Bill Maher Did Not Insult Your Mom

In case you missed Real Time with Bill Maher last week, you missed a long discussion on religion with conservative atheist S.E. Cupp and the other panelists:

Maher made his usual points: That religious people are delusional. Cupp — who seems to use conservative Christian talking points in her attempt to defend religion — argued that while she is an atheist, she didn’t think religious people were delusional. Maybe it’s a semantics game with her, but what I got out of it was that she refused to say that they were wrong in their thinking. Cory Booker was equally ignorant with his talking points in this discussion. John Avlon, a former Rudy Giuliani speechwriter, made the most sense — which I didn’t think I’d be saying going into the episode.

And while Maher can easily rub religious people the wrong way with his rhetoric, he’s completely right.

Religious people are deluded, regardless of whether they’re good or bad people.

Religion is often bad in and of itself, even without people doing bad things in the name of it.

Teaching ignorance (via Creationism) is a form of child abuse, whether it’s done with the best of intentions or not.

Booker and Cupp didn’t understand where Maher was coming from.

Neither does Jason Whitlock of The Kansas City Star.

He thinks that Maher was attacking his personal faith, his mother, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Look at the arguments he uses to respond to Maher:

Will Maher use his enhanced platform to tell me my mother is “delusional?”

It was faith that gave my mother the strength to work a full shift at a factory and a second job at night so that my brother and I could live in a safe neighborhood with a good school system.

Or will Maher attack my grandmother’s faith?

It was her belief in Christ that allowed her to move emotionally and mentally beyond the racist atrocities her family endured living in the South.

Does Maher believe that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and a group of atheists withstood water hoses, police batons, dogs, lynchings, bombings and jail so that dark-skinned citizens could pursue the American dream?

What does Maher believe got Jewish people through the Holocaust or Nelson Mandela through 27 years of incarceration?

This is an emotional appeal and it fails. Just because something can make you feel better doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Just because your belief in god can get you through a rough time doesn’t mean that god actually exists.

I know this isn’t “friendly” to say, but someone has to break it to Whitlock:

Yes, your mother was deluded. Your grandmother, too.

They sound like wonderful, loving, hard-working women. But they were still inspired by something that has no basis in reality.

Plenty of people work two jobs. Religion isn’t what gets them through it.

Plenty of people work through traumatic experiences. They can do it with or without a belief in god.

Atheists fought just as hard for civil rights movement as some Christians did (let’s not forget that many Christians in the South opposed it). We were also active in the fight for women’s rights. We are active in the fight for marriage equality. (Where are the good Christians in that battle, by the way?)

It’s inappropriate for Maher to define religious people by the nuts who launch bombs or fly planes into buildings in the name of Jesus or Allah. It’s equally unfair to define them by the nuts who want to limit the rights of gays or stand in the way of science in the name of Jesus or Allah.

Maher doesn’t do that. But those are the examples which tend to get through to religious people. They all claim those terrorists are the extremists… then, they go off to their churches and repeat the same words and listen to the same sermons and pray to the same gods.

The “non-terrorists” still fight science education, still convince otherwise-sane people that they should die instead of getting a blood transfusion, still deny gay people equal rights… the list goes on.

And those are the “good” religious people Whitlock seems to be referring to.

This is what happens so often when religious people get defensive about their faith. They resort to anecdotes and examples of when religion made them feel good.

You don’t see Whitlock making an argument as to why Christianity is true (as opposed to Islam or Hinduism, say) or why god exists.

Because there are no good arguments for those things. All he has is this belief in his head that good people in his life were religious, therefore, religion must be good.

It’s bad logic and a misguided column.

  • Claudia

    Sorry but Whitlock neglects to mention the fact that he thinks that my mother and my grandmother are deluded. He also thinks my father, my cousins, aunts and uncles and I are deluded. He is a Christian and my family is atheist. By definition, he believes that I am wrong. Deluded is a less polite way of putting it certainly, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t think it. Cupp believes Whitlock is deluded, and his mother and his grandmother, even if she’s nicer and doesn’t want to say it out loud.

    On that we’re on an equal playing field, but Whitlock, if he’s a Bible-believing Christian, believes in heaven and hell. Only believers get to heaven and there’s only one other place to be. My great-grandmother was an atheist. Whitlock might be too polite to admit it, but if he is a Christian, he believes my great-grandma is in hell.

    So what’s worse, to believe someone is wrong about their beliefs (which both believers and non-believers do) or to believe that AND that the dead relatives of the others are suffering in eternal torment in fire?

  • Ben

    Claudia, that’s why they fall back onto other arguments, like that we’re “angry with God”. That way, your great-grandmother isn’t in hell because she was deluded, she’s in hell because she was petulant (i.e. her choice).

    Then again, I suppose believers hate it when you tell them their great-grandparents are just as dead but non-existent.

  • Greg

    I suspect that Cupp just doesn’t understand what the word ‘deluded’ means.

  • Bob

    Okay, so my grandmother and mother worked hard to provide for my schooling. Both of them are Catholic.

    But is the concept of ‘hard work as a downpayment on future success’ really a Christian tenet, or just plain common sense?

    The ‘faith’ that Whitlock seems to ASSUME is religious in nature may not be that at all, but a value that cannot possibly be adequately presented in a book that was drafted by committee in medieval times.

  • mthrnite

    This is the first I’ve seen of this Cupp woman, on first blush though, I suspect she is a sheep in wolf clothing. A little too much cognitive dissonance there.

  • http://jillswift.wordpress.com/ JillSwift

    Cupp is a reminder that not all atheists are skeptics.

    Her arguments are deeply tainted with conservative ideology (not unlike Maher’s tend to be tainted with liberal ideology) and it blinds her to the real causes of the “attacks” on religion she thinks she sees.

    A plural society with the freedom of speech will always have folks being offended by opposing ideas. It’s not an attack on anything, it’s just we don’t all agree on everything. Get over it.

    There are real attacks, though. These come in the form of legislation designed to tilt the playing field in favor of a particular set of ideas. Unsurprisingly, the successful attacks are of the religious (Christian) favor, as they are the majority.

    So, Ms. Cupp, I don’t think they need any defending from you. Back off, clear your head, and re-asses the evidence.

  • Cam

    Bill Maher is an idiot and I wish we would stop giving him press.

    This so called “skeptic” flatly opposes vaccines:

    “http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2007/08/bill_maher_antivaccination_wingnut.php

    And he even cites a made up statistic in support of that.

    Sure, his beliefs may coincide with us on the matter of atheism, but his method of argumentation and incorrect reasoning regarding vaccines don’t make him very reputable in my books.

    Also, he could at least let the other people get a word in. I especially liked his spread of time magazines with Jesus/Mary on the cover without looking at the context of either one.

  • Matt

    Let’s just say it without sugar coating it. Cupp sounds like an idiot. Then Whitlock seems to be implying that atheists are not capable of surviving adversity. Then again, he *is* deluded.

  • Carlie

    Isn’t Whitlock a sports writer? What is he doing throwing in on this in the first place? Not that people can’t opine about whatever they want, but I thought that the general way newspapers worked was that people write about the subjects they’re paid to write about, not to treat it as open space for whatever they feel like.

  • Bob

    Let’s substitute ‘gravity’ for ‘religion.’

    In which case, Maher would be of the opinion that teaching kids there are magical gravity fairies is akin to child abuse.

    Cupp would doubtless be telling us that the people who believe in magical gravity fairies aren’t delusional (and, that, doubtless, we need to accomodate them as we formulate educational policy and domestic law).

    Whitlock would be telling us that his steel-walking grandfather was only able to do what he did because he knew the gravity fairies would catch him if he fell. And how DARE Maher suggest that Wings Whitlock was anything but the most outstanding and moral of grandfathers.

    Only Maher’s observation remains correct.

  • http://primesequence.blogspot.com/ PrimeNumbers

    Actually, it’s the Christian that’s doing the insulting by saying these strong people were actually weak and it was their faith that did it. We atheists say these people were strong through their own doing, and that is a way of praising them, not denigrating them.

  • http://toomanytribbles.blogspt.com toomanytribbles

    cupp is the perfect example of an atheist who hasn’t thought it through.

    the others are offending both atheists and their own relatives.

    it seems that not all humans are capable of theory of mind.

  • Tina

    i have to say i like Bill Maher usually but in that clip he is really rather pig headed.. needless to say i think MOST Atheist can be just as annoying as Christians or people in any organized religion… always trying to cram what they believe down others throats.. why cant people just agree to disagree and get on with there lives… people are raised in different ways with different circumstances, thoughts and opinions and therefore no matter how much you argue with them they will only ever see there side; and no amount of arguing or trying to force people to change will change them unless they want to be changed… people need to just STFU and get over the fact that not everyone will believe in what they do…however because of the many variety’s of religion they should remove the religious factors from politics and government as it only serves the people of the religion and not all the people as a whole.. thats my personal opinion and frankly i don’t care if anyone agrees with it

  • http://toomanytribbles.blogspt.com toomanytribbles

    the veracity of the evolution of species is not a matter to be agreed upon. neither is the existence of deities. these are scientific questions and they’re open to research, but not opinion.

    the atheist position is not a belief — it is that one has not been convinced of beliefs in gods.

    anyone can believe any ridiculous thought they fancy — but it should be kept out of schools and out of public policy.

    people most certainly should not STFU if their rights and those of their children are being compromised.

  • Jen

    I was convinced after watching that show that Cupp is just a smart entrepreneur. She probably is not an atheist, but think how many more books she is going to sell once the fundies can try to hold her book up and say “See! Even an atheist sees it!”.

  • Trace

    I thought it clever the first few times I heard the term “delusion” used in the context of religion/belief.

    However now, with its overuse it is starting to sound like a talking point.

    I cringe every time I hear it…oh well, perhaps I am angry both at god and dawkins? ;)

    Oh, and no, Ms Cupp is no idiot, she knows quite well what she is doing.

  • Tina

    by the way to who ever it was that said “Yes, your mother was deluded. Your grandmother, too. They sound like wonderful, loving, hard-working women. But they were still inspired by something that has no basis in reality.” how do u know? what makes you so sure that there isn’t a god? what makes you so sure that you are right and they are wrong? i am not a believer in organized religions but i don’t consider myself so all knowing and all seeing as to say that their god doesn’t exist… to say a god doesn’t exist is just a stupid and wrong as saying that my god is better then your god… in fact NOBODY knows if there is or isn’t a god.. and nobody will till they die …and at such time we will either just fade into nothing but dirt and bones or those who chose the right religion IF THERE IS a right religion will go to our designated heaven, summer land, Valhalla or where ever else people go when they die…maybe its deluded but having those deluded beliefs helps some people get through some very hard times in life and maybe just maybe if u had your own faith u might not be so pompous and arrogant not to mention self-righteous…it is really funny how atheist can sit there and say god don’t exist your religion is wrong yadda yadda.. and then have the nerve to bitch at religious people for preaching to them.. so basically its ok for you all to preach at everyone else so long as they don’t do it to you? right.

  • Tina

    @ tomanytribles .. its not a belief? well thats funny they seem to believe that god dont exist and that what they say is how it should be and they think people shouldnt believe what they believe because they dont think what said religions believe is true.. well true or not they have the freedom to believe in it as much as u have th freedom to disbelieve it.. the point is u all preech as much as any preechers ive seen… and you have all the right in the world to bitch about religion when it comes to politics and government but a persons faith isnt causing the problems.. is the faith mixed with governement and politics that is the problem so put it where it should be heard and stop insulting people for what they believe in… cause telling someone there deluded isnt going to help anything it will just make people angry and angry people just make more problems

  • Bob

    @tribbles:

    “The atheist position is not a belief – it is that one has not been convinced of beliefs in gods.”

    That’s a little convoluted, using the word belief to define something that isn’t a belief, especially when you qualify it as a scientific question.

    IMHO, if you say you don’t believe, then that opens the door for me to attempt to persuade you; if you say there is no evidence, that’s a whole ‘nother ballgame.

  • Darwin’s Dagger

    I think Maher would be happy to insult your mom, or anyone else he considered delusional. He a sharp tongued comic who gets paid to insult people. He just happens to be telling the truth at the same time (at least in those instances where he is not delusional). I think it would be helpful, if atheists are going to call people delusional, to qualify that judgement. A great many people who are delusional in regards to invisible men who live in the sky can be quite rational concerning most every other topic under discussion.

  • Blitzgal

    Most simply, a delusion is a fixed belief that is false or fanciful. Whether it is the belief that there is a pantheon of gods ruling the minutiae of daily life and requiring frequent sacrifices to remain appeased or the belief that a collection of writings spanning centuries, translated many times over and carefully pieced together is the inerrant word of a single deity, religious belief remains a delusion.

    Why must people insist that all the good they do on this Earth is through the power of some vengeful sky fairy? Whitlock takes all the admirable strength shown by his mother in raising him and his siblings away from her and ascribes it to God. That actually doesn’t give her very much credit in providing for her children.

    My father died just before I turned sixteen and my mother was left to provide for myself and my brother on a secretary’s salary. She went to school at night to get a business degree. She’s a kick ass mom and I don’t give any credit to God for that — it’s all her. And she taught me everything I know about being independent and able to take care of myself on my own.

  • Trace

    “so basically its ok for you all to preach at everyone else so long as they don’t do it to you?”

    Well…I get preached at a lot, not by atheists. I see your point,though.

  • Bob

    @Tina:

    You’re reading things into remarks that aren’t there. That any of us suggest that the perseverance of a parent/grandparent need not be grounded in faith is not a “You’re all dummies for believing in anything, pooh!”

    In fact, if I attest that the ‘belief’ that drove my parents/grandparents was hard work = future rewards, and it has not been proven, is THAT not just as delusional as ascribing it to belief in a deity? (Perhaps less so, since the concept of ‘hard work’ is considerably more empirical than ‘belief in God.’)

  • http://riotingmind.blogspot.com/ BeamStalk

    I would say that Whitlock should go back to writing what he knows, sports, btu he really doesn’t even get that right. He is an arrogant pinhead that should just stfu. He displays “righteous indignation” in his sports column too. He is not worth reading much less responding too.

  • Mike

    The problem is with the word “delusional.” Though it technically means believing in that which is demonstrably false (the existence of a deity or deities is not demonstrably false, btw) it has a negative connotation, and implies pathological mental illness. Regardless of the users intent, the recipient will feel marginalized and insulted. It is not a word to use if your intent is rational, polite discussion. It is, I suppose, the appropriate word if you are trying to add shock value or bump up your ratings…

  • Ron in Houston

    DSM IV defines delusion as:

    A false belief based on incorrect inference about external reality that is firmly sustained despite what almost everybody else believes and despite what constitutes incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence to the contrary. The belief is not one ordinarily accepted by other members of the person’s culture or subculture.

    If you accept that as the controlling definition then religious beliefs are not delusions.

    Further, as a number of folks have pointed out in our culture the term is often viewed as fairly insulting and tends to marginalize those who truly suffer from delusional disorders.

    I don’t know what term I’d substitute but I personally don’t like people using the term “delusional.”

  • BlueRidgeLady

    As much as I agree with Maher, he is more and more bullish each clip I see of him. He doesn’t need to defend reason! Reason defends reason to thinking people. Maher jumps to conclusions when people respond to his jokes- the joke about mediocre people- Booker was not calling atheists mediocre. Bill dishes it out but won’t take it. He has to lighten up and laugh at himself once in a while.

    Anyhow, he is right- Booker calls himself a Christian but doesn’t want to be labeled bigot so he doesn’t say there is one path (jesus).
    He also made a talking point that makes me think he needs to take Atheism 101, the whole “takes just as much faith to be an atheist” thing. That’s getting old quick. We shouldn’t have to defend logic, reasoning, and problem solving. I’m scared of this new American stigmatization of intelligence that started with the 2008 Elections.

  • Trace

    “the recipient will feel marginalized and insulted.”

    Sí.

    “It is, I suppose, the appropriate word if you are trying to add shock value or bump up your ratings…”

    También

  • Bob

    @Blue Ridge Lady:

    “… stigmatization of intelligence that started with the 2008 Elections.”

    It started long before 2008.

    Edward R. Murrow warned us that it is foolish to think there are two, equally valid and reasonable sides to every argument. He also noted that television had the power to enlighten, educate, and inspire – else it is nothing more than lights and wires in a box (RTNDA Keynote Address, 1958).

    Flash forward to the 1980′s, and the discarding of the Fairness Doctrine, which mandated ‘equitable, fair, and HONEST’ presentation of issues. This is coupled with the appearance of Rush Limbaugh, and the gradual erosion of reason to the point that FOX News is able to debut and ascend to prominence under the mantra, ‘fair and balanced.’

    The damage has been long in the making, is deeply ingrained in society, and I don’t think we’ve hit the bottom yet.

  • teejay

    He definitely wasn’t trying to make any friends on that panel. And Cupp is the most deluded of them all! Ironical as that is…

  • BlueRidgeLady

    Bob-

    No doubt it was before that, I misspoke. I meant it was more noticeable for me since that time.

  • http://onestdv.blogspot.com OneSTDV

    I think Cupp was trying to argue that they’re not WILLFULLY deluded (like say people who believe in Sylvia Browne). Instead they ignore the insanities of religion because it provides them with something beneficial.

    I think it probably is an issue of semantics.

    Cupp states that she “gets” them. She understands why they do it. But she probably thinks they’re wrong (otherwise why would she be an atheist).

  • Mr. Creazil

    Ladies and gents, this is definitive proof that S.E. Cupp is not actually an atheist. An atheist would not use the “atheists hate god” fallacy because an atheist would know that ATHEISTS DO NOT BELIEVE IN GOD. She’s a fundie pretending to be an atheist in a failed effort to give credence to her lies.

  • SmilingAtheist

    Anyone defending Cupp should go to her website. You might change your mind about her.

    http://www.redsecupp.com/

    Someone stated she’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing, I tend to agree.

  • ursulamajor

    My reaction to the show was mainly making wretching sounds every time this Cupp woman opened her mouth. Didn’t like her. Not at all.

  • Kapture

    What Mike said. The fact that the word “delusion” is used in psychiatric diagnosis is going to slant the conversation towards conflict. Insulting people’s mental competence is not going to advance your position with anybody. Neither is being pedantic about the other part of the definition of delusional. Just pisses in people’s wheaties. It’s just another way of saying “You’re a dumbass.”

    The practical part of the matter is that people usually don’t change their minds. What I object to as an atheist is people making public policy based on what I consider false beliefs. So describing religion as “unempirical”, “unpragmatic”, “unutilitarian.” Might be a better route to go.

  • sailor

    Mike has it right, no one want to be called delusional. If BM had used the word wrong the reaction would have been different. In any case you cannot prove religious people are delusional because the whole idea has been carefully crafted to be absolutely untestable, so it is more meaningless than anything else.

  • Ron in Houston

    That Cupp lady must be some sort of mutant – she’s a conservative who graduated from Cornell. I didn’t think that was theoretically possible.

  • Christophe Thill

    What should we say about someone who believes in Santa Claus, and takes great care to be nice and behave all year round in order to get a nice present from Santa on Christmas ? Does “delusional” fit ? Yes ? So why not for this other belief, you know… ?

  • Chris

    Hate to argue semantics, as most of these argument devolve into, but saying all religious people are deluded is a little harsh to me. If you define delusion as believe in something that’s not correct, then we’re all bound to be deluded about SOMETHING, even if we try to embrace reality to it’s fully extent. I think a lot of religious people ARE deluded because they WILLFULLY are ignoring the truth even when presented with an overwhelming amount of evidence to the contrary.

    However, I think there’s a good number of other religious people who simply lack education and logic skills, and also just don’t think about it that much. It’s like if I thought the tigers won the world series last year because everyone I knew told me they did and I never watch sports news. Technically I’m believing a lie, but it’s not because I’m willfully ignoring the truth, it’s because I’ve been misled and also didn’t really care. I wouldn’t really call myself “deluded” there.

  • http://www.unmails.com Tyler

    I feel like Cupp has been covered thoroughly, so I’ll just resort to the lowest common denominator…she’s hot.

    Anyone? Anyone?

  • http://cafeeine.wordpress.com Cafeeine

    My first instinct about Cupp seeing her on Maher, was that she was faking it, trying to fill a niche in the talking head market, a “hot atheist Ann Coulter”, and I haven’t been convinced otherwise. It’s a persona.

    She’s designed the ‘perfect atheist’ for Fox News to call upon that will never call them on their bull. Expect her to be ‘representing’ atheism in future Fox panels.

  • http://chaoskeptic.blogspot.com Iason Ouabache

    I would say that Whitless should stick to sports reporting but he sucks at that too.

  • ursulamajor

    Cafeeine,

    Nail, meet head.

  • Karmakin

    I don’t like the word delusional here.

    Why? Because I think that religious people do actually feel something. So they’re not really delusional.

    They just lie through their teeth about the nature of that feeling. They tell people things that they often don’t really believe, and make a form of group deceit the only socially acceptable outlook.

  • Karen

    Yep, I’ve got to agree with Cafeeine about Cupp’s atheism being put-on. Here’s something she wrote about Dinesh D’Souza’s new book:

    No offense to a host of respected preachers and theologians (or to my well-meaning father), but Dinesh D’Souza’s newest, “Life After Death” is the most lucid, reasoned and compelling challenge to atheism that this atheist has ever read. D’Souza pulls apart the “We just die” argument with the precision and objectivity of a surgeon, and offers truly satisfying evidence that there is, in fact, a hereafter. It’s a must-read for both believers and skeptics.

    It’s pretty difficult to imagine anyone who has thought at all about why they are an atheist reacting to D’Souza this way. And if she buys his ‘evidence’ for the hereafter, why is she still calling herself an atheist?

    Karen

  • http://atimetorend.wordpress.com atimetorend

    Bravo, I hear accusations like Whitlock’s too often when trying to rationally discuss religious beliefs with a Christian. I resent being told I hate people or think them stupid because they don’t believe what I believe.

  • http://supercheetah.livejournal.com Rene Horn

    I would caution that we should be careful about saying Cupp isn’t an atheist lest we be accused of the “No true Scottsman” fallacy.

    I’m not saying I agree with her. For a lot of things, I don’t, but I don’t think we can say from an external perspective whether she’s an atheist or not.

    That said, Karen, you make a good point about D’Souza with regards to Cupp.

  • Mike

    What should we say about someone who believes in Santa Claus, and takes great care to be nice and behave all year round in order to get a nice present from Santa on Christmas ? Does “delusional” fit ? Yes ? So why not for this other belief, you know… ?

    Depends on the basis for their belief. If they lived in a society where that was the commonly held belief, would “delusional” fit? Perhaps to you. Perspective is not irrelavant.

  • Patrick

    I would caution that we should be careful about saying Cupp isn’t an atheist lest we be accused of the “No true Scottsman” fallacy.

    I don’t think anyone here is using that dodge – but we know that evangelicals will sometimes pretend to be “former atheists” in order to give their story more emotional heft. Plus, we haven’t seen any of her “atheistic” writings yet. (If such is out there, could someone provide a link?). You must admit that it’s a very unusual situation, if it is true. And we are skeptics, by definition. Didn’t see much of that coming from this woman Friday night.

  • J. J. Ramsey

    Christophe Thill:

    What should we say about someone who believes in Santa Claus, and takes great care to be nice and behave all year round in order to get a nice present from Santa on Christmas? Does “delusional” fit?

    If we are talking about the ones who already believe in Santa Claus in real life, namely a lot of little kids, then “delusional” is obviously a misleading term. The kids are being snowed (sorry!) by people they trust who go out of their way to make it look like Santa is real.

  • Kapture

    What should we say about someone who believes in Santa Claus, and takes great care to be nice and behave all year round in order to get a nice present from Santa on Christmas ? Does “delusional” fit ? Yes ? So why not for this other belief, you know… ?

    I would call a grown person who lets belief in Santa influence his behavior eccentric. If I had to describe their behavior at all. It may be delusional, it may even be mental illness, but if their behavior isn’t disruptive, why go out of your way to be pejorative?

  • SmilingAtheist

    Patrick

    Posted this earlier in the thread but obviously got missed. Here’s her website/blog with information on her and her writings. I don’t personally think she’s an atheist. I mean anyone who like Sarah Palin and co. can’t be.

    http://www.redsecupp.com/

    Maybe Hemant can add her website in his post or do a post on her. Everyone keeps saying she’s hot, yeah ok not bad but please she’s not an atheist. I have a hard time believing it. I think she’s playing around personally. She is doing the whole sex appeal thing similar to Palin. Her writing is very apologetic to the Right Wing side. Sure you can have conservative values as an atheist but I could never agree with the tea party or the extreme mindlessness of Palin.

  • me

    “We were also active in the fight for women’s rights. We are active in the fight for marriage equality. (Where are the good Christians in that battle, by the way?)”

    –Really? I know countless Christians who support marriage equality, voted no on 8, and were active in the no on 8 campaign. What’s more, there are several Christian groups dedicate to fighting for marriage equality in California.

    Clearly, it doesn’t take being religious to be delusional, or to make things up.

  • plutosdad

    What should we say about someone who believes in Santa Claus,

    Sadly people have not been exposed to how the bible was written (even people like me who read apologetics, spent years reading lies). Movies like Expelled twist the truth, etc. That’s all people in some parts of the country are exposed to, their schools barely teach evolution, and when they do often teachers tell them it’s all garbage.

    Delusion is belief in spite of facts, so when you never hear the facts but instead are lied to daily by your school and church and other “experts”, it’s not technically delusion – it’s believing what people you trust tell you. If you never hear the facts in the first place then it’s not possible to believe “in spite of” those facts.

    Perhaps it’s like the argument over using “idiotic” in the other thread, christianity may be a delusion, but that doesn’t mean individual christians are delusional, it means they are lied to every day.

    The funny thing about how some say we are all angry, I was not angry with the churches until AFTER I became an atheist. When i could look back at all the apologetics texts and the falsities they printed. Why don’t churches teach the truth instead of lies like “10,000 copies of the new testament”, and the other arguments about the “historicity of Jesus” which don’t hold any water. If they had faith, they would not feel the need to lie, and people who get MDivs from christian seminaries would know just as much as those that get MDivs from the University of Chicago or MIT.

    I mean anyone who like Sarah Palin and co. can’t be.

    Yeah there are no atheist republicans or libertarians. Or if they are they are not “true” atheists, right? The people above who question her professed atheism are doing so based on her statements about god and atheists, not based on her politics.

  • http://www.shadowcircus.com Dave Hasbrouck

    The thing that struck me the most when I was watching Cupp talk is that she seemed to have an incredibly broad definition of what she considered an ‘attack on Christianity.’

    For example, she harped on the fact that a few people in the media criticized the public teaching of Creationism. That, arguably, is a (justified) attack on Creationism, not Christianity itself, as evidenced by the fact that there are many many Christians that AGREE with us with regard to that stance.

    Cupp also stated that Obama’s claiming to be Christian ‘confused her’, since he halted the National Day of Prayer. She seems unable to see that somebody could be Christian, and yet still find that the National day of Prayer was unconstitutional. (In fact, I’d guess that many Christians wouldn’t WANT the government to tell them when they think it’s appropriate to pray. After all, the Bible itself states that prayer should be a private matter.)

    In short, it seemed to me that Cupp considered ‘attacks on Christianity’ to mean ‘criticism of any ideas that happen to be held by Christians, even if it’s Christians doing the criticizing.’

  • Marsha in TN

    Conservative atheist? That’s an oxymoron like gay republican. It makes no sense. You are wanting to be in club that thinks you are an abomination. How does that work? It doesn’t. Not yet, anyway.

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    From Cupp’s web site:

    S.E.’s Favorite Thinkers and Doers:

    * Sean Hannity
    * KT McFarland
    * Paul Vallely
    * Charles Krauthammer
    * Tucker Carlson
    * Pete Hegseth
    * Jonah Goldberg
    * Dinesh D’Souza
    * Newt Gingrich

    Yeah. She’s an atheist? I don’t buy it for a second.

  • Aj

    Atheists don’t accuse each other of being “mad at God”, Christians accuse atheists of that. It makes as much sense as claiming you’re “mad at Harry Potter”. That’s the mistake Lee Strobel made when Hemant interviewed him. It’s a phrase with a sentiment of a belief in God. It’s a Christian mythology, that there are no real atheists, only those that are angry with God.

    Deluded in common language means mistaken or unfounded. You can be an atheist and not think theists are deluded. You can’t be an atheist who has considered the evidence and taken a rational position and not think theists are deluded. Psychologists have another definition that is useful to them, one with caveats that seem politically motivated.

    S.E. Cupp claims to be studying for a Masters in Religious Studies but she doesn’t know what an allegory is. Perhaps she thinks that “atheist” means not going to church or something. You have to be pretty thick to find Dinesh D’Souza compelling when it comes to his religious apologetics or even more absurdly call Sean Hannity your hero.

  • trixr4kids

    I agree with the folks here who think that “delusional” was the wrong word to use.

    I found Whitlock’s comments moving:

    “…will Maher attack my grandmother’s faith?

    “It was her belief in Christ that allowed her to move emotionally and mentally beyond the racist atrocities her family endured living in the South.”

    It’s possible that sometimes life is so painful and isolating that people need “delusions” of one kind or another to survive. It’s an emotional need, not a rational one. If everybody hates you, you may need to believe in a supernatural being who loves you, to keep going.

    I don’t have any easy answers. I support plainspoken atheists like Dawkins and PZ Myers. I’m just saying that, well, we also need to be aware that sometimes the comfort religion provides is desperately needed.

    We can offer the awesomeness of reality, the grandeur of the universe, in exchange for comforting fairy tales, which requires education. But we also need to offer human understanding, and show that we are willing to fight for human justice.

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    I agree that the comfort that religion provides can be desperately needed. I just reject the idea that that kind of comfort can only come from religion.

  • fritzy

    Cupp is not stupid or delusional. She has demonstrated that she is indeed very intelligent and knows how to make a name for herself–through cynical dishonesty.

    I don’t believe much of what comes out of her mouth–but what’s important for her success is that the choir she preaches to believes her. She has found a great way to make a name for herself–by writing contrived tea bag tomes to people that are not known for their skepticism. She has a ready-made audience of hungry baby-birds ready for momma bird to regurgitate into their mouths. And to make a name for herself, since there’s already an Ann Coulter in this world, she has a nifty gimick–”hey, she’s an atheist…that thinks like Rick Warren!”

    And no, she’s not an atheist. She let slip “I’m an atheist but not the ‘angry at god’ type” early in the clip. Of course when you’re used to thinking like a fundamentalist, it’s difficult not to blow your cover from time to time. Surprised Mahr didn’t call her on that.

  • http://supercheetah.livejournal.com Rene Horn

    I think the best thing we can do regarding Ms. Cupp is to ignore her until she starts making sense. We don’t need to give her needless attention (I would also say the same thing about Maher).

    Also, @Marsha, there isn’t any good reason to tie atheism to any particular political bent. In fact, some of the things that Christopher Hitchens has said has been considered to be conservative in nature (well, more libertarian, really)[1].

    1. Hitchen’s politics

  • ckitching

    I think the best thing we can do regarding Ms. Cupp is to ignore her until she starts making sense.

    That’s assuming we’re her target audience. We’re not. Her actual target audience is much bigger — those who believe atheists are trying to take over and prohibit god-worship.

    some of the things that Christopher Hitchens has said has been considered to be conservative in nature

    I think most people are calling him conservative entirely based on the fact he supports military action in Iraq, and has been called upon to say bad things about Islam by conservative shows. I’m not sure I’ve seen him express any of his other political views, aside from mentioning that he used to be a Trotskyite.

  • http://supercheetah.livejournal.com Rene Horn

    That’s assuming we’re her target audience. We’re not. Her actual target audience is much bigger — those who believe atheists are trying to take over and prohibit god-worship.

    Sure, but we only validate that if they realize we’re paying attention. If we don’t pay attention to her, they too will wonder what her deal is (as Sean Hannity already has when he interviewed her).

    I think most people are calling him conservative entirely based on the fact he supports military action in Iraq, and has been called upon to say bad things about Islam by conservative shows. I’m not sure I’ve seen him express any of his other political views, aside from mentioning that he used to be a Trotskyite.

    He has expressed economic politics that are libertarian/conservative (pro-capitalist) in nature. He’s also not been very nice to many liberals (of course, he’s not that nice to many people except perhaps fellow atheists).

  • TheSlat

    @Dave Hasbrouck-
    exactly right! Every time she opened her mouth I wanted to scream. I can’t believe nobody else called her out on her broad definition of an “attack” on religion. Her definition is so broad it is completely useless. It is like someone who likes crunchy peanut butter accusing me of hating peanut butter because I like it creamy.

    @cafeeine – terrifyingly accurate.

  • james

    I’ve caught her on tape in an interview tripping over herself. When asked where does life come from Cupp said “….im a….im a…evolutionary believer

    Spoken like a true faith head.

    If anyone asked her what the theory of evolution by natural selection is I’d bet my house she couldn’t adequately explain it. If I hooked to up to an fMRI brain scan, it will undoubtedly show she is lying and believes in God. She doesn’t have any good reasons to justify atheism, except for the money she will make of saying she is.

    My problem is not with her siding with conservatives or with Fox news. It’s the deceit. People are also easily fooled.. I’d totally interrogate her if she was on my show.

  • Jason

    It’s no coincidence that the most religious countries produce the most violent terrorists.


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