, to him, atheists cannot exist.


  55. AA is most certainly a cult. It reinforces the idea that you’re inadequate, relies on that inadequacy to justify isolating yourself from others who don’t subscribe to the group’s beliefs, and then preaches salvation is only by way of faith in your “higher power”. That’s textbook cult.

    Btw, the transition from cult to religion is merely one of power. Once you have the power, then isolation from others can then become persecution of the infidels. 😉


  56. Modus,

    So how do we (or anyone) tell the difference?

    How do you tell the difference? I’m not trying to be coy, it’s just that I’m willing to bet it’s the same way I would.

    (((Billy))),

    I didn’t say anyone was doing anything wrong. No special rules.

    ..would you, or would you not, agree that if one is raised to disdain critical thinking, to ignore physical, observable and repeatable evidence, one is less likely to be able to discern delusion from reality?

    Of course. Your point?


    • cl “How do you tell the difference?”
      I don’t know. I have yet to hear the voice in my head identify itself as the Lord.

      “I’m not trying to be coy, it’s just that I’m willing to bet it’s the same way I would.”
      Decide that if it’s good it’s God and if it’s bad it’s you? (which I have heard said before)
      Throw dice?
      Assume that if it professes to be God, you’ve lost your mind?


    • CL: My point is that many (not all) Christians are taught that faith trumps reason, faith trumps physical evidence, faith trumps repeatable experiments, faith trumps medicine, and faith trumps anything that is not specifically mentioned in the bowdlerized, mistranslated, edited and committee-ized holy book. Given early indoctrination which prefers accepting an unseen being for whom there is no physical proof, one who can be experienced only through an emotional internal feeling among many Christians, I suspect that a voice in the head to certain Christians is god(s) until proven otherwise. Those brought up in a way that values physical and natural phenomena over the supernatural would tend to decide, “Shit. I need a shrink.”

      That is my point.


  57. I caught an old rerun of House the other day where some idiot jammed a knife in an outlet not to kill himself but to come close again because when he was close the last time after a car accident, he claimed to have seen heaven or something so he wanted to experience heaven again. Naturally House waved it off as a delusion, but then later, to “prove” he was right, he jammed a knife in an outlet. He didn’t see anything.

    Point is both were silly, since a lone experience that can’t be corroborated isn’t exactly proof, especially when we’re talking about something so improbable. In other words, you can rely on what you experience when it relates to something like whether it’s safe to pull out into traffic, but if you see oncoming dragons rather than cars, then perhaps what you’re experiencing isn’t to be trusted.


  58. Modusoperandi,

    Say I’m standing on 16th Street just enjoying life, when all of a sudden not just an audible voice, but an actual visible being manifests alongside me. This being claims to be a messenger of the one true God, then instructs me to carjack and truck and maul down the masses. Personally, I wouldn’t even have to think about it, but if I were to actually entertain arguments in my mind, the first thing worth considering might be the biblical claim that “even Satan appears as an angel of light.” Next, one might stop and question the nature of the being’s request, contrasted against Jesus’ words. Should uncertainty remain, those who know the appropriate scripture can actually test the spirit. All of these cautionary measures are essentially critical thinking, but the real problem here is the one (((Billy))) describes – the unbiblical attitude that faith is the penultimate virtue.

    (((Billy))),

    ..many (not all) Christians are taught that faith trumps reason, faith trumps physical evidence, faith trumps repeatable experiments, faith trumps medicine, and faith trumps anything that is not specifically mentioned…

    Of course, and that’s a shame. On one hand, I would like to criticize this unbiblical attitude that faith is the penultimate virtue, but on the other, such would open me up to “No True Christian” complaints.

    ..I suspect that a voice in the head to certain Christians is god(s) until proven otherwise.

    Certainly, and I find that disconcerting, because the Bible warns against mental passivity in these matters.


  59. “Say I’m standing on 16th Street just enjoying life…”
    “And the Lord said unto Moses/Joshua, ‘You see those people? Go kill those people. Show them no mercy. Then take their shit. Rawr!'”


  60. Modus,

    The relevance?


  61. cl “The relevance?”
    Golly, I thought I was, if anything, being too on-the-nose. Perhaps this will help:
    “This being claims to be a messenger of the one true God, then instructs me to carjack and truck and maul down the masses.”

    Num 15:33-36 And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation.
    And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him.
    And the LORD said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp.
    And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the LORD commanded Moses.

    A trivial example, really, but illustrative I hope.


  62. Modus,

    I’m familiar with the Old Testament. What are you asking me?


  63. I hate to be rude, but…are you really that dense?


  64. I answered your original question, which was how I’d go about telling the difference. You simply quoted the OT in response to my answer. What am I supposed to do with that?


  65. Philly: I’ve known one or two who went the AA route. One became a born-again dry drunk. The other is still in it. For the fifth time. I don’t think that it actually helps addictions, but it may, in some situations, transfer it.

    And regarding House and the knife (sounds like a punk band), have you noticed that for theists (ones who have been raised to ignore evidence in favour of the Bible (or the pastor)), a single occurence trumps all broad-based studies?

    CL: My point (which you have, once again, missed): those raised to respect replicable experiments, falsifiable data, evidence which comes from somewhere other than one persons immagination, will (usually) be less likely to accept a command from ‘god(s)’ (or dog) to kill someone.

    MO: Bet he misses the point.

    CL: Strike one.

    MO: Will he see the connection? The connection between all the times in the Bible where god(s) tells someone (or a bunch of someones) to kill and the current conversation?

    CL: Strike two.

    MO: Be rude. I’ve watched CL pull this shit on other sites. CL invites rudeness. Go for it.

    CL: No, you did not answer the question. Strike three. To paraphrase MO: How would you, as an individual who believes in the existence of an invisible sky daddy who, in addition to creating the entire universe, takes a personal interest in the life of every single human being on earth, be able to tell if it is god(s) talking to you, or a brain tumour?


    • A single occurrence trumps broad-based studies only when the single occurrence confirms what they want to believe, and the study doesn’t. When you’ve made up your mind in advance, “research” is merely looking for what confirms what you believe, and those broad-based studies which don’t are then clearly evidence of the evil atheist conspiracy which controls Science.


  66. (((Billy)))

    MO: Be rude… CL invites rudeness. Go for it.

    Well, at least now I realize your strategy of rudeness is intentional. That will spare some typing.

    My point (which you have, once again, missed):

    That’s incorrect: I stated that agreed with that point, on August, 2009 at 3:19 pm.

    No, you did not answer the question. Strike three. To paraphrase MO: How would you, as an individual who believes in the existence of an invisible sky daddy who, in addition to creating the entire universe, takes a personal interest in the life of every single human being on earth, be able to tell if it is god(s) talking to you, or a brain tumour?

    That’s also incorrect: Modus asked this on 13 August, 2009 at 2:52 am, I answered on 14 August, 2009 at 3:45 pm. You also asked this on 10 August, 2009 at 6:40 pm, and I answered on 12 August, 2009 at 11:20 am. If you don’t like the answers I’ve given, it is your responsibility as interlocuter to explain why. Note that belittling me while pretending I’ve avoided questions I’ve actually answered is the textbook definition of disingenuousness.


  67. Hateful Coward!


  68. MO: “That’s also incorrect: Modus asked this on 13 August, 2009 at 2:52 am, I answered on 14 August, 2009 at 3:45 pm. You also asked this on 10 August, 2009 at 6:40 pm, and I answered on 12 August, 2009 at 11:20 am. If you don’t like the answers I’ve given, it is your responsibility as interlocuter to explain why. Note that belittling me while pretending I’ve avoided questions I’ve actually answered is the textbook definition of disingenuousness.”

    I think the problem is that your “answers” are more akin to strategies that help you more easily guess between the two options. Note that your failure to recognize your “answers” as inadequate is the textbook definition of idiot.


    • correction

      CL* not MO


      • Oh, thank God! It’s been a while since I’ve been on this page, and your comment made it look like I’d been talking to myself. For a minute I thought I’d gone mad. Mad!


  69. Modusoperandi: Don’t worry, everyone knows that this is the standard response to cl after a couple of exchanges:

    Note that your failure to recognize your “answers” as inadequate is the textbook definition of idiot.

    Doesn’t mean that you’re not mad, though… brain tumors can have a lot of funny effects.


  70. Damn, I hate html tags! Word processing software was created for a reason! (Second paragraph is a quote.)


  71. I do trust all the ideas you have introduced to your post. They are very convincing and can definitely work. Nonetheless, the posts are very quick for beginners. May just you please prolong them a bit from next time? Thanks for the post.



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