A Great Response to the Question ‘Why Do Atheists Seem Like Assholes?’

The Freedom From Religion Foundation‘s annual convention takes place in Portland, Oregon this weekend. One of the speakers, actress/comedian Julia Sweeney, did an interview for local alternative weekly Willamette Week and I loved her answers to these questions:

Why do atheists seem like assholes?

They’re saying unpopular and different things that aren’t what we’ve all be inculcated to hear as part of our general culture… they see how much religion — but particularly the Christian religious right — has used our government and taxes and our common will for their own ends.

So, what should I tell my mom when she tells me to hold hands and pray before dinner?

I would totally do it, because to me, I become Margaret Mead. I become an anthropologist and go, “Oh, the customs of these people! They hold hands and pray to their god!” Humans are social animals, and part of our cohesion is based in ritual.

Those answers are great because they completely avoid falling into the trap of saying what the interviewer wants to hear (“Because we’re right” and “Fuck off,” respectively). Instead, Sweeney calmly explains the background of why many atheists are so passionate when we talk about religion and how you can please your religious family without pretending to be someone you’re not.

Beautifully done.

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.

  • CultOfReason

    Perhaps she can have a word with her former colleague, Victoria Jackson.

    • LesterBallard

      Not enough words, not enough time.

    • Gus Snarp

      I’m generally opposed to the whole notion of public debates as they now exist, but I would watch that one.

    • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

      Is that word, by chance, ‘Lithium’? 

  • eonL5

    Not completely on-topic, but on the issue of people expecting you to pray before dinner, I must admit the more I read of others’ experiences, the more thankful I am that my devoutly Catholic mother-in-law has never even offered a pre-meal “blessing” when we have dinner together. Not in her house, not in our house. The only one in the family who does that is my sister-in-law’s family, which is as right-wing as they come. Last time we ate at their house, my son didn’t even stop his conversation when this blessing started. I thought right afterward that I should probably have educated him on good-manneredly being quiet while they pitched their fantasies. But you know… whatever. His behavior was natural and it was his choice. He thinks religion is hilarious and crazy, but he’s still good friends with some Christian schoolmates. Awesome kid!

    • yuki4321

      I taught my kids to look upon prayer before meals as a way to express gratitude for the food and the community around the table, regardless of whether the words are offered to one deity or another.  I think it is just good manners. And not all expressions of gratitude are christianity based. Before eating the French say “bon apetit”, the Japanese say “Itadakimasu”, which is just an expression of thanks for the food. 

      • Gus Snarp

        I haven’t taught my kids anything at all about prayer or grace yet, but I did once pause at the start of a meal to express my gratitude to the farmers who work to make the food available to us (especially effective since we buy a lot of things directly from the farmers, so the kids have faces to put with it, it’s not an abstract idea). It was pretty funny because when I started talking my wife looked at me with this kind of horrified look like she was thinking, “Oh my god, is he about to pray? Did he get hit in the head or something?” until she saw where I was going. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to do that more often.

      • wright1

         That’s pretty much how my sister and I were raised. Our parents were Quakers while she and I were younger, and we usually had a “silence”: a moment of holding hands, closing eyes and silent, private reflection before dinner.

        Now my sister is raising her son, my nephew, with the same tradition. Though she and my brother-in-law are mostly Buddhist in their beliefs, their practices are almost completely secular.

      • compl3x

         I’m grateful I have food to eat. I reflect on that whether or not I’m about to eat.

        I think thanking god you have food while so many people don’t is about as ridiculous as it gets.

        “Thanks god, for this nice T-Bone steak, potatoes, and mixed veg. I know there are kids somewhere in the world digging through a rubbish tip somewhere looking for rats to kill and eat, but I’m sure you have a good reason for allowing that. Amen.”

        • AtheistFaith

          What is wrong for being grateful for the things you do have knowing others have less? Have you fed the homeless lately? You guys got a really skewed view of religion. Mother Theresa was more useful in her lifetime than you would ever be to those poor starving children. :/

          • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

            Mother Teresa didn’t do shit for anyone.

            Sure, she took in millions in donations, but not one single cent of that went to actually help the sick and dying. Sick and dying people were left to suffer and die in pain “for the glory of God”, while she, when she needed medical attention, she went to the best money could fucking buy.

            You call that “useful”?!

    • Gus Snarp

      Yeah, I’ve been pretty lucky. None of my or my wife’s family ever seem to do grace, which is surprising. My family never really bothered outside of holidays, and I’m not sure why none of her Catholic family do it. Maybe we get off the hook because we usually host the holiday dinners, and even when we don’t they’re a bit too chaotic to say grace. We could never get everyone to shut up long enough.

    • http://www.facebook.com/conticreative Marco C

      I grew up in Italy and I attended dinner in many catholic’s homes. I don;t recall a single instance where we said Grace. In fact, I don’t recall an Italian word for “grace”, the concept (aside from the straight translation for “Pry before dinner”). 

      I may very well have forgotten both. It has been a very long time.
      I seem to remember visiting a very rich, noble family back when I was about 16, where we might have said grace before dinner. These people were so rich and so devout they had their own chapel next to their home.

      But that’s the only instance I remember, if it even happened.

    • AtheistFaith

      It is moments like this where I have to ask if you REALLY don’t feel arrogant talking about your sister-in-law that way? To me, such talk is useless and cruel and it never helps anyone and puts across a very smug and arrogant attitude. “While they pitched their fantasies” I guess this is an atheist page, but shit that’s a mean thing to say.

      • eonL5

        You’re right: this is an atheist blog. To us, religion is all about pitching fantasies. Why is it mean to express that opinion? I don’t say it to my S-I-L’s face, only here among a group of like-minded folks.

        Arrogant? That’s quite a value judgment. I’d say “confident” instead. I am confident that pre-meal prayers are silly, but ultimately harmless. I don’t think I am more important than her, but I do think my knowledge is deeper. It may be smug to think that, but knowledge does have levels of quality, from zero to very great. Admitting and recognizing that fact, without hitting people over the head with it, is something we need to be able to do in order to make rational decisions.

  • compl3x

    Holding a dissenting or sceptical view of religion will get you branded an asshole. You can bend over backwards being polite and courteous, but in the end you’ll still find someone yelling at you for offending them.

    I dropped polite pretense a long time ago and about the same amount of people think I’m an asshole about religion now as they did back then.

    • Allison

       I feel the same way. No matter what you do there will always be those stereotypes about every group – religious or not. Why should I care what people think about me? If they don’t like me, then I don’t want to or have to be their friend. End of story.

    • Baal

       I disagree.  I rather not be thought of as an asshole.  Getting that label makes me less effective and doing what I want.  Getting negative noise from being an out atheist is unavoidable.  Getting double negative noise for being an atheist and otherwise a jerk is worse.  I love hearing (and I do from time to time) (about me) “he’s an atheist!” “yeah, i wouldn’t have guessed since he’s a decent guy”

      • compl3x

         Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t actively be an asshole or a jerk. It’s simply being an atheist which makes people accuse you of being one. It’s a default opinion some people have.

        Being as nice-as-pie to someone who already thinks poorly of you because you aren’t religious is a complete waste of time.

        Dennett spoke about this problem when he was writing “Breaking the Spell”. If I remember correctly, he gave early versions of the book to some of his religious students to read and no matter how nice and polite he made the language in the book they’d always tell him it was still too offensive. He put it best: it’s a mugs game.

        • Sergio Castro

          Totally agree with you and I understand how difficult it is to call it like you see it and still alienate people. I gave up “trying” to be nice about my atheism and I feel way less hypocritical now. And I’m always surprised at the few people who are not offended at all but rather, relieved, that they have found a fellow atheist who is not afraid to speak out. I’ve gained several (much quieter and less offensive) allies!

      • Nope

        “he’s an atheist!” “yeah, i wouldn’t have guessed since he’s a decent guy”
        But anyone who thinks like that isn’t a decent guy himself and so their opinion doesn’t really matter unless they offer some benefit to your life.

        This is how I decide how to act:  I say what I want in the most morally, tonally neutral way possible, and if someone thinks I’m a jerk because of that?  Who gives a fuck.  If they are my boss (offer me money), my instructor (offers me grades), or my friends (offer me social interaction), I just pretend to agree with whatever they want so I can leech their beneficial properties, but that’s a different story.

        TL;DR: If someone thinks you’re a jerk for your opinions and they AREN’T useful to you, discard them from your life.

  • Tainda

    I’m perceived as a bitch because I’m better than everyone else and until people come to that realization they will keep thinking I’m a bitch.  It’s all good.

    HA!

  • Guest

    You really think it is just about your lack of religion that is off-putting? I am not religious but I find your superior attitude irritating. Do you really feel so inferior that you have to act superior? You think you are smarter and more qualified than people who are religious and run them down as brainless? Don’t you know that it is often the dumbest who think they are smart? I came to this site that there may be common ground with people without religious believe and all I find are people with delusion of self-grandeur. Don’t act the martyr. You are just fighting for your own narrow self-interest to be put above everyone else’s. You can’t accommodate the majority. You just want to be little Hitlers!

    • Rich Lane

      And Godwin’s Law rears its head early in the conversation.

    • Sindigo

      TLDR: The fact I consider the way you act superior means I am superior to you. Meaningless Godwin.

    • Tainda

      And this proves my earlier comment is the correct one.

      It’s not our beliefs that make us “assholes” it’s the perception that they think we think we’re superior.

      • Randomfactor

         To this guy?  Hell yes we’re superior.

      • Randomfactor

         To this guy?  Hell yes we’re superior.

      • coyotenose

        A perception probably largely rooted in their own insecurity about their beliefs. Funny that.

    • Nunya Bidness

      Says the smugly superior guest.

    • Gus Snarp

      At least we’re not calling anybody Nazis.

    • icecreamassassin

      Is this some kind of reverse POE or something?

    • LesterBallard

      The fact that I know that The Flintstones wasn’t a documentary may not make me smarter or better, but it does make me something. Accepting of reality, maybe. Something.

    • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

      Little Hitlers?   What about medium-sized Hitlers?  Or average-sized Hitlers.  How about really tall, but skinny Hilters?  How about a Hilter in the shape of a swan?   Atheist can be Hilters of all shapes and sizes.  Stop trying to pigeon hole atheists as little Hitlers

      • http://www.everydayintheparkwithgeorge.com/ Matt E

        Personally, I’m a fairly fit but could stand to lose a few pounds Hitler.

      • CBrachyrhynchos

        Little Hitlers would make a great comedy horror film in the same vein as Killer Clowns from Outer Space. 

    • Octoberfurst

       Hello Guest. I see you’re back being your usual pompous self. I find it amusing that you are always saying that you don’t believe in God but yet you come to the defense of the religious constantly. You whine about how hypocritical we are and how mean we are to them, blahh, blahh blahh.  It’s the same song and dance over and over again.
        Actually I think you are our own version of S.E. Cupp–with a bit of Ann Coulter thrown in for good measure.  In other words you are a fraud and a spiteful little troll. So please go away and haunt some other site.  We are on to you and your little game.

      • Brian Macker

        Guest didn’t claim to be an atheist, unlike Cupp.

    • amycas

       Li’l Hitler, what a scamp!

    • Thegoodman

      “You really think it is just about your lack of religion that is
      off-putting?”

      Yes. They say we are made in the image of god. We say there is no evidence of that and believing it clearly is based on nothing other than wishful thinking.

       “I am not religious but I find your superior attitude
      irritating.”
      Who are you talking to?

      “Do you really feel so inferior that you have to act
      superior?”
      I am not sure that this is a question. No? I feel neither inferior nor superior to other human beings. Unlike many religious texts that puts people of various colors, sexes, races, or sexualities on a pedestal (and the counter is that the others are below them in every way); I wish that every person be treated with equal respect based upon their own actions and beliefs. If your belief system shows little respect for many people, it is unlikely I will respect your belief system and similarly likely I will not respect you.

      ” You think you are smarter and more qualified than people who
      are religious and run them down as brainless?”
      I think I have put more thought into this matter than many religious people. I am not smarter than but I do have certain abilities that clearly the religious lack, like the ability to call a spade a spade, the ability to discern good evidence from bad evidence, the ability to question what I have been taught and come to a logical conclusion; even if that conclusion contradicts my teachings, unfortunately I lack the ability to not write run on sentences.

      “Don’t you know that it is
      often the dumbest who think they are smart?”
      What does this have to do with anything? Your logic would imply that everyone who thinks they are smart are dumb, and people who think they are dumb are smart. Perhaps I am too stupid to grasp this argument, but I am sure you have mastered it as the genius you are.

      “I came to this site that
      there may be common ground with people without religious believe and all
      I find are people with delusion of self-grandeur.”
      Who? Atheists typically believe we are just small insignificant specs on a small insignificant world in a small and insignificant galaxy which is a part of a very large universe, to which we know no bounds. Theists on the other hand typically believe they are important in the eyes/mind of THE all powerful creator of the universe, and after their relatively short lives they will meet him/her/it in person and have a conversation about their grandparents or cats or whatever. So you think atheists have illusions? Given your logic presented earlier, you must think you are one smart cookie.

      “Don’t act the martyr.
      You are just fighting for your own narrow self-interest to be put above
      everyone else’s. You can’t accommodate the majority. You just want to
      be little Hitlers”
      First we are martyrs for pointing out the oppression of secularism in our country. Second we are self serving and selfish. Third we must submit to the appeal to popularity, “Get over it minority! We rule”. Last, we want to cleanse the world of lesser beings and dominate them. Many of these things do not seem related to me, but I am not smart, so who knows?

    • usclat

      Hey Guest … Shaddup! Go troll on your side of the septic tank … you know, down below. 

    • The Other Weirdo

       For some reason, the words to Springtime for Hitler popped into my head: “Be a schmarty, come and join the Nazi Party!”

      • Tainda

        LOL!  The fuhrer is causing a furor!

    • TiltedHorizon

      “You can’t accommodate the majority. You just want to be little Hitlers!”

      I was not able to give my wife a church wedding. Had to go to city hall. Subsequently, my Wife and I have been asked to be godparents 11 times, each time the parent’s parish turned us away claiming we are not suitable because we were not married in church. Their alternative was to suggest asking any of the local parishioners, absolute strangers, to be godparents. No one has acted on that suggestion, choosing instead to have an atheist “Padrino”. 

      Catholic Social Services, who perform fostering and adoption services,  lost my home study twice and handed off my application to three different social workers, the last one would not even return my calls. I had to find a secular service to become a foster parent.

      My six year old, who wants more than anything to join the boy scouts with his classmates, is unwelcome because he is the son of an atheist.

      Last Halloween, I took my son and his cousins (all of whom are my godchildren) pumpkin picking. The kids passed by a table filled with Halloween cards which where free to take. While contemplating between the hay ride or the corn maze I noticed one of the boys became visibly upset. When I asked what was bothering him, he replied in silence by handing me one of the cards. The front read “Trick or Treat”, the back read “The real Trick is thinking you are good enough to get into heaven”. It continued with the boilerplate threats of hell and damnation unless one accepts jesus.

      Spare us the sanctimonious judgement, wanting to be treated with respect is not narrow self-interest, it is not a desire to be “put above everyone else”, we just want to be treated like everyone else and not considered outside of some imaginary norm. As long the religious feels free to limit my involvement in society or feel they have the right to mind my business, then I have all the right to be a thorn in their side.  

      • Indorri

        I like this reply. It decimates Guest’s argument. It’s similar to marriage equality: we are expected to be accommodating to another’s preference even when it does not affect them at all. T
        Opponents demand we don’t deviate from their own norms while crowing about freedom of choice.

    • Bcaveney9
    • http://www.facebook.com/conticreative Marco C

      The site you are looking for is assholes.org

    • coyotenose

       I am so dressing up as Chibi Hitler for Halloween now.

    • Isilzha

       You may not be religious, but it seems very likely you’re a god believer. 

    • Deven Kale

       Had to be done:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-axJTzj0VU

      (If somebody could inform me how to embed the video in the comment that’d be awesome. I can’t figure it out)

    • Brian macker

      You sound religious to me.

  • machintelligence

    If invited to say the grace, I always politely decline. But I am always quiet and respectful when someone else says it.

    • Gus Snarp

      Hmm, this has me thinking. I wonder if I could come up with a “grace” in form only, that really elevated humanity and science, but sounded so nice that no one could really complain and not come off like the bigger jerk. It would be nice to be prepared with something like that in case I was asked. I must now go search the internet for a Humanist grace that’s not too spiritual sounding…

      • BeasKnees

        Please share if you happen to find one!  It seems to be that in my family, “politely declining” is still unacceptable.  I feel like this would be a good compromise.  

        • Gus Snarp

          A lot of options come up when you google “humanist grace”, but none are quite satisfactory to me. I’m not sure what I’m looking for exactly, but I haven’t found it yet. The best one I’ve seen is this:

          Let us think thrice while we are gathering here for this meal. First, let us think of the people we are with today, and make the most of the pleasure of sharing food and drink together. Then, let us think of the people who made the food and drink and brought it to us, who serve us and wait on us, and who clear up and clean up after us. Finally, let us think of all the people all over the world, members with us in the human family, who will not have a meal today.  - 

          Nicolas Walter

        • Kagneuman

          JS Woodsworth was a Canadian social democrat, and his secular grace, called “Grace Before Meat”, is a tradition for many Canadians-fresh in my mind because we just celebrated our Thanksgiving! Enjoy:

          We are thankful for these and all the good things of life. We recognize that they are a part of our common heritage and come to us through the efforts of our brothers and sisters the world over. What we desire for ourselves, we wish for all. To this end, may we take our share in the world’s work and the world’s struggles. 

          • BeasKnees

            This is really great and will definitely help this Thanksgiving.  Thank you for sharing!  :)

          • kaydenpat

            Nice prayer.  A Christian would think you were praying to God.

    • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

      Yes, agreed, just like you I won’t ever say grace, but I’ll bow my head respectfully, *particularly* if I’m having a meal in someone else’s house. I’ve learned how to be a nice Guest.

      Unlike some.

      • eonL5

        Well, unlike my son, I stay quiet, but I don’t bow my head. That’s a little too hard to separate from its symbolic meaning. I just look around or stare at my food.

      • amycas

         I won’t bow my head in a friend’s house. Not bowing my head doesn’t make me a mean guest. Not bowing my head doesn’t disrupt their prayer. In fact, I feel like if I did take part, it would be an insult to them. Why would they want me to pretend to believe as they do?

        • allein

          I tend to look around to watch what other people are doing. I figure if anyone notices that I’m not bowing my head, they’re probably not bowing theirs for the same reason and are unlikely to say anything. If they did say something, I’d have to ask why they weren’t bowing their own head during the grace.

  • TnkAgn

    As an aging Vietnam veteran, I’ve attended Memorial and Veteran’s Day gatherings for the last few years. Inevitably, some preacher/chaplain will be invited to give a convocation and prayer. I stare straight ahead and think other thoughts until that nonsense is done. I do so quietly in my best Margaret Mead.

    • Archaeopteryx1861

      This is my method as well. I do not bow my head or in any way make a prayerful stance, just keep a passive expression on my face. I spend prayer time looking around to see who else isn’t praying.

  • Evertoniancalvinist

    One easy way for you guys to refute this charge of “being an asshole” is to ask the accuser ” why shouldn’t I be an asshole?” Seriously, what good, logical reason can anyone give an atheist when challenging his/her behavior? At the end of it all, nothing you ever thought, did or said will matter. If being an asshole is working for you, be an asshole. You may try and make up some pretend reason why being nice is good for society, but that is meaningless in the end. So let’s do an experiment: Sometime today, tell somebody to F-off for no reason. And when they ask why you did that, tell them you are being consistent with your atheistic worlview. ……..Telling me to F-off doesn’t count. It has to be somebody in person.

    • Tainda

      In that case, everyone in the world is an asshole.

      Wait, that’s actually true.

    • http://twitter.com/the_ewan Ewan

      There’s not much point telling you to fuck off, you’re away in your own little bubble disconnected from reality anyway.

    • Helanna

      See, now I’m positive you’re trolling. You just keep posting the same unintelligible nonsense over and over and over, and you *never* reply to anyone who actually challenges your views.

      Do you really have nothing better to do? 

    • LesterBallard

      Have you seen any polyps up there in your ass?

    • Octoberfurst

       Shouldn’t you be at a Calvinist site where you can sit around and admire each other over the fact that you’re all special because God chose to “save” you and not others?  Why hang out here spewing your nonsense? Seriously nobody here gives a rat’s ass about your opinion so why bother?

      • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

        It’s an affirmation game. For the self-deluded to feel powerful and privileged, from time-to-time they have to mix with the hoi-polloi, so they can be reminded that They Are Indeed Special in the Eyes of God.

        • Octoberfurst

           Ok well it all makes sense now. Thanks.  It’s nice to  know that he will drop by from time to time to grace us with his presence. Oh lucky us!

    • Question Everything

      Yes, the people I’ve helped to feed, clothe, and find housing for who may literally be alive today due to my efforts obviously don’t think my behavior had any impact on anything.

      I try to be nice because I think it’s better for everyone, which is an advantage for society – if someone else thinks I’m horrible for also not believing in their particular god, I don’t care, I’ll keep trying to help people and improve the world as I can.  Randomly insulting people doesn’t help to improve anything, so I think I’ll avoid your experiment.  Instead, I suggest you randomly donate to a local food bank and not say you’re a Calvinist, and see if they reject your donation for not being religious-based.

    • Thegoodman

      “..tell them you are being consistent with your atheistic worlview.”

      Please expand upon this. You seem to be equating atheism to nihilism. You may have very well met a person who is both, but they are not often related.

      An atheist could argue, and I have on occasion, that the exact opposite is true. Many theists approach “this” life as a nihilist. Nothing we do here matters, so as long as you accept Jesus (or confess, or whatever). Many of the religious view our time here on earth as punishment and a test for the greater glory that is to come to us beyond death.

      All that being said, I think you are trolling and projecting your own misguided opinions about atheists upon us all.

      Why would an atheist be an asshole? Perhaps only in order to live up to the standards the likes of Evertoniancalvinist sets for us. He hates us for existing, so we are assholes just to annoy him.

      • Evertoniancalvinist

        My point is that “not being an asshole to people” is something that makes sense in the Christian worldview. However, given your worldview, you cannot make sense of ethics and morality. If you are honest, any morality or ethical standard you adhere to would be completely arbitrary. If human beings are nothing more than a set of complex chemical reactions or a mass of molecules, how in the world are you going to tell me not to be an asshole? We don’t think lower lifeforms like rats ever act like assholes…..do we. I’ll tell you why we can make sense of assholes: we are created in the image of God and have a standard to judge if someone is an asshole.

        • TiltedHorizon

          “My point is that “not being an asshole to people” is something that makes sense in the Christian worldview”

          Yet so many Christians fail at this.

          “given your worldview, you cannot make sense of ethics and morality. ”

          Sure I can. As part of a society, my actions either work for or against me and my family.

          If Christianity was consistent in it’s morals, then slavery would still be accepted.

          “If you are honest,”

          Presupposition, i.e. anyone who does not agree with you is a lying.

          Feel free to cite an example of any ‘Absolute’ Morality/Ethical standards to evidence your point. 

          ” I’ll tell you why we can make sense of assholes: we are created in the
          image of God and have a standard to judge if someone is an asshole. ”

          Read: entitlement, hubris, the earmarks of an asshole.
           

        • Gus Snarp

          All that you’ve managed to show is that you don’t actually understand our worldviews (not all atheists have the same one) at all, nor have you actually tried. 

          For all our sakes, move on.

        • Indorri

          I am motivated.

          Repeat that over and over until you realize the basis for your morals are not different from atheists.

          • Evertoniancalvinist

            Thats my point.  We do live under the same absolute morals.  Difference is, I can account for them….you cannot.    

            • TiltedHorizon

               Please provide a single example of an “absolute moral”.

              • Evertoniancalvinist

                Law of non-contradiction

                • Deven Kale

                  How does that apply to what TiltedHorizon said?

                • TiltedHorizon

                  The “Law of noncontradiction” states that something cannot be both true and not true at the same time when dealing with the same context.

                  You are not dealing with the same context, you are asserting that morality is acquired from an “Absolute Morality”. This dynamic requires that the entities be separate, one entity “Morality” has to inherit from the “Absolute Morality” and are therefore not the same context. This means “Absolute Morality” is a context separate from the lesser “Morality”. You have yet to submit evidence for any moral or ethical principal which meet the burden of absolutism. Without which, one cannot even conclude if it is true or not. “Law of non-contradiction” fails to apply here.

            • michael both

              ‘Accounting for morals’ based on a horrible book created by man that describes an imaginary being is just about the worst excuse / reason I can think of.

              Throw away your dogma, enjoy free-thinking, and move forward with the rest of your fellow human beings as we try and make our one life as good for each other and ourselves as we can. It’s a tough job, we need all the help we can get.

            • Brian Scott

              You do not understand. Repeat it again.

              I am motivated.

            • amycas

               Muslims can account for their morals by pointing to their god…what’s your point? You still haven’t shown that your god is real or shown how you’re not using either “a priori” assumptions or your own moral code to determine which god’s morals you will follow and accept.

        • curtcameron

          “I’ll tell you why we can make sense of assholes: we are created in the image of God and have a standard to judge if someone is an asshole.”

          You may have a point there – the God described in the Bible is the gold standard for assholes.

          • Evertoniancalvinist

            Curt… You just judged the character of the God of the bible. Your conclusion is that He is an asshole. Q. What moral standard are you using to make this judgement? In order to make a negative or positive judgement on character you need a standard. What is yours sir?

            • Isilzha

               Why do you think humans need “god” (and specifically your nasty god) for morality?  We don’t need a god to understand how we treat people has an effect on them and also affects how they will treat us in return.  We don’t need a god to understand that an orderly society has benefits to us and others.  We don’t need a god for anything really.

              We CERTAINLY don’t need the god from that horrible nasty bible.  Why would you want to get your morals from a god that sent a bear to kill 42 children for making fun of a bald guy?  Why would you want to worship a god that directs his followers to stone their disobedient children? 

              • Evertoniancalvinist

                Was it wrong for God to send a bear to kill 42 children?  Who says what standard of morality are you appealing to?  Or is this just your arbitrary opinion?  Or are you going with what the majority thinks?  I’ll tell you what you’re doing:  You are using the absolute standard of morality God set up to condemn God.  You’re borrowing.  Again.

                • Isilzha

                   You’re not making a bit of sense, dude. 

                  So, if god set the standard of morality then why is he violating it?  Do you agree it’s moral even for a god to slaughter children for making fun of a bald guy?  Do you really want to claim that as your moral foundation?  I think that makes you a very immoral and downright horrible person.

            • curtcameron

              I’m not sure what you mean. My judgment on morality is my opinion, just like yours and everyone else’s.

              • Evertoniancalvinist

                Curt…. that would mean morality is subjective.  So… my follow up question for you is: Q. Is it wrong for people to molest children for fun?  Remember, you already said morality is arbitrary and based on individual opinion. Please answer buddy.

                • curtcameron

                  In my opinion, it’s wrong for someone to molest children.

                  What’s your opinion on that?

                • Evertoniancalvinist

                  It’s absolutely wrong! Wrong in any society. Wrong in any place on the earth. The Christian can give definitive answers on simple questions because we believe in absolute right and wrong. If you don’t start with the Chrostian God you end up spewing absurdities like Devan.

                • curtcameron

                  What do you mean “absolutely” wrong? I agree that it’s wrong – that’s my opinion too. By “absolutely” do you mean that you think it’s really really really wrong, like really? Because I do too!

                  Or are you saying that it’s wrong in some absolute sense? Because that would make no sense – how can an opinion be absolute?

                  Even if there is a god, it’s still just opinion. I have my opinion, you have yours, and god would have his. The fact that something would be this god’s opinion doesn’t make it absolute – what, just because he can torture you forever, his opinion is the only one that counts? It would still be just his opinion.

                  But there apparently isn’t a god – we just have to get along with each other by doing the best we can.

                • Evertoniancalvinist

                  Hey bro… give me your email so I can get your phone number. i need to talk to you real quick about this one.

                • amycas

                   Is it wrong for a god to drown the entire earth and commit genocide and only save 8 people? Since your morals have grounding (as you claim) it should be easy for you to answer this question. Is it absolutely wrong to commit genocide (by Christian moral standards)? If so, was it wrong for your god to commit genocide?

                • Deven Kale

                  “Is it wrong for people to molest children for fun?”

                  That depends on the society. In a society where it’s considered immoral for a man to marry a virgin, it would be a moral act to not only molest but even rape a young girl so they would not be punished, maybe even killed, for their virginity later

                  Not necessarily for fun and hypothetical, yes, but the assumption that it could never be considered moral to molest a child is false. Morality is wholly dependent upon the society being considered, and I’m really getting bored with all these ridiculous “is it moral to do this or that” arguments.

                • Evertoniancalvinist

                  Thank you Dev. Good job. Guys, check this out. Deven decided to be consistent with her/his worldview and therefore could not definitively say molesting children for fun is wrong! You see how the atheist worldview is reduced to absurdity? Deven, you don’t live by a school, do you?

                • Deven Kale

                   Don’t get me wrong, I never said it was a society that I would want to live in, only that it could hypothetically exist.

                • Evertoniancalvinist

                  Yeah but if it hypothetically existed, you could not defenitively condemn it!!  Oh Deven. Your worldview  has been exposed. 

                • Deven Kale

                  It’s an example of choosing the lesser of two evils. That does not mean it should not be condemned,. That entire society is worthy of condemnation,  for just that one reason.

                • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

                  Of course not, because it harms the child, and provides no benefit.*

                  (*to distinguish from necessary harm, such as surgery.)

                • Evertoniancalvinist

                  It harms the child, but gives pleasure to the molester. There are two people involved in this action. One is receiving negative affects and the other positive. Given your atheistic worldview, why did you say this action is wrong? Try to be consistent with your worldview when you answer this one. Try not to borrow.

                • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

                  I answered you. It causes harm (and lasting trauma, both physical and mental) to the child, AND has no benefit whatsoever to the child. Therefore, unlike emergency surgery or a field amputation (both of which are harmful and traumatic, but ultimately may save a life), the act is immoral.

                  If you cannot understand this simple statement, I suggest you go back to pre-K and pay attention this time through.

                • Evertoniancalvinist

                  go back and read what I wrote.  It brings pleasure to the molester. One party receives pleasure …the other receives hard.  Why is wrong?

                • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

                  So, by your logic, it was okay for my abuser to abuse me — physically, mentally, sexually — because it brought him pleasure. Never mind that he harmed me, nope, all about his pleasure and his power.

                  IT IS WRONG BECAUSE IT IS CAUSING PHYSICAL AND MENTAL TRAUMA TO ANOTHER PERSON.

                  Fucking HELL, how can you not understand that?

                • Deven Kale

                   You’re working under the assumption that molestation always causes harm, which isn’t always the case. While an old man touching a young girl may seem icky, if she enjoys it
                  then I have a hard time seeing the true harm that’s done to her. In other words, direct harm is not the only consideration in what is moral, there are other considerations as well.

                  The reason we have laws concerning the age at which it’s legal to touch a person sexually is because there’s valid reason to believe that, before that point, they aren’t able to understand the possible ramifications of sexual behavior, and that pregnancy is dangerous to their health. Disallowing fully mature adults from having any sexual relations with children is, in my opinion, primarily because pregnancy is dangerous to a little girls life. Since we’ve evolved (yes, evolved again. That damn evolution thing that you Christians can’t stand) an aversion to allowing any person to kill another for fun, we’ve criminalized this behavior regardless of whether the victim enjoys it. The reason it’s also illegal for little boys is because it teaches them behavior which they can then act out with the girls.

                  Now I’m not saying that it’s always pleasant for the victim because, in the vast majority of cases, it’s not. I’m only explaining why it’s also illegal in those cases where they actually do enjoy it.

                • Evertoniancalvinist

                  Deven.. I applaud you for being consistent with your worldview, but it has exposed you as being absurd and more than a little bit creepy. 

                • Matt in Memphis

                  Great, now tell us your god’s opinion on child molestation and cite your references. Please tell us where to find this answer and how you know your god is the source of that direction as opposed to some  ancient ordinary mortal human claiming to be god’s proxy. I would also like a biblical example of divine instruction on how to form a moral conclusion when balancing the potential pleasure of an agent’s action vs the potential harm inflicted on the object of that action.  

            • amycas

               What moral standard are you using to determine that the Christian god is moral? If you use the Christian moral standard, then you’ve just made an “a priori” assumption. If you are using your own moral standard, then it falls to the same problems our moral standards do. How do you account for this problem?

              • Evertonian

                I’m not using any standard to judge the morality of the Christian God –Amy. You guys are. He is good because He said he is good. I start there. Now if you don’t here, you won’t be able to make sense of reality at all and will be forced down the same sad path as Deven.

                • Evertonian

                  *** meant to say… Now if you don’t start here, you won’t be able to make sense of morality.

                • Indorri

                  “I’m not using any standard”

                  False. Why did you choose to define God as good? Repeat the mantra.

                • amycas

                   “He is good because He said he is good. I start there”

                  Why do you start there? Why do you believe what “He” said? I don’t have to use any standard to judge the morality of the Christian God–the Christians do it themselves. You have no reason to believe this god is good other than that you claim that “He” asserted it. Why believe this assertion?

        • Matt in Memphis

          I hate to tell you this, but you don’t get your worldview from any god or gods either. If you are a Christian, you are getting your worldview from a collection of badly translated legends and fanatical had-me-down hearsay accounts concocted by very primitive semi-literate people who thought diseases were caused by demons, that that slavery was fine, and women were property. So, essentially, your worldview is not only subjective as well, it is based on the subjective views of primitive people who were significantly less empathetic and scientifically literate than any modern 5-year old. So until you have any sort of evidence that Yahweh, Jesus, and whatever other ancient imaginary friends you think you have are specifically responsible for magically infusing this world with these ethereal objective standards, please stop with the self-righteous assertions of moral superiority.  You might come across as an asshole

        • Thegoodman

          Despite your bible telling you that god created man, there is no evidence of the god you speak of until at earliest maybe 5000 years ago*. Your logic would imply that everyone who existed before then was immoral, unethical, and an asshole. I would assume that a society where every person is immoral, unethical, and an asshole would not last long at all. It is unlikely a society would even develop under those circumstances. Yet, despite your flawed logic, societies not only developed but they thrived. They went on to weave elaborate creation myths that seeded elements your own religious founders could steal and abuse as they saw fit, in order to manipulate you.

          You say anyone without your god is immoral, unethical, and an asshole? You also say this in a discusssion as to how/why atheists are considered assholes?

          *Ring Ring* “Hello pot, this is kettle speaking”

          *I am not a theologist, just tossing a number out there, the specifics are not important

        • Deven Kale

           Dude, what the hell? Why the hell do you think a primate would be able to judge the morality of a rodent? They’re nowhere close to related.

          Now other apes, on the other hand, we can definitely study them and judge their morality. In fact, we do it all the time. Watch a documentary about chimpanzees and notice that the way they behave is very similar to the way they do. We can judge their actions in reference to ours due to our similarities.

          You’ve also been told at least once now that our moral systems have evolved (yes, I’m saying evolution explains our morality. Sorry that I can account for my morality without making up a god for it to come from) over millions of years into what we have now. Our morality is coded into our genes through millenia of fine-tuning for what works best. If you want proof of this, go take a few years off and study some apes. I personally tend to trust those researchers who’ve already done that for me, but I have a feeling you’re going to have a problem with them too.

          • Evertoniancalvinist

            So an abstract concept such as morality evolved out of physical matter?  And did it evolve differently in each brain?  And if so, is all morality arbitrary?  Deven… do yourself a favor and stop responding on this topic.  You do better when you just Ad Hom.  Let me give you a second cahnce.  Is molesting children for fun always wrong?  This is your big chance to allow your atheist buddies to change their minds about you being creepy 

            • Deven Kale

               In a word, yes. There is no valid reason (beyond a theological agenda) to disbelieve that abstract concepts such as morality evolved out of physical matter. Once what we call thought emerged as an emergent property of brain chemistry, abstract concepts such as morality were inevitable and just as susceptible to evolutionary processes. Those who behaved in ways which allowed them to have and preserve their offspring were more likely to have their genes (and therefore their thought process/morality) to continue on.

              Those with the most effective morality were more successful, those with the maladaptive morality less so. This is why different species of creatures behave differently, because their thought processes/morality that got them there necessarily differed. There’s no reason to think moral differences between species need be any more similar than their physical differences. Hence why it’s ridiculous to try and infer human morality be anything like that of lions or rats, just because they’re all animals. I mean after all, a chicken’s an animal too, so should I expect you to lay an egg?

              So yes, there is also moral variation within species which explains why some people consider one thing moral while the vast majority of society considers it immoral, as well as the opposite. Just like some people have big ears and others small. This explains why some people consider it moral to ban homosexuals from those they love, while others consider it immoral. This is also why societies have, in general, grown to be more moral over time. The morally maladaptive (unable to protect themselves or their offspring) individuals are selected against, and the ones who are most successful at protecting their offspring are selected for.

              This explains all of morality, unless you have a personal reason to disbelieve it.

              Nice attempt at poisoning the well there, but I really care very little about what others think of me in terms of creepiness. I say things simply because I see them as true, regardless of the opinions of those who read them.

            • Indorri

              “Is molesting children for fun always wrong?”

              I find it strange you add “for fun” there.

              If you want an answer, it is “yes”.

              Now I’m sure you’re itching to reboot the Reformed memebot, but before you do, examine the following statement: “Rotten milk tastes disgusting.”

              Write a method comparing this statement to “Molesting children is wrong”.

              Notice they have the same type of input and output.

              And repeat the mantra upon which these statements are made: I am motivated.

              It may take a while for the debugger to run. But you will eventually realize that the Calvinism memebot contains syntax errors.

        • amycas

           “My point is that “not being an asshole to people” is something that makes sense in the Christian worldview”

          My point is that “not being an asshole to people” is something that makes sense in the Hindi worldview.

          My point is that “not being an asshole to people” is something that makes sense in the Buddhist worldview.

          My point is that “not being an asshole to people” is something that makes sense in the Muslim worldview.

          My point is that “not being an asshole to people” is something that makes sense in the Jain worldview.

          My point is that “not being an asshole to people” is something that makes sense in the humanist worldview.

          You see what I did there? Y0u can use any religion/philosophy and claim that “not being an asshole” is actually grounded in that worldview. Even if I were to agree with you that we would need a god to establish morality, you still haven’t even gotten close to convincing me that god is the Christian god. You would have to show me how the Christian god’s morals are better than all those other morals. You can’t do that using Christian morals as a starting point, because that would be an “a priori” assumption that the Christian morals are already true. So whose morals do you use to show that Christian morals are better than all the other moral systems?

        • kaydenpat

          You do know that even today there are Christians who support slavery?
          http://angryblackladychronicles.com/2012/10/06/arkansas-republican-jon-hubbard-r-grand-wizard-thinks-slavery-was-a-blessing/

          Even though I’m a Christian, I see nothing in the way some Christians behave which makes them any more moral than atheists or adherents of other religions.  To say otherwise is nonsense.

    • coyotenose

       Yeah, this dipshit is just trolling. He’s clearly ignoring the refutations of his claims about other peoples’ personal philosophies and is just saying the same moronic, evil gibberish every day. Nothing for him but “flagged for spam” from here on out.

      • Evertoniancalvinist

        Don’t flag me for spam yet. I’m trying to prove that the only way to make sense of life is if you start with the Christian God. And don’t write off our only hope, Jesus Christ. There is forgiveness of sins, and life everlasting found in Christ.

        • Isilzha

           There is no god.  There is no jesus.  And your bible is a nasty immoral book.

        • Willy Occam

           “And don’t write off our only hope, Jesus Christ.”

          Damn… I thought Obi-Wan Kenobi was our only hope.  I guess I’ve been following the wrong Jedi all this time. 

        • michael both

          You have taken on a thankless, impossible and pointless task. I sometimes wonder if some religious people have secret masochistic tendencies.

          • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

            Secret?

            This one’s been screaming “flog me” for days, now…

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      Your proctologist called. He found your head.

    • http://twitter.com/InMyUnbelief TCC

      You may try and make up some pretend reason why being nice is good for society, but that is meaningless in the end.

      This is a funny trick but an entirely transparent one. You’ve basically said, “Go on, I dare you to find meaning in life…and you can’t appeal to anything in the natural world, either!” It’s circular to say that nothing has meaning except without a supernatural or transcendent basis if you say that nothing that isn’t supernatural or transcendent can have meaning.

      The truth is that cooperation and altruism have utility, and thus they have meaning. Those are not the only reasons not to be an asshole, but they work pretty well for civilized people. Your attempts to insist that atheists are nothing more than people lacking an anchor for ethics are simply juvenile and petty.

    • Brian Macker

      Hypocrite, most of your comments are of an asshole.

  • http://twitter.com/TominousTone Thomas Lawson

    She’s great. Can’t wait to see her Saturday. I totally agree with the Margaret Mead thing, but in a time travel kind of way instead of visiting a different culture–I feel like Marty McFly at supper with his grandparents.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Arthur-Bryne/100002441143047 Arthur Bryne

    Depressingly, I think this is only part of the explanation. I suspect (with some slight empirical support) Atheist groups in North America tend to have somewhat more high-SDO (though low-RWA) personalities than the overall population.

    This shouldn’t surprise too many people who’ve noticed the “Who is John Galt” ad on the side, here….

  • KeithCollyer

    I also do the Margaret Mead thing. It works at weddings as well.

    • Sindigo

      Hen Parties, Stag events, baby showers and Team building events too.

      • Scramble

        If I could like this a thousand times, I would. It’s the only thing that makes these heinous, overly forced social events bearable. 

        I will never forget the time I was at a bridal shower, with a bunch of ladies I hadn’t seen in a really long time. We spent a good 45 minutes to an hour all catching up, hanging out, having great conversation and some good laffs. Only to have it all interrupted by the hostess, who declared it was time to stop all that and play some lame party games. It utterly killed the vibe, and the fun quotient plummeted. What could have been a great afternoon turned into a chore. To me, saying grace has a similar effect on a holiday meal, and a similar stench of self-serving obligation fulfillment which kills natrual socializing. 

        • Scramble

          That said, I actually have no beef with expressing a genuine gratitude-to the actual sources of the bounty, of course-for the food and the company (see my post below re: J.S. Woodsworth). They key words being GENUINE and ACTUAL SOURCES.

          • Sindigo

            I got married ~1 year ago. I have yet to have my stag do. Though we having a baby head-wetting ceremony in a couple of weeks. At a beer festival. Don’t worry though, the baby’s home early. ;)

            We never said grace in my house. Despite being raised X’tian but my American cousins and their three always do. It’s pretty odd to us, to be honest and when I’ve cooked a meal for the family, often 20 people it feels like a bit of a poke in the eye when someone else gets the credit.

    • Gus Snarp

      My grandmother in law was a Jehovah’s Witness, so we gave her the funeral she would have wanted. It was definitely an anthropology exercise for all of us in the family, Catholics and atheists alike.

      • Sindigo

        What’s a Jehovah’s Witness funeral ilke?

        My wife and I were talking about funeral arrangements recently (we were walking through a graveyard, trying to calm a screaming 10-week old so the subject came up). I said that if I die soon, i.e. before my (very X’tian Mother) then she should have the funeral for me that she wants. I’m an atheist, so I like the idea of a humanist ceremony but, to be honest it’s not really for me, is it?

        • Gus Snarp

          It’s not really that weird, just that the preacher goes on and on and basically lays out their whole afterlife theology and talks about how the deceased of course by being a devout Jehovah’s Witness will rise from the grave to be with Jesus during the second coming. It’s pretty creepy. They start by reading the verses about Lazarus, which actually say everyone is worried about Jesus raising him because he must surely stink by now, and describe him as being wrapped for burial but never actually say that he turned out not to be a rotting corpse, so now we have this image of a stinking, rotting mummy Lazarus in our heads and then he goes into how everyone is dead and buried, and then in the end times the good Jehovah’s Witnesses are bodily resurrected to be with Jesus, and I think there’s some bit about Jesus army because my wife leaned over to me and whispered: “So basically Jesus has a zombie army?” And I’m thinking, yeah, Jesus is a vampire (grants immortality by giving people his blood to drink) who can also raise a zombie army…

          The strangest part really was that these people were all strangers and that this religion had basically taken her away from her family because she refused to come to Christmas or birthdays anymore. There’s also some possibility that it took her life, because she needed a blood transfusion and as a JW had a card saying she didn’t want one. She finally consented, but it was basically too late, though it’s not really clear if it would have saved her or could have been in time. I like to blame the JWs anyway though, I have my own fire and brimstone prepared for the next ones who come to my door…So basically, it’s just a chance to preach. Actually not as anthropologically weird as mainline Protestant, Baptist, or Catholic services. No call and response, no incense burning, just a guy talking about how the deceased will get to be in Jesus’ zombie army some day, which will be sooner than you think! Not nearly as off putting as a Salvation Army funeral, which is very proselytizing and has people in ostentatious faux military uniforms – but that’s another story altogether.

          • Sindigo

            Thanks for that. I’ve never attended anything but Anglican (brief) and Catholic (looooooong) funerals.

            We had JWs turn up at the door last week and I was on the toilet so my wife answered the door and I didn’t get a chance to talk to them. Gutted.

  • BeasKnees

    If someone thinks you are simply “immoral”, is it the same as someone thinking you are an asshole?  I don’t think my family thinks I’m an asshole necessarily, but they certainly think I’m going to hell.  

    • Question Everything

      I think that’s the difference – with family, they pray for your ‘soul’.  For strangers, they see you as a jerk (generalizations for both, of course).

  • Ida Know

    I think it’s all basically tone-trolling, and has nothing to do with the actual manner of the atheist or the content of what they are saying.  If they can label a vocal atheist as an “asshole” — just like people concerned for social justice, the environment, etc. get called “smug” — then that makes people feel justified in not listening to a POV different from theirs.

  • CBrachyrhynchos

    If I was a drinking person, I think I’d do a drinking game every time the stereotype of atheist assholes came up in what is ostensibly a conversation about religious pluralism. 

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/MIIBU7KRWPRV7GYQ4VKOP4MORA Paul

    I love the answer to the second question here. If prayer is asked or implied, I just sit quietly and be respectful. I understand the need to do those things from the religious mindset, because I used to be. I think it’s utterly pointless and banal now, but I understand the urge (or rather the pre-modern reasoning) to be thankful to something unseen for what you have, or to take away suffering. I’ve grown to understand that no one can supernaturally help me through those situations, so I have to figure out how to deal myself, or with someone else.

  • Rbray18

    eh.i see many atheists online and the big name ones as assholes. and i’m a atheist myself and share most of their views. they just still seem like cocky cocks when they make their points.course i also see most religious people as assholes too. and well most humans period.

    • Gus Snarp

      Of course we’re talking about activists and we’re talking about the internet. You may or may not be familiar with the Greater Fuckwad Theory: http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2004/03/19

      But anonymity is not always needed. People are bigger assholes when they’re separated from the people they’re interacting with. So basically, everyone’s a bit more of an asshole online, and some people become raging assholes online.

      And activists can often seem like assholes, especially to people who disagree with them, but sometimes even to their allies. Speaking up for minority viewpoints is basically a bit rude in American society. While we strongly support the legal freedom to do so, we don’t really expect anyone we know to do it.

      So online atheist activists seem like assholes. I might seem like an asshole online. In real life, I don’t generally talk about atheism. If someone asks, I’ll tell them, but I don’t get into religious conversations with my Catholic in-laws at all, and when I have those conversations with others I’m unfailingly polite. Well, except for the fact that I’m speaking up for a minority viewpoint.

      • Rbray18

        well. i don’t see Hemant as a asshole. it’s just for me it’s about how it’s said. not what is said. i know many will atheists as assholes no matter how they say something but that doesn’t mean you have to be a dick about it. but eh what do i know.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Harrison/23417637 Michael Harrison

    It takes a rare person not to become condescending with the Margaret Mead approach. I say this as someone who isn’t one of those rare people.

  • A3Kr0n

    I only SEEM like an asshole? Damn, I’ll try harder!

  • Deven Kale

    I love Julia Sweeney. Her 2-hour monologue “Letting Go of God” was on TV one day and I liked it so much I recorded it at my Catholic Mother-in-laws house (amazingly, she let it stay!) It’s one of the things that made me realize it was okay to be an atheist. More recently, she was the first guest on the newly restarted “Parenting Within Reason” podcast too, and I just love the way she says things.

  • Rjjross

    Atheists are a small minority of the total population. If we ever want our message disseminated we need a receptive audience. Militant Atheism has turned much of the population against us. We can stay true to our principles and still remain civil. We need not purposely aggravate moderates and moderate Christians.   

    • michael both

      The problem is that even some moderate religious people seem to get aggravated by atheists existing, discussing things, putting up billboards or opposing religious-based discrimination (eg being anti marriage equality), or that these moderates get riled up by the extremists.

      Some ‘aggravation’ is unavoidable, unfortunately, and even when handled in a civil manner there will be problems because of a difference in opinion.

      • OregoniAn

         A balance of the two is needed. We need to be militant in that collectively our presence (and growing prominence) must be continually presented to the community at large. At the same time it is important that as individuals we demonstrate to those around us that – yes – we are the face of atheists, and in most respects we share the same dreams, goals and compassion for our fellow people.

        • OregoniAn

           . . .  and I forgot to add: Julia Sweeney is such a class act. But, dammit.. Was “Pat” a boy or a girl??? Augh!

  • Randy

    So how is referring to “my mom” as “these people” who apparently need anthropological study by their own offspring being any less of an asshole?  It’s just being a dishonest asshole.

    • Brian Macker

      So all anthropologists who participate are assholes?

  • Scooby Don’t

    Ah, yes, it’s that time of year again. I dread Thanksgiving solely because of the inevitable mealtime prayer. Thanksgiving for my family usually lasts for about seven days–that’s seven prayers. I have yet to figure out exactly what I should do when it comes time to pray. My family gathers at the table, joins hands and then commences with a prayer, complete with head bowing and typically a mention of god.

    In years past I joined hands, bowed my head, and mouthed “amen.” As I became more staunch in my atheism, I eventually got the courage to stop fitting in and start standing out. I dropped the amen mouthing, and as of a couple years ago stopped bowing my head. Last year, some family members noticed and asked if I was “alright” while we were eating (my family has the best timing and tact!) The defiant head up, straight ahead stare was, to them, a sign something was wrong. I was of course fine (until they asked, that is.) I continue to join hands as I’ve rationalized it as a simple gesture of familial bonding, though with family like this I sometimes wonder why I bother. As I get older, I get more comfortable in standing up for my beliefs before my family, but I’m still a bit uncomfortable as I’m not completely “out” yet. I don’t advertise my atheism, but I don’t shy away if anyone asks me point blank what I think. I’m actually a little disappointed I haven’t been able make the big reveal yet since no one has asked.

    Some people see this prayer problem much more simply and just go along with the ritual. I quite appreciate that method actually, but for me, I’m no longer comfortable going along with these customs when I disagree so strongly with their views. Doing so, in my opinion, implies to them that they’re right and grants them more power. I’d really like to drop the hand holding since in their minds it does have to do with god, regardless of my family bonding gesture rationalization. I haven’t yet taken it that far because, just like this post is talking about, I’ll be labeled an asshole and cast out further than I already am. Maybe this will be the year where, just as the prayer is concluded and we begin to eat, someone will ask what my problem is and why I’m not participating. Can someone pass the gravy?

  • Anthony McCarthy

    Oooh, too late but, you know, the reason atheists can seem like assholes is because the ones who are always going on about being atheists are usually assholes about it. The atheists I’ve known who weren’t assholes were about as unobnoxious about their atheism as the religious people who aren’t assholes are about their religion.

    • newenglandsun

      I agree.

  • AtheistFaith

    This is an incredibly smug way of looking at things. Maybe when I hang out with atheists who ridicule religion and think, “Oh, I’m just among more primitive beings who feel the need to belittle others for what they believe in!” I guess Christians are leading the new world order to meet their own ends. My mother is the Illuminati guys! Ya got me! I never met an angry christian because I’m not a dick to them and I listen to what they have to say, even if they might be misled. I respect their right to believe it. This is what an asshole isn’t like. If you seem to be an asshole, you probably are. Sure, some people don’t want to hear what you have to say. Just drop it. It doesn’t even matter. It’s an answer none of you will be able comprehend in the long run. If you haven’t been into space and most likely will never be, then what is the point of caring about shit like this? You’re small and insignificant. You are pretty much nothing if you could view the universe from outside. Dust in the wind. What is the point of stupid petty shit like this. I was hanging out with a group of friends and some born again guy came up and started sharing his religion with us. I was respectful and listened to what he had to say. Others would mock and ridicule him. This girl made a point of saying how stupid he is and how she can only see logic when her IQ is 75. Really, this girl is NOT bright in any way, shape, or form. You can talk to me, someone with no quarrel with religion who is not an atheist, about space, physics, and science in general. You can talk about reality TV, gossip, and cooking with her. All the atheists there were shitty to that Man. I was ashamed of my friends that day and yet everyone acts as if Christians are overzealous crazy people who want to bomb abortion clinics. I like that stereotype. It’s completely bullshit and a naive generalization. I’ve met more tolerant and nicer Religious folk than atheists.

  • newenglandsun

    That sounds more like what libertarian religious people think about religion and politics. Believe me, when it comes to politics, I will side with those dunking the religious right. However, when I think of asshole atheists, I’m generally talking about the Richard Dawkins or the Christopher Hitchens style atheists who ignore key significant facts such as the fact that Papal encyclicals have had more to say against capitalism than Hitchens could ever dream of. And for Dawkins, there are people who still believe in Zeus and Odin. We call them neo-pagans.


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