‘Godless’ Comedian Sarah Silverman: Atheists Are ‘Just As Obnoxious’ as Believers

On a recent HuffPost Live segment, comedian Sarah Silverman explained how she’s godless (a secular Jew), but finds value in ritual:

You can see the video here.

I’m godless, but I’m fascinated by religion. I think there is a lot of beauty in religion. I also think it’s responsible for a massive amount of human deaths, and I think Jesus, should he have been real, would be disgusted with a lot of the people that use his name to justify things like hatred or unacceptance… it’s very not Jesus-y.

Strong, sensible words from the person who had a comedy special called “Jesus Is Magic.”

But then she veered off into S.E. Cupp territory, downplaying her godlessness in favor of a more appealing “agnosticism,” throwing all of us under a bus:

I don’t like to say “atheist” because I feel like atheists have that same chip on their shoulder that people who feel like their religion is the only right thing have. It’s to know something, to think you know something definitively that, I feel, we as mere mortal humans can’t possibly know. I think it’s just as obnoxious. I’m Agnostic. I don’t know, and neither do you!

She had no problem saying she was godless a minute before that… but all of a sudden, she backtracks into “atheists are obnoxious”? Why, Sarah, why?! To be an atheist doesn’t have to mean you’re 100% sure God doesn’t exist!

And while she’s free to label herself, I would have loved to see some pushback on her “Agnostic” claim. It’s very apparent she’s not on the fence about her beliefs. She knows damn well there’s no evidence for the existence of God. She admitted as much herself earlier in the segment. It’s disappointing to see someone who is, by definition, an atheist have such an aversion to the word.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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.

  • Leah

    Just a question. Hemant says “To be an atheist doesn’t have to mean you’re 100% sure God doesn’t exist!”

    I’m wondering (and I admit ignorance on this) what most folks here see to be the difference between “atheist” and “agnostic.” Because from what Sarah is saying, it does sound (to me) like she’d be considered “agnostic.”

    • Anathema

      The broadest definition of “atheist” is “someone who does not believe in God(s).” But the word is also sometimes defined as “someone who believes that there is no God.”

      An agnostic is someone who does not know whether or not God exists. Many agnostics will go further and say that it is impossible for anyone to know whether or not a God exists.

      Atheism and agnosticism are not mutually exclusive categories. Someone can disbelieve in God, without claiming to know for sure that God does not exist.

      • Klypto

        The word god is much to ambiguous. Define the word god and I will decide if I can believe or not. To me god is a three letter word that suffers from a lack of definition.

        • momtarkle

          I’m glad to help:

          From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

          This article is about the term “God” in the context of monotheism and henotheism. For the general concept of “a god”, see Deity. For God in the context of specific religions, see an index of pages beginning in “God in”. For discussion of the existence of God, see Existence of God. For other uses, see God (disambiguation).

          God is often conceived as the Supreme Being and principal object of faith.[1] In theism, God is the creator and sustainer of the universe. In deism, God is the creator (but not the sustainer) of the universe. In pantheism, God is the universe itself. Theologians have ascribed a variety of attributes to the many different conceptions of God. Common among these are omniscience (infinite knowledge), omnipotence (unlimited power), omnipresence (present everywhere), omnibenevolence (perfect goodness), divine simplicity, and eternal and necessary existence. Monotheism is the belief in the existence of one God or in the oneness of God. God has also been conceived as being incorporeal (immaterial), a personal being, the source of all moral obligation, and the “greatest conceivable existent”.[1] Many notable medieval philosophers and modern philosophers have developed arguments for and against the existence of God.[2]

          There are many names for God,
          and different names are attached to different cultural ideas about who
          God is and what attributes he possesses. In the ancient Egyptian era of Atenism,
          possibly the earliest recorded monotheistic religion premised on there
          being one “true” Supreme Being and Creator of the Universe,[3] this deity is called Aten.[4] In the Hebrew Bible “I Am that I Am”, and the “Tetragrammaton” YHVH are used as names of God, while Yahweh, and Jehovah are sometimes used in Christianity as vocalizations of YHVH. In Arabic, the name Allah
          (“the God”) is used, and because of the predominance of Islam among
          Arab speakers, the name “Allah” has connotations with Islamic faith and
          culture. Muslims regard a multitude of titular names for God, while in Judaism it is common to refer to God by the titular names Elohim or Adonai, the latter of which is believed by some scholars to descend from the Egyptian Aten.[5][6][7][8][9][10] In Hinduism, Brahman is often considered a monistic deity.[11] Other religions have names for God, for instance, Baha in the Bahá’í Faith,[12] Waheguru in Sikhism,[13] and Ahura Mazda in Zoroastrianism.[14]

          The many different conceptions of God, and competing claims as to
          God’s characteristics, aims, and actions, has led to the development of
          ideas of Omnitheism, Pandeism,[15][16] or a Perennial philosophy,
          wherein it is supposed that there is one underlying theological truth,
          of which all religions express a partial understanding, and as to which
          “the devout in the various great world religions are in fact worshipping
          that one God, but through different, overlapping concepts or mental
          images of him.”[17]

          • Klypto

            As I said an ambigious term.

        • Emmet

          “The being that Catholics believe in” is a workable definition.

          • DavidMHart

            That is true. But so often, when you try to pin a theist down to an exact definition of a god, a definition which we could actually get our teeth into and work out ways of determining whether it exists or not, what happens is they’ll start to redefine their god into ever-greater degrees of nebulousness (nebulosity?) until you’re left with a being which is for all practical purposes indistinguishable from the imaginary, and for which nothing could conceivably count as evidence for or against, and then, when your back is turned, go right back to acting as if the god they believed in was an active, prayer-listening, universe-creating, scripture-inspiring, miracle performing, Jesus-resurrecting force in the universe.

            Until the religious accept that they can’t have it both ways – that a god that supernaturally intervenes in the universe is completely incompatible with the utterly-immune-to-counterevidence deist position that they tend to rush to when challenged, we will be entitled to continue to point out that the definition of gods is not coherently designed (or at least that the god they describe when asked to define one is not remotely like the god they behave as if they actually believe in).

          • Klypto

            They may believe but it does not define the make up of there god. Is he formless, no brain, or made up of atoms ? Any religion can make up assertions but that is all it is.What anyone believes is not an accuarate defining of a supernatural being as far as I am concerned.

    • http://www.skeptimusprime.com/ Dylan Walker (Skeptimus Prime)

      There isn’t a necessary difference between the two.

      Atheism/Theism reefers to what you believe while agnosticism is referring to what you claim to know. I’m an atheist, but I also can’t claim to know that there isn’t a god, there are just none I believe in.

      • Dave Murphy

        (a)Gnosticism and (a)thiesm, are very different. Athiesm is non acceptance of a theistic world view. Gnosticism is about knowing something to be 100% true, Agnosticism is not knowing something to be 100% true. I am an agnostic athiest, I dont accept a theistic world view, but i am not 100% sure no god of any sort exists. In kind, one can be an agnostic theist, Accept theism, but not be 100% sure gods exist. People are presuming that to be an Athiest you have to also be Gnostic, i.e. accept 100% that no gods exist, this isnt true, or a logically correct assumption. To be gnostic about something is a big claim, particularly, as another poster has mentioned, when we do not have a strong definition of ‘god’

        • Rocinante

          That is very helpful as I was under the belief that to label oneself as an atheist you were stating without doubt there is no God. Now I know, however if your trying to clearly state your belief to the ignorant masses, agnostic is the standard label that says I don’t believe in theism and am not arrogant enough to claim that I know there is no creator.

          I am sure enough of my reasoning capability to state, no description of a creator or a god in earths history comes close to whatever the real story is , if there is one.

          • http://www.DissectingThoughts.com/ DisThoughts

            Rocinate, if I’m trying to clearly state my belief to ignorant masses, I would be ill-served by using the word ‘agnostic.’

            In my experience if I tell someone I’m an agnostic they’ll assume I’m completely undecided on the God issue – i.e. I haven’t given it much thought, could go either way, and think that existence/non-existence is about 50/50.

          • http://www.skeptimusprime.com/ Dylan Walker (Skeptimus Prime)

            I’ve found no mater how I label myself some people will horribly misunderstand/misrepresent my position so I just stopped worrying about it.

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

      Most of us go by a kind of grid pattern.

      You have theist and atheist- these refer to beliefs. Theists believe in god(s), atheists don’t.

      Then you have gnostic and agnostic- these refer to knowledge. Gnostics know they are right, while agnostics are not 100% sure.

      Most atheists are agnostic atheists- that is, they don’t believe there are any gods out there but they could be convinced otherwise with sufficient evidence. They aren’t 100% sure gods don’t exist, because there really isn’t any way to prove it. I myself fall into this category, as does Hemant (he’s talked about it in previous posts). It appears Sarah Silverman may fall into this category as well, though it’s very hard to be sure.

      • Leah

        Thank you, the etymology lesson was helpful.

        • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

          You’re welcome.

      • Charismatic

        In popular culture though many people seem to feel that agnostics are spiritual fence sitters and atheist are rabid dogmatics. I think it is interesting that many people use the words without understanding what they mean. Did I say interesting? I meant irritating.

      • Karen Milton

        I struggle with the terminology I need to describe my own beliefs, and I think agnostic-atheist covers it nicely. At this point in my life I see no evidence of a higher power whatsoever, but if definitive evidence that such a thing existed became available I would gladly welcome the opportunity to at least learn about it. I like your idea of a grid, it’s helpful. Thank you for your explanation.

    • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

      Leah, there are many interpretations of the word “agnostic”. I identify as an agnostic but I do not identify as an atheist or theist. As the limited being I am, I do not feel that I can comfortably determine whether deity like phenomena exist or not. Therefore, I do not feel comfortable taking a position on the existence of such phenomena. As such, I do not identify with either side of this issue.

      It’s a big universe and I only know one tiny piece of it. I’m at ease with the unknown simply being the unknown.

      As far as I can tell, from past conversations on this blog, mine is not a popular position to take in this forum. A lot of folks think that an agnostic must identify as either atheist or theist.

      At the very least, regardless of what definition of agnostic is favored in this venue, I am what could be described as theistically neutral.

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

        So, in a word, “Meh”?

        • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

          I’m more of a “Hmmm…” :)

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

            That works, too. ^_^

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        That works. I certainly don’t think there’s no middle ground between theists and atheists! You have explained your piece of that middle very well.

        • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

          Thanks. That’s a pleasant change from the flames I’ve received in the past. :)

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

            Well, who am I to tell you what you think? I’m no psychic or telepath. If you say you don’t feel comfortable taking a side, then you’re not lying to us.

      • Leah

        That is a position I can understand and respect. Thanks.

      • CultOfReason

        I suspect people tend to get more irritated by those that claim to not believe in a god but refuse to use the word “atheist” either because of a misunderstanding of the word, or because of the perceived baggage it carries.

        You, on the other hand, have taken a perfectly neutral position.That’s fine. I think “neutral” is the right label. I wouldn’t use the term “agnostic” for it as this is probably the source of the pushback you might be getting.

    • John

      For someone who’s completely on the fence with regard to theism vs atheism, I like to refer to that position as “hard agnostic” to remove the ambiguity. The vast majority of atheists are agnostic atheists, and I don’t think I’ve ever actually met a gnostic atheist.

      • Leah

        I think you are correct, but a lot of people like to ACT like gnostic atheists. At least on the internet.

        • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

          Part of that is that a lot of times, the debate boils down to a Christian deity. I am a gnostic atheist on that one. There could potentially be deities, but the three-in-one, eternal-dying-resurrecting, god-man-god, triple-omni illogical mess of Christianity’s god is definitely nonexistent.

          • Leah

            If the potential exists that there’s a god, I suppose that god could be as illogical as he or she chose. Maybe?

            • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

              Nope. Any deity would have to be at least internally consistent to itself.

              The triple-omni thing alone is enough to logically invalidate the Christian god. No all-good, all-powerful, all-knowing deity would let the shit that happens on Earth happen. Thus, a deity with these characteristics cannot exist. This is known formally as the problem of evil. Epicurus put it best, I think:

              Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
              Then he is not omnipotent.
              Is he able, but not willing?
              Then he is malevolent.
              Is he both able and willing?
              Then whence cometh evil?
              Is he neither able nor willing?
              Then why call him God?

            • John

              Well, if you get to the point where you throw the basic rules of logic out the window, it gets kinda hard to talk about anything after that.

      • Drakk

        How certain do you have to be before you’re considered gnostic? I’d honestly say I’m 99% confident there aren’t any gods.

        • John

          It’s not about confidence, but about whether you claim knowledge. I have seen many theists who “know” their god exists, but not any atheists who “know” the opposite.

          • Drakk

            Is there a practical difference between being 99% confident that no gods exist and “knowing” that no gods exist? Is there a difference even in definition? What is it?

            • John

              There is a difference between being very confident and knowing, yes. The formal definition of knowledge includes justification, and while that could be possible for a particular god (see Feminerd’s response below), I don’t think it’s possible for the concept of gods in general, even though I think it’s very likely that none exist. Someone who does think such justification is possible would be what I’d call gnostic.

              • Drakk

                But degrees of confidence also require justification in the form of evidence. If you mean to tell me I don’t know god doesn’t exist, that’s true only in the same way as I don’t know that Robert Allende isn’t really a wealthy Nigerian banker who wants to split two million dollars with me.

                Someone who does think such justification is possible would be what I’d call gnostic.

                Um…*raises hand* I do think it’s possible, in theory, to know one way or another. I don’t accept the idea of non overlapping magisterium and I think religious claims can and should be held to the same standard and investigated the same way as all other truth claims. I’m not prepared to allow the idea of a “supernatural” that simultaneously produces material effects but can’t be investigated in a scientific manner.

                August Comte said that it would never be possible to know anything about stellar chemical composition. That’s accurately described as agnosticism (the meaningful definition about the possibility of knowing rather than the less meaningful definition of the state of current knowledge). Clearly that particular agnosticism isn’t justified, and likewise I believe he agnosticism about religious claims isn’t either.

    • http://bottle-imp.com/ Daniel

      Atheism/Theism is a switch. You either believe in God(s) or you don’t.

      Agnosticism is a knob, the more its turned, the more certain you are, one way or the other.

    • GubbaBumpkin

      Agnostics are people who do not disbelieve in Santa Claus, but acknowledge that his existence hasn’t been proven.

  • Michael

    Hi Hermant,

    If you would like to meet JacylnGlenn next week she’ll be at KikisCoffeehouse in Southern Illinois: https://www.facebook.com/KikisCoffeehouse

    I think it would be cool if you could get to meet her!
    Best of Luck and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

    Michael

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

      Hermant, Jacyln… Who are these people?

      • kccoallday

        Hermant is the Friendly Atheist…Jacyln is a popular YouTube atheist

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

          Are you sure? Pardon my skepticism, but something seems amiss.

          • Art_Vandelay

            Why? That’s exactly right. Hemant is the author of this blog and Jaclyn is a popular video blogger.

            • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

              I think m6wg4bxw may have been referring to the spelling errors.

              Hermant != Hemant
              Jacyln != Jaclyn

              I’m not sure, though.

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

                You are correct.

                • Art_Vandelay

                  In my defense…I’m definitely stoned right now.

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

                  Maybe you will enjoy this as much as I did.

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

                  I know I enjoyed it. And I agree — how the fuck is that supposed to work?

          • kccoallday

            Why? Look up ^. You’re on Hermant’s blog. Search for Jacyln on YouTube. Done.

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

              This isn’t a time to be glib. Don’t be lulled by the simplicities of a transpositional typographical error. We’re facing a Hemantic shift with dire Mehtaphysical implications.

              • allein

                lol

  • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

    It’s to know something, to think you know something definitively that, I feel, we as mere mortal humans can’t possibly know.

    She knows damn well there’s no evidence for the existence of God.

    An interesting juxtaposition…

    • Leah

      I think so, too. I guess maybe she feels that the fact that there’s no evidence (with respect to how that term is commonly understood) doesn’t completely disprove something? Again, it just means we don’t know, especially if there is not definitive evidence to the contrary.

    • John

      Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that said absence isn’t likely.

      • http://www.DissectingThoughts.com/ DisThoughts

        While absence of proof is not proof of absence, absence of evidence is evidence of absence. The probability of something existing given a lack of evidence goes down the higher the probability of the evidence given that said something does exist.

  • PrimateZero

    I think Sarah is trying to play both sides of the fence here. She wants to appear “open minded” for the “I’m spiritual not religious” crowd by using atheism’s nicer little brother…. agnosticism. You know agnosticism, he’s the kind of guy you don’t mind leaving your sister with. He’s a sweet middle of the road square who you just know won’t lay a finger on her….unlike that aggressive so sure of himself atheism. That guy is trouble.

    • Mitch

      Kinda feel bad for agnosticism, always getting locked in the friend zone.

      • Pepe

        :-/

    • Leah

      Well, she is a person in the public eye. That seems like a reasonable thing to do, especially if you are trying to sell something.

      • usclat

        Well, aren’t Seth Macfarlane, Bill Maher, Jodie Foster, Angelina Jolie, Billy Joel, Woody Allen, Kevin Bacon, Mark Zuckerberg, Ricky Gervais, Paul Giamatti, Kathy Griffin, Eddie Izzard, Joaquin Phoenix, Brad Pitt, Quentin Tarantino, Richard Dawkins, Warren Buffett, Joe Rogan, Dave Matthews, Bill Gates, Keira Knightley, Daniel Radcliffe, Patton Oswalt, Tim Minchin, and hundreds (NAY, thousands, NAY millions, NAY, well you get it) trying to “sell” something too? They don’t seem to give a fuck about declaring their atheism. It’s about time! [Note: I do love Sarah, though.]

        • 3lemenope

          Not for nothing but of that list, a good half or so are not Americans. In most of the English-speaking world that is not America, it’s pretty easy (sometimes even a bonus!) to be a non-theist, and so their presence on the list somewhat dilutes the point.

          • usclat

            And maybe, just maybe that IS part of the point. It’s a “bonus” as you call it because (just maybe) they are vocal and steadfast in their reason and skepticism. So, it’s time we Yanks joined our atheistic brethren the world over. And by the way, I count 16 who are Americans. Not that it matters.

            • indorri

              I honestly don’t know how well that will work out. The US is spectacular in every way I can insinuate that negatively in its religiosity in these latter days. And even while secularism is on the rise, a greater than healthier chunk of the US’ religious (mostly fundamentalist Christan) population is become more rabid and unhinged as it occurs. More likely than anything, you will literally have to wait for them to die and hope to Columbia that some good portion of their children escape the insanity to further the demographic shift.

        • smrnda

          This is true but being an out and out atheist will have a varying impact on different people. I think for many, deciding on a public label is a tough decision.

        • compl3x

          When Gates was in Aus recently an interviewers asked him if he believed in god and he said he believed in some kind of god/creator etc. I thought he was an atheist too, but I don’t think he is. He’s no fan of religion but I don’t think he is an atheist.

          • fenaray

            Or he just won’t admit it.

            • Keyra

              When aiming to cure polio, he said he was doing God’s work (no proud atheist would ever say such a thing)

              • Pepe

                Well that probably was him trying to say that this God is incompetent to do it himself.

              • Bob

                Well, here is what he actually said.

                “It does force us to sit down with the Pakistan government to renew their commitments, see what they’re going to do in security and make changes to protect the women who are doing God’s work and getting out to these children and delivering the vaccine.”

                http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/bill-gates/9812672/Bill-Gates-interview-I-have-no-use-for-money.-This-is-Gods-work.html

                If he said, “he’s doing God’s work” then he said it in a rather roundabout way. The article does also point out he generally avoids religious terms. Either way, not sure what this specific comment says about his or belief or non-belief in God.

                He did say this in a response to if he believed in God during an interview with David Frost in 1995:

                Gates: In terms of doing things I take a fairly scientific approach to why things happen and how they happen. I don’t know if there’s a god or not, but I think religious principles are quite valid.

                http://www.billgateswindows.com/ms/141/is-bill-gates-an-atheist/

              • fenaray

                True, especially not with a capital “g.” Unless he was being facetious.

        • Keyra

          Bill Gates is no atheist

  • http://uzzas.blogspot.com/2010/06/introduction.html uzza

    As always, cue an acrimonious debate over what these words mean. The difference between ‘no opinion’ and a negative opinion is way too nuanced for the average person who can’t grasp the concept of merging traffic. Also, smart people are ignostic.

  • http://anonatheist.wordpress.com/ Mike Hunt

    I watched her latest show “We Are Miracles” on HBO and tried really really hard to like it because I’ve enjoyed her work in the past but I ultimately didn’t enjoy it. She can’t bring herself to be fully honest about religion and probably never will. I’ve written her off as any kind of voice of reason.

  • divadarya

    Well,wait. Have you ever had your Atheist friends post endless FB memes on your page about how stupid religion is?It ends up having the same net result as endless FB memes about Jesus: shut up already, I get it.
    Besides, Dawkins is a racist asshole, but that doesn’t mean ya’ll are.

    • Davy Goossens

      he’s not racist. and even if he was, so what. it would be great if he embraced racial reality.

    • Finn Nicolas

      How is Dawkins racist? (I feel like this answer, if I get one, will be racist.)

    • Charismatic

      Evidence for this? I’ve read nearly all of his books and don’t see any racism being portrayed there. If you’re talking about his criticism of muslim’s then you should be aware that a religion is not a race. For instance I’m white but not christian.

    • bmorejoe

      ruh roh – you have stirred the Dawkins hornet nest.

      • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

        In my best Radar O’Rielly voice: Incoming!

    • Proteus

      Ah the good ol’ islamophobe card.

      Islam ≠ Race

  • LesterBallard

    I just blew the biggest raspberry ever.

  • ufo42

    Sarah, I’m not nearly as obnoxious as Bill Donohue to name just one of millions of religious bigots, and neither are you! :)

    • Leah

      Really, that’s just a matter of perspective (I don’t say that to incriminate anyone, but what one considers “obnoxious” is a pretty subjective thing).

  • Davy Goossens

    she’s a weak woman who just capitalizes on left wing cliches popular in the media. she doesn’t take on islam and nearly all of her views are actually fairly mainstream leftwing. she won’t take on dogma’s like equality, democracy nature worship etc.

    • Bernadette

      what an obnoxious comment

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

      For clarity, did you intend to criticize her as a woman, celebrity, or comedian?

    • Derrik Pates

      Equality is a “dogma” now? When did that happen?

      • Davy Goossens

        hmm let’s see. it started with christianity probably.
        and hen french revolution.
        and then frankfurter schule.
        and certainly since mead, boas, gould.

    • smrnda

      Is every single person on earth obliged to put in some quota of “taking on Islam” in order to get some seal of approval? Horrible, this week I spent time denouncing the war on drugs, abuse of prisoners, violations of the rights of workers to receive medical treatment for on the job injuries and inadequate education in science and technology, but I did not write “Islam is bad” 25 times on a chalkboard.

      Wait, democracy is a dogma now? Are you suggesting we should move in a different direction? I’m fine if you want to declare me Empress, but I have a feeling it won’t go over well with many people….

      • Davy Goossens

        democracy and equality are wrong.
        equality under law is a very good idea, which made the west prosperous. equality of humans qua competence and intleligence is a dogma, which has been refuted very well by guys like nyborg, lynn, rushton etc.
        it’s a dogma ever since we had gould, boas, mead held up as truthfull while they are all frauds.

        democracy likewise is a dogma. it’s taken as a given that democracy promotes peace and prosperity. however one of my favo books is “democracy the god that failed” by prof hans hermann hoppe.
        democracy actually was worse than monarchism in terms of increased state control over our lives, increased taxation, and increased warfare “to make the world safe for democracy” has ever since lincoln and wilson been the battlecry which devastated much of the world.

        today democracy is very well tob e criticized, all politicians are stealing money. taxation is theft. what would be better? to privatize everything, even john stossel defends this now. and it is, besides hoppe, also david friedman and benson make a good case for this. and of course rothbard. we can defend it either on natural law or on economic efficiency.
        democracy and the welfare state are emperors which ought to be dethroned, because they promote tragedy of the commons, they promote increased conflicts, they are what sucks out the wealth of people. but as always panem et circenses is what keeps it alive. austrian econ and anarchocapitalism, that’s what i perceive to be what should be studied more.

        • Sandrilene

          “Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried.” – Winston Churchill

          Also, could you please put some capital letters into your posts? It would make it much easier to read. You are not ee cummings.

          • Davy Goossens

            churchill was himself an imperialist. first he favored hitler then he sided with the communists and was instrumental in handing over half europe to the communists.

            • Davy Goossens

              the real war mongers were the allies. never forget they wanted to poison the german people, as a follow up on the bombings they carried out on civilians and letting the north africans rape all white women and of course food blockings during both world wars on the german population! fuck the allies!

  • http://www.helensotiriadis.com/ helen sotiriadis

    so she’s both godless and agnostic. so am i — atheist (and just barely) agnostic. you can be both — they’re not mutually exclusive.

    • Charismatic

      You are right, Even Richard Dawkins says he is technically agnostic, a 6/7 on the spectrum of theistic probability. Although he says he is about as agnostic about god as about “fairies in the bottom of my garden”.

      • Keyra

        When speaking like that, he’s no agnostic, not by a long shot. No agnostic would put that much dedication into leaning toward the atheist conclusion. And if he really did put God & fairies is the same category as he said (which is extremely childish for such a brilliant scientist), he’d put as much dedication to speak against fairies as he does God. True, you can’t disprove either of them (technically), but common sense should differentiate clearly.

        • Drakk

          And if he really did put God & fairies is the same category as he said (which is extremely childish for such a brilliant scientist)

          Special pleading.

          he’d put as much dedication to speak against fairies as he does God

          It’s not fairyists that get undeserved societal privilege and happen to be the majority demographic. Really, the false equivalence here is astounding.

          True, you can’t disprove either of them (technically), but common sense should differentiate clearly.

          Common sense tells me that absent evidence for something, it’s not reasonable to accept the truth of that thing as valid.

        • Goape

          The important similarity between gods and fairies isn’t that they can’t be disproven, it’s that exactly the same amount of evidence confirms their existence. Logic demands they be regarded with similar agnosticism.

          • fenaray

            Well said!

        • Bryan

          Keyra…why would he speak against fairies that no believes in? What you are saying makes zero sense. What Dawkins said is an excellent way to define his agnosticism.

      • http://www.dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

        Assuming we use the absurd definition of “agnostic” to mean “uncertain”. Unfortunately, that destroys the useful meaning of the word, and is unnecessary, since the proper word to use is “skeptical”.

        Dawkins has said nothing to make me think he is agnostic. He’s certainly an atheist, however, even if he also happens to be agnostic. As you say, the terms aren’t mutually exclusive. All agnostics are either atheists or theists.

        I’ve never encountered a person who self-identifies as “agnostic” who isn’t an atheist. For all practical purposes, the words are synonyms.

        • Charismatic

          I was just quoting what he said, if you don’t understand then I probably didn’t explain it well as I lack his skill. I don’t think he’s saying he is an agnostic as he self defines as an atheist. If you want a clearer explanation I’d suggest reading his book (s) or if you don’t feel like making the effort look up “spectrum of theistic probability” on wikipedia. ;) hopefully that clears it up

  • Jeff

    I have to wonder who would consider her a voice of reason, or for that matter, a ranting nutter. She’s an entertainer. Great. Occasionally, she makes me laugh. But she does not define me, or my beliefs. Am I supposed to care what she said?

    • Charismatic

      I agree, celebrities and movie stars while entertaining are not the greatest thinkers of our time. For instance I thought Laura Prepon was great in Orange is the New Black but since she’s a Scientologist certainly won’t be taking spiritual advice from her!

  • Jennie

    Dude, why the quotes on “godless”? I know you don’t like it when people put “friendly” in quotes.

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

      In the headline? Only to point out it was a word she used, not one I gave her. Didn’t mean to suggest she wasn’t godless.

      • Jennie

        Ah. In the context, it looks like you’re suggesting she’s not really godless. Thanks for clarifying though!

  • vexorian

    I dunno, maybe equating saying I am agnostic with throwing all atheists under the bus is the sort of behavior some people would call ‘obnoxious’.

    • http://www.DissectingThoughts.com/ DisThoughts

      Your reading comprehension is astounding.

      • vexorian

        Maybe thinking a disagreement is enough reason to insult someone’s intelligence is also a bit obnoxious.

  • Neko

    It’s disappointing to see someone who is, by definition, an atheist have such an aversion to the word.

    Come on. You must be aware of atheists who distance themselves from the atheist movement because of its anti-religion fervor.

  • Bernadette

    So many atheists are their own worse enemy. If I had a dollar for every time an atheist called a believer stupid I could have retired decades ago. It is that bully tactic behavior that make atheist look obnoxious and why so many people do not want to be associated with atheists in any way.

    • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

      I hear you. I think its important to make a distinction between an everyday, “plain Jane” atheist and an antitheist. You can be atheist and not really care about religion one way or another. You can be an atheist and be actively religious (e.g. Jewish cultural atheists or Buddhists). However, the most vocal subset of atheists online and in the media are antitheist: people who see religion as negative at its very foundation and are actively working toward discouraging religiosity in others. They are the most visible but do not necessarily represent the bulk of atheists.

      My disclaimer isn’t an attempt to dismiss the negative behaviors you have described, though. I’m just pointing out that atheism comes in a lot of different “flavors”.

      • Bernadette

        Well said Timberwraith. Unfortunately there is so much antitheist negative behavior and not enough atheist calling it out.

        • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

          [deleted because of improper placement in comment thread]

        • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

          I’m beginning to see more calling out as time goes on. I’ve certainly seen feminist atheists calling out the more abusive behaviors, for instance.

          This movement is still relatively new. I’m seeing what appears to be a kind of self-sifting process taking place. The hardliners are filtering out into their own spaces while the more pluralistic atheists seem to be filtering into other venues… not unlike religious believers and/or other political movements. I’m going to place a bet on the possibility that the two sides will start to speak to each other less and less as time passes. I’m not sure whether that coming isolation will generate more calling out, or simply result in one side ignoring the other in relative silence.

      • indorri

        One thing that bugs me with this entire conversation is that “antitheist” is a) undesirable and b) unnuanced.

        Are there or are there not immoral (for whatever particular way you want to interpret that, or replace it with “oppressive”) religions out there? Are or are not some of those religions’ harming capability dependent on a particular mode of decision making that occurs mostly in religion (even if one were to concede it can occur in other contexts)?

        I’m tired of atheists bullying religious people because they consider religion to be magical thinking. I’m also tired that just saying religion is magical thinking is considered bullying. I’m tired of atheists refusing to display any capability of nuance when dealing with religions and treating it as one conglomerate blob (and usually attributing properties to said blob that belong to one particular western religion) and holding oversimplified and just plain incorrect models of religion, and making ridiculous assertions about the “purpose” of religion qua “controlling the masses” without having taken a single anthropology course in their life. I’m also fucking tired that any criticism of religion, or any attempt to attribute malefic force to religious ideas is met with scorn, ridicule and attempts to shut down discussion and mollifying truthisms that people merely find excuses in their religion, but really the religion doesn’t say that and doesn’t actually ever mean anything bad even when hundreds of years of history and scholastic methodology and orthodoxy and, yes, folk beliefs have said otherwise (c.f. the Old Testament’s treatment of homosexual men).

        One can reasonably assert and provide explanations to discredit such a view, which is fine. And it’s also true that not all contexts warrant expressing such views and trying to force them down others’ throats is despicable. What’s not fine is that I’m expected to just be some impotent mollycoddle because religion is literally a sacred cow.

        • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

          I never said that people should not criticize religion. I think that any social institution should be open to critique. One can can engage in this criticism while recognizing that religion, like all human endeavors, is prone to patterns that are both conducive to humanity’s well being and deeply destructive to that state of well being.

          Spiritual expression has been something that has been with humanity for its entire existence. It seems to be a natural part of human behavior, human emotion, and human imagination. Trying to rid humanity of this expression seems as likely as ridding humanity of sexual expression, dreams, fantasy, anger, love, fear, hatred, and so on. And so, I think antitheism has deeply unrealistic expectations of what is possible.

          Nevertheless, I’m fine with criticizing religion where it brings harm. If religious/spiritual expression is going to be with us for the duration of our species’ existence, I’d think it rather important that we correct the ills of something so widespread and long lived.

  • Lou-Skip

    Some people just can’t get rid of that last insurance policy, plain and simple… (from you friendly obnoxious atheist….

  • Doug

    I agree with Sarah. Atheism is a rational and honourable belief which should be defended. But the decision of some atheists to try to bully others into submission by means of systematic ridicule and disrespect is both counterproductive and undignified. I prefer the term “secular humanist” to atheist because too many atheists take pride in rude, arrogant behaviour.

    • http://www.DissectingThoughts.com/ DisThoughts

      I’ve heard this argument a lot. I would agree with it if it weren’t for the worry that if I start abandoning labels not for what I think they mean but for what people to whom the label applies are associated with, then I’ll probably be label-hopping forever.

  • Obazervazi

    The real question: Are Atheists as obnoxious as Sarah Silverman?

    • captainthecapn

      Yes

      • Charismatic

        I never peed in a mailbox on tv. or licked a dogs ass….on tv anyhow heh heh heh……ewwww. I’m really just kidding.

  • bmorejoe

    Well a lot of atheists ARE obnoxious. Check out the comments sections on many atheist pages – self righteous, angry, spiteful, belligerent. Did you not pick your page title as an offset?

  • Kristopia

    I don’t blame her for having an aversion to the word lately. And she’s right – atheists can be just as obnoxious in their superior attitudes as fundies can. Im an atheist – I used to be a fundie. Recently, I’ve seen pretty good evidence of the sanctimonious bs on both ends.

    • Elan

      Anybody can be obnoxious. It’s more about the individual than their religion. It does bother me to have someone make assumptions about what I’m like when they have never met me and know nothing about me.

  • Gideon

    This reminds me a lot of when someone says, “I don’t fit the stereotype of a judgmental narrow-minded ‘Christian’. I’m a humble follower of Jesus!”

    For what it’s worth, religious folk are likely to be just as irritated by so-called diplomatic statements like “No one can possibly know anything about gods.” They’ll simply continue to mutter that “It takes more faith to disbelieve in my religion than to believe in it.”

  • kccoallday

    Very few atheists are strict atheists. You should know better, Sarah.

  • Mark Howe

    I think she is a celebrity and is riding the fine line between honesty and not alienating her audience. In 5 years I’m sure she’ll be more honest with her feelings.

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

    For the first two years or so, I was an intolerable atheist. I was frustrated by a combination of factors. The nonsense I had been encouraged to believe and celebrate came from good people with good intentions. I had no deserving target for my accumulated anger, so I couldn’t properly unload it.

    • Art_Vandelay

      Anger isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you use it the right way and there are just a fuck-ton things that happen specifically for faith-based reasons that conjure it up. Sometimes you can get over-angry and misdirect it….but at least your paying attention.

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

        You’re right, but my anger was mostly misdirected. I’d find a way to steer almost any discussion toward the topic of religion, and then proceed to rant against it with broad generalizations and condemnations of stupidity. I’m glad those days are over.

        • Art_Vandelay

          Oh…got ya. Yeah, that’s not a good look.

  • Joe

    To paraphrase one of my favorite Cornel West quotes: atheistic fundamentalism is just as dangerous as religious fundamentalism.

    We are all one human race, and as long as we are polarizing each other as “us” and “them,” much less us *against* them, are we really doing anything to make the world a better place? Our energies could be better spent rallying for good, rather than creating straw men and attacking them.

    But then, I think that rain is wet, so who am I to say?

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

      What is atheistic fundamentalism?

    • Goape

      So, not believing in wildly unsubstantiated claims is just as dangerous as letting those same claims control your life? Do you really think that?

  • Laurel Tepper

    All I can say is I have never once had someone ring my doorbell or harass me at the laundromat (yes this really happened) in an effort to convince me to be an atheist but I sure have had many, many try to convince me I should be a Christian. And I have never attempted to push my atheist views onto anyone, ever. Still think I’m obnoxious Sarah Silverman?

    • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

      Atheists don’t get higher places in Heaven for bringing in converts.

  • http://uzzas.blogspot.com/2010/06/introduction.html uzza

    Just as I predicted, dozens of opinions on which definition is “correct” and acceptable. People on this blog have spent a lot of time thinking about this and have a fair consensus, but it’s a specialized vocabulary. The average person
    doesn’t spend as much time thinking about it and they turn to dictionaries that give popular usages, which are often contradictory.

    It’s clear what Silverman meant, and it’s clear she is using the common dictionary definition, “atheist: ‘someone who believes that there is no God’,” not your specialized vocabulary. You can’t say she’s wrong for that. Semantic change in a language is constant, but it happens slowly, and being grammar nazis about it can be obnoxious.

  • http://www.allourlives.org/ TooManyJens

    I find the idea of Sarah Silverman giving anyone a lecture on being obnoxious hilarious.

    • bmorejoe

      But she is charming in her obnoxious. For me, ymmv…

      • Pepe

        I follow her on Twitter just for this.

  • Proteus

    I think she’s confusing anti-theist with atheist.

    • Neko

      Anti-theism is the public image of atheism. The most prominent atheists are anti-theists, and their admirers follow suit.

      That’s where we are.

      • dandaman

        Anti-bigotry = anti-theist: anti-nonsense = anti-theist; anti science=theist, need I go on

        • Keyra

          Actually anti-theism is under the label of bigotry (depending on the issue). And saying that theism is anti-science, that’s just pure nonsensical to say. Not all theists are fundamentalists, just as not all atheists are overconfident to the point of hubris

          • Carmelita Spats

            Yes, I admit that I am very bigoted against superstition to the point that I don’t want it codified in the scope and sequence of the K-12 science curriculum. Perhaps the more “open minded” and “under-confident” atheists also distance themselves from acerbic critics of homeopathy for their anti-homeopathic stance. I’m trying to be more mindful of the feelings of feel-good and diverse healing practitioners (no matter how ineffectual they are) but when these idiots endanger others with quack medicine in my country (homeopathy, curanderas, hueseras, crystals, Shamanic practices, hierberas, faith healing, etc.), I tend to become very cranky against cranks and I exhibit an anti-superstition fervor that is highly inclusive which makes me a bigot. I’m also a hair fascist and I would gladly give 75% of those living in a Southern Baptist Screwyouland a tolerable haircut from a recent decade. Just sayin’.

            • The Starship Maxima

              That’s not bigotry, that’s rational. Now if, say, a cancer patient decides they don’t want to try chemo because chemo, while having some effect, seems to cause as much damage; and they’d rather try something off the charts, because, hey, why not, and you snicker at them, or worse, deny them that right, then you ARE a bigot, and I, for one, will call you such.

              • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                Oh, I’d never deny someone the right to effectively commit suicide. But I will snicker at them. Chemotherapy is the fine and delicate art of killing a cancer slightly faster than killing the patient. We all know that. Some chemo drugs are so toxic that nurses wear freaking hazard protection gear to protect themselves from the possibility of touching it, and yet it’s going into a cancer patient’s veins. It’s a crude, painful, damaging way of going about cancer treatment, and it’s also the best thing we’ve got.

                So if someone knows that they are effectively committing suicide and prefers palliative care to chemo/radiation, that’s one thing. It is hard and painful and for many cancers, not likely to work, so it makes sense to opt for the best death one can achieve instead of fighting for a few more weeks or months of pain and suffering. Quantity v. quality, basically. If someone decides chemo is too harsh and would rather go to a reiki practitioner or take herbs, on the other hand, I am perfectly justified in calling them ignorant if they think either is actually going to work. If a person with cancer wants to live, go with the poisonous Big Pharma option. It’s pretty much hir only chance.

                • The Starship Maxima

                  Oh, I see. So the current medical research suggesting that there are possible alternatives (drugs mostly) that vacate the need for chemo are invalid??

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  No. But those are all very much in the trial/theoretical stage. There are no current purely drug therapies outside of clinical trials for any form of cancer that I know of, and if there are they are very new.

                  Did you miss, or just choose to ignore, the part about “it’s also the best thing we’ve got”. As in, there are probably better things out there, but we don’t have them yet.

                  Read again. Someone choosing to go with herbs and reiki over chemotherapy is effectively committing suicide. If they know that, fine. Everyone has the right to decide to forgo medical treatment. If they expect the reiki and herbs to work, though, they are an idiot.

                  I would really, really like to know where you got the idea that newer, less harsh, clinically valid cancer treatments were something I didn’t like or think possible. Because fuck you for failing reading comprehension in a way that I can only read as purposeful.

                • The Starship Maxima

                  Lose your attitude. Like now. As someone who wrote a long litany about “a medium as void of verbal cues as the internet”, your statement about lack of reading comprehension doesn’t make you look hip or edgy, it just makes you look like an ass. Which is doubly troubling if you’re a mod here. (When I talk about reading comprehension, I’m usually referring to things referenced directly in my post which get ignored, not expecting telepathy from someone).

                  You did say “best we’ve got”, but no Feminerd in your post you did not say anything about being open to other alternatives. In fact, you said, quote “open to suicide” and “I’d snicker”. And further, like other folks here, I said “alternative therapies” and mentioned “drugs”. You ran back to reiki and herbs since you’re stuck on that.

                  Perhaps if you’d just said “I acknowledge there are other possibilities, but until one has been proven to work, I personally stick with the current option” and skipped the passive-aggressive snarking, that would have come out clearer.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Now if, say, a cancer patient decides they don’t want to try chemo because chemo, while having some effect, seems to cause as much damage; and they’d rather try something off the charts, because, hey, why not, and you snicker at them, or worse, deny them that right, then you ARE a bigot, and I, for one, will call you such.

                  Above is your original comment. What you said was “try something off the charts”. The only current cancer treatment options that aren’t chemotherapy or radiation are “alternative medicine”; that is, things like reiki and herbs. Things that we know don’t work. Things that are basically deciding to forgo medical treatment. Again, a valid option if one is okay with basically giving up hope of survival. Not a valid option if one wants to live.

                  Open to other medical alternatives? That really should have been quite obvious. We just don’t have those right now. My post made that perfectly clear, and it is also true. We are looking into other alternatives, but they do not yet exist. Where on earth did you get the idea that I would not support non-chemo or radiation clinically valid treatments? You have still failed to answer that.

                  You can lose the attitude right back at ya. You never, not once, said drugs, and going with non-medical options to try to treat cancer is either committing suicide or stupidity at which I’d snicker.

                • The Starshpi Maxima

                  I see what happened here.

                  I said to Spats “they’d rather try something off the charts.” I was referring specifically to a drug called Gleevec discussed in the NEJM which yielded an 83% remission rate in treated gastrointestinal tumors, and another claim from the American Society of Clinical Oncology suggesting another drug T-MD1.

                  It was you inserted some crap about reiki and herbs. I could quote you and say, if you honestly thought that when I said “off the charts”, I meant reiki, herbs, clicking your heels, or some other such bullshit, then it is YOU who either lacks a 2nd grade education or that your bigotry led you to that conclusion on purpose.

                  But, I generally avoid branding people in such a way. Which is why I asked if you thought the medical research was invalid. (By the way, I labelled the alternatives as “possible”. I didn’t say they were clinically proven, so your whole histrionic dictionary humping about “clinically proven” vs “theoretical” is rendered pointless).

                  What we’re left with is another case where, at least here it seems, it’s okay to assume the low intelligence of someone religious, while throwing a hissy fit if it appears they assume the worst of yours.

                  I don’t do business that way, And it won’t be done to me. You want to have a conversation with me, then you will treat me with the same respect I treat you with. I’ll never intentionally insult your intelligence. If you think I’m insulting your intelligence, ask me what I mean, and I’ll explain. And I’ll do the same for you.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  I am not disrespecting you. If I was, I’d already have written you off. So stand down off the hissy fit, please.

                  We get a lot of people arguing that alt-med is actually helpful. Not just theists, either- atheists can be pulled into that kind of BS just as easily. It is extraordinarily rare for anyone to be referring to clinical trials or off-label uses of drugs as alternative treatments.

                  So instead of just realizing it was a misunderstanding (and, to me at least, a perfectly understandable one), you have accused me of bigotry or miseducation. Stop trying to martyr yourself. I don’t hold you to any higher or lower standards because you believe in a god, and I don’t automatically class you as an idiot or a genius because of it either. You’re looking for reasons to feel abused. Stop it.

                • The Starship Maxima

                  Acting martyred? Feminerd, let’s cut the bullshit here and now shall we?

                  If, say, an atheist or otherwise irreligious person, said “off the charts”, the chances are overwhelming you would have ASKED “what do you mean by that?” because you’d have assumed that as an atheist/irreligious person, they wouldn’t possibly believe in superficial, clearly pointless superstition. Please don’t try and hide behind your soapbox to suggest otherwise.

                  You say “it’s extraordinarily rare for anyone to be referring to clinical trials or off-label uses of drugs as alternative treatments.” No shit. It’s also EXCEEDINGLY rare for even the most staunch card-carrying fundamentalist to ask for a pastor rather than a doctor if they’ve been shot and are bleeding in the street.

                  Claim martyrdom? Hissy fit? You can try to hide the double-standard treatment here all you like, and I don’t care how many likewise biased people upvote it, it’s still bullshit, and it doesn’t hold up to the facts.

                  This “don’t act martyred” crap is the line people whose bigotry has been exposed reach for to deflect from themselves. I’m not fooled. Especially because I’m going off your statements.

                  It is YOU who mentioned herbs and reiki and shit no sane person religious or irreligious would try. I did not. It is YOU who said somebody conflated theoretical procedures that “perhaps” demonstrate promise, with clinically proven methods. I did not, and I made that distinction in my post. It is YOU who decided someone missed your point that chemo is the best clinically proven option on the table, as if that’s something you needed to point out. And quite emphatically, it is YOU who openly said “fuck you for either not understanding what I wrote or willfully ignoring it.” I didn’t.

                  It is you who made a mistake. And the very clear suggestion is that, as you yourself stated, Christians have a reputation for unfounded assertions and conflating their faith with objective fact. It doesn’t take a “martyr” to figure out that line of thinking sent you on a snide, condescending tirade. And because I saw it for what it was and called you out, now it’s somehow “my” fault.

                  Martyr? No, just someone who recognizes hypocrisy from a mile away, and unlike some, I won’t stand for it. Not from you. Not from anyone.

                  My previous statement stands. You want to speak with me; you table your assumptions and pre-conceived notions. It’s not optional, it’s a requirement.
                  Is it easy? No, I have to learn to table mine. But the one thing I won’t stand is when you’re prejudice and bias is exposed, don’t argue and be “wrong and strong”. Say, “I jumped the gun”, apologize, and we’ll move on.

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

                  You’re not “being attacked”, you fool. Simmer down and check the attitude.

                • The Starship Maxima

                  If you have nothing of substance to offer to the discussion, then kindly keep quiet while the adults have a rational discussion of different opinions.

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

                  Fuck off, and take your smug superiority with you.

                • The Starship Maxima

                  Not smug superiority. Mild irritation that adolescent morons are interfering with an otherwise intelligent discussion.

                  So I ask again, nicely, if you have nothing of substance to add, please. Keep. Quiet

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

                  NO. I will NOT “keep quiet”. I will NOT tolerate some stupid-ass Christer telling me what to do.

                  And you shouldn’t use such ableist slurs (“moron”).

                • The Starship Maxima

                  I shouldn’t be calling anyone a moron. I clearly lost it for a sec. My apologies.

                • The Starship Maxima

                  Okay, now that I while to let the steam blow off, let me try that again.
                  Yes, it was a misunderstanding. And yes, I am acting attacked. But……it’s easy to feel attacked when someone responds with “fuck you for not understanding me or else ignoring my posts on purpose”, making a whole lot of assumptions in the process, and yet accusing me of not listening to them.
                  It’s well and good for you to say stop acting persecuted, but then, your attitude, Feminerd, needs to be adjusted for that to happen.
                  As you can see, in addition to the clear bias we both come with due to ideological differences, we don’t communicate the same. Nobody I know would have leapt to “reiki and herbs”, and you feel it should’ve been obvious you were open to promising, if untested methods, even though you never touched on the subject.
                  So rather than a rather adolescent “fuck you for not understanding”, humble yourself and consider that maybe it’s you who’s not reading it right and ASK, and thus avoid these back-and-forths.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Mmm, actually, I have “leapt to reiki and herbs” before from people (both theist and atheist, or whose religious beliefs I did not know) using similar language. I’ve never been wrong on that before, either. Now, clearly, I should have asked for clarification from you, but frankly, the language was similar enough to alt-med people that I can’t see how I would have come to any other conclusion. Off-label and off the chart are not the same thing; off the chart usually means off the doctor’s chart, ie not part of the medical establishment at all.

                  What really escalated this? “Lose the attitude”. Yeah. That was not helpful at all. I should not have read your post as deliberate failure to understand, but telling me to lose the attitude? Not. Helpful. I have a very sore spot for people talking down to me or treating me like a child; guess what the most common response to a feminist pointing out something is off? If you’re going to guess diminish, condescend, and patronize, you’d be right. So while going off on you wasn’t appropriate, and I do apologize, don’t say things like that. It’s only going to make things worse.

                • The Starship Maxima

                  You’re right, and I can’t even think of a defense to that. (Temporary insanity maybe?)
                  Like you, I did bring my past experiences to that exchange. I often hear variations of “You’re a Christian. You can’t possibly have any grasp of reason and logic,” or “You’re a Christian you hate anybody who doesn’t think like you.” I try to take bias and prejudice in stride, but reading “you either fail reading comprehension or did this on purpose” was just past my red line.
                  I really could’ve handled that better. Instead I TOTALLY played the persecuted Christian card. I’m sorry.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  I am sorry too. Shake hands and move on?

                • Charismatic

                  TDM-1 Isn’t exactly “off the charts” it’s new but it is basically targeted chemo that activates in the prescence of HER2 proteins as it’s linked with perception. It’s a super cool new drug. And yes, the research into targeted chemotherapies that don’t hurt the host and only the cancer is a very exciting area. Although patients can’t exactly forge traditional chemo and choose it, unless they’ve got a couple of hundred grand lying around. Oh and it only works in HER2Positive breast cancers so far (maybe a couple others?) so it’s not a magic bullet for say brain cancer. But exciting nonetheless

                • Guest

                  do you have any evidence for your claim? I have had cancer twice and despite searching high and low have never found it. I would very much like an alternative to chemo but I also very much want to stay alive, so far nothing else seems like it will do the trick? I need more than suggested possible alternatives, that isn’t much to bet my life on.

                • The Starship Maxima

                  I truly hope for your speedy and full recovery.

                  Gleevec was mentioned in the the New England Journal of Medicine. TDM-1 was something developed, I think, by the Duke Cancer Centers.

                  Let me dig further. But keep in mind, both are extremely experimental.

          • Goape

            Atheism requires faith, which tends to be detrimental to curiosity, thereby impeding science. It doesn’t seem like nonsense to equate theism to anti-science—especially not pure nonsense.

            • icecreamassassin

              Is there a typo there?

              • Goape

                Yep. I must just have atheism on the brain—I can think of worse things.

                • Charismatic

                  lol u may wanna edit that op. I read that and was like WHAT!?

            • Fallulah

              How the heck does Atheism require faith? How much faith does it take to reject a claim based on lack of evidence??

              • Goape

                Typo on my part. Theism requires faith.

      • Charismatic

        lol I was anti-theist before I knew any of the major public atheist figures. All I had to do was spend a fair bit of my childhood in a church and give the bible a good read to realize that I was anti religion. Actually I was anti religion before I became atheist.

  • http://uzzas.blogspot.com/2010/06/introduction.html uzza

    Related, only one person has mentioned that the question is meaningless unless and until one defines what they mean by ‘god’. Then also, seeing how people on this thread can’t agree on what is or is not an atheist, or an agnostic, it seems ignosticism (belief that the question has no meaning and therefore can’t be answered) is the only logical position.

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

      I agree with you, but claiming ignosticism in the presence of many theists potentially increases the intellectual workload to help them understand. How many people will know what it means? If they can’t properly sort out atheism and agnosticism, should they be given another word to confuse? And it doesn’t help that “ignostic” and “agnostic” look and sound so similar.

      I generally begin with the labels I prefer, and explanations when necessary. If the labels get in the way, I have no problem abandoning them in favor of clear statements to describe myself. I prefer to be understood, with or without the labels.

      • http://uzzas.blogspot.com/2010/06/introduction.html uzza

        Well I agree with you too, With theists, I’m good with “what’s this fucking ‘god’ you’re talking about?”

        • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

          The notion of god is something that is very personal to many. I think that makes it inevitable that you will find as many variations on the concept as there are people. While that makes it frustrating for non-believers to pin down into a distinct concept for the purposes of philosophical/empirical analysis, it does serve to create a highly adaptable body of beliefs that will most likely be with us for as long as there are human beings in existence.

    • cyb pauli

      Gods are supernatural beings that have varying attributes and have committed various deeds depending on the theistic tradition in question. Any dictionary can supply you a working definition of the word god. Feigning ignorance of what the word god means is not “the only logical position.”

      • http://uzzas.blogspot.com/2010/06/introduction.html uzza

        It’s not, that’s why I didn’t and instead asked for it to be defined by the person talking rather than dictionaries which give a multitude of mutually exclusive definitions, many of which are neither supernatural nor beings. Your obvious ignorance of the vast panorama of different conceptions of ‘gods’ that have existed, combined with your insistence that yours is the only one valid makes you typical of the obnoxious atheist camp I’d say.

        • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

          Given that much of vocal atheism has arisen in Western, traditionally Christian countries, I suspect it’s pretty easy for atheists to fall into an ethnocentric notion that all variations of divinity/spirit/god/what-have-you can be reduced to a simple, unified model. That’s a mistake, but it’s an easy one to make. Of course, many people in the West, both religious and non, mistakenly generalize Western cultural notions to the rest of the world. Our relative position of power often renders the nuances of non-Western cultures invisible to us.

        • indorri

          That such a definition is the only valid one isn’t even implied: it’s the one we’re using because it’s the one which is used most often in the current cultural context. I don’t see how having one reference for various, even mutually conflicting, referents makes the question meaningless, just ambiguous.

        • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

          Ignosticism is one logical position, yes. It’s still not the one I hold. Why? I’ve seen no evidence for any gods or magic of any kind. Not the Abrahamic versions, not the Hindu versions, not Shinto spirits, not Buddhist ascendants, not voodoun, not animist spirits. No Odin, Zeus, Brighid, Tlaloc, Ra, Coyote, nor any other pantheon or set of anthropomorphic, magical beings. Nothing.

          Absent evidence for their (or any other supernatural being’s) existence, I am forced to conclude that they do not, in fact, exist. Thus, I am an atheist. Sometimes, absence of evidence is evidence of absence, especially combined with Occam’s Razor.

    • http://www.DissectingThoughts.com/ DisThoughts

      Wittgenstein’s family resemblance, mate:

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

      While the word ‘god’ denotes several different things, we all have an understanding of what it means through the family resemblance between the different things it denotes.

      Ignosticism is a bit like answering “I don’t know what that means” when questioned on whether one wants to play a game.

      • http://uzzas.blogspot.com/2010/06/introduction.html uzza

        Wittgenstiens F.R. only applies within a sadly restricted, and as Timberwraithe explains below, ethnocentric worldview. In pantheism god is nature itself; in Chinese tradition gods are simply revered ancestors; then there is Allah, the Australian Dreaming, Chinese Tao, and John Frum. Is there a family resemblance in all these, or shall we just dismiss all cultures but our own?

        Nor does this address the issue that no one here agrees on what ‘atheists’ are, among other questions. If Hemant and Sarah fleshed out what they mean by these terms I doubt they’d have much difference in opinion.

        • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

          The Tao explicitly has no holy figures. It is the way to live a correct and virtuous life. Allah is very much a classical god in the Abrahamic tradition. The Australian Dreaming is still full of supernatural stuff, though it is also a complex social web that includes societal mores as well as faith customs. Who the hell is John Frum?

          • http://uzzas.blogspot.com/2010/06/introduction.html uzza

            I rest my case.

            • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

              You had a case? Please, lay it out for me.

              I can tell you that I disagree with the Tao’s philosophy, though I don’t find it evil or anything. I just think there’s better ways out there. I explicitly do not believe that Allah or the Dreaming spirits exist.

              Also, who is John Frum and why bring him up?

          • indorri

            Taoism as practiced can converge into drastically unexpected forms than those a cursory reading of a translated Tao Te Ching invokes in an average non-initiate. Hence the pantheon and alchemy and the geomancy and the propitiatory cleansing rituals.

            • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

              Fair enough. I know very little about it. Any pantheon, alchemy, geomancy, or propitiary cleansing rituals would fall into the same category as all other religious or magical things- not actually doing anything (or in the case of a pantheon, not existing as supernatural beings even if loosely based off real historical figures).

  • Brodestar

    Sarah is free to do as she pleases but being a public figure is no excuse for her to appear ashamed of her atheism. Bill Mar is in the public eye as well and he openly embraces his need for evidence over believing blind dogma of any kind. If shes truly ashamed then fine but if she wants to ride the fence because shes afraid of how people will see her I think is wrong. To do that would be like being gay and everybody knows that you are but pretending that your not. It’s just a disservice in my opinion of who she really is. Shes free to do that if she wants. Thats just my opinion.

    • http://batman-news.com Anton

      Sarah is free to do as she pleases but being a public figure is no
      excuse for her to appear ashamed of her atheism. Bill Mar is in the
      public eye as well and he openly embraces his need for evidence over
      believing blind dogma of any kind.

      I’m a Christian, and I don’t think atheists necessarily have a monopoly on freethinking. I agree that believers should make more of an effort to understand what the New Atheists really believe, and engage with the phenomenon of nonbelief in general. In the same way, judging all believers by the Scripturebots is something atheists really have to get over.

      • Brodestar

        First of all I never said that there are no freethinking christians out there. My mother happens to be one of them thankfully. Secondly if freethinking christians such as yourself want to stop being judged by what the “Scripturebots” as you put them do then you really need to speak up when one of them such as Ben Stein says that science leads to people getting killed. While there are extremes on both sides here as there always is relgious extremes seem to get more violent the more extreme they are, case in point 9/11 and every other great tragedy besides the plague and natural disasters. Stop standing in the shadows when your extremes are making you and your religion look bad is all I’m saying. Just my opinion.

        • http://batman-news.com Anton

          if freethinking christians such as yourself want to stop being judged by what the “Scripturebots” as you put them do then you really need to speak up when one of them such as Ben Stein says that science leads to people getting killed.

          No argument here. I was so appalled when I saw that Ben Stein movie that I had a lot of things to say about how slipshod and distorted it was. I think the siege mentality of Christians and right-wingers is a different subject, but suffice it to say that no one I talked to thought Stein was making scientific sense.

          Stop standing in the shadows when your extremes are making you and your religion look bad is all I’m saying.

          I hear ya. Daniel Dennett has described the dangerous inflationary spiral of displays of religious faith. No one thinks praying several times a day is hazardous to society, and abjuring certain types of food is pretty innocuous. But we get into ethically murky terrirtory when people are mutilating the genitals of newborns and making women wear bags. Then the spiral really gets out of hand, where people are displaying their piety by shooting abortionists and crashing planes into buildings. This, more than God-is-God-ain’t, is what we should be discussing and analyzing before it’s too late.

          • Brodestar

            I think that if there were more freethinkers such as yourself speaking up against the atrocities of religious extreamists, this planet may truly be a good place to live for all.

        • The Starship Maxima

          Why? Why are Christians obligated to cover for the failings of the minority?

          Do gays have to speak for all gays? Are atheists required to say “Guys, only a few of us are obnoxious assholes who fail at logic. Most of aren’t like that,”?

          What is it about being Christian that obliges one to speak for all?

          • Brodestar

            I never said that anybody is obliged to speak for anybody. I’m just tired of religious people yelling at athiests for airing the dirty laundry of other religious people. If they don’t like the dirty laundry and unfortunately get caught up in that laundry then they should find a way to speak for themselves instead of letting others speak for them with their words and actions. Not all atheists are great either but I choose to not stay silent while others speak.

            • The Starship Maxima

              Hm. Good point.

  • cyb pauli

    Fence sitting, neutrality or whatever makes a usually fallacious (non)position that the noncommittal can take refuge in and feel superior to those who take legitimate positions. God(s) cannot kinda exist. Either they do or they don’t. This position of agnosticism requires a new definition of god(s) in order to make sense. Christians and Jews believe in a specific God (AG) who has specific characteristics and has committed specific deeds. Those can be tested. Theism has many global similarities; it can be tested as a human cognitive bias. The unknowable, imperceptible, inactive, untestable god is a recent invention… invented to justify the assertion “We humans can never know.” Who benefits by an assertion like that: “I have made a claim, and by reason of special pleading you cannot test it.”

    • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

      Fence sitting, neutrality or whatever makes a usually fallacious
      (non)position that the noncommittal can take refuge in and feel superior
      to those who take legitimate positions.

      It would seem that there are plenty of people on all sides who feel superior in their position. Theist, atheist, and agnostic alike. We’re all human and subject to most of the same failings.

      • smrnda

        I have known quite a few people who took immense pride on fence-sitting on many, many issues. They were so much more open-minded than people who actually *were for or against something.*

  • Ida Know

    Well, Sarah, at least you’ve found a way to feel superior to both.

    (old joke, but it fits)

  • David Trueman

    She is comedian…. who cares what she thinks. Since most of us ceased taking our moral and ethical orders from deluded mythical father figures when we acknowledged our atheism why do we worry about what an entertainer says ?

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

      It muddies the waters we share with theists. The less clear the water is, the greater the chance of them misidentifying us as something we aren’t, like a shark or croco… okay, enough metaphor.

      Inevitably, atheists somewhere will be dealing with theists quoting Sra. Silverman regarding how obnoxious and cocksure they are.

    • smrnda

      Who cares what anyone thinks? If a mathematician said that they just *knew there was a god* I hope that their occupational status wouldn’t make the argument seem persuasive or more credible.

  • captainthecapn

    Atheists are obnoxious, though- among many other things.

  • diogeneslamp0

    If Sarah Silverman makes fun of atheists 6 more times, I’m going to stop wanting to fuck her.

    OK, 7 more times.

    9 times, and that’s my limit.

    • http://uzzas.blogspot.com/2010/06/introduction.html uzza

      I’m torn on this. Pretty sexist even though hilarious. Given that it’s *Sarah Silverman, and her type of humor, we’re talking about, ok, upvote. I think Sarah would think it’s funny.

      • diogeneslamp0

        Thank you Uzza, I was indeed attempting a Silverman-type comment.

        • http://anonatheist.wordpress.com/ Mike Hunt

          You succeeded, that was funny!

  • http://www.valengholm.com Val Engholm

    Um, to be clear Hemant, “agnostic” is not “on the fence”. It’s simply claiming that there’s no way to know, so don’t even worry about it. It’s a non-issue. It’s not like we’re trying to decided whether to be atheist or not. It just is what it is. That’s like calling bisexuals “on the fence”. Just as offensive, and just as wrong.

    • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

      Sadly, plenty of lesbians and gay men still think being bi is “sitting on the fence”, being afraid of committing to homosexuality.

      Humanity seems to love easy dichotomies and well defined tribalistic identities… especially when it comes to deeply contentious issues.

      • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

        I don’t think I’ve heard that one, but I can certainly imagine folks of that mindset saying such things.

  • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

    Yes, that went through my mind when I watched her say it. It made me want to write to her and set it straight, but then I thought that at least coming out as “godless” was beneficial enough to leave her to it. I hold that while all agnostics are also atheists, not all atheists are agnostics; many of us *do* know what we don’t believe.

    • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

      There are theists who are agnostic (favoring a belief in a god but feeling that they can never know for certain if a god truly exists) and then there are agnostics like me who are dead center who identify with neither (feeling like there is not enough information available to embrace a particular side—theism vs. atheism).

      • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

        Yes, I recently found out about some theists who consider themselves agnostics. I forgot to include them, so I have to change what I wrote to acknowledge that all agnostics who are neither theists nor deists are atheists. But then, anyone who is neither a theist nor deist is an atheist.

        • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

          I’m not a theist, deist, or atheist.

          • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

            Do you have faith in the existence of any deity?

            • http://uzzas.blogspot.com/2010/06/introduction.html uzza

              Eric Clapton.
              **this was replying to the above:
              Do you have faith in the existence of any deity?

            • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

              I have faith that I do not possess the resources to satisfactorily determine if such phenomena exist. I therefore, remain theistically neutral. I understand that the ways in which atheist is currently defined and I do not see the label as recognizing this nuance. Neither does theist or deist. This is one of many reasons why I find those labels to be profoundly inadequate.

              I do not identify with those labels and will not identify with those labels.

              [Edited for clarity.]

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

                Fair enough.

                • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

                  Thank you.

              • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

                So, you are not a “person of faith”?

                • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

                  You seem pretty determined to march right past a stated boundary, Mr./Ms. Quine.

                • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

                  I ask that because, when talking with religious people who do not think “atheist” means the same thing I think it means, I tell them that, “I am not a person of faith,” which does seem to be understood.

                • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

                  I can certainly respect that you are not a person of faith. I hope that you can respect that I do not see the aforementioned labels as applying to my position.

                • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

                  I am searching for common terminology. Are you a “person of faith”?

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

                  Dude — RESPECT THE BOUNDARIES.

                • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

                  Requires finding out what the words setting those boundaries mean.

                • 3lemenope

                  Now don’t get all recursive on our asses.

                • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

                  Well, I love writing recursive code, but in this case I am stuck with trying to understand how being neither a theist nor deist leaves room for anything other than being an atheist. After all, a lump of coal would qualify as an atheist based on lack of beliefs. That is what happens when you have a class that is defined by what it is not. In this case that is the lack of positive faith in the existence of any kind of deity.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  You can believe something. You can not-believe something. You can not know about something. Or you can think that asking about something isn’t worth doing.

                  You can be a theist/deist. You can be an atheist. You can be an agnostic. Or you can be an ignostic.

                • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

                  That is why I try to get to the questions about the structure of the kind of faith held or not held to get the bases of how a given person uses the labels.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  But timberwraith told you what ze believes. Ze said ze thinks there is something greater than us, but has no idea what it is or if it’s just hir flawed perception imputing meaning to the general laws of the universe. Ze has said that ze thinks humans are too limited to really know.

                  What more information do you need from hir?

                • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

                  I would like to explore why timberwraith does not consider that position within atheism.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Because ze does not explicitly not believe in any deities, and because ze feels hir position is best found in the term agnostic. Why else?

                • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

                  Oh, I agree that timberwraith is an agnostic, I was asking to find out if he or she had any beliefs. The question of disbeliefs is not really at issue because you don’t have to believe there are no deities to be an atheist, just lack belief that there are. That is why agnostics that lack belief, are also atheists.

                  For example, you may have a confirmed belief that the god Zeus does not exist. In that case you are clearly an atheist re Zeus. However, someone might tell you about some deity, X, that you have no idea exists or does not exist. In that case you are agnostic (literally “without knowledge”) re X, but you are also an atheist re X because you don’t have faith that X does exist. (Bertrand Russell covered this very well, and put his famous teapot in for X).

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Ah, we’re playing semantic/definitional games with the word “agnostic”, that’s what’s happening.

                  You are going with formal definitions. Timberwraith appears to be using colloquial definitions. Neither is right or wrong, but people are allowed to pick their own labels (within reason. If you think some people are clearly better than others, no “egalitarian” label for you). If timberwraith wants to be called an agnostic, we should respect that.

                • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

                  And that is exactly why I was asking timberwraith for the basis of faith behind it all.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Then I’m sorry to say it didn’t come off like that. You seemed to be pushing timberwraith to identify as atheist when ze explicitly doesn’t want to.

                • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

                  I was not trying to push to a position as much as find out what he or she really believed. No person is required to commit to any given label. Some people do not consider themselves smokers even though they do have one, or a few, from time to time.

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

                  What is there to understand?

                  Xe doesn’t identify with any of those categories, including atheist.

                  That’s it.

                • 3lemenope

                  Both polytheism and animism fall outside those terms, strictly defined.

                • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

                  Polytheism are a form of theism alone with monotheism. Animism to the extent that the spirits worshiped are not deities is a form of atheism. There are atheists who believe in ghosts, and afterlife, just not deities.

                • islandbrewer

                  I have a cream for that.

                • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

                  I have faith that something underlies this reality that I do not understand. That is the general impression I am left with, limited being that I am. I do not know what that something is. Maybe it’s only physical forces dancing in a grand unison in ways none of us can imagine. Perhaps it is some inscrutable semi-intelligence. Perhaps it is a cosmic block of cheese. Maybe this is a shared hallucination. I don’t know. Beyond that inkling of “something more”, lies the unknown.

                • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

                  But not specific deities that any form of theism or deism hold as positions of faith?

                • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

                  Re-read my last statement and ponder why I find the existing labels to be inadequate. I’ve gotta go to bed. I’m tired of going in circles.

                  G’night.

                • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

                  Good night to you as well. :-)

                • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

                  This is what I said earlier in this thread:

                  Leah, there are many interpretations of the word “agnostic”. I identify as an agnostic but I do notidentify as an atheist or theist. As the limited being I am, I do not feel that I can comfortably determine whether deity like phenomena exist or not. Therefore, I do not feel comfortable taking a position on the existence of such phenomena. As such, I do not identify with either side of this issue.

                  It’s a big universe and I only know one tiny piece of it. I’m at ease with the unknown simply being the unknown.

                  As far as I can tell, from past conversations on this blog, mine is
                  not a popular position to take in this forum. A lot of folks think that an agnostic must identify as either atheist or theist.

                  At the very least, regardless of what definition of agnostic is favored in this venue, I am what could be described as theistically neutral.

                  Bottom line: I’m theistically neutral. I know and understand the arguments, beliefs, and perceptions of both theists and atheists (or at least, I do under Western cultural understandings of those terms). I empathize with, respect, and see validity in both perspectives. I’m not going to try to tell others what I think a theist or an atheist should or shouldn’t believe regarding the existence or absence of deities. Consequently, I simply do not fit the either/or dichotomy of theist vs. atheist. That dualistic paradigm fails to capture my own perspective adequately. It tends to encourage a black and white perspective on a rather contentious issue in which I see shades of gray. It creates a linguistic/categorical barrier which obscures perspectives such as mine. That aggravates and saddens me. Truly.

                • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

                  Thank you, timberwraith, for coming back and explaining that. I hope you can see why I was interested in your faith positions behind any labeling. This thread got going because Sarah took the position that although she was happy to admit that she had no faith in deities (“Godless”) she did not want the characterization baggage she thinks is attached to “being an atheist” (obnoxious). That also reminds me of when Julia Sweeney’s mother told Julia that not believing was okay, but not being an “atheist.”

                  Thanks again for your comments on this thread, they have been helpful for me. I have place saved at my blog for an essay about the subject of agnostics who don’t have religious faith, but also don’t want to be associated with atheism. I see that as connected to something I have already written about how some atheists don’t want to be associated with atheism, either.

                  -Q

  • David

    “… to think you know something definitively that, I feel, we as mere mortal humans can’t possibly know.”

    I hate to give the cliche answer but there are so many things in life that we reject as possible despite no contradictory evidence to their existence. Ask Sarah, and it’s almost guaranteed that she isn’t agnostic about Thor or Krishna or unicorns or Bigfoot or Superman or magic. So, I don’t believe I’m arrogant or “obnoxious” for not believing in Yahweh. Of course I don’t know whether or not he exists. I just don’t see why I should believe considering it’s illogical and no empirical evidence exists.

    • Pepe

      Well you can be certain that Yahweh, as written in the Bible, does not exist. Omniscience and omni-benevolence doesn’t make sense in our world.

  • Elan

    It just bothers me when anyone lumps all people of a group together. I can’t say all Christians are like this or all Atheists are like that, because everyone is different.

    • The Starship Maxima

      It’s depressing this needs to be pointed out.

  • rg57

    “But then she veered off into S.E. Cupp territory”

    If you follow her, you know that’s what she does. She starts off with something that will appear good to some group of people she wants to piss off, and then she finds that way to piss them off. I don’t really like her brand of humor. Now I don’t like her politics either.

  • Dave K

    So, Atheists are “just as obnoxious” because we state “definitively” that there is no god. Putting aside for a moment that many Atheists do not do that, she claims, “I’m Agnostic. I don’t know, and neither do you!” That kind of seems like a definitive statement that she knows the absolute answer. Pot, meet kettle.

  • dandaman

    It is what it is, lack of gonads.

  • Roddy

    I think she just doesn’t understand what being an Atheist means.

  • Jason Hinchliffe

    Obnoxious superior attitudes are why many of us wear our atheism without pride. I would beseech all members here to take a hard look at their attitudes. So many are militant and dogmatic. Those attitudes are not concordant with an ethos of reason and compassion.

    We’re so quick to lynch someone for crediting God or jesus for something we forget we arent perfect either. Let’s not forget most of us converted to atheism at one point or another. For some of us that may have been very difficult. Old habits die hard, and like they say, no one preaches harder than the converted. Can we try to make sure we’re not being that person? Because it sounds to me like that is who Ms. Silverman is trying to avoid being associated with.

    • Art_Vandelay

      When you use words like “militant”, “dogmatic”, and “lynch”, you sound truly compelling.

      • Jason Hinchliffe

        EDIT:

        Nevermind. Let’s try to be nice here. Why on earth would you bother typing something like that? It has no value, and isn’t particularly observant as the words I’m using are common diction when describing belief systems. Are you intentionally trolling? If so, please just move on. You’re being an example of what I’m talking about.

  • Copyleft

    It seems that, like many, Sarah’s been told that atheism is a positive claim of nonexistence, rather than a simple lack of belief. “You can’t prove X doesn’t exist” would be a perfectly logical response to such a claim… but of course, that’s not what atheism really means.

  • bmorejoe

    One thing about atheists, they LOVE to talk! And talk.

    • Keyra

      About God, more than anything lol

  • Infidel Poetry

    I tend to be wary of secular Jews. I understand that their religion is far more of a cultural identity for them, and it’s bound up in family traditions in a way that it’s not for more liberal Christians, but at some point, I feel that if one doesn’t believe the gobbledygook of religion then it’s just too difficult to play along.

    I was an Episcopalian, of of the more liberal sects of Christianity where women and homosexuals can be priests. Sure, I could go to church and go through the rituals, even find a priest that gives very secular sermons, but I just don’t feel honest to myself. I just don’t believe Jesus Christ is a resurrected man-God and that we all have an eternal after-life, I don’t even belief in a spiritual soul, so I don’t want to recite oaths claiming any of it even for the pretense of solidarity. I’d rather make oaths to things I actually care about.

    Maybe it’s different for Jews, it seems less of about making oaths and such, but then I wonder what they think of their more fundamental counterparts like Hasidic Jews. I’m also not much of a fan of making “God” out of tradition. “We did this yesterday, so it’s important.” Seems like there are many other ways to connect ourselves to the past without being uncritical about it.

    Just seems like secular religious people want to have their cake and eat it too, but it’s a “business as usual” don’t-rock-the-boat style of fitting in that as a culture, we don’t need to do anymore.

  • Stev84

    At least she can now feel superior to both:

    http://xkcd.com/774/

  • Keyra

    So Sarah’s under the delusion that Jesus didn’t exist, yet she says she’s agnostic? An agnostic isn’t that overconfident. Of course Jesus is disgusted with the way bad people used his name for all sorts of evil shit, why wouldn’t he be? Beforehand, I just thought she was a Jew who takes a jab at religion. She’s funny af, but not much wisdom; even though she’s right on (New) atheists being obnoxious as (fundie) believers. One’s no better than the other. And I do feel it hypocritical to partake in a culture that was established by God, but not believing in God Itself; kinda defeats the purpose and goes well as a street walker in a monastery

    • fenaray

      Maybe you can pray for her.

  • Goape

    To think you can’t be an atheist because you’re agnostic is just fucking stupid. Use Google for 30 seconds and learn about those grown-up words before you allow them to dribble out of your noise hole.

  • busterggi

    Did she really say that or did it queef out?

  • Blacksheep

    FA: “She knows damn well there’s no evidence for the existence of God…”

    SS: “…I feel, we as mere mortal humans can’t possibly know. I think it’s just as obnoxious. I’m Agnostic. I don’t know, and neither do you!”

    This is more about what she says than what FA wants her to say – no?

    • Goape

      This blog post doesn’t do much more than point out the inherent hypocrisy in calling yourself godless while berating atheists because they can’t be certain about god. I don’t think FA desires Silverman to say anything, but if she says something stupid FA is right to call her on it.

      • Blacksheep

        I agree with that premise, so for example FA could point out that Silverman seems to be confused about her faith. The statement “she knows damn well…” is patently false, as shown by her “I don’t know…” comment.

        • Goape

          Her “don’t know” statment is in opposition to her self moniker of “godless”. The only thing worthy of discussion here is that she said a lot of words without really saying anything except showing her own hypocrisy.

  • R Rose

    Well the important thing is she’s found a way to feel smugly superior to both groups.

  • Fallulah

    WHY oH WHY is it so hard for people to understand the definitions of Agnosticism and Atheism?? They aren’t mutually exclusive! You can be an agnostic atheist, or an agnostic theist or a gnostic theist…etc…Agnosticism deals with “knowledge” and Atheism deals with “belief”. I can not KNOW if there is a god while still disbelieving there is. Hence my agnostic atheist. People use the terms like agnostics don’t want to commit one way or another on their beliefs…that’s not the case. You can’t be on the fence, either you believe a claim or you don’t. You can be on the fence about KNOWLEDGE if that claim is valid. WHY is this so hard???

    • Fallulah

      I find it incredibly annoying that she portrays Atheists as saying DEFINITIVELY there is no god. We say we disbelieve the god claim on the basis of a lack of evidence. Nobody is saying 100% there is no possibility of any god anywhere! Well most Atheist’s don’t say that anyways.

      • The Starship Maxima

        I’d like to meet the atheists you hang out with.

        • Fallulah

          Do most of the ones you know say there is 100% zero possibility of any permutation of a “god”?

          • The Starship Maxima

            Yep. Not all, but most.

            And it’s only when you beat them using their own game of “logical deduction” and point out to them that making that absolute claim is similar to saying with utter conviction there is no other intelligent life in the Universe, when we know so little about our own Solar System and have only managed to travel to our own moon….only then do they stop and amend it to a statement closer to yours.

            It could be that atheists are like Christians in that way. So many can’t really articulate their position well; or the reactionaries among them generate all the press.

            • Fallulah

              I don’t know if I agree. Most atheists I encounter got to their position through skepticism…at it’s base it questions these absolute claims. I would say most Atheist’s can articulate their position by saying, “I don’t believe in god”. It’s pretty simple.

              • The Starship Maxima

                I’m a bit confused. Wouldn’t saying I don’t believe in God, with no caveat, imply the belief is complete and total?

                • Fallulah

                  Once again, we are dealing with “beliefs” not “knowledge”. You can believe something without knowing completely and totally that it is accurate and vice versa.

                • The Starship Maxima

                  As usual, you make a lot of sense.

    • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

      I think many more do understand that, but to admit to understanding that would mean loss of the “fig leaf” protection they think they get from agnosticism.

  • midnight rambler

    Personally, the people I find even more annoying than most fundamentalists are those who claim to be nonbelievers but loudly proclaim that all atheists are equally or more obnoxious than believers, and feel the need to do so publicly and often.

  • Mario Strada

    I noticed no one, at least on this page, posted this, so I figure I would

  • Kevin

    This man is a disgrace. To be “godless” is to not worship any god. It’s not necessarily saying there isn’t such thing as a god, it’s merely saying that you, yourself, do not worship a god. Hence the term agnostic. Would you say that agnostics have a god? No. Therefor, they are “godless”. To beat a woman down for not understanding actual terms is annoying and jumping to a conclusion. I’m pretty sure this is what she meant by saying that atheists are just as annoying as believers. Just as ready to jump down someone’s throat the second their mouth opens, without actually analyzing what the person is actually saying, and not seeing the fucking forest through the trees…and THIS is why the human race is doomed. Because of people like you.

  • seoulseeker

    Agnosticism like Silverman’s is hypocritical unless she really believes there’s a 50% chance believers are right. If she’s pretty sure that evidence is against the truth of religions, then she’s not really agnostic. An atheist is just someone who admits thinking that there aren’t any gods and that religions are mostly nonsense. It’s not a claim of absolute certainty (which is impossible) but of a high degree of certainty (e.g., above 90%, or even 99.9%). This is how most atheists think. There is nothing obnoxious about looking at the evidence and judging with this much certainty that religions are superstition. What’s obnoxious is boasting or preaching religious beliefs with 100% certainty–while ignoring or twisting facts, viewing non-believers as immoral (and worthy of eternal punishment), deluding and frightening children with fairy tales, and trying to impose Bronze Age morality and superstition on today’s far more enlightened society.

  • Jeff Dee

    We don’t have the same chip on our shoulder. It’s an entirely different chip. Get it right.


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