When Someone Praises God on Facebook…

This is the first in a supposed “commercial” campaign by r/atheism. (Even if that’s not true, consider it a standalone ad.)

***Edit***: Commenters point out this video’s a joke. Glad to hear it. I still think this is a conversation worth having.

I think the atheist’s message would’ve been more effective without the CAPS LOCK and exclamation point… But still, I like seeing that comment in those kinds of Facebook threads.

Now, is that really bravery? I don’t think it takes bravery to write a comment like that — it’s more of just having the mindset that you’re going to tell the truth no matter what, and if others can’t understand that, screw ‘em.

The downside is that it comes off as insensitive and dickish (especially if the cancer survivor is the person who made the comment about god). But if you’re making that comment, you probably don’t care. Does that mean we shouldn’t make the comment? Not at all. We should be the voice of reason in that situation. It wouldn’t hurt to use some tact, though. (*Cue accusations of being a tone troll*)

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.

  • Admtn60

    speaking as an atheist and an american, since when can’t someone who proclaims a faith express it? its got to be a two way street.

    • Drew Krull

      Unless I missed the part of the video where the atheist hacked into Facebook’s servers and deleted the theists post, it *was* a two-way street…

  • Kevin

    Really? It isn’t friendly, and it is a terrible representation of atheism. There are plenty of places to pick an atheism/theism fight that’s fun and worth fighting. Somebody’s Facebook post about beating cancer isn’t one of them.

    • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

      Your definition of “friendly” is as limited as many other people who comment here. You can point out that it wasn’t a god who cured somebody of cancer while still being friendly.

  • tyler

    Wait, are we sure this is intended to be serious? It almost sounds a little tongue-in-cheek with the ‘stay brave.’ I mean, does it matter? People say “Good luck!” all the time, but I don’t feel the need to be a dick to everyone and say “uh; there’s no such thing as ‘luck,’ you ignorant twat.”

    • Renshia

       What do you mean there is no such thing as luck? I started a new job 2 weeks ago. At the end of the week they draw for someone to win 100.00. I have one two weeks in a row.

      If that ain’t shit ass lucky, I will eat my shorts and bark like a dog.

      An I didn’t even have to pray or nothing. LOL

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=503257844 Adam Evans

    As a user of r/atheism. I find it funny, but I don’t think it was serious. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=503257844 Adam Evans

    I also want to add that the username of the uploader of the video is “redditcj” also known as Reddit Circle Jerk

  • Andrew

    Considering the usage of “brave” and that the atheist’s name was Nick Beard (neckbeard), I’d guess this is more of a dig on /r/atheism than a serious piece.

    • JamesM

      My thoughts exactly. This is one of the biggest criticisms against r/atheism. The constant stream of (probably fake) knee jerk facebook screen caps that nobody gives a shit about. I’ve had my share of facebook arguments, but I don’t post them on other websites for people to mock, especially without giving a chance for the other person to respond. I wouldn’t treat friends like that, even if they are just facebook friends.

    • Andrew Wilkens

       So brave.

    • Kodie

      It’s a sarcastic insult aimed at r/atheism. Plus I just saw a discussion about this a couple days ago, so it was a discussion worth having and everyone weighed in.

  • Gus Snarp

    Yeah, that’s just dickish and unnecessary. The thing is,  different people use Facebook differently. The people who are my Facebook friends, with one exception, are all people I actually know. Many who I have interacted with fairly recently, some from as far back as high school, and most of my family. I’ll argue over hate, I’ll argue over politics (sometimes), and occasionally I’ll correct a misstatement of fact. But I’m not on Facebook to have fights, I’m not on Facebook to alienate my friends who have different beliefs over what they see as a nice sentiment, no matter how obnoxious I find it. I don’t know what the person whose status they commented on think of it, or necessarily how the two people know each other or relate. So I don’t comment on that kind of thing, and never would. It’s injecting yourself into a conversation in a way that is just patently rude. The only way I would find this acceptable is if the person whose cancer was in remission said doctors did it and not God. They can do that, but I wouldn’t.

    I think dickishness is appropriate in the right environment, when creationists come on our turf spouting ignorance, they should be soundly trounced, but in a public forum for all viewpoints, or in someone else’s Facebook feed, I think basic politeness trumps that. Ignorance and foolish views deserve no respect, but people do, and this is fundamentally about people. It’s just going out of your way to insult someone, to no effect. And it’s not brave in the least.

  • http://notabarbie.wordpress.com/ Barbara

    I have to admit the God comments do make me angry, but I only respond if they are posted on my wall.  When 15-year-old was in an accident last year, I sat in the Trauma ICU alone, while my Christian friends posted they were praying for me. He’s almost completely healed now, but when one of them tries to praise God for that on MY wall, I counter and I believe I am justified in doing so.  With that said, I would never go to someone else’s wall and do something like that.  It gives non-believers a bad name, even if it is true.

  • Kevin_Of_Bangor

    I just ignore the comments. My sister posted this two days ago on her wall.

    A Miracle has happened and I am so grateful. Thank you Jesus. = )

    I have no clue what happened and I even talked to her last night on the phone. She made no mention of it but then again she knows I’m an atheist but I wasn’t going to respond with a dickish comment about it. She respects my views and I respect hers.

  • http://profiles.google.com/davydd.norris David Philip Norris

    This is rather like Christians saying dickish things about gays and then acting hurt and confused when someone calls them homophobes. However, there has to be a similar, congenial way of engaging with this type of thing online. Can we phrase statements in the affirmative (e.g., “Glad you had a competent team of doctors working with you!”)?

    • Gus Snarp

      If you must comment, I think that’s perfectly played. Someone could still be insulted, but it’s on them. You haven’t made it personal or about them, instead you’ve made a reasonable comment to the person who actually is your friend, while planting a subversive seed. I like this.

    • http://www.zazzle.com/atheist_tees The Godless Monster

       Excellent suggestion. Love your approach.

    • Drew Krull

      There are better ways to phrase these things, but I don’t think your approach qualifies as such. At least in my experience, such subtle comments are often so mild that they slip beneath the radar of many intended recipients and are not seen as counter-statements to the “praise statement.” There is, I believe, a way to respond more directly without using the tone indicated in this humorous video.

      More importantly, however, I could barely disagree more with your comparison of this to Christians saying “dickish” things about gays. As a skeptic and an atheist, I consider the veracity of a claim to be of great importance. As far as any evidence indicates, the work of highly trained doctors and human ingenuity has contributed a great deal to many cases of remission. There is not any evidence that any deity has had a role in such remissions. The theist has already been “dickish” by denying the brilliant work of many individuals and encouraging the helplessness that reliance upon a deity promotes. This attitude is detrimental to society and must be countered.

      To further address your analogy, let’s take a look at the scenario to which you referred. In this situation, the Christian  is generally making assertions about a class of people, without evidence to back up this assertion. Furthermore, these comments construct and maintain harmful attitudes which are detrimental to society and to many individuals. It is my sincere hope that atheists, humanists, and free-thinkers would not remain silent and allow such hate mongers to go unaddressed.

      In short, the analogy, when properly constructed, does more to further the notion that atheists have a moral responsibility to speak out against ignorance, bigotry, and hatred when we encounter them. Granted, there may be a better way to go about it, but the idea that speaking out against harmful superstition is comparable to gay-bashing is utterly repugnant.

  • Shane McKeever

    Should have been more smart assed IMO. Like “Yes, I see that the praying to Allah and snake charming has paid off”. Something to make the previous poster realize how ignorant they came-off.

    • ryan m

      Fancy seeing you here bro…

      • Shane McKeever

        Word

  • http://www.facebook.com/Lewie.Lewie Lewis Cox

    The ONLY commandment of atheism:  Don’t be an asshole.

    • Drew Krull

      I must have misplaced my copy of the atheist “thou-shalts.” Would you mind loaning me yours? Sitting back and disagreeing with people in silence has not gotten the job done. The hatred, ignorance, and helplessness which religion engenders continue to spread, and yet those of us who speak about and stand for reason are labelled “assholes.”

    • Mdwelch27

      The only commandment of atheism is to promote truth.  If you can do that without being a dick why wouldn’t you ?  But above all – promote truth !!

      • http://www.SketchSepahi.com/ SketchSepahi

        I think that’s the commandment of skepticism or rationalism, not of atheism. I  don’t think the Great Dearth of Gods cares whether you promote truth or not. Indeed, most atheists I know of don’t care much about truth at all – or at least do so only selectively when it comes to gods.

    • Xeon2000

      Atheism has no commandments.
      Obviously you meant this as a joke, but I think “Don’t be an asshole” aligns more closely with some type of humanistic tenet.

  • http://deepergroundblog11.blogspot.com/ Secret Agent Woman

    I think that’s absolutely unnecessary and even mean-spirited. You could make the same point by saying something like, “Great news!  I’m so thankful for medical advances and competent, compassionate doctors.”  Comments like that guy’s just make nonbelievers look bad.

  • http://www.laughinginpurgatory.com/ Andrew Hall

    I have a buddy who I went to college with post a this verse  Joshua 24:15 (NIV), “But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

    Now I hate the book of Joshua. It’s a genocidal, fascist tome. Instead of ranting about the evils of the Old Testament this is what I wrote: Here’s my favorite verse from Joshua:  And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword. – Joshua 6:21

    And somehow we are still friends.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    It’s laughably illogical to assume that God changes his mind based on some unknown number of prayers, except when he doesn’t because he’s mysterious.

    But that’s not a battle I’m willing to spend my energy on.  Usually.  I’d much rather not be a dick to my religious friends who want to think they were singled out for special treatment, and spend my energy advocating a rational basis to all forms of  government.

    • http://www.zazzle.com/atheist_tees The Godless Monster

       (un)holy shit…you mean there are OTHER atheists out there like me?

  • Cutencruncy

    We’ve become distorted as to what is dickish.. faith is dickish when it say’s I’ll pray for you as an excuse to not actually do anything for anyone… we don’t have to be rude to counter religion with actual compassion and caring and reason to say ‘faith feels good but these doctors offer actual and practical help and to them I am forever grateful to see you in such good hands… etc  it’s not dickish

  • http://southernhumanist.wordpress.com/ R. Lee Bays

    So funny the timing on this! I just wrote a post talking about the torrent of facebook prayer requests I see: http://southernhumanist.wordpress.com/2012/05/16/the-facebook-prayer-request-conundrum/ but I landed in a very different place. While it might feel good to be a jackass, being compassionate and offering genuine support is the right thing to do.

    • http://southernhumanist.wordpress.com/ R. Lee Bays

      Got the update too! (but something about going full jackass does bring out the imp in all of us I think)

  • Cheepak Dopra

    Sounds like Hemant isn’t in on the joke.

  • MG

    I’m dealing with these kinds of posts a lot lately, with my cousin undrgoing surgery, chemo and radiation for a brain tumor (anaplastic astrocytoma grade III). His wife is very goddy and actually gives everyone “marching orders” on exactly what they should be praying for this week.

    She is also an RN and an EMT, luckily, so we can engage on the scientific side without me having to get dragged through the whole god thing.  And there is no way I’m going to tell a woman with two kids, a third due next month , and a husband with siezures and a brain tumor that what she believes is all effed up.  She’s got enough to deal with.

  • Tom

    I’ll support that, Hemant.

  • KarlVonMox

    I dont know. I get so fed up sometimes with religious status updates there has been an incident or two where I couldnt help myself.

    Case in point, one time a girl I know casually decided to post a status with a dialogue about how we all shouldnt complain about when bad things happen to us, like our sandwich is made wrong, or our car broke down, etc, because God always has a “special plan” for everything and everyone.

    Faced by the sheer stupidity of this, I decided to be “be a dick” and point out that millions of children die every year under the age of 5, that malaria and HIV and natural disasters kill millions every year, and that this “plan” of Gods is rife with suffering and murder and annihilation – thus being a pretty crappy plan.  Call me a dick if you like, but sometimes I simply cant tolerate bad ideas even if they are posted on someone elses wall – bad ideas need to be challenged if we hope to get rid of them.

    • http://www.zazzle.com/atheist_tees The Godless Monster

       Yeah, I get where you’re coming from. Nope, you’re not a dick for doing that, but my attitude and approach is different. I’ve somewhat mellowed, I guess.
      At this point in my life I honestly don’t give a shit what anybody believes as long as they leave me the fuck alone.
      That’s really all I ask.
      Keep the silly shit out of my bedroom, public schools and government. If they can do that, I’m good with whatever else they do or believe. Fuck ‘em, I’m under no obligation to “enlighten” them.
      It’s the interference with my life that gets my hackles up.
      We aren’t going to change the world, but we CAN influence little ones to think rationally starting at an early age.
      I just don’t see idiocy as worth getting upset over until it infringes directly on constitutionally protected rights.

  • Obsirius

    If this is a joke, it’s a Reverse Poe.  I guess that makes it an Eop.

  • C553529

    I hope you know that the video was a satire making fun of people who post on reddit their facebook comments “supposing” they are beating up religious people

  • Luke Allport-Cohoon

    SO BRAVE.

    oh wait, I’m not on Reddit anymore…

  • http://www.SketchSepahi.com/ SketchSepahi

    Meh. “Tone trolling” has suffered so much inflation by now that it’s lost all original meaning. Now there are trolls at the other end of the spectrum, who have high-jacked the concept of “tone trolling” to justify any kind of assholery.

    Original Tone-Troll: One who foregoes engaging argumentatively with the point being made in favour of complaining about the tone or language in which it was made.

    Amended Tone-Troll: Anyone who points out someone’s being an asshole regardless of whether or not they also engage argumentatively with the points being made by said asshole.

    Abuse Troll: One who foregoes engaging argumentatively with the point being made in favour of personal insults, ad hominems, and abuse, and whose inability to distinguish between the Original and the Amended Tone-Troll leads them to dismiss all valid criticism of their content-less assholery as “tone-trolling.”

  • Aimee

    Perhaps one could say something like this.  “Wow so glad to hear you are on the mend, I bet you are so thankful to have had such a great medical team on your side.”

    That would get the message across I think.


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