If Every Aborted Child is in Heaven…

This clip has been around for months but this is the first time I’ve seen it.

Kate Smurthwaite, a member of the National Secular Society, appeared on the British show “The Big Questions” and gave arguably the best possible response to a religious man’s claim that “every aborted child is in heaven”:

And then she finishes the video with complete bluntness :)

Normally, I’d think that tactic is counterproductive, but if you watch an extended clip and see how the theists respond to her (Do you believe in money? Then you have faith!), it’s hard to argue that she’s wrong. In the heat of the debate, in that room, I’ll admit I would’ve had a hard time containing my thoughts, too…

On her blog, Kate points out:

At the time unsurprisingly the assembled religious leaders who were on the show reacted as if I’d defecated on the studio floor. But I wasn’t really expecting the general public to have that much of a reaction to the clip. I mean “idiots” is hardly the harshest insult. At very least it’s the sort of insult that goes out on BBC One on a Sunday morning.

By the way, if you read the rest of her posting, you can see for yourself the kind of awful things people said about her online — calling her a lesbian bitch, an idiot because she’s a woman, someone who needed to be gang-raped, etc — all on account of that clip. (It also doesn’t help that the video is titled “Atheist Bitchslap.”)

Even if you think people get way too hyper-sensitive when it comes to sexism (especially lately), I hope you’ll agree that those comments (some of which came from atheists) are completely uncalled for. If you see them, call the commenters out on it. If you’re making them… what the hell is wrong with you?

(Thanks to Gil for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • http://considertheteacosy.wordpress.com/ Tea Cosy

    Ooh. Burrrrrrrrrrn.

  • http://www.quietatheist.com/ Slugsie

    Excellent response IMO.

    And the comment in the extended clip about money it utterly ridiculous. Money is simply a societally agreed upon token used to denote units of work undertaken. It’s an agreed upon system of barter.

    • http://twitter.com/enuma enuma

      Unlike a god, I actually have evidence of money’s value.  I get evidence of money’s value every time I successfully use it to acquire goods or services. 

      • Reginald Selkirk

        The “do you believe in money” guy could use a short course on brute facts vs. institutional facts. He seemed so pleased with himself though, as if he had actually said something profound.

        • Reginald Selkirk

          See also the “Tinkerbell effect.” Institutional facts exist because of mutual agreement between concerned parties. That is certainly not what any major religion claims about God and Heaven.

    • Anonymous

      Like she says, faith is belief without – and even in spite of – evidence. We have obvious evidence of money.

      There is certainly some trust involved in that in of themselves paper money and even coins these days are worthless. But even then you have evidence that people place worth in them and that banks will actually give you their agreed upon value in gold

      • Anonymous

        Paper money doesn’t seem “worthless” when tax time comes around:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chartalism

        • Anonymous

          I was referring to fiat money as opposed to the ancient practice of having money that was actually worth its face value

          • Anonymous

            All the gold in the world a century ago couldn’t buy many of the things ordinary people can buy now for pocket change in fiat money, like generic prescription drugs to lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-Hickey/30117548 Patrick Hickey

            You have a strange definition of “actually worth” if it includes gold coins but excludes modern currency.

            • Anonymous

              Modern currency really doesn’t have any worth in of itself. It’s not even backed to any great degree by precious metals since Bretton Woods. Its only worth comes from the trust people place in it.

              I was only bringing that up because one could call that trust in fiat money’s worth “faith”, but that’s not really true, since it’s evidence-based

              • Reginald Selkirk

                What has escaped you is that “precious” metals such as gold are only precious because of the fiat value people place in them.

                • Drew M.

                  And just like fiat money, we can devalue gold’s worth by printing more.

                  Oh wait…

                • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-Hickey/30117548 Patrick Hickey

                  Actually, yes.  That’s why countries maintained gold reserves- to manipulate the gold supply by releasing it strategically.

                  And even if that weren’t the historic fact, its not clear why randomly devaluing gold by discovering it in the ground is superior to devaluing bills on purpose.

                • Drew M.

                  1920′s Germany would have a good laugh at your last statement.

              • Anonymous

                No, I can prove that people put worth in money and that it can be used for currency. That doesn’t take faith, just observation.

          • Reginald Selkirk

            as opposed to the ancient practice of having money that was actually worth its face value

            You need to think a bit more about that. All money is worth only the value that people assign to it. Even if you go back to a barter system, where you trade goods for goods without benefit of a uniform currency, a certain piece of goods may be worth more to one person than to another. That’s pretty much the central motivation of trade.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=717653081 Jim Turner

    What’s not mentioned here and is an important point is that if every aborted child is in heaven – including, one presumes, every fertilized egg and foetus spontaneously aborted by a woman – then they will outnumber the number of adults there by a huge factor. After all, even assuming Christianity, with 2 billion adherents, is the ‘right’ religion, there are so many mutually contradictory versions of Christianity, only a tiny proportion of them can be doctrinally correct, so there may only be a few million adults souls up there, compared to billions and billions of foetuses.

    • Sue Blue

      EXACTLY!  And there just better be way more women than men in heaven because, god knows, there’s got  to be someone to change diapers, bottle or breast-feed, and nurture all those itty-bitty babies.  Or are they just going to be fetuses and embryos forever, floating around among the fluffy clouds without wombs?  Ewwwww!  Maybe there will be some comatose females whose only function is to gestate the aborted embryos and squeeze them out when fully-formed.  Wait…..that’s what these guys think we already have on earth.

      • Themiddleme

        Sorry, but your post sounds completely insane.

        • Anonymous

          Only because the religion that spawned them is.

        • Anonymous

          Yep, jokes often do seem insane … especially to those with an impaired sense of humor.

  • TiltedHorizon

    LOL.

    I love how sensitive they get to being labeled idiots meanwhile they all sleep comfortably after calling those outside their respective faiths heathens and abominations.

    BTW…. if money does not exist does this mean I don’t have to pay my taxes? Can’t I just send Uncle Sam a big bag of pocket lint and call that money?

    • Kobayashi Maru

      I fully support the pocket lint proposal.

  • http://lovejoyfeminism.blogspot.com Libby Anne
  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/DJRVGKGG36KNLNMZAVT4EXOF3M Ed-words

    How many major religions don’t promise their members an afterlife?

    They go hand in hand (like Mass and Communion).

    Who wants to die?

    • Reginald Selkirk

      I thought the goal of Buddhism was escape from the cycle of reincarnation, which is pretty much the opposite of promising an eternal afterlife.

      • Anonymous

        Except that religions that promise an afterlife and those whose aim is to escape from it both seek to trivialise the one life we have and deny as much as possible of the living of it (i.e. anything classed as “carnal” or “temporal”). They may seem to be opposites but the results are remarkably similar.

    • Anonymous

      Judaism doesn’t really have an afterlife in the sense of many other religions. At least it’s not well defined and not the main goal of the religion

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-Hickey/30117548 Patrick Hickey

    Her response was excellent.

    Its worth noting, though, the real reason that religions will claim things like “every man gets X wives” where that would require more women to be around then there actually are: its because these religions don’t consider women to be actual people. 

    If a religion claimed that everyone in heaven would receive 30 dogs, none of us would do the math and complain because there aren’t that many dogs on earth.  We’d just assume that in heaven, there would be more dogs somehow.  Why not, right?

    Well, that’s the reasoning that’s taking place here.  They’re just assuming that in heaven, there will be more women than there are on earth.  Because they’re not assuming that there has to be a connection between “women on earth” and “women in heaven.”

    • GentleGiant

      And, once again, proof that religion has primarily been invented by MEN.

  • http://twitter.com/fester60613 I May Be Crazy

    >Applause!< Good for her. "Idiot" works just fine for me. : )
    I was a little surprised yesterday when I had to tell one of my interns that her "miracle" of a Muslim girl changing into a fish (!) was silly.
    She didn't want to hear "People don't turn into fish. Ever. At all." nor "My dear, you're not someone I'd have pegged as delusional."
    It was as close as I could come at that moment to calling her an idiot without uttering the word.
    It's the first I'd heard of the girl who turned into a fish.

  • Darrell Barker

    If the baby goes to heaven

    And the doctor goes to hell
    If the woman gets forgiveness
    What’s the problem pray tell!?

  • Anonymous

    I’m calling you out, Hemant.

    This is uncalled for: “Even if you think people get way too hyper-sensitive when it comes to sexism (especially lately)”

    It’s just reinforcing the idea that women are too emotional, overreact to “normal behaviour”, and should just shut up and sit quietly in the corner when confronted with sexism. I mean, honestly, would you make such a statement about people who were complaining that those opposing racism or homophobia were just too touchy? And that “especially lately”? Nice.

    • Lyra

      What? I’m pretty sure that what Hemant meant is that he has been
      confronting sexism a lot lately and that some people have been insisting
      that he should NOT be confronting sexism because it isn’t that big of a
      deal (aka he is being hypersensitive).

      • Rieux

        I agree that the “Even if you think” prelude identifies that what follows isn’t necessarily Hemant’s personal POV, but the notion that follows (“people get way too hyper-sensitive when it comes to sexism (especially lately)”) is ridiculous. Our community has been host to some really severe and disgusting misogyny lately; to complain, in the face of that hatred, about “hyper-sensitiv[ity]” is at best tone-deaf.

        The sexist abuse that Smurthwaite has taken is of a piece with abuse that all too many female atheists have taken, frequently from other atheists, in the past few months. That abuse is both important and disgraceful; in the face of that, whining about sensitivity trivializes some very serious inhumanity to innocent and admirable people. Anyone complaining about “hyper-sensitiv[ity]” in the current context should cut it the fuck out.

        • Anonymous

          The problem is you complain about people  “whining about hypersensitivity” while at the same time criticizing people for not being sensitive enough. Yes, there have been nasty comments over the last few months, but there have also been people quick to make accusations of sexism and then take the “he’s a male so he must be guilty” perspective. If you are more likely to accuse someone of sexism if they are male when you wouldn’t if a female did the same thing, then you are the one being prejudice. No one should automatically assume the worst about someone just based on their gender. That does happen sometimes in very liberal spheres and that is no less sexist than what they are accusing their opponents of doing.

          • Rieux

            Yes, there have been nasty comments over the last few months, but there have also been people quick to make accusations of sexism and then take the “he’s a male so he must be guilty” perspective.

            Whatever. Oddly enough, my heart does not bleed for mansplainers who seriously think that it’s their maleness that has led people to think they’re “guilty” of clueless privilege and sexism. And more to the point, the abuse that has been heaped on a small number of innocent people is actually a serious problem, in a way that piddling complaints about “quick accusations of sexism”—cry me a freaking river—are simply not. Please buy an ounce of perspective.

            • Anonymous

              All I said is that any accusation of sexism should have evidence to back it up (something any Atheist should agree with) and that sets you on a rant about ‘mansplainers’ (because you think  that if a man explains something he is automatically wrong? WTF?). You claim up and down that you aren’t judging the men negatively based on their gender, but you can’t seem to get beyond the accusation to the actual proof, so what are people supposed to think?

              Yes women have historically faced by far the most sexism, but most men in America do support gender equality. It is not your job to assume the worst about modern day men just based on the actions of their ancestors. If you are going to make an accusation, please provide evidence. This shouldn’t be controversial. I’m not sure why we need to teach these lessons again and again in the skeptical community. We of all people should know better.

      • Anonymous

        Addressing people who are calling people who confront sexism hypersensitive this way gives that position some kind of viability. Try this:

        “Even if you think people get unjustifiably angry when it comes to racism, I hope you’ll agree that those comments (some of which came from atheists) are completely uncalled for.”

        “Even if you think people are just being weak when they complain about homophobia, I
        hope you’ll agree that those comments (some of which came from atheists)
        are completely uncalled for.”

        There are two problems. One, by bringing it up and not condemning the position, it’s implying the following: “you may be right about the feminists being all hypersensitive about all the things they’ve been whining about, especially lately, but I hope you’ll agree that this *is* actually bad.”  Second, “hypersensitivity” itself is a common sexist allegation against women, making the condonation even more egregious.

        I’m hopeful that Hemant didn’t mean to imply that it’s understandable to see all those pesky feminists as hypersensitive about sexism, especially lately, but that’s the way it comes across to me.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

          I love the way you phrased it. Thats what I meant, but you said it far better than I did.

          • Rich Wilson

            Wait… How did she phrase it?  I’m trying to think of a way of saying what I think you meant, but I can’t think of any other than getting rid of the “even if” stuff.

        • Anonymous

          Yes their are examples of racism, sexism, and homophobia, but not every person accused is guilty. If you feel that people of a certain race, gender, or sexuality (usually the opposite of whatever the minority position is) are falsely accused regularly by a particular group of people, then you should speak out about that. We should stop bigotry, but we need to base it on facts, not on the race, gender, or sexual orientation of the person we are accusing.

    • Caleb M Fennell

      Hemant didn’t in any way say that women are too emotional. He used the all inclusive term “people”. What you selectively heard is “women”.

      There are plenty of topics that people are hyper-sensitive about. It’s up to us, as adults (sorry kids! don’t take offense) to explore and address issues in a measured way.

      Assumptions and a rush to judgement doesn’t help anyone in addressing issues that concern us, but they do rather nicely live in the realm of rhetoric.

    • Anonymous

      :sigh: Nowhere did he say that all women are too emotional. ALL he is saying is that if you want to make claims of sexism, you HAVE to have the facts behind you. You can’t immediately jump to the worst conclusion when a man says something (just like you did with Hemant).

      Yes, I have seen many times where true sexism has been called out. But I’ve also seen many times where people took the “well he’s a man, so the worst interpretation  is probably true about him”.  A person being a man does not automatically make them more suspect than others.

      If you are about to accuse someone of sexism, stop and ask yourself if you’d rush to accuse a woman if she said the exact same thing. If not, then it is you being sexist. 

    • Anonymous

      You are making the false assumption that Hemant thinks that anyone who opposes any kind of sexism is being hypersensitive. Consider the following scenarios:

      Scenario A: A man make a clumsy pass at a woman in an elevator. Nothing further happens.

      Scenario B: A woman is raped.

      Scenario C: A woman is subjected to female genital mutilation.

      A lot of people have been saying that A is just as bad as B, that the man involved is a rapist, that in fact all men are rapists (Schrodinger or otherwise). And when Richard Dawkins points out the obvious fact that A is not as bad as C, he becomes the target of a hate campaign and a boycott.

      So I would say there has been a lot of hypersensitivity on display lately. Nobody is saying that women should “just shut up and sit quietly in the corner when confronted with sexism”, but a little perspective and sense of proportion would be nice.

      • Rich Wilson

        As I recall, what Richard said was that since C exists, you shouldn’t mention A.

        • Anonymous

          Actually, he said that since A exists, you shouldn’t mention C. But he was using an obscure concept called “irony”, which is unfamiliar to most Merkins, as Alanis Morisette famously demonstrated.

          • Rich Wilson

            Well yes, I was doing a massive amount of paraphrasing, but that’s the end message I took from it.

            (and of course Alanis is only Merkin in that she’s from one of the Merkin continents, but not Merkin as in United States Of.  But I Nit to the extreme).

        • Nick Andrew

          Furthermore, he said that A is “zero bad” which is a terribly insensitive opinion to hold.

    • http://www.facebook.com/d3st88 Morva Ádám

      Actually, you are pretty much the person I recognized in Hemant’s words.

      Also, it didn’t even occur to me that it should be explicitly women who overreact to “normal behaviour”. Looks like you are the sexist, not me. Males and females equally overreacted over the Watson hissy fit. It is completely possible to be hypersensitive to sexism.

      Please turn on the turbo mode on your brain and try to think of some situations.

  • Anonymous

    But if the aborted babies all went to hell instead, wouldn’t that still show that their lives had “meaning”?

  • Patrik W

    I saw this clip ages ago, and I’m absolutely loving it. It’s short, sweet, and to the point.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=750428174 Paddy Reddin

    Bloody insane.  As it has been said elsewhere, they are comfortable calling anyone heathens or abominations or taking glee in the thought of others being tortured for eternity, but got so offended when you say something as innocuous as a blunt truth.  

    I also think the lack of logic and reason to back up their arguments is why they immediately resort to the emotional muck slinging and ad hominem insults. 

    It’s unfortunate though, possibly a proof of the idiocy or ignorance that this line of thinking brings, that they lack the ability to think critically or even be creative in their insults.  Women always seems to be called lesbians and threatened with rape (as if that’s a corrective measure) and men can just burn in hell.  Men do get off lightly in that equation.  

    • Anonymous

      They derive pleasure from the thought that their opponents will suffer eternal punishment because that will show these opponents that their earthly lives had “meaning” after all.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4VYQXMYJ3MGO74VD6Q7VZIYOQA Bonnie

    Religion = male masturbatory fantasy.

  • Rich Wilson

    Is anyone else having trouble emailing Hemant?

    I get

     Remote host said: Error: PRODUCT_ROOT_D not defined  System error 12: Cannot allocate memory rror: PRODUCT_ROOT_D not defined [RCPT_TO]

    sending to friendlyatheist@friendlyatheist.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000391368967 Liyan Chen

    I wonder if the people who made the rape threats realise that atheists do not respond in a similar manner when being called far worse names like immoral sinner/devil worshipper.

  • Anonymous

    An old clip but I still enjoy seeing it again. That lady is awesome.

  • Anonymous

    Go Kate! I would probably not have been as blunt, but we do need to question the unspoken assumption that religious faith, i.e. faith in the absence of evidence or despite evidence to the contrary, is virtuous. No it isn’t! Believing six impossible things before breakfast doesn’t make you a moral person, just a gullible one.

    Also, the “money” argument is incredibly stupid. I don’t have “faith” that the sun will rise in the east tomorrow – I have confidence that it will, because I understand the science involved. I also don’t have “faith” in evolution – I accept it as a valid description of the natural world because of its overwhelmingly successful track record in describing the world.

    Finally, don’t you love how christians immediately cry “rude” when someone questions their beliefs, but see nothing wrong with throwing “the fool has said in his heart there is no god” in atheists’ faces all the time?

  • Themiddleme

    I don’t know why anyone cares whether there are babies in a heaven they don’t even believe exists. That’s like talking about where the Easter bunny keeps his eggs, how many there are, what colors they are etc. Pointless. I can’t believe people are actually arguing about this.

  • Anonymous

    Well done, they need to be told that. My reason for not believing in their religions is that I’m an adult, religion is for children and it’s about time they grew up.

    I was going to post something on Kate’s site but it insists upon a google account which I don’t have and I refuse to be bullied into opening one.

  • Kate Smurthwaite

    Thanks for linking to my clip.  I should point out (as I do in my post) that I’m not in any way a spokesperson for the National Secular Society – though I am a member, but my views are certainly not some sort of official view – just my view…

    And as to being hyper-sensitive to sexism (not that you’re saying I am – I realise you’re saying some people are): While two women a week in the UK are murdered by their intimate partner or ex-partner, while the pay gap is set to take nearly 100 years to close, and while reported rape has a 6% conviction rate – I reserve the right to be hyper-sensitive.  Actually I think we all should be.  While women are treated this badly it’s pretty immoral not be constantly vigilant for any area where we can change the culture that tolerates this…

    • cee

      Amazing answer, thank you for not making me regret wading into the comment thread here. 

  • Anonymous

    Also, as an American, I must say I loved hearing the black man speak in the British accent.

  • jose

    This all babies go to Heaven thing is feel-good nonsense that caters to modern sensibilities. What ever happened to the original sin? What happened to the purgatory? It goes against the most central, fundamental point of the doctrine of salvation: that humanity can only be saved from sin through God. A newborn is as terrenal and flawed as every other person. It hasn’t known God (that’s what baptism is for!) and therefore won’t get into Heaven.

    Awww, but that’s so terrible, the poor cute bebbbes! Apparently religion doesn’t care about its own doctrine as long as it keeps people under its control.

  • Lina Baker

    During debates about religion, politics or ethnics, I’ve been called fat, ugly, fat ugly cow, stupid dyke (with my husband right there next to me – go figure)… it usually happens when I’m winning the debate, and it only happens when I’m debating men. It never dawns on me to call the man something demeaning relating to his looks or sexuality. I might call him pig-headed, I might call his arguments asinine, and I might even call him an idiot. But at least I’m sticking to insults relating to the arguments he’s saying – not to his looks or sexuality.

    And don’t even get me started on how threatened I’ve started to feel sometimes, that moment when I’m debating and realize the guy wants to tear me limb from limb – that moment when I back off because I can feel violence in the air. Again, I’m not thinking anything violent about the person – I’m angry, I want the person to see my points, I’m frustrated, but I’m not picturing any violence. But I can tell they are starting to think about it, and it’s scary.

    I know we’re all sick of hearing about it – but just look at the insults that got thrown at the woman who shared her story of feeling creeped out in the elevator at the atheism conference – how vicious people got in their insults to her, relating to her looks, her sexuality…

    The sexism is real – I wish it wasn’t, but there it is.

    • Demonhype

      This is true.  And the whole looks-insults being levied against women are tied into the inherent attitude that a woman’s value is, first and foremost, in her “f**kability”.  I have suffered my whole life with mental issues due to the knowledge that you could stand me next to some “properly” beautiful woman who has no other redeeming features and she will by default be considered more valuable as a human being than I am–even if I’m more talented or intelligent or have a nicer or more generous personality, I’m ugly and fat so therefore I am worthless, and the only way my other characteristics could count against her beauty would be if I was as beautiful as she is.

      On the other hand, if we were men, my non-looks characteristics would be in equal consideration and I would be seen as having more value.  That’s the most infuriating part–that the entire equation changes.  It’s like men are valued by (Looks + intelligence + talent + personality), but women are valued by Looks (Intelligence + talent + personality), with the value of “Looks” being anywhere from zero to two, one being average.  As a woman, you could have perfect scores in I, T and P, but if you are anywhere below a 1 on “Looks”, you fail as a human being, whereas any given score could make or break you if you’re a man.

      So if you want to shut a woman up, just tell her how imperfect her looks are to demoralize her, reminding her that her only value is in whether men want to screw her.  It’s not hard either, considering how the society has victimized female self-confidence.  No one is perfect, so there’s always some minor imperfection you can focus on, a skin blemish, an extra pound of weight, what have you, to “put that bitch in her place”.

  • Anonymous

    I watched this programme on the day and nearly choked on my coffee.


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