What about the rights of Christian haters?

I love it when a wave of believers finds my blog.  It gives me something to do.

A while back I wrote a post ranting on the legislature in Kansas for passing a bill that would allow discrimination against LGBT people.  Someone left this comment.

I hope whoever wrote this article realizes that by blatantly trashing Christianity, he’s being very hypocritical. People always preach on the “rights of homosexuality” but what about the rights of everyone else? I am not saying that people who support the rights of homosexuals are awful people, but when you mock others beliefs simply because they don’t agree with you, your point does not get across. You have the right to believe that homosexuals have the right to get married and etc., and I have the right to believe it is against what I believe. Being called a homophobe is just as disrespectful and rude as for someone else to call a gay person a fag. Maybe you should just step back and realize that gays aren’t the only ones with the rights to their beliefs.

Oy, where to start?

I hope whoever wrote this article realizes that by blatantly trashing Christianity, he’s being very hypocritical.

Nope.  Trash atheism.  Go nuts.  The difference is that atheists can defend their position.  We don’t need to stop the conversation, demand people not critique our position, or say we don’t need evidence.  Criticize me until you’re blue in the face – I’ll use it to make you look dumb.

People always preach on the “rights of homosexuality” but what about the rights of everyone else?

Yes, who will protect the rights of Christians which are under attack by…who, exactly?

I am not saying that people who support the rights of homosexuals are awful people…

I’m saying people who oppose their rights are awful people.  To force others to live lesser lives because of your nonsensical beliefs is egotistical at best, wholly lacking in compassion at worst (ironically, these people often tout how loving their religion is).  If people oppose equal rights whether it’s for women, blacks, or gays because of their religion, then their religion is also awful.

…but when you mock others beliefs simply because they don’t agree with you…

I don’t mind people disagreeing with me.  It’s when their arguments suck and they show an unwillingness to at least try to reason that the mockery comes out.  And they should be mocked.  They don’t deserve respect at that point.  Those people have earned whatever disrespect comes their way.  If they exhibit a real lack of empathy (which people opposing equality for others most certainly do), then they get criticized fiercely.  They should get criticized fiercely.

You have the right to believe that homosexuals have the right to get married and etc., and I have the right to believe it is against what I believe.

Nobody’s saying otherwise.  Nobody would want to put you in jail for believing a certain way or demand you espouse a belief you don’t.  Nor would we ever.

However, the right to believe as you choose does not earn you the right to be free of criticism if you use that right to believe (and espouse) anti-human irrational nonsense.

Being called a homophobe is just as disrespectful and rude as for someone else to call a gay person a fag.

One of those things deserves disrespect (hint: it’s not being gay).

Deriding people whose only crime is loving someone despite the disapproval of others is unmerited.  It’s mockery for the sake of mockery.  It’s creating unhappiness and inequality for no good reason and anybody doing it deserves to get shouted down.  There are plenty of reasons one should stop being a homophobe.  There’s not a single good reason someone should stop being gay, even if they could.

Maybe you should just step back and realize that gays aren’t the only ones with the rights to their beliefs.

Maybe you should read the arguments of others before you respond to them so you don’t wind up rebutting a position nobody occupies.  Actually, there’s no maybe to it.  Stop responding to what would’ve been convenient to let you play martyr as part of the majority and start listening to your opposition.  You have a right to your belief, but don’t trick yourself into believing that freedom to believe as you choose means freedom to live without criticism if you believe flagrantly idiotic things that affect your fellow humans.

  • http://www.atheist-faq.com Jasper of Maine

    It’s the difference between the right to believe, and the right to act.

    They can believe whatever they want. They can’t do whatever they want, however.

  • DLC

    I love that “your not letting me harass and discriminate against gays is oppressing my freedoms! ” horse shit. It’s chock full o fail.

  • baal

    The right to exclude a disfavored group from marriage, housing, and jobs hardly strikes me as something christians should support. They don’t really have much of a guarantee that their favorite flavor will have hegemony in perpetuity. There is the State of Utah after all. While the mormons are anti-gay (giving huge $$ to prop 8 in california) they don’t necessarily like other xtian churches or other religions that much either.

  • http://www.facebook.com/QuantumSinger chrisbryant

    A thorough dissection, JT, wonderful! I get so tired of hearing how the poor Christians are being persecuted because I want equal rights.

  • Kiera

    We enjoy many, many wonderful rights here in the USA.

    We do NOT have the right not to be offended by anything.

  • John Eberhard

    “You have the right to believe that homosexuals have the right to get married and etc., and I have the right to believe it is against what I believe.” Well, I suppose this is true enough as far as it goes. However,it doesn’t go very far. When that “right to get married” carries with it 1100 federal rights, benefits,and privileges and an average of 300 rights, benefits, and privileges for each state, then YOUR belief that homosexuals don’t have a right to CIVIL marriage ends up taking away rights, privileges, and benefits due to every American citizen equally under the law. So, your belief that homosexuals don’t have a right to marry means you believe that American citizens don’t deserve to be equal under the law…….and that is a bunch of bullshit. YOUR belief does actual harm to real human beings. Ours doesn’t.

  • Gregory in Seattle

    Out of your excellent rant, this stands out:

    To force others to live lesser lives because of your nonsensical beliefs is egotistical at best, wholly lacking in compassion at worst (ironically, these people often tout how loving their religion is).

    Forcing others live lesser lives because of nonsensical beliefs is, at worst, the willful infliction of suffering on people who are socially and politically unable to protect themselves. I have had the unfortunate experience of knowing Bible-based bigots who will light the fire of your stake with malicious glee, eat chocolates to the sound of your agonized screams, and complain about getting too many caramel nougats.

  • Leo

    I love the corners they paint themselves into when they seem to promote relativistic ideas such as the following:

    You have the right to believe that homosexuals have the right to get married and etc., and I have the right to believe it is against what I believe.

    …Not to mention how weird it is for him to say he has the right to believe that it is against his beliefs. I mean…if you didn’t have the right to believe what you believe…my mind hurts too much just trying to comprehend that. But I don’t think that is what ze meant to say…and I digress.
    Now the kicker:

    Being called a homophobe is just as disrespectful and rude as for someone else to call a gay person a fag.

    OK, that’s what ze believes. And maybe I believe calling someone a homophobe is NOT as disrespectful. Well, at least I have the right to believe that, huh? Now for the all important question: Who’s correct? Does ze care? (It would seem ze does, but only when it comes to their personal feelings, unfortunately. Talk about hypocritical!)

  • http://reasonableconversation.wordpress.com Kaoru Negisa

    …have the right to believe that homosexuals have the right to get married and etc., and I have the right to believe it is against what I believe.

    No. No. Fuck this person. Seriously, they can go right to the hell they invented. I am getting really sick of this argument that portrays their “belief” as valid at all, let alone somehow equal to the rights of human beings.

    I don’t much care what this person believes. Their belief is abhorrent. If they believed any abhorrent thing, they would still be just as bad.

    Being called a homophobe is just as disrespectful and rude as for someone else to call a gay person a fag.

    It’s not that being called a “fag” is disrespectful and rude. It is, but it’s also generally a prelude to violence or destruction of property. It’s the signal that somebody is about to hit you or light you on fire (http://unicornbooty.com/blog/2011/10/31/texas-gay-man-beaten-stabbed-thrown-into-lit-fire-barrel-at-party/) or try to beat you to death with a tire iron in the middle of the woods (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/23/hate-crime-harlan-county_n_1534421.html). Being called a homophobe might hurt their little Jesus-filled heart, but exactly zero xtains have been killed over their opposition to same-sex…well, let’s face it, their opposition to LGBT people. Whereas LGBT people are daily subject to the most horrific violence imaginable.

    So I don’t much care if their little fee-fees are hurt when they’re told that what they’re doing is hateful and wrong. Fuck’em.

    Sorry to spew all over your post and totes understand if you delete the comment, but it’s been a day and this really set me off.

    • John Eberhard

      Spot on.

      • http://reasonableconversation.wordpress.com Kaoru Negisa

        Thank you, John. Was afraid it was a little much. Had to blow off some steam and still feel a little bad for doing so on your son’s blog.

  • fastlane

    How is it that fucknuggets like this can’t get the simple, second grade level of understanding that there is a difference between being able to ‘believe’ what you want, and being able to force others to act according to your ‘beliefs’ by legislative fiat?

    Although I don’t think they really don’t understand, just that they are dishonest in their framing because they know they are wrong. If they didn’t frame it the way they do, it would be obvious to even the not so bright (which is a significant chunk, if my time in KS is any indication) that what they are doing is immoral.

    • http://reasonableconversation.wordpress.com Kaoru Negisa

      Well, if they don’t genuinely believe it, they’re going to make sure their kids do. Did you see that the new Texas GOP platform actively and explicitly is against “critical thinking” because of its “focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.”

      No critical thinking means a whole lot of kids who swallow whole the vile and inhuman beliefs of their bigoted elders.

  • a miasma of incandescent plasma

    You have the right to believe that homosexuals have the right to get married and etc., and I have the right to believe it is against what I believe.

    So… obvious question to this person. Would it be immoral for anyone to tell you what you can and cannot believe?

    Let’s set-up a scenario -

    Andy, let’s call her A for short, is trying to explain the evidence and reasoning behind her position that equal rights to marry a consenting adult should be granted to the LGBT community.

    Goddrick, let’s call him God for short, is trying to get you to only believe in one particular god.

    Let’s see how these 2 approach trying to get you to believe as they do…

    A: “These are my reasoned arguments for granting equal rights to GLBT’s, if you don’t believe as I do after I’ve laid out my case, then, well, that is ok. Just don’t go out and do others harm based on your differing belief.”

    God: “If anyone, even your wife or your own son or daughter, say to you that you should believe in any other god than the Jewish god, then you should take them and have the community help you kill them slowly and painfully with hand-sized rocks. Do this so that everyone knows what happens to you if you believe differently than I do.”

    So, which scenario is more moral? Inquiring minds want to know.

    … Point is, in their religion, they don’t have the “right” to believe differently than their dogma demands without torture in this life and the next. But yet the commenter would be screaming “IMmOrAlity!1″ (rightfully) if any person threatened them with bodily harm for not believing a certain way.

  • Bathysphere

    Thank you. I’m so sick of hearing “calling me homophobic/racist/sexist/ableist is rude/insulting/name calling”. The idea that calling somebody out on bigotry is just as bad as bigotry itself is so backwards.

    • http://reasonableconversation.wordpress.com Kaoru Negisa

      It stems from two places (three for xtians):

      1. Privilege. Having been used to being catered to and held in high regard for their entire existence, the idea that people don’t automatically treat them as “normal” and therefore “exceptional” when compared to oppressed groups actually does feel like oppression to them. Did you see the recent complaint against the Air Force for its supposedly “hostile” approach to religion (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2012/06/26/republican-lawmakers-are-wrong-to-say-u-s-air-force-is-hostile-to-religion/)? What a joke. The animated gif at the bottom of this Slacktavist post kinda says it all http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2012/06/25/like-my-pain-meant-nothing-the-alarming-harshness-of-tactless-anti-gay-preaching/

      2. Wanting to be heroes. People love the idea of being heroes, of being the good guys standing up for what’s good and true. When they’re being called bigots, well good guys can’t be bigots, so clearly this is an attempt by the bad guys to muddy the waters.

      Optional 3. Faith. For many xtians, it’s an element of their faith that they will be hated and persecuted. So they develop a martyr complex that confirms that they are hated and persecuted. And while the first may be true, the second is a really awful joke.

  • http://www.facebook.com/using.reason usingreason

    ‘One of those things deserves disrespect doesn’t deserve respect (hint: it’s not being gay).’

    There I fixed it for you, and easy miss when editing. Seriously though, stop using that frak’n word.

    But keep up the good work.

  • Anonymous

    I appreciate your willingness to stand up and fight against the blatant hypocrisies advanced by many Christians in this country. However, I feel compelled to point out two things.

    1. Atheism is a philosophically untenable position. In the same way that Christians cannot prove or disprove the existence of an omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent deity, atheists cannot PROVE that one does not exist.

    Agnosticism is defensible. Christianity is not. Atheism is not.

    2. There are two types of people in life: makers and breakers. It is easy to critique and tear down an existing structure and point out its faults, especially one that is as old as religion. There is a legitimate need for this, but it’s a road that is frequently traveled. As you continue your introspective journey, contribute something new. You’re clearly smart and have a lot to offer. Be a maker.

    • John Eberhard

      As to “atheists cannot PROVE that one does not exist”, are you seriously suggesting that they have an obligation to PROVE a negative? It makes absolutely as much sense to suggest that all of the following may exist because we cannot PROVE they do not: leprechauns, unicorns, smurfs, 12 eyed purple cows……the list is literally endless, literally as long and as deep as imagination.
      Also, you obviously don’t understand how science works. “Proofs” are for mathematics, what science does is accumulate evidence until withholding provisional assent is foolish. At this point in time, all—every single bit—of evidence supports naturalism and not gods. If you have some evidence for gods, please trot it out and run it around the corral a time or two.
      As to “Atheism is a philosophically untenable position”……you apparently don’t even know the definition of atheism. Atheism is the lack of belief in deities. That is all. Atheism doesn’t have to prove anything, and leaves the door open for godly evidence if there ever is any. How can that possibly be untenable?
      By the way, JT is contributing something new……his career is creating safe havens for secular students. Loved your “Shut up about how goofy religion is because you don’t have ideas for a good replacement”. JT has offered plenty of good ideas for replacement, including using reason and humanity.

      • Anonymous

        I did not intend to offend and apologize if I have. I simply wish to challenge you slightly, as you have done us (and I thank you for that).

        I also think you have misunderstood my critique as a defense of religion. It is not.

        Allow me to attempt to clarify my previous post.

        Atheists advance a position that God does not exist.

        Therefore, atheists DO have a burden to prove that God does not exist. The position is commonly “defended” by saying that there is no empirical evidence to support the existence of God. That is to say, because there is no way to measure or observe God, it does not exist.

        The flip side of that, however, is that it also cannot be proven that God does not exist.

        By its very definition, God cannot be observed. Therefore, using science, as you have suggested, as a tool or way-of-knowing to refute something that does not require observation is like trying to paint without paint or a paint brush – it simply cannot be done. They are incompatible. Science seeks to advance our knowledge ONLY about phenomenon that can be OBSERVED and MEASURED.

        We can all agree that God’s existence cannot be proven from a metaphysical perspective. We can also all agree that proving God does not exist is also impossible. The same goes for the mythical creatures you mentioned.

        That’s what I mean when I suggested that agnosticism is the only philosophically tenable position. The existence OR lack thereof of a deity simply cannot be known.

        • http://www.facebook.com/using.reason usingreason

          “Atheists advance a position that God does not exist.”

          No, nyet, nein, wrong.

          Atheists assert that due to the complete and total dirth of evidence for god(s), any god(s), it is not rational to believe that god(s) exist.

          You can make this position untenable only by presenting evidence for god(s) that I can take away from here and examine in some way; it must be quantifiable and measurable. Once that evidence is confirmed repeatedly and independently then we have something to talk about.

          • Anonymous

            “Atheists assert that due to the complete and total dirth of evidence for god(s), any god(s), it is not rational to believe that god(s) exist.”

            You have misrepresented atheism. In point of fact, that’s a component of an agnostic’s position.

            If you look closely at my previous posts, I clearly do not believe that there is a way to prove God’s existence in a metaphysical sense.

            I AGREE that God’s existence has not and likely cannot be proven. I said that numerous times.

            A belief in God derives from faith which does not require ANY physical or observable proof in order to be held by an individual.

            However, as we all know, a belief is not sufficient evidence to prove something’s existence. We are in AGREEMENT on this point.

            I am simply saying that it CANNOT be proven that God does not exist.

        • http://www.facebook.com/using.reason usingreason

          “By its very definition, God cannot be observed.”

          This is the definition used by people that believe in god to excuse the lack of evidence; it’s called special pleading in most cases. I am under no obligation to agree with that crap.

          “Science seeks to advance our knowledge ONLY about phenomenon that can be OBSERVED and MEASURED.”

          Yeah, like real stuff that matters. We don’t really care which version or brand of religion you want to bet on.

          “We can also all agree that proving God does not exist is also impossible. The same goes for the mythical creatures you mentioned.”

          Which makes everything you have said pointless and stupid. As soon as god(s) falls into the same category as leprechauns and unicorns you are engaged in mental masturbation. I can’t believe I just wasted my time on this bullshit again.

          • Anonymous

            My position is much more nuanced than you have understood it to be.

            I invite you to re-read the previous posts. I said numerous times that God’s existence CANNOT be proven. We are in agreement on this point.

            Study your own philosophical positions more carefully before you get on the internet and make yourself look ridiculous.

          • http://www.facebook.com/using.reason usingreason

            Just because you say that god(s) existence can’t be proven and I say god(s) existence can’t be proven doesn’t mean that we are in agreement on anything. How’s that for nuanced?

            Stop trying to talk around the issue and use words like metaphysical to try to sound smart. Atheism has nothing to do with metaphysics, it is not a creed, belief or world view. I agree with basically nothing you have said and I am disagreeing with you telling me, as an Atheist, what I think. Nobody that understands science and evidence can flat out say that a god does not exist. We are as certain as we can be but we can never be 100%.

            “2. There are two types of people in life: makers and breakers. It is easy to critique and tear down an existing structure and point out its faults, especially one that is as old as religion. There is a legitimate need for this, but it’s a road that is frequently traveled. As you continue your introspective journey, contribute something new. You’re clearly smart and have a lot to offer. Be a maker.”

            This is why you are getting no respect from me; could you be anymore condescending?

          • Anonymous

            Perhaps too condescending, yeah. Apologies. You are clearly agnostic and not atheist by the way.

            I think what I was trying to saying was lost in semantics. I think you have taken atheism to mean something it is not.

            “Nobody that understands science and evidence can flat out say that a god does not exist. We are as certain as we can be but we can never be 100%.”

            That’s 100% an agnostic position. Not an atheist one.

          • http://reasonableconversation.wordpress.com Kaoru Negisa

            *blink blink*

            Is this a Poe? This has got to be a Poe.

            You’re coming onto the blog of a professional atheist and telling other atheists that we don’t know what atheism is, but you do because you’re an agnostic?

            I really hate to be the one to break it to you, but you don’t actually get to determine what other people do and do not think, nor whether they are atheists, agnostics, or Buddhists.

            But as long as we’re playing that game, you’re clearly a Zoroastrian. John has often expressed his fondness for the Papua New Guinean mud god, so I suppose he’s whatever followers of that are called. The Pope is Hindu.

            Do you see now why this doesn’t work?

            Now, I suspect you were trying to say that not having a 100% certainty in the non-existence of god or gods makes one an agnostic rather than an atheist. First, I could recommend looking up Richard Dawkins’s spectrum of belief so you can better understand that it’s not that simple. Secondly, we’re not misrepresenting atheism. You don’t know what “atheism” means and because you clearly take a lot of pride in your being agnostic must cling to a fictitious definition of what “atheism” is. Or, as was so eloquently put in XKCD: http://xkcd.com/774/

        • John Eberhard

          You confuse me with my son. You meant to challenge him, not me. Just one more example that you don’t know what you are talking about. You need to learn the difference between “lack of belief in deities” and “disbelief in deities”. Have a nice day.

      • Anonymous

        I am dropping out of this debate because clearly the details are being lost in semantics.

        I very much think you all are FAR closer to being correct than those that believe in God.

        I also believe that your intuitions about humans and how we ought to treat each other are good.

        My whole point is that a probability that is not zero is not zero.
        The probability that God exists is likely exceptionally close to zero, but not zero.

        Therefore, atheism (how I have defined it) is a belief system on the opposite extreme of a spectrum of belief in God’s existence. Agnosticism, a position somewhere in the middle, is the only tenable position.

        Things are not black or white, they are shades of grey. Believe that.

        • http://www.facebook.com/using.reason usingreason

          Your problem seems to be that when someone tells you they cannot state 100% that god doesn’t exist, you think this has something to do with a lingering doubt that one of the human invented versions of god might be true. It doesn’t, at least not for me, it has to do with how incredibly huge the universe is and how little we understand it. I do not have perfect knowledge of myself, the contents of my closet or the most efficient route to work; I certainly can’t claim with 100% accuracy to know the entirety of the universe and all that is in it.

          To be clear, I do not live in fear that Yahweh or Shiva might be real and watching me. All religions are crap. The is a very slight possibility that an entity that could be best described as a ‘god’ exists out there somewhere. It doesn’t give a fuck if I pray to it and the closest I get to a burnt offering is smoked meatloaf. That is not to say I burn my meatloaf, that stuff rocks.

          For the last time; Atheism is not a belief system.

        • http://reasonableconversation.wordpress.com Kaoru Negisa

          Therefore, atheism (how I have defined it) is a belief system on the opposite extreme of a spectrum of belief in God’s existence. Agnosticism, a position somewhere in the middle, is the only tenable position.

          As was said in the link I provided above, “Well, the important thing is that you’ve found a way to feel superior to both.”

          Nobody cares how you define atheism except perhaps you. This is the strangest use of No True Scotsman I’ve ever seen. “You can’t be an atheist, you’re not 100% sure god doesn’t exist!”

          …huh?

          Again, I stress that it’s abundantly clear that you’re really a Zoroastrian by my definition of “Zoroastrian”. Please say hi to Ahura Mazda for me.

    • NateHevens

      I’m sorry, but how is this in any way on topic? Whatt point are you trying to make, beyond the obvious PRATT?

      • Anonymous

        I just happened upon this blog and was making a more general comment about atheism. This blogger subscribes to atheism, so I thought I would point out that atheism is on the same metaphysical footing as religion.

        • NateHevens

          And you couldn’t perhaps take a look at his other blog posts to see if there was one where your post would be more on topic?

          Also, you got something terribly wrong:

          Atheists advance a position that God does not exist.

          Got some evidence for this claim?

          Perhaps you should sit back and let us atheists tell you what positions we may or may not be advancing. We are the atheists, after all… we know best what we’re thinking…

          What usingreason said is good, but I think it can be made a bit more simple:

          The only thing atheists assert is that we don’t believe your claim that God exists. That’s what “lack of theism” means.

          • Anonymous

            Yes I have evidence. Go open a dictionary and look up “atheism”. Seriously, any legitimate dictionary.

          • NateHevens

            I have opened a dictionary. I happen to define myself by the broadest definitions used, and call myself an Agnostic Atheist.

            Now, how’s about you read my blog post on this issue? It should explain this whole “agnostic vs atheist” thing that you don’t seem to be getting…

        • Thom Watson

          Yes I have evidence. Go open a dictionary and look up “atheism”. Seriously, any legitimate dictionary.

          Merriam Webster
          a : a disbelief in the existence of deity b : the doctrine that there is no deity

          Oxford English Dictionary
          Disbelief in, or denial of, the existence of a god.

          Webster’s Third New International
          a: disbelief in the existence of God or any other deity b: the doctrine that there is neither god nor any other deity

          dictionary.com
          1. the doctrine or belief that there is no God. 2. disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.

          wiktionary
          (narrowly) Belief that no deities exist (sometimes, excluding other religious beliefs).
          (broadly) Rejection of belief that any deities exist (with or without a belief that no deities exist).
          (very broadly) Absence of belief that any deities exist (including absence of the concept of deities).
          (loosely, rare) Absence of belief in a particular deity, pantheon, or religious doctrine (notwithstanding belief in other deities).

          Disbelief OR denial; narrow, broad and loose types. Just because you only define atheism as denial doesn’t mean that we do, everyone does, or that the dictionary does, despite your assertion of the latter. Even by your own instruction to go to a dictionary for proof, you’re clearly wrong.

          • Anonymous

            … or we’re all right depending on how we operationally define atheism.

          • thomwatson

            … or we’re all right depending on how we operationally define atheism.

            With my last phrase — “you’re clearly wrong” — I wasn’t saying that your definition was wrong, rather that your original insistent contention that your definition was the only correct one and the only one to be found in a dictionary was what was wrong. I stand by that. By now saying “How we operationally define atheism” you’ve moved the goalposts away from your original pedantry. To that end, though, my definition is not merely “operational,” it is also a semantically correct one.

    • fastlane

      Anon….just…fuck off.

  • jo1storm

    …or we’re all right depending on how we operationally define atheism.”

    … or, maybe you can admit defeat when your arguments get dismantled and beaten instead of moving the goalposts.

    … or maybe, just maybe, you can insure that everyone is working with the same definition of following words before entering discussion on an atheist blog: atheism, proof, worldview, religion, god etc. and not try to define what other people are for them. (using the definition that is not in common usage and is used rarely is intellectually dishonest and one of the most favored creationist strategies).

    Right now, Anonymous, you are seeming to me (from the vantage point of the guy that was out of discussion and just watched it unfold up until now) as one of those Christians/Muslims/theists moving the goalposts and changing the definition of words as he sees fit, the moment the opposite side dismantles their argument.

    It is not the first time I saw it happen and this is milder example than most, if that can be any consolation for you, but it is still happening.

    First both sides start as the god as physical being you can see and touch, that moves in the world doing all sorts of miracles like in OT and NT. (you seemed to have skipped that part, proving you can believe your own eyes at least) Second step is the god that is a feeling, cannot be seen and touched but can be felt “in your heart” but is still doing things in the real world.

    Third step is the god that is not doing anything himself, is not feeling, but is something inbuilt in all human beings that is giving us morality (still doing something in real world, but this is just messing with the definition of god further).

    Final step is this: god that started the universe but is now only watching, not interfering, without it in any way. Because such being is not interfering, it cannot be detected by any means and doesn’t have any effect in the real world. For all practical purposes, such being is the same as non-existent in the real world as we know it and, as such, useless.

    Now, take your pick and stick with it!

  • John Horstman

    Sweet ASCII-art Mohammed! Is Anonymous REALLY a Teapot Agnostic in the same way ze’s apparently a god agnostic? Does ze not realize that the tactic ze’s taking simply demonstrates that the concept of 100% certainty in proof itself is impossible?

    Seriously, all “proof” is dependent upon our sensory and cognitive filters, in the sense that we can’t perceive it without those filters, so it’s all bounded by the degree of certainty that our filters are representing/relaying objective reality with 100% accuracy (which is almost certainly NOT the case). Because the strictest definition of “true” is an impossibility with respect to describing anything not part of a constructed abstraction like formal logic or mathematical systems, any discussion of “truth” becomes meaningless if we don’t adopt the standard operational definition of “true beyond any reasonable doubt” when applying it to real-world phenomena. I can’t even say with 100% certainty that Anonymous believes what ze claims to believe, even if I don’t think ze’s lying, because I can’t be 100% certain I’m not hallucinating this. Do you walk around living your life in a state of constant existential doubt, Anonymous (something that most people find paralyzing, so your ability to post here suggests that you are, at the very least, lying to yourself if not consciously lying to us)? If not, you’re simply engaging in disingenuous trolling. That’s not how people actually behave; unless you’re running around also asserting agnosticism regarding e.g. The Matrix or the metafiction concept that our entire reality is the result of some author writing a book (or, you know, FUCKING EVERYTHING), both concepts for which there is exactly as much evidence as any god, you’re being intellectually dishonest. Come back after you’ve given some reasoned thought to the issue.

  • Anonymous

    1. I concede that my understanding of the term atheism was too narrow and not how many atheists actually view this question about God’s existence. I apologize for suggesting I have a greater knowledge of your views than you do. On the same token, many of the replies have taken assumptions about my own views, and in turn have presented fallacious straw-man arguments to tear down my “point”. It seems we’re all guilty.

    2. It is possible to function in the world without having certainty of anything. Most of the time the only valid position is not at an extreme. Positions at extremes have nothing to hold on to. Atheists have to defend their positions in the same way that believers do, and that seems unreasonable to me because, after all, these are beliefs (or disbeliefs).

    A belief held by any individual is completely valid to that individual, and NO ONE can do anything to reason them out of that belief. That’s the beauty of beliefs, they need no external validation. That is also why they are extremely powerful and likely here to say, in all shapes and sizes.

    I was simply trying to point out that none of you on here can disprove a belief held by another individual. Therefore, atheism, from a pragmatic stance, is completely useless because it tries to use reason/science/observation/senses to try to convince someone that a belief rooted in none of those things is wrong. I can assume with a great deal of likeliness that you all hold on to some beliefs that cannot be proven. So why bother disproving a small point like whether or not a “God” exists? Or even saying that you don’t believe in this. Who cares?

    For the record, I am not religious. I say I am agnostic, but to further clarify, I’m apathetic to this whole question about God. As you all would probably agree, the likeliness that some “thing” called “God” exists is so exceptionally small that it is no longer a question worth debate.

    Which brings me to another point.

    3. Your attacks on organized religion are completely valid. Because you are attacking things that can not only be observed, but can be changed, I think many of you (including this blogger) are on the right side of things.

    However, attacking a belief system is a fruitless endeavor.

    Instead, you all should focus your efforts – not on dispelling rigidly held beliefs – but rather on providing alternatives to the practices that human beings engage in under the guise of a belief system.

    For example, in this post, the blogger is advancing an argument in support of the rights of gay Americans BY ATTACKING an obviously absurd position that some Christians in the United States hold.

    Abandon this strategy. There are a number of powerful arguments that you should be advancing to make your point.

    So someone’s religious? So someone’s not religious? Who cares?

    Many of you on here are validating your own disbeliefs in your own filter bubble. This is the exact same thing that is being done when Christians go to church and talk about how they believe in God.

    Thanks for the engaging debate. I hope no one has taken anything I have said too personally.

    • http://reasonableconversation.wordpress.com Kaoru Negisa

      1. I concede that my understanding of the term atheism was too narrow and not how many atheists actually view this question about God’s existence. I apologize for suggesting I have a greater knowledge of your views than you do…It seems we’re all guilty.

      Your concession is appreciated, but the difference is that if anybody made assumptions about your beliefs, they were made out of ignorance, whereas you directly contradicted people who tried to explain to you what atheism is, telling them that they don’t know what it means to be this thing they identify with, including telling one person that they were not actually an atheist, but an agnostic. That was why I went on my little joke about you being a Zoroastrian (for the record, I quite like Zoroastrians, partially because the name is fun to say, partially because their festivals are interesting, and partially because Freddie Mercury was one and I can’t think of any terrible ones at the moment) and the Pope being Hindu. Yes, we should all avoid strawmen, but it’s a false equivalence to suggest that jumping to a conclusion about somebody’s beliefs is the exact same thing as telling people they don’t know what they’re talking about when they self-identify.

      2…A belief held by any individual is completely valid to that individual, and NO ONE can do anything to reason them out of that belief.

      I disagree. Look at the recent study showing that Millennials are more likely to have no religious faith (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2012/04/21/25-of-millennials-dont-subscribe-to-a-religious-faith/) than previous generations. Look at the conversion stories on Richard Dawkins’s website (http://richarddawkins.net/letters/converts). Look at former evangelical bloggers like Libby Anne at Love, Joy, Feminism (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism) or Josh at Sex and Atheism (http://sexyheathen.com/blog/). These are people who had been reasoned out of their belief. It happens all the time. The New Atheists are particularly good at it by being confrontational, forcing theists to look for evidence to support their position and thereby exposing them to research.

      3…Instead, you all should focus your efforts – not on dispelling rigidly held beliefs – but rather on providing alternatives to the practices that human beings engage in under the guise of a belief system.

      Actually, we do that, too. We do lots of stuff, in fact. Our efforts are doing really well.

      For example, in this post, the blogger is advancing an argument in support of the rights of gay Americans BY ATTACKING an obviously absurd position that some Christians in the United States hold.

      Yes. JT attacks people who call for the death and imprisonment of a segment of the population, or who think that the very action of holding a belief makes it somehow sacrosanct, among other idiotic notions. This idea that we should always be civil is a way for oppressive people to continue to oppress others because they can dismiss any argument so long as its expressed with anger. And that anger is legitimate and should be expressed.

      So someone’s religious? So someone’s not religious? Who cares?

      Well, for one, I do, because their stupid beliefs make my life manifestly worse by denying me rights. On top of that, they miseducate children, hold back scientific advancement, tell women what they can and can’t do, and generally cause a nuisance for everybody who isn’t them. Now, this isn’t all religious believers, but certainly enough that I have to be careful about going out with other men or admitting my atheism in public, so yes, I care very deeply if people are religious or not.

      So, your concern is noted, but we’ve got this whole “engaging other people” thing.

    • jo1storm

      Since you were so nice to have numbered your points, I’ll answer you in numbered points as well.

      1. Care to name an example of people taking assumptions of your own views? Oh, yes, I remember now. You didn’t say anything about your own views, you just attacked other people’s. Even more, you still didn’t define word “God” you so carelessly throw around. That way, we can’t really know what exactly are you on the edge about existing or not. (personal god? Deist god? Love? Feeling of wonder?)

      2. See Kaoru Negisa’s reply above to why your assumptions of unchanging beliefs are wrong and why should you care what other people believe. Seriously, can you post proof of anything you claim, before simply continuing as if it is a fact?

      3. Care to name some better strategies than attacking (baseless) assumptions of others by asking them for evidence for them? Btw, you remind me of this guy.

      • http://reasonableconversation.wordpress.com Kaoru Negisa

        I linked to that comic, too! %)

        Looks like it’s more obvious a comparison than I thought.

        Good point on #1, I hadn’t considered that aspect of it.

      • Anonymous

        I did define the word God in my original post.

        “an omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent deity”

        Read the responses again, many on here have made many assumptions about my own views, have thought I was trying to defend the idea that God does exist. I never did that. If you can’t see that people were making assumptions about my own views based on the nature of the responses, then clearly you cannot read context. That, or cannot deliberate in good faith.

        I was making a general statement that individuals who are firm believers in something cannot easily be reasoned out of these belief systems. Mounds of psychological research backs my opinions. The anecdotes advanced earlier do not suffice to support the claim that attacking people for their beliefs makes them change them.

        What’s your natural intuition when someone challenges what you believe in and says your wrong? Well, I would gather that it would not be to say, “oh, yeah, you’re right, that makes sense”. I think the responses to my posts are more to my point on this point.

        Better strategies:

        Let me share with you a metaphor about what you all are trying to accomplish:

        Let’s say you work at a carnival booth. You sell cotton candy. Your competitor next to you sells peanuts.

        Instead of proclaiming how wonderful your cotton candy is, you spend your entire time telling your prospective customers how awful the peanuts sold next door are.

        The customers, being turned off by your marketing tactics, go for the peanuts.

        This is an anecdote, but illustrates the point that atheists strategy is all wrong.

        Someone earlier mentioned humanism. If that’s your shtick, that’s where your focus should be. Not on debunking something that cannot be debunked like whether or not God exists.

    • AylaSophia

      “[Atheism] tries to use reason/science/observation/senses to try to convince someone that a belief rooted in none of those things is wrong.”

      Because a belief rooted in none of these things is wrong. I don’t even care about the specifics of the belief. If it isn’t rooted in reason/science/observation, what is it rooted in? Imagination? Fantasy? If that’s the case, then the belief will be incorrect. Even if the belief seems valid, the way you arrive there is important. For example, one could state “I believe the sky is blue! I believe this because the sky-painting gremlins who made it that color told me!” This belief is obviously nonsense, even though the sky is indeed blue. Being correct about a specific doesn’t make the rest of it true.

      An atheist can hold onto beliefs that cannot be proven and still be atheists, because we arrive at those beliefs from a place of logic, reason, and observation.

      Also. Anon, you are still coming off as HELLA condescending. Referring to “the blogger” tells me that you haven’t done even the cursory reading to know anything about the people who contribute to this blog, what their goals and accomplishments are. And yet you come in lecturing all us indefensibly-positioned atheists about what we really should be doing with our lives. (If you’d read even the last week’s posts here, you’d know that JT has been working at Camp Quest, a summer camp program that gives a secular alternative to “bible camps.” And that’s just one recent example.)

      • Anonymous

        If you have a belief in something that can be tested and observed, then it is no longer a belief, but a hypothesis.

        One claims the sky is not blue. Hypothesis, not a belief because you can go outside and easily test the hypothesis.

        The earth is some 4000 years old. Hypothesis, not a belief because you can test this hypothesis in a number of ways and see that it’s a ridiculous hypothesis.

        We did not evolve from lower primates. Hypothesis, not belief because it can be tested. Hundreds of years of research support a theory of evolution.

        An omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent deity exists. Belief, cannot be tested. Cannot be proven or disproven.

        To run around and say that you know one way or the other (however arbitrary or pointless the item in question may be) is POINTLESS. Hence, atheism is not a worthwhile endeavor.

        Questioning the hell out of people who say dumb things about phenomenon that can be tested using the scientific method – of course they should be corrected. There is a distinction.

        You all are missing the point that reason and logic simply cannot answer this question about God’s existence. Period.

        Atheists, on the question of God’s existence, have no way to say

        • jo1storm

          “an omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent deity”

          Ok, now we’re getting somewhere, even if it is glaringly obvious you really don’t want to go there. :)

          I would like you to define every single word you used in your definition of god. There are two reasons for that:
          1) Depending how you define any of those things, you either a)believe in logically inconsistent being with mutually exclusive atributes or think one might exist (see invisible pink unicorn for metaphor of such being) or b)don’t know what those words mean

          2) I still can’t see if/how such a being effects this universe in any way (see my first post above. Do you believe in physical god or Deist, First Mover Outside The Universe god?). I still can’t tell whether you believe in a god that can’t be detected or the above quoted definition.

          Let’s say you work at a carnival booth. You sell cotton candy. Your competitor next to you sells peanuts.

          Instead of proclaiming how wonderful your cotton candy is, you spend your entire time telling your prospective customers how awful the peanuts sold next door are.

          The customers, being turned off by your marketing tactics, go for the peanuts.

          Finally, to spread your metaphor further, it would be as if I was selling cot. candy to people wanting snack and many people were selling rat droppings as chocolate- covered peanuts. I know what they are, because I saw them make their merchandise. In fact, I tell to people if they just scratch the surface coating of “chocolate”, they should find a peanut below if it really were chocolate covered peanut.

          Now, it might be that some people like the taste of it or don’t want to think they were tricked into buying shitty merchandise, but it’s the way of the world. Even better, if you want to make this metaphor work hard, all those “peanuts” sellers claim that theirs is the only one genuine merchandise, that all the others are indeed selling rat droppings, but, and this is important, none of them shows their bag of peanuts, their wats of chocolate and people dipping peanuts in it.

          And all the peanut sellers agree that I don’t really sell sweet cotton candy on a stick, but my naturally sweet charamelised piss, despite everybody knowing that such thing doesn’t exist and breaks the laws of nature. How’s that for a metaphor?

          If you have a belief in something that can be tested and observed, then it is no longer a belief, but a hypothesis.

          An omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent deity exists. Belief, cannot be tested. Cannot be proven or disproven.

          You are again messing with definition of words, this time word belief/beliefs. You are using narrower definition of it in your previous post than is the usual usage, without any indication it is so. It sounds like you’re backpedalling in this one. Belief is what people believe, with or without evidence for it. That is all there is to it.

          Now, if such a belief can be tested and turns out to be supported in reality, that is a good, defensible belief. If it isn’t supported in reality, then it is not and is belief without evidence or despite evidence, aka religious faith. As simple as that. Now, stop mixing faith and belief and occasionally admit when you are wrong.

  • jo1storm

    Oh, yeah. And you don’t get to define your own words.

    An omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent deity exists. Belief, cannot be tested. Cannot be proven or disproven.

    Yes, it can be tested, like any other hypothesis.

    • Anonymous

      I’m not going to debate semantics. You understood my point.

      Furthermore, I never said I believed in a God of any kind. I’m not a “believer”. I was presenting that argument as an example. So quit with all of your fallacious responses.

      And, no, it cannot be tested, and certainly not with the scientific method. For someone who places such emphasis on reason, you are making an illogical conclusion. This has been debated for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years, and so far NO ONE has been able to come up with a defensible solution or proof one way or the other.

      And the point of the metaphor was not to characterize the quality of each of the contrasting positions. The point of the metaphor was to illustrate that the tactics employed by many atheists to try to change the minds of individuals, namely being intolerant of a belief system, is a BAD strategy.

      If you want to challenge some of the actions or patterns of thinking that you disagree with that reside under a guise of religion, then by all means. But that is different from challenging a belief in something like God.

      If you are so convinced that God does not exist, then why not move on from the question? Why insist to those that believe that they’re wrong?

      You might think you are different from the people you take issue with, but I can honestly say that intolerance occurs at the extremes, and you, brothers and sisters, are at one of them.

      People who do wrong by others – that’s the kind of stuff you all should be fighting against. Whether you know it or not, many of you have made a false connection between a belief and the bad you see “believers” do.

      Making that false connection is a very grave mistake. You MUST separate what someone believes in from their actions, because they are separate. A belief in something like a God DOES NOT lead to one to be an awful person. It also has no bearing on how smart or rational they are. Beliefs can be powerful tools to those that have them, and you should not waste your time trying to tell them that they should abandon something that apparently works for them.

      When you make a judgment about an individual for a belief they hold, however dumb or stupid it may seem to you, you are cutting them short.

      I believe that empathy is a human intuition. Compassion derives from our ability to empathize. Have some compassion for someone who might not have reasoned their way to not believing in God. They are NOT wrong, and neither are you.

      • jo1storm

        It’s not arguing about semantics; I’m seriously trying to find out what your personal beliefs are, so I wouldn’t sell you short or do many of the replies have taken assumptions about my own
        views, and in turn have presented fallacious straw-man arguments to tear down my “point”.

        this.

        It’s really hard when you are dodging my questions all the time, even when they are to the point like “Hey, what sort of god do you think might be there? Choose options a), b), c),d) or e)none of the above?”

        On one hand, you give definition of god that can be found affecting the world. On the other, you insist that god cannot be detected as if he/she/it doesn’t exist. That’s… confusing to me.

        I know what was the point of your metaphor. The point of mine was that your point was invalid, because your metaphor didn’t take all parameters into account.

        You might think you are different from the people you take issue with, but I can honestly say that intolerance occurs at the extremes, and you, brothers and sisters, are at one of them.

        If by intolerance you mean asking pointy questions and pressing for answers, guilty as charged. :) And if you think that what people believe and know about the world has no influence on their actions, you are sadly mistaken. Hell, there’s whole science that is all about organisations tapping into human knowledge and using it, thus changing the range of their actions.
        It’s called knowledge management.

        Now, will you be a good comment poster and reply to few of my questions regarding what you think and believe or not? There might be a cake afterwards if you do :) .

  • http://www.improbablejoe.blogspot.com Improbable Joe

    I am not saying that people who support the rights of homosexuals are awful people, but when you mock others beliefs simply because they don’t agree with you, your point does not get across.

    This is the most irritating, frustrating rhetorical trick that the bigots love to use. They strip the discussion of all context, and reframe it as a difference of opinion with the same weight and meaning and disagreeing about what toppings to order on a pizza. It is dishonest as hell to pretend that they’re being mocked and attacked for disagreeing instead of for the content of their beliefs and the words and deeds that spring from them.

    • anteprepro

      Agreed that it is a despicable rhetorical trick. But, like all arguments like that, it is pretty easy to show why it is stupid: Replace the bigotry of choice with any form of bigotry and see if they still think their argument holds. With a thousand Christians clucking the same “I have a right to be homophobic” nonsense, it might wake up a few of them if they don’t also believe that opposing racism, sexism, etc. isn’t also just a matter of opinion and isn’t just a harmless right to believe, freedom of speech issue.