Smashing Idols

by VorJack

Imagine for a moment that you’re an Israelite during the Persian period. Your God is a great and powerful one -so great that you dare not speak His name. Your God hammered out the firmament and rolled out the rocky ground and set the star into their proper places. Truly, He is magnificent; the One True God.

And then you step outside and find your neighbor is worshiping a tree.

It’s a pole. You watched him cut it last week. Half of it went into his fire, and the other half he paid Jethro down the street to carve an image into. He’s kneeling in front of a log.

Alright, you know that if you approached him he’d have some explanation. Maybe a dream directed him to make an image of Asherah and burn incense in front of it. It’s not really a God, he’d say, it’s just a representation of a God. Or maybe it is inhabited by the spirit of a God. He’d have some way of explaining how he wasn’t really worshiping a chunk of kindling.

And maybe you know that the majority of the world (or the little of it you know of) worships in front of idols. And maybe you are uncomfortably aware that your family used to worship in front of Asherah poles like that one. And maybe a few of your family members still keep small idols of their household gods around.

But, I mean, come on! He’s worshiping a stick!

The New Iconoclasts

Pullquote: “Any God who can be killed, should be.”

It’s not a perfect analogy by any means, but I think this relates well to the reactions of atheists towards religion.

If Atheists have a God, the way many believers insist we have, it isn’t science. The God of atheists is Truth (or Reality, or the Universe, depending on how you want to spin it.) Science, reason and logic are only the means of finding the Truth, but they’re also the only means we’ve found that work.

We are constantly appalled at the things that people want to slap the label of “Truth” on. Time and again we find people declaring something to be Truth on the flimsiest of pretexts. A reference to a holy work, or some revelation in the distant past or some deep inner feeling.

Yes, we know that there are many arguments to be had. Many religions have theology that is internally consistent, and many have theology that is quite beautiful. But when you hold them up to the light of Reality, it’s hard not to feel that your looking at some fancy decoration painted on a stick.

And so the temptation is always there to take up the hammer and join in the long tradition of idol smashing.

Everybody’s a Christian
Romance at Mars Hill
So Long, And Thanks For All The Memories (From Dan)
Hallquist on Eich
  • trj

    > “But, I mean, come on! He’s worshiping a stick!”

    Christianity is obviously superior – It has advanced to worshipping two sticks joined together. And sometimes there’s even a human figure on the sticks as well.

    • trj

      Not to mention all the Catholic and Orthodox bric-a-brac, of course.

      • JohnMWhite

        When I was a Catholic I used to kiss those conjoined sticks every Good Friday. I’m not sure idolising an implement of torturous execution was the best family outing. It kind of chills me to think how entirely normal it seemed at the time.

  • UrsaMinor

    As an atheist, I can’t say that I worship the God of Truth. I rely on science and reason as the best ways to figure out what is *most likely* to be true, and to what degree of certainty (which is never 100%, although in most cases you can increase your certainty about Fact X to as close to 100% as you like if you are willing to put enough effort into it). Truth is an impersonal idea, not a deity.

  • Custador

    Uh… Vorjack… Is there a criticism in there? ‘Cos… I read it and said “Yep, sounds about right… And?”

    • Sunny Day

      Same here.

      • WMDKitty

        Yup. Left me going, “And what the hell is wrong with smashing idols, especially if they’re idols of stupidity and ignorance?”

  • nazani14

    Speaking as an art lover, if the image is “just a hunk of kindling,” then it’s no threat to you and there’s no need to destroy it, right? The people who destroy religious art are just as superstitious as those who make it. I’d probably be more kindly disposed towards Protestants if they had good art, but I can’t think of much that moves me, apart from a few Black gospel songs (what we used to call Negro spirituals.) Oh, BTW, PETA has made some noise about rebuilding Touchdown Jesus with a vegan message. Hope they use materials that don’t give off toxic fumes when burnt this time.

    • Kodie

      It’s a metaphor! I agree that it’s superstitious to destroy art or other material objects because you don’t believe in the message. I think that is something very religious people do when they oppose praying to idols or disagree with a religion’s use of idols — they may actively destroy the materials because you’re not supposed to do that!

      But in the analogy, people are praying to wishes and nothingness they believe to be something. Something that cares that you believe the earth was made in 6 days, 6000 years ago, and the whole Adam and Eve stuff, that wants it taught in schools instead of what is real, who actively think science is a trick made by the devil, and anything that conflicts with the bible is also a trick! These people and their silly “stick” that they pray to care about a lot of things and want to legislate them because their stick sent them a message and they have to do what the stick says. Crazy!

      • michael

        Do they also teach about the fact that should Adam and Eve have been humanity’s parents, considering the slender gene pool, that we are all inbred idiots? Do they teach that God approved of the inbreeding(incest)? Keep in my mind that God realized that humanity DID end up too inbred and then through the flood decided to wipe out his creation, he started again! So now we are the product of just as slim a gene pool as before. What didn’t God understand? A sustainable population of the animal kingdom with a gene pool created with just two of every kind of animals is just NOT viable, let alone three or so pairs of humans for humanity! But then again, it would seem that those who do claim to believe in these myths, are the ones who really do seem to suffer from lunacy and rampant stupidity. I figure they must truly be the descendants of Noah’s family. The closer they seem to get to god, the more ridiculous their beliefs get.

        Since China’s history goes back 7,000 years, I guess that means that god didn’t create the world 6,000 years ago! But to give an idea of just how stupid christians are becoming: My born-again uncle really believes that since the dinosaur bones were planted by devious, evolution-believing scientists(the devil did this in order to make us falter), OIL came raining down from outer space! Well, we really need more to rain down from……beats me…..but it sure would be nice!

    • Mark Mukasa

      I totally get what you’re saying nazani14, I might not be a religious person, but I definitely wouldn’t want to see all the beautiful religious art destroyed. I find Churches beautiful to look at and do think they are very peaceful and serene. Whilst I won’t be offering up my money to any religious group or praying with anyone soon, I’d be a bit bummed out if the Churches/Black spirituals (that make up a big part of my Caribbean culture)/Mosques/shrines/religious songs all disappeared. Hopefully society will become more secular, but at least retain some of those things as a cultural background. Like how modern Greeks retain their ancient heritage.

    • DarkMatter

      I am looking forward to the day when the vatican becomes a museum.

      • WMDKitty

        Well, it’s already got all the artwork and artifacts, locked away in the basement….

  • Émile Zola

    Civilization will not attain perfection until the last stone from the last church falls on the last priest.

    • Custador

      Or until the last bloody Jehova’s Witness gets beaten to death with their own copy of The Watchtower….

      • JohnMWhite

        There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke.

        • WMDKitty

          Yeah. A sick and twisted one.

        • michael

          The early christians were Gnostics and they believed that we’re already in hell! To quote Gustav Mahler in his second Symphony: “what you have conquered will carry you to God”. Personally I prefer this view of life over the sad and grim thought of sitting next to Patsy Robertson for all eternity!

          • John C

            No, not true sir. The ‘early Christians’ were fully InChristed believers transformed by the love and power of a resurrected and indwelling Lord. They were dead to themselves (self being that which Christ sets us free from) and alive unto Him, Christ who ‘is our life’. All the best.

            • Kodie

              That’s not true either. They were afflicted with the fever for the flavor of a savior. They wanted it to be true, and were convinced.

            • Ty

              How do we know this unsupported assertion is true?

              John said it. No other evidence will ever be forthcoming.

            • John C

              I can share a recent story with you Ty if you care to hear it. It involves one of your own (an atheist hippie friend of mine, artist, really cool guy, reads only Sam Harris’s the end of faith and Dawkins God delusion books since his ex-wife was murdered by a so called “Christian”). Its a pretty cool story, has nothing to do with religious type mess. If you (or anyone) cares to hear it.

            • Ty

              Not really, no.

              Not when it is about an atheist who only reads atheist books because his wife was murdered by a Christian.

              That sounds like a crock of shit right out of the gate, frankly.

            • Custador

              Either complete crock or mentally ill person, yes.

            • VidLord

              hey John share your story. It’s the internet – what does anything really matter here? BTW have you done much study of who Paul actually was? You say “The ‘early Christians’ were fully InChristed believers transformed by the love and power of a resurrected and indwelling Lord.” But if you really study Paul – I mean really read up on him you would probably be surprised. He put his pants on the same as you and I. All the saints – they were all humans just like you and me – they ate, drank, slept etc. just as we all do. I suspect if you actually met Paul you would think him an odd eccentric and nothing more. I think you concentrate just on his actual writings and that’s all. Have you done any kind of serious research on Paul other than just his bible writings?

              Also you speak of “power”… the “power of an indwelling LORD” …think about that for a moment – the word POWER – where do you get that word? What does that word mean to you? Try to deconstruct how and why you came up with the word “power”.

            • John C

              Ok Vid, here goes. I met a man who hangs out at a bookstore that I also hang out at. He is considerably older, in his mid-sixties, has a pony tail, was a guitarist in rock bands and traveled throughout the south playing circuit clubs for most of his adult life. I was really drawn to him, just something about him really attracted me to him, is a really cool guy. All his old rock & roll friends have either died or moved away, he’s lost touch with them and so has no real friends or family in the area, is pretty much a loner. I noticed he was reading Harris and Dawkin’s and I was only aware of those books due to my experience with you guys here in the forum.

              We became friendly and he showed me his awesome portfolio (which is a great honor) of drawings, paintings, etc. He is really gifted and even gave me one yesterday because ‘it was my favorite’. I’ve already had it framed and mounted in my apartment, I wish you could see it. Maybe I’ll borrow my daughters digital camera and post it for you guys. Turns out he’s homeless, lives and sleeps in his van and comes to the bookstore each day, the whole day and night till closing, home away from home. He receives no pension, no government assistance whatsoever (he played in bands, made cash daily, probably never even filed tax returns, who knows). He’s had a stroke, is mostly recovered from it but you can still see the lingering effects of it in his speech and movements.

              Turns out he has a daughter that he hasn’t seen in nearly thirty years, she was six the last time he saw her (this past fathers day weekend was really tough on him so I brought my two youngest up to the bookstore to honor and visit with him for a while, he really enjoyed that). When his ex-wife was murdered by a so called ‘Christian’ her religious/fundie type parents took care of his daughter since he was a traveling ‘rock & roll’ type. I doubt they had anything good to say about her father to his little girl, doubt they ‘approved’ of him or his lifestyle. So he eventually lost all touch with her, very sad indeed.

              He goes and feeds a mother cat and her six kittens each and every day in the relentless Texas heat that are trapped in a culvert between the highway and civilization. Did I mention he’s a really cool guy?

              Sometimes when I’m out in the market working, I will get the impression to stop and go by the bookstore just to see him, give him a little something to make sure that he (and his kittens, ha) have eaten that day, etc. It always seems like its at the right time when I show up, when he’s always on his last dime and it brings tears to his (and my) eyes. He feeds the kittens and God feeds him. I know…

              Last night I showed my mother the drawing he gave me. Later at home I kept hearing the word ‘toiletries’ in my spirit sensing the Lord wanted to provide him with some essential items, shampoo, toothpaste, etc as well as a place to shower and clean up (its damn hot here in TX these days!). Then, out of the blue my mom calls me and says ‘I sense in my spirit that we need to go and buy him some ‘toiletries’. There was that word again. So I went to pick her up and drive down there to see him together. Before we left her house she suddenly said ‘wait, I have to go back in and get something’. She came back with a bottle of aspirin which I thought was kinda strange at the time but off we went.

              Its 9pm by this time, the store will be closing soon. Will he even be there? We prayed all the way down that if he was the Lord would keep him there, would impress upon him not to leave yet. When we pulled up, sure enough there he was, sitting by himself like always just staring out the window. He was so glad to see us and mentioned that he was just about to leave but had decided to sit there a few minutes longer. I told him we just wanted to help him out, asked him what we could do for him, asked him what he needed most. He answered ‘toiletries and aspirin’. He’s aging and his hands and fingers have some arthritis in them, makes it hard for him to practice guitar which he loves and he finds that aspirin does the trick. Beautiful.

              We followed him to the gas station (he was on fumes) and filled up his tank as well. Mom paid while I pumped his gas. He looked stunned saying to me how grateful he was, that he couldn’t believe this etc and wondering what (or who ha) I saw in him that we should do anything for him. We were honored, blessed to help in some small way, to be a part in it. Then we all sat down and had the best damn limeade I’ve ever tasted (that’s the only thing that Sonic makes that I like, ha) talking and laughing about our unplanned/serendipitous evening together. Then we all hopped in my car and went shopping for ‘toiletries’ together and stocked up. We all embraced (as he made a joke about how bad he smells and that he wouldn’t even want to hug himself ha) to end the night and he agreed to call me the next day (today) so we can arrange to actually use those ‘toiletries’ ha and let him take a shower, clean up and do his laundry at my apt. I can’t wait for him to see the painting he gave me already framed and mounted hanging on my wall above my sofa (which it ‘coincidentally’ matches).

              He (honestly, as I am writing this comment and at this particular junction) just now called me from the bookstore, on their line. I tried to tell him how to get to my place tonight after the traffic dies down but he doesn’t seem very confident/comfortable with directions (stroke remember) so I agreed to go and pick him up after traffic dies down later tonight. I went and got some quarters for the laundry room, bought some washcloths, bottled water etc in preparation for his arrival. He can sleep here tonight on a home-made foam palate of sorts, not the best alternative but hey its got to be better than a hot van in some parking lot on a hot summer night in Texas right?

              So here’s a man (unbeknownst to me) who’s homeless, despises ‘God’, reads popular atheist books and now me and him are fast friends, how is this? Through it all I have never said one word about ‘God’ to him, have never handed out a track (not my style) and have never invited him to go to a ‘church’ with me and have no plans to. Here’s the truth (lest you get the wrong idea) it’s not ‘me’ that is doing any of this. I’m not the one that knows when he’s on his last dime and tells me when to go give him money or take him to eat, etc. I’m not the one who knows when or tells my mom that he’s out of ‘toiletries’. I’m not the one who brings tears to his eyes when his needs are suddenly and unexpectedly met, it’s not ‘me’ at all.

              The truth is, like I’ve been telling you guys for the last 18mos that there is a hidden, childlike ‘kingdom’ of sorts that we can enter into by simple faith, by trust and play some small part in the workings of a big and merciful God who happens (contrary to popular opinion here) to be Love Himself.
              He’s attracted to the brokenhearted, the hurting, the lonesome, the outcasts and the homeless. All the best UF.

            • VidLord

              hey John thanks for sharing your story. Let me ask you – when you helped this non-believer did it feel good? Did you feel happy that you accomplished something? Did you actually enjoy helping him?

              If you did, then what you were really doing was pleasing yourself – cleansing the guilt that you would have felt if you didn’t help him. See what I mean John? In essence you were selfish – you were doing yourself a favor – not him. I know it sounds a bit cynical but that inner kingdom you speak of is really just your own ego. You imagine yourself as a peaceful, loving, helping, InChristed believer and so you act as one – to do otherwise would cause you to feel guilty. You say “it’s not ‘me’ that is doing any of this” but you are very wrong – it is YOU more than you realize.

              As far as “He’s attracted to the brokenhearted, the hurting, the lonesome, the outcasts and the homeless.” I suggest you see:

              Homeless Man Beaten To Death

              Detroit: White Homeless Man beaten to death by black kids. (one of the killers was 15 years old)



            • John C

              Thanks Vid. Yes, loving, helping, feeding and housing the helpless and homeless (those who can do nothing for you in return) is a terribly selfish thing to do, I’m going to repent of it immediately. Thank you for showing me the light of reason, I was so wrong, so deceived. From now on I’m going to beat the crap out of every last homeless person I can find, will make it my new mission, am so relieved to finally see the light of my ways, thanks again.

              You’re not homeless by any chance are ya Vid? ;)

            • Ty

              Nice rebuttal. Touch a nerve, did he?

              Also, I’ve physically saved the lives of two people, at great risk to my own. As an atheist.

              I mean, Jesus handing out the toothpaste seems pretty awesome, but how come he doesn’t move anyone to save the people being beaten to death in the street? Is he just hoping a selfless atheist shows up to handle the problem?

            • Daniel Florien

              But Ty, God works through natural means, like aspirin and atheists. That’s how we know God exists, because he gave us those two things.

            • Siberia

              But here’s the thing, JC. There’s no need to repent – you did a great thing, kudos to you, but you demean yourself – and humanity in general, many of which don’t even know Christ exists – when you ascribe what is essentially you to some imaginary dude.

              You. Just you, JC. Which is infinitely more amazing than some magic creature puppeteering you for its own purposes.

            • michael

              Dear John: God’s attracted to whom??!! Say’s who? You, ummm, forgot to mention atheist “sinners”! Are they not included? Absolutely lovely story that might be inspirational to those who will believe it on face value! Funny thing is that when my grandmother was alive, we used to be so in tune with each other that we often knew when the other would phone. Now, there was no spirit needed to know when we were about to call each other. Couldn’t God have meant by “toilettries” that maybe you needed a shower or some deodorant to cover all that BO? The New Testament(a Gnostic document) indicates that when giving to others it should be unconscious and selfless, not hoping for any reward or praise. It may have felt good but you should not have published your act of charity for all of us to read: “throwing your pearls before swine”. The readers of this blog are NOT swine but I hope you get the drift! In this case you already have received your reward…..ENJOY it!

              But before you haul out another verse from the good ole book, the New Testament was and still is a GNOSTIC document that was never meant to be read by what is now considered to be “christians”. What is contained within the document can NOT be understood nor be put into practice by christians(all of them) who try to read it literally. No matter the sect or creed of christianity, what is contained in the document is NOT followed or obeyed, not even slightly! Next time don’t be so quick to say who God likes and who he/she/it doesn’t like! Otherwise, if you are not homeless….God simply isn’t(?) attracted to you?!

            • michael

              Daniel….you forgot to mention body odour, otherwise why would we need toilettries!

            • runty_cactus

              I’m really sick of the word ‘toiletries’ now…

            • michael

              Nope! You are wrong! Try again!

            • michael

              Furthermore, christ was in jesus as christ is in me equally! The resurrection of Jesus occured BEFORE the crucifixion! Early christians were “spirit-filled” and did not believe that Jesus died for their sins. They believed that God(christ), NOT Jesus, would transform their spiritual lives! The apostle Paul was a Gnostic christian. Modern christianity and everything it stands for has NOTHING in common with Gnostic christianity as it was lived before the literalists(Catholic Church and Constantine) got their grubby hands on it and wiped it out! So cut the religious crap!

              I am a spirit-filled, Gnostic christian that loathes EVERYTHING that modern christianity has become. We have been fed too many lies for much too long! Jesus IS dead…..Christ lives! You’ll get over it, I hope!

            • Ty

              Trying to out-crazy John?

            • Custador

              There’s a thankless task for you!

            • Daniel Florien

              Darwin is dead! Charles lives!

            • michael

              To Ty: Drive him nuts with his stubborn beliefs in god, YES! But I’m still a Gnostic and everything I’ve come to understand about Gnosticism has NOTHING to do with christianity as it is practiced today. The early christians, including all the apostles were Gnostics! That’s got to get somebody curious, or at the very least rather upset about how christianity got hijacked and distorted to such a degree that it is unrecognizable to what was practiced int the first century!

            • Kodie

              I thought you said somewhere that you didn’t judge people. I might be wrong where I read that, but I think it was you. Also, no true Scotsman.

            • WMDKitty

              “InChristed” isn’t a word, sheep.

          • JohnMWhite

            I’m not sure what this has to do with Jimmi Hendrix.

            • fftysmthg

              Or Bob Dylan.

  • claidheamh mor

    And so the temptation is always there to take up the hammer and join in the long tradition of idol smashing.

    Yes! I feel it daily.
    This entire column and blog exists as an iconoclast, breaker of icons. I don’t even define myself as an atheist, and I despise the illogic of religious belief, the forcing to conformity, and the harm done to people (and other life) by people following these beliefs.

  • LRA

    “The God of atheists is Truth (or Reality, or the Universe, depending on how you want to spin it.)”

    I get what you are saying here, and I largely feel that this is correct in spirit, but to capitalize “truth” implies that it is Ultimate Truth (TM), same with Reality (TM) (in a metaphysical sense). As empiricists, we cannot have “ultimate” anything because we are limited to our senses and anything “beyond” that is pretty much non-existant to us because it cannot be observed. Further, science provides paradigms to us which represent reality from a human slant, and as knowledge grows these paradigms also grow (or shift) to encompass that knowledge.

    In short, we cannot have Truth about Reality… and I’m not even sure we can have truth about reality, but what we can have are facts about the world we observe.

    • Kodie

      Truth is still true even if we are incapable of discovering it for certain or are holding onto a wrong idea until a more true idea comes along.

      For example, a tree falls in a forest. Later on, some people come through the forest and try to come up with some estimate on how long that tree has been laying on its side and dead. While time as we know it is a human measure, and no one cares precisely what date and time the tree fell, it still fell at an exact date and time. Similarly, while we know a lot about animal behaviors, very few are patient and interested enough to observe the daily habits and movements of a small group of animals. Truth is thoughts you have but you didn’t write them down and now you can’t remember.. it is true that those thoughts existed, and not recorded, or possibly didn’t even matter that much, but it is still part of all truth.

      Truth is happening all around, outside of a human slant. I don’t think truth is the same thing as knowledge or human research.

      • Dan L.

        This isn’t necessarily true. I’m of the opinion, and it’s probably because of my mathematical training, that truth is a property of propositional logics, and that there is no guarantee that it applies outside that context.

        It’s hard to express in words, because it’s a conjecture that things that can’t be put into words can’t be true in the same sense that things that CAN be put into words are. But try this:

        Bananas have a particular flavor — the proposition “Bananas have a particular flavor” is absolutely true. But that’s an English language proposition ABOUT bananas. Truth value doesn’t apply to flavors. The flavor of a banana is real, but there is no sense in which you can say “the flavor of a banana is true” or “the flavor of a banana is false,” because the flavor of a banana is not the sort of thing that can be true or false. That property is restricted to propositions.

        Basically, descriptions of what is can be true or false, by this view, but what is being described cannot really have a truth value assigned to it.

        I’m not saying that this is necessarily the case, but it is an alternative and plausible (in my opinion, anyway) view in which “truth” is not always an applicable concept.

        • Kodie

          I don’t think that contradicts what I said about truth being true even if humans don’t know it or have stumbled on the wrong idea, or a close enough one. If there is other life in the universe, then it knows it exists and is true, even if we never encounter it or discover it. Many things occur outside of our notice, and even inside of our notice, that are true or are ignored because they are trivial. What my cat does when I’m not home is true, and I can probably guess her routine, but I’m not tracking her. I have an empty soda can on my desk that’s leaning against the speaker – it’s at a particular angle I don’t care to measure…

          I came to this idea maybe a decade ago that what I considered “god” was “everything coinciding with time.” I don’t believe in a supernatural deity, but I do get ideas from scripture/religious tropes, like, every hair on your head is numbered, god is everywhere, in everything. I truly do have a finite and calculable number of hairs that while unknown, is accountable. I do not literally reason there to exist, but for pondering purposes, imagine a record of every specific occurrence, every stain, every crack of paint, every dog bark, every insight, memory, and dream, etc. and so on, in the entire universe, you know, the types of explosions and stuff that happens out there, whatever it is, is true, and truth. Many mysteries, not always enough clues, nor attention, nor concern, nor use.

          Now what you’re saying is on a human slant. Bananas have a specific taste to them. They taste different when they are green than when they are yellow or browned. The taste of a banana, is that true, you say no, neither is it false — in language. I can buy candy or juice that tastes like a banana. How do they know when they have the recipe right? Close enough. Artificial flavors seem to be an animal all their own, like orange soda or popsicles are ideally matched to the expected artificial flavor in order to be successful products, rather than attempting to match the taste of an orange. I get what you’re saying, but you’re correct that it’s difficult to put into words. If something can’t be explained logically, I think concepts stand in for them. Such as “god exists.” And so do invisible pink unicorns. I guess I’m talking placeholders. God is neither proven nor unproven, nor provable, etc., the commotion about him is a placeholder. The arguments against his existence are necessary only to counter those who believe nothing is something, has an effect on everyone’s life and death, and cares what we do, knows everything, and watches everyone all the time. That’s where I differ with the supernatural, but use it as a placeholder for “everything happening at the moment it happens.” Rather than someone watching, it still does happen.

          I guess I’m going nowhere with that or meandering. I don’t think your idea contradicts mine. I don’t think -whatever truth may be- is the same thing as human knowledge or research. The article favors a “god” of truth, and “worship” of reason, science, etc. which some have objected to, because Truth with a capital T makes people uncomfortable near to the idea of a deity, we don’t know everything, and most of what we think we know so far is mostly only interesting to humans.

          I don’t think anything so far contradicts that truth is truth. It is what we are looking for, I suppose there are exceptions to what can be considered “true,” and it changes — I am at home and I am driving to the store, both are true for different times. Most of what is true can be measured but most are too trivial to measure. That doesn’t except anything. I’m no scientist, I do not take drugs either! I have spent a lot of time with my thoughts at some times throughout my life, probably way too much time. I did not keep track.

          • michael

            “Truth” is just a word. often used by certain people who neither smile nor offer any patience at hearing opposite views on the matter. It may be true to yourself that you are either at home or driving some where, but for those who don’t know that we must believe you are telling the truth. True and “truth” are similar but not the same. Unfortunately too often people believe that if they have the “truth”, it must in fact be true. My dad once said to me that “people who claim to have the TRUTH are the most dangerous people on the planet. So stay clear of them. They will be up to no good what so ever!” I believe what he told me to be true!

            Personally I wish we’d get rid of the word “truth” and maybe replace it with “pink elephants”. How about it, does that sound true to you?

            • Kodie

              Nah, that’s just a placeholder. Truth is true without claims. You could say a lie or something fantastical that you believe or remember wrong, and the truth is still true. I could tell you a bunch of stuff, you don’t have to believe me, and it doesn’t matter to the truth, because it will be true whether anyone believes it or even saw it. Name a disease that we don’t yet understand the cause of, we may be close or far off in discovering even a hint of what the cause is, or we may currently be under false impressions and recommending avoidance of things and developing cures that don’t work on these impressions. Regardless, there is a cause. In a murder mystery, likewise, there is a killer. He or she knows who they are, and covered up evidence to throw off detectives. Whether or not this crime is solved, the truth exists who did it, when, why, and how. Claims are claims and truth is truth. They may coincide, but don’t mix them up.

            • michael

              In the case of christianity, as we perceive it, the claim that they have the “truth” may in fact be a lie. Christianity claims that it’s entire existence can be established in the New Testament is an out right falsehood. No where in the entire document does it say that Jesus died for mankind’s sins. No where is there any justification to judge or condemn somebody. In fact the document states that if some one is not Jewish, he/she is NOT under the law(everything that pertains to the Old Testament). The document further states that those who are guided by the spirit are UNABLE to sin. So, what “truth” does christianity hold as being holy and true?

              Not all truth is true! The evolutionist will say that what he/she believes is the truth and true, but the creationist will say that it is a falsehood and a lie. Who is correct?

            • Kodie

              Apples and oranges like I said. Claims have nothing AT ALL to do with truth. You may never have the answer, and it’s still true.

            • DarkMatter

              I look at evolution as provable facts. The miracles of christianity performed even today are provable lies. I’ll stay away from lies but willing to see if provable facts might lead to certain truth.

  • Jordan

    Can we have a definition of what you mean by Truth, plz?

    • Guy

      The truth of science (small letters) is always by definition provisional. A theory is only kept until a valid bit of evidence doesn’t agree with it, then it is discarded or updated. That is the beauty of science and defines the difference between rationalists and religious people.
      I don’t however wish to burn cathedrals/mosques/synagogues but allow each person to get what they want from them.

      • JohnMWhite

        That runs the risk of them getting what they want from each person, which tends to be money and/or blood.

    • Jordan

      I realize it’s just a semantics issue, but shouldn’t you call scientific truth something other than truth if there’s the possibility that it might not be true?

      • LRA

        Yes. You should call scientific knowledge “facts”. Truth is a philosophical term, and one that is often not very useful, I find.

        • Jordan

          But (for me anyway) even the word “fact” gives the implication of truth.

          • LRA

            I’ll just refer you to this (sorry about my laziness here, I’m in the process of moving from Austin to Dallas!)





            Hope that is helpful! :D

            • Mark Mukasa

              You’re in the process of moving from Austin to Dallas whilst posting? You are superwoman. I can barely chew gum and walk.

            • Ty

              Gah, Dallas is an awful place! Don’t go, LRA, don’t go!!!!

              I hear such nice things about Austin.

            • LRA

              Aw! I need to work!!! I’ll only be in Big D for 1 or 2 years… then, Duke??? (crosses fingers)

        • Custador

          I’m not sure I agree; truth does have a literal meaning: “That which reflects reality”.

          People who talk about theological or religious “truth” aren’t really discussing truth, they’re tryingto redefine the word to suit their purposes.

    • DDM


  • michael

    If any story in the bible is true. Could be just a collection of children’s fairy tales or perhaps even a shopping list…anybody remember the book “A Canticle for Leibowitz”? Face it, the whole of the “end times” theory can be summed up in the tale of “Chicken Little”….the sky is falling. Are we going to let a book of fairy tales confuse and make us angry. Look at one of the Hindu gods, it has the shape of an elephant’s head. Does that mean that god looks like an elephant? Man creates religion to govern and control the minds and lives of anybody they can force it on….sadly, very weak minds too stupid to know when they are being taken for a ride! How would the Israelites have known that the stick WASN”T god? They had never seen god, so how would they be able to discern the difference?

    An interesting paralell is how our religious holidays actually started, such as Easter and Christmas. Since as far back as humans have gathered, much of their history we can only speculate. But what we do know of is that they were governed by the seasons(when to plant, when to harvest). Easter is a pagan holiday that celebrates the renewal of crops and the awakening of life after a long winter. It occurs in line with the spring equinox. Christmas occurs in line with the winter solstice. At least here in Canada, Thanksgiving occurs after the autumn equinox. These religious holidays were picked up from the “pagans” and adopted first by the Catholic church during the medieval era and later by modern day christians. The story of Jesus some how perfectly mirrors the story of a god named “Mithras” who supposedly existed 600 hundred years before Jesus and was to have been born on December 25! We pick up what is available and infuse it into what ever works to our advantage. The Israelites must have picked up something up while in captivity in either Egypt or Mesopotamia. What ever they did pick up was NOT written down at the time they were there nor while on route to the “promised land”. So how would they know that their god was not a stick or a lump of rock? History is often re-written to serve the needs of the victors. Had god actually looked out for them in the first place, why were they in captivity…..the Law had not yet been delivered to them?

    Anything we read in the bible has to be questioned! Nothing can be taken at face value! I have heard that some biblical scholars have determined that the book of Isaiah, which prophezies the coming of Jesus, actually was written AFTER the crucfixion and supposed resurrection of Jesus. Self fulfilling prophecy, pure and simple!

    What we are left with is: celebrating the resurrected Lord with bunnies that lay chocolate eggs. What must “aliens” from Tralfamadore think of us…..totally loony! That’s just what I think of christians who bow before Jesus and the crucifix, while telling people not to worship idols and have no other gods before them… never states anywhere that Jesus is/was a god or that we must worship him! Really loony, indeed!

  • DarkMatter

    “And so the temptation is always there to take up the hammer and join in the long tradition of idol smashing.”
    I don’t see this temptation. Maybe I have missed something.

  • DDM

    If truth were so self-evident, you wouldn’t have to plaster it onto everything and bring up the fact it’s truth so often. Rather than making something seem like the truth the more you say it, it more resembles someone who doesn’t believe what they’re preaching and is asserting it to convince themselves.

  • L.Long

    Destroying other icons has always been an enjoyable pastime for xtians and their two cousins.
    They love to burn books, destroy statues (at least break the dicks off). And rejecting something because it was associated with a pagan.
    Just this mindless destruction alone is enough to condemn religion as pure hateful BS!
    As an atheist I appreciate all forms of art regardless of source or inspiration.

    • Yoav

      And rejecting something because it was associated with a pagan.
      like Christmas trees, magic black rocks in a marble cube, 90% of the buybull that was plagiarized from the Egyptians and Mesopotamians and on and on.

    • Jordan

      Someone obviously hasn’t done their Bible history research very well!

      • Jordan

        On a semi-related note: Goddamn these reply links are terribly ambiguous. That last reply was meant for Yoav not L. Long.

      • Yoav

        Maybe 90% is an exaggerated number but a lot of the big ones are. Global floods are all over the place, the genesis story is basically the Egyptian creation myth with the Egyptian gods names redacted, the 10 commandments are taken from the Egyptian book of the dead. These are the just ones I can come up with right now.

    • michael

      Pagans? That’s what the early Catholic church called the christians that lived in the first century after the supposed death of Jesus! REAL christianity would be very foreign to us today if we could take a look at how it existed in the first century. The Catholic church or, as scholars now perceive them today, “literalists”(people who read the bible literally), wiped Gnostic christianity and all it’s documents from the earth quite ruthlessly and fatally! Then they made sure to write down that they wiped out the “pagans”(Gnostics) and their demonic faith. All christianity maintains the same identical doctrine as was established by the literalists over 1,700 years ago! Modern christianity is a terrible, massive joke and lie! ERGO: The apostle Paul and all the disciples were pagans! Chew on that one!

  • VidLord

    what’s it to ya if my “deep inner feeling” feels like the truth? You live your life and I’ll live mine.

    • Len

      OK. As long as you keep your “truth” to yourself and don’t try to impose it on me.

  • OneSTDV

    Interesting that you capitalize “Truth”. Mostly I only see that with Christians who want an underhanded way of saying Jesus.

    • Elemenope

      Many people use the capital “Truth” to distinguish truth in the deeper metaphysical or existential sense from deflationary truth, e.g.: “two plus two equals four is true” or simple correspondence of facts, e.g. :”It’s true that I’m late for work today”.

      Or he could just be shilling for Big T.

  • L.Long

    And rejecting something because it was associated with a pagan.
    like Christmas trees, magic black rocks in a marble cube, 90% of the buybull that was plagiarized from the Egyptians and Mesopotamians and on and on.

    I should have expanded on that 1st sentence because the 2nd is correct but different.
    the xtians always accepted trivial religious BS that they could adopt to get converts.
    But when it came to something ‘good’, factual, scientific it was rejected.
    Middle eastern medicine was far better then europe xtian but they rejected it.
    The ancient roman physician almost figured out the way the body works but his books were burnt.
    The Greeks knew the earth was round but xtians still thought of it as flat.

  • Francesco Orsenigo

    Atheists do not worship Truth.
    They simply refuse the idea of a god.
    In fact, some of them change idea and convert.

    Skeptics do worship Truth.
    Usually, they end up being atheist, but that’s a consequence, not a choice.
    And good luck converting a skeptic.

    Atheism is incidental, most of the people in this site reached atheism as result of embracing skepticism first.
    Conflating the two leaves more exposed to the “Atheist Communists murdered millions”; it’s far easier to show that totalitarian regimes and skeptics don’t go well together.

    • Dan L.

      This needs to be said more loudly, more often. Kudos, Francesco.

    • Kodie

      I was reading some of the mishmash I wrote upthread and had the same thought as if it were my own thought, even though I read this yesterday. There are a lot of atheists out there who don’t attack this “problem” in the same way. They are not scientists or even very analytical. They just don’t believe in god. They may even believe things that aren’t true because they reject new information out of hand, to be difficult, to be set in their ways. They could be racists and homophobes when there is no reason to be, or have other reasons that don’t apply universally! They may prioritize different paths in life that aren’t scientific, leaning more toward a spiritual-esque? path, like Buddhism without the supernatural elements. Their “idol” may be peace of mind and kindness.

      I’m way too misanthropic and a little more anxious than I’d like for that, I think, but still, I would say it’s somewhat appropriate to my living goals. I consider futility a lot. I only get one life, I should make more of it, be amazed that in a long line of evolution, I was born, but eh. Like a bug in your house you squish, someday, so will I, and it doesn’t matter if I don’t matter. When I’m dead, I’ll have no regrets whatsoever, and neither will anyone else.

      I’m skeptical of the supernatural claims and that’s about it. I have opinions based on the lack of god, but I’m no scientist. I like it, but mostly I leave that to the people who DO science, and whatever they find out, I’m assured is in the correct method to eliminate bad information and to discover things we did not previously know. They’ll write it down, maybe I can read it, maybe I can’t understand it, and enough other people understand it to explain it to me if I have a question, in terms I can understand. If I think it sounds fishy, I might ask several people who understand it a lot better, or I might just let it lie.

      How much can I personally do with what I know or find out to be true? I can be smarter, that’s something, or for my purposes, futile and unnecessary. Curiosity, voracious information-absorbing… people have different topics of interest, so it’s not just science that is “reality” or “truth;” while a lot of it does advance humanity and contrast with biblical information — it’s not all there is or all the “true” atheist is expected to care about. Just like nobody cares (or ought to care) what angle aforementioned (upthread) soda can is (still) leaning against the speaker, knowing the age of and what gases exist on a distant star are not going to affect my life, although that is neat that we can know that, and I’m duly amazed at humanity. (Contrast this level of knowledge with the thread about stupid people not knowing just how stupid they are). I know how stupid I am about a lot of things, but that doesn’t worry me.

      Like I said above, the truth stands without claims. I don’t need to know everything or seek out all the answers, it’s not how I go about being an atheist. There is no cookie-cutter “atheist” god or form of worship.

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  • michael

    Oh dear!… would seem that I may have knocked over some idols, even some that people hold very dear to their very “existence”(??!!)……….Oh, hell…..y’all get over it!

  • michael

    I wonder if God plays the game of bowling and the pins are physical representations of false gods. Maybe in his universe but how about in a paralell universe where the false gods are knocking him down. Hmmm…..just a thought. if anybody out there goes bowling, perhaps place the name of the various gods, that have caused us so much grief, on the front of the pins and let’s see which one survives……please, ONE bowling ball at a time!

  • claidheamh mor

    Well, John C, get off your lazy lord-praisin’ butt and tell the admittedly kind guy to call a rescue organization for help and equipment, and trap the cats and get bring them to a rescue shelter. Not that you’d help and actually do some of that yourself. But if you could give up your comfy chair and computer keyboard and jeeezus-praisin’ and (stupid) attempts to convert people, you could actually do a good work.

    You won’t, but you could.