National Ask An Atheist Day This Thursday

A couple of years ago on National Ask An Atheist Day, a high school student’s mother was so offended that atheists were answering questions during lunch periods that she removed her kids from school that day… because nothing scares religious parents more than the thought of kids getting their questions about faith answered by people who aren’t going to feed them the standard church lines.

The annual event, taking place this Thursday, is great for giving atheists the opportunity to dispel stereotypes and answer honest questions without being combative or defensive — a scary thought for anyone who thrives on spreading rumors about who we are or what we believe:

There’s a lot more information about the event at the Secular Student Alliance’s website. If you see a booth on your campus, stop by and thank the students for what they’re doing.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • AlaJack

    Wt

  • AlaJack

    Why are atheists always cross-eyed?

    • WallofSleep

      We’re trying to get that beam out of our eye before we start working on the mote in yours. Oh, would that Christians only follow the teachings of Christ half as well as atheists do.

    • 3lemenope

      We’re busy trying to see what’s in front of our noses. It’s difficult, and often it will make you look silly, but, I swear, it’s worth it.

    • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

      A seminarian I knew and talked with about the Bible had a “crosseyed” shirt. The first time I saw the words, I laughed and asked what it meant. He replied, “Eyes on the cross.”

      • SeekerLancer

        Heh, it’s like a self-aware shirt about Christian pareidolia.

    • SeekerLancer

      Why do Christians feel threatened by a harmless student event about understanding each other?

      • ShoeUnited

        Hold up there, Bucky. We get the “Ask a Theist” day when they’re comfortable answering difficult questions with something other than “God says so.”

        Gotta take it one step at a time.

      • http://twitter.com/Janet_T Janet Tobin

        I guess when the high school allows “Ask a Christian” day, then I would be fine with having “Ask an Athiest” day at school.

        • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invisible_Pink_Unicorn Anna

          They do. Are you really unaware of the fact that “student-led” Christian events are allowed in public schools? If so, you might want to do some research on things like See You at the Pole, Day of Dialogue, Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity, etc.

        • SeekerLancer

          A group could if they wanted to so I don’t know what your point is.

  • Mackinz

    I sure hope that some of my fellow Athei (plural of atheist :>) decide to set up a table at El Camino that day.

    Wait, is it tomorrow?

    • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

      Do you pluralize “theist” and “deist” similarly? And what about words like “feist, “heist,” and “geist?”

      • Mackinz

        I guess I shall.for the words that represent people. Thei, Dei,…

        What’s a a Feist? Geist? Heist is action…

        • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

          I forgot about “fideist.” You’ll need to convert its plural form too.

          I was joking about those last three words. I realize they aren’t built the same as -ist / -ism words. A feist is a small, mean dog. A heist is a robbery. A geist is a spirit, as in “poltergeist.”

          • Pepe

            Poltergei!

          • Mackinz

            So, it’s Fidei then.

            Thanks for pointing out your joke.

            And for those that care, there was no Ask an Atheist booth set up at El Camino today. It was an international club day.

  • SJH

    It does scare me to think of my child asking questions to an atheist because based on what I have seen in the media and online, they are unpredictable. You never know what you are going to get. I have met spoken and listened to some that are humble, intelligent and charitable and others that are the complete opposite. I might allow them to ask questions but I would definitely want to be in the room to monitor.
    It seems that there are many atheists twist reality as much as they claim evangelical fundamentalists do. These atheists tend to try and sculpt a reality with talking points and sell it as gospel.
    They claim to be skeptical but are really only skeptical of religion. They fall all over scientific claims as long as those claims contradict religion regardless of how poor the study, experiment or evidence might be. Many don’t even know anything about the science they speak of but as long as someone says it contradicts religion then they stick to it like glue. In fact, I might call many atheists these days “atheist fundamentalists”.
    Face it, we are all the same, atheist, religious, agnostic. We all tend to cling to what we want to believe. It takes courage and strength to resist that temptation. Hopefully in the future we can all be better and focus on understanding truth and not what we want truth to be.

    • Bob Becker

      These are other students they’d be asking, right? If your child’s grip on his or her own faith is so tenuous that it can be undermined by simply asking non-belivers what they think and why, then seems to me your child us already well on the way to non- belief.

    • LesterBallard

      You’re hilarious; thanks.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invisible_Pink_Unicorn Anna

      This event involves high school students. Are you so afraid of your teenager encountering dissenting views that you need to be in the room to “monitor” what is being said? If so, I find that quite scary. When I was a teenager, I was (shock! horror!) allowed to talk to other people without having to be supervised by my parents.

      • SJH

        If the children are of the same age then obviously there is a greater amount of freedom. I would hope that my children trust and respect me enough to come to me afterwards and get my opinion before they develop theirs. This however does not diminish my concern as stated in my post.

        • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invisible_Pink_Unicorn Anna

          Wow, that’s certainly controlling. You allow your teenagers the “freedom” to talk to people, as long as those people are the same age, and you seem to think that’s charitable of you. Do you also control what your teenagers read? What they watch on television? The adults they talk to?

          And you further hope that they talk to you before they develop their beliefs. What’s wrong with people developing their own beliefs, you know, on their own? I think I would have gone insane if I’d had to live with a controlling, authoritarian parent who decided whether or not to give me the “freedom’ to talk to people.

          • SJH

            I don’t think I represented my thoughts in the manner in which you are communicating. If I have then I apologize. I give them a normal amount of latitude and I encourage them to think for themselves. This does not mean that I don’t defend my position when it is contradicted by others.

            • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invisible_Pink_Unicorn Anna

              You very specifically stated that you “might allow them to ask questions” but that you would want to be in the room to “monitor” what is being said. We are talking about high school students here. To make such a statement certainly leaves me with the impression that you wish to stop your teenagers from talking with people who have dissenting views.
              You further clarified that you would give them the “freedom” to talk to people their own age. Trying to control teenagers in this way does not strike me as “a normal amount of latitude.”
              Adult atheist: “Hey, do you want to talk?”
              SJH’s teenage son: “I don’t know. I’ll have to ask my mom whether or not I’m allowed to talk you.”
              Teenage atheist: “Hey, let’s talk.”
              SJH’s teenage son: “I guess it’s okay since we’re the same age, but my mom will have to sit in the room and monitor what is being said.”
              Does any of that strike you as normal?

        • 3lemenope

          But your concern, as stated, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. It seems like you’re accusing some atheists of being bad at either following what you think their belief system might well be, or in explaining said alleged belief system. Even if that claim was taken at face value and we assume for the sake of discussion it’s coherent, that would separate atheists from absolutely no other group on Earth; all human groups contain within them both hypocrites and bad communicators among their number.

          So, why does it matter that some atheists are arrogant, or selectively skeptical, or ill-informed, or whatever other defect one might name in what you think an atheist should be? How does it follow from that that you feel you must monitor conversations between your children and atheists expressing their notions?

          • SJH

            There is a spectrum of beliefs and values that differ from mine. The further you get away from my beliefs and values the more concerned I would be. I would likely also be concerned if the topic was Buddhism but I would be less concerned if the topic was Greek Orthodoxy.

            • 3lemenope

              Why are you so sure that a given atheist’s values would differ significantly from yours?

    • WallofSleep

      “I have met spoken and listened to some that are humble, intelligent and charitable and others that are the complete opposite.”

      The hell you say! Why, it’s almost as if we atheists are… human.

    • Tom

      If we’re all the same, atheist, religious, agnostic, then would you want to monitor your teenager’s questioning of anyone else in the same manner? Every question they ever asked, in effect?

    • Anti Collaborator

      Over here in Lawrence Kansas, the atheists are going to have a “Godless Perverts” session at their convention.
      No joke. They actually call themselves that.
      They actually think it is cute and clever.

      • Bender

        So?

      • SeekerLancer

        I don’t know what the session entails but it probably is at least a little clever.

    • http://twitter.com/docslacker MD

      Life is unpredictable. Most of us manage to navigate it, even as teenagers.

    • SeekerLancer

      “Face it, we are all the same, atheist, religious, agnostic. We all tend to cling to what we want to believe. It takes courage and strength to resist that temptation. Hopefully in the future we can all be better and focus on understanding truth and not what we want truth to be.”

      Then why do you have a problem with your children asking questions? You should be all for it. The point of the event is to shed misconceptions and try to understand each other which is exactly what you yourself want to see.

      Stop constructing straw-men atheists that you’re afraid are going to proselytize to your kids and let them ask the questions they want answered. Let them think for themselves and come to their own conclusion before you hypocritically shield them with yours.

      If they’re strong in the convictions you’ve taught then the only thing you have to worry about is that they might have a better understanding of why atheists think the way they do and maybe we’ll all be less angry at each other.

    • GCT

      I might allow them to ask questions but I would definitely want to be in the room to monitor.

      To make sure that your fairy tales aren’t challenged? And, don’t talk to us about being fundamentalists just after saying the above.

      It seems that there are many atheists twist reality as much as they claim evangelical fundamentalists do.

      Citation please…thanks.

      In fact, I might call many atheists these days “atheist fundamentalists”.

      You could try to call us that, but it would only show your ignorance and religious privilege. How does one act as a fundamentalist for a non-belief? Nice try.

      Face it, we are all the same, atheist, religious, agnostic.

      Agnostic is not a differentiated belief. One is either theist or atheist. One is also either gnostic or agnostic.

      We all tend to cling to what we want to believe. It takes courage and strength to resist that temptation.

      |

      This is religiously privileged garbage. Many (most?) atheists in this country started out as Xians. Even if they didn’t, they are soaked in Xian privilege. The “courage and strength” to resist religious indoctrination is well represented on the atheist side. Additionally, the idea that atheists choose to be atheists because we want there to be no god is a religiously privileged insult.

      Hopefully in the future we can all be better and focus on understanding truth and not what we want truth to be.

      I would suggest that you have a long way to go on that score, especially since you wish to monitor that which is said to others to make sure that it doesn’t contradict your cherished beliefs. You’ve obviously decided that your beliefs are “Truth” and cannot be challenged. What makes you infallible?

      • Gus Snarp

        I think the “Citation, please..” applies to pretty much the whole comment.

      • SJH

        “You could try to call us that, but it would only show your ignorance and
        religious privilege. How does one act as a fundamentalist for a
        non-belief? Nice try.”

        You do have a belief. You believe that God does not exist and many atheists are as interested in converting others to be atheists and fundamentalists are.

        “What makes you infallible?”
        I am far from infallible but I am called to protect my children. If I see something that may potentially harm them like being fed atheist propaganda rather than thoughtful atheist arguments then I need to do my best to see it and counter it.

        • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com/ Ubi Dubium

          “You do have a belief. You believe that God does not exist and many atheists are as interested in converting others to be atheists and fundamentalists are.”
          Wrong again. Most of us (at least the ones I’ve talked to) simply think that there is insufficient evidence to support believing in a god, so we don’t. We’re interested in helping people think things through for themselves, instead of being told what they are supposed to think. The danger is that churches don’t like their members to ask the truly hard questions, but we encourage it.

        • GCT

          You do have a belief. You believe that God does not exist…

          I lack belief in god because there is no evidence to support such a positive belief. This is not the same as holding a positive belief in the non-existence of god. Your assertion is nothing more than naked and brutal religious privilege and atheophobia.

          …and many atheists are as interested in converting others to be atheists and fundamentalists are.

          We are interested in being able to speak freely as well as theists are able to do so, free from your prejudice and ugly privilege. We are also interested in helping people to see reason and rationality as good things and to lessen the real harm done by faith and religion. This is not fundamentalist. Passion does not equate to fundamentalism.

          I am far from infallible but I am called to protect my children.

          Protect your children? From what? From being exposed to other points of view? That goes far beyond protection. What you really want to is ensure that your children think as you do.

          • SJH

            The fact that you don’t believe in God simply means that you believe that existence is a product of random forces. You can state it in the positive or negative. It is a game of semantics.

            Speaking freely may be your concern but many are interested in converting others. I agree that passion does not equate to fundamentalism. I wasn’t equating fundamentalism to atheism but I was drawing a similarity in behavior. Its a behavior that everyone exhibits.

            For the answer to your last question please review my other comments..

    • indorri

      I would like to know which of these studies you claim to be poor that contradict religion. It’s an assertion I see made, but rarely backed up.

      • SJH

        Do you lack skepticism to such a degree that you have never questioned a scientific study, reviewed it and then found it to be flawed?

        • 3lemenope

          Deflection. Why not actually answer the question posed, rather than resort to a non sequitur?

        • indorri

          I have indeed. Regnerus comes to mind. I often go searching for studies people quote to see if I can determine what they say and to what extent their data supports their conclusion.

          More often than not, it’s not that a study is flawed, but that sensationalist media drums up its findings to go far beyond what the researchers publishing the study actually state.

          I ask again. What study that you feel contradicts religion is a poorly constructed or flawed study?

          • SJH

            I’m sorry but I do not have a back pocket full of such studies and I am not going to go searching for them right now. I have better things to do. I have been in discussions with atheists where they take it on faith that because other atheists believe something then it must be true. They don’t know anything about the subject and are not the least bit skeptical of what the atheist community says about it. Again, I’m not going to go down this hole of giving examples. If you think I am lying and choose not to believe me then don’t. Proving it to you is not worth my time.

            • indorri

              Fair enough.

    • baal

      “We all tend to cling to what we want to believe. It takes courage and strength to resist that temptation.”

      Well, I’m scientifically trained and minded. I actively look to change my beliefs based on learning, evidence and argument. I use out comes to help me select between options and do not wed myself to single positions that I’ll maintain regardless of the harms it causes .

      • SJH

        You sound very much wedded to the idea that all your decisions must be based upon learning, evidence and argument. Is this actually true? Have you truly formed your beliefs by gaining a thorough understanding of a particular issue in its entirety or do you rely on that which is unseen in order to make your final conclusion? Maybe you shouldn’t be so wedded to the idea that everything needs to be proven. I don’t know how you would get anything done with such a thorough examination of every aspect of life.

    • http://www.facebook.com/WarDogsCoach Bill Smith

      Much like those of religious faith. Some are humble, intelligent and charitable and some are the complete opposite. As far as “clinging” to beliefs, most Atheists I know believe what can be definitively proven whether it be scientific or otherwise. Many of religious faith tend to dispel what can be proven in favor of what they have been told. Like the old saying, “How do you know who your father is? Because your mother told you so.”

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tess-Stanley-Hannah/100001311305142 Tess Stanley-Hannah

      It does scare me to think of my child asking questions to a Christian. I’ve met a few of them who were also humble, intelligent and charitable and others that were the complete opposite, but you never know what you’re going to get. I’d definitely want to be in the room to monitor them around my children. These Christians tend to try and sculpt a reality with gospel and sell it as truth….

      Do you see how that sounds? We’re people just like you are…good and bad and everything in between. If you’re going to “judge” people, you could do it individually based on their character, rather than collectively based on fear or ignorance. There is a lot of public vitriol and malice directed at atheists and it’s only in the last hundred years or so that we haven’t been being murdered regularly. I hope you can understand why we react the way we do now when people every day tell us that we are worthless, untrustworthy, sinful and damned for eternity for just being who we are.

      • SJH

        It is unfortunate and I admit it is judgmental but when my children are involved, I need to make judgments because I do not have the time to get to know everyone and their motives. Admittedly, if they are only conversing with other children their age then I can’t imagine it being to dangerous and I trust that my kids are skeptics enough that they will question what people are telling them. Hopefully my kids trust me enough to come to me and ask questions and we can talk about it.

        • GCT

          It is unfortunate and I admit it is judgmental but when my children are involved, I need to make judgments because I do not have the time to get to know everyone and their motives.

          So, it’s OK for you to be a bigot so long as your children are involved? What you really mean to say though is that it’s OK for you to be a bigot so long as your control over your children’s beliefs is seen as being threatened.

          Admittedly, if they are only conversing with other children their age then I can’t imagine it being to dangerous and I trust that my kids are skeptics enough that they will question what people are telling them.

          Oh, the irony…on multiple levels.

          Hopefully my kids trust me enough to come to me and ask questions and we can talk about it.

          Why should they trust you when you evidently don’t trust them?

          • SJH

            Who’s talking about being a bigot. Just because I make judgments about someone does not make me a bigot. I don’t hate the other person nor do I think that I am superior to them. We make judgments about people all the time and there is nothing wrong with that. Did you sit down with president Obama and Romney and get to know them personally before you voted? Of course not. You had to take the information that was available to you and make a judgment about them and their character.

            Why do you say I do not trust my kids? I never said that. I trust them just fine. I also know their limitations to some degree and would like the opportunity to discuss such topics with them.

            • 3lemenope

              Judgement isn’t the problem. Prejudgement is the problem. There’s a not-so-subtle difference between on the one hand taking available-but-incomplete information and making a decision, and on the other assuming before any significant information is available that members of certain groups or classifications which do not bear on any behavioral or merit factor are disposed to be or behave in a certain way.

        • Nox

          Why is it ultimately up to you to decide what your children believe? Do they get any choice in the matter?

    • T

      “I have met spoken and listened to some that are humble, intelligent and charitable and others that are the complete opposite. ” The same can be said for religious people.

      • SJH

        Very true.

    • Geir

      The trick is to let your kids speak to all kinds of people, and then let them make up their own minds :)

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

    It takes courage and strength to resist that temptation

    sigh. you’re all the same, sometimes, or rather, it’s hard not to believe that about you, when you talk like this.

    i’m an atheist. words like “sin” and “temptation” mean very, very different things to me, than to you. i am not ‘tempted’ to have lesbian sex, i have it. i enjoy it. i know there’s nothing wrong with it. it’s natural, normal, biologically defined in the record of higher primates.

    i don’t need to codify it and understand it via a book of man-made myths and parables, specifically one set, conditional on one interpretation.

    i have courage and strength. if only you knew how much… but that’s not the important point. here’s a thought: let your child experience reality, all on her/his own. without you helicoptering above, without a monitor and censor. your child might even thank you for it later!

    stop trying to control a world you obviously refuse to understand. it’s bigger, bolder, and more diverse than what is found in your little holy book. it won’t bite you, or your child! well, it may, sometimes. but it will hurt a lot more, if you keep poking your butt up in the sand, while your head remains buried under it.

    talking to an atheist won’t destroy your child’s faith. if that faith is sincere, unforced, and chosen. otoh, if it is merely the product of forced indoctrination, well, you have a problem. think about why that is, rather than why “atheists talk in school day” is problematic for people like you.

    • SeekerLancer

      Cheers. If anyone has an issue with their children questioning something or someone then they need to re-evaluate their effectiveness as a parent.

      • GCT

        Yes, but only because parents should be concerned with their children having justifiable (non)beliefs. Since religious beliefs cannot be justified, parents who do not have their child’s best interests at heart probably will be nervous about this, because to them it’s more important to make sure the child doesn’t question their indoctrination than that they hold (non)beliefs that they can justify.

        IOW, I would say that a good, effective parent would raise a child that does question, and would reject Xianity after learning that it’s unjustified and irrational. I would not call a parent that so thoroughly indoctrinates a child that no amount of reason or rationality can sway that child from their “sincerely held beliefs” a good parent, although I suppose they might be effective at indoctrination.

    • wjo

      Chicago, how long have you been an ee cummings fan?

  • Anti Collaborator

    I love the “ask an atheist” events.
    It gives atheists a chance to show people what jerks they truly can be, and what they really think of believers.

    • Bender

      Unlike you, of course.

    • http://www.facebook.com/maverik713 Shawn Phillips

      Troll says what?

    • Puck

      The verbal ambiguity in this statement…intentional?

      • fsm

        That is amusing, I read it the opposite of what was intended too. I thought she meant that atheists can show Xtians to be jerks by the stupid things they say to the atheists.

    • SeekerLancer

      Says the poster who came here to be a jerk.

    • GCT

      Says the bigot.

    • http://www.facebook.com/WarDogsCoach Bill Smith

      As opposed to zealots acting like jerks and showing what they really think of non-believers. Casting the first stone are we?

  • Rain

    I always wanted to ask atheists how they softens hands while they do the dishes.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dzmTtusvjR4

    • Tainda

      I always have my minions of darkness do the dishes for me! My hands are be-a-utiful!

  • DougI

    My friend’s sink is clogged up. What’s blocking it?

    • ShoeUnited

      The Devil. Pray to Jesus then go to the store get some drano. Pray to Jesus again over the drano to turn water into harsh chemicals, open it up pour it in, let it set. Do a few decades of the rosary remembering to do the full Hail Mary at each decade, after getting through 5 or 6 stations on the cross turn on the tap water and it should work like magic.

      If that didn’t fix your problem you weren’t praying hard enough and will now have to go through the Snake or the Replace U Joint prayers.

      Oh. My mistake. I thought it was sarcastic asshole day.

    • Gus Snarp

      Probably mostly hair held together with congealed fat.

  • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

    I predict a significant increase in loaded questions today.

  • http://twitter.com/Janet_T Janet Tobin

    I am a Christian and I am fine with people being athiests. I get it. I guess what’s hard to deal with is when I tell someone who is in emotional paint that I am praying for them on an internet message board and then have someone belittle my faith. Why would anyone, regardless of their beliefs be offended that I care so much about them that I would take time out of my day to be in a still quiet state and speak their name in a reverent manner because I know they are hurting? Does it really offend athiests if I say “I am praying for you”?

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invisible_Pink_Unicorn Anna

      Janet, I can appreciate that you have good wishes for these people, but they are the ones in emotional pain. Don’t you think it might be a good idea to be sensitive to their feelings? It’s not all about you. If you know they are atheists, then telling them you are going to pray for them just comes across as rude. You are discounting their worldview and implying that it doesn’t matter what they believe, you’re going to do what you want to do regardless. If you feel you must pray for them, what is your reason for advertising that fact?

      • http://twitter.com/Janet_T Janet Tobin

        I guess I thought it was comforting in some way for someone to know that I cared. I am a Methodist, but if someone who was Catholic said, “I will light a candle for you” or if someone who was a Buddhist said “I will add your name to a prayer wheel” I would feel honored that they cared that much about me. In the future, I guess I will just say “thinking about you” so that I don’t offend.

        • Guest

          But don’t athiests who tell me not to pray for them, discount my world view and imply that it doesn’t matter what I believe?

          • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invisible_Pink_Unicorn Anna

            Janet, your first comment is fine, but your second comment makes it all about you again. If you are really sincere in your sympathy for these people, then you would not want to cause stress or discomfort to someone who is in emotional pain. When other people are grieving is not the time to shove your religious beliefs at them. It’s insensitive. If they are in pain, then, no, it doesn’t matter what you believe.

            What matters is that they are hurting, and you do not need to add to that hurt by ignoring their feelings. Telling them you are going to pray for them (when you are aware they do not believe in prayer) is just rubbing salt on the wound. It’s saying that you know best, that your beliefs are superior, and that your beliefs are the only ones that matter.

            If you really want to help an atheist person who is struggling, then stick to secular words. “I’m thinking about you” is perfectly appropriate. No one is telling you not to pray for them, but if you must pray, there is no need to inform them of that fact, especially since you know that they do not want to hear it. If you insist on telling them, then your sympathy does not come across as genuine. It makes it seem like you are using prayer to assert the dominance of your worldview.

            • Guest

              As a Christian, I really don’t like the phrase, “I’m thinking of you” because it’s just a stand-in for the rejected “Praying for you,” and points out that the difference between myself and the speaker, making me feel actually more distant, rather than closer to you. You may not believe in God or prayer, but your thoughts about me are rather irrelevant. Casserole or it didn’t happen.

              • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invisible_Pink_Unicorn Anna

                Well, then surely you could think of a different phrase? “My sympathy is with you,” “I’m sorry for your loss,” etc. The important thing isn’t which words are used, but that the grieving person isn’t alienated.

              • blasphemous_kansan

                >>>” making me feel actually more distant, rather than closer to
                you….”

                Please, listen, and repeat.

                If you are offering words of comfort to someone in pain, and you really want to help, then you will realize that in this situation YOUR FEELINGS ARE IRRELEVANT.

                • Guest

                  My point was, I don’t like to hear it when I’M in pain, and I’m hearing it much more often these days. It’s not as neutral a phrase as you might think: we can all figure out what it’s code for.

                  If I am trying to give comfort to people I perceive as hostile to my religious beliefs, I do not use religious language. But I’m more or less trying to keep my social circle composed of people not hostile to my religious beliefs.

                • blasphemous_kansan

                  Gotcha. It wasn’t clear from your comment exactly who was the one doing the consoling. Apologies for the misunderstanding.

                  However I disagree with this: ” It’s not as neutral a phrase as you might think: we can all figure out what it’s code for.”

                  Despite your preconceptions, “I am thinking of you” is a completely neutral phrase, as far as religion goes, and it transmits the well-wishes unobtrusively. If you interpret “I’m thinking of you” as some PC code for “I’m praying for you” in all instances, then you are mistaken. Some people are actually thinking of you and not praying for you.

                  >>”But I’m more or less trying to keep my social circle composed of people not hostile to my religious beliefs.”

                  Assuming you are successful in this endeavor then you’ll have a good life of never having your ideas questioned at all. Personally I think that sounds awful, since it’s kind of hard to learn new facts or ideas from within such an echo chamber.

                • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invisible_Pink_Unicorn Anna

                  That did strike me as bizarre. Since when is “I am thinking of you” some kind of code? Maybe in the evangelical world, it’s seen as a conspiracy along the lines of “Happy Holidays.”

                  “My thoughts are with you,” “I’m thinking of you,” etc. have been used for generations. There is no hidden intent or meaning to the phrase beyond the desire to express sympathy.

                • Guest

                  A week ago on Facebook a high school friend of mine reported that her mother had had a major stroke and was not doing well. Nearly everyone from her mid-western hometown left messages saying, “Praying!” Or “I’ll keep her in my prayers daily.” Almost all of the people in her East Coast community said, “You’re in my thoughts,” or “Thinking of you!” The difference was really quite stark. Yes, once “Thinking of you” was a neutral phrase, but at least on FB or social media there’s a subtext now” “I’m not religious, but I’m thinking of you.”

                  Okay.

                • blasphemous_kansan

                  >>”Okay.”

                  No. Not okay, not really. You’re stereotyping all secular well-wishes based on one encounter that one person (you) had on social media, and you’re painting them with your own bizarre preconceptions. You say the difference was quite stark, so did your high school friend call them out on the difference, or was she just glad to have the support of loved ones (hint: her opinion of the affair is the only one that’s relevant)?
                  So far it seems that all this talk of ‘subtext’ and ‘code’ has your own mind as the source, and it seems like you’re going out of your way to find issue with secular forms of expression.

                  Just be there for your friends, and allow their grief to be their own. You don’t need to create more, and in the situation with your friend it seems that you’ve done a good job of creating it for yourself.

                • Guest

                  Sorry, but it’s not one exchange. In my real life, I don’t really have to navigate this kind of minefield much because I know who I’m dealing with. Also, I choose to associate with people who are not hostile to my religion because I do not enjoy conflict.

                  Online, though, I’ve had many such exchanges in groups and message boards. I’ve had people tell me they’d pray for me and then others who specifically said, “I’m not a religious person, but I’ll be thinking of you.” Which – okay, but I don’t really want to hear about your lack of religious beliefs when I’m having a miscarriage here. And these were not religious groups, they were groups about neutral subjects like cooking Polish food or enjoying mystery novels, and yet I’d have to hear about numerous topics like the importance of access to abortion or how offended someone was that she had to vote in a church or whatever. I’ve dropped out of those groups because nothing that you say is ever safe. Someone is always being offended. I’d rather save my expressions of sympathy and empathy for people who won’t use it as an opportunity to “educate” me on what is or is not offensive to them.

                • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invisible_Pink_Unicorn Anna

                  How is saying “I’m thinking of you” hostile to your religion? Maybe I’m missing something here, but it sounds like you are offended by the mere fact that other people do not loudly proclaim your beliefs. There is nothing offensive about using neutral terms. What’s next, attacking people who say “Gesundheit” for being anti-Christian?

                  Do you know how often atheists have to deal with people mentioning stuff like gods, angels, or the afterlife? We hear people talk about them as if they were real things all the time. It’s everywhere you look in mainstream culture. Every time you read a book or see a movie, it’s there. But we’re not whining about being offended every time people say something that indicates they believe in the supernatural.

                  As for abortion and voting in churches, I’m not sure what that has to do with your religion specifically. People talk about politics on message boards. You’re just as free to talk about your own politics. And plenty of Christians support reproductive rights and separation of church and state. Those aren’t atheist issues.

                • blasphemous_kansan

                  >>”Sorry, but it’s not one exchange. In my real life, I don’t really have to navigate this kind of minefield much because I know who I’m dealing with.”

                  I don’t really know what this means. But your anecdote is still just your own, and it seems like you’re still stereotyping.

                  >>”I’ve dropped out of those groups because nothing that you say
                  is ever safe. Someone is always being offended.”

                  This was true before the internet, as much as it is now. People get offended.

                  I’m truly failing to see your point. It still seems to me that you’re going out of your way to find a source of conflict where there is none.

                  I’m out.

                • Alex

                  I’m sorry to hear of your loss. I hope you and yours receive the love and support you need.

                • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invisible_Pink_Unicorn Anna

                  I’m not on Facebook, so I don’t know how it’s used in social media. I think what you are describing is more of a geographical difference. I live on the West coast, and “thinking of you” is certainly considered a neutral phrase. It’s what you see on Hallmark greeting cards, for goodness’ sake. I’ve never come across any indication that it means anything other than general sympathy.

                  Perhaps people who live in highly religious areas have a different experience. There is more religiously-charged language in the Bible Belt. For example, “have a blessed day” has entered the lexicon in some parts of the country, yet I have never heard it where I live. My county has an evangelical population of only about 7%.

                  Consider also that offering prayers is a way to signal that the person is part of the same group. Obviously if the sender shares the same views as the recipient, it makes sense that the sender would use religious language. Whereas friends and colleagues who do not share the views (or who do not know if they share the views) would use something more neutral.

                  The point is that those offering to keep people in their thoughts are not operating under some sort of sinister agenda. It is a neutral phrase intended to convey sympathy, nothing more.

                • blasphemous_kansan

                  I thought of the “Happy Holidays” similarities, also. I really hope that we’re not going down that rabbit hole.

                  I’ll tap out of this thread really quickly if we start getting into a “War of the Well-Wishes” as a companion piece to the “War on Xmas”

                • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invisible_Pink_Unicorn Anna

                  Yes, it’s kind of sad if anything neutral is immediately perceived to be some kind of undercover attack. This is certainly the first I’ve ever heard of “thinking of you” being controversial!

            • http://twitter.com/Janet_T Janet Tobin

              So no references to my beliefs to people that I know are athiests (some of my closest friends are athiests and I love and like them very much, they are awesome people) because it would hurt their feelings. I should keep my beliefs to myself. If I say to someone “I am praying for you” that means I am not sincere in my caring and I am using prayer to assert the dominance of my world view.

              As a Christian, I understand how that feels. It does hurt to see billboards along the highway announcing “There Is No God” or on the sides of buses or in newspapers, magazines and internet blogs, In the future, I will no longer be offended because athiest organizations are not publicly announcing their beliefs to assert their world view over mine.

              • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invisible_Pink_Unicorn Anna

                Janet, I really question your sincerity here. You originally claimed to be concerned about people who were in emotional pain. But the way you talk leads to me believe that you just want to be able to push your religion on people at any time, no matter how they feel about it.

                If you genuinely care about these people, and these people are in pain, then you would not want to do anything to cause them additional stress or discomfort. Yet you seem put out by people telling you not to shove your religion in their face.

                Why is it so hard to keep it to yourself? If it’s really about those people, your feelings are not important. And getting “hurt feelings” because they don’t want to hear about your religion in a time of crisis strikes me as the ultimate in insensitivity.

                • http://twitter.com/Janet_T Janet Tobin

                  I honestly wasn’t aware that the phrase “I will keep you in my prayers” was offensive. If I were an athiest, I would not be offended by that. I guess what I’m trying to understand is why that would be offensive? If a Jewish person went to Israel and planted a tree in my name or put my name on a piece of paper and put it in the “Wailing Wall” for prayers to God, I would be very honored that they thought that highly of me. I’m not Jewish and I don’t believe the same things they do, in fact, there is a catclysmic divide in my beliefs and their’s, but I don’t think I could possibly justify a way to take offense for that action. I’m a vegetarian, but if I had some family tragedy and someone brought a meatloaf to my house to show their sympathy and caring, should I be offended by that? No, I’d slice it up and serve it to the people who came to my home or I would give it to a homeless shelter, but I would understand it as a caring gesture on their part. I wouldn’t think that they were trying to “convert” me to become a carnivore. I’d thank them. I really think that being unable to accept a kind gesture from someone who believes differently than myself WOULD be making it ALL ABOUT ME and not the reverse.

                • blasphemous_kansan

                  >>” I guess what I’m trying to understand is why that would be offensive?”

                  Because it is saying “Your way of life is not good enough. Try mine, I know it’s the best.”

                  That’s why.

                  If you take away anything from your exchanges here, please take away this one piece of information.

                • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invisible_Pink_Unicorn Anna

                  What Kansan said. And actually, if you knew someone was a strict vegetarian who had strong ethical and moral objections to eating meat, then sending a meatloaf would be just as insensitive. If you did not know, then of course you could not be faulted for that. No one is blaming well-wishers for offering prayers to atheists if they do not know they are atheists. It’s only when you know the people in question are atheists and you persist in pushing religious sentiments on them that it becomes at least insensitive, if not downright offensive.

        • onamission5

          Why can’t you just tell someone that you are thinking of them and that you care, if that is the message you’re trying to convey anyway?
          Telling a person that you will pray for them– especially if you know they do not share your religious beliefs– is making their pain all about you, it is superimposing your beliefs onto their life and their problems, when their life has nothing to do with you.

    • T

      Not all atheists feel that way, it depends on the context of the prayer. When people in my family say they are praying for me, I find it offensive because I know they are “praying for my soul” because I am a “sinner” not because they are trying to help in a loving way. I am an atheist but I still pray. Do I pray to a god? No, I pray to my own higher power, but it is not a god or creator. It is an energy. If I am going through something difficult I ask for prayers. I don’t know if I am right about my beliefs any more than anyone else does. I also believe we can all be right, and that it is all about perspective. Prayer is about putting out your energy into the universe and asking for help or comfort. I don’t think there needs to be a big man in the sky or anything for that to work. I believe we are all connected and made of the same energy. Don’t pray for my soul because I am not a Christian and you think I should be, that is where the offense happens. But then, there are those who don’t want people praying for them at all. It all depends on the person. I know a lot of atheists and we come in all kinds of forms. Atheist doesn’t mean someone who doesn’t believe in anything, or someone who is not spiritual necessarily. The atheists I know are the most spiritual people I know! Hope that helps a bit with understanding.

      • Matt

        This. There’s a big difference between “I’m praying for you” translated into “I’m praying that you’ll get saved” and “I’m praying for you” translated into “I’m going to ask my god the he cure your cancer.”

        In my opinion if anyone takes offense to the latter they’re just being petty. Unfortunately I’d say 92.5% of the “I’m praying for you” comments are the former. That’s the problem.

        • T

          I agree!

    • Geir

      I’ve had “both kinds” of “I’ll prey for you” used in some circumstances.

      One of them is the milder one, conferring the meaning “I sympathize with you, and hope the situation will better itself”. That is OK, this only conveys a message of empathy and sympathy between to human beings.

      The other is more along the lines of “I have hope that you will convert to my religious belief system to save your soul”. That doesn’t feel OK as I feel it belittles me and my beliefs.

    • http://twitter.com/ColdDimSum Dark Star

      For what it’s worth, I don’t jump on people merely expressing sympathy and I think it’s bad form when others do so. I assure you there are nasty people on both sides: http://iconoclasm2000.blogspot.com/2012/12/the-hate-blog.html

      Sometimes people will take their expression of faith beyond mere sympathy and I think that can sometimes be condescending. Sometimes this is on accident, but if you know someone doesn’t share your beliefs and you tell them you are going to pray for them, that is being condescending.

      I don’t care if you pray for me or not, but I wonder that more Christians don’t consider Matthew 6:5-6:

      “Whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray while standing in synagogues and on street corners so that people can see them. Truly I say to you, they have their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you”

      The biggest issue with this ‘faith’ thing is that even the liberal and moderate theists end up empowering the extremists. If you say god is REAL, and you say god guides YOUR LIFE, then when the extremist believes god wants them to act, they are reinforced by the collective appeal to the supernatural and superstitious that this Might actually be a real thing. God of the Bible commands Abraham to sacrifice his own child, the God of the Bible commands genocide and infanticide, and kills all the first born of Egypt and nearly everyone in the Flood… So when the extremist is called to destroy that which they believe God hates, what is to stop them?

      These are the types of things that come out of it: http://cl.ly/I22Z/o (very large image, might have issues on a phone)

    • GCT

      I’ve read all your comments in this sub-thread, and I’ve gotta say that you are exhibiting quite a bit of religious privilege. You are not persecuted because someone tells you not to shove your religious privilege down all of our throats. This is not about you. When you try to show sympathy for others, you shouldn’t make it about you and your feelings. This is just rampant and ugly religious privilege.

  • http://twitter.com/Janet_T Janet Tobin

    I would like to know why some athiests talk about their “beliefs” in the same sentence that they reference that they only accept scientifically-supported, proven facts. Wouldn’t the word “knowledge” be the appropriate word to use instead of “belief”? Belief implies that there is some level of faith being placed in science and that they “believe” that there is no God rather than “knowing” that there is no God. As a Christian, I don’t believe in God, I know that there is a God because I have seen him working in my life and the lives of others, I have heard his voice and felt his overwhelming peace. Can I prove that to anyone else? Absolutely not, so other people would say “Janet believes in God” because they can’t experience what I know. But I would never say “I believe in God”. That is like saying “I believe my husband loves me.” I know he does. So if an athiest bases their world view and the way they live their lives only on things that can be scientifically proven, then what are their “beliefs”? Not trying to be judgmental, but athiests sometimes use language that seems contradictory. Anyone?

    • blasphemous_kansan

      I believe that the sun will come up tomorrow because of all the days that it has come up in the past, and because of knowledge that I have gathered about the mechanics that make it happen. I have no proof that the sun will come up tomorrow, but I believe it, and I arrived at this belief thanks to observable phenomena in the real world that leaves evidence behind.

      I believe in love even though it cannot be physically seen, heard, or reliably tested upon. I have come to this belief because there is lots of data regarding the emotional state that humans call ‘love’. I believe that ‘love’ means different things for different people, but I believe in ‘love’, and I arrived at this belief thanks to observable phenomena in the real world, in the words and deeds of my fellow humans.

      I believe that there is no evidence that god exists. I don’t say “I know that God does not exist”, because I would have no way of proving that statement. I arrive at the belief that there is no evidence for god based on the complete lack of evidence for a god, any god, that has ever been presented in the history of ever. The word ‘belief’ in that statement does not imply religious faith. It implies that this is something that I believe now, and that it can change if more evidence is provided. My personal belief that there is no evidence for a god in this universe can, and must, change if satisfactory evidence is presented. So far the challenge has not been met.

      Being an atheist means that I believe that there is not sufficient evidence to claim that a god exists in our universe. It does not mean that I don’t believe in belief. I don’t pretend to speak for all atheists, but I don’t know many atheists who claim to “know” that god does not exist, because that implies a rigidity that is incompatible with critical thought.

      • http://twitter.com/Janet_T Janet Tobin

        I get that you can’t really “know” something until you see it, feel it, hold it in your hand and are convinced that it is real. I was raised in the Southern Baptist Chuch from an infant (my Dad was a preacher) and as a young adult, I had a lot of questions. I spent a good twenty years trying to figure out what I truly believed separate from what I had been taught from a very young age. I rejected the church for many years until I had a personal experience that convinced me that God was real. My experience is my own and although I can tell other people about it, I can’t convince anyone else the way that I am convinced.
        It would be like trying to convince someone who has never experienced something paranormal that things like ghosts are real. A lot of people are skeptics regardless of the fact that many other people throughout history, in every part of the world, have experienced unexplained phenomena that they call ghosts. Of course, a lot of skeptics become believers when they have their own paranormal experience. Can they then prove to others that there are ghosts? Not with current technology. But neither can skeptics prove that are no ghosts. All scientific evidence regarding the existence of ghosts is tenuous at best and much of it can be easily discounted. But, still, many people believe because they have experienced it first hand.
        I get that and it’s not my job to convince anyone of my beliefs, nor do I get offended by someone if they don’t agree with me. I respect that some people believe and some do not. All I ask is that I not be treated as of inferior intelligence, uneducated, brainwashed or superstitious because I have weighed my own personal experiences against scientific evidence and my research into a lot of different religions and surmised that I have knowledge that their is a God. Everyday, things happen in this world that are not explainable by our current scientific knowledge. Will we be able to explain everything with science someday? Some think we will but how do we know for sure? We don’t. So isn’t there some small measure of “faith” on the part of athiests that if something isn’t scientifically measurable, it doesn’t exist?

        • blasphemous_kansan

          1st paragraph: Right on. Agree %100

          2nd paragraph (until “first hand”): I agree with all except “Of course, a lot of skeptics become believers when they have their own paranormal experience. ” Could you name one?

          3rd paragraph (after “first hand”):

          >>”All I ask is that I not be treated as of inferior intelligence, uneducated, brainwashed or superstitious because I have weighed my own personal experiences against scientific evidence and my research into a lot of different religions and surmised that I have knowledge that their is a God.”

          I believe that with thoughtful dialogue like you’ve put forth here you can avoid all those labels except maybe for “superstitious” since you yourself drew the parallel between believing in ghosts and believing in god. As you eloquently pointed out, ghosts and god are basically the same in terms of burden of proof upon the believer.

          >>”Everyday, things happen in this world that are not explainable by our current scientific knowledge.”

          Agreed. That’s why science exists; to explain things we can’t explain yet.

          >>”Will we be able to explain everything with science someday? Some think we will but how do we know for sure? We don’t”

          Of course we don’t, but both of these questions seem somewhat irrelevant to me. I see no point to the thought experiment “Will science answer all the questions someday” for 2 reasons: 1) I won’t be here for that “someday” if it ever arrives. 2) If that day never arrives that does not mean that we should stop trying to learn

          >>” So isn’t there some small measure of “faith” on the part of atheists that if something isn’t scientifically measurable, it doesn’t exist?”

          I’m a little puzzled by this question. In your first comment you only mention the concept of “belief” as it pertains to atheism, but now you’re asking about “faith”. Are the words “belief” and “faith” meant to be interchangeable in your questioning? If so, then please see my original comment where I gave examples of things that I (and other atheists, likely) believe in or have faith in that technically have no scientific proof, but whose premises are still grounded in the evidence of reality. The religious do not have a monopoly on the concepts of “belief” and “faith”. An atheist possesses both, they just usually like to have the evidence of real-world phenomena to back them up.

        • GCT

          I get that you can’t really “know” something until you see it, feel it, hold it in your hand and are convinced that it is real.

          That’s not what b_k said. And, you being convinced doesn’t mean that it is real or that you “know” it is real.

          A lot of people are skeptics regardless of the fact that many other people throughout history, in every part of the world, have experienced unexplained phenomena that they call ghosts.

          Argument from ignorance. Something unexplained happened, therefore ghosts. It doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. In every case where we expand our knowledge of the world, how many times do we verify something paranormal or supernatural (including your god)? I’ll give you a hint: never.

          But neither can skeptics prove that are no ghosts.

          The burden of proof lies upon the person claiming that ghosts (or gods) are real.

          All scientific evidence regarding the existence of ghosts is tenuous at best and much of it can be easily discounted.

          What you mean to say is that we have no actual scientific evidence of ghosts.

          I get that and it’s not my job to convince anyone of my beliefs, nor do I get offended by someone if they don’t agree with me.

          Actually, the burden of proof lies on you.

          All I ask is that I not be treated as of inferior intelligence, uneducated, brainwashed or superstitious because I have weighed my own personal experiences against scientific evidence and my research into a lot of different religions and surmised that I have knowledge that their is a God.

          Yes, you’re soooooo persecuted.

          No one is treating you as an inferior. In fact, in our culture, it’s the other way around. You are, however, superstitious by definition, in that you believe in superstitious things. Also, there is no scientific evidence for your position.

          Everyday, things happen in this world that are not explainable by our current scientific knowledge.

          God of the gaps fallacy.

          Will we be able to explain everything with science someday? Some think we will but how do we know for sure? We don’t.

          Even if we can never explain some things, this does not give you license to claim that goddidit.

          So isn’t there some small measure of “faith” on the part of athiests that if something isn’t scientifically measurable, it doesn’t exist?

          No. Rejecting your unevidenced assertions (faith) is not a faith position.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invisible_Pink_Unicorn Anna

      Try thinking of it this way: most atheists do not believe in things for which there is no evidence. The burden of proof is on people making positive claims. There are people who claim that gods exist. The default position is not believing in those gods. I have not seen any evidence to support those claims; therefore, I am an atheist.

      Regarding the word “belief,” I would not use it the way you do. I do not say that I believe or know that there are no gods. I merely say that I have not seen any evidence for them, and that I lack belief in things for which there is no evidence.

    • MeWhoElse

      So he worked in your life and did good to you. What is with the billions of people who did NOT witness him?

    • Geir

      Might just boil down to a different view on the definition of the word “belief” itself:

      be·lief
      /biˈlēf/
      Noun
      1) An acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists.
      2) Something one accepts as true or real; a firmly held opinion or conviction.

      I’d rather say you have “faith” than “belief”, if that makes sense to you.

      I have the first definition of belief in scientific theory, I have the second definition of belief in my conviction as an atheist.
      I do not claim I “own” the truth, I claim I have no proof of the existence of a singular god or gods.

      Empirically and logically I can not choose a singular god, as there are so many different gods and belief systems.
      With so many people with such different religious convictions, logically either none or all of them are wrong. In that light I find it somewhat arrogant when someone claims “I believe in the one true god” or similar. I believe (again that word..) religious belief is more an effect of cultural and environmental influence, than of any actual existence of any gods.
      As people are always seeking for the meaning of life, the universe and everything, they observe what is close to them for answers. And what is close is often family, friends and communities with amongst them similar beliefs.

    • http://twitter.com/ColdDimSum Dark Star

      First, Atheism is just disbelief in a god or gods so it is incorrect to talk about ‘atheist beliefs’. People do this informally of course, but it’s a bad practice.

      Secondly, I would say that you don’t ‘know’ there is a God, you only think you know this. But what is going on in reality is that you are unaware of the plethora of cognitive biases that work against your rational brain. I think you are likely untrained in neuroscience, physics, cosmology, logic, statistics and computation so you lack the skills to even properly make the evaluation. I’m sure that you FEEL like your ‘god’ is a profound truth to you, but that doesn’t make it so in reality. And I base this in part on having been where you are myself.

      What corrected my perspective, aside from a deep study in the subjects I mentioned before, was looking at the world honestly. For example, Was God REALLY favoring me with good parking spots while allowing 2-3 million small children to starve to death every year? And I realized what an absolutely horrid and sickening insult that very concept is to those children.

      ‘Belief’ just means that you hold a proposition to be true. There is nothing gained by labeling it ‘knowledge’, but no harm either. In practice, it is just a scale of how strongly it is held.

      I don’t ‘believe’ there is, categorically, no god because it cannot be defined and I can’t form a belief about an unknown. I can tell you that, epistemologically-speaking, it is absurd to hold things as true that you have no evidence for and I can demonstrate that when you do this you apply it inconsistently. I can also show you what it produces – the 33,000 some-odd Sects of Christianity that we see in the world, along with thousands of other Sects that claims completely contradictory things to your beliefs about ‘god’. This approach to ‘knowledge’ leads to bifurcation and divergence of beliefs.

      Epistemologically-speaking, I demand good evidence and reason before I hold something to be true. When this approach is taken to ‘knowledge’ it produces a Convergence of ‘beliefs’ about the subject matter, that we see evidenced in the sciences. This doesn’t mean science has unanswered questions, it means that when sufficient evidence exists to distinguish between conflicting claims then the correct path FORWARD (forward, not a leap to the end) becomes clear.

      This is how we walked not on water but on the moon; not cast demons into pigs but cured formerly intractable diseases and increased our knowledge of the neurological underpinnings of mental illness; and fed the multitudes through evolutionary changes in our food supply not by appeals to magical stories.

    • GCT

      Belief implies that there is some level of faith being placed in science and that they “believe” that there is no God rather than “knowing” that there is no God.

      Trying to unpack all the atheophobic and religiously privileged notions in this one sentence is doing my head in.

      Belief is not the same as faith. Faith is a subset of belief, not the other way around. A belief is a held position. Faith is a belief that is held despite a lack of evidence or in contradiction to the evidence we have. Equating faith and belief is religious privilege meant to conflate religious faith with normal beliefs and give it more weight than it has. Also, the claim that atheists “know…there is no god” is more atheophobic nonsense.

      As a Christian, I don’t believe in God, I know that there is a God because I have seen him working in my life and the lives of others, I have heard his voice and felt his overwhelming peace. Can I prove that to anyone else? Absolutely not…

      Then, by your own words you cannot claim to “know” that god exists. This is especially true since we know that human senses are subject to confirmation bias and are faulty (when’s the last time you actually saw the Earth revolve around the sun?)

      But I would never say “I believe in God”. That is like saying “I believe my husband loves me.” I know he does.

      No, you believe that he does. You probably have good reason to do so, based on empirical evidence that he does so, but it’s not something you can prove, is it?

      So if an athiest bases their world view and the way they live their lives only on things that can be scientifically proven, then what are their “beliefs”?

      We have beliefs too, they just don’t include faith.

      Not trying to be judgmental, but athiests sometimes use language that seems contradictory.

      Except you are being judgmental and shoving your religious privilege down our throats.

  • Raffaello

    My friend’s mother is super religious and believes that God blesses her food thus making it safe to eat. Needless to say, her diet consists of everything bad you can imagine. Soda pop, candy, fast food, and of course lots and lots of pork meat just to name a few. I’ve tried showing her healthy eating habits but she refuses to believe me about anything because I told her I’m an atheist. So I don’t care what she eats anymore because as long as she prays for her meals, then she’s happy. Oh well.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Thomas/100001329759060 Chris Thomas

      That’s weird… I wonder why she thinks she needs to justify her food habits, she can eat whatever she wants so why she deludes herself is beyond me. Kinda redundant if you ask me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/steve.harrison1 Steve Harrison

    Can atheists believe that the universe IS god?

  • http://twitter.com/Stuartmatthew20 Matthew Tyler Stuart

    thanks, for spreading the word, it,s easy to be an atheist, because we know the truth about the lies of religion.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bhandarkar.amit Amit Bhandarkar

    I posted the image on my wall — got only one question all day. I know a lot of people in my list of Friends would like to ask a question — but they want to avoid confrontation. Anyway — the question I got was “do you believe in love?”. Here is my response – is that even a valid question? I will attempt to answer it, nevertheless; albeit, in a different context — “define love”. I hope that is fair. I believe that our chance of survival in the struggles of life rise steeply when we find solidarity and common interests with other individuals — family, friends and partners. In higher species, evolution encourages this through affection. The parameters that govern affection work by simulating areas of the brain that produce chemicals and signals that make you happy, excited and content in the company of people who you are most affectionate towards — people like your parents, siblings, other close relations, close friends and spouse. That, my dear friend is what I think love is. Now, incidentally, you are not the first one to ask me that. A few close friends have asked me this and other similar questions. My response always seems to make them angry and they are positively offended. That I relate an emotion like love to “chemical reactions” in the brain and “electrical impulses” produced by it has been considered by many as demeaning a beautiful emotion like love. Here is my response to that — knowing how something works does not diminish its importance and it certainly does not destroy its beauty and elegance. I value love — it is one of the strongest reasons for the survival of our species long enough to become as intelligent as we are today. When I think of love, I think, “well played, evolution! well played indeed!”.


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