Stalin Was a Mass Murderer (And I’m Not Too Sure About Myself)

Stalin Was a Mass Murderer (And I’m Not Too Sure About Myself) May 20, 2019

Stalin is a popular marionette for many Christian apologists. “Don’t tell me about Christian atrocities during the Crusades or the Inquisition,” they’ll say. “The atheist regimes in the twentieth century of Stalin, Mao, and others killed far more people!”

Fellow Patheos blogger John Mark Reynolds from the Evangelical channel has a new angle on that: “Hoping Atheists (Or at Least Anti-Theists) Do Not Kill Us This Time.” Apparently, you’ve got to keep an eye on those out-of-control atheists to make sure they don’t kill us all.

The connection between atheism and genocide

Reynolds makes clear that he’s not fearful of all atheists. It’s only the anti-theists, which he defines as atheists who “actively dislike and work against religion.” That sounds like me. If you’re in the same boat (or know someone who is), come along as we find out why “these are the atheists that have proven dangerous in power and are worrisome to civil society.”

Reynolds gives three reasons for connecting anti-theists with genocide.

1. “The atheists of Russia, China, North Korea, Cambodia, [and] Albania came to their atheism and then picked a social and economic system compatible with their general worldview.”

Nope. These were dictatorships, and religion was a problem. You can’t have a proper dictatorship with the church as an alternate authority. Solution: eliminate religion. Atheism was merely a tool.

The only nations that have been officially atheistic have been uniformly horrible.

And they’ve all been dictatorships. Let’s put the blame where it belongs. This mistake is like pointing to Stalin and Hitler and saying, “It must be the mustaches! Men with mustaches have killed millions!

Did Harry Truman kill several hundred thousand in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the name of Christianity? If not, then don’t say that Stalin killed millions in the name of atheism. Or if you do, make clear the causal connection, which Reynolds hasn’t done (h/t commenter epeeist).

2. “Atheism was used as a reason for persecution in all of these nations.”

Control was the reason for persecution in dictatorships. Atheism was just a tool, like a scalpel used to murder.

Reynolds next goes on a poorly thought out rant about morality.

  • There is no check against genocide in atheism. And there is no check against genocide in chemistry, either. Neither has a moral rulebook. Atheism is the simple lack of god belief, not a worldview, and it neither advocates nor rejects genocide. Christianity, by contrast, does have a moral rulebook, and it sucks. Next, Reynolds claims that Christianity has a “built-in check on genocide,” which is completely false. God luvs him some genocide and demanded it often in the Old Testament.
  • “Christians are told to love their enemies.” If you go into the Bible looking for this, you can indeed find it, but Reynolds imagines that this is an unambiguous message in the Bible. It’s not. Did you hear about the American pastor who demanded that we stone gays? Being consistent with the Bible isn’t so loving.
  • “An anti-theist creates his own values.” And Christians don’t? There is nothing in the Bible about transgender people, euthanasia, or chemically induced abortions, and Christians must improvise in response to new situations just like the rest of us.
  • Not all atheists are selfish, though they aren’t acting decently because of atheism. Atheists are decent for the same reason you are—how you are programmed as a Homo sapiens and the influence of your environment and society.

3. “There is a nearly perfect track record of officially atheist states killing large numbers of innocent people to this day. When atheists gain power and can impose an anti-theism, they have always started killing people.

You’ve convinced me: dictatorships are a problem. But you have yet to show atheism as a cause of anything.

Reynolds imagines the powerless atheists saying that they would rule more sensibly than the Christians if given the chance, but “large mass movements dedicated to selfishness or to ideology ([Ayn] Rand or Communism) have [no] external authority to allow the common member of society to rebuke the leaders.” But you do? Christians imagine an objective morality that isn’t there.

Notice an important difference. Atheists are as offended by the actions of Stalin and other dictators as much as Christians. No atheist says, “Well, we do have to cut the guy a little slack. He was an atheist, after all.” Contrast that with the Bible’s mass murderers—Joshua, Moses, God. Perhaps it’s the Christians who are on the wrong side of this issue (h/t Mr. Deity).

A bad bishop can be rebuked based on professed Christian beliefs.

A bad bishop’s actions can also be supported by Christian beliefs. “Love your neighbor” and rules for slavery are both in the Bible.

A bad atheist cannot [be rebuked] since atheism has no creed or necessary beliefs beyond not believing in God, a life force, or a higher power.

Bingo! And your argument is now in a heap at your feet. Atheism is a lack of god belief; that’s it. No one has ever been killed in the name of atheism.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Christianity.

My analysis of Reynolds’ argument is concluded in part 2.

God used floods and plagues to kill people.
Why command the Israelites to do the dirty work?
That’s not a god, it’s a Godfather.
— commenter Greg G.

.

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 4/27/15.)

Image from Wikimedia, CC license

.

"Canadians have maple syrup and bacon chips. Those are great."

Top 20 Most Damning Bible Contradictions
"As Robert M. Price has said (paraphrasing), "Anything worth remembering as words of Jesus, is ..."

Slapping Down the “Reconstruct All But ..."
"Precisely sort of that it's what I meant. It was quite a shock when I ..."

Slapping Down the “Reconstruct All But ..."
"I do appreciate the links, seriously. That saves me work.My to-be-read pile is large. (You ..."

Can We Reconstruct the New Testament ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


TRENDING AT PATHEOS Nonreligious
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • JustAnotherAtheist2

    It’s interesting that he makes the distinction between atheism and anti-theism, yet fails to make a similar distinction between anti-theism rooted in humanism vs. that rooted in totalitarianism. I wonder why that is…..

    He also has a rather prominent typo here by misspelling “uninformed” in this sentence.

    However, much of the state mass murder of the twentieth century and that is happening now (see China and North Korea) probably have atheism as a cause. Here is why sensible people think this is true:

    Hopefully he’s acquired better editors in the past three years

    • Kit Hadley-Day

      ‘I wonder why that is…..’

      because he is a disingenuous weasel who is smart enough to not deep six his own, incredibly shallow, argument.

  • Considering that the biggest mass genocide in human history was committed by Christian mercantilists and capitalists, starting in 1492 and continuing to this day, I find John Mark Reynolds’ argument ridiculous.

  • RichardSRussell

    Atheism is a lack of god belief

    I prefer to phrase it as “Atheism is an absence of god belief”, since the word “lack” implies that you’re missing something you really should have, such as a conscience.

    • Grimlock

      I actually prefer to think of that as nontheism, and as atheism as more of the belief in the non-existence of gods.

      • RichardSRussell

        In doing so, you exclude from the ranks of atheism more than a billion “original atheists” — people who never lost the atheism they were born with, because they were never presented with any reason to do so. Regardless of whether you think your approach is a legitimate linguistic move, it’s a terrible political move, because you’re consciously discarding all those potential fellow travelers.

        I cite as my go-to source for the definition of “atheism” George H. Smith’s Atheism: The Case against God, in which he identifies atheism/theism as your answer to the yes/no question “Do you believe in God?” and gnosticism/agnosticism as your answer to the question “How strongly do you hold that opinion?”.

        • Grimlock

          That’s certainly one way of looking at it. Here’s another.

          By using the term nontheism (or perhaps non-religious) I include all the people who ain’t theists, without lumping in people who don’t self-identify with the term “atheist”. I avoid the baggage of the atheist term. That doesn’t seem like a horrible political move to me.

          Also, as you pointed out, it’s a decent linguistic move.

        • Kodie

          People should get over the “baggage” of the term. I was raised secular and thought I was an atheist, and thought, if someone says they are x, or asks what religion I am, why couldn’t I answer “atheist”. That fills the category of the question. Why did they change the name of the channel on Patheos? I find that people are too fucking sensitive, and it’s time we just say atheist and they shouldn’t have a reaction. You know where that reaction comes from? Bias influenced by their religious practices. They are not only taught how to obey god and the bible in whatever particular way, but they are biased against not believing in god, as per the subject of this article. In a tolerant, freedom-of-religion type of way, everyone has the freedom of pride and expression of their religion, and Christians especially take this for granted. Why can’t atheists? Why does everyone shy away from a term that describes them? It’s Christian bias.

        • Grimlock

          Why does everyone shy away from a term that describes them?

          Except not everyone thinks that the term describes those who merely lack a belief.

          I’m completely fine with people preferring different definitions (and it’s not like I’m entirely consistent in my uses of the term), and there are several ways of using the term that makes sense. (Somewhat depending upon the context.)

          What I don’t agree with is making as if it’s only one valid use of the term “atheist”. That’s just not the case.

        • Kodie

          Who is defining the term so that people it applies to are afraid or even superstitious to use it for themselves?

        • Grimlock

          I feel like we’re talking about different things.

          My point is this: It is perfectly valid to define “atheism” as the belief that there is no gods. It is not the only valid definition, and neither is it sensible to hold that the only valid definition of atheism is that it’s a lack of belief.

          Do you agree with this?

        • Kodie

          No.

        • Grimlock

          Ok. Would it be accurate to say that you hold that the only valid/sensible definition of atheism is something like “not believing that there exists some god(S)” ?

          If so, why do you hold that to be true?

        • Kodie

          Theists mistake atheism to atheists as the belief that there is no god. I do not agree with that definition, and don’t let theists define my label for me.

        • Grimlock

          Interesting. A couple of remarks.
          1. There are several non-theists who hold to the definition of atheism as it being the belief in the non-existence of god(s). I am one, and, as far as I can tell from his SEP article on atheism and agnosticism, Paul Draper is another.
          2. Beyond a contrarian sentiment, you haven’t provided any reason for why one definition is superior to another.

        • Kodie

          Do you believe there is no god?

        • Grimlock

          Yes.

        • Kodie

          Maybe it’s different because you’re in another country, but in the US, theists are taught and preached that atheists BELIEVE IN THE FACT THAT THERE IS NO GOD, and that is what makes us evil, because that makes it a competing and poisonous religious belief in something that cannot be proven, thus they challenge us to prove the negative all the fucking time. They are taught that there is a god, and if you are some silly fool or a heretic or a tyrant who wants to do away with their religion, it’s the source of all sorts of rumors and bullshit.

          The word is poisoned by theists, and we need to take it back. Theism is belief, and A- means not, not- or non-belief.

          You tell me a story about your imaginary friend “god”, and I DO NOT BELIEVE THAT. That’s the precise meaning. You believe in a god or gods, and I just simply do not. That’s the precise meaning. There is no assertion that there’s no god in the word ‘atheism’.

        • Grimlock

          I think I see what you mean. However, I don’t find that to be all that compelling, in the sense that I don’t find it to be a compelling reason to insist that it’s the only sensible meaning of the term “atheism”.

          I realize that you want to normalize the term. Which clearly is a good thing.

        • Kodie

          I have a couple things to say, trying to stay focused:

          At least as long as I’ve been participating on blogs about atheism, I’ve understood “the belief that there is no god” to be a theist interpretation, i.e. how theists are taught that atheism is a religion. We continue to be oppressed by their false impression, and they refuse to be corrected. Some think we really believe in god, that we hate god, or are rebellious. I mean, they try to tell us what we think, and refuse to listen to actual atheists.

          They clearly are not willing to see the issue that they are making the claim out of basically thin air (and thousands of years of historical privilege of not having to think for themselves, that there is a god, and my response, my atheism, is “I do not believe you.” It’s pretty simple. Asserting there is no god is a religion, and my understanding is that purely is not what atheism is. That is a misnomer embedded in the culture and widely accepted because Christianity is a dirty filthy liar, that is obscuring the whole conversation, because theists already have their biases. I don’t mean atheists are the only victims of this vicious rumor – these dumb fucks believe everything they’re being told, in good faith, no pun intended. More than anything, that misconception probably causes the most friction, as they are unwilling to accept a fucking thing any atheist says about themselves…. because we’re untrustworthy, you know. Their arguments for what we really think are better than ours. Can you think of a more disrespectful and intolerant thing? I understand the irony or hypocrisy, but I’ve witnessed this, and why I continue to need this outlet to express myself, which I am still not able to do on this topic in real life without fear of negative consequences*.

          I’ve also been one of the only ones to speak out for the atheist who does fall under this definition. I have been and have known atheists who do not know what the fuck they’re talking about either. I’m not a former theist, but my impression of atheism was influenced by the cultural attitudes. I mean, on one hand, I grew up kind of idealistic. I’m a woman and an atheist, and I thought things would be different by the time I grew up. They weren’t. I thought being an atheist fills the slot traditionally people ask what religion you are, or you identify, and because I grew up amid people who were Hindus, Jews, Muslims, etc., who didn’t have to hide, and seemed generally accepted as a cultural difference they could be proud of, I thought atheist was also a valid answer, and found several times that it was not really safe to reveal it.

          I’m also sure that there are theists who are mad at god and label themselves atheists, as there seem to be teens and young adults who become disillusionedenchanted and start to become … rebellious. I mean, Catholicism itself. It’s become a tragic pile of shit that needs to collapse, but I can also understand being attracted to community, to tradition, and even if you’re not a really pious Catholic, those sentimental ads where a religion claims to have the values you simply cannot have without it, so come back. Fighting with your parents that you don’t believe in god, they throw you out of the house so you don’t bring the influence of Satan, and they disown you from contacting your other children, well, who knows how intellectual those arguments are? It’s not like knowing you are attracted to the same sex, while accepting the will of others who try to “correct” you. You can be 50 with a terrible reason to “hate god” and you can be 15 with a great reason to reject the assertions of theists, but I’m not saying there aren’t theists who adhere to and identify with the label of atheism they’ve been taught at church.

          *If atheism is or can be classified as a religion, what’s wrong with it? In the US, it seems universally mocked as “just a religion” because belief in something, belief that there is no god, puts the burden of proof on atheists, but it still doesn’t take a burden of proof off theists that they are trying to remove. I say I don’t believe in any gods. Christians are dominant, but at least where I live, generally seem to (I could be wrong) be of the “coexist” philosophy. All religions warn against the superstitious assertion that “there is no god” and that’s why I think that definition is powerful, and why I’m against it, even though I can’t deny some self-assessed atheists would define themselves accordingly. I mean, there just seems to be so much additional superstition why most theists are afraid of atheists, afraid of atheism, afraid to even tempt their eternal fate on considering without ridicule that “there is no god”, or being friends with, or hiring, or voting for, etc., with anyone who calls themselves an atheist.

          It’s generally safer to admit you are agnostic, which makes you sound like you are open-minded. Theists feel like you aren’t telling them there is no god. Like you might take up their religion or another religion, all the same to them, at least in the Northeastern US where I live and grew up. I mean, I really don’t know what it’s like to tell your Catholic friend you’re a Jew, whether that might be tense for some people, but I’ve never known a Jew who needs to keep it a secret because there’s so many more Catholics around. I am saying this as someone who might have lost my last job because the staff was in a sharing circle to get to know everyone at the beginning of the school year, and I went last. I was the only atheist, and I thought, given the mission of this group, my culture was as valid as anyone else’s. I forgot my boss was a superstitious motherfucker, and didn’t have my job another whole week.

        • Grimlock

          Kodie, I’ll have to take some time to get back to you. I want to make a thorough answer, and that’s a pain to do on the phone. I think I’ll have time tomorrow.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The word “atheist”, from the Greek “atheos” via the French “athéiste” just means “without god”.

          Over time, other stuff has been bolted on.

          Back in the day, anyone who didn’t follow the particular god of the person making the pejorative against the non-believer, was an atheist.

          So in ye olde dayes, in Europe, anyone not a Christian, regardless of what other god they may have followed, was deemed an atheist. Because all other gods don’t count.

          Atheism is, in the broadest sense, the absence of belief in the existence of deities. Less broadly, atheism is the rejection of belief that any deities exist. In an even narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities.

          The way it plays out to me is that “atheists” are people “without gods”, but their “atheism” can be different to various descriptions. Then what ya have is an “atheist+”.

          http://www.humanreligions.info/types_of_atheism.html

          I class myself as an igtheist atheist.

          http://www.humanreligions.info/types_of_atheism.html

        • Kodie

          So basically, the word atheist is anyone the theists label as not belonging to the group. I dislike the idea that people in a religious group are brought to believe that words come from god, like love, justice, or family values, etc., so they think these beliefs have more validity, so they also label anyone who doesn’t belong, rather than the non-believer being allowed to label themselves. Theist can refer to any religion, not only Christian, and I am an atheist, I don’t believe the claims of any of them. If any of them were true, they wouldn’t have to warp the language to center themselves in the middle of it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Theist can refer to any religion,…

          Except those atheistic religions of course.

          http://www.humanreligions.info/atheism.html#Religions

          But I get yer point. To many times do we see Christers come along and insist that we are part of a religion of atheism. They just don’t know what ta feck they are talking about.

          They have no more right to dictate their shite labels to us, than we are if we try to tell them they are not proper Christers because x, y, or z.

        • Grimlock

          My favorite bit of trivia is that Christians were called atheists by Romans. (Alas, I couldn’t find the source.)

          I find that as long as one is aware that the term has different meanings, the whole discussion about what “atheism” means is rather uninteresting.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The problem isn’t so much my understanding of how I decide to label myself, it is those ignorant and then stupid believers, that fail to understand what the term means, even after they’ve been repeatedly told what it is not. They regularly turn up on places like this, we had one not that long ago. It bugs the life out of me.

          So when someone prefers to use a completely term so as not to “upset” Christers on a Christian site, how are the knuckle-draggers ever going to learn.

          I have to admit, I was an atheist a long time before I knew that it didn’t really mean baby eating devil worshiper. It only became clear to me when I actually got interested in the subject and started to learn about the arguments and such stuff. Up until then I was a “cafeteria no god believer”.

        • Grimlock

          First, I don’t think I’ve argued that one should use a particular meaning of a term in order to avoid upsetting Christians.

          Beyond that, what I don’t agree with is that there is only one reasonable interpretation of the term. It can be used to mean someone without a belief in god(s). It can also be used to mean someone who believes that there are no god(s). I guess it also can be used to mean a devil-worshipping baby-eater, but I don’t think that’s a very sensible use of the term.

        • Ignorant Amos

          First, I don’t think I’ve argued that one should use a particular meaning of a term in order to avoid upsetting Christians.

          That’s correct, you haven’t. Nor was I suggesting you had. The someone in question would be the likes of Connie Beane in this thread, who suggested that by using the term “non-believer” when engaging Christians, rather than self identifying as an atheist, particularly on religious websites, one is less likely to rub ones adversary up the wrong way. Like I could be concerned about that.

          There was a thing back in my RDFRS days called accomodationism. I don’t hear it much these days. This pandering to religious fuckwits smells to much like it for my liking. Especially with what the fuckwits are up to at the moment.

          I’m a friendly enough sort of chap … I’m not a hostile person to meet. But I think it’s important to realise that when two opposite points of view are expressed with equal intensity, the truth does not necessarily lie exactly halfway between them. It is possible for one side to be simply wrong. ~Richard Dawkins

          Beyond that, what I don’t agree with is that there is only one reasonable interpretation of the term.

          The term means one thing…”without god”.

          It can be used to mean someone without a belief in god(s). It can also be used to mean someone who believes that there are no god(s).

          That’s where the qualifiers comes on board imo.

          For example…

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negative_and_positive_atheism

          I guess it also can be used to mean a devil-worshipping baby-eater, but I don’t think that’s a very sensible use of the term.

          I know.

          Because atheism is one thing, and one thing only…”without god”…so one can be a (devil-worshiping baby-eating) (atheist), but the point I was making is that some Christians think that the depravity of the first part is integral to the definition of the second part, that of being an atheist, which is not only wrong, but idiotically stupid.

        • Grimlock

          I’m not sure if it’s accomodatism, but there is something to be said for not antagonizing your opponent more than is necessary. However, not refering to oneself as an atheist (whether one lacks belief or believes in an absence of gods) really shouldn’t be something one does to avoid upsetting people. (With allowances for some possible, kind of obscure and potentially unrealistic, sceinarios.)

          The term means one thing…”without god”.

          I disagree. It can mean many things, and are clearly used as such. In more philosophically oriented sources, atheism seems to be more commonly used as a belief in the non-existence of god(s). Paul Draper has an interesting analysis of the terms “atheism” and “agnosticism” in his article in SEP, link.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I’m not sure if it’s accomodatism,…

          Many accommodationists feel that “respect” should be given to religious ideas because they are sincerely held by the person who holds them, appear to provide them with an ethical framework that could potentially support humanist decisions, and that aggressively criticizing these beliefs may decrease the willingness of those who hold them to engage with atheist or humanist arguments. Furthermore, many religious people feel that the failure to show such respect undermines the moral position of critics of religion.

          In contrast, many other atheists maintain that “respect” should be earned and be generated as a consequence of an individual being able to clearly explain and defend their beliefs as empirically justified, rather than effective in shaping ‘good’ behaviour regardless of factual accuracy.

          Not calling oneself an atheist in preference to the term non-believer when engaging theists on a theist website for fear of causing offence or agitation, is being accomadationist.

          …but there is something to be said for not antagonizing your opponent more than is necessary.

          Too late. Just not believing in their fave imaginary entity has already done that. Visiting one of their echo chambers to defend ones position is tantamount to a declaration of war.

          Don’t believe me? Visit Estranged Notions pages of 6 years ago, a place supposedly created specifically for the purpose for…

          StrangeNotions.com is the central place of dialogue between Catholics and atheists. It’s built around three things: reason, faith, and dialogue.

          It very soon became clear that it wasn’t that when the atheist voice became too much.

          I disagree. It can mean many things, and are clearly used as such. In more philosophically oriented sources, atheism seems to be more commonly used as a belief in the non-existence of god(s). Paul Draper has an interesting analysis of the terms “atheism” and “agnosticism” in his article in SEP, link.

          The problem I have with the Stanford link is that it is a bit all over the place. It starts by redefining the word in philosophical terms to something most of the atheists would not sit comfortable with.

          The “a-” in “atheism” must be understood as negation instead of absence, as “not” instead of “without”. Therefore, in philosophy at least, atheism should be construed as the proposition that God does not exist (or, more broadly, the proposition that there are no gods).

          So straight off the bat it is trying to define the word to suit the rest of the article. But then it goes on to define various atheism’s by using extra stuff.

          Claiming to be atheist still requires something else from the claimant in order to understand the position they hold. That’s what I mean by “atheist+”. If someone claims to be a theist, that tells you nothing other than they have god belief. You need a lot more in order to know what sort of theist they are.

          By claiming to be atheist, all you know is I’m without gods. What form my without gods takes, requires more data.

          The problem we have with theists is that they insist they know the extra stuff, much of which no atheist I know ascribes to, and they won’t be told otherwise.

          I’m probably as close to a 7 on the Dawkins scale as it is possible to get without claiming absolute certainty. Which I used to do, but since it is unscientific, I’ve reined back on a wee bit.

        • Grimlock

          Not calling oneself an atheist in preference to the term non-believer when engaging theists on a theist website for fear of causing offence or agitation, is being accomadationist.

          Agreed.

          Too late. Just not believing in their fave imaginary entity has already done that. Visiting one of their echo chambers to defend ones position is tantamount to a declaration of war.

          Don’t believe me? Visit Estranged Notions pages of 6 years ago, a place supposedly created specifically for the purpose for…

          StrangeNotions.com is the central place of dialogue between Catholics and atheists. It’s built around three things: reason, faith, and dialogue.

          It very soon became clear that it wasn’t that when the atheist voice became too much.

          I think you meant to ask me to visit Strange Notions, not Estranged Notions. I’ve already browser some of the older posts of EN. I’ve also seen plenty of references to the Purge that happened a few years ago.

          The problem I have with the Stanford link is that it is a bit all over the place. It starts by redefining the word in philosophical terms to something most of the atheists would not sit comfortable with.

          The “a-” in “atheism” must be understood as negation instead of absence, as “not” instead of “without”. Therefore, in philosophy at least, atheism should be construed as the proposition that God does not exist (or, more broadly, the proposition that there are no gods).

          So straight off the bat it is trying to define the word to suit the rest of the article. But then it goes on to define various atheism’s by using extra stuff.

          Claiming to be atheist still requires something else from the claimant in order to understand the position they hold. That’s what I mean by “atheist+”. If someone claims to be a theist, that tells you nothing other than they have god belief. You need a lot more in order to know what sort of theist they are.

          By claiming to be atheist, all you know is I’m without gods. What form my without gods takes, requires more data.

          The problem we have with theists is that they insist they know the extra stuff, much of which no atheist I know ascribes to, and they won’t be told otherwise.

          I’m probably as close to a 7 on the Dawkins scale as it is possible to get without claiming absolute certainty. Which I used to do, but since it is unscientific, I’ve reined back on a wee bit.

          The point I was making with the SEP article is that atheism is also used to mean the belief in the non-existence of gods. I believe that that serves as an example of this. Do you agree?

          I agree that atheism by itself doesn’t say much. Especially considering the different uses of the term.

          Can we dig into the “belief in absence” thing? Suppose I ask you to sketch out what you find the most epistemically viable way the world “is”. Obviously you’d have to be fairly general and somewhat vague, as we appear to lack quite a bit of knowledge about the world.

          But my question, then, would be whether your most viable way for the world to be would contain any god(s). Presumably it does not. Is this, then, in some way distinguished from you holding that the non-existence of god(s) is the most viable way the world is?

        • Ignorant Amos

          I think you meant to ask me to visit Strange Notions, not Estranged Notions.

          Yeah, dopey me. At least a linked to the correct location. Soz.

          I’ve also seen plenty of references to the Purge that happened a few years ago.

          Two of them…and thousands of comments deleted…not to mention the number of individual banhammers that fell on atheists.

          The point I was making with the SEP article is that atheism is also used to mean the belief in the non-existence of gods. I believe that that serves as an example of this. Do you agree?

          Yes.

          Can we dig into the “belief in absence” thing? Suppose I ask you to sketch out what you find the most epistemically viable way the world “is”. Obviously you’d have to be fairly general and somewhat vague, as we appear to lack quite a bit of knowledge about the world.

          I’m more an “absence of belief” person. My absence of belief is based on the lack of convincing and verifiable evidence. Given that state of affairs, I live my life accordingly.

          First: Absence of belief.

          If I don’t believe there is an “A”, it means that “A” may or may not exist, it’s just that I don’t believe “A” exists. I may be convinced that “A” exists if I’m provided with compelling enough evidence in favor of “A”.

          Second: Belief in absence.

          I believe A does not exist. Therefore, there is no way I can be convinced otherwise, evidence or no evidence. “A” does not exist to me, period. Even if I can’t prove it, because it’s impossible to prove a negative.

          But there are words that do a wee bit more than atheist. Such as Humanist for example.

          Theist on its own doesn’t say much. Christian, Muslim, or Mormon, gets us to what kind of theist.

          Or there are words that are used along with atheist as qualifiers, such as hard and soft, or strong and weak, that help expand the definition. As there is with theist, like fundamental, dogmatic, liberal, and so forth.

          But my question, then, would be whether your most viable way for the world to be would contain any god(s). Presumably it does not. Is this, then, in some way distinguished from you holding that the non-existence of god(s) is the most viable way the world is?

          I see no evidence for a world with a god pulling the levers. Certainly not any of the gods being asserted, that I’m aware of anyway. But I can’t categorically assert there isn’t one, or more. I don’t think there is, but then again, I don’t think I’m a brain in a vat either. What I experience is a world devoid of supernatural entities, they could exist, but I’m not convinced. Nor does the evidence for any, have me convinced to date.

        • Susan

          I see no evidence for a world with a god pulling the levers.

          More importantly, “god” is not even a coherent term, let alone “God”, which remains completely incoherent. It disappears into meaningless deepities when confronted.

          Which is why we’re both igtheists.

          “I don’t believe you when you make god claims” should cover everything nicely.

          I’m not a believer in gods means I’m an atheist.

          The insistence that an atheist claims there is no (are no) god(s) is such a standard version of burden shifting, that I’m curious as to why a contributor as thoughtful and intelligent as Grimlock gives it any credence at all.

          A tiny category of non-belief can be applied to those who believe there isn’t (some incoherent fog called a god or God)…

          But to place the burden of proof on the non-believer is absurd.

          Which is why “What are you claiming and how can you support it?” is my main question.

          If you can’t define it and support it, why should I believe you?

          That doesn’t make it my burden.

          I’m an atheist. (More specifically, an igtheist, for reasons stated above.)

        • Ignorant Amos

          Sound, as always.

          More importantly, “god” is not even a coherent term, let alone “God”, which remains completely incoherent. It disappears into meaningless deepities when confronted.

          Which is why we’re both igtheists.

          Indeed.

          All I would add is, that when engaging the opposition on these issues, we have to take the DA position and argue from the point of the theist’s beliefs.

          Take the genocide fuckwittery and Scooter. I don’t believe any of the shite in the buybull is historical as laid out, but that eejit does, so while not believing the crap, he really does, so we have to argue for the heinous antics being played out in his belief system. Even if we believe none of it. Or even some of it.

        • Grimlock

          Apologies for the delay. The last week has been a little hectic.

          II believe A does not exist. Therefore, there is no way I can be convinced otherwise, evidence or no evidence. “A” does not exist to me, period. Even if I can’t prove it, because it’s impossible to prove a negative

          I don’t see why you include being certain/unable to change one’s mind in this. I believe many things, and most, if not all, are things about which I might change my mind.

          For instance, I believe that no god(s) exist. But I certainly might be wrong. But I do find it to be the most epistemically plausible option.

          I see no evidence for a world with a god pulling the levers. Certainly not any of the gods being asserted, that I’m aware of anyway. But I can’t categorically assert there isn’t one, or more. I don’t think there is, but then again, I don’t think I’m a brain in a vat either. What I experience is a world devoid of supernatural entities, they could exist, but I’m not convinced. Nor does the evidence for any, have me convinced to date.

          I’m not asking for a categorical assertion. I’m simply asking for what you find to be the mos plausible way the world is, and as far as I can tell, the most plausible alternative for you seems to be a world without god(s).

          Comparing this to my perspective above, I fail to see how this is nothing but a distinction without a difference. In other words, I think you fit the criteria of being an atheist in the sense that you believe god(s) don’t exist. (Sorry.)

        • Ignorant Amos

          Apologies for the delay. The last week has been a little hectic.

          No drama, we all have periods of too much on and not enough time to get it done.

          I don’t see why you include being certain/unable to change one’s mind in this. I believe many things, and most, if not all, are things about which I might change my mind.

          I don’t. That’s the difference between the two assertions. There is nothing to prevent anyone from changing ones mind. But at the time one takes the position “belief in absence”, that’s how it’s defined.

          For instance, I believe that no god(s) exist. But I certainly might be wrong. But I do find it to be the most epistemically plausible option.

          In which case you have…

          First: Absence of belief.

          If I don’t believe there is an “A”, it means that “A” may or may not exist, it’s just that I don’t believe “A” exists. I may be convinced that “A” exists if I’m provided with compelling enough evidence in favor of “A”.

          t’s about levels of certainty at the point of making the claim. I’ve a level of certainty about the existence of particular definitions of a god. I’m certain the Christian god doesn’t exist. The attributes make it a logical impossibility as it is commonly described. To that end, I’m a 7 on the Dawkins scale. But being atheist is about more than the existence of one specific god.

          ‘m not asking for a categorical assertion. I’m simply asking for what you find to be the mos plausible way the world is, and as far as I can tell, the most plausible alternative for you seems to be a world without god(s).

          Indeed.

          The question boils down to “Is there a god?”

          Yes, no, or I don’t know. Yes and no are positive claims of knowledge, ergo they need supporting. I don’t know is the rational position.

          What happens is that when talking about the Christian god. I take the position “no”. I believe I can support that position. But when the referring to god as a generalization. The position is “I don’t know”, that’s because I can’t demonstrate it as a fact. I see no evidence to take the position there is a god, so I live my life accordingly, but I can’t be 100% certain. Depending on ones definition of god of course. Something the slippery theists shift about all over the place.

          Comparing this to my perspective above, I fail to see how this is nothing but a distinction without a difference. In other words, I think you fit the criteria of being an atheist in the sense that you believe god(s) don’t exist. (Sorry.)

          No need to apologise, we’re just chewing the cud here.

          The difference is the amount of certainty and what is meant by a god. Which is why something more is required if we need to be specific. Also, the onus is on the person making the ontological claim.

          A video is required from someone more articulate than me.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNDZb0KtJDk

        • Grimlock

          I feel like we’re making progress, at least.

          Three subjects I wanna focus on. Let me know if I miss anything interesting.

          The first is the question of certainty. I am still not sure how you relate that to the different definitions. For instance, I believe that there are no living people who are more than 2,5 m tall, but I hold that belief with a fairly low degree of certainty. Yet I still believe it to the true. Similarly, one might hold that there are no god(s), yet do so with a low degree of certainty. One would then be what you consider a hard/strong atheist. Agree/disagree?

          The second subject is this,

          What happens is that when talking about the Christian god. I take the position “no”. I believe I can support that position. But when the referring to god as a generalization. The position is “I don’t know”, that’s because I can’t demonstrate it as a fact. I see no evidence to take the position there is a god, so I live my life accordingly, but I can’t be 100% certain. Depending on ones definition of god of course. Something the slippery theists shift about all over the place.

          We hold fairly similar beliefs here. I would here consider you to be a “global” agnostic, but a “local” atheist, for instance with respect to the Christian god. If pushed, I might choose to identify similarly, as a “global” agnostic. However, I might also hold to a sufficiently strict conception of what qualifies as a god to be a “global” atheist. (I tend to have minor changes of mind on the subject from time to time.)

          The third subject is the matter of the burden of evidence. I don’t hold that any two ontological claims have an equal burden of evidence. Similarly, I don’t hold that two mutually exclusive positions (e.g. “god exists”/”god doesn’t exist”) necessarily have the same burden of evidence. In fact, with respect to the question we’re discussing, I hold that the burden of evidence is greater for the position that god exists than for the position that god does not exist.

        • Kodie

          What Ignorant Amos said. My take is that the term atheism is used a lot by theists, and that’s where the belief that there is no god really comes from. Maybe some atheists feel that is how they frame their belief, but theists outnumber atheists, and have been labeling gay people sodomites and sinners and going against nature, etc., so is that a valid definition of homosexuality? I felt like the article was using that definition as normalized because its usage is possibly more popular than the definition at least most internet atheists use for themselves. We shouldn’t accept labels and generalizations that get OUR perspectives all wrong. I don’t think the philosopher was totally wrong to observe one definition was very popular, and so considered it valid, well, I mean, maybe it is they did not consider the implications of advocating for that definition.

          There may be atheists who believe there is no god, but that may also derive from the theist propaganda that that’s what an atheist is, so these people frame themselves accordingly. The thing I hate a lot about theism is believers are getting lied to, have always been lied to, and repeat and propagate those lies. I was approached by a woman who wanted to invite me to some interfaith women’s club, and I told her I was an atheist, and she took a second, then said, well that’s a religion too, as I believed there was no god, which really upset me, so I told her to fuck off, I don’t want to join a religion club. Stop propagating lies against atheists and let us define ourselves. If you believe there is no god, that is what it is, but it’s not what atheism is to most atheists.

        • Grimlock

          Kodie. My apologies to you for not responding to your long comment yet. Please let me know if we can continue from this comment, or if there’s anything in your other comment to which you’d like me to respond.

          What Ignorant Amos said. My take is that the term atheism is used a lot by theists, and that’s where the belief that there is no god really comes from.

          You might hold this to be true. But that, by itself, provides little justification for me to share your belief.

          Even so. Why should it not be a sensible description? Theists can be right about stuff.

          Maybe some atheists feel that is how they frame their belief, but theists outnumber atheists, and have been labeling gay people sodomites and sinners and going against nature, etc., so is that a valid definition of homosexuality?

          I don’t think that’s a great analogy. A better analogy would be whether one should consider “god-hater” or other such to be accurate labels for atheists. (Clearly, one should not.)

          There may be atheists who believe there is no god […]

          There are. As I mentioned to you before, I am one such person.

          There may be atheists who believe there is no god, but that may also derive from the theist propaganda that that’s what an atheist is, so these people frame themselves accordingly. The thing I hate a lot about theism is believers are getting lied to, have always been lied to, and repeat and propagate those lies. I was approached by a woman who wanted to invite me to some interfaith women’s club, and I told her I was an atheist, and she took a second, then said, well that’s a religion too, as I believed there was no god, which really upset me, so I told her to fuck off, I don’t want to join a religion club. Stop propagating lies against atheists and let us define ourselves. If you believe there is no god, that is what it is, but it’s not what atheism is to most atheists.

          A bit to unpack here. Let me know if I miss anything.

          First, I certainly agree that a lot of believers are being lied to through their religious communities. I suspect even most believers would agree about that, especially if one excepted their own communities.

          Second, I certainly agree that atheism is not a religion. Neither is theism. A religion is typically far more than a position to one philosophical question, as it also entails some such things as a moral framework, a community, rituals, some idea of sacredness, and so on.

          Third, you mention what atheism is to most atheists. I think that one might be tricky to be sure of. A quick glance at the Wikipedia page for atheism in the US shows that your view of what most atheists think is skewered. It quotes a 2014 Pew study in the beginning:

          According to the Pew Research Center in a 2014 survey, self-identified “atheists” make up 3.1% of the US population, even though 9% of Americans agreed with the statement “Do not believe in God” while 2% agreed with the statement “Do not know if they believe in God”.[4]

          More details show the same tendency: Of those who lack a belief in a god, less than half self-identify as atheists. If we were to go the popularity route, most of those you would coin atheists do not agree with your preferred definition.

          (Which, obviously, is not to say that they agree with my preferred definition, or that they’re not influenced by culture. My point is simply that such an appeal to what “atheists” hold to be true doesn’t support your position very well.)

        • Kodie

          Even so. Why should it not be a sensible description? Theists can be right about stuff.

          They are being propagandized that atheism is dangerous, and Christians are predominant in the US. It’s not like, dangerous, like Islam, because they’re not going to switch to Islam, or vice versa. Atheism is a pretty complete denial that their god exists, how they put it, and if they did grow comfortable with atheists and accept that we are regular people with morals and meanings, they would have to accept the challenges that atheism poses to their beliefs. They would much rather keep believing things about us that aren’t true, because their clergy and family elders repeat this prejudice, and don’t believe a word about ourselves from any of our own faces. So many theists come here accusing us of something, condescending, making assumptions and generalizations, and then ignoring whatever we tell them.

          Are you seriously telling me theists are right about twisting atheism into something they fear, in a format they can control themselves from listening to, or being burdened by considering valid reasons not to believe in god, or that atheists are just normal people who don’t eat babies, don’t believe in Satan, and are not trying to take away their right to believe whatever they want?

          I don’t think that’s a great analogy. A better analogy would be whether one should consider “god-hater” or other such to be accurate labels for atheists. (Clearly, one should not.)

          So, being accused and misconceived is not offensive enough unless they call you a filthy name? They are using their privilege against us, and they are using their propaganda to define what we must be. Yes, I’ve been called a Satanist before. Yes, I’ve actually been fired shortly after sharing in a multicultural orientation that I was an atheist. When you say you believe there is no god, you are saying you have to support those beliefs. Can you prove there is no god? Most of us would not be that arrogant, and that’s not even the point. Theism is oppressive, backwards, entitled, etc. Where I live, doesn’t matter, as long as you have some god-belief, I think people, even theists, are liberal enough to get along with each other, but atheists don’t get a pass. All theists are accommodated, as far as I can tell. I am not in conversations where someone gets uncomfortable, but probably doesn’t say something insensitive to a Muslim. I bet that’s the next worst one though for someone to say something stupid, prejudiced, uninformed, and not willing to become informed to correct their prejudices. But I live near a mosque that’s 2 steps from a Hebrew school, in a neighborhood with a visible population of orthodox Jews.

          Of those who lack a belief in a god, less than half self-identify as atheists. If we were to go the popularity route, most of those you would coin atheists do not agree with your preferred definition.

          Can you imagine why someone might not like to identify as an atheist? From having the aforementioned idea that ATHEISTS are cold, bitter, obnoxious, dangerous, militant types, but they’re not one of those. I used to think I was an atheist in my teens, in a less developed way than I am now – I understood that image. Pretty much the only atheists most Christians think they know are the ones who ruin the 10 commandments at their kids’ school, or won’t let them sing songs glorifying Jesus at the town meeting. I wanted to be one of those “co-exist” atheists, like on the bumper sticker. I didn’t want people to think I was a horrible person. And I’m not a horrible person, and I have mentioned my atheism when I felt it was safe to do so, in 5 or 6 circumstances during my adulthood, and it turned out not to be safe. I didn’t try to argue, it was usually a one word answer to someone asking me the awkward question of what religion I am, like a co-worker or a boyfriend I had been seeing a few weeks at least. These people are already poisoned, and the sequence of events never went well. “Spiritual but not religious” seems to be the safest answer possible without totally lying, but that can mean anything, and it sounds pretty flaky to me. Spiritual could mean you think there are souls and a god, but you don’t follow a prescriptive denomination, or it could mean you meditate and practice mindfulness (or want people to think you do), and are an atheist. Couple suspicious variations between those extremes.

          So, ok, if someone bears the description of an atheist, based on what they say about their lack of belief in god, regardless of what they call themselves or how they prefer to answer a poll, they are still an atheist. If someone says some other Christian isn’t a real Christian, how dare they. I would actually be one of the only atheists on this blog who considers anyone who thinks they are an atheist, by whatever definition they use, are an atheist. I say I thought I was an atheist in my teens because I was raised secular and without that much information, did not believe god exists. I did not have any religious information, I did not have any atheist counter-arguments to speak of. I was not active in any community, and had an actually very poor understanding of what it meant to have a religion. I knew some people were hardcore, these fundies (we called them bible-thumbers) and JWs who knocked at the door. For most of the other regular people, such as I am, who would say they were Christian or Catholic or Jew, or in my school, some Hindus also, it was their tradition, like having a hyphenated nationality, like having a large family with more feeling in the tradition of going to church, and by high school, I had been to church maybe 4 times total, not the same church twice, it felt nice there. It felt like you celebrate a special occasion in a very special building with very special decorations and a man up front, or sometimes a team, like a choir or altar boys, turning it into this special, I mean, unusual location to assemble with other people, like an auditorium but way more special.

          I get why church feels like a way to bring your community together, and some of the settings were much more modest than others – I think one might have been a school cafeteria and folding chairs. When you have a holiday or a wedding or a funeral or a new baby, you want your community to come share it with you in an neat-o building, officiated by a man in a silky embroidered dress, chanting shit that sounds like it is a blessing from the universe. It’s a lot the atmosphere.

          I was a young adult before I realized every person with a religion felt somewhere inside themselves very deeply and sincerely that it was true. They didn’t act like they had the best morals or meaning in their lives, and I think that’s where religion also “helps”. Living in a rut, in a routine rushed situation where you have no time for yourself, eat terrible food, and by “act normal”, I mean, “behave competitively and mildly to extremely shitty to their fellow humans”, and don’t make time for church every week to get your refuel, when do these people practice their faith? They just have it. They set it and forget it most of the days of the year. I don’t know what makes most theists different from atheists except their superstition that if they stop believing in god, The thing that makes most theists like that different from atheists is that most atheists don’t talk about their atheism, or bring it up, but theists will invoke their god sincerely from time to time. I had grown up thinking most of it was superficial family tradition, but they are dead serious, there’s a god and a Jesus and they are saved, even if they do mostly petty human acts against their fellow human, not necessarily intentionally, but being crafty, abusing trust situations… I was told a long time ago by a Christian, well, Christians aren’t perfect, but I think if you really believed god was watching and judging you all the time, you’d be different, noticeably. I guess a lot of Christians do depending mostly on their denomination, but not most of the Christians I know. They are on average of regular morality, with calculated theft of someone else’s share of something, and definitely an average amount of lying, and zero murder.

          These are the Christians who reacted so poorly to me admitting I was an atheist, as though “admitting” is inferior to declaring. I don’t say a fucking thing about my atheism unless it comes up. I’m lucky enough to live in an area of the US, where needing to be an activist doesn’t come up. My experience with most Christians is they don’t either bring it up. We all interact socially as though religion is not a topic. I mean, how we were all raised – you don’t mention religion or politics in polite company. I am unprepared to be put on the spot for that conversation, but most Christians assume everyone else is a Christian. They don’t think they know anyone who doesn’t believe the claims they take for granted, and dare I wonder, if they are also not prepared to have that conversation. When it has come up in the past, if I tell someone I’m an atheist, that conversation immediately goes to accuse me for believing there is no god, and that leaves the void, so I must believe in Satan, and they are not willing to listen, they are not willing to let it roll and try to understand me. As unprepared as they might be for an intellectual conversation, they have handy enough offensive tropes and misconceptions, and there is no room in the discussion for me to say anything they’ll believe, coming from a filthy atheist.

          TL;DR – Atheists who believe there is no god are put on the spot to support your beliefs and how you prove or provide evidence that there isn’t a god. Maybe those are atheists who are angry at god, or literally any theist who doesn’t believe what the believer believes is an atheist toward that persons god – you are asserting positively that god does not exist. You ever get any of that? By the nature of atheism, there is no supposition of a god until someone makes the assertion that there is a god. By the nature of our society and the power of suggestion and tradition over people, there are plenty of assertions that there is a god, and sometimes oppressive, and then no room politely or necessarily safely to say “I don’t believe you.” Atheism, to me, is someone says there’s a god and what I’m supposed to take seriously as an argument, and my answer is “I don’t believe you.” I might have more to add, but that’s the essential distinction. Believing in a nothing, that’s something, but not believing there’s something when everyone is talking about it is different. If more people would UNDERSTAND that distinction, it might make more people shedding your definition and embracing mine, and not being so afraid or superstitious of the label itself, or socially demonized for having the label.

          I think I caught a few days or a week ago, you’re not in the US, but in a European country without all these minefields and stigmas. Using the Pew reports is like, well, I already said, people don’t like the term atheist even if they are one! There’s something wrong when people are afraid they will be defined by the majority inconsistent with how they are actually approaching beliefs or non-beliefs in god, so we have to have other terms, and they know there is a hostile reaction by theists to the term. Don’t you think they asked if those who don’t believe in any gods identify with the appropriate term for a reason?

        • Grimlock

          I got this far,

          Are you seriously telling me theists are right about twisting atheism into something they fear, in a format they can control themselves from listening to, or being burdened by considering valid reasons not to believe in god, or that atheists are just normal people who don’t eat babies, don’t believe in Satan, and are not trying to take away their right to believe whatever they want?

          At that point, I realized that we appear to be talking about two entirely different subjects.

          To reiterate my position: The term “atheism” or “atheist” is used in many different ways, and many of the uses are sensible and valid uses. I do not agree with the position that there is only one valid definition of atheism.

        • Kodie

          In context, it was a response to:

          Even so. Why should it not be a sensible description? Theists can be right about stuff.

          And after I just told you why they’re wrong about that particular “stuff”, you just don’t care.

        • Grimlock

          You’re importing a metric ton of baggage into the discussion.

          Perhaps it’s simply your style of argument, but I fail to see any relevance for why I should accept that your preferred definition of atheism is the One True Definition.

        • I’ve come across this when Christians are eager to define atheist in the strongest way (as in, “I’m certain there are no gods”), presumably to give them as many possible avenues of attack as possible. Charitably, they’d allow the person who claims the label to define what they mean, but they’re not often charitable.

        • Grimlock

          That’s annoying, isn’t it? It’s simple to take the time to try to understand the other’s position, but it’s oh so easy to jump ahead…

        • It’s the same problem for lots of words–objective morality, faith, and so on. It’s frustrating to spend half an hour arguing only to realize that you’ve been using different definitions of a key word.

        • Kodie

          They are equating atheism with another religion, and confused about our collective motives – as per the content and subject of this article.

        • Ignorant Amos

          American Atheists define it as…

          Atheism is one thing: A lack of belief in gods.

          Atheism is not an affirmative belief that there is no god nor does it answer any other question about what a person believes. It is simply a rejection of the assertion that there are gods. Atheism is too often defined incorrectly as a belief system. To be clear: Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.

          Older dictionaries define atheism as “a belief that there is no God.” Clearly, theistic influence taints these definitions. The fact that dictionaries define Atheism as “there is no God” betrays the (mono)theistic influence. Without the (mono)theistic influence, the definition would at least read “there are no gods.”

          https://www.atheists.org/activism/resources/about-atheism/

          Therein lies the problem we a discussing. You define as one kind of atheist, I define as another, the word on its own is not enough.

          When a theist is insisting that I’m the one and not the other, and won’t be corrected, is when the issue gets heated. When they insist it is a religion is when my wheels come off the wagon.

        • Grimlock

          I find that AA have a bit of an incentive to make the definition of atheism as wide as they can.

          Therein lies the problem we a discussing. You define as one kind of atheist, I define as another, the word on its own is not enough.

          Note that I’m not insisting that anyone else has to use my preferred definition, but merely that there are multiple valid ways to use and define the term.

        • David Cromie

          This link might help the confused, and the liars for JC, to learn something about where atheism stands in relation to ‘morality’, etc., especially in the case of the US.

          https://friendlyatheist.patheos.com/2019/05/28/research-presented-at-vatican-shows-that-anti-atheist-stereotypes-are-inaccurate/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=BRSS&utm_campaign=Nonreligious&utm_content=361

        • Grimlock

          Interesting link, thanks.

        • David Cromie

          Christers are very fond of reinterpreting words in an attempt to distract attention away from any subject they are uncomfortable dealing with, or to ‘discredit’ their opponents in some way. ‘Atheist’, for me, means a non theist, i.e. I am not able to believe in any supernatural being for which there is no evidence of any kind. I refuse to allow theists to muddy the waters in an attempt to divert the argument away onto their ground. The very real problems with religious belief, and religiots, must not be reduced to mere semantics on such a trivial level. Who the hell cares if christers are upset (what rational reason could they come up with to excuse their being upset?), they don’t mind upsetting others when they invade their space. I don’t know of any atheists going from door trying to engage interest in atheism, for example.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Coincidentally…Friendly Atheist run this story yesterday.

          Research Presented at Vatican Shows That Anti-Atheist Stereotypes Are Inaccurate

          https://friendlyatheist.patheos.com/2019/05/28/research-presented-at-vatican-shows-that-anti-atheist-stereotypes-are-inaccurate/

        • Grimlock

          For the record, I don’t care much what definition you prefer. I simply reject the idea that there is only one valid way to define the term.

          As for atheists going door to door, we’ll, I don’t know about the door part. But there are so-called street epistemologists who approach people on the street with the apparent long term goal of making them atheists.

        • Susan

          what I don’t agree with is that there is only one reasonable interpretation of the term. It can be used to mean someone without a belief in god(s). It can also be used to mean someone who believes that there are no god(s).

          Of course. What it means is that one has no “god” belief. A-theist.

          Either of your definitions can fall under that position.

          It’s very important to note though, that a lack of belief in something ill-defined and unsupported bears no burden.

          “I don’t believe you when you make god claims” is sufficient to make me an atheist.

        • Grimlock

          I realize that this is your preferred way of viewing the term. But why should I reject my preferred used of the term, and instead equate nontheism and atheism?

        • Susan

          I realize that this is your preferred way of viewing the term.

          It’s not so much that it’s my preferred way of viewing the term.

          It’s that people who don’t believe (god)s exist can reasonably be described as atheists.

          Like something that’s not symmetric can be called “asymmetric”.

          I think your preferred way of viewing the term is a tiny subgroup of what the term implies. As I said earlier, it falls under an umbrella. A tiny subgroup under that umbrella is what you’re describing.

          That very tiny subgroup takes on a burden of proof that not being a theist (i.e. being an atheist) isn’t responsible for.

          and instead equate nontheism and atheism?

          If I am not a theist, what am I?

        • Grimlock

          I agree that it’s one way to use the term. I don’t agree that it’s the only way.

          I realize that my preferred way means that the people defined as atheists is a subset of the people you’d define as atheists.

          I disagree about the burden of evidence.

          If I am not a theist, what am I?

          Well, I think we both agree that you can be classified as a non-theists. I also suspect that you actually might qualify as an atheist in the sense that I prefer.

        • Susan

          I disagree about the burden of evidence.

          For what? How so?

          I also suspect that you actually might qualify as an atheist in the sense that I prefer.

          Why?

        • Grimlock

          My answer to the two questions are related.

          Consider the question: does any god(s) exist?

          The only two direct answers are yes and no. There are also such indirect answers as “maybe”, “we can never know”, or “the question is meaningless”.

          If I ask you to tell me which of the direct answers you find most plausible, what would you say? Clearly, you’d not say “yes”. If you say “no”, you qualify as an atheist in the strong sense.

          I suspect that the idea of atheism as a lack of belief is an avoidance of giving a direct answer to the above question.

          Not giving a direct answer doesn’t, as far as I can tell, do much to change the burden of the evidence. And regardless, I find that the atheist has less of a burden than theist.

        • Kodie

          How are you not getting this?

          If no one says anything about a god, there is no question, and the default is, there isn’t, until someone claims that there is.

          Can they support this assertion? In what ways? In what, how many ridiculous, fallacious, piles of horse fece, are they going to grab onto anyone they can with emotional but not rational arguments, that this, and not just “this”, but several dozens of thousands globally and throughout history, many of which do not even agree in the same sect. Not believing any such story is not an assertion that there is no god that I need to support. How far do I have to go to support the assertion that I DO NOT BELIEVE THAT, or that, or that, or that, etc. Until they can put together a plausible and credible account and demonstrate evidence that the things they cannot explain, the things that delude them with emotional appeal, are actual, “I don’t believe that” is all I need to say. That’s all an atheist is.

          You can, of course, go further, and say “there is no god,” but don’t put words in other people’s mouths, or define atheism as that and ignore the other, perpetuating damaging stereotypes that theists are brainwashed to hate us for. The burden of proof is for those who assert there is something, not for the people who don’t believe their assertions and bull dook arguments.

        • Grimlock

          I fail to see the relevance of the epistemic weakness of a theistic position.

          As for your insistance that “this” is what an atheist is, your insistence is not really very convincing to me.

        • Susan

          I suspect that the idea of atheism as a lack of belief is an avoidance of giving a direct answer to the above question.

          It is not a direct question.

          What is a god?

          I always ask them “What are you claiming (when you say “god”) and how do you support it?

          I am an igtheist. I can’t help it. That has everything to do with their claims, not with my reluctance to take a position.

          Not giving a direct answer doesn’t, as far as I can tell, do much to change the burden of the evidence.

          Whoever makes the ontological claim has the burden.

          But their claims are incoherent. Those few that aren’t, are usually disproven.

          I don’t accept the term “god” without reasonably precise definitions.

          The very few who provide reasonably precise definitions don’t support the definitions nor support the claim.

          (I am being charitable by suggesting that “infinite being” is reasonably precise.)

          I am not a theist. I fall under the umbrella of “atheism” because I am an igtheist.

          I don’t reject your definition. You are trying to restrict it to your definition.

          Mine includes yours.

          Yours excludes most others (including mine).

        • Grimlock

          I agree that the term “god” generally is not very well defined. However, the question is still direct even if one of the terms is badly defined. Also, I generally find that if I supplant “god” with “conscious entity whose existence is independent of anything else, and in some way created the universe” it’s close enough to make the question meaningful.

          (I don’t find “infinite being” to be sufficiently precise unless this is elaborated on.)

          With respect to the burden of evidence, it two parties each make an ontological claim, it does not follow that they have an equal burden of evidence. Do you agree?

          I don’t reject your definition. You are trying to restrict it to your definition.

          Mine includes yours.

          Yours excludes most others (including mine).

          What I have been very clear on is that I have a preferred definition, but that I also find that other definitions are sensible and valid. As far as I can tell, I’m the only one in this discussion who do not wish to restrict all other uses of the term “atheism” to their preferred definition.

          As far as inclusion goes, clearly, your preferred definition of atheism covers as set of people, of which the set of people covered by my preferred definition is a subset. How is this relevant? Clearly, a definition is not necessarily better or worse depending on the size of the set of people that it includes.

          One interesting situation is this. Let the set A1 be the set of people who do not believe in god(s). Let A2 be the set of people who believe that there are no god(s). Then, we have the following:
          1. A2 is a subset of A1.
          2. More than half the people in A1 does not self-identify as atheists.
          3. A substantial number of people who self-identify as atheists are not in A1.

          Fun, isn’t it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          With respect to the burden of evidence, it two parties each make an ontological claim, it does not follow that they have an equal burden of evidence. Do you agree?

          It matters not whether we agree or not. That is not the problem. What is the problem is when the theist puts your preferred definition of atheism on me and then insists I have a burden of proof. Regardless of the ratio of burden vis a vis the “a god exists” position.

          What I have been very clear on is that I have a preferred definition, but that I also find that other definitions are sensible and valid.

          Not something being contested.

          As far as I can tell, I’m the only one in this discussion who do not wish to restrict all other uses of the term “atheism” to their preferred definition.

          Nope. When you , I, and A. N. Other atheists interact. The umbrella term “atheist” just isn’t specific enough to define what kind of atheist we all are. What the problem we seem to be having is that when “we” say “we” are atheist, it matters not a jot what kind of atheist each of us is for general purposes. The common denominator is “without gods” and that is good enough for all concerned. If I require further detail, I can ask. I don’t insist on my definition being the correct one, even if it appears to be the most popular. Where the problem lies, as has been pointed out, is when a believer wants to cherry-pick a specific definition and apply their preferred definition of the word in a generalization to all atheists, which just happens to be your preferred definition, then they assert and demand that the two positions are ontologically equal and therefore they can weasel out of the onus for burden.

          As far as inclusion goes, clearly, your preferred definition of atheism covers as set of people, of which the set of people covered by my preferred definition is a subset.

          I disagree with this. Your definition, my definition, and Susan’s definition, are all subsets of the “without gods” definition of atheist. They all add a caveat.

          How is this relevant?

          It becomes relevant when asked for evidence.

          Clearly, a definition is not necessarily better or worse depending on the size of the set of people that it includes.

          No. But I don’t think that’s where our differences lie. It is more that a definition is necessarily better or worse depending on the number of subsets of people that it includes. Particularly when the subsets are wide and varied.

          Someone defining as a scientist tells us nothing about the discipline of science the scientist is a scientist in. Someone defining as a theist tells us nothing about the potentially infinite number of gods they believe in. Someone defining as an atheist would be more narrowly defined than the two previous examples, but there still needs something added to take it from “without gods” to the difference between your atheism and my atheism, then something further to igtheism.

          One interesting situation is this. Let the set A1 be the set of people who do not believe in god(s). Let A2 be the set of people who believe that there are no god(s).

          The way I see it is, A is the set of people who are “without gods”. A1 is the subset who hold an absence of belief in gods, A2 is the subset of people believing in the absence of gods?

          Then, we have the following:
          1. A2 is a subset of A1.

          Nope, A2 and A1 are both subsets of A.

          2. More than half the people in A1 does not self-identify as atheists.

          It doesn’t matter what folk self-identify as, if they are de facto the definition of the word. And it bothers me not if they do, it’s when they want to assert their definition onto me is when it becomes an issue.

          3. A substantial number of people who self-identify as atheists are not in A1.

          But they are in A, which is my point.

          Fun, isn’t it.

          Only up to a point.

        • Grimlock

          It matters not whether we agree or not. That is not the problem. What is the problem is when the theist puts your preferred definition of atheism on me and then insists I have a burden of proof. Regardless of the ratio of burden vis a vis the “a god exists” position.

          Isn’t the problem, then, that the theist have an erronous view of how the burden of evidence is distributed, and not what an atheist is?

          Not something being contested.

          Perhaps. But I wanted to be clear, as when Susan said that I was trying to restrict something to my definiton, that could be perceived as contesting that. (Not the only interpretation, by all means.)

          Nope. When you , I, and A. N. Other atheists interact. The umbrella term “atheist” just isn’t specific enough to define what kind of atheist we all are. What the problem we seem to be having is that when “we” say “we” are atheist, it matters not a jot what kind of atheist each of us is for general purposes. The common denominator is “without gods” and that is good enough for all concerned. If I require further detail, I can ask. I don’t insist on my definition being the correct one, even if it appears to be the most popular. Where the problem lies, as has been pointed out, is when a believer wants to cherry-pick a specific definition and apply their preferred definition of the word in a generalization to all atheists, which just happens to be your preferred definition, then they assert and demand that the two positions are ontologically equal and therefore they can weasel out of the onus for burden.

          A fair few separate issues I’d like to comment on here.

          I was too general when I said that I’m the only one who accepts that there are several reasonable and sensible definitions in play. However, there are also several who does not appear to accept my preferred definition as a reasonable definition.

          I agree that self-identification as an atheist is not sufficient for us to discern what is meant by that.

          We do not have the empircism to conclude that the “wide” definition is the preferred definition. It appears to be the most popular among those who self-identify as atheists online, but the majority of those who fit the description do not self-identify as atheists. (It might still be the most popular description, though we can’t establish that.)

          As noted, the problem appears to lie with a common erronous view among theists with respect to the burden of evidence, and not with the definition itself. Two ontological claims do not necessarily hold the same burden of evidence, even if they are mutually exclusive.

          I disagree with this. Your definition, my definition, and Susan’s definition, are all subsets of the “without gods” definition of atheist. They all add a caveat.

          I believe that this is imprecise. It would be more precise to say that my preferred decision defines as atheists a subset of the people that your preferred definition defines as atheists.

          That is not the same as saying that my definition is a subset of your definition.

          Consider an analogous situation. Let us defined the set X as all rational numbers in [0, 1], and X* as the set of all rational numbers greater than zero. X is a subset of X*, but they are entirely distinct definitions.

          No. But I don’t think that’s where our differences lie. It is more that a definition is necessarily better or worse depending on the number of subsets of people that it includes. Particularly when the subsets are wide and varied.

          Someone defining as a scientist tells us nothing about the discipline of science the scientist is a scientist in. Someone defining as a theist tells us nothing about the potentially infinite number of gods they believe in. Someone defining as an atheist would be more narrowly defined than the two previous examples, but there still needs something added to take it from “without gods” to the difference between your atheism and my atheism, then something further to igtheism.

          I agree that the definitions share certain characteristics. I don’t follow what point you’re making in the first cited paragraph.

          The way I see it is, A is the set of people who are “without gods”. A1 is the subset who hold an absence of belief in gods, A2 is the subset of people believing in the absence of gods?

          I fail to see a distinction between A and A1. Would you mind elaborating?

          It doesn’t matter what folk self-identify as, if they are de facto the definition of the word.

          Ah, but it’s the definition of the word that we’re discussing, is it not?

        • Kodie

          I’m not going to say a person who puts forth the claim “there is no god” is not a “real” atheist, but you prefer that way to define yourself (IIRC), but that is also a theist misapprehension under which they try to bundle all of us under.

          Then you said, you prefer the label of “non-theist” to someone who does not believe the claims of theists, or does not believe there is a god. I mean, if I have you right, you understand there’s a distinction.

          Then we have the issue where atheism is being defined mostly by people who are not atheists, and being rejected by people who left their religion, and are atheists, but do not want to call themselves atheist because of the negative connotations of the word when used by theists, which many atheists used to be. They want to take up other labels. Some say, atheism is too negative, or falsely believe atheism to mean whatever theists say it means, or do not want the majority population, which are theists, to punish them socially for aligning with such a hated (but misunderstood) group.

          Theists are taught a lot of stuff, a good portion of which is what will happen to them if they deny god exists, as though the existence of god is a given, and atheists “deny” god exists. There is a lot of reinforcement of belief against disbelief, in the form of eternal threats, and social ostracization. Theists know how hard they are on atheists, so they never want to lose their belief, but if they do, they think if they call it something else, it would be somehow different than they were brainwashed to believe. So there, you get a lot of atheists who prefer to call what they are, not just because of the stigma, but because they prefer to frame their beliefs/unbeliefs as something that is not what they don’t believe, but something positive that they do believe, such as secular humanism.

          It’s the fault of theism for believing something in the affirmative, leaving atheists with the negative belief of something that doesn’t exist, but that also gives them the burden of proof. Atheists are anyone who are without god. It could be a teen Christian who is (probably temporarily) mad at god, and it could be a strong atheist who says there is nothing to convince them there is a god. There are not always good reasons that people have to reject the going trend to believe in a deity, usually Jesus around here. Atheists on the internet who find good blogs to communicate with other atheists, usually come to understand there is no certainty on the question, and better counter-arguments to the manure they keep turning out.

          I mean, imagine being a theist who has heard all their life that atheists say “there is no god”. That’s a pretty strong statement, and constructed that way to provide another blockade to them leaving their faith. There is a god there is no god, that’s pretty black and white, and leaves no room for the exploring theist to define how they feel when they start to doubt their beliefs, or stop believing the claims altogether. If they think an atheist is total and absolute on the god question, they’re wrong. The evidence for a deity doesn’t stack up, and it’s not their imagination. They need not make up another word, or avoid the label “atheist,” and in fact, if more people would just use that word, it would no longer be whatever theists say or think it is, or use threats against their congregation of becoming this filthy thing who denies god. It needs to be rescued from stigma by popular usage.

          We live in a world (at least in the US), where atheism is defined largely from theists as a fearsome lot, with actual atheists using a variety of other terms to shield themselves from stigma, so theists never learn what an atheist is. “Spiritual but not religious”, “freethinker”, “non-believer”, “bright”, etc. These people are afraid of backlash from saying they are an atheist, or were brought up to believe an atheist was one thing, but they are some other thing that needs some other label. It would be nice if people weren’t so confused about this.

        • Grimlock

          A fair bit to comment on here. I’ll try to unpack what I should respond to. Let me know if I miss anything.

          Then you said, you prefer the label of “non-theist” to someone who does not believe the claims of theists, or does not believe there is a god. I mean, if I have you right, you understand there’s a distinction.

          Sort of. I acknowledge that there might be a distinction, and if so, I prefer the terms nontheism and atheism to distinguish two groups. One such distinction might be between those able to form the concept of theism in their minds, and those unable to do so. Infants, for instance, might qualify as nontheists without being atheists.

          However, for, say, your average online atheist I’m not sure there is a distinction that’s not purely semantic. See my recent response to Susan for an elaboration on this.

          It’s the fault of theism for believing something in the affirmative, leaving atheists with the negative belief of something that doesn’t exist, but that also gives them the burden of proof. Atheists are anyone who are without god. It could be a teen Christian who is (probably temporarily) mad at god, and it could be a strong atheist who says there is nothing to convince them there is a god.

          I think this part is useful for getting at a few points.

          First, we both appear to agree that the burden of evidence is on the theist.

          Second, the disagreement is over precisely what it means to be an atheist. Your insistence that an atheist is so and so is by itself not very convincing.

          Third, I disagree that someone who is mad at god qualities as an atheist. That is, I think, having a definition of an atheist that is quite simply too wide, and is not a reasonable use of the term “atheist”.

          The rest of your post seems to be about how many religious folks have prejudices against the term “atheist”, which, really, I won’t dispute. But I’m struggling to see why that should mean that only a “wide” conception of atheism is legitimate.

          ETA: You also mention something about the degree of certainty of which a belief is held. But the definitions I’ve considered deals with the contents of a belief, and not its certainty.

        • Kodie

          I don’t think we’re having the same conversation.

          My insistence is that the definition of atheist or atheism clearly includes the popular “I don’t believe the claims of theism.” You don’t think that’s the definition of an atheist. To you, an atheist is someone who declares “there is no god”, and has some burden of proof to deny a positive ridiculous fantastical claim.

          But yes, if a person labels themselves an atheist, even if it’s not my definition, I am not turning them away or saying they are not a “true” atheist. Christians do that with sincere Christ-is-risen-I-am-saved believers with different sets of manifestations of those beliefs.

          I don’t know about the degree of certainty, I lost track of what you are saying I said. Theists have defined what atheism is to the point that atheists use other terms quite a bit. Why not address what I’ve actually said. I know you live in some other country than the US, but try to learn what the experience here is like before you comment.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The way I see it is, A is the set of people who are “without gods”. A1 is the subset who hold an absence of belief in gods, A2 is the subset of people believing in the absence of gods?

          I fail to see a distinction between A and A1. Would you mind elaborating?

          The difference for me, is in how the approach to “without gods” takes.

          While both A1 and A2 are covered by A, the definitions become more specific.

          It’s about the certainty of the claims in A1 and A2…they are not the same.

          It’s in how “absence of belief” and “belief in absence” are defined.

          Absence of belief that gods exist:

          I don’t hold any belief in any gods. There is simply no credible evidence for such a belief. If some form of credible evidence were to surface I will consider belief in proportion to that evidence. When a theist says that god exists, I answer: I don’t believe you, is there any credible evidence to back your claim up?

          Belief in absence aka that no gods exist:

          I believe (or even claim to know) that no gods exist. Ergo. There is evidence that supports that no gods exists, there can never be any evidence found for the existence of a god. When a theist says that god exists, I answer: No, your god does not exist.

          For the second statement to hold, the atheist would need to know about every god hypothesis in order to make such a claim, and be able to demonstrate it so. Granted, for the sake of argument, the evidence is such that in all likelihood, the chances of a god existing are such that to claim no gods exist is to all intents and purposes, the position to hold. But as a matter of fact, I don’t know how that position could be attained when arguing a theist. Yes, we could take each god hypothesis one by one and produce an argument demonstrating that for specific gods, I know that god doesn’t exist. But to generalize a knowledge that afaics, can’t be demonstrated, we are overstepping our remit and that’s where the theist weasels in and shifts the burden. We give them an in.

          With regards to the equality of the burden, well that depends on whose perspective. When the atheist claims gods don’t exist, those who believe gods do exist, think the onus is on the one making the claim to verify that claim. Hence the issue with this definition of atheism.

          These are just my thoughts…along with reading the views of others.

          I thought the YouTube video made a decent job of demonstrating the difference, no?

          https://youtu.be/sNDZb0KtJDk

        • Susan

          I agree that the term “god” generally is not very well defined.

          I would say that so far, it has never been “well” defined. Even when people (rarely) make concerted efforts to define it well, there are vaguenesses in the definition.

          generally find that if I supplant “god” with “conscious entity whose existence is independent of anything else,

          I think this is a more precise definition than I almost ever encounter. And there are still huge problems with the phrase. Which is why I’m an igtheist.

          I always try to keep things simple by asking “What are you claiming and how do you support it?”

          What I have been very clear on is that I have a preferred definition, but that I also find that other definitions are sensible and valid.

          I understand that. And you have represented your position eloquently, as always.

          Clearly, a definition is not necessarily better or worse depending on the size of the set of people that it includes.

          True. But if we’re going to use a word, it’s best that it’s precise enough to effectively clarify a position (in this case) or a meaning.

          You prefer non-theist. But the English language has a prefix “a” that can simply mean “not”. Asymmetric, for instance, (not identical on both sides of a central line) or asympomatic (showing no evidence of disease).

          The definition of “atheism” to which you subscribe comes from a time when “theism” was considered the default.

          The discussion is useful. And you have represented your position well.

          But I think from an English language point of view, it’s entirely reasonable to ignore the fossilized remnant of “atheist” which comes from a world in which theism was considered the default. If you prefer to refer to that as “non-theist”, that’s fine. All good.

          I also think it’s reasonable to describe myself as an “atheist” because I am an igtheist. Not by choice but because I have no other choice.

          Isn’t this fun?

          Usually, no. Arguing about definitions is never fun. But it’s useful and relevant to our general interactions with theists and with one another.

          It’s a healthy,respectful and thoughtful discussion. Which is what I always hope to have.

          .

        • Grimlock

          And there are still huge problems with the phrase. Which is why I’m an igtheist. (ETA 27 minutes later: That is, it’s not a precise definition.)

          Agreed. It relies on some pretty fuzzy concepts. However, I find it sufficiently precise for the question of the existence of god(s) to be a valid question.

          True. But if we’re going to use a word, it’s best that it’s precise enough to effectively clarify a position (in this case) or a meaning.

          You prefer non-theist. But the English language has a prefix “a” that can simply mean “not”. Asymmetric, for instance, (not identical on both sides of a central line) or asympomatic (showing no evidence of disease).

          The definition of “atheism” to which you subscribe comes from a time when “theism” was considered the default.

          The discussion is useful. And you have represented your position well.

          But I think from an English language point of view, it’s entirely reasonable to ignore the fossilized remnant of “atheist” which comes from a world in which theism was considered the default. If you prefer to refer to that as “non-theist”, that’s fine. All good.

          I agree that the historical usage is of little to no interest when determining how we should use the term today. Etymology is, near as I can tell, a messy affair. Similarly, while you may be right about the general use of the prefix (a cursory search confirms your position), I don’t think appealing to the historical etymology of a word should determine the current usage either. (Though it’s certainly a relevant factor. Just not a very influential one.)

          I also think it’s reasonable to describe myself as an “atheist” because I am an igtheist. Not by choice but because I have no other choice.

          I think I understand. I’d like to outline a couple of scenarios for you, and I’m curious about what you think. Basically, do you think that the following two scenarios are different?

          Scenario 1

          I am not convinced by the evidence for a god’s existence, and so do not consider myself a theist. By default I then consider myself an atheist.

          A necessary underlying assumption here is something along the lines of how ontological claims probably are false unless sufficient evidence is presented. E.g., for any ontological claim A, A is probably false.

          Scenario 2

          I consider the plausibility of a claim to be a combination of the initial/prior plausibility and the evidence that builds on this. In the case of theism, the prior probability is lower for god(s) existing than god(s) not existing, and the burden of evidence is therefore on the theist.

          The arguments for the existence of god(s) is not sufficient to outweigh the initial plausibility, and so god(s) probably do not exist.

          I consider the first scenario to be a decent description of how many online atheists would describe their lack of belief in god(s). The second scenario is my view, and would, I think, be categorized as a “strong” atheistic stance.

          What I’m struggling to do is to see a difference in these scenarios that is not purely semantic. In either case, one’s most plausible view of the world does not entail any god(s). What do you think?

          It’s a healthy,respectful and thoughtful discussion. Which is what I always hope to have.

          Dare I say… Amen?

        • Susan

          Agreed. It relies on some pretty fuzzy concepts.

          Very, very fuzzy concepts. And those concepts are always a Trojan Horse for countless other fuzzy claims.

          However, I find it sufficiently precise for the question of the existence of god(s) to be a valid question.

          I don’t. I honestly don’t. It is not precise enough to describe any “god” precisely enough. Also, it takes great liberties with dragging in extra baggage.

          Perhaps you could provide me an example, wherein, “god” means exactly what you accept in that phrase, and doesn’t inherently smuggle in other qualities that are expected to be accepted.

          So,I don’t think you’re providing a sufficient defintion for the term. Also, I don’t think you are defining the term precisely enough for any support to be available for it.

          I have the same problem with Scenario 2 for the same reason.

          I am an igtheist.

          But here is the problem I have fundamentally with your choices.

          I have found that most people who describe themselves in these specific on-line discussions call themselves “atheists” because they don’t accept “god” claims. Plain and simple.

          It seems to be such a simple description of “I don’t believe (god)s exist.”

          I consider the first scenario to be a decent description of how many online atheists would describe their lack of belief in god(s).

          OK…. but I’m an igtheist. And it frustrates me that people assign any probability to a term that is incoherent. Be fair. It’s rarely defined. When it is, the definitions are rarely coherent. Even your description of (god)s is frustratingly incomplete. And slightly incoherent.

          I understand that you would like a term to descrbie someone who takes the affirmative position that “There are no gods.” (Or maybe I misunderstand your point. I have a feeling I’m missing something.)

          In English, “non-theist” means the same as “atheist”. I am not a theist.

          Past definitions, I just ask them what they are claiming and how they support it. I ask them that as an atheist.

          The trouble with your choice (and you are welcome to it), is that when they call me an atheist, I know I’m an igtheist, but agree that I’m an atheist because I don’t believe their claims for all the reasons I’ve gone over.

          And they take that as an excuse to accuse me of claiming there is (are) no god(s).

          That is a problem. They rarely define their position clearly and they never support it.

          It’s hard enough getting them to understand their burden. That they decide to interpret “atheism” as a negative claim (in lieu of supporting their positive claim) makes discussion impossible.

          I understand that you would like to have a term for those who claim “god(s) doesn’t (don’t) exist.

          But it represents a tiny group within a small group in a discussion where the burden lies on people making god claims. We don’t need a word. Those people can just say “god(s) don’t exist)” and carry the burden inherent in that.

          Dare I say… Amen?

          Of course. Amen, brother.

        • Kodie

          Perhaps you could provide me an example, wherein, “god” means exactly
          what you accept in that phrase, and doesn’t inherently smuggle in other
          qualities that are expected to be accepted.

          Just going to throw in the fact that, when it comes to that point, and it doesn’t always, but it often enough does, the theist will ask us to tell them the qualities of which god we don’t believe in, and they don’t believe in that god either. Their god is something else. They don’t define it. They are certain we’re mad at god instead, because he doesn’t give us candy whenever we pray for candy, and their god has some other sophisticated qualities that are hard to translate to the demon atheist, because we’re so afraid we’re going to find god so believable and it will shatter our concepts of who we are, or we’ll have to develop morals or something.

          Believing there is no god is such a theist trap, don’t play that game.

        • Pofarmer

          I suspect that the idea of atheism as a lack of belief is an avoidance of giving a direct answer to the above question.

          Uhm, no. The answer is provisional, just like pretty much all answers in science are. It’s simply saying I see no evidence, but maybe I’ll change my mind if there is.

          Not giving a direct answer doesn’t, as far as I can tell, do much to change the burden of the evidence.

          Absolutely it does. “I don’t believe you” Doesn’t entail any burden at all. It’s up to you to convince. Saying, “There are no Gods” then does entail a burden of proof as it’s up to you to show why not. Victor Stenger actually does go this route.

        • Grimlock

          Uhm, no. The answer is provisional, just like pretty much all answers in science are. It’s simply saying I see no evidence, but maybe I’ll change my mind if there is.

          My position that there are no god(s) is also provisional, similarly to pretty much every other position I take. I don’t think that the provisional nature of the answer is sufficient to make it distinct from a negative answer.

          Absolutely it does. “I don’t believe you” Doesn’t entail any burden at all. It’s up to you to convince. Saying, “There are no Gods” then does entail a burden of proof as it’s up to you to show why not. Victor Stenger actually does go this route.

          First off, surely the atheist would have some burden of showing why the arguments for theism is not sufficiently compelling, or is outweighed by atheological arguments?

          There also seems to be an underlying assumption about the burden of evidence as related to ontological claims.

          How is this different from my position, that the difference in the ontological claims “god(s) exists” and “god(s) don’t exist” means that the burden of evidence is on the theist, and the atheist only needs to demonstrate that the arguments and evidence doesn’t shift the initial epistemic plausibility?

        • Rudy R

          I suspect that the idea of atheism as a lack of belief is an avoidance of giving a direct answer to the above question

          Speaking only for myself, I have given direct “no” answers to all the god claims that have been presented to me. Theists poorly define their god and poorly support their god’s attributes with evidence.

        • Grimlock

          Do you consider yourself to be an atheist in the sense of someone who believes that no god(s) exist?

          ETA: Not asking you to commit to a definition, but rather asking if your view can be accurately described as believing that no god(s) exists.

        • Rudy R

          I don’t claim no god(s) exist. I believe there is no god(s) but I don’t claim to have knowledge that there is no god(s). One position is on belief and the other on knowledge. There has not been a definition of a god with supporting evidence that would tip the scales for belief in a god. Until there is evidence for a god that meets my satisfaction, my default position is no belief in a god.

        • Kodie

          I mean, there are other labels, but to me, that gets us more and more into “religious”, as most of those terms have qualifications. Secular humanist doesn’t mean atheist, and I find the term humanist difficult. It may be like how some women don’t want to be called feminists, and I’m totally wrong. I love rights. I think everyone should have their civil rights until their rights impose on someone else’s. Does a gay couple’s right to be married impose on a Christian cake-baking business owner’s religious rights? I guess the Supreme Court agrees with it. And so I guess, being an atheist, I think religious rights are pretty much the most trivial, because I see religious adherence as a superstition to get out of hell, doing whatever you think god needs you to do to get into heaven, an imaginary place. I dare any Christian to explain to me what heaven actually is, and how you know how to be admitted there.

          If you think of other traditional superstitions, you don’t see Christians not ridiculing or even demonizing other superstitions. It depends on what kind of Christian you are, and what you’ve been brainwashed to see. We’re dumb creatures with an enormous capacity to fall for the power of suggestion. I had a triple room in my 1st semester of college, and so I had one roommate who sucked (B), and one who maybe did not suck (E). E thought I was better friends with B, and of all the people on the whole floor, I was the only person who didn’t notice how much B sucked, and one evening, it came out when the floor decided to go to the dining hall all together (B wasn’t around), and I could not “unsee” it, and E and I voted her off the island to start the new semester in January, a sequence I could never have foreseen. I thought I was the left out one. I didn’t have a lot to talk about with E up until then, and she thought she was the odd one. I saw so many people laugh and make fun of B, and oh my god, it’s all true, and she’s a horrible person! How did I not see it until then? I like to think, when I was 18, I still saw the best in all people.

          All our lives, if someone who seems to know it all points something out, unless we are skeptical and critical thinkers, it’s going to fit the patterns we recognize. Conspiracy theories work this way, and stuff like not vaccinating your children. Let’s look at it another way, though – something is true. How does one understand what to believe, if everyone sounds like they all know what they’re talking about, and give convincing arguments? If you talk about B and E, that’s more a matter of opinion. Maybe B was my very best friend, and it hurt me to hear how many other people hated her. Then it’s the lonely road of you and me against the world, B. I was ambivalent, and absorbent of the power of suggestion. A lesson of confirmation bias, but it generally starts with someone else snapping patterns you did not see into focus. I mean, you know how you get that gut feeling that gay sex is gross, that means god doesn’t like it, etc. If someone didn’t point that out, you could have understood your possible initial discomfort some other way and realized you’re biased and correct it, but if you let them define the source of that feeling for you, you increase your righteousness that your “gut feeling” is one of many clues about the god of the universe and how you, as a mere human, are required to obey, i.e. hate.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I find the term humanist difficult.

          Yes, because humanist is atheist+ again.

          In modern terms, humanists are atheists, but not all atheists are humanists.

          Christians are followers of Christ. There are over 45,000 different flavours…each one is a Christianity+. Now a lot of the plus might overlap among the varieties of the cult, but the only thing they have in common is they follow Christ. I’m even including Christian atheism in the mix.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_atheism

        • Ignorant Amos

          I had a wee poke about and found this paper in JSTOR on the subject of the Romans defining the the Christians as atheists.

          Christian “Atheism” and the Peace of the Roman Empire

          https://www.jstor.org/stable/3164388?read-now=1&refreqid=excelsior%3Ae9502016b80f2a646d88862bb28f2d32&seq=2#page_scan_tab_contents

          If ya don’t subscribe to JSTOR, New Testament scholar and woo-woo believer, Larry Hurtado has also wrote an article about it on his blog.

          When Christians Were Atheists

          https://larryhurtado.wordpress.com/2016/12/13/when-christians-were-atheists/

        • Grimlock

          That was a very interesting blog post indeed!

        • Ignorant Amos

          Hurtado does that thing in the last paragraph that bugs the fuckin’ life clean outta ma.

          In religion, as in some other matters, early Christianity helped to destroy one world and create another. And the effects of this early Christian “atheism” linger to this day. Modern atheism as we know it is shaped by the Christian faith against which it reacts. For even modern atheists assume that there’s only one god to doubt!

          The arrogant and ignorant prick.

        • Grimlock

          Hah, I noticed the same thing. I figured he had half a point, in the sense that most of the public criticisms are aimed at monotheism. For obvious reasons.

          But if you directly asked atheists whether they disbelieved one God or all gods, I suspect most would lean towards the latter.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I only engage in talking about the gods of the believers around me and that are directly interfering with my chi. But I’m up for ridicule and mockery of anyone else’s if they are interested.

          I would think if I was an atheist in India, that might not be the case.

          What gods do native American atheists take no truck with I wonder?

          Or the Inuit peoples who were atheist, at least before Christianity pitched up and fucked up the Inuits beliefs and religions.

        • Grimlock

          . But I’m up for ridicule and mockery of anyone else’s if they are interested.

          You are too kind, good sir!

        • Ignorant Amos

          That’s me, generous to the core.

          I’m an equal opportunities religion pish taker.

          No ones woo-woo gets a by-ball when it comes to extracting the urine.

        • al kimeea

          tomato, tomahto
          Hurtado, pendejo

        • Susan

          the whole discussion about what “atheism” means is rather uninteresting.

          It would be uninteresting, except as these discussions advance, there is always some theist who uses the term to shift the burden.

          Which isn’t interesting but it means it’s a concern.

          They want to claim “atheist” means “there is no god” (which is usually an incoherent claim that they can’t and won’t support) that anyone who doesn’t take that position is an “agnostic” (which only describes knowledge, and they use it to create a binary position on which one has to claim one side or proclaim themselves “agnostic”, and they use it to pretend their deity has a fifty/fifty chance of existing, based on their binary model, or one can call themselves a “theist” which can mean any incoherent, unsupported nonsense they need it to be, no matter how contradictory it is from moment to moment.

          So easy to say “not a theist” is an “atheist”. Unless you can come up with a better term.

          “Unbeliever” is not a better term. Because then they will say you don’t believe in anything.

          Very simply, I don’t believe theistic claims. So, I am an atheist.

        • Grimlock

          I prefer the term “non-theists”.

          As for the point about the burden of evidence, it sounds like one will end up discussing the burden anyways. So why should that impact our choice of terms? It seems to me that it just makes the discussion about the burden less direct, and more confusing.

        • epeeist

          My point is this: It is perfectly valid to define “atheism” as the belief that there is no gods.

          Personally I start from the position that I don’t include anything in my ontology without justification.One could frame this as “I do not have belief in entities for which there is no justification”, which is essentially a standard sceptical position.

      • Len

        The concern I’d have with “belief in the non-existence of god” (emphasis mine) is that it appears to put the burden of proof on me, to prove my belief. “Absence of belief” in god clearly leaves the burden of proof where it belongs – with the believer who wants to believe in their god.

        • Grimlock

          Why does that place the burden of proof on the atheist?

          If A believes that there exists a civilization on Mars, with a technology equivalent to ours, and B believes that there is no such civilization, it does not follow that they have an equal burden of proof.

        • Len

          I said “… it appears to put the burden of proof on me”. Any chance a believer gets to try to shift that burden to me – because I make a positive statement of (dis-)belief – means extra work for me explaning it ain’t so.

        • Grimlock

          Ah, I see.

          It might lead to a useful discussion on burden of evidence, but I see what you mean about that being…. Shall we say, a hassle?

        • epeeist

          Why does that place the burden of proof on the atheist?

          Because you are making an ontological commitment.

          it does not follow that they have an equal burden of proof.

          I would disagree, I think that if both of them are making belief statements then there is an equal burden on both. Whereas if one says that one does not hold a belief in the existence of a Martian civilisation then the burden is weaker, all one needs to do is show that the arguments of the person believing there is such a thing do not stand up to scrutiny.

        • Grimlock

          Interesting. I wonder if we’re genuinely in disagreement, or merely talking past each other.

          Do you hold that all belief statements have an equal burden of evidence? (This is, I think, a bit different from what you said above.)

          I like an approach that I first saw from Paul Draper. Roughly, and going from memory, a claim has a prior probability based on a conceptual analysis, and a probability after consideration of the evidence. The prior probability is what I think of as the burden of evidence.

          The conceptual analysis focuses on two aspects of the claim:
          1. Its internal coherence.
          2. The modesty of its ontological commitments or contents.

          A few more steps (I can elaborate if you want) will, I think, give us a less prior probability for theism than atheism, and thus give theism the burden of proof.

        • epeeist

          Interesting. I wonder if we’re genuinely in disagreement, or merely talking past each other.

          Is “neither” a valid option?

          a claim has a prior probability based on a conceptual analysis, and a probability after consideration of the evidence.

          I wouldn’t disagree. However, if you have no background information then you presumably have to give the propositions “God exists” and “God does not exist” equal priors. In which case the burden falls equally on the proponents of both propositions.

          One might also consider that attempting to produce a reasonable priors constitutes an attempt to fulfil the burden.

        • Grimlock

          Is “neither” a valid option?

          I guess?

          I wouldn’t disagree. However, if you have no background information then you presumably have to give the propositions “God exists” and “God does not exist” equal priors. In which case the burden falls equally on the proponents of both propositions.

          I guess that depends on whether one counts the conceptual analysis as a part of the background knowledge. I don’t, but I can see how one would.

          One might also consider that attempting to produce a reasonable priors constitutes an attempt to fulfil the burden.

          Perhaps. I tend to consider it creating a framework in which one evaluates the burdens, and that it’s challenging to speak meaningfully about the burden of evidence without such a framework.

  • Ignorant Amos

    Reynolds seems oblivious to the modern genocides of Rwanda and Bosnia…just two examples of godly Christians involved in the genocide of others.

    • ThaneOfDrones

      Don’t forget all those Christians who support Israeli genocide of Palestinians because they are cheering for the end of the world.

      • epicurus

        Or ol’ Sadam Hussein – Pretty sure he was a theist.

        • Kodie

          Funny how common it is for theists to tell us we’d rather go live in a Muslim theocracy… I mean, I think they want a Christian theocracy, and in the vacuum of the secular freedom of religion and separation of church and state, their complaint against atheists is either an atheist dictatorship wants to fill the void, or allow some other group to take control, as though we would prefer the gentler Christian ways of governing, such as outlawing abortion and making it legal to discriminate against gay people – nobody’s getting beheaded over it, so it’s a lot nicer, right? The way I see it, Christians can be so fucking crazy. Maybe not all of them, but if you aren’t a fucking crazy for power Christian, you are defensive and missing the point of separation and secular government, because religion has made you a little bit crazy and defensive because atheists lump them in with the crazies. Look, we don’t have a lot of time to split hairs, so are you on our side or their side?

          Pay the fuck attention. There’s a Constitution in the United States. No religious or megalomaniac system has to be in power for the government to run. There is no religious way to interpret the Constitution so it requires a Christian or other religious government. The very fucking first clause of the 1st Amendment delegates religion to a personal preference, and the government shall not be influenced or decree any laws via religious reasoning. People with strong faiths seem to think the absence of religion when making a decision means something dire, like “there is no god, so x is the law.” And they’re going, but there is is a god, so y has to be the law!

          They don’t fucking understand just not factoring in any god or religious belief to a conclusion or statement. Like, it’s raining outside, or shirts and shoes are required, or this duck at the zoo is named Bubba. Those aren’t religious or areligious facts or laws, they are secular and have nothing at all to do with the question. Is something coming to fill in the void? No.

          Why can’t we just live like this? It’s still because religious people keep trying to steal the void of a secular government, and haven’t been drowned out by reason yet.

        • epicurus

          Something Christians who want to unify church and state probably haven’t thought about is that the govt. will then want to get involved in determining correct theolgy, and given the 40,000 or whatever Protestant denominations that means whichever group has power will want unity and, well you know where I’m going with this – 4th century Roman state pressuring church councils etc.
          Someone like John Hagee who craves no separation of C&S would be labelled a heretic by many because of his views on Jesus and whether he actually died for Jews or not.

        • Kodie

          Yes, they think they want a Christian government, some believe this is a Christian nation, but none of them understands what that really entails. If we take a list of commandments out of a public school, why does that mean that god is not allowed in school? I mean, if he’s god, why would he be at the behest of mere humans? What good does it do to have a poster or sign up in school, and why do they bitch so much when someone notices that it doesn’t belong in a public, secular space?

          It’s like, taking down an advertisement for Coca-Cola doesn’t mean putting up an advertisement for Pepsi. It’s NEUTRAL now. It’s not an ad for DON’T DRINK SODA YOU FUCKER. It’s nothing, there is no suggestion, and you are free to continue to believe what you want.

          Clearly, they do not think it through. A government that is religious may not be adherent to their denomination, and they might think, that’s not what I had in mind. Of course, the Jews won’t like it, so pretending to care about Israel as a Christian is fucked. Most Christians would not really like the government intrusion, if they think they don’t like it now, they will definitely not like it in that case. Apparently easily pacified morons who think what they’re told is what they want cannot think it all the way through. Pawns.

        • epicurus

          And remember the brouhaha when Kennedy was running – a protestant country aghast at the thought of a Catholic president. But wait, wasn’t he a theist? That doesn’t matter, he’s not my particular kind of theist.

        • Kodie

          Why do Christians seem to think every Christian agrees they need a Christian-led government, even if they know they have major disagreements with other denominations? It’s like, on this atheist blog, you could not get two different Christians to discuss or argue their differences. They are unified against atheists, you can just count on that. Just not thinking it all the way through. They want their 1st amendment religious freedom to refuse service to people in their business based on their religious beliefs, but do not think it all the way through. I mean, if I run a business, and someone with a cross on their neck comes in, I am free to refuse service to them. Aren’t I?

        • Ignorant Amos

          When the lunatics take over the asylum, the gullible among them don’t understand that the haves, aka the hierarchy, will fuck-up the have-nots. They don’t realize that Giliad will become a reality and much of what happens in The Handmaids Tale will become more of a documentary, than a dystopian fiction.

          Then again, maybe that’s what the wingnuts crave, living in a theocracy with a jackboot on their necks.

        • Pofarmer

          I’d say a lot of people wanting a Christian theocracy here aew woefully ignorant of history.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Am pretty sure the godly Saudi Sunni Muslims would like to eradicate the godly Iranian Shia Muslims, given half a chance.

        • NS Alito

          Er, Saddam Hussein was pretty much a secular tyrant. When the US, et al, invaded Iraq, Al Qaeda fighters needed their imams to lift the fatwa against SH to go fight on the side of the Iraqis.

  • GalapagosPete

    Is it just me or does he have comments turned off?

    • JustAnotherAtheist2

      Maybe because of how long ago the article was published?

      • GalapagosPete

        Maybe, but it looks like comments were never allowed. Of course, if you post crazy stuff like that, you may not want to read comments.

        • Jennny

          I don’t think they believe for one moment they are saying crazy stuff. This type of fundy enforcer thinks they have a hotline to god and speak only what he tells them to say. And their sheeple will drink it in. As someone said, fundy leaders don’t seem able to leave a pre-internet time. Back then, to check up on what any leader said, you needed a library ticket and the bus fare into town. They just can’t adapt to everyone having the world in their pocket now, they just can’t handle any sort of criticism so fulminate against it and are scared to open their wonderful god-breathed blogs to comments.

    • Lex Lata

      Not just you. Reynolds hasn’t allowed comments for years, if ever.

      • GalapagosPete

        Well, when you post so much stupid, the comments would be scathing.

    • Grimlock

      That seems to be popular among a fair few of the religious Patheos blogs. I wonder why.

      • GalapagosPete

        No idea; just one more unsolvable mystery. ;^)

      • se habla espol

        The blogs in question are christianist blogs, owned and operated by christianists.

        Christianists are authoritarians; the blogs are operated by and for authoritarians.
        A commenter is not an authority, like the blog operator is. Allowing a non-authority to write blog content, even in the form of a comment, would destroy the purity of the blog, diluting its authority.
        Allowing comments on a christianist blog is unpossible.
        {The same observation can be made about alt-med and pro-plague (anti-vax) blogs.}

        • Grimlock

          I’m not comfortable with such sweeping statements. There might be other (more relatable) reasons for disallowing comments.

          That being said, I do recognize the sentiment that you describe. Interestingly enough from a blog with a comments section, though one that’s fairly strictly moderated.

        • se habla espol

          Hunh? This blog, like most of the nonreligious, is moderated quite loosely..

        • Grimlock

          I know.

          The sentiment you speak of, this idea that a blog operator is an authority while a commenter is not, is something I’ve encountered on another blog. Not this blog.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ah…I read your previous comment the same way as es habla espol, in that you were referring to here in comparison to the holy roller’s blog where comments are not allowed. Soz.

          Ignore my last comment.

        • Grimlock

          No worries. Apparently my phrasing is susceptible to such a reading. I edited in a clarification.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Interestingly enough from a blog with a comments section, though one that’s fairly strictly moderated.

          No way!

          Both “Strange Notions” and the counter forum, “Outshine the Sun: Estranged Notions”, both places you comment, are far more strictly moderated. The former to the point of utter dishonesty.

          The moderation only kicks in here when the contributor isn’t contributing anything of substance, while cluttering the place up…and that’s usually after a prolonged period of fuckwittery.

        • I remember some years back when Popular Science (IIRC) dropped the option of comments on their pages. They found that an article about climate change (say) could leave the opposite impression if the comments were mostly those of rabid deniers of what the page had to say.

          I guess the lesson is that you must take (fallible) human psychology into account sometimes.

        • Grimlock

          That’s a rather sad thing, isn’t it, that the commenting system doesn’t work that well. I know of a couple of newspapers who simply removed their comments, and others who made it more restrictive. Perhaps for the same reason.

  • (((J_Enigma32)))

    The only nations that have been officially atheistic have been uniformly horrible.

    This is an interesting point, because what does it mean for a nation to be “officially atheistic?” The USSR, if not supported at least humored the Eastern Orthodox Church. Hell, at one point Stalin was going to be a priest for the Orthodox church. Was the USSR “officially atheistic?”

    Do you consider nations like Saudi Arabia or Iran to be atheistic? The former is a pretty horrible place to live. So is the Islamic State, and I guarantee you that the Islamic State was not atheistic.

    Do you mean secular states that opt not to promote a religion? France and Germany are both nations without national churches. Hell, “secular” is a French tradition that the French people are deservedly proud of. Canada and Australia, too. They don’t seem like terrible places to live. Are they “officially atheistic?”

    I’m aware the Nordic Countries have national churches, if anything, that just goes to prove that this point is meaningless, because I’m pretty sure most White Americans would consider them socialist hellholes despite having national churches, even though I’m pretty sure you couldn’t consider them “officially atheistic.”

    “Atheism was used as a reason for persecution in all of these nations.”

    Actually no. If you look, it’s nationalism that’s used as a reason for persecution. Your religion isn’t banned because we’re atheistic, it’s banned because it’s a threat to the stability of the Motherland/Fatherland. Your values run counter to the values that we seek to employ here, and those values aren’t built around atheism, they’re built around nationalism. Christians in the United States would like to do the same thing to atheists, and for the same exact reasons: they view atheism, Satanism, Islam, Judaism, and all non-Christian religions as a direct threat to the stability of the United States, because they’re trapped in a nationalistic bubble that doesn’t remotely resemble reality.

    This is especially true with the Chinese example, where Confucianism and traditional Chinese religions are not smashed by the Communist Party, but Christianity and Islam are. This because Christianity and Islam are seen as threats to national unity, not out of any sort of “atheistic values.”

    There is no check against genocide in atheism.

    God literally commits genocide in Genesis at least twice: first when he floods the world and kills everyone, and later when he gives the Hebrews the command to clean the pagans out of the Holy Land, and that’s the number of times I care to remember. This is not a hill any relgionist should want to die on, yet for so many of them it’s their chosen mount.

    “Christians are told to love their enemies.”

    A humanists value human life and seek to encourage political policies that help improve the quality of that life, whether they be universal healthcare of a basic income guarantee. One of those groups is more successful at walking the walk where their values are concerned, and it isn’t Christians.

    “An anti-theist creates his own values.”

    Not really.

    See, what happens is you inherit an ethical code and outlook from your community: your friends, your family, your neighbors, your society; this outlook acts as an underpinning for your values. Once you have your values and you’re emotionally invested in them, you start looking for ways to justify them. For folks like Christians and Muslims, there are books they can cherry pick from to justify their moral outlook to themselves. For atheists, anti-theists, and the like, we construct philosophical and ethical paradigms that are shaped by our emotional investment in particular values. The values come first and are created by nature; the justification for those values are typically created by the individual, although just as frequently said justification is also inherited from the community.

    Nobody creates their own values. You just reshape the ones that you’re exposed to and look for ways to justify them based off existing social paradigms.

    • Grimlock

      I’m aware the Nordic Countries have national churches […]

      Nope. Not any more.

      Well, okay, the idea of a national church is a bit relative. But at least Norway doesn’t have a national church any more, though there are some smaller ways in which the former national church is still given preferential treatment. Not sure about the formal status in the other Nordic countries.

      It should be noted that the population is quite secular. I’d guess that both Sweden and Iceland have a lower degree of religiosity than Norway, and we have – roughly – 40 % deists or theists, 40 % atheists, and 20 % wishy-washy agnostics.

      Of course, if you want to give the impression that Norway is a “Christian” country, you’ll cite the statistic that 70 %or so of the population belong to the former state church. Which is true, but neglects the utter lack of interacting most of these people have with the church, their actual beliefs, and the crappy membership registration practices that led to that church being the default for a lot of people.

      Oh, also, religious communities (and secular ones, like a couple of humanist organizations) receives funding from the state based on the number of members. Is anyone surprised that the Catholic Church cheated with their membership lists, got a hefty fine, and has refused to accept their wrongdoings?

      /rant

      • (((J_Enigma32)))

        Denmark and Iceland apparently still have national churches, but Sweden apparently does not. This is interesting, although the divorce of church and state in Norway and Sweden are apparently recent events (within the last 20 or so years).

        I wonder what justification the Monarchs use anymore. Is it just “it’s tradition, we’ve always done it this way, and besides, we don’t have much in the way of real power anyway?” Because it seems to me like that’s what it’d have to be.

        • Grimlock

          If my memory serves me right, our formal split between church and state was voted through in 2012, and performed in 2017. And as I mention, the split is not entirely clean.

          Do you mean the justification used by the monarchs for us to remain monarchies? I don’t know about the other countries, but our monarch doesn’t make any public arguments for keeping the monarchy. If he had, I imagine that would backfire. It’s a question that’s brought up in the public debate regularly. The most common reason for keeping it is that the monarch is really popular. He’s like a kindly old grandfather. Or at least that’s the impression. I’m guessing the monarchy will survive as long as we have popular monarchs, despite most people (I think) acknowledging its problematic aspects.

          Oh, and this thing is just plain annoying, and has predictably brought up fresh focus on the monarchy: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/thefreethinker/2019/05/the-princess-and-the-shaman-a-tale-of-love-money-and-bullshit/

        • Tangent: are you an American living in Norway, or are you just another Norwegian who communicates in flawless English?

        • Grimlock

          I’m just another Norwegian, living in Norway. I’m not sure about the flawless part, but thank you for the compliment.

        • Greg G.

          My wife grew up with her friend in Vietnam. Her friend had a daughter who was seven when the moved to Oslo. We visited them about seven years ago, with an all day layover in Paris, so the daughter, then 30, met us at the airport and showed us around Paris. Her English was impeccable with a European accent. My wife said her Vietnamese was perfect. It was amazing that she would ask what I wanted in English, what my wife wanted in Vietnamese, then order in French. She had gone to college in Paris and was about to start on her PhD in finance. I assume she spoke Norse. Her mother didn’t speak English and I think she only spoke Vietnamese. Her son spoke Norse to his father and Vietnamese to his mother, though his father was Vietnamese, too. His father thought Vietnamese was a woman’s language and Norse was for men.

          Which reminds me of another Vietnamese woman who grew up in Norway. If you saw The Last Jedi Star Wars movie, in the opening scene, the Rebel Alliance was about to lose a battle to the Empire. I recognize an Asian woman as being Vietnamese. She was able to launch a slew of bombs at the last second to destroy the Dreadnaught. She was billed as Veronica Ngo but I learned that she was famous as a singer/dancer in Vietnam as Ngo Thanh Van. She was born there, near the town where our friends came from, and went to Norway when she was ten, then returned to Vietnam and may have introduced European techno-rock there.

        • Grimlock

          That is an impressive assortment of languages that your wife’s friend’s daughter has learned!

          That was a fun scene, and she’s definitely one of the most heroic characters shown in the films.

        • Ignorant Amos

          For your second language, it is impeccable. Plenty that come here whose first language is English, should aspire to such a level, myself included.

        • Grimlock

          Thanks.

          It should be noted that writing decent English is easier than speaking it. At least to me. It gives me time to read through what I’ve written before posting, thus weeding out the worst blunders.

        • Ignorant Amos

          A lot of us do that and still miss plenty of the blunders. I guess it’s about complacency and the D-K effect that being English speaking equates to good grammar and spelling, when it really doesn’t.

          A lot of the things I write as the way I say them colloquially. Not thinking how it will impact a reader who is not familiar with the way we talk in “Norn Iron”.

          https://www.inyourpocket.com/belfast/How-till-spake-Norn-Iron-A-guide-to-local-phrases_70619f

        • Grimlock

          I have to say I enjoy it when you write colloquially.

      • Pofarmer

        I love the youtube video where they send a Southern Baptist preacher to Norway. His reactions to the people there are great. He’s going around the streets asking if people beleive in God and getting a bunch nope’s, until one guy says yes, and he says “So you’re a Christian”, and the guy says “Nope, I’m a Muslim”, and he about loses his shit.

        • Grimlock

          Haha, I know that one. It’s funny. If it’s the one I think (“The Norden”), then, if memory serves, there’s also a segment with a prison warden. Fun stuff.

        • Pofarmer

          I don’t remember the prison Warden, but there are several different bits on you tube.

        • Greg G.

          I remember a video made in Europe, the Netherlands I think, where some guys put a book cover for the Koran on a Bible, then had people read a repulsive passage. Then they would show that it was actually in the Bible.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yeah…that was a good one. This show has a great take on the prank.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lX0Zt0ODrEA

    • Lex Lata

      “Christians in the United States would like to do the same thing . . .”

      I’d quibble a bit and say that some Christians, or perhaps Christian nationalists specifically, would like to do this. A vocal and unduly influential group these days, but I suspect a minority. (Likely growing in number, which is cause for concern.)

      We’ve had a solidly majority Christian population and representative government in this country since back in the day. Yet from the mid-1700s on, the overall trend has been towards disestablishment and freedom of conscience, roughly first at the federal level and then in the states. Those changes were largely the work of Christians–often heterodox, liberal, Enlightenment-influenced, Cicero-addicted, deistic, and/or even pantheistic–but self-described Christians nonetheless.

    • Greg G.

      Doesn’t the separation of church and state make the United States “officially atheistic”?

      Amendment I. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;…

      • Lex Lata

        Hmm. I’d say the US was “officially atheistic” if the Constitution took the formal position that there’s insufficient evidence to justify a belief in any gods. That’s not the case, though.

        Howzabout “officially atheistish” instead?

        • (((J_Enigma32)))

          I’d argue it makes us officially agnostic.

        • Greg G.

          Officially secular.

        • Michael Neville

          The word you’re looking for is “secular”.

        • Lex Lata

          Sure, but that’s no fun. 😉

        • Kodie

          Having an atheistic government is not probably as much fun as it sounds. When Christians don’t understand that we’re not a Christian nation, what they really fear is what will take over the void and tell them what to do. They are brainwashed with the notion that something needs to dictate to everyone, and it’s their religion, or it’s something worse (to them).

          If we say the government is atheistic or atheistish, or whatever, we’re saying it is promoting a particular way of answering that question, and preferring it, i.e. less tolerant of believers. Secular is not going near the question. It’s leaving it up to every citizen, as it should, what they believe.

          Plus, secular is funner to say. It has the ‘k’ sound, which I’ve heard is comedic, and rhymes with other fun words like popular and nucular.

        • Greg G.

          It has the ‘k’ sound, which I’ve heard is comedic

          I remembered “K words are funny. ‘Ketchup’ is funny.” from a movie but I needed Google help to find it. It is from The Sunshine Boys (1975), with George Burns and Walter Matthau.

          But I also learned that H. L. Mencken said “K words are funny”, with two Google references saying it was from 1936 and one that says it was from 1948.

        • Kodie

          I cannot remember where I heard it or from whom, and google searches bringing up nothing familiar, but many articles that ostenstibly concur. Concur!!! Funny!

          I also think it is funny whenever you can use the word “whom”. No articles on why that seems funnier than “who”, just grammar lessons.

      • larry parker

        In theory (sort of), but not in practice.

      • (((J_Enigma32)))

        I’d argue no, since that isn’t taking a stand. There are plenty of Christian organizations that support the separate of church and state, and I know for a fact that a large number of Jewish people support it, precisely because it helps protect them.

        Now, Christian Nationalists don’t believe in the Constitution but their idea of a Constitution, which is a document that always proves them correct under all circumstances and supports what they believe. And since more and more are finding their way into the judicial branch, we’re going to be finding out in short order this interpretation of the Constitution may be the only one that matters.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I read somewhere that the very reason for separation of church and state was to protect the different flavours of Christian sects from each other.

        • Pofarmer

          There was certainly inter denominational strife and fighting in the U.S. prior to the Revolution.

        • Greg G.

          AIUI, Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists that mentioned “separation of church and state” was to assure them that the Catholics would not be in charge.

        • MuttsRule

          Actually, the Congregational Church was the established church of Connecticut at the time, supported by public taxes (despite the First Amendment, many states had established churches in this period). Disestablishment didn’t happen until 1818 in Connecticut.

    • Pofarmer

      The whole trapped in a bubble not resembling reality in the U.S. right now is a horrible problem. It leaves people completely unable to be reasoned with.

  • Cozmo the Magician

    “Well, we do have to cut the guy a little slack. He was an atheist, after all”
    OTOH. seems like every week or so I read about some christian crook getting treated special by the courts. Rapists, Murderers, Thieves etc etc can get a slap on the wrist if they are an outstanding member and/or leader of a church. (well, usually helps if they are white too). But a young black man regardless of religion gets a maximum plus sentence, that is IF the cops don’t just kill them first.

  • ThaneOfDrones

    Bertrand Russell categorized Soviet-style Communism as a religion, and you should too.

    • Martin Penwald

      The cult of the leader, Stalin or, in North Korea, Kim Jong Un, is pretty conclusive of the religious nature of these regimes.

    • Bastard Gringo

      Karl Marx admitted his communism was inspired by the New Testament “without the Jesus parts.”

      • alverant

        I have to wonder how much Marx’s version of communism matched up with Stalin’s. I’m guessing there are big gaps between them in many places.

      • Michael Murray

        Have you got a source for that quote ? Thanks.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I’ve read a few articles that make the case that there are certain parallels between Marxism and Christianity. But I haven’t seen anything that shows Karl Marx actually stated there was anything in Christianity that he drew on as inspiration. I’ve also read that he despised Christianity with a passion.

        • Kodie

          I don’t know one way or another, but doesn’t it just sound like Christianity taking credit for any good behaviors? Oh, someone is trying to be kind and fair, they must have stolen the idea from the source of absolute morality. Like, those ideas just couldn’t come about from social beings, and Christians aren’t taught acceptable behavior toward others from their church – since they all have different beliefs and behave according to what they’re taught.

    • epicurus

      Russell met Lenin and found him to be a dogmatist who just quoted communist doctrine like scripture and wouldn’t even consider anything pragmatic if it didn’t line up with communist thought. I think Mao was the same way. You’d probably have to be to rise to the leadership position I guess.

    • David Cromie

      Both religion and Soviet style communism worship a leader (among other regimes), and all are totalitarian in operation, so I suppose one could liken such regimes to types of religion, but I fail to see, at the moment, how this helps in any discussion of their demerits.

  • larry parker

    “Don’t tell me about Christian atrocities during the Crusades or the Inquisition,” they’ll say. “The atheist regimes in the twentieth century of Stalin, Mao, and others killed far more people!”

    For the crusades and the inquisition, religion was a feature, not a bug. For Stalin and Mao, atheism was a bug, not a feature.

    • DanD

      Yes, they did kill far more people. But as a percentage of the total human population at the time? Hmm.

      • alverant

        Also consider the technological differences too. What would have the crusaders done with an ICBMs?

        • Meepestos

          Yikes.

      • Meepestos

        Good point.

        For some it seems to be about sheer numbers, not about the atrocities and the complexities involved.

        Many also fail to consider that prior to the 20th century, theists in power that committed atrocities, did not have the surplus populations an weaponry of the 20th century not to mention that theist despots of the 20th century did not have the large territories and populaces like that of Russia’s Stalin or Mao’s China

        • epeeist

          Many also fail to consider that prior to the 20th century

          The use of an arbitrary cut-off point is always one to watch out for, as is the use of absolute numbers. Criminologists use crimes per 100,000 population for crime statistics.

        • Grimlock

          The use of an arbitrary cut-off point is always one to watch out for

          This reminds me of this, particularly section 3 that discusses the time period cut-off:

          https://www.google.com/amp/s/celsus.blog/2012/10/14/ten-reasons-to-reject-the-apologetic-1042-source-slogan/amp/

        • epeeist

          https://www.google.com/amp/

          Nice refutation of something I tend to refer to as “arse-first reasoning”, i.e. where one starts from a conclusion and adjusts the evidence to fit.

        • Kodie

          I think sheer numbers has a validity. I mean, if there are 1000 people, and you kill 100 of them, or there are 7 billion people, and you kill 100 of them, it’s still 100 people. For some reason, we try not to forget each and every one of these people had a life ahead they were deprived of, and families who loved them, etc…. Statistically, if you kill 10% of the population, the ability of the population to recover is going to be more difficult than the population that just lost basically a plane crash full of people, or 5 school shootings of people.

          Culture was different, and perhaps more violent, but less effective at killing in the past. By more violent, I guess I mean, there were more people who were deemed punishable by death, either socially (like the kind of killing that wasn’t punished, like lynching or police brutality), or criminally (such as the death penalty was more acceptable in all states, and the trial process might have prosecuted by media any suspect who seemed to be in the wrong place at the right time, regardless of guilt, and they get the death penalty. I didn’t even bring up weird war commands. Kill Kill Kill. Whoever is wearing the wrong uniform, whoever is in the wrong building today, anyone of any age, regardless of their interest in whatever conflict you’ve come to solve – just kill kill kill.

          We don’t consider our US soldiers to be criminals for killing people they technically didn’t need to kill. So we don’t consider police to be criminals for killing people they technically didn’t need to kill. Statistics are cool for some purposes, but I think sheer numbers is also useful.

        • epeeist

          I think sheer numbers has a validity.

          Of course it does, except when you want to make a comparison.

          At the time of ‘teh Flud’ there were an estimated 20 million people on the planet of which Yahweh killed all but 8. This is a smaller number than Stalin killed. However when you work it as a percentage of population then Yahweh kills 99.999996% of the population while Stalin kills around 0.8%.

          Similarly the 30 Years war killed fewer people than Mao but while Mao was responsible for the deaths of 7% of the Chinese population the Thirty Years war saw the demise of around a third of the European population

        • Ignorant Amos

          According to AiG, there would’ve been a world population of 750 million at the time of The Flood.

          I’ve seen a figure of 4 billion mentioned too, given that folk before The Flood lived for centuries and all that crap…according to the buybull anyway.

          Others believe that Earth’s population was much higher. If the growth rate in the pre-Flood world was equal to the growth rate in 2000 (0.012), there could have been about 750 million people at the time of the Flood. However, given the extremely long lifespans prior to the Flood, the growth rate could have been much higher. Increasing the rate by just 0.001 would put the population at close to four billion at the Flood.

          https://answersingenesis.org/noahs-ark/pre-flood-population/

          So, by the fuckwits own sums, either 749,999,992 and 3,999,999,992 human beings drowned in the Flood. It really doesn’t bode well in the silly comparison games they wanna play, does it?

          Therefore, if we are talking hypothetically, YahwehJesus offed more folk in one day or so, than all the atheist tyrants that ever lived in the entirety of human history.

          Hoist by their own petards yet again methinks.

        • epeeist

          If the growth rate in the pre-Flood world was equal to the growth rate in 2000 (0.012), there could have been about 750 million people at the time of the Flood.

          My estimate comes from CIA figures, which are around 20 million. The percentages of the population that Yahweh killed are therefore:

          20 million: 99.99996%

          750 million: 99.9999989%

          4 billion: 99.9999998%

          YahwehJesus offed more folk in one day or so, than all the atheist tyrants that ever lived in the entirety of human history.

          One that I make sure I roll out the next time a creationist mentions the flood.

        • Kodie

          I think sheer numbers is always going to be impressive emotionally, and that is how monuments have lately been created. Giving each individual their name or a chair, or a number or a flag, seems to be how we grasp how much death there is in any given event. If you see every x item corresponds to a person, and visualize it, I mean, if 100 people die in a school shooting, that’s way more than usual.

          More than 2.5 million people died in the USA last year, but they didn’t all die in one place at the same time, like the holocaust. In cases where only one person died in one place at one time, chances are that person was several people’s whole world.

          Criminologists have to be more statistical, but death is a weird and personal subject. The news reports deaths of babies, children, and young mothers differently than everyone else. Even if you didn’t know them, you’re supposed to be affected differently than hearing even a sheer number, like 10 cars got in a pile-up, 8 people died, including 2 children and a pregnant woman. 10 cars getting in a pile-up is a lot more than a normal car accident, 8 people died, which is less than the number of cars, so it doesn’t sound as severe as it could have been, but 2 children and a container of a future child died, so don’t be in a rush to get past this news story without hugging your own children and/or getting a tear in your eye. Ignoring the other 7 people and their devastated families becomes normal, unless any of those 7 people was a first responder, and trot out their family pictures of who was left behind.

        • David Cromie

          If 100 people were killed in 1066, that is much more significant, proportionately, than 100 people being killed in 2019. Thus absolute numbers can be misleading.

        • Pofarmer

          I like the example of the Albigensisan Crusade, where the Popes armies killed millions the old fashioned way. Or the 30 years war, where up to 3/4 of the population was killed in some areas.

    • Kit Hadley-Day

      What i love is that they seem to think that if the crusades had had access to machine guns and carpet bombs then for some reason they would not have used them.

      • epicurus

        Or the Thirty Years War – Christian vs Christian. I’m sure they would had no problems using deadlier weapons to increase the slaughter.

        • Ignorant Amos

          There certainly wasn’t much restrain in using deadlier weapons when Christians went up against Christians in WW1.

          For the believers, someones prayers were being ignored. For example. The concept of Catholics on one side killing Catholics on the other side seems lost on the Christers.

          Although some organisations, such as the Society of Friends (often known as the Quakers) condemned the war, most faith groups gave their support, justifying the cause in sermons and organising services offering prayers for those with the forces. The European armies often had a close relationship to the established church, and also appointed chaplains (including a small number of Jewish rabbis) to serve the spiritual needs of those in service. Christian padres offered communion to men at the Front and behind the lines, and attempted to give some form of pastoral care.

          Other religious organisations offered support in any number of ways, including tracts sent to the soldiers by groups promoting all variants of faith: Anglo-Catholic reflections, evangelical prayerbooks for study groups, and Qu’rans. More esoteric thinkers found that it was their moment to publish warnings of the end of the world, the need to repent or a whole host of spiritual-related speculations.

          https://www.bl.uk/world-war-one/articles/faith-belief-and-superstition

        • epicurus
        • Ignorant Amos

          So it was the liberal Protestants that facilitated the war. What excuse for all the shite by warmongering Christians prior to Luther nailing his treatise to the door then? Talk about not taking responsibility.

        • Greg G.

          One of my great-I-don’t-know-how-many-greats-grandfathers was kicked out of the Quakers for “sundry disorders” and it was reported to the Revolutionary Army that he could no longer claim a religious objection to war. Apparently they were trying to get him killed. He was deleted from the family Bibles, too.

          Fortunately, the records from that place and time were pretty good. A will listed a 5 year old grandson by the same name of the right age and there was only one potential set of parents that matched up from that area.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Apparently they were trying to get him killed. He was deleted from the family Bibles, too.

          An example of gud auld charitable Christian ethics going at full pelt…even the Quakers were at it ffs. No wonder my confidence in humanity is in the gutter.

        • Greg G.

          Remember that it was in the 1770s.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Has much changed for the better since?

        • Greg G.

          Some things have changed. Those things… not so much.

  • Same PRATTs and same BS. Move on, nothing to see here.

    • JustAnotherAtheist2

      Yup.

    • Michael Neville

      I just visited Reynolds’ blog. Does it surprise anyone that he’s got comments shut off?

      • se habla espol

        It shouldn’t. Blog comments dilute the authorityof the blog operator.

        • Len

          Especially when he says stupid stuff.

        • se habla espol

          We’re talking about a christianist blog. “Saying stupid stuff” goes with the territory.

  • alverant

    The fact that Stalin and Kim Jong governed with cult of the personality pretty much means they were NOT Atheistic. A personality cult is still a religion.

    • It’s only theistic when based on a god. Nontheistic religions also exist. Whether a given cult of personality qualifies really depends. Just like what counts as a god.

  • katiehippie

    Atheists can’t be rebuked? What is it that he thinks he’s doing then?

  • Brian Shanahan

    Stalin was orthodox christian (Georgian to be exact). It was the far less murderous Khruschov who was the committed atheist. And amongst the other 20th century dictators, Kim thought himself a god by the end (juche is the North Korean religion, parallelling the mystery religions christianity sprung out of), Hitler and Mussolini were rcc (though with Mussolini more out of convenience than conviction), Pol Pot was a weird mixture of rcc and buddhism with only Mao being atheist, and his successors are in the process of deifying him.

    And that’s before you start looking at the likes of Franco, Pinochet, Seko, Bokassa, Mugabe, Suharto, the Burmese junta and all the others who were explicitly and fanatically religious.

    • JustAnotherAtheist2

      Yes, the best theists can justify – the very best – is that religiosity is not an underlying motivation for totalitarian regimes. I’m not saying I agree with this, just that it’s the furthest they could go even if I grant every argument.

      But that isn’t enough so, as usual, they have to push well beyond what the data could reasonably suggest.

      • Kit Hadley-Day

        religion is a problem for a dictator, unless they can control it, then it becomes just another lever of control. If you can completely crush it, it is one plate to keep spinning, otherwise you have to get well into bed with it.

        • Greg G.

          The metaphors have my head spinning. <80)

        • Kit Hadley-Day

          well at least i didn’t mix them, just smushed them up against each other 🙂 also made a small edit as i seemed to have missed a significant ‘less’

        • Kodie

          I wrote a pretty long reply yesterday about objective morality – the basic concept is, whether it comes from the bible or from a personal preference, if you punish by death any behavior you (or your interpretation of the bible or whatever religious guide) don’t like, the idea is to get rid of people who do things you don’t like, while deterring the behavior you don’t like in others, because they fear death. This is basically North Korea, yeah? We have to acknowledge that some people are greedy for power, and then they see if religion is their tool (like Hitler) or in the way, and so make their own rules to follow or die.

          Killing people who do not obey a disbelief in god is not a feature of atheism but megalomania. Let’s not even stop at dictatorship. Megalomaniacs will use religion as a tool. Megalomaniacs can be threatened by religion and ban it. Stop fucking blaming not believing in your stupid childish fairy tale as a recipe for mass murder. I am telling them, not you.

        • Kit Hadley-Day

          well quite, authoritarians are going to authoritaire and will use any tool they see as useful to do it.

    • He was raised so, but later an atheist. It didn’t stop him from using the Church when they were useful for him. Though both Hitler and were raised as Catholics, they rejected that later. Hitler became a pantheist and Mussolini an atheist. They too had no problem allying with and also using churches however. Pol Pot was raised religious but became an atheist too. So what? Claiming that this proves anything has always been just an association fallacy.

  • Stalin also restricted abortion.

    Hoxna’s Albania was officially atheist, and closed churches, mosques, and synagogues.

    (At best, the best the Hoxna example can do for the apologist is show that it isn’t religion that makes people bad.)

    Our apologist friend claims that there is no ground for criticizing atheists without religion. I guess he missed Elevatorgate; after all, AFAIK, both Richard Dawkins and Rebecca Watson are atheists, and I have seen much criticism of certain atheists’ sexism and racism from more social-justice-minded atheists.

    (Apologists love to quote Dostoyevsky’s “If God doesn’t exist, then anything is permitted”. But, I have noticed most atheists I have encountered see that hypothetical atheist as an asshole.)

  • Michael Neville

    Okay, Reynolds, give us an example of an atheist saying, “Stalin, what a great guy he was. Certainly someone to emulate.”

    Reynolds seems to think that little atheist children are saying, “I want to be Josef Stalin when I grow up.”

    • MuttsRule

      On the other hand, the Russian Orthodox Christians seemed to admire him (from Inconvenient History):

      Requiem masses were said for Stalin on his death in 1953. Patriarch Alexy stated in the patriarchal cathedral on the day of Stalin’s
      funeral:

      “We, who gathered to pray for him, cannot pass in silence on his always benevolent, sympathizing attitude to our church needs. Any
      question which we addressed to him, was not rejected by him; he satisfied all our requests. And a lot that is good and useful, thanks to
      his high authority, has been done for our Church by our Government. The memory of him for us is unforgettable, and our Russian Orthodox Church, mourning over his leaving us, escorting him to his last journey.

      “In these sad days for us, from different directions of our Fatherland from bishops, clergy and believers, and from heads and representatives
      of Churches, as orthodox and heterodox, from abroad, I receive a mass of telegrams telling of prayers for him and consoling us on the occasion
      of this sad loss. We prayed for him when the message about his serious illness had come. And now, when he is no more, we pray for his immortal
      soul. Yesterday our special delegation […] placed a wreath on his coffin and bowed on behalf of the Russian Orthodox Church to his
      dear body. The prayer, fulfilled with Christian love, reaches God. […] And to our loved and unforgettable Joseph Vissarionovich we devoutly, with deep, passionate love proclaim his eternal memory.”

  • Ann Kah

    Hello! I’m your friendly neighborhood non-theist. Do you know why I haven’t murdered you all in your beds by now? It has something to do with NOT WIELDING POWER AND NOT COMMANDING ANY ARMIES.

    Yeah, that must be it.

    • Greg G.

      We murder exactly as many theists as Penn Jillette wants us to murder – zero.

      • Kodie

        I cannot believe that’s absolutely true. There’s conflation here – theists seem to think atheists want an atheist dictatorship that will outlaw religious practice, or that atheism leads to the kind of fantasy of killing everyone who is religious. Right, because we’re the ones who are intolerant. But I can’t believe no atheist has been pushed to the edge and murdered or harmed or vandalized on account of his or her atheism against a theist or theist’s property.

        Morality is just another separate topic. Atheism doesn’t necessarily lead to murder, just like Christianity doesn’t necessarily lead to murder, but it doesn’t mean it can’t or never does.

        • Greg G.
        • Kodie

          I realize that, but I also remember a long while ago, I said something to the effect that gay people can so be murderers and rapists. It’s not being in a certain category that absolves anyone of criminal intent. It’s not being gay that causes molestation, nor is it being an atheist that cause lack of morals and murderous intent. Theists and homophobes need to learn all that shit, and until they do, if they keep bringing it up, they are misguided morons. But equality means someone who is a criminal can also belong to a minority.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          theists seem to think atheists want an atheist dictatorship that will outlaw religious practice

          Projection at its finest.

        • Ignorant Amos

          But I can’t believe no atheist has been pushed to the edge and murdered or harmed or vandalized on account of his or her atheism against a theist or theist’s property.

          Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre and his “Reign of Terror” during the time of the French Revolution could be a contender.

          He [Robespirre] protested against Catholic Dogmas and the ways of Christianity stating, “of all religions, the Christian should of course inspire the most toleration, but till now the Christians have been the most intolerant of all men.” These criticisms were often used by Robespierre and other leaders as justification for their anti-religious reforms.

          The Reign of Terror was characterized by a dramatic rejection of long-held religious authority, its hierarchical structure, and the corrupt and intolerant influence of the aristocracy and clergy. Religious elements that long stood as symbols of stability for the French people, were replaced by reason and scientific thought. The radical revolutionaries and their supporters desired a cultural revolution that would rid the French state of all Christian influence. This process began with the fall of the monarchy, an event that effectively defrocked the State of its sanctification by the clergy via the doctrine of Divine Right and ushered in an era of reason.

          Many long-held rights and powers were stripped from the church and given to the state. In 1789, church lands were expropriated and priests killed or forced to leave France. A Festival of Reason was held in the Notre Dame Cathedral, which was renamed “The Temple of Reason”, and the old traditional calendar was replaced with a new revolutionary one. The leaders of the Terror tried to address the call for these radical, revolutionary aspirations, while at the same time trying to maintain tight control on the de-Christianization movement that was threatening to the clear majority of the still devoted Catholic population of France. The tension sparked by these conflicting objectives laid a foundation for the “justified” use of terror to achieve revolutionary ideals and rid France of the religiosity that revolutionaries believed was standing in the way.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reign_of_Terror

          But Robespierre is never put forward by apologists…I wonder why? NOT!

    • Robert Serrano

      On the other hand, apparently many Christians are slavering hounds waiting to be unleashed upon the world to murder and destroy, except God says they shouldn’t, so they (mostly) restrain themselves.

      And here I am being happily atheistic and not believing in any sort of afterlife. And I wouldn’t contemplate killing anyone or anything that didn’t pose an immediate threat to me or those I care about. Nor do I believe it should be my right to make people act according to my beliefs.

  • Ignorant Amos

    The auld atheist atrocities fallacy.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAwlwHlgrEI

    Stalin embraced the religious when it suited his purposes, Christian and Muslim.

    He also offed atheists when that suited his purposes too.

    “The sacralization of the party opened the way to the sacralization of Stalin when he became the supreme leader. After 1929, the political religion of Russia mainly concentrated on the deification of Stalin, who until his death in 1953 dominated the party and Soviet system like a tyrannical and merciless deity. “ ~ Emilio Gentile. Politics as Religion. Princeton University Press. (2006). pp. 41-42.

  • rationalobservations?

    Extreme political totalitarianism has much more in common with religious theocratic totalitarianism than with modern, educated, free, secular democracies that are the least religious free democratic nations in the history of our very recently evolved species of ape.

    The 4th century founded Roman religion they called “christianity” was brutally and murderously imposed upon the world in which fewer than 5% of the population followed any of the several messianic cults. The Emperor’s edict to convert or die was reinforced by the destruction of the people’s temples and most holy artifacts and no one knows how many people died for what they considered their true faith.

    The third largest and fastest growing human demographic are the godless nonreligious and all across the developed world religion is in sharp and terminal decline.

    If religion poisons everything, it’s encouraging for the future of our species that the antidote to that vile poison is proving to be education and free, secular democracy,

    The alternative to the totalitarianism of communism is not the totalitarianism of religion – it is education and free, secular democracy,

  • Greg G.
    • al kimeea

      if we descended from meatballs, why are there still meatballs… checkmate

  • You’re both wrong. Atheism/antitheism were part of Marxism to very different degrees. That said, it’s slanderous to claim all antitheists (and even Marxists) are keen on purging religion. Marx did not even advocate that. Lenin and some other later Marxists did. It was hardly uniform policy.

    • Michael Neville

      When did a bit of slander (or in Reynolds’ case libel, since he wrote it rather than said it) stop a Christian from sneering at atheists?

      • Unfortunately they don’t very often. I suppose it’s really not either, since no individual now living has been accused of specific wrongs, and it was thus legit. Still, it is not civil or good reasoning.

  • EllyR

    There is a very big philosophical difference between a mass killer that happens to be an atheist and christians mass killers like the crusaders that killed in the name of “god” and the church with the pope’s blessing. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ee3532d260ade70aa2e65e8ea58695b609f24f3aeb6d6ef80c1476941c673b7d.jpg

    • Michael Neville

      Stalin being a paranoid megalomaniac had more to do with him getting massive numbers of people killed than him being an atheist.

      Historical note: Between 1936 and 1939 Stalin had more Soviet military officers killed than Hitler managed to get killed in 1940 to 1945.

      • Global population changed quite considerably between the Bronze-Iron Ages – up to now. If ancient religious despots wanted to slaughter many, it easn’t for the lack of trying, – it was just they had a much less impressive field of numbers to work their grisly methods against!

        In the range of 27,000,000 to 100,000,000 world population from 2,000 BC to 500 BC – thus warlords had a small sample size to either decimate, or to near fully obliterate.

        (By way of comparison, Australia has a very sparse population due to the lack of rainfall over 90% of its total landmass, and by six months ago had a total population of just 25.1 million!)

        http://www.subdude-site.com/WebPages_Local/Blog/topics/environment/worldPopGrowth_charts/images_worldPopulation/WorldPopulationGraph_yearPre7000BCto2025AD_metalAges_703x578.jpg

      • David Cromie

        Stalin was training to be an Orthodox priest in his younger days, so no doubt, like Hitler, he learned that YAHWEH was very fond of murder and mayhem. Stalin was not particularly against religion, but he was against those who failed to go along with his world view, and just as vengefully cruel in retribution as YAHWEH was.

        By the way, no one has ever started a war in the name of ‘atheism’.

  • Connie Beane

    I prefer the term “non-believer” to “atheist.” Christians are non-believers, too, in every other god but theirs. I just believe in one less god than they do.

    • Michael Neville

      A difference that makes no difference is no difference. But do whatever floats your boat.

      • Connie Beane

        See my response to Kodie.

        • Michael Neville

          Your response to Kodie is:

          True, but “atheist” carries the very negative connotation of opponent for a lot of people. Whereas “non-believer”–for me at least–says “I don’t care enough about your silly debate to argue with you.”

          The word atheist having a “very negative connotation” exists only in your own mind. Many of us here would disagree with you. But no matter, if it’s important to you then don’t use “atheist”. The rest of us will continue to use it despite your concerns.

          EDITED to correct typos.

        • Kodie

          The negative connotation comes from misconceptions by theists. Theists scare each other like what it will be like if they are an atheist, it’s about like the baggage if you announce you are a vegan. Maybe you don’t want to eat or wear animal products anymore, but the meat-eaters will make a huger deal out of it than you will. They will call you annoying and insulting, and whatever.

          Theists think atheists are so much more outspoken than we are. Christianity is pretty outspoken, but when people just go along, at least where I grew up, Christians can be pretty much latent. It’s when someone has to say something, it always has to be an atheist, so we get this terrible reputation for being loud just to make a fuss over nothing, while Christians enjoy a cushy ride of taking everything for granted. Sure, we have to complain intentionally to get over-reach pushed back, but that doesn’t make us bad people. But there is a negative connotation.

          I think it’s bullshit though. The problem most people have with the term is a theist false explanation of what the word means, so they think they know how to deal with you – you’re loud and obnoxious and making a baseless claim, whereas, they have morals, and everyone thinks they’re good people even if they’re not. I dislike theists putting the burden of language on us. I dislike them taking credit for terms like justice, love, morality, etc., and then defining atheism like we’re hell babies and we have to go on the back foot and defend ourselves. Fuck those liars, fuck those brainwashed. If any theist actually cares about being a good person, and a moral person, and a caring citizen and a coexisting type of tolerant person, they should at minimum learn what an atheist actually is and stop spreading filthy rumors, or else FUCK THEM. I’d like to believe some Christians aren’t total assholes, so when those people will be honest, and actually listen to atheists tell them what they are instead of their bullshit church fearmongers, I can stop thinking they are total assholes. Ok, they are only assholes to atheists, so that really just rubs me the wrong way. I hate having to use another word for something because they ruined it, and continue to abuse the word and people who label themselves that word.

        • Connie Beane

          You (and your legion of like minds) may agree or disagree with me as you choose. Be my guest. And feel free to use “atheist” to describe yourself (or yourselves); I’m not trying to impose my choice of terminology on anyone.

          As for the negative connotations of “atheist” that exist only in my mind, try going on some random Christian site and announcing that you’re an atheist and see what kind of reaction you get. I’d love to hear about the results.

        • Kodie

          If you let them tell you what your name is, because of their continued misinformation, that’s really their problem, and you’re making it also our problem by agreeing with their distinction.

        • Ignorant Amos

          As for the negative connotations of “atheist” that exist only in my mind, try going on some random Christian site and announcing that you’re an atheist and see what kind of reaction you get. I’d love to hear about the results.

          Most of us have. The reception varies depending on the level of fundamentalism. You think doing the same and changing the word atheist to non-believer makes a difference? That has not been my experience. But so what, why pander to the fuckwits?

        • Michael Neville

          I know exactly what the reaction to announcing my atheism at a Christian blog is. For some reason you think you’ve discovered that Christians don’t like us and nobody else ever noticed. The difference between you and me is you retreat from announcing your atheism while I glory in it.

          And you are trying to impose your preferred “non-believer” label on the rest of us. Why else would you have responded to me why I told you to call yourself whatever you wanted? But that’s okay. Do whatever lets you sleep at night.

          I give a damn about what I call myself and I prefer to use an honest name rather than something that’s supposed to be fraught with meaning that you have to explain to everyone else.

        • Sample1

          Visibility is good for the word. It may also be a little bad if it occasionally reinforces stereotypes to closed minds. But it’s never going to be accepted as boring or matter-of- factly by being hidden.

          But it’s not like there are club by-laws on this. 🙂

          As far as announcing oneself on a Christian site as atheist and causing a ruckus, that’s not as common these days in my experience. YMMV.

          Try saying you have a stash of black market consecrated hosts that you crisp up on a portable hibachi whenever a Catholic defends their institutional criminality. That will cause a ruckus.

          Mike, faith free

        • Greg G.

          > Writing “have a stash of black market consecrated hosts that you crisp up on a portable hibachi whenever a Catholic defends their institutional criminality” in my notebook.

        • Kodie

          The 1 1/8″ diameter white wafer host (29mm) features a cross design and is available in box or plastic container of 1000 hosts each.Produced in the United States, all breads have a carefully molded sealed edge, which prevents crumbs. They are baked of only white flour and water, and are made strictly without additives. All altar breads are superior in substance and sign value. The breads are sealed minutes after baking and are untouched by human hands.

          https://shop.catholicsupply.com/store/c/460-Altar-Bread.aspx

          You can buy these, but the altar wine is only available for sale by church accounts, because it’s liquor. It’s not specified if, after baking, they are touched by robot hands or angel hands or what, to pack them up. It’s more expensive than a couple boxes of Ritz crackers, but if you want to do something sacrilicious with hosts, it’s not that expensive to get 1000. Come to think of it, it might be, for 1000 of them, fairly competitive with supermarket brands of crackers, with the added feature of no crumbs. Although, I don’t know how they manage to sell biscuits of god-man flesh, or a variety of cheap wines over the internet, that come in a wide variety of savior blood colors and flavor notes:

          https://shop.catholicsupply.com/store/p/48590-Cribari-Vineyards-Altar-Wine-750ml-clone.aspx

          Rosato (delicate, sweet, pink-our best selling blend)
          White Rosato (same as rosato, but straw color)
          Light Red (dark pink color, not as sweet as Rosato)
          Vin rose (pink, slightly sweet, delicate bouquet)
          Port (ruby red, velvet smooth and rich)

          The Bishop jewelry is hella expensive, but you can get a comfortable priest collar pretty cheap too:
          It’s called “Clericool Collar”:
          https://shop.catholicsupply.com/store/p/47001-Clericool-Collar.aspx

          If you really look around this site, I mean, it’s funny ’cause you can buy sacrilegious crackers and Halloween costumes, but the money you donate to the grand ceremony that is Catholicism, how much they pay to put on their theater, and that isn’t necessarily what they want… not saying it’s not what they want, but it’s the whole appeal of Catholicism is the excess and material exposition, and they need to keep up these appearances to seem more rich (and I don’t even mean monetarily) than other beliefs, I mean more authentic or substantial. They need luxury materials to somehow attract members, which makes it seem shallow to me and Catholics to seem gullible.They need the theatrics, this makes them think it’s more real.

          Example of people being fooled by shinies:

          Indiana Jones 3 Holy Grail Scene

          Of course, that doesn’t mean something more authentically rustic and ancient is proof of god, but it does go along with the stories more authentically.

        • Greg G.

          They also say some magic words and play it as a solemn thing to make the transubstantiation seem real to them.

        • Ignorant Amos

          They are just wafers until the cleric says the magic woo-woo words during the magic ritual. Host desecration can only occur to consecrated hosts as far as I was aware.

          It all starts to happen at the beginning of the “Institution Narrative”, “This is my body.” (Hoc est enim corpus meum.).

          Today, the answer can be found in the Catechism, but also by observing the liturgy. The Catechism says that as soon as the Institution Narrative begins, the Lord is present in the elements of bread and wine. That is why the universal law of the church directs the assembly to kneel for this part of the Eucharistic Prayer, even though in the United States we are already kneeling at that point.

          That was the point for the student who got into the shite when he stole one during the vodoo procedure. It had to be pilfered after it was in the process of being transformed. I remember all the hoo-haa at the time.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Host_desecration#2008_controversy_in_the_US

        • Kodie

          I didn’t really know where it came from. For some reason, I thought they were thinner like a flat potato chip, and didn’t have little sheep stamped on them. So, someone like me can buy a box of hosts and put them out at a party with some cheeses and maybe some kind of dip and pepperoni. Because that would be cool.

        • Connie Beane

          When I ceased to identify as “Christian,” I also cast aside the notion that I had an obligation to be a spokesperson for my faith (or non-faith, as the case is). What I believe in or don’t believe in, what I call myself, is a personal matter. I’m not out to “witness” to the benefits of being an atheist (or non-believer), to try to “convert” anyone to atheism (or non-belief), or to demonstrate that atheists (non-believers) can be good people, too. I’m just me, and I don’t really care what anyone else believes, just as long as they don’t bug me about it.

        • Kodie
        • Ignorant Amos

          So why are you here, talking about it to strangers, if it is that much of a personal matter?

    • Kodie

      Means literally the same thing.

      • Connie Beane

        True, but “atheist” carries the very negative connotation of opponent for a lot of people. Whereas “non-believer”–for me at least–says “I don’t care enough about your silly debate to argue with you.”

        • Kodie

          We need to stop being scared of connotations laid there by theists who are preached lies about atheism at church.

        • Connie Beane

          By calling myself an “a-theist,” I define my position by contrasting it with theirs: as their opposite or opponent. By calling myself a “non-believer,” I am saying that the issue of whether there is a god or no god is irrelevant to the way I live my life. I have no opinion either way.

        • Kodie

          I don’t see the distinction. If you can get out of sticky situations where a believer will confront you for not believing in their god, by labeling yourself something that doesn’t raise their hackles immediately, you’re missing the opportunity to teach them what they believe atheists are is different from what atheists actually are. What else are they being lied to about?

          Because they literally mean the same THING. Theist = believer, Atheist = non-believer.

          Buy into their connotations if you want to.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I am saying that the issue of whether there is a god or no god is irrelevant to the way I live my life. I have no opinion either way.

          Nope, you’re not.

          But given what you’ve just said there, and you’re proposal for us to go to a Christian site and declare ones atheism as opposed to being a non-believer, I don’t see why you’d even do that. By going to a Christian site and declaring yourself as a non-believer, you are declaring you have an opinion either way, that you believe that not to be the case, is ridiculous.

        • Greg G.

          Kodie is right.

          theist = believer
          the prefix “a” = the prefix “non”

          I don’t see much of a distinction. Perhaps you should use “atheist” as atheists use it instead of how theists use it.

        • Sample1

          Atheist has fewer letters. Better for the environment.

          Mike, atheist

        • Kodie

          I’ve always disliked people trying to get away from the term because Christians ruined it.

        • Greg G.

          Good point. It also saves you a syllable every time you use it in a sentence.

  • Derek Mathias

    Hey Bob, I just recently released a video that makes some of the same key points you make. Check it out:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYFe8rejcjM

  • That quaint ole bible seems to be a manifesto for religiously-inspired slaughter!
    The Dark Bible

    Atrocities (only a few)

    https://www.nobeliefs.com/DarkBible/darkbible3.htm

    QUOTED example: David Slaughters Them

    “And he brought out the people that were in it, and cut them with saws, and with harrows of iron, and with axes…” (I Chronicles 20:3)
    Comment
    Chapters 17-19 (17-18-19) tells us that David killed 22,000 Syrians and that Abishai killed 18,000 Edomites. No one expresses shame at such slaughters.
    Here in 20:3, we have David, counted as a great leader of the Israelites, slaughtering captives after the cessation of hostilities. From what high moral ground should we admire this action?

  • RichardSRussell

    Mass murderer in waiting? Not so sure about yourself? Take heart from gaming theory: “Games are very educational. Scrabble teaches spelling, Monopoly teaches cash-flow management, and D&D teaches us to loot the bodies.” —Steve Jackson, game entrepreneur, Dangerous Games, p. 99

  • digital bookworm

    “There is nothing in the Bible about transgender people, euthanasia, or chemically induced abortions, …”
    Actually chemically induced abortions are mentioned in the Buybull. A man suspecting his wife of cheating can talk to a priest about testing his wife. If the priest believes the man he mixes an abortifact into the ink used on a parchment that the wife must eat to prove her faithfulness.
    (I’ll bet the priest believed the husband 99% of the time.)

    • Kodie

      But they believed this only worked if the woman in fact cheated on her husband. So, because of what is involved, it always worked, just like witches always float, etc. It wasn’t on its face the instruction manual to abort a fetus so much as a way to abuse a woman and damage her ability to procreate permanently. I mean, it does the trick, but it’s not giving a woman the choice, it’s accusing her of something she probably didn’t do, and leaving her out in the cold.

      • Ignorant Amos

        Knuckle-dragging woo-woo the lot of it…but there is no mention of any of this in the ignorant red states banning abortion…even for victims of rape and incest.

        https://robertcargill.com/2015/08/19/on-god-ordained-abortion-inducing-magic-potions-and-jealous-husbands-shaming-their-wives-in-the-bible/

        For an omniscient and omnipotent being, YawehJesus is a useless bastard. Or are we talking hyper-misogyny? Yeah…that’ll be it, that’s religion for ya.

      • Robert Serrano

        True, but the current anti-abortioneers, keep claiming that the fetus is innocent of any sin. So, even if it was conceived from adultery, inducing a miscarriage should still be murder according to them. I know most of them haven’t actually read the book they throw in everyone else’s face, but this would seem to be a huge inconsistency.
        But then, I’m not a theologian.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ah, but according to that prick Augustine, all babies are born with original sin. That’s why it’s imperative to get ones sprogs baptized ASAP. In case something terminal happens before the ritual is convened. And that’s why the fuckwit invented the concept of limbo, one of the more insidious ideas to come from a religion.

          Original sin is an Augustine Christian doctrine that says that everyone is born sinful. This means that they are born with a built-in urge to do bad things and to disobey God. It is an important doctrine within the Roman Catholic Church. The concept of Original Sin was explained in depth by St Augustine and formalised as part of Roman Catholic doctrine by the Councils of Trent in the 16th Century.

    • Greg G.

      I am glad you caught that about chemically induced abortion so I wouldn’t have to jump on it.

    • Pofarmer

      Is this Numbers 5 or?

      • digital bookworm

        Yeah, Numbers 5, 11-31. After rereading it I had the details wrong, but the basic premise right.

  • “Not all atheists are selfish, though they aren’t acting decently because of atheism.”

    I was a decent person as a Christian, but it is a fact that my atheism has motivated me to be better. When I realized that it’s just we humans trying to get by, and that there are no invisible beings that can help, I realized that what I do makes more difference than I thought. It’s ALL up to people to help other people. That motivates me.

    • Pofarmer

      As Mark Twain said. “People do all the work, God gets all the credit.”

  • NS Alito

    Christianity, by contrast, does have a moral rulebook, and it sucks.

    That’s why I come here: Thoughtful theological analysis.

    • You do know that there’s a link there to justify that claim, right?

      • NS Alito

        [Back from trip]
        I enjoyed the vulgar vernacular departure from the usual, more temperate tone of your posts.
        😉

  • Grimlock

    Yes…but the problem still remains that when you say “I’m an atheist” and when I say “I’m an atheist”, it isn’t enough. If you and I are different kinds of atheist, then a further qualifier is required.

    Agreed. The word is sufficiently ambiguous, and used in different ways, so that further elaboration is required. If someone self-identifies as an atheist, they probably do not have a belief in god(s). But if a person doesn’t believe in god(s), and that is all we know, they probably do not self-identify as an atheist.

    The word on its own simply means without gods. It takes more to define what kind of atheist we are and why we differ. That’s the problem. And that’s the reason theists get it wrong when they come along and define my atheism as your atheism. And why when they are corrected, they keep making the category error mistake anyway. That’s why we get pissed off.

    This isn’t difficult. If a word has more than one meaning, it needs more to delineate the correct definition when the interlocutor is taking the wrong meaning, otherwise confusion sets in. This is the problem with theists and a number of words the bandy about. Words like “faith” and “theory” for example. Luke Breuer would do it all the time. Complain about us being uncharitable when we took the negative connotation, but then whine when it was pointed out that he was the worst offender.

    The term atheist can define a larger group under the umbrella of without gods. Like theist covers lots more than jus one religion. And it doesn’t matter when being applied as without gods. But when it is being applied to the more specific, then it needs qualification and I’m not having a theist insisting on that qualification and applying it to me.

    I do not agree that atheism is the best umbrella term for those who do not actively believe in god(s). I prefer the term nontheist. But that doesn’t mean that I mind you preferring to categorise that as atheism.

    As mentioned above, I agree that self-identification as an atheist is not sufficient to provide an accurate description of one’s beliefs. It is indeed very frustrating when religious folks makes faulty assumptions about one’s beliefs based on that self-identification…

  • Grimlock

    Very interesting. Would a similar way of phrasing the same issue be that for A to be a good explanation for X, then X should follow from A, and ~X should not follow from A?

    Asking to try check if I understood.

    Neat discussion you’re having with Susan.

    Thanks. I like it too. It’s enlightening, and opens up some interesting ideas.

    • Sample1

      X should follow in some functional role from A, yes, if it is claiming to be a mode of explanation for A. Otherwise, what we have is a gap in any causal relationship for A while still claiming to be casually explanatory. And that smacks of “insert magic here.” Does it not?

      Mike, excommunicated

      • Grimlock

        Agreed, so it does.

        Thank you for the interesting ideas. I’ll have to check out that Ted Talk you mentioned.

    • Susan

      Would a similar way of phrasing the same issue be that for A to be a good explanation for X, then X should follow from A, and ~X should not follow from A?

      We have a general idea what “X” is. The world we see around us. This includes the fields that lie at the bottom of our best models and evidence of our best thinkers and students on the subject. .

      I have no idea what you mean by “A”.

      Or what “A”ism means by “A”.

      • MR

        I read his two cases and neither seems to apply to me.

        • Susan

          neither seems to apply to me.

          I’m having the same problem, at least without copious caveats.

          But Grimlock always makes discussion interesting.

      • Grimlock

        I did mean that in a general sense, and not limited to the specific case of god(s) as an explanation.

        But I generally find that even if I have some idea of what is meant by “God”, the explanatory part is still mostly or entirely absent.

        I haven’t forgotten your last reply in our other exchange, by the way. I just wanna give myself time to process what you wrote, and also get back to a proper keyboard. Hopefully some time tomorrow.