There’s No Need for Accommodation

I used to think it was ok to be religious as long as you were in support of things like social justice, good science, and church/state separation.

Anyone who’s read this site for a while knows I don’t really feel that way anymore.

I don’t “attack” people who are religious, but I don’t see a need to let that slide anymore even when they agree with me everywhere else.

PZ Myers made this point at the recent Secular Humanism’s Next 30 Years conference in LA.

Religion provides solace to millions, we are told, it makes them happy, and it’s mostly harmless.

“But is it true?”, we ask, as if it matters.

The religious are the majority, we hear over and over again, and we need to be pragmatic and diplomatic in dealing with them.

“But is what they believe true?”, we ask, and “What do we gain by compromising on reality?”

Religion isn’t the problem, they claim, it’s only the extremists and zealots and weirdos. The majority of believers are moderates and even share some values with us.

“But is a moderate superstition true?”, we repeat, and “How can a myth be made more true if its proponents are simply calmer in stating it?”

I mean, it’s nice and all that most Christians aren’t out chanting “God Hates Fags” and are a little embarrassed when some yokel whines that he didn’t come from no monkey, but they still go out and quietly vote against gay and lesbian rights, and they still sit at home while their school boards set fire to good science.

It’s all about the truth, people.

… an honest way of dealing with those lies is to confront them openly, head on, and unapologetically, and while some might rationalize accommodating unjustifiable distortions of the truth as a strategic option, there are a number of us who consider that principle to be one on which we will not compromise.

And even if the religious moderates don’t vote against gay rights and are vocal about getting rid of bad science, they’re still wrong about the god thing. That means we must keep speaking out on that issue.

We don’t have to be jerks when we do it, but we shouldn’t be silent, either.

Jen McCreight put it nicely: “Don’t be a dick, but being a liar is worse.”

When the LA Times covered the conference, they quoted Chris Mooney on the subject:

Mooney said nonbelievers need to pick their fights and to form alliances with religious people who share their views on particular subjects, such as the importance of stem cell research.

Yeah, we can do that.

And while we’re at it, we can still tell Francis Collins that he’s out of his mind when it comes to his Christianity and that it’s disappointing to see such a brilliant mind resort to such a fantasy.

Jerry Coyne also got into the mix at USA Today:

Science and faith are fundamentally incompatible, and for precisely the same reason that irrationality and rationality are incompatible. They are different forms of inquiry, with only one, science, equipped to find real truth. And while they may have a dialogue, it’s not a constructive one. Science helps religion only by disproving its claims, while religion has nothing to add to science.

Science operates by using evidence and reason. Doubt is prized, authority rejected. No finding is deemed “true” — a notion that’s always provisional — unless it’s repeated and verified by others.

… pretending that faith and science are equally valid ways of finding truth not only weakens our concept of truth, it also gives religion an undeserved authority that does the world no good. For it is faith’s certainty that it has a grasp on truth, combined with its inability to actually find it, that produces things such as the oppression of women and gays, opposition to stem cell research and euthanasia, attacks on science, denial of contraception for birth control and AIDS prevention, sexual repression, and of course all those wars, suicide bombings and religious persecutions.

It helps to have a calm, level-headed voice when you make these points. These are not “angry,” “militant” atheists making these claims. They’re gentle atheists who only want the truth.

Just to be clear, no one’s saying you can’t work with religious people or that we should force atheism upon everybody else. People can believe whatever they want. We can just help them realize they’re wrong :)

While a lot of people in my life know me as an atheist, the battle I used to fight involved getting the religious people to agree with me on other issues and finding common ground there.

I don’t have that problem anymore. Instead, a new problem has emerged.

Now, the battle is over when I should bring up religion with people who might agree with me on everything else. Do I fight with my friends over topics like religion? Should I argue with my parents about god’s existence? At least in my own life, no good can come from these things.

But I’m getting more vocal… I’m trying, anyway.

It seems so easy for PZ and Coyne to say these things because people already know them to be anti-accommodation.

It’s a lot harder when you’ve tried to build bridges with religious people and now risk tearing them apart.

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  • gribblethemunchkin

    Hard it may be, but you are in a good position to do it. In your debates, talks and writings you’ve not shied away from critizing faith but you don’t have Dawkins stridency or PZ’s fury. You are in a position to say the things that need to be said and still be likeable, even if the things being said are the same as PZ and Dawkins just put more pleasantly.
    Its amazing what a warm personality can do to soften a message, while still getting that message out there.
    I’ve always thought the talks you give at churches were an excellent idea. Its venues like these that you can use to get the message out and maybe sow a few seeds amongst a congregations more fertile minds.
    Good luck to you in your endeavours.

  • http://littlelioness.net Fiona

    I do like the line “Why should we compromise on reality?”.

  • http://www.redheadedskeptic.com Laura

    I am confused about what you mean. It sounds like you’re saying “It’s okay to be nice to religious people or work with them, but it’s not okay to be religious.” That kind of smacks of the “Love the sinner, hate the sin” principle. I don’t understand how it can not be okay to be religious even if you are working for social justice, but it’s perfectly fine to support religious organizations fighting for social justice, ie, Soulforce. What difference does it make if part of your goal is to show people they’re wrong if you’re supporting them financially or with your time? Am I missing something you wrote?

  • NewEnglandBob

    It is gratifying to see your progression.

  • http://www.youtube.com/aajoeyjo Joe Zamecki

    I see no reason to build bridges with religious people and/or groups. We function together in the same society, but that doesn’t mean we have to surrender on any debate issue, or join them in any effort that includes their banner of religion.

    If they’re wrong, they’re wrong. We don’t need to join the party of the wrong, for any reason.

    Just like they won’t bother to produce or even look for their god, we shouldn’t ever accomodate error. No matter how organized the effort to promote an error, it’s still error.

    Reality won’t budge. Why should we?

  • http://denkeensechtna.blogspot.com Deen

    It’s a lot harder when you’ve tried to build bridges with religious people and now risk tearing them apart.

    Building a bridge doesn’t mean that you can never mention your differences. If people are tearing apart their end of the bridge when you do bring it up, then the problem is with them, not with you.

    So yes, let’s build bridges. But if the toll consists of us staying quiet, why would we want cross them?

  • http://intwaste.blogspot.com Dale

    I will have to agree with you on this one. I read PZ and Jen’s posts regarding these issues, yesterday and had to agree with them on the general statements. But, like you, it is one thing to openly raise your opinions in a public forum. But when dealing with family on the issue when you agree with them on all the fundamental issues of society, with the one exception being religion. That makes some things more difficult. It is hard to burn bridges with friends and family. My current approach is to live by example.

    Maybe I will get more outspoken and direct later on.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    Many Christians are upset that their religious views are ridiculed by unbelievers. I say that they shouldn’t hold such ridiculous beliefs.

    Of course there is a huge difference between attacking view that you disagree with and pointing out that their beliefs are not based on evidence and attacking them as people. There are kind, considerate, intelligent, charitable, honest believers who don’t deserve a personal attack. Their beliefs are fair game though, just as their political views or favourite sports team are fair game. There should be no special privilege just because they believe in gods.

  • J. J. Ramsey

    we can still tell Francis Collins that he’s out of his mind when it comes to his Christianity

    If you want to insist on reality, you can tell Francis Collins that he is incorrect when it comes to his Christianity. If you are saying that he is “out of his mind,” you are implying something along the lines of mental illness or fanaticism, and that’s a distortion of reality.

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

    Well, when someone is convinced of the reality of the Christian trinity because he saw a frozen waterfall that was split into three streams, that’s not much different from someone becoming convinced of the reality of the Illuminati because they saw a black helicopter flying around… and I’d say that that guy is out of his mind.

  • Valhar2000

    Laura said:

    That kind of smacks of the “Love the sinner, hate the sin” principle.

    And so it should. The problem with that doctrine is not that it is immoral, or nonsensical, it is that it is not applied by the people who most insist they are applying it. Ted Haggard, Phyllis Schlafy, Laurie Higgins and other like them do not “love the sinner”. They hate the “sin”, and they hate the “sinner” with a burning fiery passion that has no equal. When they bleat otherwise they are lying, and doing a laughable job of it.

    If there are people who claim to “love the sinner, hate the sin” and actually do that, those people are an entirely different can of beans. Still incorrect when it comes to religion, but not hypocrites like the aforementioned gang of kooks.

  • R9

    “And even if the religious moderates don’t vote against gay rights and are vocal about getting rid of bad science, they’re still wrong about the god thing. That means we must keep speaking out on that issue.”

    “Must” to improve the world? Or their lives? Or for our sense of self-satisfaction?

  • CP

    How nice to know that atheists function under the same rules as fundamentalist Christians. Evangelical atheists are some of the most annoying people if only because they deny that they are evangelical.

  • http://www.jen-hancock.com Jennifer Hancock

    I think we need both sorts. Accomodationists and aggressive atheism. Both tactics are needed for us to move forward. Some people are naturally accommodating and some are naturally more aggressive, so it all works out in the end. Both chores get done. Accommodationists should not be complaining about the aggressives just because their tactics are different. And aggressives should not be angry that accomodationists aren’t adopting their approach. Both are necessary for us to move both our social and philosophical agenda forward.

  • Claudia

    they’re still wrong about the god thing. That means we must keep speaking out on that issue.

    I see the issue slightly differently. It’s not that we have to keep speaking out merely because the god thing is wrong. In the absence of concrete issues (say, with a deist god) whether you are right or wrong about god is no more important than whether you are right or wrong that your favored sports team is “the best”.

    It’s not the non-existence of god that’s the problem, it’s the elevation of faith as a virtue. Faith is not a virtue, and having it valued, even by benign people of faith, is a problem. The problem is that you can’t argue with faith. You can’t argue with MLK on his faith-based motivations, and you don’t want to. The problem is that you can’t argue with his polar opposite, Osama bin Laden, on his faith-based motivations. Faith, by its very nature, cannot be reasoned with, and hence has enormous destructive potential, especially when societies encourage the idea that faith is a good thing.

    However I do think we should pick our battles, in a practical sense. Sure I don’t agree with a Unitarian theist or a United Church of Christ theist and I don’t think their elevation of faith is helpful, but on the other hand we both have much bigger fish to fry and I think Mormon and Pentacostal threats to my reproductive rights and the rights of GLBT folks are much more imminent, and worth putting aside our other differences to fight together.

  • Anonymous Atheist

    Good post, but I must point out that…

    “I used to think it was ok to be religious as long as you were in support of things like social justice, good science, and church/state separation. Anyone who’s read this site for a while knows I don’t really feel that way anymore.”

    This is a bit interesting/ironic in the context of Hemant’s position in the ‘Foundation Beyond Belief donating to religious groups’ debate.
    http://friendlyatheist.com/2010/10/09/giving-atheist-money-to-a-charity-that-works-with-churches

    (Hemant says: As we’ve pointed out before, we’re not giving money to advance any religious cause. Religious people obviously do good things — secular things — and we support good works. Also, my personal beliefs do not make FBB policy.

  • Jude

    It isn’t good to be afraid of the religious, which I was at my last job where they had the power to make my life miserable if they knew that I’m an atheist. However, to paraphrase the old racist saying, “Some of my best friends are religious.” Well, not my best friends, but many of my relatives are. When I was a teenager, I used to think, “Surely my dad is too intelligent to really be religious; surely my mother doesn’t believe this crap.” I know that my grandmother had an imperfect understanding of the religion she professed to believe in. But eventually I figured out that they belonged to a church for different reasons. Maybe, for my dad, church attendance was tradition and for singing; for my mother, for social status; for my grandmother, it was something that you did if you were a good person–if you didn’t attend church, you were suspect. I learned that it didn’t pay to argue with them about their beliefs. After all, they weren’t *that* stupid–they believed in evolution. Now I argue in favor of the separation of church and state; in favor of science; and in favor of human rights (including gay rights). Those are the issues I find worth arguing about, not religious faith or church attendance.

  • http://www.foundationbeyondbelief.org Dale McGowan

    Great to see this exact question getting so much time. You’re right — there’s no reason whatsoever to hog-tie ourselves on the god question as we build bridges in other areas.

    Unfortunately, spending any amount of time and effort on those bridges too often gets us dumped into the “accommodationist” basket, no matter how much we’ve spoken out against irrational belief. I’ve had more than enough of that myself.

    We need a wordsmith to coin a new term for those of us who see value both in construction and deconstruction. Paging Tim Mills…

  • Hitch

    I think the bridge metaphor is overextended (pun intended).

    If I have a friend with whom I have to follow a law that says “don’t criticize me or risk our friendship”, then who threatened the integrity of the bridge? Because a similar friendship without that law may well have a robust bridge.

    I’m for robust bridges and robust bridge building. Hence I’m for outspoken atheism all the way. Honesty and criticism is not bad. It’s good!

  • Nigel Patel

    I don’t see much point at all in calling believers out over their beliefs. It’s a matter of culture.
    This brings my mind back to the punk days. (Before parents would mohawk their six year olds) I didn’t want the outer culture to validate my culture, that would have ruined it.
    I’m not bothered that theists believe in unprovable things. I have heard adults get into heated discussions about comic book and television characters. Is this any more or less juvenile than theistic belief?
    Honestly I’m having trouble continuing to care about people’s irrational beliefs. Are they any more or less valid than punk or hippie or metal culture were? Any more consequential?
    I’m all for keeping people from legislating their belief in Jesus or Spider-Man or Lemmy from Motorhead but I could care less about the rationality of such a cultural stance.

  • fea24

    I think it depends on what we mean by accommodate. I have start speaking out a lot against “random” phrases that invoke God that are part of our every day language. Things like: “For god’s sake” “Oh, that’s been around since god was a child”, etc.

    My boss makes a lot of statements about god, especially when she is around a pastor who sits on one of our boards. I think it’s inappropriate and I have said to her that I am uncomfortable with the references. Her position is that it isn’t hurting anything and is standard language (which is exactly my point).

    THAT is where I think our fight is. People made fun of feminists for trying to change mailman to mailperson but it was a cause that raised a lot of awareness.

  • Guy G

    “And even if the religious moderates don’t vote against gay rights and are vocal about getting rid of bad science, they’re still wrong about the god thing. That means we must keep speaking out on that issue.”

    “Must” to improve the world? Or their lives? Or for our sense of self-satisfaction?

    My sentiments exactly.

    A general maxim which works for me is “If it’s not doing any harm, then really it’s none of your business”

    I’ve been visiting here for a fair while, and my view on it is that your change in stance has been a negative thing. Your posts are increasingly more mocking and derisory to the religious, which is a shame, IMO. I no longer regularly read anything apart from the “Ask Richard” posts (which are of an extremely high calibre). This used to be a very unique site, but that seems to have changed over the last year :(

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000586562927 muggle

    There’s no need to be hostile. If their stupid imaginary friend is doing no harm and they’re not bringing it up, why do we need to? If they bring it up politely, we should just as politely disagree. If they’re hostile, fight fire with fire and tell them they’re being a dickweed and an idiot.

    But — as you used to notice — there’s simply no argument when they’re not using their religion to harm. Why do you assume the ones who are open and accepting to gays are sneaking quietly off to vote against gay marriage in the voting booth? Sure the ones who say they hate the sin love the sinner are but I’ve known many Christians who are openly accepting of gays without that qualifier and I’m sure they’re not doing so. To assume they are is, frankly, prejudicial. There are denominations who want to marry gays and are prevented to by law. They are most likely voting for gay marriage. While I think evolution pretty much debunks the creation myth of the buybull, I’ve known many Christians who politely disagree with that and are outspoken against creationism in the schools. Do you really think Atheists are in the majority in Dover, PA? Naw, I don’t either. Far as I know, we’re not in the majority anywhere.

    Let me stress, not antagonizing unnecessarily does not mean to actually support religion by giving to their charities, etc. You know my view on that. It does, however, extend to protecting their civil rights. Hell with them, protecting their civil rights is important because it protects ours.

    I’ve got to say, Hemant, I’m really disappointed in this new bitter tone. I’m patient because I realize that you’re in a public position and, hence, more of a target for the nasty type of believer. It’s got to be harder to keep your perspective in that situation. But I’d really hate to see you come what you hate and that’s always what it seems to me when Atheists like Dawkins start with bigoted crap like they’re all delusional and Atheists are smarter, etc. They are every bit as bad as theists who say you’re amoral without gawd. Every fucking bit. There’s a reason why I read your blog every day and not PK’s.

    Let’s not fall into the trap that we condemn so many theists of falling into: that’s it’s okay to follow the leaders into hateful, viral over-genralizations of people who are not like us.

  • Chris

    I can guarantee you believe many things which are untrue. Should we denounce and ridicule those beliefs and stereotype others with similar beliefs?

    Apparently, I “must” keep speaking about this. It is not enough that you are lying to yourself but you are lying to our children too! You tell them that the triangles they draw have angles which sum to 180 degrees, moron. *face palm* They are of course drawn on a curved surface (the Earth… have you been there, idiot?) and so must have internal angles which sum to more than 180 degrees!

    Did you also mention Godel’s theorem to them? I doubt it. So let me tell you… wait… no, you believe some stupid things and so must be some backwards hick who is not worth my time but to ridicule you.

    Hemant’s blog should be shut down lest he spread his platonified mathematical world view with its false assumptions and foolish consequences!

    P.S. – for the rest of you, don’t bother responding to this unless you have a Ph.D. in mathematics – because clearly you are as stupid as Hemant and suffer some gross mental deficiencies.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000586562927 muggle

    @fea24, oh for god’s sake! (muggle rolls eyes) Don’t you think that’s being a bit nit picky? Can I still use goddamn? Although to be honest, I usually do use for fuck’s sake. :)

    And it’s letter carrier, not mail person. At least that’s what the post office now uses per my sister who is one. (Or was last time I spoke to her, which I admit was a long time ago.)

    But the feminist changes are because mailman, fireman implied women couldn’t do the job. So they became letter carrier and firefighter. I don’t think anyone think’s you’re seriously calling on God when using his name in vain!

    Um, don’t be pissed, please. I’m chiding you gently and in good fun. It’s just that I use these phrases like goddamn and Jesus H. Fucking Christ all the time, out of habit. If I believed, I’d be less inclined to.

    I am perhaps a bit too fond of the F word.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000586562927 muggle

    Chris, too funny. But I’m responding because I don’t have any college and never took math past the ninth grade. nyah nyah!

  • Steve

    I can appreciate the “even if it harms no one, they are still wrong and we need to fight for truth” argument on an intellectual level. That’s right in a way. But in practice, I don’t care that much. I think it’s stupid and a waste of time, but if they want to waste their time with stupidity, that’s their right to do.

    All I’m asking is that they stop indoctrinating children, convert adults and try to force the entire society to live by their rules. That has to the be the immediate goal. Getting rid of faith in general can come after that. If, in the process of decreasing religious influence, it’s necessary to attack theological principles itself, then that’s fine, but it’s not done for its own sake.

    However, people also need to be called out when they passively support tyranny and discrimination. It’s possible to believe in a god without buying into all the institutionalized dogma and BS.

  • http://cafeeine.wordpress.com Cafeeine

    “If it’s not doing any harm, then really it’s none of your business”

    Except that ‘harm’ is happening. We have here a mentality whereas the believer is setting the rules, that they will not cooperate, even in common goals with any atheists that are openly critical and vocal against religion, no matter how polite they are about it. Forcing a unilateral ‘wall of silence’ around a subject you’re uncomfortable talking about, and claiming the other guy is at fault when they offer their opinion. I find that to be harmful and a subject worth broaching.

  • AxeGrrl

    muggle wrote:

    I’ve got to say, Hemant, I’m really disappointed in this new bitter tone. I’m patient because I realize that you’re in a public position and, hence, more of a target for the nasty type of believer. It’s got to be harder to keep your perspective in that situation. But I’d really hate to see you come what you hate and that’s always what it seems to me when Atheists like Dawkins start with bigoted crap like they’re all delusional and Atheists are smarter, etc. They are every bit as bad as theists who say you’re amoral without gawd. Every fucking bit. There’s a reason why I read your blog every day and not PK’s.

    I have to say that i agree with this.

    Hemant, one of your best features has always been to disprove the ‘angry atheist’ stereotype…..and your ability to bring people together. I’d hate to see either of those great qualities dissipate.

    I only read PZ’s blog on occasion, because I really can’t tolerate the atmosphere over there. The climate over here has always been more positive and constructive, imo.

  • http://crunchygods.posterous.com Joel Bass

    It sounds as if you’re claiming that religious people, by definition, are bigots and homophobes, and that atheists, by definition, are not. I don’t see how this follows.

    I’m an atheist, but I don’t think that atheism strips people of all their prejudices and unscientific thinking, not at all. “Atheism” means “No theism.” It doesn’t mean you’re a good person, it doesn’t mean you’re a clear thinker, or any of that.

    I can’t stand the self-righteousness of some religious people, and I am equally repulsed by the self-righteousness of some non-religious people. We all have faults, and I think finding the good in each other is more productive than asserting our supposed superiority.

  • Anonymous

    Daniel Dennett in the NY Daily News, Sam Harris in a week-long Economist debate (“Is religion a force for good?”), Jerry Coyne in USA Today, Dave Silverman from American Atheists on FoxNews.com…

    Somebody pinch me! This is so much new ground!

  • Guy G

    Except that ‘harm’ is happening. We have here a mentality whereas the believer is setting the rules, that they will not cooperate, even in common goals with any atheists that are openly critical and vocal against religion, no matter how polite they are about it.

    If that happens to be the case in some situations (I’ve never come across it, but I have no idea of your situation) then something should be discussed. Almost certainly NOT the fact that god doesn’t exist (“Let’s repair this rift by telling them they’re wrong and we’re right!”). That’s kind of what “If” meant. Unless you’re suggesting that every single religious person is by definition harmful?

  • Angel

    @Chris

    I’ll bet you are a RIOT at parties.
    *snorts*

  • Samiimas

    Dawkins start with bigoted crap like they’re all delusional and Atheists are smarter, etc.

    So you don’t think scientologists, people who believe Lord Xenu infected the Earth with Thetans after transporting aliens here on spaceships, are in any way delusional and if someone told you they seriously believed the tenets of Scientology you wouldn’t think them any less intelligent? Since you aren’t a ‘bigot’…

  • R9

    Thanks Guy G. I’m glad to see some people here are on the same wavelength as me. What’s important is fighting religion when it tries to push something harmful on society. Picking on the likes of Unitarians (for example) doesn’t accomplish a lot, and could harm our chances of working together on that important stuff.

    That’s not to say you can never discuss these beliefs over a friendly drink, if invited. Otherwise if people’s crazy stories bring them some kind of comfort and aren’t harming anyone, it’s not worth barging in with BUT IS IT TRUE?!?!

  • Steve

    Dawkins didn’t call it delusion to be insulting or offensive. At the beginning of the book he quotes the dictionary definition of delusion:

    “a false belief or opinion”

    All he is saying is that he thinks religious beliefs are false. Which is what the whole book is about

  • Karmakin

    Like I say all the time. The problem is the privilege.

    Now, I’m one, personally when it comes to religion I’m a “mend not end”-er type person. That is, I don’t want to take away anybodies community or family. I think that’s just harmful and cruel. But that said, I do think that religion can and should change itself into a form that focuses on the positive…the community..and not the negative..the authoritarian/anti-rational mindset.

    The first thing to realize, is that we’re being accused of being rude/bigoted/hateful whatever, for our core principles. The whole idea that we believe that a god, probably does not exist. Everything else? Tone, the way we say it, whatever, it’s all gravy. When we speak our mind, even in the nicest way possible, we’re offending people. There’s no real difference between saying that god does not exist and calling believers delusional. One directly leads to the other. (FWIW I actually don’t think that theyr’e delusional. I think they’re mistaking the feeling of communal catharsis for god..well..sometimes)

    But back to the beginning. The problem is the privilege. And as long as moderate/progressive religious folks make active efforts to stake out that privilege, they’re doing the work of the bad guys. Because that’s the weapon the bad guys use to fight with.

    But in the end, we should keep on doing what we’re doing. Fighting against religious privilege, even by pointing out the bad things that religion does/is, keeping firm in our core principles, and not shutting up, and continuing efforts for our community building, no matter how much it threatens existing religions.

    Now some of us are nice people, some people are jerks. But that’s true with all of us. And quite frankly, no atheist I’ve heard has ever gotten to the “believe or fry in hellfire” level of pure offensiveness IMO.

  • Anonymous

    Apologies: totally off-topic: an update on the Non Sequitur cartoon:

    “Post Style section editor Ned Martel says he decided to yank last Sunday’s “Non Sequitur” strip with a “Where’s Muhammad?” caption because “it seemed a deliberate provocation without a clear message.” Post ombud Andrew Alexander thinks the paper should have run it.”
    http://www.poynter.org/column.asp?id=45&aid=192425

    And now Gawker covers it too:
    http://gawker.com/5661042/cowardly-washington-post-censors-cartoonist-out-of-blind-fear

  • jose

    You shouldn’t care about what PZ or Coyne or Jen or Plait or Dawkins say. You are Hemant.

  • Miko

    they’re still wrong about the god thing. That means we must keep speaking out on that issue.

    Actually, it doesn’t. I bet there are still people out there who think that the sun orbits the Earth, but we don’t feel the need to track them down just so we can explain why they’re wrong.

    At least in my own life, no good can come from these things.

    As Adam Smith put it: “What is prudence in the conduct of every private family can scarce be folly in that of a great kingdom.” If your new strategy can lead to no good in your close relationships, what good do you expect to come from applying it to strangers?

    Sorry, but you’re starting to sound a bit like a fundamentalist.

  • http://www.twitter.com/jalyth Tizzle

    Now, the battle is over when I should bring up religion with people who might agree with me on everything else. Do I fight with my friends over topics like religion? Should I argue with my parents about god’s existence? At least in my own life, no good can come from these things.

    I had some people over the other day, and I found out the one male friend amongst all the women was against abortion (personally). He’s married to my friend, and there are many things I like about him. Would I try to argue him out of this belief of his?

    My parents are quite religious. Would I hurt our tentative relationship by trying to persuade them out of their beliefs?

    Of course not. But accommodation isn’t about the personal. It’s about the political, and the public. I will maintain the bridges I have with individuals, and I will continue to seek out friends who are rational.

    I hope that some of the more blustery people in the online atheist community (I’m thinking of comments, not blog posts) aren’t quite so vitriolic in their real life.

  • Peter

    Hi!
    Hemant, we met briefly at Harvard a few weeks ago; I’m new to this blog, except I’ve been reading the RSS feed for a while.

    Anyway, it seems to me that there is a lot of space between being a jerk and being silent, between “attacking” religion and “letting it slide,” and the best way to situate oneself on this terrain depends on the precise situation…

    I happen to have a lot of churchgoing Christian friends for whom religion simply isn’t “all about the truth.” It’s about community, a shared moral language, even a sort of aesthetic sense of life. (I attend a UU church myself, for much the same reason.) These Christians do support gay rights, the teaching of evolution, all the things we really care about; they know I am an unbeliever and it doesn’t bother them at all; but it just makes them feel better about their lives if they can tell themselves that beyond all the world of scientifically proven fact, there’s a spiritual dimension of some kind; hardly anything specific enough to qualify as a “delusion” really. I toy with such notions myself, in a purely speculative vein; just as I am an avid reader of science fiction.

    I grant that sometimes “moderate” religion can enable the more extreme kind; for instance, many free-thinking tolerant Muslims have gotten themselves into trouble because they’ve blindly gone along with religious education in the public schools of their countries, and all of a sudden their kids come home from school and denounce them for not being good Muslims, and go off and become Jihadis. But that is not always the case; the liberal Christians I know support secular education, bring their kids up to be as tolerant as anyone, and regularly denounce religious authoritarianism, hatred, intolerance, and stupid public policies as loudly as any atheist can. So what’s to be gained by arguing with their “beliefs,” which hardly rise to the level of real truth-claims anyway?

  • Hitch

    We still have massive asymmetry. If a believer says that if you do not embrace Jesus as your personal savior you go to hell.

    Saying that is fine.

    But to say that Jesus was either a mortal man or never existed is insensitive and in your face.

    I think the compass that measures what is normal and what is out and out is wrong.

    And we do need a few people who are willing to try to bend the dial, even if it is misunderstood and labeled as aggressive and abrasive.

  • Robert

    So if as atheists you guys are claiming to know the truth and reality, would someone please tell that to Bill Maher who claims that atheists are simply claiming that they don’t know.

    From what I have seen on this blog, it is obvious hat most atheists fall into the category of we know and you that belief in God are all idiots and delusional. Hardly a way to build a bridge.

    Although I have found Hemant to be more balanced and at least open to the idea of working together for the common good, by this post that maybe coming to an end. I would hate to see that happen.

    I understand that most of you view Dawkins and the other radical atheists as your flagbears, but they are really not helping your cause with us Christians. It just causes more polarization. As much as the God hates Fags folks from our side.

  • Samiimas

    Yes we know Robert, us atheists would be so much more successful at spreading our message if we shut the hell up and never challenged anything a christian said or did.

    Could you tell us about a ‘polite’ atheist who has managed to become anywhere near as famous and influential as those ‘radicals’ like Dawkins? Since it’s such a successful strategy their must be plenty of ‘polite’ atheists who are just as well known as them and have accomplished just as much.

    PS: By ‘those god hates fag folks’ do you mean the majority of Christians who hate gay people and oppose letting us have equal rights? Why are you comparing them to our ‘radicals’ when as far as I know Dawkins has never called for Christian’s rights to be restricted in any way?

  • MH

    The Truth with a capital T is a little more slippery than people like to admit. You attempt to learn it by starting with axioms and working forward to their logical conclusions. But it is always possible that some of your axioms are wrong. So two axioms which seem reasonable to me are:

    The universe is self consistent and doesn’t change its rules from moment to moment.

    For something to be said to exist, it must be objectively verifiable in some way. Even if only indirectly.

    With those axioms a God which works miracles is pretty much out of bounds, so I consider the concept false. But it is possible that God hides evidence of his existence, buries fake dinosaur bones, and change the rates of radio active decay. In that unlikely scenario Ken Ham would actually be correct.

  • fea24

    Muggle-

    I was thinking less of things like goddamnit (which anyway is a sin according to what I was taught so, it is totally acceptable to me). I was thinking of how many times God is referred to in offhand ways that continue to support the notion that we all believe in a God.
    I think we are all very used to it but it’s not uncommon for me to hear things like “from your lips to God’s ears” in the workplace and no one thinks twice about it. I happen to believe that changing day to day language is an important element of social change.

    I’m not saying that I’d go to HR to file a claim of harrassment but I think that inclusive language is useful and is an issue that should be raised.

  • http://www.correntewire.com chicago dyke

    it’s important to confront friends and families about their incorrect belief. for yourself, and your sense of self-respect- that’s the most important reason. it is completely possible to work together doing good, while aggressively disagreeing about matters of belief. after all, as we all agree here, nothing happens when one “curses” god! so don’t worry about that 😉

    you’re mostly worried about losing friends and family members from your personal and intimate circle of support. well, anyone who chooses belief over you and friendship/fellowship with you probably isn’t worth having in your life. you’re a brave warrior for truth, and that point is a harsh one but still true. because people who will sacrifice you on the altar of belief today will probably f*ck you over in some way later on down the line, professionally or in some other way that truly matters.

    courage is hard. it’s hard to sit at the thanksgiving table and not bow your head in prayer when everyone else does. it’s hard to speak up in the midst of several close friends as they relate their experiences in church last sunday as “uplifting” and “transcendent.” but you still should do that. the bottom line is believers count on our silence. it is our silence that gives them their greatest power.

    i think you already understand this, H. you’re struggling with what it really means for your and your life, and i’ll tell you what i’m telling gay teens contemplating being out or outed and suicide: it gets better. really, it does. i don’t have any believing friends anymore, and you know what? i don’t miss them! or rather, there was this one hawt xtian blonde i dated for a while… heh, nevermind that. 😉 but seriously: all my friends are staunch atheists, and they are the best friends i could ask for! why? because they respect truth. people who respect truth, always, make for much more reliable, interesting, and worthy friends. as for family? well, i’m lucky to have a mostly atheist family. i have one sort of “eastern spiritual” aunt, but she’s comfortable enough not to mind me when i point out i don’t need belief to do yoga. if your family rejects you for not prostrating in belief at family events, you probably didn’t need them in your life anyway. i don’t believe in “sin” as a construct of faith, but i sure as sh*t believe in it when it comes to people who reject their own children because of belief. again with the queer comparison: most queers who have been rejected like this have made new “families” in the queer community. and you know what? not only is it “enough” to have thanksgiving dinner with those new families, it’s better than going home and pretending. same deal with atheism. you’re probably one of the most well known and popular atheists in the country, don’t ever worry you’ll lack for friends and support from your fans.

  • http://s2solutions.us/wordpress Seth Strong

    It’s weird to see this post because I’ve been reading your book and observing how the 2006 you was much more agreeable to religion.

    I’m going a bit of the other way on the spectrum. I don’t think focusing on the truth is a battle I’m willing to have even with science on my side. I am on the side of science and that allegiance speaks for itself. However, I am not science. I’m a person who has to live in a community of different faiths. It sometimes seems to me that by working to increase acceptance for individual statements of faith we can simultaneously open the door for more atheists and Christians (predominant American faith) to focus on issues that really matter.

    Let me reiterate. What matters is science being seen as science, people being seen as people even when non-white, non-straight, non-traditional. What we are seeing in Christianity is a kind of institutionalized privilege that came from having few alternatives. People generally choose among types of Christianity in America. Fight that privilege.

    Don’t get lost along the way by chasing every bit of woo away because not every person is that rational. This is a claim that should be obvious to anyone. I wish they were but they aren’t. The Pagans are not putting Creationism in school. Not even the Muslims are doing that.

    If we can get individual freedoms for people to get in and get out of religions while losing and gaining no social benefits for their state of affairs, we’ll ultimately have benefited everyone. And we may get some help from the faithful along the way.

    Just saying.

    I guess I should add that I am very much an outspoken atheist. It’s where to pick the fight that I work the hardest at figuring out.

  • Richard Wade

    Picking my targets does not mean I’m accommodating the targets I pass by. Saving my limited time and energy for where I’ll have the greatest effect is not being negligent to the general effort of promoting rationalism.

    Standing up to a creationist on a school board, but leaving my aging uncle Charlie alone at a family reunion while he babbles about monkeys to politely nodding, placating aunts is not giving a blanket free pass to religious beliefs.

    Debating religion with a college student while sitting on a bench in a tree-covered campus, but choosing to not walk uninvited up to a six-foot-tall, 250 pound, slightly drunk goon with an ichthus on his t-shirt at a tailgate party to tell him my unsolicited opinion that his religion is destructive nonsense is not being egregiously inconsistent or hypocritical.

    I applaud Hemant’s growth, allowing his priorities to shift as he matures, and allowing his efforts to broaden as he becomes more skilled with his ability to persuade.

    I think he will continue to practice a wise balance of principles and pragmatics in his increased interactions with people, using his sensitivity, tact, courtesy and discretion to skillfully guide, but not mute his message.

    I wish I had his energy and his courage.

  • Robert

    Samiimas,

    I can tell you that the effect for most Christians when they hear Dawkins, Hitchens or Maher is that it fortifies the stereotype that Atheists are smug, arrogant jerks. If that is what you call success, then so be it, but I doubt that this is what you want to portray.

    There is alot to be said for being able to agree to disagree and to have a rational discourse. There is also alot of good that comes out of setting aside our differences in philosophy and work for the common good.

    I used the example that I read alot on this site about how intolerant Christians are when I mention the God hates fags folks. There are alot of Christians who disagree with them yet they are looked at as examples of how all Christians behave.

    As for Hitchens and Harris not being dangerous, I think both of them calling for a first nuclear strike on Islam nations is pretty scary. Calling for the destruction of millions of people in the name of science and reason doesn’t advance your cause.

  • Don Rose

    Screw bridges. Screw religion.

    By being tolerant for so long, we’ve been enablers. Religious people have a mental issue, period. Just like alcoholics or drug addicts, they have a habit which needs treatment.

    We’ve paid a heavy price for the widespread mental illness of religion. It’s in our politics, on our money, and many other places where it doesn’t belong. It belongs in asylums.

    Any believer who wishes to debate, or flame, is wasting their time. Based on your religious beliefs, anything you say has been rendered invalid, due to the lack of proper brain function.

    Attack science if you want, but I’m not a scientist, and do not believe in everything science has to say either (most scientists don’t agree 100% on all of their theories either, but at least they admit when they’re wrong, and constantly work toward better answers).

    If you explain everything you don’t understand by giving credit to a magic ghost…… get some help, and save your incoherant superstitious myth-babble for your therapist.

    There’s not much difference between the Westboro Baptist Church members, and any other religious person. Take away the offensive signs, and the yelling, and you’ve got the same crazy beliefs.

  • anne

    Hemant, I like your tagline: The Friendly Atheist. It reaches out across the wastelands of intellectual abandonment to shared values. I think those shared values are incredibly important. I bitterly regret those things that are not shared, but we have to start somewhere. And we have to live together. And (some of us believe) we have to progress.

    So my plea sounds like a sad “Can’t we all get along?” Well, yes, we can, to a large extent. Polarising opinions aint going to help that any. We’re all in this together, and we have to get along, like it or not. That God thing (so long as He’s not telling anyone to do something stupid) seems to be a side issue.

  • Samiimas

    So let me see if we agree on the following facts Robert:

    1. The worst example of ‘radical athiests’ you can find is Dawkins and company being rude and offensive.

    2. That the majority of Christians are trying to take away my rights, something you admit Dawkins and the rest haven’t tried to do to you. That no famous atheist or influential atheist group is trying to take rights away from you.

    I’d also love an actual link to them ‘advocating a nuclear strike’ and for you to answer my initial question about naming a ‘polite’ atheist who’s accomplished as much as Dawkins.

  • Robert

    Samiimas,

    Take away what rights? If you are talking about Gay marriage, that is not a right that is being taken away. It is a right those that advocate it are trying to get.

    Radical atheists are trying to change the very fabric of our country in the name of them not being offended.

    As for the link

    http://www.alternet.org/rights/80449/?page=3

  • Rieux

    Take away what rights?

    Are you serious?

    Were you asleep when Californians passed Proposition 8, which took away gay people’s right to marry? Did you look the other way when the residents of Maine voted to repeal that state’s marriage equality statute, taking away civil marriage from gays? Are you utterly ignorant of efforts all over the country to prevent gay couples from adopting children? Or to invalidate anti-discrimination laws that protect GLBTs?

    You demonstrate shocking ignorance of the manner in which the majority you belong to has acted to take away minorities’—especially GLBTs’—rights.

    More broadly, you simply don’t bother to notice the overwhelming power and privilege you enjoy as a member of a majority religion. Your majority has brutally abused both atheists and GLBTs for centuries—and now you whine that it is our responsibility to take your oversensitivity about your hothouse-flower beliefs seriously?

    To hell with that. We have been pushed around and abused by you and yours for far too long. You will not be satisfied until your inferiors are silent as well as hated. Too bad.

    You think Christians, upon hearing Dawkins, Hitchens and company, do nothing but conclude that we lowly heathens are big meanies? Well, you’re wrong, actually; hundreds if not thousands of Christians (such as these) have deconverted upon having the errors of their ways shown to them by atheists. But even if you were right, so what? It is not the duty of the powerless to kiss the powerful’s asses. We won’t be silent just because that would make you more conceitedly comfortable.

  • Samiimas

    “What will we do if an Islamist regime, which grows dewy-eyed at the mere mention of paradise, ever acquires long-range nuclear weaponry?” Harris asks. “If history is any guide, we will not be sure about where the offending warheads are or what their state of readiness is, and so we will be unable to rely on targeted, conventional weapons to destroy them. In such a situation, the only thing likely to ensure our survival may be a nuclear first strike of our own.

    Needless to say, this would be an unthinkable crime — as it would kill tens of millions of innocent civilians in a single day — but it may be the only course of action available to us, given what Islamists believe.”

    So he believes if an islamist regime *AKA: Iran* Got nulcear weapons we might need to nuke them first. Weren’t you whining about us not building bridges? Theirs few atheist republicans and it’s nice to see Harris adopting one of the GOP stances, they might see we have something in common.

    Radical atheists are trying to change the very fabric of our country in the name of them not being offended.

    Name a single way atheists are trying to restrict anyone’s civil rights. Name one single way or stop claiming crap like this.

  • Guy G

    naming a ‘polite’ atheist who’s accomplished as much as Dawkins.

    This wasn’t directed at me, but Bertrand Russell would pretty much fit the bill here.

  • Robert

    I never said atheists were taking our rights away. I said they were trying to change the fabric of our country because they are offended. That is how they removed prayer from schools, how they are trying to remove “In god we Trust” from our money, how they had The Ten Commandments removed from courthouses and are trying to remove them from the Supreme Court building, how they are trying to rewrite our history on how this country was founded. The list goes on.

  • http://www.butterfliesandwheels.org Ophelia Benson

    Bertrand Russell? Bertrand Russell was not more “polite” than Dawkins – and Dawkins is not more “rude” than Russell. Both are blunt and unapologetic. That’s not rude (in books and articles and the like – it can be in personal relations, but that’s another matter).

  • p.s.

    This wasn’t directed at me, but Bertrand Russell would pretty much fit the bill here.

    He certainly didn’t pull any punches though:

    “So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence.”

    “If I were granted omnipotence, and millions of years to experiment in, I should not think Man much to boast of as the final result of all my efforts.”

    “There is one very serious defect to my mind in Christ’s moral character, and that is that He believed in hell. I do not myself feel that any person who is really profoundly humane can believe in everlasting punishment.”

    “My own view on religion is that of Lucretius. I regard it as a disease born of fear and as a source of untold misery to the human race. I cannot, however, deny that it has made some contributions to civilization. It helped in early days to fix the calendar, and it caused Egyptian priests to chronicle eclipses with such care that in time they became able to predict them. These two services I am prepared to acknowledge, but I do not know of any others.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000586562927 muggle

    Ah, fea24, that makes more sense and clarifies it. That I could work on.

    if someone told you they seriously believed the tenets of Scientology you wouldn’t think them any less intelligent?

    If someone told me that, they brought up the conversation, didn’t they? As I said above, that makes it open to conversation even if they didn’t already know I’m Atheist. As mentioned above, I’d respond in kind. If they were polite, I’d be. If they were loud and argumentative, I’d laugh in their face and tell them they’re fucking nuts. If they were trying to recruit, I’d tell them to fuck off and enjoy the argument that ensued. However, delusional is a pretty strong way to word it unless they’re obviously, well, mentally ill. Would I think them less smart? Maybe. Depends on how well they could discuss.

    Where I get with most theists of any ilk is this: they think I’m mistaken and I think they are. I am one of those “hard” Atheists who dares to say there is no god. I cannot also be labelled Agnostic as I think there is no chance however slim. It’s as likely as the invisible pink unicorn. I do not feel one needs to prove a negative. I no more have to prove there’s no god than I do there’s no Easter Bunny. However, since neither one of us can prove our side, if we’re civil people, we have to agree to disagree. Discussions with believers always comes down to this and that’s understandable.

    Of course, I don’t believe belief is a choice. Either you find a thing credible or you don’t. This may change over a lifetime. It has for me. But at whatever moment, you find a thing credible or you don’t. Since I don’t think it’s a choice, this does make me somewhat more forgiving of those who can’t help but believe but only if they are likewise tolerant and agree to disagree. Anyone who however quietly enacts their religion into law or makes it part of the culture is not likewise tolerant.

    Dawkins didn’t call it delusion to be insulting or offensive. At the beginning of the book he quotes the dictionary definition of delusion

    Steve, if you really think that, you’re delusional. He chose the word for a reason. It was provocative and he knew it.

    Take away the offensive signs, and the yelling, and you’ve got the same crazy beliefs

    Those signs and the vile way the Westboro Baptists, for instance, act make all the damned difference in the world. To equate Christians who don’t do those things with Christians that do is nothing but outright bigotry on your part.

  • Mike

    People can believe whatever they want. We can just help them realize they’re wrong

    See, now you just contradicted yourself…

  • Sigmund

    muggle said:
    “I am one of those “hard” Atheists who dares to say there is no god. I cannot also be labelled Agnostic as I think there is no chance however slim.”
    In that case you are far more strident than Dawkins who doesn’t say he is sure there is no God, merely that the existence of God is highly unlikely. Interestingly the New Atheists, despite the charges made against them, almost all make a qualified claim against the probability of God – in contrast to the Old Atheists like Bertrand Russell who was prone to say there is definitely no God.

  • Greg

    I am not a particularly “religious” person, but I must say that most of you guys simply amaze me with your vitrolent.

    What mental gymnastics and self deciet it must take to make your claim of atheist superiority.

    The I’m superior because I saw the “light” club of hate.

    The we must erradicate religion because it is so destructive, oh so like the final solution, kind of hate.

    The reams and reams and blogs and bogs and subject after subject available for members of this giant hate club, available for all of you to spew about how stupid anyone religious is and how superior you are kind of hate.

    Friendly atheist, my arse. Hateful atheist would be more accurate.

    Let’s face it, you” knew” age atheists enjoy your club of superiority and bolster your esteem by bashing the other portion of the human population that you in your own mind perceive as the inferior portion, worthy only of your loathing and hate.

    You are no different than the KKK or Gerrman Nazi’s, other than in this day and age, somehow it is ok, politically correct to hate, under the guise of being atheist.

  • http://hopelessly-romantic-cynic.tumblr.com/ Erica

    Here’s the thing: I’m becoming increasingly agnostic, but even when I was most fervent in my belief in a Christian God, I never did much converting. I didn’t believe in trampling on someone else’s beliefs unless that person tried to force their beliefs on me or their beliefs were hateful.
    I feel the same way about devout theists now. I speak out for the rights of homosexuals and against all forms of bigotry, and if they tried to argue with me, I’d tell them they were wrong & encouraging discrimination. But I’m not going to call them delusional just because they believe in something I just don’t believe in anymore.
    And here’s another thing: yes, the word “delusional” has a very straightfoward definition, but it has unsavory connatations. You must look at the connatations of a word. They’re not going to hear, “Your beliefs are unfounded by facts,” they’re going to hear, “You’re crazy and stupid and probably believe that Jesus rode dinosaurs–did you maybe do LSD in your teens?” You’ve shut down conversation because you didn’t tread lighter with your wording.
    If someone is an ally–and there are Christians who allies to the LGBT rights movement, who believe loving those different from them is more important than telling them how wrong they are–you should be able to talk with them, but also realize that getting hostile & ridiculing them is not going to help your alliance. Yes, religion is not shut off to ridicule, but it’s not exactly a positive way to deal with people who are supportive of everything you believe except this one point. Is it really so important to show that there isn’t a god that you would risk damaging what’s been built? I believe there is a difference between respecting someone’s beliefs and a “wall of silence.” Now if someone is not an ally to social justice & is being openly hostile & refuses to see another point of view, sometimes the only way to deal with them is show them how ridiculous they are, but this is used in only the most extreme cases.
    Think of it in opposite terms: do you appreciate it when Christians (or other religious groups) tell you that you are going to Hell because you don’t believe in their God? You don’t? It pisses you off? Well, I read once on this blog that, unless you would be ok with someone using the same line of reasoning, your logic is flawed. It doesn’t matter that they’re wrong–they think you’re wrong too. Does that give them the right to correct you? Does that justify their attempts at conversion? If you don’t think it does, that they should respect your belief that there is no God, you must also acknowledge that they have the right to believe in God and you should respect it. Converse, yes, but make sure you don’t reinforce the “angry atheist” stereotype & that you stick with facts over name-calling.

  • Samiimas

    I never said atheists were taking our rights away. I said they were trying to change the fabric of our country because they are offended. That is how they removed prayer from schools, how they are trying to remove “In god we Trust” from our money, how they had The Ten Commandments removed from courthouses and are trying to remove them from the Supreme Court building, how they are trying to rewrite our history on how this country was founded. The list goes on.

    So the ONLY example of these ‘radical’ atheists you can name is them… following the first amendment. This is the part where you either run away from this thread or lie through your teeth and pretend you’d be calling christians ‘radical’ just for asking that this country obey the first fucking amendment.

  • http://hopelessly-romantic-cynic.tumblr.com/ Erica

    Based on your religious beliefs, anything you say has been rendered invalid, due to the lack of proper brain function.

    So, basically you’re saying even if a Christian is right, they’re wrong? Even if they support social justice & believe that proper science should be taught in schools, their opinions have been rendered invalid because they believe in a “magic ghost”? What about people who have contributed great works of art or made other contributions to society and also happened to be religious–would you say that their opinions are invalid because of their beliefs?

    There’s not much difference between the Westboro Baptist Church members, and any other religious person. Take away the offensive signs, and the yelling, and you’ve got the same crazy beliefs.

    Actually, that’s untrue. People believe different things–even people who believe in the Christian God don’t view their god the same way.

    I must say, based on your bigotry, anything you say has been rendered invalid, due to the lack of ability to participate in civil discourse with a person whose opinions do not reflect your own.

  • p.s.

    By being tolerant for so long, we’ve been enablers. Religious people have a mental issue, period. Just like alcoholics or drug addicts, they have a habit which needs treatment.

    Hasn’t there been some scientific work showing that beliefe in a higher power and/or afterlife is somewhat hard wired into our brains as a reaction to stress? So then technically, wouldn’t we be the ones with mental issues? :p

  • Rieux

    Greg:

    You are no different than the KKK or Gerrman Nazi’s, other than in this day and age, somehow it is ok, politically correct to hate, under the guise of being atheist.

    Paging Mr. Godwin… Mr. Godwin, white courtesy phone…. Mr. Godwin to the white courtesy phone….

  • Non-Litigious Atheist

    @Robert: I think this is the inexorable end result of associating with people in atheist organizations year after year.

    Who is most likely to congregate under the banner of atheism? Those who have a bone to pick with religion. Those with a contempt for religion, even. Any “accommodationists” in their ranks would be quickly weeded out by members sending the message “go away, or fall in line”. So only the most “fundamentalist” of atheists attend these sorts of things.

    I think Susan Harkins got it right over at theblaze dot com when she said:

    It is quite clear that some people have no life, and choose to “invent a cause for conflict”. Get over it, folks. This was and is part of our AMERICAN HISTORY. A personal challenge to all libtard, spoiled, disgruntled, activists: Stop with the frivolous ideological lawsuits and find ways to add something positive to America’s history, for a change! It is easier to burn down a house than to build one. Choose the latter, and build your namesake in a constructive way.

    Can I get an Amen?

  • Aj

    Erica,

    Think of it in opposite terms: do you appreciate it when Christians (or other religious groups) tell you that you are going to Hell because you don’t believe in their God? You don’t? It pisses you off? Well, I read once on this blog that, unless you would be ok with someone using the same line of reasoning, your logic is flawed. It doesn’t matter that they’re wrong–they think you’re wrong too. Does that give them the right to correct you? Does that justify their attempts at conversion? If you don’t think it does, that they should respect your belief that there is no God, you must also acknowledge that they have the right to believe in God and you should respect it. Converse, yes, but make sure you don’t reinforce the “angry atheist” stereotype & that you stick with facts over name-calling.

    I don’t appreciate Christians telling me I’m going to Hell because they’re wrong. It does matter that they’re wrong, what they think doesn’t matter, because they’re wrong. Following this line of reasoning, they shouldn’t say I’m going to hell because they’re wrong. Their attempts at conversion aren’t justified, because their beliefs aren’t justified, because they’re wrong. They’re wrong because their beliefs are based on faith, they’re not justified, it’s unlikely that their beliefs are true. Truth is not a democracy, it doesn’t matter what they think.

    Not many atheists have a belief in the non-existence of gods, or specifically the God of other people, they simply lack belief in such thing. Beliefs should not be respected, beliefs are not worthy of respect, especially beliefs based on faith. Respecting the right of people to hold beliefs doesn’t mean you can’t tell them they’re wrong.

    Yes, religion is not shut off to ridicule, but it’s not exactly a positive way to deal with people who are supportive of everything you believe except this one point. Is it really so important to show that there isn’t a god that you would risk damaging what’s been built?

    It’s not one point, they are not supportive of everything I believe. If they’re Christian, Muslim, or Jewish at a minimum they believe in revelation, in knowledge through authority, in the supernatural, that they can speak for God, that they can know the mind of God, that miracles happen, and that there is an afterlife. They do not attempt to base their beliefs on reason or evidence. In a recent example of liberal religious people working for LGBT rights I found out they claim: suffering is redemptive, and you can only be free if you accept a loving creator, amongst other nonsense. Liberal religious people can also believe in harmful nonsense, New Age and alt-med bullshit usually comes from liberals.

  • Robert

    Samiimas

    I don’t run away from anything, particularly a discourse with someone who thinks that throwing around the f word makes for a clever argument.

    And yes I do believe that Atheists are trying to destroy the fabric of our country. The examples I gave you are just a few examples of how that is being tried. some of what you see from some on this blog (including the attitude you are expressing) is another way-the attitude that those that believe in God are mentally flawed.

    The only example you can give of atheists’ rights being taken away is the idea of gay marriage. Since when are all gay people who want to get married atheists.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    Robert

    I never said atheists were taking our rights away. I said they were trying to change the fabric of our country because they are offended. That is how they removed prayer from schools, how they are trying to remove “In god we Trust” from our money, how they had The Ten Commandments removed from courthouses and are trying to remove them from the Supreme Court building, how they are trying to rewrite our history on how this country was founded. The list goes on.

    I’m not an American. I haven’t been taught the Constitution during my school years. I haven’t been raised with an understanding of what the various amendments mean. However the First Amendment is what keeps the state from having prayer in schools. It is what should have kept God off your currency. It is what should keep Scripture out of your courts and away from your legal system. Your history though isn’t so protected. Look at how it was founded. Look at the founding fathers. Look at who they were and their own attitudes to religion. They were the ones who insisted that the state and church be separate in order to protect both.

    Honestly, this is your law and your history. Aren’t you supposed to know it?

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    Robert,

    All I want is for the atheist movement to advance to the point where it raises no more eyebrows to say that you are an atheist as it does to say that you are a Methodist.

    Once we get to that point, then we can all have a level playing field and exchange of ideas.

    As for the fabric of the country, was it destroyed before “under god” was added to the pledge? What about before “in god we trust” was added to the currency?

    The only thing that is being destroyed is the prejudicial attitude towards atheists that they are somehow sub-human. I’m sorry, but the religious community is just going to have to get used to atheists being around and being present at the table.

  • Samiimas

    The only example you can give of atheists’ rights being taken away is the idea of gay marriage. Since when are all gay people who want to get married atheists.

    I was pointing out that you cannot name one example of any atheists trying to restrict anyone’s rights while Christians do it every fucking day without you whining about them. That you declare atheists’ radical’ just for wanting the first amendment enforced yet don’t see anything ‘radical’ about Christians taking my rights away and you would never call them ‘radical’ for not wanting “GOD DOESN’T EXIST” written on all their money.

    Because you have an enormous double standard.

    some of what you see from some on this blog (including the attitude you are expressing) is another way-the attitude that those that believe in God are mentally flawed.

    Answer this question, yes or no answers only:

    If someone claimed they seriously believed in the tenets of Scientology, Lord Xenu seeding the Earth with thetans by killing aliens brought here on spaceships, would it make you think less of their intelligence?

    Remember, yes or no answers only.

  • Robert

    Hoverfrog,

    Our country was founded on Christian principles. Atheists don’t like it and want to rewrite our history, but the founding fathers were Christian. Jefferson and Franklin were diests if not out Christians, but the remaining founding fathers were unapologeticly Christian. The people who selected them to be their delegates were overwhelming Christian and the communities they lived in were predominately Christian. To say that the founding fathers were not Christian is an attempt to change history.

    The First Amendment protects religious freedom by prohibiting the state from setting up a religion. It allows people to practice their religion freely. It also allows people to be atheists and not practice a religion.

    Jeff- I agree that is there was true tolerance, eyebrows would not be raised in either direction. However, that is clearly not the case. Christians need to be more loving in their treatment of Atheists for sure. No denying that. However, it is also evident that the new form of radical atheists are not content with allowing others to believe the way they do. They are bent on not only removing religion from the public square, but on degrading and demeaning anyone who believes. That is exactly what this topic is talking about.

    Samiimas- No. You are confusing intelligence and a mental flaw. If someone believed in Scientology, that is no test of their intelligence. For example, John Travolta is a strong believer in Scientology, yet he has multiple pilots licenses and is clearly a very good business man. Hardly someone who isn’t intelligent.

    And by the way, you are proving my point with your question and its implications. It is part of the new game plan for atheists to not simply be content with keeping religion out of the public square, but to destroy is completely by mocking those that believe.

  • Edwords

    No more Mr. Nice Guy!

    (I’m not taking out the garbage!)

  • p.s.

    Our country was founded on Christian principles. Atheists don’t like it and want to rewrite our history, but the founding fathers were Christian. Jefferson and Franklin were diests if not out Christians, but the remaining founding fathers were unapologeticly Christian. The people who selected them to be their delegates were overwhelming Christian and the communities they lived in were predominately Christian. To say that the founding fathers were not Christian is an attempt to change history.

    I am so tired of this argument. Just because they were christians doesn’t mean they thought christianity should rule the government. They may have personally trusted god, but they believed that a secular government was the best chance at maintaining personal liberties. We are not obligated to go to church to be good citizens.
    To summarize: Yes they were christian, but who really gives a poop?
    Would you vote for someone just because they were christian? I’m genuinely curious, since it seems like you feel christianity should have such a strong place in government.

    It is part of the new game plan for atheists to not simply be content with keeping religion out of the public square, but to destroy is completely by mocking those that believe.

    since when does mockery destroy anything? Censorship may be somewhat successful at blocking ideas, but we aren’t trying to censor the religious or any religious ideas. we just want them out of our secular institutions.

  • Richard Wade

    Robert, I’m confused about some things you are saying. First you say,

    Our country was founded on Christian principles.

    Then you say,

    Jefferson and Franklin were diests if not out Christians, but the remaining founding fathers were unapologeticly Christian. The people who selected them to be their delegates were overwhelming Christian and the communities they lived in were predominately Christian.

    IF those two statements are correct, then how can your next statement be correct?

    The First Amendment protects religious freedom by prohibiting the state from setting up a religion. It allows people to practice their religion freely. It also allows people to be atheists and not practice a religion.

    Funny, I can’t remember anything in the Bible where it says that people should be free to worship as they choose, or free to not worship at all. I can remember a lot of stuff about killing anyone who worships gods other than the one the Bible promotes, and killing anyone who doesn’t worship at all.

    So, how is freedom of and from religion a “Christian principle?” It seems to me that the overriding principle in the Bible is “Christianity or death.”

    Did all those “Christian” founding fathers screw up when they adopted the First Amendment? How come the one major Constitutional precept addressing religion goes directly against so much in the Bible, and doesn’t require Christianity just the way the Bible does, if this is a nation “based on Christian principles”?

    These aren’t rhetorical questions. I’d really like for you to help me understand.

  • Samiimas

    but to destroy is completely by mocking those that believe.

    And we got to the heart of the issue. You don’t like us mocking your beliefs. What’s wrong with that? I wanna be a comedian someday and I won’t have a career if it suddenly becomes wrong to mock things. I don’t see the problem when Christians mock other religions exactly as much as atheists do.

    You’ve already admitted the most ‘radical’ atheists you can find are Dawkins and friends who’s actions against theists have so far consisted of writing a bunch of books and speaking at conventions. You’ve admitted their are no atheists trying to take away anyone’s rights or force their beliefs on people in anyway, except for ‘mocking’ them.

    I wish that the most ‘radical’ Christians out there never did anything but write books and make speeches, I’d have absolutely no problem with them. Instead they force children to pledge allegiance to a nation under their god, put their propaganda on our money,stop evolution from being taught and force children in public schools to pray. *Don’t pretend this last one doesn’t happen, I also had to listen to my teacher rant at us about how stupid atheists are.*

    When Atheists are actually trying to impede your freedom of religion or any other right in any way, which you admit they aren’t, I’ll be defending you. But until then I think you should just man up and deal with the ‘mocking’ like we have to deal with being ‘mocked’ by theists on a regular basis.

    PS: You didn’t even acknowledge my point that you would never, ever, call a Christian ‘radical’ or claim they were forcing their views on anyone if they protested the government putting ‘GOD DOES NOT EXIST’ on all money. Couldn’t think of a dodge like pretending ‘mentally flawed’ is any different from ‘dumb as hell’?

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    Christianity or death

    I think is more accurate to say that the Old Testament portrayed “Worship Yahweh or death”.

    The New Testament basically says “Accept Jesus or burn for eternity”.

    Simple killing isn’t good enough any more.

    We surely don’t want politicians and bureaucrats playing God and acting on any of this “God-like” behavior.

    We also don’t want to live in a system where people are not allowed to think for themselves… where everybody must say and believe certain things. I find even the fairly moderate Episcopal services unsettling when everybody recites verbatim certain creeds and statements of belief. Creepy. I don’t want this going on in the public schools. I also don’t want these statements of belief written in the pubic square.

  • Robert

    Richard,

    I really do like your comments even if i don’t agree with most of them. You are a thoughtful and kind man. To answer your question, I don’t think that the First Amendment is inconsistent at all with the Bible or with the founding fathers’ Christian principles.

    You know that the founding fathers and those that came before them to this country were fleeing state run religions and wanted the freedom to worship as they saw fit. The First Amendment guarantees that right. The effect of freedom of religion is of course not forcing those that don’t believe to engage in that practice. But that does not change the fact that the founding fathers were Christians or that they founded this country on the Christian principles that we were created by God and endowed by Him with certain rights.

    Sammiias- It goes beyond mocking. The idea is to eradicate religion from society for the alleged harm that it does. For example, Hitchens calling raising a child in a religious home child abuse.

    As for your example, when Atheist rule the country and want to put “God Does not Exist” on our money I would call those that speak out against such an action patriots because we are returning to our roots.

  • Samiimas

    It goes beyond mocking. The idea is to eradicate religion from society for the alleged harm that it does.

    They think everyone should be an atheist! How horrible! What an unprecendted desire, wanting to convert all of humanity to your religion. It’s a good thing theirs no theists who think the world would be a better place if everyone converted to their religion, it’s not like they spend millions sending missionaries to every corner of the earth trying to accomplish just that. Imagine a world where anyone but atheists had the nerve to believe they’re right about something and that it’d be better if people agreed with them.

    As for your example, when Atheist rule the country and want to put “God Does not Exist” on our money I would call those that speak out against such an action patriots because we are returning to our roots.

    You already claimed atheists are ‘radicals’ trying to ‘destroy the fabric of this country’ by trying to take ‘IN GOD WE TRUST’ off our money yet claim a christian who did the exact same thing to get rid of ‘GOD DOES NOT EXIST’ would be a patriot. So we both agree you have double standards.

  • Steve

    The founding fathers personally didn’t flee religious persecution. They were first and foremost thinkers steeped in the enlightenment movement. That goes for all of the most influential ones. Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, Madison, Paine… Of those Madison was probably the most religious. The others were deists and borderline atheists. Paine wrote “The Age of Reason” after all. They wanted a secular republic. Not a secular society, but certainly a secular government. Unfortunately, Christians are doing everything they can do undermine that.

    To claim that the US Constitution is based on Christian principles is absurd. Stop claiming it. God isn’t mentioned once in it. Neither are any other religious principles. You don’t understand the Declaration of Independence either. The reference to a creator there is a plainly deistic one, which would have been understood by many people then. It doesn’t refer to a theistic omnipotent, omniscient god. Deistic gods are simply an explanation for how the universe came into being. Nothing more. Their involvement ends right there. Today we have better ideas to explain that, so deism is basically dead.
    Do I have to quote the Treaty of Tripoli btw?

    Also, the first thing in the Bill of Right isn’t freedom of religion. It’s freedom from religion. Ironically, back then Christians actually liked that. Their attempts to insinuate themselves into politics, didn’t start until a bit later. Today it has gotten so bad that Christians scream about freedom of religion when they aren’t allowed to discriminate against people they hate. And when they aren’t allowed to pass laws as they see fit. Never mind that they are supposed to stay out of politics.

    As for eradicating religion. Yes, I’d love that. Religion has been holding mankind back for millennia in a very real sense. it has cost us at least 500 years of scientific progress. It has caused nothing but misery, death and slavery. We would be better off without it. People would be fine with spirituality alone.
    The thing is that atheists are realistic. We know that we can’t get rid of religion altogether. It’s too ingrained into everything and maybe even humanity itself biologically/psychologically.
    So we’ll settle with keeping it out of politics and public life. We only want that people actually follow Jesus and pray alone in their rooms. We are simply tired of people claiming special privileges to not pay taxes, to indoctrinate people, to pass laws, to have a voice in everything, to influence people that don’t even believe in the same things and to not be offended (!). All based on something that’s a choice and not anything that deserves any kind of special protection in the first place.

    And yes, indoctrinating children with religion is a form child abuse if overdone. It screws up minds. That’s not hyperbole. It’s fact. Some religious education is fine, but too often nothing but brainwashing. Raising children with a fear of hell if they misbehave is criminal for example. It can have really bad psychological effects on some people. Effects that take many years to undo.

    If your religion is so wonderful and great and good, then that’s so obvious that they’d believe it anyways when they grow older. When they are old enough to make an informed decision. But since it’s all a gigantic lie, you need to force it on impressionable young minds, or else you couldn’t replenish your numbers.

  • Richard Wade

    Robert, thank you for your gracious and kind words. I appreciate your respectfully trying to help me understand.

    You insist that you “don’t think that the First Amendment is inconsistent at all with the Bible or with the founding fathers’ Christian principles,” but you don’t actually explain. They seem opposite to me, and your just asserting that they are not in conflict does not clear it up for me.

    Are you referring to Christian principles that are not found in the Bible? Is there such a thing?

    Perhaps you could give me some examples of the Christian principles to which you are referring, and tell me exactly where they come from, not just “from God,” but where they are written down in Christian-only texts.

    In order to convince me that the features of our democracy are specifically Christian principles, rather than principles that were used by men who happened to be Christians, I think they’d have to be principles that could only be attributed strictly to Christianity, and not any of several other possible sources, such as the Enlightenment, which I have read greatly influenced thinkers of the time.

    Please, exactly where is anything resembling the idea of freedom of religion to be found in specifically Christian works?

    If a person has an original thought, and he or she happens to be a Christian, that does not necessarily make that original thought a “Christian” thought. What specifically makes a principle a Christian principle rather than simply a principle that may or may not appeal to Christians at a given time in history, in a given part of the world?

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

    Robert –

    Our country was founded on Christian principles.

    This is demonstrably false. Several times during the framing of our Constitution, the idea of inserting Christian language into the document was raised. Every single time, the idea was shot down. Christianity is intentionally absent from the official founding of our country.

    There’s also that sticky bit of the Treaty of Tripoli, written fewer than 10 years after the Constitution, which says that the United States is in no way founded upon the Christian religion.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    Robert I don’t believe that I could respond any better than the other posters who are refuting your assertion that America is founded on Christian principles. I would like to ask exactly what Christian principles you believe your nation was founded on? Note that no one is saying that many of the founding fathers weren’t Christian, only that the claim that the nation was founded on Christian principles is false.

    The First Amendment protects religious freedom by prohibiting the state from setting up a religion. It allows people to practice their religion freely. It also allows people to be atheists and not practice a religion.

    Do you agree that this is a good thing? Should the state and church have a wall of separation between them? Should courts be able to put up explicitly Islamic messages for that matter? Should the currency be permitted to contain overtly Hindu comments? Should children in state schools be taught in their science classes that Odin made the world from the frozen bones of a giant? Should Druids be allowed to erect signs on public land at state expense celebrating the winter solstice? Should Buddhists be permitted to block legislation regarding medical research because they belief in reincarnation?

    Why would you think that we see Christianity any differently?

  • Robert

    Let me see if I can respond generally to all who have addressed my comments. First, you cannot separate the reason that people came to this country in the beginning nor the Christian faith of the founders from the country they formed. You can’t say that the founders who came here to worship as Christians and who were Christians did not found a country based upon the principles they held dear. They clearly did not divorce their beliefs when they founded this country. In fact just the opposite is true.

    The colonies who sent delegates already had founding documents that formed the basis for the constitution. These documents clearly referenced God- God in South Carolina, the Almighty in North Carolina, the savior and Lord in Connecticut, The Governor of the Universe in Pennsylvania, etc… Although the Declaration of Independence mentions Creator, there is no doubt that it was referencing the biblical God.

    The idea that our liberty and freedom comes from God, the Biblical God is a Christian principle, that all men have worth and are created equal is a Christian principle. The idea that people should be allowed to worship freely as they see fit is based upon the Christian principle that Jesus taught that neither religion nor the establishment should impede people from worshiping God the Father. The founding Fathers knew this and were clearly basing their notion of how our government should be formed on these principles.

    Quotes from them show it.

    Patrick Henry- This great nation was founded by Christians, not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ

    John Adams- The general principles on which the Fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity

    George Washington- It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible

    James Madison- The future and success of America is not in this Constitution but in the laws of God upon which this Constitution is founded.

    The university of Houston did a study to determine the influence of the Bible on the philosophy of the Founding Fathers. They came up with 15,000 quotes. From these they determined that a little over three thousand were significant. Of those over 60% mentioned the Bible or referred to it as the basis for the point they were making.

    Following the inauguration of George Washington, there was a government sponsored public prayer meeting to commit the new nation to the blessings of the Creator.

    Beyond the founding fathers, the citizens who shaped this country were overwhelmingly Christian. The books that taught the children to read were based upon the Bible, church life was the fabric of society, strong laws based upon moral
    principles derived from the Bible were everywhere, etc… That influence shaped this country for 200 years.

    As for the Tripoli Treaty that text must be taken in context and by itself does not show that this country wasn’t founded on Christian principles. It was directed to a Muslim country to address their concerns.

    Hoverfrog I can see why as an atheist you would not like “In God we Trust” on the money or mention of the Ten Commandments on the Supreme Court building. But I don’t see that as the same thing as the state establishing a religion. It is acknowledging the foundation of this country and the principles upon which it was founded.

    If I didn’t address something expressly, it was because this was too long already.

  • Robert

    Steve, you have proven my point. The new breed of atheists are not satisfied with allowing others to practice their religion. They want it eradicated entirely. The fact that they are using the first Amendment to do that is hypocritical and ironic.

  • Samiimas

    Hoverfrog I can see why as an atheist you would not like “In God we Trust” on the money or mention of the Ten Commandments on the Supreme Court building. But I don’t see that as the same thing as the state establishing a religion.

    I like that Robert’s basically admitted his real problem with us atheists isn’t that we’re rude or mocking, its that we’re challenging his privileged place in society and he doesn’t like the thought of the government not kissing his ass. too bad robert.

    The First amendment makes it clear ‘IN GOD WE TRUST’ is an endorsement of a religion and a violation of the constitution.

  • Steve

    Again, you completely miss any point made. Not all atheists are alike. Some people compare organizing atheists to herding cats. Atheists are very opinionated and independent. All that they have in common is that they don’t believe in god(s). There is some overlap in the reasons, but that’s as far as it goes. There is no official agenda or anything. There are great differences in their ideas and goals. Many don’t even have any goals as such.

    Not everyone wants to get rid of religion. We just want it limited. And those who’d actually like to get rid of religion, realize that this is simply impossible. How would anyone go about abolishing religion? It simply can’t be done. Not even dictatorships managed to do it. So discussing it is really pointless.

    Also, when I say “religion”, I mostly mean organized religion. That’s why I contrasted it with spirituality. If people want to believe in a god, go ahead. Just keep it out of public life. It’s as simple as that.

    I won’t even discuss the founding of the US with you. Your “arguments are a completely contradiction of history, fact and reality. You quote some things with the word “god” in them, but you don’t examine their definition of god. It’s not always the Christian one (especially when they say “creator”).
    You completely sidestepped the arguments raised. Nothing of what you said proves anything. Yes, society was Christian. Yes, some of the leaders were nominally Christians. As said above, that doesn’t mean that they were guided by Christian principles. You were asked to show exactly which passages in the Constitution are based solely on biblical principles. You can’t do that, because none are. So you come up with some vague generalities.

    That’s also evident in the Courts’ defense of things like “In God We Trust” and the Pledge of Allegiance. They can’t say that it’s a Christian nation and they know that doing so officially would be unconstitutional. The only way they managed to uphold the stuff is by saying that it’s “ceremonial deism”. They say “It’s not really Christian as such, but we go so used it it that people say it without meaning it”. Very weak.

    Aside from that, it’s impossible to discuss anything with you. What’s the point, really? It’s like talking to a wall.

  • Robert

    Steve, I did not start this discussion by saying that all atheists want to see the eradication of religion, but that this is the stated goal of the new breed of radical atheism. A goal you apparently agree with when you said that you would be okay with it as long as people pray to Jesus alone in their rooms. Wouldn’t a law that only allowed the practice of religion in the privacy of ones home be in violation of the first amendment?

    And if you are going to try and quote what the First Amendment says then you should quote it correctly. Here is the text:

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    It is specifically freedom of religion and the right to freely exercise that religion. So religion does hold a special place in our society and the right to practice it is expressly protected.

    And no my understanding of our history is not wrong as much as you would like it to be. You have shown nothing to contradict the specific examples I have given. Do you really think that people who are Christians when they mention God and a creator that they are talking about anything other then the God of the Bible?

    Sammiias- you are attributing motives to me that you are making up. Like it or not, “In God we Trust” is simply not unconstitutional. You of course may think so, but the courts so far haven’t agreed with you.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    Robert

    I did not start this discussion by saying that all atheists want to see the eradication of religion, but that this is the stated goal of the new breed of radical atheism. A goal you apparently agree with when you said that you would be okay with it as long as people pray to Jesus alone in their rooms.

    Matthew 6:6.

    It is specifically freedom of religion and the right to freely exercise that religion. So religion does hold a special place in our society and the right to practice it is expressly protected.

    Protected but not endorsed.

    Like it or not, “In God we Trust” is simply not unconstitutional. You of course may think so, but the courts so far haven’t agreed with you.

    It is difficult to challenge. In order to challenge this someone must be able to demonstrate that they have suffered a loss as a result of the text.

  • Richard Wade

    Robert,
    You have not answered even one of my questions. You just keep repeating and repeating another of your beliefs, as unfounded as your beliefs about God. To support your belief, “This country was founded on Christian principles,” you offer no specifics on what any of those principles actually are, you offer no explanation for what appears to me to be direct contradictions between the principle of freedom of religion and many Biblical injunctions against such freedom, and you offer no specifically Christian source for the principle of freedom of religion.

    You just keep repeating that many of the founding fathers were Christians and that many of the people in America were Christians, implying that that proves that they founded a nation based on “Christian principles.”

    Copernicus was a devout Catholic. Does that make the Heliocentric Solar System a “Christian principle”? (At the time, the Vatican kind of disagreed)

    Galileo was a devout Catholic. Does that make the principles of pendulums, the principles of accelerating falling bodies, the principles of flotation, the, again, heliocentric solar system, and dozens of other ideas “Christian principles”?

    Newton was a devout Christian. Does that make gravity, the multicolor nature of light, calculus, or the principles of moving bodies “Christian principles”?

    Werner Heisenberg was a Lutheran. Does that make the uncertainty principle a “Christian principle”?

    There are also many awful, despicable and destructive ideas that have been put forth by people who were Christians, but does that mean those ideas were “Christian ideas”?

    I’m sad to see that you’re taking the same stance on this belief of yours about American history as a Christian who takes the stance “God said it, I believe it, that’s the end of it.” You resemble John McCain mechanically repeating over and over that under DADT, they do not seek out gay military personnel, and repeating that he doesn’t care what anyone says, he isn’t going to listen.

    Repeating and repeating this falsehood about a “Christian nation” is only going to make it “true” in your own mind, and in the minds of people who have a poor education in history. That is its purpose. This lie was started by people who are trying to lay the foundation for an American theocracy, and you don’t seem to realize how horrific that nightmare will be for all of us if it ever comes about.

    So I guess further requests for a real explanation of your assertion appears to be futile. Thank you for your polite and respectful tone. If your feelings are chafed, I am sorry. I have tried to not personally mock or insult you; I have only stated exactly why your lack of substantive response is disappointing to me, and why I think it is a logical fallacy to insist that the principles the Founding Fathers used were specifically “Christian principles” just because they happened to have been Christians.

  • Robert

    Richard,

    I do believe I have answered your questions. To state it specifically- The country was founded upon the Christian principle that all men are created equal by God. They clearly meant and were referring to the Judeo Christian God of the Bible.

    Freedom of religion ability to worship without persecution is indeed a and the Christian principle. Look at Matthew 22:21 – Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar and to God that which is God’s; John 18:36- Jesus’s kingdom is not of this world otherwise his followers would be overruling the government.

    Both of these verses have been used to support the notion that government should stay out of religious affairs- separation of church and state.

    Of course Christians believe that they have the one true religion so they would encourage all to become Christian, but there is no Christian principle that says this should be forced by the Government. Please don’t confuse those two issues. One is the idea of the true and only pathway to Heaven. The other is dealing with a secular government.

    Richard, I did give you direct quotes where the founding fathers admitted that they were founding this country on Christian principles. It was more then simply that they were Christian.

  • steve

    Robert,
    You have not answered even one of my questions.

    B.S.

    Actually he DID.

    Go back and re read.

  • http://cultwords.blogspot.com/ P.

    I must say I’m disappointed, Mr. Mehta. I’m a Christian, but I’ve always been 100% accepting of different religious views, homosexuality, atheism, and even people arguing my particular beliefs (both on the more-religious and less-religious sides). I’ve argued with fundamentalists at my church youth-group before. Heck, I follow this blog. I think religion jokes are hilarious, even those against my own. I believe strongly in science; I don’t see anything wrong with believing that God made a bunch of rules and then stepped back to watch them play out. Maybe he breaks them if he feels like it; I’ve never seen it happen. Maybe the Bible is mostly parables and metaphors. Maybe some parts of it are products of the time it was written in. Maybe some people will say you can’t pick and choose what you believe, but why can’t you? It’s YOUR beliefs. And for all we know, yours might be as wrong as mine. Everyone’s might be wrong; I’m not the one who somehow knows everything about what else is there and what happens when we kick the bucket.

    The most important thing is to live and let live. If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s when people can’t let that happen, religious or atheist. Don’t fill our schools with “one religion over all”; don’t fill them with “no religion over all”, either; rather teach the facts and leave interpretation up to students. My ninth grade biology teacher, on the first day of our evolution unit, had us look up creation myths and then calmly showed us all of the proof science has in favor of evolution. He never tried to deny God; he even stated that he personally was a Christian. Nonetheless, he presented evolution as truth. Half my friends got mad that he was trying to turn us into “atheists descended from monkeys” anyways; some people don’t get it no matter how hard you try.

  • Avon Wilsmore

    I was astonished to see Sigmund write:
    “In contrast to the Old Atheists like Bertrand Russell who was prone to say there is definitely no God”

    This is a dreadful misrepresentation of Russell’s views.

    And since so much of this forum concerns “truth” and “proof”, here it is:
    http://articles.exchristian.net/2002/09/am-i-atheist-or-agnostic.php

  • Hi

    I like your style. I hate tolerating the beliefs of people with whom I disagree, it’s irritating.

    I’m just having a little bit of an internal struggle, though. If I am screaming at Christians to abandon their “belief system” of out-dated superstitions and become open-minded, tolerant, decent human beings…what do I do if someone points out the glaring hypocrisy of my intolerance of Christians?

    I mean, I completely agree with you, we don’t need to make any accommodations whatsoever. The truth is absolute, and we, as atheists, are the self-appointed masters of reality. The fact that these idiots also believe that they know the truth is irrelevant. Who asked them, anyway?

    What right do they have to impose their ridiculous ideas upon the rest of us? Why in the world shouldn’t gays and lesbians be allowed to be married? Marriage doesn’t have anything to do with religion!

    I feel nauseated at the thought of living in a world in which religious people, with their backwards ideas, have any control over what their children are taught in school. It’s not as if they have any vested interest in the matter at all. Besides, we know what their kids need to learn.

    Let’s just hope (not pray) that no one on the crazy, ignorant religious right comes across this article. They may take a page from our playbook and decide that we, as a minority in the population, require no accommodation.

  • http://slrman.wordpress.com James Smith João Pessoa, Brazil

    It has been said before, but I think it is worth repeating. Anyone is entitled to their own beliefs. Even beliefs that are ridiculous and absurd. But no one is entitled to their own facts. Beliefs, no matter how sincerely held, do not alter facts.

    Then to openly state your intention to impose those pseudo-facts upon everyone else, by violence and/or the force of law is not just wrong, it is evil.

    It’s bad enough to brainwash your own children with beliefs that will cause them to waste their lives in pursuit of those beliefs. But to attempt to brainwash the children of others into those beliefs and pseudo-facts is beyond evil. It is unforgivable and should be resisted at every opportunity.

  • dimondwoof

    The biggest problem with religion is that to believe something so ridiculously nonsensical trains the mind to believe things without evidence or despite evidence against it. It trains the mind to believe things you are told simply because you *want* them to be true rather than actually using common sense and/or researching to make sure facts line up. Basically, it works toward making the “believer” stupid. I’m not saying that *ALL* religious people are stupid, but they are definitely less clear-thinking than they would otherwise be.

  • RedeyeZ

    “If you want to insist on reality, you can tell Francis Collins that he is incorrect when it comes to his Christianity. If you are saying that he is “out of his mind,” you are implying something along the lines of mental illness or fanaticism, and that’s a distortion of reality”.

    Christianity is a mental illness so his implications were correct. If you want to argue that then you have never met anyone with dementia. Voices, false entities and neurologically unfit. Equivalent to a religious mind in every one of those descriptive instances.

  • Gregg R. Thomas

    Francis Collins went for a walk in the woods and saw a frozen waterfall, fell to his knees and praised god.

    Craig Venter went for a walk in the woods and saw the same frozen waterfall and said “I can climb that.”

    I’m with Venter.