According to Telegraph Bloggers, Atheists are Smug, Annoying, and Mentally Ill

If anyone’s interested in becoming a blogger, I suggest contacting someone at The Telegraph (UK) since they seem to be taking anyone with an opinion, no matter how uninformed they are.

Today alone, they have two pieces that are heavy on polemics and light on facts.

The first is from Sean Thomas, who claims that atheists are mentally ill:

In 2004, scholars at UCLA revealed that college students involved in religious activities are likely to have better mental health. In 2006, population researchers at the University of Texas discovered that the more often you go to church, the longer you live. In the same year researchers at Duke University in America discovered that religious people have stronger immune systems than the irreligious. They also established that churchgoers have lower blood pressure.

It goes on like that for a while… Thomas neglects to point out the thing that I was silently screaming the entire time I was reading it: None of those facts have *anything* to do with anyone’s religious beliefs being true. It has *everything* to do with having a strong support network, and dedicating your life to something you’re passionate about, and having a stable force in your life.

Even though we’re non-religious, many of us have alternatives for those things which churches provide to religious people.

But undoubting Thomas doesn’t care about that explanation. He just offers his own idiotic conclusion:

So which is the smart party, here? Is it the atheists, who live short, selfish, stunted little lives — often childless — before they approach hopeless death in despair, and their worthless corpses are chucked in a trench (or, if they are wrong, they go to Hell)? Or is it the believers, who live longer, happier, healthier, more generous lives, and who have more kids, and who go to their quietus with ritual dignity, expecting to be greeted by a smiling and benevolent God?

Obviously, it’s the believers who are smarter. Anyone who thinks otherwise is mentally ill.

Obviously

Thomas’ piece may not have even been the one with the most inflammatory headline. That honor goes to Brendan O’Neill, who writes about “How atheists became the most colossally smug and annoying people on the planet“:

Last week we had the spectacle of Dawkins and his slavish Twitter followers (whose adherence to Dawkins’ diktats makes those Kool-Aid-drinking Jonestown folk seem level-headed in comparison) boring on about how stupid Muslims are.

We’ll stop there for a moment. O’Neill is referring to this tweet:


You won’t find nuance in a tweet, but Dawkins clarified later that he wasn’t trying to pick on Muslims with his (factually-accurate) statement, but rather questioning whether there may be something about Islam or Muslim culture that prevents Muslims from reaching that pinnacle of science. Unfortunately, just as with many of the things Dawkins says off the cuff, it led to more confusion than it helped solve. Dawkins was immediately accused by his detractors of being Islamophobic. As someone who is willing to see what Dawkins was trying to say instead of focusing on how (un)eloquently he said it, I don’t see that tweet as offensive or hateful, but it’s easy to understand why some were put off by it.

Anyway, back to O’Neill, who believes Dawkins was talking about “how stupid Muslims are.” He goes on to whine about how atheists mock religious beliefs and act all superior:

… if you ever have the misfortune, as I once did, to step foot into an atheistic get-together, which are now common occurrences in the Western world, patronised by people afflicted with repetitive strain injury from so furiously patting themselves on the back for being clever, you will witness unprecedented levels of intellectual smugness and hostility towards hoi polloi.

Funny man. He doesn’t level the same complaint, of course, against Christians, who meet weekly to talk about how right they are and how everyone else is destined to Hell if they don’t agree. Instead, he uses as his example events where atheists can gather and be open about their non-belief — something they very likely can’t do back home. Of course they’re going to talk about how, for instance, they’re on an island of sanity surrounded by an ocean of ignorance.

Maybe I’m being too harsh on O’Neill. From what I can tell, he doesn’t live in America, and it’s hard for outsiders to know how tough it is to be an atheist in America. When you finally have the opportunity — online or in-person — to stop censoring your views on religion, it’s a huge relief. We’re all guilty of binge-mocking religion at some point or another. It’s no way to win people over to our side, but it sure-as-hell feels good to get it out of our system.

Godless Poutine adds to that thought:

If we all lived in presumably highly secularized Britain there would be less need for the safe havens that North American atheist clubs and groups provide. I’m not certain, but I think that something is getting lost in translation here and Brendan doesn’t seem to recognize how embattled and marginalized non-believers are in North America and possibly also rural UK and Europe.

Plus, there’s the added benefit of reality being on our side.

I don’t doubt that some atheists are smug and annoying. Some. Most don’t care about the issue one way or the other. They don’t believe in God, that’s that, and they move on with their lives. Many who are brave enough to come out publicly as atheists are very eloquent about why they don’t believe in God and they have no desire to mock religious people.

Arrogance is lumping everyone into the same group and dismissing them because you don’t like what a handful of them say, something O’Neill seems to do reflexively.

Though, if “annoying” is the worst he can say about us, that’s not bad. Because the list would be much longer and far worse if we were calling out the sins of religious people — impeding our education system because it teaches facts instead of myths, taking away the rights of others because they don’t love who you want them to love, violently killing those who believe differently from you… the list goes on.

I’ll gladly take “smug” over all of that.

About Hemant Mehta

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

  • http://MY.EMAIL.IS.yohocoma.at.yahoo.com/ yohocoma

    Even if every one of Thomas’ claims about the betterness of theists’ lives is true, it’s still much, much better to live one’s life believing the truth, even if the truth is not quite so comforting.

    If the choice is happy or right, right wins.

    I very much disagree with your take on Dawkins’ latest burp of West vs. Muslim cultural superiority, on the other hand. Given the size of the backlash against Dawkins last week, I was surprised you didn’t feature the controversy in an article here. Instead it seems that you’re smuggling it in inside another article so as to dismiss it quickly. You might be willing to see what (you think) Dawkins was “trying” to say, but other people observe the evidence. The consequences of Western and especially American imperialism are far too important for international relations, and our lives as Americans, to keep papering over ideological underpinnings for them such as Dawkins’.

    • HQ

      “The consequences of Western and especially American imperialism…”

      Am I missing something? What has this got to do with the “Muslim World’s” lack of progress?

      • HQ

        Sorry, I meant to type: “What has this got to do with the “Muslim World’s” lack of scientific progress?”

        • The Other Weirdo

          Because everything, everywhere, in all times throughout history is America’s fault. Also, Israel’s. Why, how much better the world would be if only America didn’t exist and better yet, Israel, too. So holds a certain demographic, and it is such a fervent belief that it might as well qualify as a religious belief.

          • EvolutionKills

            Yeah, I’m pretty sure that Islam itself sabotaged the intellectual and scientific progress of the Middle East. They used to be centers for learning and knowledge, were the leaders in astronomy and mathematics. But then religious fervor took over, deemed the work of numbers to be evil, and they have never recovered since. This all happened long before western imperialism.

  • The Other Weirdo

    I would rather live a shorter life as an atheist, accepting the truth of universe and my place in it, than the smug ignorance that wishes that information is not revealed to contradict a cherished belief–even if it’s a recent one.

  • icecreamassassin

    (somethingsomething religiosity more mentally stable)
    (somethingsomething religiosity more happy)
    (somethingsomething religiosity more community)

    Do these people really just not give a damn if claims, religious or otherwise, are, you know, ACTUALLY TRUE?

    • The Other Weirdo

      They don’t, because they all think they have all the truth the universe could have and it was revealed to ignorant goat herders 2,000 years ago. They don’t care about anything else.

  • JET

    “…Dawkins and his slavish Twitter followers (whose adherence to Dawkins’ diktats makes those Kool-Aid-drinking Jonestown folk seem level-headed in comparison)…”
    Except if Dawkins told them to commit suicide, they would tell him to fuck off. THAT takes religion.

    • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

      Exactly. I don’t know anyone who agrees with everything Dawkins tweets. I suspect even Dawkins doesn’t. (Some seem deliberately designed to stir up the hornets’ nest.)

      • allein

        And some of us only read Dawkins’s tweets when they find their way here…

  • CBrachyrhynchos

    I thought Thomas was doing weak satire on the intelligence study that’s going around. O’Neill appears to be falling into the common editorialist conceit that twitter and facebook status messages are news sources representative of broader trends. (In my opinion, the editorials about twitter and facebook are even lower than celebrity tabloids reporters, who at least have to put on shoes in order to get the scandalous candid photo.)

  • Sandrilene

    Many people claim those who disagree with them are mentally ill. I think this is a poor argument and insulting to those who genuinely struggle with mental illness.

    On a previous post on this website we have a commenter maintaining that religion is a mental illness. I’ve seen feminists claim those who disagree with them are mentally ill and misogynists deride feminists as crazy.
    Whatever your views, you should not hastily dismiss those who disagree with you as mentally ill.

    • Hat Stealer

      I think the Taliban are mentally ill.
      I think that abortion doctor shooters are mentally ill.

      I don’t think that the majority of religious people are mentally ill. I do maintain that religion can cause mental illness, simply because it can change the chemistry of the brain, but I think that is true of all brainwashing techniques. Again, most religious people are not actually brainwashed, and I’m sure there are some that were simply mentally ill to start with, which was what caused them to gravitate towards religion in the first place.

    • GCBill

      There’s also the issue of assuming that mental illness = not perceiving reality correctly (which can be, but isn’t *always* the case). Some mentally ill people are in fact completely rational, with their dysfunctions arising from and affecting other areas.

      For instance, my depressed self-assessments were probably more in line with the casual observer’s, though more accurate introspection was not worth the price of functionality. Now I’d probably overestimate my capabilities like most healthy people do.

      • Oranje

        I have a running street battle with depression and suicide (new meds are working-ish… hooray!), but I think my perception of reality is relatively unskewed. No more skewed than average subjectivity, at least.

    • ZenDruid

      We can add this to the list of “Things Assholes Say”.

    • EvolutionKills

      As I was reading the article, the entire time I was thinking “If JT Eberhard gets wind of this he’s going to rip them a new one”.

      • wombat

        Send it to JT and enjoy the fireworks?

        • EvolutionKills

          I’m thinking about it, but JT and Hemant seem to catch most of the same news articles even if they are spaced a day or so apart. If this doesn’t show up on WWJTD in a few days, I’ll drop him a link.

  • Buckley

    I read O’Neill’s article and was reminded once again that the more prominent, vocal and out spoken we are about who we are, the stronger and more irrational (and possibly dangerous) the attacks will become. We’ve seen this movie before: The Equal Rights Movement and especially the gay Rights Movement. But, I may venture to bet that we are going to be attacked far more often and with more ferocity that other social minority groups have had to endure in the last 30 years. It’s only going to get worse before it gets better until we are the majority. There are so many non believes that are still going through the motions and wont leave because of fear of all manner of retribution. It takes a strong individual to stand up against all of this. But we must, in our own way in order to show the world we are not what others would have us be.

    • JET

      Yes, because some blacks, gays, feminists accept Jesus. But the atheists (gasp!)… nothing but the Devil’s spawn.

    • HQ

      O’Neill is a professional gobshite, go look at his other posts.

  • The Other Weirdo

    Da faque did I just read?

    • OverlappingMagisteria

      The rantings of Dennis Markuze, famed obsessive troll of atheist blogs. Hopefully he can get some help.

      http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Dennis_Markuze

      • Glasofruix

        Wasn’t he playing the soap game in prison?

      • Sven2547

        You would think that if he wanted to risk violating his parole, he would say something more meaningful?

      • MontraRevol

        you are a bunch of little liars..

        we SEE EVERYTHING!

        • MontraRevol

          hemant will not be saved

          • Oranje

            No, I don’t trust the bullpen around Patheos either.

        • Oranje

          “we SEE EVERYTHING!”

          Ah, you’re with the NSA. I see.

        • wabney

          Isn’t posting here a violation of your parole?

          • MontraRevol

            the trouble is we are the JUDGE

        • UWIR

          At the moment, this post has negative one upvotes. Three downvotes and a negative upvote. I didn’t realize that was possible.

  • Mairianna

    Shorter lives; weaker immune systems; higher blood pressure – these three things are not exclusively related to a lack of mental illness. They are also symptoms of stress, but not exclusive to mental illness. Bad premise.

    • iamfantastikate

      It’s definitely stress. Those physical characteristics are all documented differences between those who are wealthy and those who live in poverty, those who are of the privileged race(s) and those who are of the oppressed race(s) in a society, and so on. So it’s far from just being a religion versus atheism issue.

      Being of a minority can be stressful. Being of the least-privileged or least-liked minority, as atheists usually are on the religious-nonreligious scale (and sometimes even beyond that), can be even more stressful.

      We all know stress kills.

  • Paul (not the apostle)

    If the majority believe something (no matter how insane) does that mean the minority are automatically mentally ill for not agreeing. Are facts decided by majority vote. If so I will start a movement for sunshine all day and rain only at night. I think I can get the majority vote for that and make it so. No folks, Evidence based fact wins no matter how few believe it. Believing in fairies may make you happy but reasonable people will still think your nuts, no matter how many of your friends agree with you and even having an old fairy tale book still will not make it so.

  • Spuddie

    “how we won the James Randi Million Dollar Paranormal Prize”

    He turned James Randi into a newt. He got better.

  • phranckeaufile

    Anyone else get the impression that the picture and caption were added by an editor who may not be in 100% agreement with Mr. Thomas’ views?

  • observer

    Why is Sean Thomas bragging that Christians get to live longer? Doesn’t that mean you’ll have to wait longer to get to heaven?

  • Glasofruix

    the more often you go to church, the longer you live

    Sure, the more time you waste at church the less time you have to get shot while shopping for ice tea and skittles.

    churchgoers have lower blood pressure.

    Being bored to death is known to cause this effect.

    Is it the atheists, who live short

    Sure, we tend to get medical attention instead of praying stuff away, those doctors suro do kill us faster than pneumonia. Also, numbers please.

    selfish

    Sure, we’re totally selfish because we help people solely to secure a ticket to heav…oh wait.

    often childless lives

    We know how to use a condom in order to not to get pregnant at 16 and marry the first dude stupid enough to believe that it takes 4 months for a human fetus to mature.

    Anyway, there’s so much stupidity in there that deconstucting everything just kills too many braincells at once to continue…

    • allein

      the more often you go to church, the longer you live.

      Or maybe it just feels that way…

  • Colin B

    This is probably stating the obvious but the best thing to do is to ignore posts like Thomas and O’Neill’s. Attention is their oxygen and that is why they are being deliberately obnoxious – to stimulate responses. They will know that many atheists are prolific posters (excuse the stereotype) and will hop on anything Atheist related in the media – like a red rag to a bull! Then you’ll get the Christians popping in to poke the proverbial bull with a stick! More comment posts, more hits….better for the adspace and for the paper website in general.

    Lets face it…you cant have a go at blacks, gays or catholics (not in any way saying we should btw but they were the targets du jour at certain times in the past). Atheists are one of the few groups you can target without fear of incitement to hatred. Best to read it (or not), laugh at the half-wit author and move on. Don’t get embroiled in comments or your giving them what they want – playing into their hands there Hemant ;)

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      It’s still good to take them apart concisely at least once, if not to get embroiled, like you say. The paper definitely wants that. I stopped bothering with a nearby newspaper after I learned that they were giving a percentage of ad revenues to a dishonest columnist in exchange for increasing hits, and had asked him to make up things to get pushback. This same paper accepts guest columns from people who are on record as saying things like “liberals are mentally ill and should be rounded up and gassed to death like Jews*” and “black girls should have their tubes tied until they can prove they can support children on their own” in order to get more hits.

      The funny thing is, one of their conservative columnists was fired one week while I was away for something offensive he wrote on their website. What in the HELL could that have been?

      *Not direct quotes, but summations. They did say these things, just took them a paragraph or two.

    • The Other Weirdo

      And if these writers had no other audience but atheists, I would agree with you. They don’t, however. If the articles aren’t countered, bigger problems result.

  • Bitter Lizard

    Most of the correlations Thomas mentions have more to do with activities (like church attendance) than beliefs. In other words, more socially active theists are being compared with theists who are not as active in their communities, and it’s not surprising that more active and social people reap some health benefits. I’m pretty sure the majority of non-churchgoers are not atheists, but Thomas pretends they all are because it suits what he’s trying to sell.

    • Bitter Lizard

      And when you think about it, a devout Christian who doesn’t attend church because of serious health issues would be counted as someone getting killed by atheism by his reasoning. Regular participation in community activities (which is church for most people) is long known to have health benefits, but more secular countries have higher life expectancy and better health generally, so it pays to look a little closer at what is actually being measured.

      • UWIR

        And if someone is brought up as a Jehovah’s Witness, but doesn’t believe in it, and gets disfellowshipped, and the stress of being cut off from familial support worsens their health, that counts as getting killed by atheism.

    • Guest

      Plus, ill people are less able to get up and go to church in the first place…

  • peicurmudgeon

    I can be smug and annoying, I also suffer from a mental illness. However, I don’t think any of those things are caused by my atheism.

  • Beth

    People with imaginary friends are mentally ill.

    • wombat

      Or, y’know, shaped by the dominant social construct of their culture.

  • Guest

    The Telegraph is a conservative paper and conservatism is still associated with religion in Britain, so it’s not really surprising. I never read the ‘Tory’graph and so I don’t give a fuck about these morons’ opinions.

  • Claire

    Ha! It was my mental illness and infertility that led me to be atheist.

    When religion tells you that your constant thoughts of woe and your inability as a woman to bear a child, I felt ashamed and helpless. ‘What did I do to deserve be depressed?’ ‘If my purpose as a woman is to bear kids among other things, why am I unable to?’ Religion made me like a failure.

    Learning the science behind things lead me to reject religion.

    Guess what: I’ve never been happier!

  • Guest

    The problem with those studies about religious people being happier and living longer is that they were done in America, where atheists are stigmatised and religion is a huge part of life, affecting your chances of promotion and your social life. It seems daft to generalise that to the old UK of B, where no-one really talks about religion in public (it’s considered impolite).
    I bet there would be differences, because I’ve seen other tests ‘personality profiling’ atheists which suggests that atheists in america tended to be disagreeable (probably because you have to be, to go against the status quo) while european atheists had a bigger range of personalities (because there’s less stigma and more atheists overall). Of course the testing could also be biased.

    • Scott McGreal

      This is a good point about culture influencing the religiosity-happiness link. Studies in Denmark and Japan, where religion is not particularly valued, found that religious people were no happier than the non-religious.

    • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

      America is also a place where a lot of people go to church but don’t seem to believe any of it. I’m skeptical of studies that ask people about their religious beliefs because like sex studies, people tend to give the answer that makes them sound good (to themselves if not others). As an example, the surveys about how often people go to church are way out of line with the churches’ own records of attendance. People say they go to church far more often than they do. I also think they say they believe things that they haven’t actually considered that carefully.

  • Sean Michael Parsons

    It is called “projection.”

  • Ton_Chrysoprase

    So the guy goes to a closed door atheist meeting and complains that people are smug at him? That’s a bit of a self-inflicted problem that hardly justifies the blanked judgementalism.

    Well, as long as he can feel superior to other people.

    • Mario Strada

      Maybe he should try to go to a church service and pull the same shit claiming to be an atheist and see the love pouring.

  • SeekerLancer

    I don’t know if he’s mentally ill but Sean Thomas certainly seems pretty smug and annoying himself.

    As for my health problems and being childless… yeah I have health problems but I still had them when I was a Christian (my blood pressure is always fantastic though). Yeah I’m childish but it’s because my girlfriend and I don’t want kids. I understand “childless” is an incredibly derogatory phrase to some Christians though.

  • sailor

    “the more often you go to church, the longer you live.” Well we can say at least the longer you live the more chances you have of going to church, so in terms of correlation it might just be true.

  • compl3x

    This is offensive because it trivialises mental illness. You want to call me smug or annoying? Go for it. I don’t mind. I won’t demand you be censored for hurting my atheist feelings. I am a big boy, I’ll survive.

    Mental illness is a serious issue which shouldn’t be so cynically or callously used to insult someone you don’t agree with. I would never accuse a theist of being “mentally ill”. Ignorant? Perhaps. Misguided? Probably. Wrong? Always.

    Using mental illness as an insult reinforces the stigma around mental illness. The author should be ashamed of himself for being so insensitive and thoughtless.

    I’m not being PC about this, it’s just a shitty way to criticise an opponent.

    • wombat

      It’s not PC to say ‘someone else’s unpleasant reality should not be my source of insults’. It’s being a decent human being.

    • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

      Agreed. mental illness is a medical diagnosis and should therefore be made by a trained professional, not a hack writer for a second-rate newspaper.

    • allein

      My issues with depression started around middle school – when I was very involved in the church youth group and still went to church almost every Sunday.

  • DougI

    Not surprising he didn’t mention that study which shows Atheists tend to be smarter than the religious. Probably because he couldn’t understand the study.

    • http://springygoddess.blogspot.com/ Astreja

      Perhaps the Thomas article is actually a parody of the intelligence study, using a deadpan argument-from-emotion to express annoyance. Even if the results of a study don’t apply to you specifically, if it casts aspersions on your community it still hurts.

  • UWIR

    Apparently, Thomas thinks that heathens are atheists. What a dumbass. I guess anyone who isn’t a Christian is an atheist in his book? Also, it’s “AIDS”, not “Aids”. And to top it off, one of the comments on Thomas’ article is

    The one thing that I notice about atheists is that their hatred of religion is only directed against Christianity. Seemingly other religions are exempt from their invective. I am looking forward to one of them making the same comments in public about Allah and Islam as the do about Christianity and God.

    So if atheists mention Islam, they’re bigots, but if they don’t, they’re singling Christianity out.

    • indorri

      The thing is, there’s a reason my ire is directed at Christianity, aside from the entire “it’s the main religion, the one I’m familiar with”. Other religions can be whacky as well, but I just don’t see the absolute horror wreaked by Christianity in other religions except Islam. I have not seen apostasy death threats, scriptural literalism to the point of denying science, etc, in, for example, Hinduism and Buddhism.

  • gandalfsbeard

    Atheists like Harris, Dawkins, and the late Christopher Hitchens ARE Smug. Arrogant, Racist Trolls.

    They are giving the rest of us non-theists a bad name and I wish they would Shut The F*** Up and stick to science instead of making irrational bigoted claims that have no basis in fact.

    So some Muslims don’t have some Nobel Prizes! So what!? The only reason Dawkins made that claim was to be a racist dick. What other purpose could there be? Did Dawkins say anything about the 19 year old Egyptian Physicist who has invented a process to propel spacecraft using Quantum Mechanics instead of Rocket Fuel? NO!

    • http://www.summerseale.com/ Summer Seale

      Exactly how was Dawkins’ comment racist?

      • gandalfsbeard

        “All the world’s Muslims have fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge.”

        What the F”"”" is the point of this comment then? Is this just supposed be an FYI? He’s just Trolling Muslims. Like he and Harris have been doing for a long time now.

        Did you know that Dawkins (like Sam Harris) has claimed that Islam is the greatest evil in the world, and that Christianity is superiour to it? Does that sound rational or quantifiable to you? Where is the data to support such a claim. How does one determine what religion is more “evil” than another? I didn’t know that “Evil” had become a scientific term,

        And note, he’s not even attacking Islam as a faith in his tweet. He’s attacking Muslims, i.e. People! Whatever happened to addressing the argument and not the arguer?

        And don’t give me specious crap about Islam not being a Race. Of course the Religion itself is not a race. But Muslims as an Ethnic group ARE being addressed in a racist manner…

        Definition of race in English
        race2

        Syllabification: (race)

        Pronunciation: /rās/
        hnoun

        -each of the major divisions of humankind, having distinct physical characteristics: people of all races, colors, and creeds

        -a group of people sharing the same culture, history, language, etc.; an ethnic group:we Scots were a bloodthirsty race then

        -the fact or condition of belonging to a racial division or group; the qualities or characteristics associated with this:people of mixed race

        -a group or set of people or things with a common feature or features:some male firefighters still regarded women as a race apart

        -Biology a population within a species that is distinct in some way, especially a subspecies:people have killed so many tigers that two races are probably extinct

        -(in nontechnical use) each of the major divisions of living creatures:a member of the human race, the race of birds

        -literary a group of people descended from a common ancestor:a prince of the race of Solomon

        -archaic ancestry:two coursers of ethereal race

        http://oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/race–2.

        • http://www.summerseale.com/ Summer Seale

          Alright, I’ve read how you clarified your position with your small statement. Did you happen to do the same with Dawkins? He addressed those issues.

          • gandalfsbeard

            Don’t evade the issue. The question goes to you, not Dawkins. If you say he has addressed the issue, the burden is on you to demonstrate it!

            Sorry if you don’t like reading long posts. Your problem, not mine!

            • http://www.summerseale.com/ Summer Seale

              Well I wasn’t evading the issue. I’m still waking up with my coffee and didn’t feel like replying with a lengthy post yet before determining whether or not you read the relevant explanation which Dawkins gave on the issue.

              I also don’t mind reading lengthy posts at all and my comment was not sarcastic in that respect. I actually prefer lengthy posts to short ones when they are relevant. Yours was, and I appreciate it.

              I did, however, go back into your other posts and I see exactly where you’re coming from. I’ll state that I’m absolutely in disagreement with you about Sam Harris and Dawkins as I don’t think that they have a racist bone in their bodies. I’m sorry if I’m going to categorize you, but you sound like a knee-jerk liberal in much the same way that some people are knee-jerk conservatives. No matter what the facts are, you’re going to reject anything which conflicts with your core dogmas.

              When Dawkins and Harris are criticizing Islam, they are not telling people to hate Muslims, and that’s fairly clear. In fact, they’ve said so before, and Dawkins addresses this issue in his explanation quite clearly. He is talking about the impact of religion on societies. He’s done this many times with Christianity and, might I add, I haven’t seen you commenting in your previous comments (and as I said, I just browsed through the last year of them) about how this would be racist towards Christians. In fact, I’ve never seen any atheist who is now pissed off at Dawkins about his comments on Islam who had said the same thing about Dawkins when he commented about Christians and Christianity.

              Perhaps, in my still half-coffeed morning, I have missed your comments on how Dawkins is a racist towards Christians, so please could you enlighten me as to your outlook on this subject?

              • gandalfsbeard

                He’s not racist towards Christians. I never said he was. .

                What I am addressing is the irrational distinction Dawkins makes when he considers Christianity to be superiour to Islam. And his conflation of Islam as a Religion, with Muslims as a peoples (many different cultures and ethnicities follow one or another school of Islam. And he doesn’t even acknowledge that. He just lumps them all in).

                Don’t take my word for it, take his own words…

                In answer to the question: “Why is it (Islam) more problematic than Christianity?” He answers: “There’s a belief that every word of the Q’uran is literally true, and it is..um..there’s a close-mindedness there which is less present in former Christendom.”

                His fallacies are obvious.

                The first fallacy: The question was regarding Christianity as a religion compared to Islam as a religion. Yet he chose to answer with a conflation; a bait and switch. He answers the query by describing how Muslims are more close-minded than Christians.

                Fallacy two: Is that even a quantifiable statement? Of course not!

                Fallacy #3: He lumps all Muslims together.

                These fallacies taken together clearly indicate a bigoted stance which he has no hope of quantifying.

                And your ad hominem about “knee-jerk liberal” really isn’t worth addressing, except to point out that YOU are engaging in a fallacy.

                https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=LhYus6TiGEE#at=38

                • http://www.summerseale.com/ Summer Seale

                  What I was trying to point out was precisely that you’ve never accused Dawkins of being racist towards Christians when he’s been tearing Christians apart for well over a decade in a very public way.

                  Forget the knee-jerk liberal thing for now, and I apologize for bringing it up so soon in our conversation. Let’s stick to this: do you think that Dawkins is racist towards Christians when he tears apart Christianity in entire special TV series attacking the bible and Christianity? Is that something you’ve ever criticized?

                • gandalfsbeard

                  Did you pay any attention at all to my argument? You know, the one in which I (with factual support) point out that he claims Christians are superiour to Muslims!?

                  You’re just being evasive and trying to derail the argument with red herrings.

                  But because I’m feeling overly generous toward you (I don’t really know why), I’ll answer your query about whether I have criticised Dawkins in regards to Christianity. I have indeed expressed distaste for his penchant to Troll Christians when he resorts to claiming they are simply delusional. That’s obviously designed to piss people off, and end the debate. Because, after all, why debate someone who is clearly delusional?

                  He’s even gone as far as refusing to debate Theists of any sort. There is a reason for that. He’s terrible at debating because he engages in so many fallacies, he doesn’t understand how theists think, and he allows them to gain the upper hand in debates by accepting their terms of the debate.

                  As much as I personally despise Hitchens for his warmongering and misogyny, he NEVER let Theists get the better of him. He was brilliant at deconstructing the arguments of Theists. And he stayed on point, not allowing Theists to sidetrack him with red herrings (which you are doing right now). And I learned a lot about deconstructing arguments and debating from him.

                  I’ve said more than I intended to. That’s what I get for allowing you to sidetrack me. :P

                  So, address my argument directly, or be done with it. I’m not wasting any more time with Red Herrings. If you want to discuss things further, here is my FB page. I have an article I wrote on Sam Harris in my notes which you can read too.

                  That’s probably the best place to continue this discussion, as I haven’t written my article on Dawkins yet…

                  https://www.facebook.com/notes/gandalfs-beard/sam-harris-worst-spokesperson-for-atheism-in-recent-history/372788029484142

                • http://www.summerseale.com/ Summer Seale

                  Thank you for your reply.

                  I wasn’t trying to evade the argument you presented. I was simply trying to determine whether you apply the same standards of criticism to Dawkins when he talks about Christianity as when he talks about Islam. I know that he said “Muslims” in his tweet, but he’s already addressed and clarified that point in his lengthy piece after the fact, so I don’t feel that I need to rehash it here when anyone can simply go and read the piece for themselves.

                  As to his thinking that he thinks Christians right now are “superior” to Muslims, I understand the context in which he’s talking about. Given the fact that I live in Israel and see this sort of thing every single day, I take everything in context. The context in which he’s talking about is not a racial context at all. He’s talking about a cultural context which, as he explains it, has been completely taken over by a mentality of extremism. This is well understood even in many Muslim circles. What appears to be the dilemma is how to deal with this extremism.

                  This has nothing to do with Dawkins calling for hatred against Muslims, but a need for Muslim communities to sort out some very fundamental internal problems. Look at what is happening in Egypt today, as an example. There, actually, you have a clear case of liberals and the military who literally rejected the extremist Islamist platform of the Muslim Brotherhood. In a sense, it’s what many of us had been waiting for in this part of the world. Granted, there’s a lot to be said about how they handled it in the last three days, but the very fact that this conflict is happening should be telling us something about what is going on in many Islamic communities around the world.

                  I don’t see Harris, Dawkins, or HItchens (blessings be upon his name), as racists at all. Hitchens was famous for associating himself with liberals in the “Muslim world” (how I absolutely abhor that term), to promote liberal ideas where he saw extremists taking over. It was no less racist to oppose the spread of Islam in this way than it was for those Arabs, Malaysians, Kurds, and others to do the same on their home soil.

                  And I do think that Dawkins and Harris have a point: Christianity is not as great a threat in some respects as Islam is right now. I am not (and neither are Harris and Dawkins as far as I can tell) discounting the danger of abortion clinic bombers, Tim McVeigh style bombers, Nazi assholes who beat up Gays, Jews, and black people, or any of the other “faith based initiatives” you see taken on by the Christians who claim that evolution and global warming is a lie and more. But when it comes to somebody trying to blow up an entire airplane, or even an entire city, you’re not going to generally get that from an extremist Christian group. I’m not saying that the threat isn’t there, I’m just saying it’s slightly less pronounced.

                  “Christian nations” right now have a much less punctuated problem with Christian fanatics within their midsts in that respect than “Muslim nations”. I’m not going to get into the socio-economic reasons as to why, as I’m sure we’ll agree on some of the issues and we won’t agree on others. But the fact remains that the threat exists, and that it is actually an issue. And it may not be an entirely religious issue, but there *is* a religious component to it.

                  That is what Dawkins is remarking on, as far as I can tell, and Sam Harris as well.

                  Now, I’ve seen you refer to Harris as a warmonger several times in your comments (and I mean in previous comments on previous topics as well), and I understand where you’re coming from. However, I don’t think it’s a very realistic view of the situation. Once again, I point to Egypt as an example.

                  If you can’t get the Egyptians themselves to try to resolve things peacefully with the extremists of the Muslim Brotherhood, even when trying to include them once again in the democratic process (which they, by the way, tried to destroy – even while now claiming that they’re for it yet again), how on earth are you going to actually resolve things peacefully with these factions when coming from outside of their society? I contend that you probably can’t. I also contend that you can’t really solve the problems of the world of this magnitude without bloodshed. I’m a realist and I look at history (which I know a lot about, especially the Crusades by the way), and I am fairly certain that this conflict will continue as an armed one for a while to come. It’s unfortunate, I really don’t like it at all, but I have to take the world as it is. I’m not going to hide in dogmatic ideology about how “war is bad” and that anyone who participates in it is automatically “bad”. I’m going to look at the facts of each case as they come and determine the best choice I can take given the circumstances.

                  And if I’m going to accept that there are going to be wars in this region based on religious fervor, I’m going to want to plan accordingly. I know that we’re talking about real lives (believe me, I am in the crosshairs of Hezzbollah missiles – literally…from my balcony), and one of those lives may very well be my own. So I don’t say this lightly as the consequences could very well land on my own head. I doubt that they will land on yours, and I doubt that you in fact will be affected in any way whatsoever from any wars going on over here, or any religious conflicts which arise.

                  To return to the main point: I think that Dawkins is right to criticize Muslim societies right now in the way that he does, in much the way that I think that he’s right to criticize Christian cultures as well. I don’t see anything racist about it. I see poignant critique where it is needed and no more than that. Were he a racist, he’d be calling for something entirely different, which he has never done.

                  And, by the way, I really don’t think that criticizing “Muslims” is “racist”. I just don’t. I think that we obviously see the term “racist” as something entirely different. I understand that you disagree, but I think you’re simply wrong. And in fact, if you go to some parts of the “Muslim world”, you’d see they’re just as critical of “Christians and Jews” (or Apes and Pigs, as they call them), if not far more so. If you’re willing to call Dawkins a racist, then you’re going to have to call most of the Muslim world far more than racist, bigoted, and anti-semitic. At least Dawkins isn’t inspiring riots to burn down Mosques the way that a dozen Christian churches were burned down yesterday by the mobs.

                  That’s the face of real racism.

                  A tweet? Not so much.

                • gandalfsbeard

                  There is SO much more than one tweet and one video that demonstrate Dawkins and Harris’s bigotry that I have neither the time nor space to expound in-depth on them on this page.

                  I posted the definition of race so that you could see that racism is an accurate term to describe their bigotry. Their sophistry, and that of their supporters, can do nothing to undo the bigoted statements they made. They hung themselves with their own rhetoric.

                  Racism isn’t merely about mosque burnings, and synagogue and church bombings. Racism is much more than that. It goes to the fact that the Western Hemisphere still has an Institutionalised White Supremacist Power Structure.

                  Racism is also about the cultural background assumptions which become fixed in our consciousness to such a degree, that people don’t even know they harbour racist views. That is the category I believe Dawkins is in. And he’s not as smart as he thinks he is when he is expounding on topics outside of his field of expertise (evolutionary biology).

                  I don’t believe for one minute that Harris is an unconscious bigot though. He is too smart not to know that he is being blatantly racist. He says shit he knows is racist, then pretends he didn’t mean it that way, but then he doubles down and says that he meant everything he said, but that everyone is too stupid to realise that he’s just tellin’ it like it is. The fall-back position for every racist! :P

                  Go visit Stormfront. Even the most racist Klan or Neo-Nazi member posting there claim that they aren’t being racist, they’re just “tellin’ it like it is.”

                  Because I am non-theist in a country that is largely Christian, who has to deal with Racist Misogynist, Rightist Christian attempts turn the US into a Theocracy, I focus my attention on them. They are my problem. Not Muslims.

                  I do critique Islam on occasion, and I do criticise Muslims who throw acid on women’s faces and shoot little girls. But Christians the world over engage in equally horrific acts. There is no empirical basis for claiming that Christianity and Christians aren’t “as evil” as Islam and Muslims.

                  People who live in Islamic cultures have to sort things out for themselves without bloody Imperialists using “Evil Muslims” as an excuse to commit mass murder, invade their countries, and steal their resources

                  As to not inspiring violence, that is absolutely false. Hitchens, and Harris openly endorse[d] committing violent acts against Muslims, and openly support the “War on Terror.” Tellingly enough, Harris has gone as far as to say that this is not a War on Terror, but a War on Islam itself. He’s SO far gone, that he even resorts to the Rightist Canard regarding “The Clash of Civilisations.”

                  Dawkins isn’t that far gone…yet.

                  Again, this conversation will be more interesting after you’ve read my article on Harris, and extended arguments in the comment section. I am more than willing to discuss this further, but only on my FB page, after you’ve read my deconstructions of Harris’s arguments, and the arguments of his supporters.

                  In your next response, please keep it short. All I want to know now is whether or not you will visit my FB page.

                  https://www.facebook.com/notes/gandalfs-beard/sam-harris-worst-spokesperson-for-atheism-in-recent-history/372788029484142

                • http://www.summerseale.com/ Summer Seale

                  Thanks again for your reply. I’m sorry I won’t be able to reply right now as I have a lot to do and this is my weekend. However, I don’t use Facebook at all. I actually use G+ (Google Plus) instead. You can find me at Summer Seale there if you want. I don’t mind continuing and debating, I just have to take a break for most of the rest of today or all of it, and probably some of tomorrow as well (but I’ll see if I have time later to reply).

                • gandalfsbeard

                  Oh well! I don’t use Google +

                  But you’re always welcome to drop by if you do find your way to my Fb page. :)

                • jayjarn

                  Where and when did he claim that Christianity is superior to Islam?

                  Saying that Islam is worse than Christianity is not racism, you lying little fuck. It’s a fact that Islam is a reason for far more evil and brutality than Christianity on this planet today.

                  As for your claimed fallacies, they are BS.

                  The first non-fallacy: He’s pointing out that there’s a huge difference because the Koran is supposed to be literally true while Christians know the Bible is just “inspired” by their imaginary sky daddy. That’s what he means by closed-mindedness. It’s a fact that Christianity is far more diverse and differently interpreted than Islam.

                  The second non-fallacy: You fail miserably at life and everything. What are you trying to say?

                  Non-fallacy 3: It’s a fact that Muslims believe the Koran to be the infallible word of Allah.

                  Fuck you.

                • gandalfsbeard

                  “It’s a fact that Muslims believe the Koran to be the infallible word of Allah.”

                  ALL Muslims? A “fact” you say? Evidence Please!!! You’re a racist little dickweed! Why don’t you join your pals at Stormfront!!!.

                  Come on Chicken-shit. If you don’t want to argue with me on FB, this conversation is done!

                  https://www.facebook.com/notes/gandalfs-beard/sam-harris-worst-spokesperson-for-atheism-in-recent-history/372788029484142

                • jayjarn

                  TIL: Wikipedia is apparently racist:

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

                  Yes, you are indeed a Muslim with your taqiyya bullshit. Posing as an atheist to spew your lies and propaganda.

                  As for Sam Harris, you should probably read this:

                  http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/islam-and-the-misuses-of-ecstasy

                  Of course, being a taqiyya Muslim means none of this will have an effect on you.

                • jayjarn

                  BTW, why the fuck would I want to argue with a Muslim terrorist on Facebook? No fucking way am I going to let a terrorist like you know who I am.

                • gandalfsbeard

                  “Where and when did he claim that Christianity is superior to Islam?”

                  You obviously didn’t even watch the YT link!!!

                • jayjarn

                  It’s your job to provide me with a quote and context. I’m not going to watch tons of videos just to guess what the fuck you are lying about.

        • jayjarn

          You are a brainwashed Muslim who thinks Dawkins is racist because he pointed out that Islam is evil. LOL.

          • gandalfsbeard

            For supposed atheists, you’re the fucking dumbest bunch I have ever had the displeasure of coming across. What the fuck do you have in your head? It certainly isn’t brains you little dipshit!

            If you have read my posts on this page, you have seen some serious argumentation, unlike you lot. You’ve got nothing! You trash talk because you are too stupid to even refute my arguments in an intelligent manner.

            I am a NON-THEIST moron. And I can prove it. But you are all such cowards, I have yet to see any of you visit my FB page. I can be much pleasanter than I am being right now, when people actually offer a rational argument.

            So come on coward, here’s a link to one of my posts trashing Christianity from an Atheist perspective. Read it, or shut the hell up.

            https://www.facebook.com/notes/gandalfs-beard/is-yahwehjehovah-a-god-or-a-demon/230486943714252

            • jayjarn

              As I said, you are a Muslim who pulls the racism card when your disgusting religion is exposed.

              • gandalfsbeard

                Quit pulling shit out of your ass. You make me sick. I am revolted by the lack of intellectual integrity Atheists like you have. You are too cowardly to visit my FB page and bear witness to the fact that I AM NOT A MUSLIM, Nor am I a Christian, Nor am I a Judaist. They are all Abrahamic religions based on that Demonic piece of trash known as the Tanakh (aka the Old Testament to uneducated fools like yourself).

                If you want to see what a real argument based on reason and fact looks like, grow a pair of balls and visit my FB page. Again, you can start with my blog bashing the fuck out the Bible…

                If you’re not too chicken to admit that your perception of me is based on your own fantasies, come and check it out. And then maybe we can have a reasonable argument without all the Trash-Talk.

                https://www.facebook.com/notes/gandalfs-beard/is-yahwehjehovah-a-god-or-a-demon/230486943714252

    • jayjarn

      Wow, another religionist claiming to be an atheist so that he can spew lies.

      What irrational bigoted claims is Dawkins making? Please post a couple of examples.

      • gandalfsbeard

        Read my other posts on this thread (I’ve already addressed your query), or come to my FB page. I’m not wasting anymore time on this thread arguing with idiots who assume that All-Atheists-Must-Love-Harris-and-Dawkins!!

        I promise not to be as rude to you as you have been to me. I welcome debate:

        https://www.facebook.com/gandalfs.beard

        • jayjarn

          Quit spamming, religionist. You are lying about Harris and Dawkins, and the reason for that is that they demolish your superstitious beliefs.

          • gandalfsbeard

            Dawkins and Harris are lying racists, who make the rest of us look bad. And you’re a damn fool if you think I’m a Theist. YOU are trolling ME dumbass..I don’t have any religious beliefs. I just don’t like Trolls whether they are Atheist or Christian or Whatever.

            Again, anyone can visit my FB page.and see that I am a NON-Theist. I trash Christians more, because I don’t live in a Muslim country..And I trash Harris and Dawkins too.

            Here, you wanna see how non-religious I am, check this out…

            https://www.facebook.com/notes/gandalfs-beard/is-yahwehjehovah-a-god-or-a-demon/230486943714252

    • Goape

      Dawkins tweeted a fact (not a claim with “no basis in fact”). And the fact that you conflate criticism of muslim society with racism is actually pretty racist.

      • gandalfsbeard

        Read my other posts on this thread (I’ve already addressed your query at length with other posters), or come to my FB page. I’m not wasting anymore time on this thread arguing with idiots who assume that All-Atheists-Must-Love-Harris-and-Dawkins!!

        I promise to be nice (as long as you are), despite your ignorance as to who is doing the actual conflating.

        https://www.facebook.com/ganda

    • allein

      Hitchens wasn’t a scientist.

      • gandalfsbeard

        Good Point! But he was the best damn deconstructionist of Theist arguments… Ever!

    • baal

      Hitchens is dead. (we miss you hitch!)
      I think he’s shut up now. (Though some say he rose from the dead 3 days later and is now hanging out at a bar on Oahu.)

      • gandalfsbeard

        Despite the fact that Hitchens was a Warmongering Neocon with a Misogynist streak, I will always cherish his Excellence when it came to deconstructing the arguments of Theists. No doubt about it, he was the best debater by far. No theist stood a chance against his arguments.

        Unlike Dawkins, who is a crap debater who lets Theists control the parameters of the debate.

  • KeithCollyer

    didn’t the research that found that people who go to church are happier than the average also find the same was true of people who go to bingo sessions?

  • Goape

    So, one theistic blogger smugly proclaims that all atheists are stupid and another one tries to discredit atheists by calling them smug. I wonder what they say about us during their prayers.

    • gandalfsbeard

      Which one am I? Just curious…

  • Mira

    I was diagnosed with my trifecta of mental illnesses when I was VERY religious. I suffered from severe depression my entire religious life. During the very worst, most stressful, and most miserable years of my life I was a Christian. I did all the things a good Christian was supposed to do–but it didn’t help in the least.
    That’s because religion, honestly, probably has nothing to do with mental health. Seriously. I bet people cover up the mental health in religious circles more–and I bet a lot more of them are ashamed of it because they think they can ‘pray it away.’ That’s for sure what my parents thought for a long time. Asking people how they feel, after tacking on some question about their religious beliefs, is certain to raise their guard to make sure they respond like a Good Little Christian (TM).
    So, I call BS.
    Additionally, after becoming an atheist, my depression got better. Not magically because I stopped believing in ridiculousness (though that might have helped), but because I was better able to get help and stop blaming myself for a chemical imbalance in my brain that isn’t even remotely my fault.

  • gandalfsbeard

    I wish Carl Sagan was still alive. He must be rolling in his grave right now.

    “An atheist is someone who is certain that God does not exist, someone who has compelling evidence against the existence of God. I know of no such compelling evidence. Because God can be relegated to remote times and places and to ultimate causes, we would have to know a great deal more about the universe than we do now to be sure that no such God exists. To be certain of the existence of God and to be certain of the nonexistence of God seem to me to be the confident extremes in a subject so riddled with doubt and uncertainty as to inspire very little confidence indeed.”–Carl Sagan


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