John Lennon Did Not Imagine That "All Religion Is True"

So Cee-lo Green sings “Imagine” before the ball drop and, as has been done before, the lyrics are appallingly sanitized, changing “no religion too” to “all religion is true”. It’s sheer cowardly pandering bullshit. If you can’t respect the ideas of the song then just don’t sing the song. Leave it alone. Don’t twist it to say the very antithesis of what it was meant to say. I don’t even particularly like the song very much. But don’t take something deliberately provocative and counter-cultural and neuter it as an expression of inoffensive, bland conformity. Don’t take his dream of the end of religion and swap it out with a dream that all religions be equally accepted as true and good and pretend those are remotely the same things. They’re antithetical ideas.

And so to censor John Lennon’s rejection of religion—while not censoring his rejection of nation states and not even censoring his rejection of private property, which is something far more integral to stability and prosperity of the modern world—again exempts religion from equal criticism on no legitimate grounds. Yeah, maybe the new version still offends fundamentalists since it declares “all religion is true” and that’s not exclusivist enough for them. And, yeah, would rather see “true religions” than worry specifically about having no religions. But neither of those were Lennon’s dream solution to the plague of pointless religious conflict that has unnecessarily divided human beings for centuries. And that should be respected. The dissenting voice should be respected. Not those institutions and individuals who are intolerant of all dissent from their baseless dogmas.

Maybe next year on New Year’s Cee-Lo will read us passages from Christopher Hitchens’s book God Is Great: How Religion Fixes Everythingor Richard Dawkins’s The God Solution.


James Sweet has a great set of lyrics suggestions for Cee-Lo if he ever wants to just go whole hog and turn Lennon completely from a radical to a mainstream liberal.

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  • Stewart

    I once experienced a singer who pulled the same stunt with “It Ain’t Necessarily So.” Maddening.


    I agree.

    If you have to change the words of a song, and those changes make the song appear to be the opposite of how it was originally intended, then you failed. Choose another song.

  • raywhiting

    wow… glad I went to bed at 9:30 and didn’t have to put up with ANY New Year stuff. Back in the day when I was still a minister (30+ years ago), it was common for Christians to thoroughly botch entire lyrics to the point where the music was the same but the words were sanitized beyond recognition, or simply re-written over the music.

  • John Morales

    Now that is rude.

    BTW, the songfacts site has this:

    According to Yoko Ono, who controls the rights to John Lennon’s music, the most frequent request she gets comes from musicians who want to record this song but change the “No religion, too” lyrics – a request she has always denied.

    So, does this mean you can record any song, but you need special permission to alter the lyrics? Essentially, yes. Alex Holz at the music licensing and royalty service provider Limelight explained to us: “Artists can be afforded ‘some’ leeway in adapting a track to your band’s style (so long as you don’t alter the fundamental character of the work), though lyric changes/alterations typically require direct permission from the publisher as a derivative work. Every songwriter/publisher/song is unique and requirements vary.”

    (I failed to find its provenance upon a quick search, so I can’t confirm it’s genuine)

  • Mike Ham

    This is a direct representation of an insecurity of religious convictions. Desperation…a pitiful, childlike attempt to mock those with whom one disagrees.

    • marksanford

      The only desperate display of insecurity is from the nutbars acting like they are all bent out of shape because a guy changed a few words in a shitty song. The faux displays of outrage have become so ostentatiously over the top that it has become surreal.

      The worst part of this “hey look how mad I am” charade is the fact that Imagine is such a horrible song. It is so sappy and maudlin that I feel like vomiting every time I hear it. It sounds like it was written by Alan Alda during his MASH years. It makes “We Are The World” look like a brilliant piece of songwriting. If you are going to pretend to get incensed when someone changes the lyrics to a song, at least wait until a better song is altered.

      By the way, the assertion that singing a cover at a concert, even if you change a few words, is somehow a violation of copyright is absolutely hilarious.

  • McCthulhu’s new upbeat 2012 nym.

    John @4: I hope that what you quote there is accurate from that site. It would be immensely gratifying to read that Yoko was suing the shite outta Lo-brow Green for fuxxing with the lyrics and having no permission to legally do so. If John can keep flipping religion off, even posthumously, he’s still got game.

  • starskeptic

    …if you want to use someone’s melody to make your point – you change ALL the lyrics (a parody – like Dan Barker does so well); changing one line is major tacky…

  • Eidolon


    Actually, I think that is even worse – unless it’s a genuine parody. Leonard Cohen wrote the song “Hallelujah” – most people know the Jeff Buckley rendition from the movie Shrek which is true to the original. It is not a happy song.

    Then on a guitar tab site, I found this:

    I love Jeff Buckley’s rendition of this song, but it’s kind of a sad message. I just wanted to humbly submit this uplifting Christian version of the lyrics for those so inclined.

    If you want to make a nice, brainless Christian version, write your own damn song!

    • starskeptic

      how is that worse? a parody could be either agreeing or disagreeing with the original – but there’s no mistaking that someone is using their own words; to change one line completely distorts the original intent; and for those not familiar with the original work – it debases it…

    • Eidolon

      I feel it is worse in that instead of just altering a line, this person is lifting the entire work and rescripting it to fit his idea of how the song should go. He has basically stolen the work of another artist.I don’t think either case can be called a parody – there is no attempt at humor or commentary. Both are just cases of ‘fixing’ something they find offensive. If you think the whole song is offensive, it seems that a more honest approach is to write your own work – unless you are not clever or talented enough to actually create on your own.

    • george.w

      “unless you are not clever or talented enough to actually create on your own.”

      Which Cee-Lo certainly is. That makes it worse, I think. He could have just written his own damn song.

    • starskeptic

      “lifting the entire work and rescripting it to fit his idea of how the song should go.”
      —that’s called a parody; which is a legitimate form of expression no matter who does it – but that’s not what Cee-lo Green did here. He thought changing one line fit the sentiment of the entire song – which it doesn’t.

    • Eidolon

      Actually, I would disagree

      “A parody is a work that ridicules another, usually well-known work, by imitating it in a comic way.” Not seeing anything comic or by way of commentary. Just lazy use of someone else’s work.

      And neither the wholesale changing of a song or just changing one line would fit any reasonable description of fair use..

      “The Supreme Court of the United States stated that parody “is the use of some elements of a prior author’s composition to create a new one that, at least in part, comments on that author’s works.” It is the lack of commentary that takes both examples out of fair use. In fact, the whole fair use issue is currently a hot one in the arts.

    • mikewelsh

      Actually, it’s John Cale’s version of Hallelujah that was used in Shrek, I prefer Buckley’s.

      Even most Christians I know, who love the song Hallelujah, would be appalled at Christianizing the lyrics. Disgusting.

      As for Cee-Lo changing the lyrics, I’d like to change some of his lyrics and sing his song to him: Hey Cee-lo “Fuck you, and fuck your lyric changing too.”

    • Eidolon

      Thanks for the added info. I’d always seen Buckley credited for the “Shrek” song. I like the version Cohen presents in the youtube I linked. He has about 10 different versions – different verses, different verse orders but the they remain true to the concept.

    • mikewelsh

      Yeah, I have that version and it’s my favorite of Cohen’s.

    • Salmo

      It’s actually even weirder. Shrek used a John Cale cover of the Buckley version in the movie, but the soundtrack is Rufus Wainright, since Cale couldn’t be on the CD for contract reasons. So the CD is a bit of a cover of a cover of a cover.

    • Auraboy

      the rufus wainwright version is also excellent though the lyrics are changed. Jeff Buckley altered his version to focus on the sexual lust aspect whereas rufus wainwright wanted it to commentate on his attitude to religion and homosexuality. I think the difference here though is Leonard Cohen has rewritten the song hundreds of times and added verses every couple of years ( there’s now about 55 verses he chooses from) and he knew and often spoke to the artists covering it and says he liked Jeff Buckley s version best himself.

      The changing of imagine is not something you can sit with Lennon and discuss and the religion line doesn’t even work in other variations. How can you use imagine to retain the status quo? Let’s just change rage against the machine to ‘fuck you but I’ll do exactly what you tell me o lord’

    • Hotpants

      Not to nitpick, but the version in Shrek was Rufus Wainwright, not Jeff Buckley. Buckley’s version is better.

      As for the actual content of the post, I find it funny that a guy famous for “Fuck You” is too much of a wuss to stick to the original lyrics. Shameful.

    • Hotpants

      Well, that’ll teach me not to read the whole comments thread before I hit reply. Oops.

  • jamessweet

    “Imagine there’s no country”? Why does Cee Lo Green hate America!

    Seriously, if he was going to turn the song into a softball (instead of a brave challenge to the listener to question some of their most basic assumptions about how society functions) then why didn’t he go whole hog?

    Imagine we fixed some countries
    It might be sorta hard to do
    A little less killing and dying and shit
    And all religion’s true (even Westboro Baptist Church!)

    Imagine all the people only fighting necessary wars

    You, you may say I’m somewhat progressive
    But polls say I’m not the only one
    Maybe someday you’ll join us
    And the world will be incrementally improved

    Imagine possessions are somewhat more evenly distributed
    I wonder if you can
    Some social programs that are mildly effective at reducing hunger
    A party of Democrats

    Imagine all the people with less income inequality


    • starskeptic

      …exactly James…non-theists do parodies – Cee Lo Green is certainly welcome to his own; changing one lousy line? – that’s just flip-floppingly sneaky.

    • Daniel Fincke

      hahahaha exactly, James!

    • jamessweet

      Thank you, thank you :) I fleshed out the idea here.

    • Ms. Daisy Cutter

      Where would you like your shiny new Internet delivered?

  • george.w

    @jamessweet, you are brilliant!

    Y’know what’s really irritating about this? I really like(d) Cee-Lo. Now how do I enjoy his music? Flipping Imagine? WTF?

  • peterh

    These glassy-eyed godbotherers have a centuries-long history of deliberately altering anything within reach to promulgate their pathetic views.

  • Pierce R. Butler

    peterh @ # 11 – Exactly.

    Now we know how the Yule-tree celebrating pagans and the Saturnalia-enacting traditionalists felt, way back when.

  • San Ban

    Green should stick to commercials for soda pop – what he did to Lennon’s song was obscene. I really hope Yoko didn’t give permission for that disgusting bit of pandering and that she’s going to sue the pathetic coward.

  • Daniel Fincke

    Which Cee-Lo certainly is. That makes it worse, I think. He could have just written his own damn song.

    Exactly, he could have just sung “Fuck you” to everyone, instead of just to the non-religious.

    • carlie

      That is the best comment ever.

  • richardgadsden

    Did he still sing “above us only sky”?

  • David Stoeckl

    “imagine” is a beautiful song about Lennon’s dream of a world where all the things that divide people into fighting tribes, countries and religions, pass away. He dreams of no greed or hunger, and all the people living life in peace, and sharing all the world. He imagines ” a brotherhood of man”.

    Is this goal of ” a brotherhood of man” furthered by vilifying “These glassy-eyed godbotherers”, and creating just another tribe, this time of non-believers, to be in conflict with the other tribes?

    And Cee-Lo says in his defense, “”Yo I meant no disrespect by changing the lyric guys! I was trying to say a world were u could believe what u wanted that’s all.”

    Somehow I think that the man who wrote “Imagine” would feel more kinship with the intent of Cee-Lo or with a group of Bahai than with anti-theists on a hair-trigger to attack religion and create yet more division.

    • george.w

      David, you can’t put “no religion too” and “all religion is true” in the same box. Lennon is not around to defend his words, but he knew exactly what he was saying and it wasn’t “hey, whatever”. If he’d wanted to say that, he would have said that.

      Cee-Lo’s “defense” was downright insulting. You can only make religions compatible by watering them down. You can only make religion and atheism compatible by shutting off your brain. As the artist has apparently done.

    • David Stoeckl

      George, what Lennon was singing about was the many, many things that divide people, one of which can be religion. But in the spirit of the creation of “a brotherhood of man”, attacking religious people and using atheism as a cudgel to bash them does not fit in that “brotherhood” box, whereas an ecumenical belief in a common “god” of many forms does.

      It certainly is inimical to any form of “fundamentalist” belief but many, many religious people do manage to make their beliefs compatible with other faiths, not by watering it down, but by broadening it.

      And do you really think that Lennon was promoting atheism for it’s own sake, or was he promoting peace, unity and brotherhood. In the context of the song, it seems quite clear that the intended message of the song is “brotherhood”?

    • Kagehi

      Nope, sorry, they water it down. There is ***no way*** to actually believe the Bible, or say Buddhism, or pretty much any other religion’s stories, and moral messages, without running into a fundamental conflict between what one thinks is true, and necessary, and the other one does. 50 years ago, no one in their right mind would have said they where even a specific sort of Christian, out of fear by Protestants that the Baptists might take over, or by both, that the Catholics might, or by Catholics that people would decide to abandon them, in favor of something else.

      Now – The hard liners have decided that they have a set of common enemies, even if half the things they attack are stuff that changes *because* their silly BS didn’t actually work, or bring peace, happiness etc. They use Christian, as a label for all the things they do agree on, most of which is plain nuts, and secretly hate each other otherwise. The rest.. borrow things from everyplace. They do the equivalent to science, other religions, reality itself, and everything else, that Cee-Lo did to this song. They throw out all the inconvenient contradictions, including from their own, only read the bits that they like, from any of them, and then pretend that its all compatible, somehow. The vast majority of the sort in that category are only “Christian” because a) its a convenient label that connects them to what ever their own parents really where before, and b) it lets them side with a “majority” if they happen to agree with some absurdity that the hard liners are babbling about this week. They don’t get that they are the majority now, and they are using the wrong damn label. There isn’t any proper label for it, though, given how many of them fall for alternative medicine, The Secret, and other total gibberish, they could easily call themselves, “New Age”, for all that anything they believe, other than a few names, and some vague idea of redemption, have anything to do with the Bible.

      After all, like 80-90% of the Bible is “never” on calenders, or praise books, or whatever. The darker, nastier bits, when they do show up in people’s awareness, are, themselves edited, such that even the hard liners will happily point out condemnation of some group they don’t like, while glossing over that the same passage clearing demands they kill their disobedient children. They will happily misquote something Paul said, but hardly ever mention anything Jesus was supposed to have said, or done, especially if its something inconvenient, like self imposed poverty, or denial of ones relatives, or distrusting Wall Street, uh… I mean money changers.

      They all water it down, but the more peaceful, encompassing, and accepting one you find, the less actual Bible or “Christian” you find there. And, most/all of the rest of the religions are much the same. You can’t even be a strict Buddhist and not find “many” conflicts between its concept of enlightenment, and questioning what reality is, without running head on into a brick wall, made up of all the stuff everyone else insists is true, or must be true, or should be true, all of which is, quite often, a denial that something else *could be* true, including how you achieve enlightenment, if its even possible, or, if it is, which god you need to have it “revealed by”. The last one being in pretty much direct contradiction to Buddhism, due to there being no god in their religion. If anything, they are about as close as you can get to an atheist religion, while failing to be sufficiently skeptical about the supernatural. How is that compatible with every other religion out there, and how is it “inclusive” to borrow things from it, pretend they somehow believe in gods, and fail *at all* to understand the key distinction?

      Broadened.. Yeah, sort of like how you “broaden” a menu at an Italian restaurant, by throwing out all but one Italian dish, and replacing the rest with dishes from everyplace else. That is the sort of “broadening” you get. I guess its the accent that counts, as long as everyone sounds Italian (or Christian, in this case), it doesn’t matter that they served you Miso Soup, with a Hamburger, and Flan for dessert…

    • David Stoeckl

      Wow, you get really worked up about religion. OK, call it watered down, I don’t care. But they do it. And my point stands, that an ecumenical view of religion fits more with the idea of ending divisions and “a brotherhood of man” than using atheism to create yet another reason to hate and distrust each other.

      Joan Baez, of “God is God” fame, covered “Imagine”. Do you think she would have touched it, do you think Lennon would have let her touch it, if the intent of the song was not promotion of atheism but rather promotion of brotherhood. And you sure as hell can’t promote universal brotherhood by excluding anyone with spiritual beliefs.

      Lennon was quite hostile to gurus, but he didn’t seem to have much of a problem with spiritual beliefs. When he recorded “Give Peace a Chance”, Dick Gregory was there, Allen Ginsburg was there. Hell, there was even a Rabbi there. The anti-war movement was full of religious and spiritual people. I suspect there is a bit of myth making going on about exactly what Lennon intended with “Imagine”.

    • John Morales

      Lennon was quite hostile to gurus

      Not at first.

      I suspect there is a bit of myth making going on about exactly what Lennon intended with “Imagine”.

      What he intended may not be known, but what he wrote is:
      Imagine there’s no countries
      It isn’t hard to do
      Nothing to kill or die for
      And no religion too
      Imagine all the people living life in peace

      (It sure seems he’s referring to sources of conflict, though!)

    • Kagehi

      Oh, give me a break. Atheism has been around since Roman times, though it often meant, “Denying the right god”, not all of them in general. Friedrich Nietzsche got two things wrong when he wrote a bunch of books about the fall of religion – He got when it happened wrong (he thought it was happening in his own time, but he was wrong), and he didn’t foresee the US (its mostly dead in Europe, though we in the US are now trying to re-export it, mostly in, “Do you hate gays, Muslims, or abortion?”, varieties.)

      There is nothing new in modern atheism. The religious are still making the same arguments they once did, including the ones that where already beaten to death by people like Aristotle, while arguing that we just don’t understand their “deeper” theology, and atheists are just adding scientific data on how the mind really works, and the world, to the arguments against it, nearly all of which echo Nietzsche and others (since you can’t move forward with new arguments, if you keep playing wack-a-mole with the same old ones from the other side).

      Not long ago there was some great talk session with some of the very “top” theologians in the world, the ones everyone points to as the, “best of the best”, and the, “true representatives of modern faith”. They promised that they would, for once, present the best possible of all deep theological arguments for religion. They might as well have, in reality, been cribbing off of one of several collected lists of, “Arguments theologists try to make, and have tried to use, since the invention of apologistics.”

      And, just be clear, I am a skeptic, a follower of science *and* an atheist. There are atheists that believe things that make skeptics cringe, some that deny aspects of science, and even some Christians that consider Jesus’ divinity to be absurd, and strongly suspect god doesn’t exist either, who simply follow a mess of stuff, taken out of maybe 5% of the Bible, and a mix of secular humanism, but still insist on calling themselves “Christian”. As a atheist I say, “Go show!”, as a skeptic it annoys the hell out of me, since they are being dishonest with themselves, and as an amateur scientist, with a heavy interest in psychology, neurology, biology, chemistry and computers, I find it greatly disturbing how many “broad” and “inclusive” believers are inclusive of stuff like cold reading (talking to the dead), taroh cards, palm reading, homeopathy, etc.

      A famous cartoon, from when medicine was way less effective has a homeopath stating: “Your cure will kill them”, and a doctor replying: “If you help them, the disease will.”, so its not like people didn’t know, clear back when they invented it that it was total BS. Yet, half the crap on the shelf now is homeopathic, and there is even a special “hospital”, not run by people certified by the AMA exactly…, which promises to use every quack method possible, to attempt to cure the currently incurable, and all you need to do is give them every dime you have, then die before you realize you got scammed. Guess who runs the place? Yep, “inclusive” religious people.

      We all agree that religious extremists are dangerous. The problem isn’t that milder forms are not, its just that pinning down why, and how, is like aiming for one piece of fruit, in a swimming pool full of jello. Most of it is harmless and silly, but some of the stuff that lives along side it, because it “fits in” with the whole broadened/inclusive faith thing, is toxic, hazardous, and sometimes lethal.

    • george.w

      David, you want a song that extols an ecumenical brotherhood? Google “ecumenical songs” and be prepared to do a lot of clicking. Or, I suppose you could write one.

      As for an “atheist cudgel” maybe you’re right. Maybe the words of great artists and thinkers have no meaning and we can just rewrite them any old way that suits us. I don’t think Lennon was primarily promoting atheism either, but he did say:

      “and no religion too”

      That’s awfully clear to just go and turn it around to its exact opposite. Imagine is the finest of a very small number of songs that portray a humanist future, and Cee-Lo sabotaged it. Don’t expect me to be all group-huggy.

      By the way, ecumenicism is not exactly popular with some of our more fervent Christian brethren so they aren’t exactly arms-open either.

    • David Stoeckl

      It is easy to make folks seem to say a lot of things by pulling a phrase out of context. Just look at “Climategate” or watch Fox News. And that seems to be what is happening with “and no religion too”.

      “Imagine” was a song about a Utopian dream of an end to war and poverty by doing away with countries, greed and religion as forces that ‘divide’. But I don’t think he would jump on-board to marginalize and exclude some people because of religious or spiritual beliefs. Kind of defeats the purpose of “Imagine” to do that, and, as I noted above, Lennon didn’t seem to have a problem with religious people.

      Now I think I know what Cee Lo was getting at. If all religions were considered true, then there would be no division, no conflict over religion, as everyone would recognize, kind of like the Bahai, that there are many paths to the same place so it doesn’t matter what pictures or stories you use about god. I know Jews and Episcopalians, Unitarians, Buddhists and even Catholics that see spiritual striving that way. Some might then judge them to say that they are then not ‘true’ believers, but it seems to work for them.

      I don’t think Lennon would have approved, but not because Cee Lo turned his song on it’s head, which isn’t exactly what Cee Lo did, and I think Lennon would have seen the intent.

      BTW, does a humanist future envision an end to national borders. I’m not well read in humanist philosophy, but that’s the first I heard of that.

    • John Morales

      If all religions were considered true, then there would be no division, no conflict over religion, as everyone would recognize, kind of like the Bahai, that there are many paths to the same place so it doesn’t matter what pictures or stories you use about god.

      You don’t know the basic claim of the Abrahamic religions, do ya?

      (By their tenets, it is quite literally impossible for their respective religion to be true and any other not false)

    • Kagehi

      Yea.. All being true gets a bit.. strange, when dealing with religion. The Jews are, sort of, polytheistic, or atheist (some Christians are like that later too, but won’t admit it yet), so either they think their god is the right one for them, or that there isn’t one, but there is value in their laws, and traditions. Islam… thinks Christians just where not paying attention when the new messiah Mohamed showed up, but like Christians, they also think there is only one god “period”. Hindu – polytheist, with a lot of caste system, stay in your rightful place or else type BS piled on top, but the gods themselves are not taken too seriously. The dominant, despite introducing Christianity, in Japan is animist, and involves animal spirits, house spirits, and all sorts of stuff, where they haven’t just tacked on bits of Christianity, where is kind of fits. More of the same in the major Chinese one, where its actually practiced. And so on. Its pretty hard to see how you get to “all of them are true”. You would still have some clown trying to perform an exorcism on a non-existent demon, while someone else told you to stop angering Shiva, while a third insisted is was merely the spirit of a racoon dog, and harmless. Believing all of them are real solves nothing, unless you throw out nearly everything contradictory about them, and then.. I am not sure what you would be, but it wouldn’t be very strange, and it wouldn’t solve the conflict between believing in spirits, and the guy saying, “Its a bloody E-Meter, its probably detecting the wires running to the refrigerator in the other room. Why the bloody heck are you not looking for that, instead of freaking out because the room looks spooky to you?”

    • celtii

      Of course you would assume Lennon would be OK with someone who completely missed the point of his song. You’re in denial as most religious people are. Religion has been the cause of war after war after war throughout time and still today. It is hypocrisy at its most disgusting. Miss that, and you miss the most obvious, most profound message of the song, as you and C Lo have. Defend your religion if you must, but never, ever make an apologetic out of John Lennon. He would spin in his grave. I hope Yoko speaks on this as you will see you are way out of line. Yes, love is the answer, but hatred, intolerance and bigotry are still prevalent in most religions all over the world; that was his message and you and C Lo are still in severe denial about that.

    • David Stoeckl

      Celtii, please don’t mistake me for a religious person. I am not. am an atheist, though not an anti-theist.

      The conflict de jour, in Lennon’s day (and mine) was Vietnam, a proxy war between two competing economic systems, one of which was officially atheist (Imagine that). Against this backdrop, Lennon wrote a peace song, calling for an end to ALL the things that divided people and caused war and conflict. He does not single out religion as the ONLY thing that divides people.

      Do you seriously believe that Lennon would want people to use his song as an atheist anthem to create yet more conflict and strife. If love is the answer, then hating the religious really has no place.

    • John Morales

      please don’t mistake me for a religious person. I am not. am an atheist, though not an anti-theist.

      You’re a faitheist accommodationist, and an apologist to this specimen with the nom de plume of Cee-lo.

      (Quisling mentality, you have)

      Do you seriously believe that Lennon would want people to use his song as an atheist anthem to create yet more conflict and strife.


      Reacting to provocation is not creating strife.

    • David Stoeckl

      You’re a faitheist accommodationist, and an apologist to this specimen with the nom de plume of Cee-lo.
      (Quisling mentality, you have)

      Quisling? You got that word from Dawkins, didn’t you lol?

      I’m honored. Yes, I am a tolerant person in the humanist mold, and I really do oppose bigotry of all sorts. Like Lennon, I dream of a day when people don’t create sources of conflict. So I don’t see the point, and I actively oppose, the harassment, insult and belittlement of people who have done no one harm.

      I live here in a spur of the Bible belt, right down the road from Dover, Pa. Did you know that some of the plaintiffs in that case were committed Christians? I try to treat people as individuals, rather than judge them as groups. The Amish lady who sells me baked goods and the Mennonites who sell me vegetables have done me no harm, and particularly in regards to the Mennonites, I’ve seen the good they do in the world.

      John Lennon writes;

      A very merry Christmas
      And a happy New Year
      Let’s hope it’s a good one
      Without any fear
      And so this is Christmas
      For weak and for strong
      For rich and the poor ones
      The world is so wrong
      And so happy Christmas
      For black and for white
      For yellow and red ones
      Let’s stop all the fight

      And he wrote “Whatever Gets You Through the Night”, with the lyric “Whatever gets you to the light ‘salright, ‘salright”. I pretty much live my life that way. So I do want to “stop ALL the fights”, and I don’t much care what people believe as long as they’re not forcing it on me. And therefore, I don’t have any problem with most religious people. If that makes me a bad person in your eyes, then so be it.

      Reacting to provocation is not creating strife.

      I’m sorry you are so easily provoked.

    • John Morales

      Quisling? You got that word from Dawkins, didn’t you lol?

      You laugh in vain; I got it from history.

      So I don’t see the point, and I actively oppose, the harassment, insult and belittlement of people who have done no one harm.

      Good. I presume I shall not then be harrassed, insulted or belittled by you.

      I’m sorry you are so easily provoked.

      I see my presumption above has been proven wrong.

    • Lycanthrope

      David, speaking as a songwriter, it’s more to the point that changing lyrics like that without permission is nearly always un-kosher. A single pronoun or something might be okay, but not more than that, and especially not when the change directly contradicts the original.

    • David Stoeckl

      Oh, no doubt Lennon would have been ticked, and rightly so. I never heard of this Cee Lo fellow before. (Popular culture is just not my thing.) But it really was a pretty bone-headed move on his part, whatever he was trying to express.

  • claw

    somehow if i were to do the same to an explicitly more religious song i bet i’d get stoned by people screaming ‘you shouldn’t change those lyrics!’

    ‘Going on up to see what’s in the sky!
    That’s what I want to do, before I die.
    Before I die and they lay me to rest,
    I wanna put my theories to the test.’

    • Wowbagger, Madman of Insleyfarne

      I’m always amused by the fact that that particular Christian anthem was actually written by a practicing Jew.

  • celtii

    When I heard C Lo butcher John Lennon’s song by singing “…and all religion’s true…” I about fell out of my chair. I have lost all respect for the man and will never purchase his music again, nor any music he produces. People who change poetry to suit their personal beliefs then force it on others (billions of people in this case) should be ashamed of themselves. What he said ruined the whole point of the song, doesn’t he GET that? Jeez…

  • I amafreeman

    Waaaaaaaaaaaay too much ego these days.

    Right on, fellow Celt Celtii /s/Hawksey

  • Col

    And now for something completely different
    Eric Idle

    Fuck you all so very much!

    Crappy New Fear!

  • Lycanthrope

    Incidentally, this is the same reason I hate the radio-friendly version of “Fuck You”. It completely declaws the song and utterly misses the point.

  • Wowbagger, Madman of Insleyfarne

    This – changing the words of Imagine to make them pro-religion – has happened before, but I suspect this is the most high-profile event where it’s taken place.

  • David Stoeckl

    John Morales says:

    You don’t know the basic claim of the Abrahamic religions, do ya?

    (By their tenets, it is quite literally impossible for their respective religion to be true and any other not false)

    Curious how some atheists want to define faith for the people that practice it. Like Earl Butz (Carter’s Sec of Agriculture) said about the Pope and birth control, “He no playa the game, he no makea the rules”.

    Why yes, that is how Fundamentalists of all stripes interpret the basic tenets of Abrahamic faiths. But I am not talking about what zealots say, I’m talking about how many people of faith interpret it and live their lives.

    Right now there is a wave of anti-Muslim bigotry sweeping this country. And yet you read in the paper about rallies attended by priests, Rabbis, and ministers in support of the freedom of Muslims to practice their faith in peace.

    • Daniel Fincke
    • John Morales

      Curious how some atheists want to define faith for the people that practice it.

      Curious how some faitheists deny that the Abrahamic revealed religions have Scripture.

      (It’s there in black & white)

      Right now there is a wave of anti-Muslim bigotry sweeping this country.

      It is also claimed that right now there is a wave of anti-Christian bigotry sweeping the Muslim world.

      And yet you read in the paper about rallies attended by priests, Rabbis, and ministers in support of the freedom of Muslims to practice their faith in peace.

      The exception that proves the rule

    • David Stoeckl

      It always wonders me when ANYONE thinks they can take a collection of thousands of words attached to centuries of traditions and commentary and cook it all down and say “There is only 1 way to be Christian, and thus all Christians are this way.”

      It just doesn’t seem very rational. And if you look around, you can see people concluding all sorts of different things, and doing all sorts of things, based on the same source. Heck, if you just look at Anabaptists, you’ve got people who drive buggies and keep to themselves, people who do their utmost to feed and cloth people worldwide (MCC), and militant urban gay “Radical Anabaptists”, who all work from the same book. If reality doesn’t match your pre-conceptions, it’s time to change your pre-conceptions.

      But on the topic of Lennon and “Imagine”, just what did he mean by “no religion”. Did he mean the structured ideologies and hierarchies (religions) that were dividing people, or was he dreaming of a day when people rejected any concept of spirit or “God”, of anything beyond the observable and measurable, and became atheists?

      There is abundant evidence from Lennon’s life that he continued on a spiritual quest, and remained a spiritual person in spite of his rejection of “religion”.

    • Kagehi

      For most people, and believe me I have read things from a lot of people with varying degrees of views on this, “spiritual” is warm fuzzies, while “religion” is all the hierarchical, exclusionary, “my specific club” stuff. While, from my prior post, I might seem apposed to both, its mostly the latter, because the latter sort of “club” can drive reasonable people to stop thinking, whether it be about if their spirituality makes sense at all, and conforms to reality, at all, or to worse things. The former.. everyone has, some of us just don’t mistake the beauty of a waterfall, or the joy of a sunset, or the amazement at the universe in general, as anything other than our own subjective view on the matter, which “maybe” some other people might share with us.

      You start thinking that those things are universals, or should be, and suddenly you start forming the cult of, “Rainbows are beautiful”, to appose the other group people that just started the, “Rainbows are ugly”, cult, and, if you really go off the edge of the map, you are insisting that wearing rainbow colors will cure cancer, and prevent dandruff, or something, and maybe starting debates, shouting matches, or even wars, over it. That is what religion is at its core, and always has been, not the “spiritual” stuff, but the, “We think this is true, and you don’t”, bits. Its why when you combine it with politics/nationalism, which is more of the same, or business models, or medicine (or at least whether you believe in it, or think “Big Pharma is out to get you, or something), or any other endeavor where someone might differ over what should be done, or is actually happening, the stuff goes from annoying, but you can kind of leave the milder forms alone, to outright toxic.

      Its also why I find the argument made that bringing non-belief into it is creating a new problem. New how? Worse how? How does the conflicts going on make any more sense than if Star Trek fans getting in a fight with Star Wars fans, while the ones that like both stand between going, “What the frell is wrong with you people, their fiction!?”, get then attacked by both sides? And, what worries some of us is the number of both that, being “true believers” would insist on believing in “The Force” (might as well be, given the sort of things people experience, and attribute not to the law of large numbers, or chance..), or that ancient space aliens, without any evidence of this, seeding the planet (one of the themes of an Episode of Star Trek: TNG, and only slightly less silly than all the creation myths out there).

    • David Stoeckl

      Thank you for your thoughtful post.

      Yes, you can look at “spirituality” as “warm fuzzies”, though I think that minimizes the importance that many people attach to the “spirituality” in their lives. And speaking of “warm fuzzies”, the ecumenical statement “and all religion’s true”, probably falls in that category. But, there are many people who try to look at it that way, and it is quite an improvement over “Only my religion is true”.

      “If all religion’s true”, then religion ceases to be a reason for conflict,. It becomes a “warm fuzzy”, which is in keeping the goal, the intent, of “Imagine”. A large part of the uproar over Cee Lo is because the song has been adopted as an anthem by atheists to suggest that Lennon wanted a world where no one believed in god or a human soul, which is not likely to be true. But look at the uproar. People are livid.

      I’ve probably been an atheist for 40 years, but I’m not a club joiner. I live in the sticks, have a “live and let live” attitude, and keep to myself. So my first exposure to this New Atheism has been quite recent, and it has been quite an eye-opener. I don’t want to get into a laundry list, but some very ugly things are being said and done in the name of atheism.

      It is like, in opposition to the “Rainbows are Beautiful” club, some folks have created a “Rainbows are nothing but ROY G BIV and if you think anything else you’re a moron incapable of rational thought” club. Heck, just for stating that I’m tolerant of religious people who don’t bother me I’m labeled an “accomodationist”, a “faithiest” and (of all things) a Quisling”. Jeepers.

      “Its also why I find the argument made that bringing non-belief into it is creating a new problem.”

      The problem is not “non-belief”, the problem is the creation of a new exclusive club that believes they possess the only truth, and everyone else is worthy of contempt. And that I would be labeled a “Quisling” (that is a very strong word) for tolerance of the religious shows that at least some really do consider religion and the religious to be the enemy. It’s a really bad precedent.

      Humans are ALL capable of all manner of horrors, and we’ve got far too many “clubs” that we beat each other with. Opposing “religion” is fine, but people need to respect each other. If not, it is a slippery slope. Religion has slid down that slope to intolerance many times, but I don’t think atheists are any less capable of indulging in the same very human impulse to exclude and persecute. And the first step down that slope is mockery and disrespect, de-humanizing “the other”. And I don’t think John would be pleased.

    • Kagehi

      Change never happens until people speak up. Some people are speaking up. Some others are telling those people to shut up, because its upsetting “allies” among the faithful. This is despite numerous cases of pointing out some of the things those “soft” theists support, which runs contrary to a functional society and sometimes even peace. But, then, you get atheists that have a serious problem with peace too. You even get ones like the recent case of Ben Radford, who glosses over the trend, over the past 50 years or so, of *everything* in the girls toy section, and even now things like tools, cell phones, etc. all being *pink*, by ignoring contradictions, quoting debunked nonsense from some bunch that had a “theory” why girls liked pinks and reds (but did just as poor a study and research on color preference as Ben did for his article). Oh, and he harangues a 4 year old while doing it.. classy.

      Atheists have been described *by* the groups they do form as like herding cats. So, no, I seriously doubt you are going to see many “groups” forming that are entirely one sided, against spirituality. The worst you are likely to get, even from those of us that seriously think all religion is a hazard, is exasperation at the kind of silly BS people call, “spiritual”, and try to use to, thereby, defend faith. Though, “miracle”, is the one they seem to like abusing to the point of idiocy. Like the, “miracle”, of the kid that still looks (this isn’t to be mean, but just to illustrate the absurdity) like he has been in a serious fight with someone trying to destroy his face, who went through years of antibiotics, plastic surgery, and near death, to deal with flesh eating bacteria, and survived. Everything done for him is completely discounted and devalued, because his parents want to thank “god” for it, when even ten years ago they would likely have been praising the same god for the “happy times” he had, before his painful death.

      When people say, “spiritual”, I want to know what the heck they actually mean by the term. And, I want them to stick with that definition, not redefine it, every time it looks like they might agree with me as to a) why my definition might be similar, and religion isn’t therefore strictly useful to add to it, or b) some argument hits home, or c) they can’t argue their own point, without realizing that it doesn’t make sense, once they start trying to explain it.

      But, what I seriously don’t like about it is *precisely* that if you think certain “spiritual” things are real, and not just feelings, then you get insurance companies refusing to pay for real treatments, but allowing “alternatives”, which are useless. You get people protecting multi-billion dollar vitamin scams, or dumber stuff, because they don’t trust multi-billion dollar drugs that have to actually be shown to do something. You get people, including the “mild”, and “broad”, religious, apposing things like HPV vaccines, on the basis of ignorance, and/or absurd assumption that horny teens with get more so, if something they didn’t even know *was* a danger, stops being one. All of this comes from two things – failure, from schools to teach thinking, instead of just facts, and often not even managing to do the later either (the number of people that get basic science facts wrong is so high, its obscene), and second, the belief that if you feel something is right, it must be (which includes “faith”).

      The problem with the later is summed up well by Richard Wiseman in some of his books, and, to quote him, “Your gut is an idiot.” Idiots can be right about “simple” things, once you get past simple, the odds of being partly wrong, mostly wrong, or so completely wrong that you are no longer even on the same planet, increases drastically.

      You can’t even trust your own sense, in many respects, enough to know something like how many people where involved in a theft, what was stolen, who did it, etc.

      They did a test on that, with a group of like 10 people, and two plants, who where not even *at* the event. By the time they got through the wallet, from a pocket, was exchanged with a camera, from a camera case, one of the witnesses was identified as the robber, the woman had a hat and was wearing white (she was in dark clothes, and not wearing a hat) and the number of people involved was either 2 or 3, when in fact it was 4 (one argued with the man robbed, to distract him, on stole the wallet, and then passed it on the a second, before the women, and both robbers ran off). Yet, faith teaches us to explicitly trust our senses, and worse, to attribute things for which we have incomplete information to angels, demons, god, spirits, ghosts, etc., or maybe pixies, elves, trolls (oh, wait, sorry, people don’t believe in those later silly things any more).

      So, what exactly is the person saying when they mean “spiritual”, and how much of that is some random mix if misinformation, personal bias, belief in the absurd, and/or “personal experience”, which is about as reliable, when you don’t very well understand the world, yourself, or what is happening, as using a bingo chart to pick lotto numbers?

    • John Morales

      It always wonders me when ANYONE thinks they can take a collection of thousands of words attached to centuries of traditions and commentary and cook it all down and say “There is only 1 way to be Christian, and thus all Christians are this way.”

      But that’s not what I think.

      What I think is that they all* profess to follow their own Scripture; and so I noted that what the Scriptures contain is codified dogma Revelation.

      (There for anyone to actually read)

      It just doesn’t seem very rational.

      Also, it is not (and never was) my belief.

      But, sure, anyone holding it would be rather irrational — perhaps even a priest (or other functionary) in their own particular sect.

      But on the topic of Lennon and “Imagine”, just what did he mean by “no religion”.

      I could care diddly-squat for knowing with specificity the exact nature of John Lennon’s sentiment with that verse; the issue at hand is what it means to us.

      (Thus this very post :) )

      There is abundant evidence from Lennon’s life that he continued on a spiritual quest, and remained a spiritual person in spite of his rejection of “religion”.

      Fine by me.

      So, I should not have an opinion about the mangling because of John’s purported spiritual questing and that (being, unfortunately, dead) he cannot weigh in?

      (I wish things had turned out differently!)

      * Could there really be such people as non-Scriptural Christians, Jews or Muslims?

    • David Stoeckl

      “I could care diddly-squat for knowing with specificity the exact nature of John Lennon’s sentiment with that verse; the issue at hand is what it means to us.”

      Well, crikey, if you feel that way, them why are you grousing about what the song meant to Cee Lo?

      If you want an anthem, write your own.

    • John Morales

      So, he gets to butcher it, I get to grouse, you get to grouse about my grousing, I get to grouse about your grousing about my grousing.

      (Your turn?)

  • reappaden

    Sorry, I’m still not able to care about what some nobody (that I know of at least) did to 1 line of a Lennon song.
    I get Dan’s point about needing to pay attention to this type of thing I can see how some people may think this is a big deal, I’m not one of those people.
    I don’t have a particular fondness for Lennon’s music but I do have respect for how he effected people and some of the progressive thinking he was doing during his time. I think his legacy is above what I consider a silly and insignificant change that in the scope of things doesn’t matter one bit. The only people giving this legs are the ones who seem to think Lennon’s work is such a fragile thing it can be diminished or destroyed by the simplest of changes. Shit some people act as if the dude would have repeated that line one more time John Lennon could very well ceased to ever have existed. No one can say whether Lennon was thinking about atheism or not so what is the point?
    Is this new version gonna cause a religious resurgence? Are people going to say “Well I thought Christianity didn’t make any sense until I heard that new version of imagine, now I’m gonna become a preacher!”
    I just spent 2 days explaining to some catholic editor why atheists aren’t being cry-babies over nativity scenes, now this….sigh

    • Mark

      Funny how if you dare complain about such revisionism, you’re branded a crybaby; meanwhile, anyone who dares say the Pledge of Allegiance the original way (before McCarthy had the words “Under God” inserted in the 1950′s), can just about trigger a riot. Kind of a double standard, isn’t it?

    • John Morales

      Sorry, I’m still not able to care about what some nobody (that I know of at least) did to 1 line of a Lennon song.

      But no-one is asking you to care.

      (Why should I care that you don’t care?)

  • David Stoeckl

    Kagehi says:
    January 3, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    Change never happens until people speak up. Some people are speaking up. Some others are telling those people to shut up, because its upsetting “allies” among the faithful.

    But it is a little more than just our allies among the faithful that are upset, but many humanist atheists that are simply appalled at the license that some have granted themselves to attack religion and the religious. And you know, and I know, that some atheists are doing a little more than just “speaking up”.

    John McCain was asked about his association with the preacher John Haggee, who has called the Catholic church “the great whore”. And some day an atheist for political office is going to sit down for an interview and be asked if she believes that the religious should be treated with ridicule and contempt.

    Many people love “Jesus” just as much as I love my children, and it is just as real to them. You don’t have to believe as they do, but acknowledge the depth and sincerity of their feelings, and know that if you blithely attack those feelings and beliefs with contempt, you are not going to change any minds. But you WILL piss people off, the same as someone attacking your children. Tread lightly.

    I’m not going to try to define “spiritual”, particularly when I’m not the one having the experience. You are correct that it’s just a feeling, but we are feeling organisms, and ‘feelings’ are quite real to the person who is having them. So if somebody sits cross legged on a hilltop facing the setting sun chanting “Aum” and it makes them feel things they like, why should I make that my concern. It doesn’t work for me, but what the hell.

    There is soooo much kooky stuff, Bigfoot, ghosts, UFOs, Homeopathy etc that people believe, although not with the same feeling and depth that people believe in religion. But you can still hurt people and piss them off if you aren’t judicious. At a family dinner, my sister-in-law was talking about some homeopathic remedy that she had found, and I said something to the effect of “That’s stupid” and explained why. She was really offended. And, of course, she’s been living with cancer for 12 years (and using Western treatments), so who the hell am I to disparage something that makes her feel better. Sometimes my mouth moves before my brain’s engaged.

    • Kagehi

      Think this post pretty much sums up part of the issue, though it doesn’t give examples of why apposing religion strongly makes sense:

      If I where to give some… You can’t get people to stop starving their kids, or not taking them to a doctor, because they think prayer works, by allowing that its OK for the guy praying to win the lotto. Its sort of like war, you can be apposed to all war, some war, or no war, but while the middle group can make distinctions about right and wrong ones, the problem is still war, not whether or not someone thinks its a good or bad one (they might be lying, to themselves, or you, or confused by an authority figure, or just dead wrong about fighting it). People die regardless of whether you *thought* it was a good idea at the time. The same goes for a lot of bad ideas. What comforts someone one day can send them into fits of rage against some imaginary enemy the next, so long as “both” things are based on the same false principles.

      That being said, even people like Dawkins, while he thinks holding onto this stuff over the long term is detrimental to society, is arguing for it being bad, not to harass, or annoy, or make nice people feel bad, but because even the ones that are nice make many of the same arguments in favor of their versions as the ones that are totally off their rocker, and trying to hurt other people because of their faith. You can’t just fight the major crazies, because its not the crazy that is the problem, its how they justify *being* crazy. And, its the same justification all of them use, on the most basic level, the crazies just don’t keep it to themselves, they want *everyone else* to conform to their version of it.

      So.. Do we fight religion, or bad religion? Do we fight war, or just bad wars? Do we fight injustice, or just extreme injustice? Sexism, or really bad sexism? The list goes on. And, many of these things on the list are strongly held beliefs, which many people are not willing to give up on. Religion differs only in that its, “to be respected”, unlike every other single category of erroneous thinking, badly justified decision making, personal prejudices, or strange ideas about what is just. Imagine if we treated, for example, economic models the way we do religion? Actually, we can see what happens when you do that, with the same delusional wackos promoting harsh religion also insisting that Reaganomics makes sense, and can save the country, instead of setting us back 150 years or more to the days of the Robber Barons. Its a religion to them, and one that benefits them greatly, but leaves the rest of us screwed.

      As Davidson says, “The problem comes when those with power believe in a false cause and effect. That is dangerous, that is anti-social and needs to be stamped out for the betterment of people.”

      And, its hardly clear how you get there, at all, if you are not allowed to address how the fundamental principles on which religions are based, like faith, the failure of personal experience to count as “evidence” of anything but your own experience, unless you can test if it actually happened as you think it did, and gods.

    • David Stoeckl

      Is this the same Dawkins whose quotes I’ve had hurled at me ad nauseum calling for the religious to be treated with contempt, and to use ridicule as a weapon against religion? Then there is Myers and Crackergate. And this fellow from American Atheist, of whom Jon Stewart, who ‘sums up Silverman’s mission this way: “I promise to make sure that everyone, even those who were indifferent to our cause, will [really] hate us.”‘

      And that’s not even counting all the abuse of the religious that I’ve seen. I saw an attack on a gay Christian on a discussion board that would have made decent people sick.

      So come on. Don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining. There are many atheists who have granted themselves license to abuse and insult the religious, supposedly in the name of fighting religion. I’m not saying that you do, but don’t tell me it doesn’t happen.

      And I will repeat again, some day an atheist running for office is going to have to explain “crackergate” in a way that won’t revolt millions of moderate religious and secular voters.

      So you oppose religion, fine, even good. Keep everybody thinking. But do it without abuse and insults, and this smug superiority that I’ve seen some atheists display that looks remarkably like the smugness one sees from fundamentalists.

      Religion has certainly got problems. But I don’t believe that the lions will lie down with the lambs when religion steps out the door. We will wage war, be racist, the greedy will prosper and the poor will starve with or without god. Truth be told, I am much less confident of a bright future from the inevitable decline of religion after bumping into this strident activist atheist movement.

    • John Morales

      You don’t have to believe as they do, but acknowledge the depth and sincerity of their feelings, and know that if you blithely attack those feelings and beliefs with contempt, you are not going to change any minds.

      Description ain’t attack.

      (The depth and sincerity of their feelings are irrelevant to the truth-status of the ridiculous claims they make about their source)

      So.. Do we fight religion, or bad religion? Do we fight war, or just bad wars? Do we fight injustice, or just extreme injustice? Sexism, or really bad sexism? The list goes on.

      There’s no ‘we’ here; you do your thing, I’ll do mine.

      I don’t fight religion, I just speak truth.

      (Not my fault that truth is antithetical to religion)

      And, of course, she’s been living with cancer for 12 years (and using Western treatments), so who the hell am I to disparage something that makes her feel better.

      An accommodationist epitome, that’s who.

    • David Stoeckl

      Well, I’m not inviting you to dinner.

    • Kagehi

      Oh, and one other thing (sorry, late post, but I had to head off for work…). We get people that show up on sites like Pharyngula who state, “Until I found that there really where people that thought I was being stupid, and made a clear argument for why, I never questioned if I was doing something absurd, because literally no one else was willing to say it.”

      So, there its a disservice to people to presume that telling them they are being a bloody fool is “always” bad. Sometimes what is needed is an intervention, of sorts. And existing in a bubble, where no one argues against what you are doing, doesn’t cure anything. But, finding that there are people, and a lot of them, that think you are being a complete fool, can shake some people out of it. If everyone was telling your sister than homeopathy was absurd, or even enough people she respected, she might still be hurt by it, but she would also look at whether or not it made sense at all. Just one person doing so, and without explaining, as you say, isn’t going to work. The explanation is important. And the biggest argument against Dawkins, et al, is actually a false one. That they “attack” religion based on incorrect assumptions about what people believe. A statement that is invalidated by poll, after poll, and study after study, about what sorts of things believers actually think are true about their religions and how that connects with the rest of the world.

    • David Stoeckl

      I haven’t read a lot of Dawkins or Harris, but I have read some articles from atheist professors of religious history who take exception to their scholarship. Can’t personally say.

      It wonders me that anyone could exist and not be exposed to a myriad of religious possibilities including atheism, and spend a lot of time thinking about it. But then I grew up in the sixties, like Lennon. Sudden conversions in any direction are suspect.

      As for my sister in law, why would someone be so crass as to tell her that the homeopathic meds she is taking do not reduce the side effects of chemo. She suffered a lot. She found something that SHE thinks helps. Who is to say it doesn’t?

    • John Morales

      She suffered a lot. She found something that SHE thinks helps. Who is to say it doesn’t?


      (Placebo is placebo)

    • Kagehi


      (Placebo is placebo)

      Except placebos do work. But it works whether its someone handing you a 0.01 cent tick tack, or someone selling you a $20 bottle of water. The only difference is that its harder to convince someone, via marketing, that the tick tack does anything. You can, however, convince self claimed “experts” of such idiot things as a two identical bottles of city municipal hose water tasting like both:

      1. The freshest mountain water, melted direct from glaciers on the Himalayas, with a hint of some herb or other.


      2. The last bottle of water from a now dry spring, once found in Ireland, which had fresh mint and strawberries growing around it.

      based *purely* on the story, and a fake label.

      My grandmother could pull the trick on herself so well that she didn’t even need a placebo, just, “faith in the doctor”, and could sit and watch him stick up a 6 inch slice, down the side of her leg, without *any* pain killers.

      The key difference between a tick tack, an expensive, and useless bottle of nothing, and what my grandmother did, is that *she* knew, on some level, that she was the one doing it. The others, cost the idiot that got it 0.01 cents, or $20 (since a homeopathic sugar pill is just a tick tack, without the flavoring). Both, given enough time, add up to money you don’t have to pay for the stuff that is actually doing something physical for you, not just mentally, for your head.

      So, I would say, the best “solution”, if she was still around to teach it, or someone else could, would be to teach every patient to do the sort of thing my grandmother did. Its free, it does the same thing, and no one is going to become a multimillionaire off your stupidity, while you go bankrupt buying $20 bottles of tick tacks, or water. Win, win, unless you are the con artist selling the snake oil, or someone that *really believes* this BS will some day, after failure, after failure, will be validated.

    • Kagehi

      Then there is Myers and Crackergate.

      Ok, you explain to me what you *think* this was, first off. Here is what I think it was. Someone took an unconsecrated wafer, and some pages from someone else’s book, and stated, “To me, these have exactly the same value, which is nothing. To you, desecrating the cracker may be more important, or the Koran, but its bloody unlikely that you think the abuse was equal.” The response was a deluge, not of people defacing his web site, or posting picture of him next to Satan, or anything remotely similar to what he did. He got a near equal number of people sending him:

      1. Claims that, “he wouldn’t dare to do that to a Muslim.” Uh… WTF?

      2. Death threats.

      3. Fervent wishes that he would burn in hell for all eternity.

      So, who exactly was being “abusive”? Because you know what I see. I see people get by with some of the stupidest, most vile, and disgusting things imaginable, purely because they have the “out” card of being able to claim that it was, “temptation”, or they where, “saved”, after the fact, or they where, “born again”, etc. And, some of those people ***have*** assaulted atheists, to the point where there has been genuine fear that saying you don’t believe will get you shit on, beat up, or even, in some of the worst cases, killed, not just having, “their leg pissed on”.

      Also, there are *no* sudden conversions to atheism. If you bothered to read the collection of posts at PZ’s site about how people got to be atheists, nearly 100% of them started out religious. Some of them where religious to the point where, if they had kept going, they might have been the next Pat Robertson. They all did three things that nearly no believer on the planet *ever* does: 1. Actually read the Bible, and not just the 10-20% of it you hear in church. 2. Question why, if its supposedly so true, its so.. factually wrong, confusing, self contradictory, and its god is such a total a-hole in much of it. 3. They read other religious texts, and find out these things:

      a. Every religion has some basic principles that they agree on. Sadly, its also principles that can be found in secular humanism, and numerous other non-supernatural things.

      b. The gods in those works seldom, if ever, live up to *any* of those rules, on the contrary, often acting against them, or even standing, in some faiths, and examples of people being total bloody fools.

      c. You don’t need gods, demons, heaven, hell, etc. to come up with those rules.

      d. Everyone seems to have stolen from everyone else. The Jews stole Yhwh from the earlier people that worshipped El, Bal, Chemosh, *and* Yhwh. At some point in the mess they borrowed Noah, with some major changes in who the villains where, from Sumeria and Gilgamesh. The Christians stole heaven and hell from the Greeks and Romans. They may have even stolen Jesus from some mix of Mythros and/or Ra. And then the Muslims stole the whole thing, to tack on their bit of nonsense. Archeology tells us this, scholarship tells us this, the complete lack of evidence for *any* of it originating, by pure coincidence, our of no place, tells us this. None of it is original. And none of its makes sense as “reality”, unless you can show that it wasn’t cribbed off everyone else in the neighborhood, like a bunch of really bad students, who all got Ds, because **every single one of them** was sneaking peeks at each other’s papers, and a few got 1-2 things right, by shear accident.

      At least someone who is religious, until they prove unwilling, and unable, to the point of multiple times posting the same BS, and ignoring counter arguments, get “allowed” onto blogs run by the non-religious. You know what we get? I have posted to dozens, and gotten a post actually showing up ***one time***. All the rest of them moderated them out. The same has been true of every other person, including agnostics, who where willing to at least hear their supposed “evidence”, and try to talk to them as adults. The moment you so much as suggest you disagree with most of them, your comments disappear, and you may even be banned. The abuse, where the few that saw the posts rip into you for things you didn’t actually say, but which they **want** everyone there to think you did, starts *after* you can’t fight back.

      We have bloody people that have been elected to President in the US who have come *right out* and said that atheists are so far beneath them, just in general, that we should, maybe, be denied citizenship, and deported. What the frak level of abuse do we have to put up with, before we get to tell them that, “while they are citizens, and we don’t really care what they do at home, as long as they are not forcing that on other people, *we* never the less think they are all bloody insane, and here are the reasons why.”? Do they have to start denying us the right to adopt children? Oh, wait, no.. some states do that already. How about lynching us? No, wait, that has happened in a few cases too. Run us out of town? Hell, some of them do that to you if you are the wrong sort of Xian, a Jew for example, and you dare to question why a bloody State legislature is praying to Jesus before meetings. At what point does being so distrusted that you can’t get elected dog catcher, and people would prefer to associate with a rapist, **every** politician calls you un-American, you get abused in the military, worse than Wicca, and other non-Christians, etc., mean you get to stand up and say, “Well, guess what? We have an opinion about the value of the entire idea that religions is important, valuable, and should be given tax exemptions, legal exemptions, exemptions against people hurting themselves, their children, their neighbors, their own employees, and even other nations, and *this* nation, purely because the group doing it did so because of a, ‘Fervent held religious belief, which the state isn’t allowed to contradict.’”?

      And, if that wasn’t all bad enough, the fact that people do speak out about it is only seen as a *major* issue in the US. Why? Because we have the largest number of delusional, self serving, con artists, wackos, cultists, liars, false converts, fundies, and so called literalists, per capita, of any country that isn’t considered “third world”. In short, if belief in nonsense was trademark-able, we would be cornering 95% of the market in the US.

      Bloody heck, I just ran into a lady the other day that thought it was “horrible” that we might be overturning a 17 year long law, which denied the right of the government to regulate, or test, for frakking effect, and safety, supplements, homeopathy, and snake oil of every bloody stripe. A sentiment that is basically echoed by the bozo that helped create NCCAM, a 1.3B dollar joke, when he stated that he found it, “Disappointing that NCCAM hasn’t ‘validated’ more complementary and alternative medicines”. See, its not important that we found, again, and again, and often, again, that stuff even Mark Twain thought was idiocy in his time, still doesn’t work. The *proper* purpose of the bloody waste of money should have been to “prove” stuff, like waving your hands around while imagining you where manipulating people’s Qi, actually works.

      Religion, is simply the very first, and most successful, sales pitch, for things that don’t exist, don’t work, but you get a free key chain with every $40 donation to the collection plate.

      The only reason Catholicism probably stopped dispensing holy water from vending machines, like the Roman temples did, is that rich people couldn’t make themselves look better, for throwing more on the plate than the last rube.

      Spirituality is “personally” experiencing a transcendent moment.

      Religion is some con artist coming along and telling you, “Ah, wasn’t that great, you know who did that for you right? If you really want to know, I can tell you. (,but it will cost you, I will make sure of that.)” Apparently the sub tag doesn’t work here, so imagine that last bit in small print. :p

  • David Stoeckl

    Kagehi says:
    January 5, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    Then there is Myers and Crackergate.

    Ok, you explain to me what you *think* this was, first off. Here is what I think it was. Someone took an unconsecrated wafer, and some pages from someone else’s book, and stated, “To me, these have exactly the same value, which is nothing.

    And that, right there is where Myers goes off track. Symbols mean things to people. It is not rational that a piece of cloth can be dyed in a pattern and then held sacred, but go to a Veteran’s Day parade and wipe your butt with a flag and see what happens. A casket is just a box full of dead meat, but look at the approval ratings of Westboro Baptist. Those things mean a lot to some people.

    And screwing with a wafer of spiking a Koran because it “is nothing” to you is just a stunt with the intended purpose to piss off and hurt people. And honest to god, it smells of sociopathy that so many folks utterly fail to recognize that. I’m with Paul Kurtz, some of these antics verge on “hate speech”. Isn’t respect for people a humanist value?

    I don’t like Rush Limbaugh. He may not have burned anyone at the stake, but his incessant dehumanizing of the opposition, creating rude cartoonish caricatures of “liberals”, mocking and insulting, and presenting the “Democrat” party as the mortal enemy is bad for the nation, and bad for humanity.

    And I see “Crackergate”, Blasphemy Day, Atheist cartoons and public calls for ridicule of the religious as the same in kind, and the same in effect. And if you’ve got even Jon Stewart saying you’re going to get everybody to hate you by acting that way, maybe you best take a look at your behavior.

    Go talk to some PR people. Ask them the advisability of calling people idiots to get them to change their minds? Ask them if it will work to heap disrespect and contempt on people to convince them that atheists are regular folks just as moral as anyone else. This is not rocket science, it is just common sense. I don’t know why someone would demand “scientific proof” that insulting people pisses them off and makes them less likely to hear you.

    (Aside) Speaking of supplements and anti-vac, why does Bill Maher get a pass on this?

    • John Morales


      Why not post that at Pharyngula?

      (It will be much more entertaining, there; here, it’s hardly topical)

    • Kagehi

      Bill Maher doesn’t get a pass for doing that. Its one thing about which he is a total idiot.

      As for the whole, “Hate speech”. Nope, sorry, doesn’t qualify. Hate speech isn’t about what someone can “choose” to be. Its directed against someone for color, sex, orientation (never mind the morons that claim its a choice, usually as part of their own hate speech), or possibly nationality. While it may be true that one could, sort of, say the same about attacking a **specific person** based on what their religion is, it is not hate speech to say that there is something seriously wrong with the religion itself, or some detail of the religion. Hate to tell you, but, until some assholes passed new laws about it, it was perfectly legal to wipe your ass with the flag, as protest. That is a bad idea in some contexts, isn’t in dispute, but its not because what you are doing should be illegal, or is unconstitutional, or because its some sort of “hate speech”. Its stupid, in those contexts, because other people will break the law, by beating the shit out of you, shutting you up, or demanding you be arrested, if not all three. And, might makes right is **not** protected speech.

      Attacking belief is not wrong. Attacking the person specifically for holding that view, may be. The problem is, no one gives a frak about the distinction, if they are the ones holding the attacked position, and you can’t fix the problems created by false ideas, if you can’t attack them, but have to be all PR. Another problem is the bloody stupid assumption that if someone says something for an audience that does annoy, embarrass, or anger, someone else, its “bad RP”, even if the intended audience isn’t the person making the complaint. Its also bad PR to show up some place where an examination of how bad an idea religion is, and telling everyone, “Its not so bad, so lets be nice about it.” PR is about who your audience is. The bozo that walks into an atheist meeting, and freaks over, for example, Sam Singleton running a fake revival, hasn’t a leg to stand on. They are not the one being attacked, they where not the intended audience, and there would have been no PR issue, if the unintended audience hadn’t shown up.

      None of which even addresses the fact that we have spent 200 years fighting, while, mostly being nice about it, using PR, not attacking anything too directly, and basically doing all the shit that we get told is the, “right way to handle things”, for better education, less superstition, ridding the world of con artist, snake oil, and everything else, that goes with it, including vile forms of religion, and what we have gotten from that is people pissed off that Dawkins isn’t Mark Twain (who made similar noise in his time, but *everyone* read), whole alternative “medical” systems, not covered by the FDA, or AMA, to sell the crap, and right wing fanaticism, and the tea party. Its been less that 10-15 years since the so called, “new atheist movement”, came out and said, “We are losing, and you know, maybe part of the damn problem is that they can lie about, slander, libel, and do everything they possibly can to abuse us, but we have, with very few exceptions, not been willing to fight back, despite the fact that they have nothing but nonsense, lies, superstitions, and bigotry to use against us, while we have actual evidence for what we are saying.”

      And, that is at the heart of the problem. You think we need to keep doing what humanists have been trying, and failing at for 200 years in this country, and thousands elsewhere, despite, now, being able to say, in most cases, “This is what is really going on, and no, its not a matter of mere opinion, what happened isn’t what you believe, what you believe about your faith isn’t historically correct, and here is why.”, but they… they get to keep making things up, lying, conning, cherry picking facts, and doing everything they can to prop up nonsense. Why do they get to keep doing the later, but we have to be careful of our PR? 1. They still outnumber us. 2. One of the people that might be angered by being told they are wrong, could be someone we care about.

      Only, the former isn’t true any more in most of the west, and they are losing in the US too, fast. And the later… how the hell can you claim to care about someone, if you let them lie to themselves, or possibly hurt themselves or others, purely because they “believe” in something? That isn’t caring, its cowardice. The same sort of cowardice you get from people with drug addicts in the family, abusive husbands/wives, hoarders, or anyone else that you “allow” to hurt themselves, or someone else, or even you, because you might anger them enough that they won’t talk to you again, if you try to help them. Not doing so isn’t helping them, its purely selfish for you.

      And as an argument for coexisting with someone that will, one week, be helping you fight creationism in a school, and the next week telling you that you are a monster of saving your wife from death, by allowing a doctor to end a bad pregnancy, isn’t helping you, or them, or society in general. But, it might keep them from sending you death threats, for calling transubstantiation stupid… Should we also stop embarrassing the same bunch of clowns for failing to grasp that its not pedophilia that is the continual problem in their church, but the decision to do nothing **at all** to admit to, or stop, it? What the hell is the correct PR is a case where the people you are arguing against flat out can’t even understand what the hell you are arguing against, or about?

      And, most of the time, the arguments against everyone, including Dawkins, isn’t what they actually said, or who they said it about, but some strawman BS position, in which everyone is attacked, not just the people ***described in the book***. What sort of PR do you use to fix that, exactly? If you are talking about what is wrong with the ideas of 10% of all of them, but the other 90% either don’t bloody comprehend this, won’t listen, or allow themselves to be conned into thinking, by those 10%, that it *is* talking about them? You know what it reminds me of, despite all the things that Obama hasn’t done right, or acted to slow on, or failed to live up to, nearly every damn thing he gets attacked for is shit that either someone else caused, someone else prevented, someone else tacked onto one of the bills he passed, or someone else came up with first, some of which he didn’t even want, but thought “might” get those bozos to negotiate.

      The exact same thing comes up with “new atheists”. We get talking about one specific instance, or one specific problem, or making a symbolic gesture, that is directly associated with a case of major abuse (such as expelling some kid for not immediately eating the cracker, someone others even admitted, on PZ’s site, of doing themselves, who where just as frakking Catholic), and while we directed it at a specific thing, they ignore what ever PR we are trying, ignore the circumstances, ignore the message, ignore the cause, and ignore even what specific problem is being addresses, and blow it all out of proportion to the situation.

      I will repeat part of that – Actual Catholics admitted it was not uncommon for “some” of them for one reason or another, to delay eating the cracker. Yet, the whole abuse of the student was centered around how *offensive* it was that he showed it to someone before hand, and the violence, and threats, he got for having done so, even though he had no intent to desecrate the thing. Ok, PZ might have gone a bit over the top, save that, at the time, he was already getting a shit load of mail from people already, claiming he wouldn’t be talking about Muslims, like he did Christians. This is despite the fact that he had posted about things they did, multiple times before. You can whine about how bad an idea it was all you want, or poor PR (never mind its an atheist web site, mostly followed by atheists, and clearly states that it doesn’t pull punches, so anyone reading the damn thing should know better, i.e., not bad PR, since there was no intent to target it at the sort of people that would have a problem with it.

      You want to fix PR, how about getting all the damn places out there that currently use PR to dumb down, distort, alter, or mangle, to make it more presentable, everything from science, to news, to politics, because everything thinks that actually saying, “This study doesn’t support the idea that every is genetically predisposed to believe in gods”, is bad PR, but letting 50 other people half comprehend it, then make *exactly* that claim, is “good PR”. Yet, as I said, this is precisely the sort of, “lets be nice about this”, view that scientists, non-believers, etc., have been using for more than 200 years, and it has only resulting in “more” cults, more pseudoscience, more snake oil, worse education, and some of the craziest bloody lunatics, trying to gain power, in a nation which otherwise doesn’t think that way, since the Inquisition.

      We are not trying to run a damn ad campaign, in which we are selling something people don’t need. Its religion that does that. And, why the hell is it that its bad to do it today, when Twain did it, and was the top read writer in the country, less than 100 years ago? What, other than the negative PR, lies, and myths, propagated against atheism, including the silly “new” label, has changed? Near as I can tell, four things:

      1. A massive failure in basic education.
      2. Someone daring to publish those damn brits in the US.
      3. An increase in the number of nones from like 5%, to 20-25% of the population.
      4. Panic. Absolute, total, and complete, panic, on the part of the extremists, and the country will never, ever, be a theocracy, unless they can make us into the devil, by, among other things, lying about who, when, why, and how, we talk about the religious.

      Sad thing is, even other atheists are forgetting that none of this is new, at all, just more common, and freaking over the idea that the, “unchallengable, never talk about it, be nice to people when saying anything, because its special, unlike every other idea people have”, is actually being challenged. Its about as stupid as if you where telling me that we needed to be more careful about our PR because some Star Wars fans actually “like” Jar Jar Binks, and its insulting to their, “deeply held ideals”, if I made a scale model and shot it with paint balls, or something. Do it to anything else anyone holds dear, and we recognize that it may be a bad idea when they can kick your ass for it, but otherwise, your right to do so. Call it religion, or faith, and.. suddenly its the same as telling a black person to be more white, or something, i.e., hate speech? Give me a damn break.

  • David Stoeckl

    Yes, Maher got a pass. Jeepers, he gets an award for attacking religion and promoting atheism, and even gotten kudos from Dawkins. Has anyone in this ‘new’ movement given Ken Miller an award for promoting evolution and science?

    Yes, wiping your butt with a flag is legal. But you seem to miss the point that doing so hurts and angers people. Westboro Baptist engages in legal activity. And a mocking drawing of “Jesus doing his nails” is also legal. So what. Most people find all three actions rather rude and pointless.

    But no, your definition of “hate speech”, though conveniently self-serving, is wrong. Fliers with swastikas at a synagogue are considered “hate speech”. Perhaps you think they shouldn’t be.

    And if the atheist goal is to promote atheism, then polling numbers show that belief in god has not declined significantly in 50 years. Religion is perfectly capable of hanging itself, but whatever atheists are doing isn’t working.

    I often hear of the Scandinavian countries cited as an atheist wonderland. Did a band of atheists mock people into abandoning religion? Or was it an organic process with no one pushing it? And I read some postings at Aardvarcheology, the author making the point that a militant atheist would seem just as odd there as a literalist Christian.

    I once thought that the decline of religion would lead to a better, more civil society, but I’m losing faith in that idea. There seems to be a strain of sociopathy, a failure of empathy, such that some folks don’t realize, or simply don’t care, that they hurt peoples feelings.(I can hear the “Oh, call a waaambulacne” winding up now). Like the fellow who Jon Stewart took to task for dancing on 9/11 graves, and many folks just had no comprehension how and why that was hurtful.

    And there also seems to be a strong strain of “the end justifies the means”. Religion is presented as such a huge, irredeemable, uniform evil that most anything that will bring it’s downfall is acceptable. Really makes me wonder what the “new atheists” would do if they somehow became a majority. I think that if Twain were writing today, he would see the “new atheists” as some mutant brand of fundamentalism.

    This conversation is going nowhere. You are thoroughly convinced that all the activities of the “news” are justified and moral, and absolutely nothing is going to crack that belief. So carry on. But the next time you sing “Imagine”, think about a “brotherhood of man”.

    • Kagehi

      No, its not “conveniently self serving”. You seem to be under the impression that “new atheists” run around doing nothing but offending people. You fail to grasp that 90% of the shit people from comics, to politicians, do does offends someone, but that the *distinction* is, “who they intend to be hearing it”. And, yes, a whole lot of shit gets labelled hate speech that is just bloody idiotic. But, here is the point, swastikas at a synagogue is hate speech because it isn’t just questioning the religion, or pointing out things one thinks is wrong with it, it is people adhering to an ideal of concentration camps, and death, targetting the victims of such acts. In the fight between atheism and religion, the only people calling for someone to be jailed, or put in camps, is generally the religious people, claiming that atheists don’t deserve the same rights are they have.

      If not wanting to be the next group of people that some radical lunatics decide to shoot, for not being “godly” enough, or some stupid BS, is self serving, then hell yes, the label applies.

      Worse, if you think that mild, and not willing to do more than laugh and tell someone they are wrong, when in an interview, Dawkins, or others are promoting hate speech, then you are lowering the damn bar so far to define it that you would have to arrest 80% of all comedians, 50% of the general population, and probably 90% of all church leaders. Your claim as to where the line should be drawn is bloody absurd. And, if you really think that hurting people’s emotions, because they are just real offended that you said no, or that isn’t right, or don’t do that… I bloody well hope you never have kids, because you will end up being one of those simpering fools that never tells them, outright, “that’s dangerous”, then laments that they don’t behave, do stupid things, and are out of control. There is a damn difference between saying, “Your ideas are foolish, and here is why I think so, even if you don’t like what I have to say.”, and, “I will stop you, by any means possible, because you don’t deserve to hold that opinion.” The latter is hate speech, the former is what “most” new atheists are doing. The ones that step over that line, deserve as much condemnation as anyone else saying such a thing. Learn the difference. And, more to the point, don’t, just because you have your own emotional stake in the game, assume that you know the difference, purely because you *imagine* they are saying the latter, when they mean the former. We have enough bloody idiots putting words in our mouths to promote hate against us, without care bears in our own camp helping them, by ignoring all the times we say, “No, we don’t want to forcibly end religion, but we damn well wish some of the more dangerous ideas where not so prevalent.”

      In point of fact, merely saying to some people that you don’t believe in their god is “offensive” to them, offensive enough that some of them would like to see you arrested for hate speech against them “purely” on that basis alone. Or, since they can’t do that, denying you the right to form clubs, or rent buildings, or run for public office, just to name a few things that.. kind of sound a lot like anti-atheist hate speech/discrimination…

      As for your polls. Gah, I hate polls. One set show non-belief, or dis-attachment to specific faiths growing. Others use some sloppy, stupid wording that talks about higher powers, or what not, and gets different results. One tries to determine what people actually believe, the other is rigged to exaggerate how many do, in order to lump them all into “religious”, and which one do you pick as the valid one? Apparently, not the professional ones, that are designed to gauge not just belief in general, but define what the hell that means exactly. And, lets be clear here, the so called “new atheists” have been around for probably less than 20 years. Scientists, skeptics, etc. have been trying to play the game of, “explain why things don’t work that way, but don’t offend anyone.”, for centuries. It didn’t work any more in Europe, until people actually spoke up about non-belief, and why they held that position, than it has in the US, where we are 30 years **behind** the trend. No movement for social justice has ever existed without those willing to stand up and say, “I don’t care if this offends you, I think you are wrong.” How dare we imagine we should be allowed to do the same.

      And, the stupid thing about it is… most of the people lambasted for this stuff are not the PZ Myers of the world, its people that simply dare to describe *accurately* what certain religious people believe, why its historically, psychologically, and socially wrong, and **Gasp!** write books about it. Yeah, the conversation is pretty much over. You want to paint everyone that isn’t “nice” as wrong, and ignore that it is the strategy that *has* failed, and support that with study data conducted by people that have, as their agenda, to falsely show that belief hasn’t changed. But, its not if the amount has changed, its if the quality and nature has, and how. Are people getting more radical, or is their belief in literalism, arbitrary BS, institutional hate, etc., slipping? If belief in the absolute validity of religion is slipping, how is continuing to point out things wrong with what is left going to cause people to start believing the nonsense again? The answer is, its not. You can’t go back to believing in Santa Claus, once you have concluded that the idea is absurd, all you can do is go from there to questioning other fantasies.

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  • michaelwolf

    No, those aren’t the lyrics as Lennon performed them nor the sentiment that he intended to impart in “Imagine” however I believe John Lennon would have loved to live in a world where all religion was true and if he wrote “Imagine” later in his life he may have chosen that lyric. Lennon spent his later years with the Beatles and with Yoko searching hungrily for truth in religion. He wanted desperately for a world where religious division didn’t cause conflicts between men. That was the message he imparted in that song. If all religions were to be true they’d all have to be in agreement of that truth, teaching and praying in unity with one another. If John Lennon were alive today who knows who his views on religion might be but the words he chose to write for “Imagine” were a snapshot of his views of religion at the moment, not the story of the man’s relationship with spirituality.

    • John Morales

      Lennon spent his later years with the Beatles and with Yoko searching hungrily for truth in religion.

      He dabbled with the Yogi in his middle years with the Beatles, that much is true — but that ended with an episode where Lennon characterised him as a shameless fraud.

      He wanted desperately for a world where religious division didn’t cause conflicts between men. That was the message he imparted in that song.

      I think not: “imagine no religion” clearly expresses a yearning for no religion; the aspiration is clear.

      If all religions were to be true they’d all have to be in agreement of that truth, teaching and praying in unity with one another.

      But that implies that at most one religion is true.

      (How many religions are there? :))

      If John Lennon were alive today who knows who his views on religion might be but the words he chose to write for “Imagine” were a snapshot of his views of religion at the moment, not the story of the man’s relationship with spirituality.

      Spirituality? What is that?