Being an atheist doesn't guarantee someone is rational

Christina did a post on Patrick Greene this morning.  I read the article and this was the part that stuck out to me.

In late 2011, Greene joined the fight against a Nativity scene that had been set up outside the courthouse in the town of Athens, Texas, threatening to file a lawsuit over it. Shortly after he made his threat, however, he discovered that his ability to see was rapidly deteriorating and he would soon be blind, so he withdrew his threats and left the Nativity alone.

That’s when Jessica Crye, a Christian woman from Athens, asked her pastor, Erick Graham of Sand Springs Baptist Church, if they could help Greene. As a result of her kindness, thousands of dollars in donations have gone toward helping Greene, who has reconsidered his view of God as a result.

That was what tipped it?

Greene’s outlook must’ve been that he was ok with people rising from the dead – that didn’t bother him.  Someone walking on water?  No logical problems there.  Talking snake?  Sounds legit.  Jonah and the whale must not have set his bullshit sensors off.  The idea of a global flood or someone being changed into a pillar of salt likewise must not have registered as a contradiction.  Greene’s one hangup with the whole Christian project must’ve been that he thought believers couldn’t be charitable and, once they proved they could be, then he was all set on all the other stuff.

It sounds like Greene wasn’t exactly a pro at the whole “being reasonable” thing as an atheist, which has served him well en route to Christianity.

  • Randomfactor

    Atheism’s gain is Christianity’s loss?

  • http://yetanotheratheist.com TerranRich

    Jonah and the whale must not have set his bullshit sensors off.

    It was a big fish, not a whale!

    (My favorite apologetic counter-argument.)

    • grumpyoldfart

      In many versions of the bible, Matthew 12:40 has Jesus referring to Jonah’s three days and nights in the belly of a whale.

  • http://angrydm.com TheAngryDM

    This egotistical, smarter-than-thou ultra-rational bullshit is why I am often ashamed to call myself an atheist.

    Maybe, the point is not about what set of beliefs people arbitrarily choose to believe or ARBITRARILY choose not to belief (remember people: absence of evidence is not, in itself, evidence of absence) or whether scripture is to be taken literally or metaphorically; maybe the point is what people choose to do as a result of their chosen beliefs. And that is on the people, not the faith they choose to follow.

    So, you can shit all over other people’s beliefs because you think you are smarter than they are and need to make sure they know it or you by telling them that public displays of their faith is intellectually offensive, or you can mobilize your community to do some good for a person in need, regardless of that person’s beliefs.

    • anteprepro

      You say ultra-rational like it’s a bad thing.

      (remember people: absence of evidence is not, in itself, evidence of absence)

      Yes. And yet believing that something does exist in the absence of evidence is a far less warranted belief than believing that something doesn’t exist until evidence of presence is given. People with no evidence of God shouldn’t believe He exists, even if God isn’t necessarily disproven/impossible. People don’t need absolute proof that God doesn’t exist to be confident that he probably doesn’t.

      maybe the point is what people choose to do as a result of their chosen beliefs

      Here’s what you seem to not get about this post: That what people choose to do with their beliefs is completely utterly irrelevant to whether or not those beliefs are true. Patrick Greene apparently either considered himself an atheist because he thought Christians were mean, despite believing exactly what they do, or was convinced enough by the good behavior of Christians that Christian beliefs are true. In no way, shape, or form is that a logical approach. To anything. Flat earthers don’t suddenly have a good point if they are really nice about it. Gravity isn’t suddenly wrong because physicists are assholes. Why is God the only question about in the world that can be “logically” resolved by how people act when they believe one or the other on the subject? And if you sincerely believe that the truth or falsity of religion is irrelevant if people behave nicely enough with religion, I would point out that acting reasonably is just as important as acting nicely in the real world.

      Try being less angry in the future if you can’t manage being both angry and rational, like the rest of us.

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd JT Eberhard

      This egotistical, smarter-than-thou ultra-rational bullshit is why I am often ashamed to call myself an atheist.

      You’re not saying you’re smarter than someone when you say they’re wrong. You are saying you see a place where you think they’ve erred. The latter is something we should do constantly if we see such spots.

      remember people: absence of evidence is not, in itself, evidence of absence

      Yes, it is. If something doesn’t exist, what more evidence could you possibly have than the lack of evidence for it?

      maybe the point is what people choose to do as a result of their chosen beliefs. And that is on the people, not the faith they choose to follow.

      Saying irrationality is ok because it sometimes promotes good actions for bad reasons is dangerous for the obvious reason: sometimes people do bad things for bad reasons.

      Irrationality is a moral failing. I go more into that here.

      you can shit all over other people’s beliefs because you think you are smarter than they are and need to make sure they know it or you by telling them that public displays of their faith is intellectually offensive, or you can mobilize your community to do some good for a person in need, regardless of that person’s beliefs.

      Doing charitable work doesn’t keep us from opposing irrationality. I do oppose religion getting the credit. I explain why here.

      Also, since you’ve come here to point out where you think I’m wrong, are you also engaging in egotistical, smarter-than-thou ultra-rational bullshit, or can you say somebody’s wrong without doing that?

      JT

    • anteprepro

      Also, since you’ve come here to point out where you think I’m wrong, are you also engaging in egotistical, smarter-than-thou ultra-rational bullshit, or can you say somebody’s wrong without doing that?

      Of course not, JT. His reply is not even fully rational, so it could hardly be ultra-rational. Duh.

    • http://www.atheist-faq.com JT (Generic)

      (remember people: absence of evidence is not, in itself, evidence of absence)

      Because obviously when you look into a box and don’t see any signs of a cat, you cannot, in any way shape or form, to any degree at all, conclude that there’s not a cat in the box.

      • Nepenthe

        There’s kitties everywhere! The world is a much better place.

  • ‘Tis Himself

    This egotistical, smarter-than-thou ultra-rational bullshit is why I am often ashamed to call myself an atheist.

    This supercilious, pompous bullshit is why the rest of us are ashamed to call you an atheist.

    But if it makes you feel better, your concern is noted.

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd JT Eberhard

      ^ Like

  • John Horstman

    The part that stuck out to me from this report in the Christian Post was this:

    “There’s been one lingering thought in the back of my head my entire life, and it’s one thought that I’ve never been able to reconcile, and that is the vast difference between all the animals and us,” Greene told The Christian Post on Tuesday, as he began to explain his recent transformation from atheist to Christian. The theory of evolution didn’t answer his questions, he says, so he just set those questions aside and didn’t think about them anymore.

    See, there really aren’t vast differences between humans and non-human animals. We’re not particularly special, and evolution (biological and eventually cultural) very much explains the differences that do exist. Human exceptionalism is not a rational belief, and it seems to be (one of) the primary reason(s) for adopting Christianity. This leads me, too, to question his original dedication to an accurate knowledge of the way reality works, as his doubts about evolution (and specifically human evolution) could have been addressed with some quick wiki-surfing.

    • http://www.atheist-faq.com JT (Generic)

      Hand an ape an iPhone and the differences are eliminated.

  • Mark

    I wouldn’t worry about it too much, he probably wasn’t a True(TM) rationalist to begin with.

  • Mike de Fleuriot

    To be an atheist, you have to keep trying to prove your disbelief in gods to be false. I seriously doubt that this Green chap ever did this. And the reason why I said that, is because to attempt to prove that gods do not exist, means you understand how to reason things out to a conclusion. If you have done that once at least and have come up with a personal proof that gods do not exist, then you are an atheist. Switching sides means you have to show why every proof you developed against the existence of gods is wrong, you can not just sweep them under the carpet and start from scratch. That would be dishonest, (a trait of the theist, I think)

    • Tony

      Mike:
      –I see what you’re getting at, but I disagree with a few points. I don’t keep trying to falsify my non belief. There’s no more evidence for a creator deity of any sort today than there was yesterday, the day before, or Last Thursday. I see no reason to believe tomorrow, the day after, or Next Thursday will be any different. Attempting to falsify non belief is to do nothing more than experience life (if one can even falsify non existence).

      In addition, I’m not sure how many atheists approach their non belief by trying to disprove any gods. We would spend far too long trying to disprove the thousands of gods humanity has created. It stands to reason that since gods by their definition defy the laws of physics and stand outside our reality and there is zero evidence for any of them, there’s no reason to believe any of them exist.

      Additionally, can you even falsify a non position? I know falsification is part of the bedrock of scientific inquiry, but that’s falsifying theories. Assertions put forth and tested. The atheist position isn’t a positive assertion of anything. It’s simply non belief. I find it no more sensible to try and falsify my non belief in Thor or God than I do unicorns or fairies.

  • http://www.DangerousTalk.net dangeroustalk

    I don’t like defending Greene here, but you criticism of him is fallacious. While a lot of Christians believe in the talking snake and similar craziness, many do not. Don’t get me wrong, even the most rational believer still believes irrational stuff, but I think it is fallacious to assume that Greene turned right to the most fundamentalist form of Christianity especially given that some of the articles mentioned that he specifically was looking for a church that supported gay equality.

  • http://www.facebook.com/llamagirl kevinbutler

    *sigh*

    I swear that not all of us Texas atheists are like that

  • Pierce R. Butler

    Gotta give Jessica Crye props for both thoughts and actions far above the average for Texas bible-bangers.

    Her approach clearly beats that of, say, Kevin Childs by light-years.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X