How Do We Criticize Religion After Christchurch?

How Do We Criticize Religion After Christchurch? March 19, 2019

In the wake of the devastation in Christchurch, a lot of outspoken atheists have been asking themselves if their open criticism of Islam is stoking the Islamophobia fire. I got this note from an Instagram follower the other day,

Hey there! I’m an atheist myself and I have a question. The question is, as atheists how do we support religious freedom and at the same time mock or not respect their beliefs?

and it’s a good question. As you know, I’ve been very loud about my position that we, as atheists, must treat religious people with respect. I openly confront my fellow atheists online who call religious people names and will, 100% of the time, stand up for the religious person in that exchange. I stand firmly in the camp that there is no difference between myself and a religious person, outside of a single belief. My life has been deeply impacted by religious people who I have loved and love still, some who I have unending respect for and many who have managed to change my mind on various topics over the years.

As an atheist, I want nothing more than for my fellow atheists to be kind and respectful to our fellow human beings whether they worship Jesus, Ganesh, Thor or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. What’s more, I think we should be respectful even in the face of disrespect. I strongly believe that we have everything to gain from situations in which a religious person is cutting us down simply because we don’t share their beliefs. Here’s a conversation with a fellow atheist a few weeks ago:


When a religious person comes at us with disrespect, I see it as an opportunity. It’s the perfect chance to demonstrate how an atheist can be the better person, proving beyond any doubt that one does not need guidance from a deity to be good and moral. Through this method, I have been able to break down the walls of several religious people who seemed to loathe atheists and now we follow each other on various platforms with mutual respect.

This is a large part of how we will normalize atheism. This is how we will take the stigma away and get to a place on our timeline where no one cares, not even in Bangladesh or Saudi Arabia, that you’re a godless heathen.

The other part of normalization, however, is being able to openly criticize the ideas that religion puts out into the world. This is crucial to normalization. We must be able to freely disagree with any idea we are confronted with, especially if those ideas are being used to influence policy or to indoctrinate children. The more we do it, the fewer people are shocked by it and let’s face it, the fewer people who are shocked by it, the less discrimination against atheists there will be. It will help us end the death penalty for apostasy and blasphemy in 13 countries. It will help us decriminalize atheism in 40+ countries across the globe. It will make living as an atheist a much, much safer thing to do in places like Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Bangladesh.

It is also critical to be able to freely disagree with any idea for anyone, religious or not. We ought to be able to pick apart ideas and present our arguments as to why we disagree with them. No idea should be exempt from this. Your ideas aren’t more special than my ideas and deserve no extra protection. If you try to convince me of something that makes no sense to me or even seems to be dangerous, you’d better believe I’m going to say something. Why wouldn’t I?

Where we seem to find trouble is when we are unable to separate people from the ideas they hold. I know, it sounds absurd, but for some reason, when it comes to religious belief, we seem to have this notion that the beliefs make the person despite the mountains upon mountains of evidence that show that people pick up new ideas and leave behind old ones all the time. There isn’t a single, solitary adult on this planet who is clinging to all the same ideas he held dear in childhood.

Our ideas change, they adapt, they morph and they become obsolete. They are as precious as the operating system on your computer, which is to say they are not precious at all no matter how attached you are to the lavender dream that was Mac OS 7.

You have rights. Your ideas do not.

So, when I get asked how do we respect the person without respecting the belief, the answer is simple: we respect the person and don’t respect the belief.

When I openly disagree with you, it doesn’t mean I don’t respect you. In fact, it’s the opposite. I have enough respect for you to tell you how I feel truthfully.

When I openly disagree with you, it’s not because I think bad things should happen to you. In fact, it’s the opposite. I don’t voice my disagreement this vehemently on topics that I don’t think matter. Only on the ones that do, because I care about the flourishing of my fellow human beings.

My own mom shares misinformation about vaccines on Facebook. You and I both know how dangerous that is. I criticize the things she posts and the things she says to me that promote vaccine hesitancy because I care about her and the people she has the ability to influence. I care about my fellow human beings and I don’t want to see our most vulnerable community members threatened by diminishing herd immunity.

My criticism of her ideas does not mean I want to hurt her. I f*cking love my mother.

This is the only example you need to understand how I can criticize a doctrine I find loathsome while still seeing the humanity in and the necessity to protect the rights of the people who revere it. Openly disagreeing with the ideas I’ve found in Islam does not mean I want bad things to happen to Muslims.

We must respect Muslims. We must respect a Muslim’s right to practice his or her faith. We must respect a Muslim’s right to revere a god even if we don’t believe in it.

This not to be confused with respecting that god, however. I do not have to show reverence to a god I don’t believe in and I am not promoting violence and hatred against Muslims by failing to do so.

You do not kill someone because they have ideas you don’t share.

You do not hate someone because they see the world in a different way than you do.

It is okay to openly disagree with someone. Yes, even in today’s ultra-sensitive culture of outrage, we can openly disagree with someone and not promote hatred at the same time.

When people ask if now is the time, my answer is yes. Until my fellow atheists are no longer being imprisoned for being godless; until there are zero countries that punish atheism with death or prison time; until it is safe across the globe to say “Sorry, I don’t believe in that,” it will always be the right time to criticize the ideas that are preventing these things.

What do you think? Can you criticize the belief but still have respect for the believer? Let me know in the comments.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Jennny

    I didn’t even think about religion, which may not make sense to some, as the event happened in 2 mosques, I just felt so sad for those whose lives were lost so senselessly and for their grieving families. And innocent children died. I found myself repeating part of the John Donne poem. I heard it called a rebuke to isolationism.

    ‘No man is an island entire of itself
    Every man is a piece of the continent,
    A part of the main.
    If a clod be washed away by the sea,
    Europe is the less.
    As well as if a promontory were.
    As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
    Or of thine own were:
    Any man’s death diminishes me,
    Because I am involved in mankind,
    And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
    It tolls for thee.

  • “Can you criticize the belief but still have respect for the believer?”

    Sure we can. How do we criticise religion after Christchurch? The same way we did it before: by pointing out that there’s no reason to believe in magical beings, and there’s no evidence for any god or supernatural nonsense. None of that becomes less true just because some psychotic nutcase kills a bunch of people.

  • mambocat

    How do we support religious freedom while educating against mythology? Simple. Continue to advocate for reason without engaging in unprovoked assholery. We are better than that. Everyone has the right to believe as they wish. What they do NOT have the right to do is to impose a particular doctrine on others. Many believers seek to have an officially endorsed dominant religion in society, while most atheists seem to stand by the concept of a public/governmental arena devoid of faith, but the private right to believe and associate as one wishes. Yes, we always hope that reason will prevail in the end, but I think none of us would be unhappy if we could simply have government institutions and the public sphere free of religion. I respect the right of others to believe, I expect my right to NOT believe to be reciprocally respected, and I grieve for anyone who is the victim of hatred.

  • Michael Neville

    I’m perfectly willing to respect anyone until they show themselves unfit for my respect. Demanding that I respect beliefs because lack of such respect will cause whining is not the way to keep my respect.

  • BitinDawg

    Atheism is empowering. By and large, Ashkenazim Jewry have long since put away the ancient mythology. It has freed up their minds to deal with the world as it really is. As a consequence, they are well on their way to ruling the whole world. They have trained American Christendom as their running dog and they no longer accuse Jews of killing Jesus. In fact, the X-tians now bow before the Jews and transfer their treasures to them. What can we do? They R God’s chosen people.

    https://images.encyclopediadramatica.rs/5/50/The_Great_Replacement.pdf

  • Old Heathen

    It is hard to be kind, open and empathic when we have people in high places attempting to impose their religion in civil law. I became a young adult circa 1980 and politics and culture wars made me very angry. With the internet I now feel like I have a voice. I am fed up with the likes of Westboro Baptist church, the criminal Roman Catholic Church, the 700 club, now we go to the middle east with all that entails concerning our government. Human rights, equality of the genders before the law, circumcision of babies male and female! I am tired of them not being answered back with facts ….and yes insults. Having had my rant… Yes, I believe you are correct this is how to ‘ win friends and allies ” It’s so very hard at times because I want to ” stab religions in the heart and stake them to the ground so they never rise again ” metaphorically of course. I have been a long time coming to the place of comfort without god. I was brought up in the church, left. Then found young church at 16 and became born again. Then I became some what of a mystic, then agnostic, finally a anthropology buff ! I will attempt to apply your suggestion for the sake of the cause. I know I won’t win arguments otherwise. And to think…I thought my days of needing to ” take the high road ” and not ‘ give anger for anger’ were over when I turned from religion !

  • phatkhat

    Nice white nationalist link, there, bubba.

  • James Gertmenian

    You might want to consider the disrespect implied when you list Jesus and the “Flying Spaghetti Monster” as though they could somehow be equated.

  • MarquisDeMoo

    Notwithstanding that the FSM has gained traction in its own respect, and the subtle fact that if there is any equating it is with a god rather than Jesus per se who may have existed, it is a response when believers strawman atheism demanding proof of the non existence of their god. For the argument to work and bring home how nonsensical it is to demand proof that something does not exist you have to frame it so they instinctively see the silliness.

    PS. However on reflection I take your point in the context of this article and confess it did make me pause…I considered deleting this post but will leave this up because my point is valid in the more appropriate use of the FSM.

  • Iron Chariots

    Nothings changed. Religious nonsense is still religious nonsense.
    Supporting reason over pretending to know things one doesn’t know, otherwise known as religious faith is not specific to any particular religion.
    We need to stop using the term “godless” as it implies without something and gives god delusions some creedance.
    Is anyone pixieless?

  • billwald

    I’m afraid for the civilized western nations when I think about the Islamic nations and their government-imposed religion.

  • billwald

    OK, but the more civilized, evolved nations are out-numbered at least 3 to 1.

  • billwald

    Technically, a myth is a story of beginnings and not a commentary on truth. All things considered, every story of beginnings sounds silly when pressed for details about presuppositions.

  • Dhammarato

    IT IS BETTER TO RESPECT THE FACTS. Free speech is best when it is factual true speech. When a religion is known (well know) to be a pack of lies, why give it any respect at all. Best to stand outside of Religious buildings and loudly ridicule the insiders for their stupid lies.

    We need to repair the 1st amendment so that facts have more power than lies. Now the US constitution prompts lies of the worst kind with a badly worded 1st amendment. Maybe outlaw religion, its all a pack of lies. Also outlaw the Republican party, it too is only a pack of lies.

  • billwald

    And atheistic nonsense? Claiming that something doesn’t exist inside or outside of the billions of cubic light years of this universe . . . or the computer game which is this universe that only exists in computer memory outside of this universe?

    (Even) some traditional Christians confess that this universe only exists in God’s mind. Maybe God is a computer.

  • billwald

    What great deeds have Atheists accomplished in the last couple hundred years?

  • Dhammarato

    when their beliefs are harmful to themselves their families. others and the society in general, then the assholery is provoked, not unprovoked. Lets us all be assholes for the facts. Lets us openly loudly ridicule the believers (of lies). Shame the believers for believing the lies they have been told by the Republican party and the churches. Snicker when they say silly things. Laugh out loud when they speak of religion and slap them when they speak well of trump. Be an asshole for the facts. Be a Joe Friday (just the facts mam, just the facts). Joe was the best asshole of TV (remember Dragnet).

  • Iron Chariots

    Maybe pixies on flying pigs flew over Loch Ness, sprinkling magic dust to create a monster.
    Do you think this is possible also? It would appear so.
    “atheistic nonsense?” Please try and remember atheists aren’t the ones making bizarre supernatural claims without a shread of evidence.

  • Dhammarato

    They will both save you from your sin, but one is more delicious than the other.

  • Iron Chariots

    Many of these “civilized western nations western nations” also sponser, subsidize and promote nonsensical god beliefs.
    No nation is really civilized until they can free themselves of religious fantasy.

  • Iron Chariots

    Agree with most except outlawing religion.
    That would force in underground where it would become more dangerous.
    Best keep it in the light, where it can be exposed.

  • Iron Chariots

    Disrespectful to FSM?
    Does FSM have a place for eternal punishment, just for not believing?
    Did FSM have the power to heal all disease yet only cure a handful?
    Yes you are right to say it’s disresectful to equalt the FSM with such a rotten dispicable creature.

  • Raging Bee

    YOU might want to consider the disrespect directly stated when Christians assert that everyone who doesn’t believe in their god will be tortured in Hell for the rest of eternity.

  • Dan Slaby

    Unfortunately, for many believers, religion makes the person and any criticism of their beliefs is a criticism of their person.

  • I may well be unable to respect a religious person, any more than I could respect a person who believes the world is flat, or that it is 10,000 years old, or that vaccines are harmful. Respect is earned.

    But that doesn’t mean I can’t treat such a person respectfully, and respect their right to believe whatever they will, regardless of how stupid or harmful I might feel it to be. I would say the issue isn’t about respect, but about civility.

  • Brian Shanahan

    You’re right, FSM isn’t a scam perpetuated over the last 1,700 years to maintain the autocratic rule of despots and to do the poor out of what few comforts they possess.

    In that way, you cannot equate it with the made up creed of jesusism, invented by the conman Saul if Tarsus and imposed on the people by Roman dictators to maintain their power.

  • Kit Hadley-Day

    both are equally impossible, the only difference is one is a satire to highlight that fact, we do not do ourselves any favors as a society when we afford undue deference to one set of unevidenced ideas over another.

  • Kit Hadley-Day

    what great advance has any religion given us ever?

  • Kit Hadley-Day

    i can barely read what you have to say, i am blinded by the shine coming off your tin foil hat

  • Kit Hadley-Day

    yet some how magical sky wizard still ends up being the most ridiculous

  • Kit Hadley-Day

    i think you need to define civilized and evolved in that statement

  • Jeffrey Paul Bradt

    It looks like you totally missed the point of the article. Separate the beliefs from the people. Nobody is “demanding” that you “respect beliefs,” but just the opposite: respect the people while you do not respect the beliefs.

  • Raging Bee

    How Do We Criticize Religion After Christchurch? Same way we’ve been criticizing it (or at least SHOULD HAVE been criticizing it) before: by relentlessly pointing out and exposing all the con-games, irrationality and atrocities enabled by religious thinking and institutions; and with the understanding that religious people have also been victims of such misdeeds, and deserve sympathy and respect right along with religious minorities who have been victims of the same misdeeds.

    We need to ALWAYS remember two things: first, most of the Muslims in the “West” (yes, that kinda does include Australia and New Zealand) came “here” to get away from the worst consequences of their own religion; and second, many of us atheists were ourselves believers when we started to see how detrimental our received beliefs could be. That’s the common ground on which we can stand with ordinary people, of all religions, who only want to live decent lives.

  • That’s really beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  • Agreed.

  • Very well said, thank you!

  • I don’t have a problem continuing to be respectful, even after the other person has stopped doing so. As I said in the post, it’s the perfect opportunity to demonstrate how secular morality can look way better than religious morality.

  • Don’t get me wrong, I get very angry. Sometimes I can’t keep my cool. But I try because I know we can change more if we approach it rationally.

  • They are equally fictional to me. These are my beliefs. Yours are not more valuable than mine and I have a right to express them. We are discussing ideas and as I said in my post, ideas do not have a right to respect.

  • Yes, I agree. My post was more about respecting people despite the fact that some of them don’t recognize the facts.

  • The mere fact you’d pose this question is an illustration of your lack of decency.

    There are great people and assholes in all groups. The sooner you see us as the same, the happier you will be. Have an awesome day.

  • The only problem is that being an asshole doesn’t change anything. People don’t change their minds or open their minds because someone was an asshole to them. As any atheist who used to be religious why they lost their faith. You’re going to be hard-pressed to find one that says “because atheists were assholes to me.”

    So, if you choose to be an asshole to believers because they hold harmful views, you’re consciously choosing that which we know does not help or change anything. All it does is serve to satiate your own emotions.

    To change and open minds, we must choose not to be assholes. We must approach with kindness and respect.

  • Yes, this is true. Sad but true, but we know that minds can and have changed and that one day, even those Christians could lose their faith.

  • I don’t know how you know that for sure.

  • Exactly!

  • In all of these acts we see nationalism, racism, and tribalism. I’d be very surprised if the religion of the victims- a big part of what makes them “others” in the eyes of people like the shooter- didn’t play a role in his hatred.

  • What great deeds have Atheists accomplished in the last couple hundred years?

    Wrote the Declaration of Independence and founded the U.S. Figured out the core principles of biological evolution. Wrote about Tom Sawyer, and produced some of America’s greatest literature. Started the women’s rights movement. Invented the telephone. Elucidated the relationship between mass and energy, and between mass and gravity. Discovered the structure of DNA.

    (Which is not to say, of course, that great things haven’t been accomplished by theists, as well.)

  • Jennny

    I am a bear of very little brain, I can’t begin to get my head round those 2 adjectives. As usual, it would be too much to expect a troll to give us a verifiable citation for his random claim!

  • James Gertmenian

    The point is not about the truthfulness of anyone’s beliefs/non-beliefs. It is about respect for OTHERS beliefs. If, indeed, that is a value, then an atheist, out of common courtesy and respect, would not ridicule belief in Jesus by putting it in a series with an obviously facetious, ridiculous entry. I would not choose to list atheism in a series with a similarly ridiculous entry because while I disagree with atheists, I respect their stance. There is as much closed-mindedness in the atheist camp as there is in the believers camp . . . and obviously as much defensive anger. In any case, theists and atheists alike would be well served to learn about anatheism which is a spiritual outlook that follows when theism and atheism have been left behind. Those interested in anatheism could look at the work of philosopher Richard Kearney.

  • Michael Neville

    Doubtless you are a nicer person than I.

  • Michael Neville

    It appears that you missed the point of my comment.

    Courtney says that she’ll respect people and beliefs in spite of what anyone might do. I take a different approach. I’ll respect you until you give me reason to stop respecting you. At that point my respect will cease. If you demand that I continue to respect you I will let you know that you’ve forfeited my respect.

  • If “courtney” has the same twitter handle as she does disqus handle, then she is the one cynically raising her kids as Jewish for political reasons.

    Yep, exact same icon too.

    I would not considering wasting every second of the day at war with God trying to normalize one’s reprobate mind by core outing kids with one’s own perversion is respect in any capacity. Same goes to you too.

  • MarquisDeMoo

    It is why I am so against the use of the word Islamophobia to describe the abuse of Muslims when in reality it is Muslimophobia. Unfortunately the distinction is too often exploited by Muslims and seemingly too difficult for the media and law enforcement to understand.

  • RonT

    As a mature (84 yo) I give this writing a 98% thumbs up and would suggest it to Religious and non-Religious equally. However, assuming that this is read primarily by Atheists and reading the comments, there is work to be done! I am a Moderate, orthodox Christian and I enjoy discussing our differences. I do not think you are stupid, an a_shole, believer of lies…etc. and would not use phrases like these. I would not use them because I won’t like you attacking me in that fashion.

  • Ocelot Aardvark

    You should be more afraid for civilized western nations due to the hideous, obscene, monster who weaseled his fat-αss into the ‘Offal’ Office via TREASON and his pretentious-christian, adoring, suck-up Pence.

  • Ocelot Aardvark

    Maybe it is , maybe it ain’t. Neither religious people nor atheists can prove a damn thing.
    Believe, or don’t believe, according to your own conscience and let others do the same.
    Radical atheists are just as tyrannical as radical religious people.

  • Ocelot Aardvark

    Well at least you got part of that right. You’re entitled to your beliefs (or lack thereof) and so is everyone else, especially in the US, where our Constitution guarantees that we ALL have the right to worship or not worship according to our own consciences.

  • Ocelot Aardvark

    Neither is there any evidence that God does not exist. That’s the nature of faith.

    Atheists believe that all matter suddenly blew into existence out of nothing (without a shred of evidence).
    Religious people believe that an Intelligent Creator made all things (no evidence there either).

    Like I mentioned above, radical atheism is just as tyrannical as radical religion. Several atheistic comments above (and on other forums too) have come out in favor of making belief in God illegal. I’ll go so far as to say that Atheism IS a religion too … the religion of believing in nothing.

  • Iron Chariots

    Atheists don’t have to prove anything. The burden is on the beliver to prove their claims.
    There is nothing radical or tyranical about demanding evidence for religious claims.
    Crazy that you would think it is.
    Infact it is a decent human beings duty to expect evidence.
    Believing bizarre religious claims without evidence and teaching these claims as true to children is a form of abuse.
    Believing bizarre religious claims and wantng it to have even the slightest influance on society is a crime against humanity.
    I would say you have little understanding of the toxic nature of religious belief and how much it has and continues to retard humanity.
    You could start by reading the bible so you can bypass the sales lines of Christianity that clearly influance you and instead find out what they actually believe and who they actually worship. Thanks.

  • Iron Chariots

    May I suggest you firstly grab a dictionary and look up the word Atheist.
    I doubt anyone here wants to make god belief illegal. A bizarre claim by your good self.
    Crictal thinking skills would be all that’s needed to clean the stain of religion.
    Religious faith is not a virtue you seem to imagine it is. It is a cancer on humanity

  • Iron Chariots

    No one is denying peoples right to pretend to know things they don’t know otherwise know as religious faith.
    The problem is the thinking or more accurately, the lack of thinking skills that gets that person to that place that allows themselves to become victims of religion/god belief.

  • Iron Chariots

    One can respect the person but expecting someone to respect bizarre beliefs that of course have zero evidence goes against humanity.
    It is not the atheists fault if a beliver makes those crazy beliefs their identity.
    “There is as much closed-mindedness in the atheist camp as there is in the believers camp . ”
    Nonsense. Personally I’m open to any evidence a religious type can provide.
    After thousands of years of god belief… still nothing.
    Considering that, it is every persons duty to be skeptical.

  • Iron Chariots

    Yes it did. You should read this “racist haters” manifesto.
    You will find that is in part a sungod vs moon god thing.
    Don’t expect western media to call it christian based terrorism.

  • Ocelot Aardvark

    “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” – Hebrews 11:6-8

    If proof was required by God, then faith would be unnecessary.

  • Ocelot Aardvark

    Everyone “pretends” their own ‘things’ … whether they are true or not, will come out at some point in the Cosmos.

    In the meantime, I choose to believe in God. I may not even have that choice, as it seems to me, that I am hardwired to believe in God. Ever since I was a tot, from my earliest memories, I believed in God … without any coaching from anyone. My parents were not religious at all. Never went to a church as a young child, and never even knew a thing about any Bible.

    Yet, I intrinsically knew there is a God.

  • Pan Unicorn

    If a religious person is being an asshole or a bigot, then by all means call them out on that.
    If they’re just going about their day not bothering anyone and acting like a decent human being, then leave them alone.

  • Kit Hadley-Day

    it is always fun to see how they answer though, will they bob and weave around the question, will they straight non sequitur, will they just devolve to insults, let the games begin

  • Iron Chariots

    You in a natural way imagined there was a god.
    No one knows. To say you “know” is being dishonest to yourself.
    I would hazard a guess you have never allowed yourself to truly quastion

  • Claudia Crowley

    Great post! I am a co-moderator for the comments for a site having nothing to do with religion, but which devolves into religion vs. atheism discussions a lot. I haven’t counted, but it appears to me that the atheists are more frequent name-callers than the religionists (of which we have only one who is a serious problem child), and not only that, but uncreative and repetitive name-callers! It’s sad to see. Nobody does their cause any good by insulting people.

  • Iron Chariots

    “Without pretending to know things one doesn’t know it is impossible to please God.” – Hebrews 11:6-8

    If proof was required by God, then pretending to know things one doesn’t know would be unnecessary.

    Very true.
    Have you ever thought of the reason why pretending to know things one doesn’t know is required?
    Maybe because that’s all there is.
    I don’t see a problem with a god providing evidence of existing.
    If I was a god I would certianly let everyone know then they can make their decision based on reality.
    It is the only reasonable thing to do.
    Even with evidence I wouldn’t punish someone who decided not to follow.
    Yet bible god provides no evidence and sets up the sickest of concepts, eternal punishment, just for not believing.
    Not suprising from this imaginary being that biblically based is jealous, merciless, unjust, unforgiving, homophobic, rascist, genocidal, vindictive , infanticidal control freak.
    Happy to provide bibical evidence for all plus more.
    Just ask.

  • Ocelot Aardvark

    You’re completely wrong on all your perceived “hazard guesses”. I’ve questioned everything, and to my mind and heart, there is NO meaning or logic to life or the Universe without the presence of God. Maybe it’s you who should be questioning your own emptiness.

    Without God, life is meaningless, and we’re nothing but a speck of dust without a soul. So take your “hazard guesses” and shove them. You don’t know shìt!

    “The fool hath said in his heart there is no God.” – Psalm 14:1

  • Iron Chariots

    I’m not wrong. You’ve never questioned honesty. If you had you wouldn’t say “I know there is a god”
    I feel sorry for you that you find no meaning to life without and imaginary being in it.
    That’s a major fault in your life, not mine.
    Potty mouthed insults also don’t help you but it does give me an idea of the ‘intellect’ involved and harks back to your inablity to be honest with yourself.

    “The fool hath said in his heart there is no God.” – Psalm 14:1
    Of course a scam would say that. Especially one that never provides evidence. Just a bunch of bizarre claims that aren’t allowed to be quaestioned by the beliver for fear of a fantasy eternal punishment.
    More honest to say a fool belives rediculous god claims without evidence.

    As previously suggest, I reccommend you actually read the bible properly to discover what you are actually doing.

  • Australopithecus

    I don’t like to use “respect” as a default position in general. Respect is earned. I prefer kindness. I would never be intentionally mean or rude to a person based on their faith. Or any other belief. There is an obvious problem though when people with rigid beliefs insist on claiming that a lack of respect for their beliefs is a personal attack on them. Now There is an impasse. At this point I would tend to leave the discussion.

  • Australopithecus

    The obvious answer is always Newton. An amazing intellect who changed the world. Principia Mathematica is a revolutionary piece of work. The world literally changed based upon his work. But he was a believer and an alchemist. He is the best possible example of the “authority” fallacy. You can be in awe of his intellect properly applied (calculus, Newtonian Physics) and bemused if not crushed by his inability to see the flaws in his other ideas (alchemy, religion). This is the best reason to understand the importance of critical thinking. To be able to apply criticism and skepticism to your heroes. Atheists are uniquely positioned to do this as most are also skeptics (in the proper sense). As Tim Minchin said, “ideas are like arseholes, everyone has one and yours should be examined thoroughly and often”. Or something a bit like that.

  • Ocelot Aardvark

    Your assuming certainly does make an àss out of you.

    As previously suggested, learn to respect other people and their beliefs.

  • Iron Chariots

    Not interested in what you imagine to be true as it has no standards.
    You are the one with the potty mounthed insults but I have observed over many years that hypocracy is common among believers.
    I will never respect your religious beliefs as they are not worthy of respect. Not even close.
    I look forward to you getting back to me once you have actually read the bible and discover what you follow

  • Ocelot Aardvark

    One more verse before I banish you to my ignore list.

    “Give not what is holy to dogs (unbelievers) nor cast your pearls before swine” (mockers & scoffers) – Matthew 7:6

  • Kit Hadley-Day

    Newton was not a religion, he was a great mind, that despite the shackles imposed on it by the overtly religious culture of the time could see further and better than any that came before.

    I asked what advances religion has even given us, not what some people who also happened to be religious did. As a contrast think about what scientific naturalism has done for our understanding.

    My point is religion is a thought stopper, it has already answered all the questions it thinks are worth answering and just ignores everything else, and then actively discourages questioning.

  • adhoc

    “It is about respect for OTHERS beliefs.”

    Respect is earned. Politeness, on the other hand, can be given freely. Respect for a belief, for example, that is demanded is not respect, but an appeasement to that demand. Putting a gun to someone’s head and demanding they believe in Santa or die, does not make the other person start believing in Santa. Seems to me many people confuse respect with politeness.

  • Freethinker

    More like 10 to 1.

  • adhoc

    I agree. I use the term politeness instead of kindness. To me, kindness shows a bit more agreement toward a person and their position. I can be polite without being kind.
    Kindness would be giving a panhandler money for washing my windows. Politeness would be saying, “no, thank you.” Republican-mess would be saying, ” get a real job, bum.”

  • adhoc

    “Can you criticize the belief but still have respect for the believer?

    You can, but you don’t have to have respect. Respect is earned. I can be polite and still critize beliefs. The trouble is, critizing beliefs is seen as disrespect by many believers no matter how polite one is. The question is, why bother with respect when saying anything to a believer will be seen as disrespectful to them? Of course I’m talking about engaging people who are willing to engage in person or on a website, not walking up to a random person and talking- that is rude and not polite.

  • Freethinker

    The question is, as atheists how do we support religious freedom and at the same time mock or not respect their beliefs?

    The problem lies in our support of religious freedom which is essentially a freedom to promote ignorance and mental and in many cases physical abuse. Especially when it comes to brainwashing young minds. We have unfortunately become conditioned to give the ridiculousness of mythological beliefs which harm societies a free pass in many cases we have become tolerant of those who espouse intolerance as so many Regressive Liberals have done. Until we start to treat the supporters of for example institutionalized pedophilia (The Roman Catholic Church) the same way as we would supporters of other criminal organizations, we are effectively supporting the abuse via a silent acquiescence which is morally indefensible. Especially when evidence exists that ritualized sexual abuse of minors has been going on in the church for 2000 years. And when it comes to Islam, this is not just a benign belief system plagiarized from the Jews and Christians but to quote the outspoken ex Muslim activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali ” Islam is not a ‘religion of peace’ it is a political theory of conquest by any means necessary” and founded by a murderous pedophile from Mecca. With both of these last points, as incendiary as they may sound, historically verifiable. We should never sacrifice facts on the altar of political correctness.

    Until we all grow up and recognize that religion poisons everything we will never truly progress as a species.
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/1193796470116d4f4a9a2815461e8ad92d1d685acddef73b8c15cf1d3c6bb487.png

  • Freethinker

    Actually religion played a huge part. He saw himself as a modern day crusader.More on this in detail here:

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/mosque-shooters-radical-views-fed-by-trips-to-christian-muslim-battlegrounds-11553035763
    Additionally, one of the slogans his kill rifles was emblazoned with was a shout out to Christian Greek militias fighting Turkish Muslim Ottoman troops as were the cartridges.
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0dee021946fe6318d520069a12027da8d51c9b729b1fcf5ebe4a2e23ac300c6c.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d65d346d28cd1743836184f8d59e8cf9d55081acd80cc7b99f0380a61194dcff.jpg

  • rtgmath

    Okay, as a former believer, I hear what you are saying. And for the most part I agree.

    I can respect a person and allow them their beliefs.

    BUT, when their beliefs cause THEM to act in a way that puts them in opposition to the rights of other people to believe and act according to their own dictates, then THEY lose respect. THEY become the problem.

    As a fundamentalist I saw how eagerly and determinedly the faithful would act against the interests of other people in the name of Jesus. They fought against the rights of LGBTQ people to marry. They fight for the right to openly discriminate. They fight to make everyone else live by the dictates of their creed.

    If they would live their faith with themselves and let the rest of us have the freedoms they want to claim for themselves, I’d happily let them alone. But they won’t leave us alone, now will they?

    Yes, the faithful are at war with everyone else, faithful (to other faiths) and unfaithful alike. They suffer damage at the hands of other god-believers. That should not prevent us from being able to criticize the faiths and actions of Muslims, Christians, and WhatHaveYous. We cannot give up our own freedom of speech to pacify others. We did not cause this incident. We should not bear the blame for it.

  • Iron Chariots

    Firstly, I never trust folks who use “dogs” as an derogitory term. The most loyal of ceatures. I hope you don’t own a dog. Poor thing.
    Of the many things you don’t understand, or choice to reman ignorant of, is the irrelevance of quoting the bible to an atheist.
    Lets say someone belived in Superman and they quoted from a Superman comic as justification.
    Would it be relevant? You probably think it would.

    Your needing an imaginary being to give your life meaning is very sad, but nowhere near as sad as you worship a being who, if it existed, is infinitely worse than Vladimir Lenin, Idi Amin, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot, Josef Mengele, Robert Mugabe and all murderers and rapists in the history of humanity combined. And you probably call this being love. The height of preversion.
    Again, unlike yourself, I can provide evidence for what I’m saying. Just ask and I’m happy to provide.
    Religious types often bury their head in the sand to aviod thinking. Of this you are an expert.
    Yeah I don’t mind if you put me on your ignore list.
    I’d rather converse with people who are willing to be honest and not, like your good self, totally surround in a mist of delusion.

  • Ocelot Aardvark

    I temporarily unblocked you for this reply only. The use of “dogs” and “swine” are Christ’s own words. We already know you don’t trust Him, as you have repeatedly mocked, scoffed and disparaged the Savior.

    Go ahead, you think you’re getting the last word, but on Judgment Day, God will have the Last Word. And for your arrogant information, the Scriptures, which you so profanely slander, prophesy that:

    Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”
    – Isaiah 14:23, Romans 14:11, Philippians 2:10-11 and Revelation 22:1-5

    That means you and Satan too!

  • Dhammarato

    Kindness and respect also does not work. You are just trying to be PC. Fact is the shaming does work. It works well with kids and all Christians are childish Laughter is the best medicine. the best way to cure a christian is to laugh at their silly stories. Note how different Trump is now he watches SNL.

  • ORAXX

    How do we criticize religion in the wake of Christchurch? I would suggest loud and long.

  • RichardSRussell

    I dodge around the question of what they believe by focusing on how they got there, which is invariably by faith. Then I go on to criticize faith as a decision-making technique. Faith can be used justify belief in anything, but nobody ever uses it for anything important and certainly not for anything that could be tested or measured. I spend some time explaining why faith is a truly awful idea in my blog posting on “How We Decide”: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2016/10/how-we-decide-an-analysis-of-an-essential-process-we-take-for-granted-decisions/

  • ratstar770

    This is a welcome post. There are close-minded, arrogant people in any group, whether atheist, Christian, or Muslim.

    Atheists, much like Christians, should not ram their beliefs down people’s throats. What I find grating is the superiority that some atheists hold when it comes to their beliefs. They believe they are the only intelligent ones. Atheism is nothing new, atheists have existed since the dawn of time, but some rookies act like they have invented the wheel.

    There are many smart people in different faiths, and that they believe in a higher power should not be held against them. Sure, speak against them if they use religion to justify evil in this world. But if most people are just doing their daily work, and observing their rituals, then do not bother to be denigrating. You will not earn anyone’s respect or admiration.

  • ratstar770

    I agree. I like civil debate. But when someone insults my intelligence just because of my faith, that shows me that the person is no better than any fundamentalist who assumes their group is best.

  • ratstar770

    There is no need to outlaw religion if you keep it separate from the state. However in America people keep mixing the two.

  • ratstar770

    Maybe if the democrats had voted in full force then Trump would not be in power.

  • ratstar770

    In my experience, those who ask for evidence are never completely satisfied. Hence I do not see it unreasonable to ask a person to have faith.

  • ratstar770

    You speak of respect yet by this sentence you have put down the beliefs of many Christians. It just goes to show that your statements are not sincere.

  • ratstar770

    I agree. Extremists on any side are to be disdained.

  • Vincent Owen Gonzalez

    Like I have said before. I am a Christian. I respect everyone’s right to believe as they choose including atheism which is also a belief. I believe in treating everyone with dignity and respect. It’s one thing to convey a point of view it’s something different to mock and abuse those who choose a different belief. I have also indicated that just because someone on the fringe makes outlandish and bizarre statements while identifying as Christian they do not represent all or even most Christians. Regardless of any particular religion or belief system which includes atheism/agnosticism there will always be extremists on the fringes. Why does that occur? It may be a variety of factors but we should never assume that those small minorities represent the larger group as a whole. why do extremists take actions why do they develop the belief structures that they do I’m not sure I know and I’m not sure anybody really knows for sure. however it may be like I said a variety of factors including mental illness including the way someone’s raised being abused being mistreated and their actions are reaction to those things. It may be political wrangling they buy into a political belief system that perverts what our society represents and these type events then occur as a result.
    What happened in Christchurch New Zealand is an absolutely horrific and horrible events. I do not believe as Muslims believe but I do believe that they have the right to worship as they choose and should be treated with dignity and respect. Anyone who takes action like the shooter did shows disrespect and cruelty for whatever reason and should not be tolerated. So how do we react in light of Christ Church how would we react if it were in Dallas or Atlanta or Chicago or New York or where I live in North Fort Myers Florida we would react the same way with horror and with frightening concern.

  • kerryberger

    I wholeheartedly agree with this column by Courtney Heard and the response made by Jennny 5 days ago. As an atheist I will defend others freedom of religion just as much as I will defend my right to freedom from religion. There are mangy obnoxious haters among the religious as there are obnoxious individual atheists who ridicule others because they cannot debate and agree to disagree on the matter. I’d rather build bridges than walls and in a pluralistic society if there is no willingness to respect others without passing our personal judgment on them in absolutist terms then our society will collapse. I’m openly happy that some people want to share their enthusiasm about religion, and I’ll tell them that “I’m glad it works for you but your way and path is not the same as mine.” I leave it at that placing the onus where it belongs.

  • ratstar770

    What I find curious about westerners is the need to impose their beliefs upon others.

    As a previous atheist I never troubled anyone with my beliefs. Privately I had my opinions but I did not feel the need to smack them in people’s faces.

    This is, historically, the issue with the west. When westerners were Christians they invaded the shores of other nations and imposed their beliefs on the native peoples, sometimes by force.

    Now that westerners are godless they again, impose their beliefs as if they are the smartest people on the planet. They profess to know what is good for everybody. Honestly. Just back off and leave people alone and be respectful of what others believe in.

  • Wayne_Spencer

    When it comes to religion I think Christopher Hitchens covered it when he said; “What can be asserted without evidence also can be dismissed without evidence.” So, even though we have freedom of religion, we also have freedom from religion. I for one believe that dismissing religion altogether is not a license to commit violent acts.

    Is it not possible to dismiss religion and condemn violence?

  • Brand

    I’ve been fortunate to have worked and studied in an extremely multicultural setting, including working alongside Muslims from a variety of backgrounds, studying alongside Jewish people from a variety of backgrounds, having people in my social circle who are Hindu, Pagan, Buddhist, and more. What I learned from that is that the thing that helps facilitate respect for the person, even if you disagree with their belief system, is getting to know the person as an individual, and learning as much about what you have in common as you learn about the things that differ between you. When people have different beliefs (or lack thereof) from the majority of people in any given setting, seeing them as individuals rather than as a group of “others” is key. Even if you are unlikely to change one another’s beliefs, simply respecting one another and speaking about yourself and your beliefs (or lack thereof) without a fear of persecution or violence really helps to facilitate at least an understanding of one another, and helps to facilitate a culture of openness and acceptance of people from backgrounds different from your own. So how do we respect the person without necessarily respecting their beliefs? Get to know one another as individuals, one person at a time.

  • David Peebles

    The Big Bang is not entirely without evidence. The cosmic background radiation is one clue. Another is the observed continued expanding of the universe. Extrapolated backwards (is there a word for that? Regression?) it points to a singularity at the beginning.

  • Bruce Swanney

    There is any number of things for which there is no evidence that they do not exist. It is a worthless argument.

  • Ralph Meyer

    Unfortunately, the Muslims and their ISIS and terrorist segments, which are clearly RELIGIOUS, brought this on themselves by their vile behavior, harm to others, massacres, and murders, plus, of course, Islam’s requirement that those who leave it be harmed or killed as well as those who criticize it. It is clearly in some aspects, a vile religion, and standing by not criticizing it, or trying to stop its depredations is a piece of utter foolishness, not to mention the possibility of allowing further harm from it to other innocent people.

  • Ralph Meyer

    Ah, but Jesus and the Flying Spaghetti Monster are in the exact same category. Neither exists, at least as a diddely god.

  • Ocelot Aardvark

    Yep, excellent hindsight you got there.

  • Ralph Meyer

    Despite the lack of evidence and the fact that there never has been a way to prove one exists? Neat O. I’ll bet you believe in the Tooth Fairy too–she’s in the same category as gods.

  • Ralph Meyer

    The “fool” blather is just a bit of bad Ad Hominem. It isn’t worth diddely squat, except to make goddy people who are fools think they’re not….like much else one finds in the booble.

  • Ralph Meyer

    Another piece of nonsensical religious blather…There’s even a fair question historically as to whether a real human being named Jeshua of Nazareth ever existed…and that, on the basis of the evidence or rather, total lack of it where one would have expected to have lots!

  • Ralph Meyer

    There is a strong question about whether dear old Jesus even ever existed. Paul knows diddely squat about anything regarding his supposed life, the gospels are, historically speaking, just about totally untrustworthy, and where one would find corraborating information about Jesus life, there is none for several hundred years. Explain that if he was so famous in his own lifetime instead of a mythological construct.

  • Ralph Meyer

    What it means is that the statement is honest…something religionists are notably lacking betimes.

  • Just because someone doesn’t like someone else because of their beliefs and kills him that does not change the veracity or lack thereof of those beliefs or the damage they do to people and society. The criticism and ridicule should and must continue.
    This Islamaphobia is merely an expected mechanism from a religion to try to deflect and stop the truth.

  • Mustafa Curtess

    Reassuring to find a realist after being nauseatedby the sanctimonious wishful-thinking that preceeded it. Religious people aren’t normal humans, they don’t use or respect reason, and being nce to them merely indicates to them that their overbearing intimidation is succesful (and by doubling it they may achieve their goals). They worship a ruthless, vindictive, god-figure – and ruthlessness is the only thing they respond to.The OP is mis-titled, however. I do believe that the gratituous hostility toward Islam by Atheists DOES promote useless and counter-productive violence agains them, and allies ourselves with bigots (who hate Atheists almost as much as they hate Muslims).

  • No, it is not logically possible and certainly it is not a good idea.

  • Mustafa Curtess

    But “more civilized nations” ruthlessly rule the planet – and victimize Muslims as if it is their “Divine Duty” (which our own radical Christian fundamentalists believe it to be).

  • Mustafa Curtess

    Theists are by definition irrational. (If they were capable of reason – they wouldn’t be Theists.)
    Give ’em hell! It’s the only thing they fear and respect.

  • Mustafa Curtess

    Semantic, double-speak BS. How can you “separate” the person from the belief that motivates everything they do and defines who they ARE – in every regard. Conceed an inch – and they expect a mile (and claim that they’ve been “persecuted” if they aren’t allowed to take it).

  • SecMilChap

    Dean Hamer’s book, The God Gene, discloses good evidence that ” . . . Faith is Hardwired into Our Genes”. It does not disclose that anyone is “…hardwired to believe…”. If one is born into a family/culture that is predominantly a non-theistic version of Buddhism, that person is likely to believe in the efficacy of the practices of that version of Buddhism. Hamer even found a few twins who’d been raised separately. When those had two copies of the gene VMAT2, they were both relatively strong in the religious tradition in which they’d been raised and conditioned, but not at all in identical religious beliefs and practices as their twins. I’m looking forward to publication of more papers/books analyzing Hamer’s work. I hope that those studies would be sufficiently different from Hamer’s approach that we’ll have more light on this aspect of the human brain. Hamer’s book dates from 2004; hasn’t anyone else explored this?

  • Courtney

    Hey, what happened in Christchurch has just been horrific, and it saddens and angers me that it happened in my country. I have no beef with Muslims, just Islam, as their is so many aspects of Islamic ideology that I find oppressive. I found it uncomfortable, that Friday prayer was played in Government House as too the notion to wear a hijab as a sign of recognition and support. I found i could not ignore the oppressive aspects of Islam to show my solidarity in that way. I support Muslims and their right to religious freedom, to live in NZ. But what i hope for is that the Muslim community recognize that homophobia and misogynistic views that come with Islam are also intolerable in NZ, which is why i felt so uncomfortable on Friday as Islamic prayer rang throughout parliament, i simply could not ignore the oppression on LGBT communities and misogyny that Islamic Ideology imposes on so many people.

  • Mustafa Curtess

    But they’re BLIND AND DEAF to it! They’re forbidden by their doctrine to recognize it, evaluate it honesyly, and respond in kind. Reason, doubt, independent or critical thought is forbidden to them – on pain of eternal damnation. We are dealing with (at best) an addiction, and (at worst) a mental illness.

  • SecMilChap

    I’m remembering a man who was leader of the Ethical Society in Baltimore for some years, but not his name. He’d been a devout Xian and decided to learn Aramaic, Ancient Hebrew, and Koine Greek to read biblical scripture in original forms. He found that things like virgin birth, flight to Egypt, Roman-required presence of the parents of Yeshua bin Miriam in Bethlehem, &c, were not consistently in the oldest documents. He dumped the whole Xian mythology, but took his good spiritual education to The Ethical Society and put it to work for congregations that could also not believe the unbelievable. In his last book, Unbelievable, Bishop Spong (CoE) makes strong cases for getting rid of unbelievable aspects of Xian belief so that the benefits of Yeshua’s positive teachings might actually lead people to revere him as “the prince of peace”.

  • ratstar770

    I understand if this is the sentiment of the writer. However, such a heavy handed approach to these issues have contributed to the misunderstandings and strife in our society.

    Sometimes Americans take freedom of speech too far and wonder why people get offended.

    I am not saying people should withhold their opinions, I say that if you want to reach people and be heard, you have to look at your words and see what kind of impact you are making. Words are weapons so wield them lightly and responsibly.

  • Ohyetwetrust

    I’m not concerned with ‘looking good’ to theists. They are deluded and believe the irrational. I like the idea of being polite to people but not when they are pushing child marriage taking over the public schools. ‘Nice’ gets you nowhere.

  • Ohyetwetrust

    You say “radical atheism is just as tyrannical as radical religion’ then quote some random comments that don’t reflect the many atheists who are not in favor of making belief in god illegal. And no, Atheism is not a religion. I don’t “believe” there is no god. I am not addicted to my ‘beliefs’ or worldview or insisting I get my way. Atheists just don’t find the idea of ‘belief’ helpful.
    Your post uses “the master’s language” and it’s time atheists communicate with each other, outside of the dominant religious context.

  • ratstar770

    I understand what you mean. Sometimes it is very hard to have this kind of dialogue; to allow religious freedom, without indulging the less tolerable aspects of that religion.

    May I point out that misogyny depends on the culture of the people. Muslims share the same sharia law but I have noticed that the approach may differ among various Muslim cultures. For example in some, the matriarch remains dominant in the household, women are not downtrodden and are expected to be educated and pursue careers. Sometimes citizens look away from gay people, and do not call attention to it; or they may quietly idolise a known gay icon such as Freddie Mercury. One will only find a few strict adherents; most are live-and-let-live. This is somewhat similar to Christian communities where most are tolerant but some push the boundaries. There are Christian men who expect wives to be meek and submissive, and even some Christians who mistreat gay people.

  • Ohyetwetrust

    Religionists can’t think straight and yet they continue to insist our legal codes in the US be based on Christian ethics. Take the issues of abortion and at the other end of life, death with dignity. If (and they do already) get their way, no one will be able to choose to end their life before natural death. I’m angry that people are deprived of the right and the means to end their life when a person is terminally ill and in severe pain. Anti-abortionists base their peculiar and extremist views — on a belief– that a fetus has more rights than the woman in whose uterus the fetus resides. They cite specific verses in their bible and legislators have made US laws based on them.

  • Ohyetwetrust

    You are a sample of one and that holds no water for an atheist. It’s not convincing.

  • Ohyetwetrust

    blah, blah, blah. We’ve been told that for hundreds of year. The end result of calling non-believers/atheists “fools” is burning atheists at the stake. Shall we go back to that time?

  • Deb Nicke

    I like the message being delivered here. I have been running euchre tournaments for a long time now, and we have more people who are elderly in the Detroit metro area euchre family. I play at 5 different places, and most people I know there are very religious. I wear my atheist shirts all the time, though — I will not hide who I am. When people first found out I was atheist they avoided me and I could tell they weren’t happy about my shirt saying something that negates their belief in gods. But now I’m accepted a lot more because I refuse to argue about religion or beliefs. If they question me about my tshirt, I let them know that I see crosses all around me, and I see “In God We Trust” on all my money and so on. All I’m doing is wearing a tshirt with a respectable atheist message of some kind without degrading the religious. Now people in the euchre community here seem to be more accepting of atheist people. When someone tries to talk rationally about religion with me, I listen with respect. And then I ask for the same respect in return when I speak of atheistic ideas. We’re developing a mutual respect for each other, for the most part. I’m happy about that. Although it is very difficult for me to give any respect to the christianity belief system.

  • Ohyetwetrust

    I think it needs to be called ‘religious bigotry’.

  • Ohyetwetrust

    what exactly is a ‘radical atheist’?? You keep using this non-specific term. It it anyone who offends you?

  • Ohyetwetrust

    More’s the pity, that the media cannot speak openly about christian-based terrorism.

  • Courtney

    I understand that in most religions the degree to how one follows their lives according to their beliefs may vary, which is why i choose to judge the ideology not the people who may or may not choose to believe in everything that their religion has told them to think/act in a certain way. I have christian family members who pick and choose what they believe in all the time. My problem is that countries that have strict sharia law enforce certain oppressive expectations on society, like wearing a hijab or burka so i struggle to see how that has become a symbol of solidarity/liberation. To add to your comment on Christianity, yes their is still a long way to go with LGBT acceptance on that front, however, in my experience with one of my gay friends (who is of Malaysian decent), had to move away from his mainland due to the strong Islamic views of his country, he simply is not accepted by his society religious views so therefore moved to NZ for a better life. Furthermore, as i said my beef is with Islam not with Muslims, the same goes for Christianity, Catholicism etc. Any religion that has oppressive beliefs should be challenged, otherwise we are just enabling the cycle of oppression to continue.

  • Ocelot Aardvark

    Ooh, let’s do the ‘Hardwired-Split-Hairs-Polka’ … and shill some more books!

  • EquaYona

    Well said, Courtney. Too many people can’t hear the cruelty and hatred they give out. It is a form of arrogant self-righteousness that way too many religious believers and atheists alike enjoy.

  • Jon Xavier

    How do we speak about the horrors of atheism unshackled? No matter the cultural background, communism revealed the horrors of this worldly, animalian, utilitarian thinking. The world becomes nothing but a zoo.

  • ratstar770

    If only a lot of atheists were as wise as you

  • ratstar770

    For such a tiny piece of cloth, the hijab can give rise to so many controversies.

    One of my friends is a Muslim, who raised his daughter in a developed country where she enjoyed the freedom of not wearing a hijab. Then they moved to Islamabad, and she was quite upset that she was forced to wear a hijab at her new school.

    That this is not a personal choice is made obvious when one travels through Middle Eastern countries. In the airport washrooms I see ladies removing their shapeless covers, revealing well coiffed hair, dazzling makeup and western, tight fitting clothing. On their return they would again don their coats and hijabs.

    The enforcers are sometimes females themselves, who I feel are envious of the freedoms of others, or are under a misguided sense of duty. This reminds me of the ISIS brides who would punish any woman who did not wear the proper attire. Many a time I would walk through a middle eastern airport and get angry stares from some women in hijabs (though I’m well covered, and in loose clothing), while the men hardly even glance at me.

    I once was a healthcare worker with a volunteer organisation. In some places we were required to wear not just the hijab, but the niqab. This enabled us to reach those who might otherwise be distracted by foreigners – the niqabs helped us to blend in. It also showed a degree of respect for the community’s values.

    I often felt uncomfortable wearing the niqab, not because it was oppressive, but because for me it was just a piece of cloth, similar to a coat or scarf, while to some it may be a sacred part of their faith. At times it felt like cultural appropriation. But the community understood that we were trying our best to fit in, and they respected us greatly because of it, knowing it didn’t come naturally.

    In fact we later came to wear burkas, by choice. My friend and I struggled to put on proper niqabs, so we asked permission to purchase burkas for ourselves, as we just need to put it on over our regular clothes. I was surprised by how comfortable it was. The burka can be seen as a symbol of oppression, but for me, who wore it by choice, for that short period of time, it was oddly liberating. I didn’t have to care how I looked, a bad hair day can go unnoticed, and the shape hid my unflattering figure. No one stared at me. In fact, under the safety of my burka, I could observe everyone without being noticed. No wonder spies wore burkas.

    Much to my dismay, our burkas were banned by a new leader, who felt that they were the proverbial symbol of oppression. I felt all the frustration of being a woman. A man didn’t have to cover his face, didn’t have to care about these things, and was banning an item of clothing that we chose to wear, because he didn’t like it. It feels odd that men should dictate what we wear, whether it’s too much or too little!

    Hence I would say in this regard, though we may feel uncomfortable, it’s a woman’s choice to wear a hijab, whether for religious purpose or to stand with solidarity. To withhold it is to suppress freedom of choice, and would be just as bad as forcing everyone to wear it.

  • ratstar770

    I do not think that one should ridicule other’s beliefs, if one wants to be taken seriously. There should be sober discussion, not sniggering, fingerprinting, and a holier-than-thou attitude.

  • ratstar770

    This is a very wise piece of advice. Unfortunately most people choose to be close minded.

  • Well said, and we should of course criticize ideas and not the people who believe in them. But there is a factual problem which I would like to point out: Ideas are not independent of the people who believe them. Particular kinds of people form particular kinds of ideas. And vice versa, ideas in turn form those who hold them.

    Let me be more specific: As a matter of fact many atheists believe that religious people are intellectually inferior or handicapped. That no intelligent, scientifically educated person with the courage to think freely will embrace religious belief. Conversely many religious people believe that atheists are morally handicapped. That a morally sensitive person would realize that the very fabric of reality is good, and sense the moral order which goes deeper and is more significant than the superficial mechanical order of nature.

  • prinefan

    “Horrors of Atheism”? You mean the “Horrors of humanity”. Communism is just another example of people doing what people do and lack of religion was not an element. Look at what religious people participated in all around the globe during WWII and all through history. Religion sure didn’t influence them to do any different than anyone else. It usually influenced them to behave badly.

  • prinefan

    “Ideas are not independent of the people who believe them”. Can’t be denied. Any apologist gobbledygook is excuse making and Bullshit.

  • Richard Muller

    Where is the value in respect if everyone is granted it by default? People earn my respect, and there are preciously few religious people who would earn it. Why?…simple, there are few religious people who refrain from insisting that their progeny ‘believe’ the same nonsense they believe. I’m happy to recognise religious people and acknowledge their opinions but, after identifying their attitude to the indoctrination of their children, I either am willing to enter into discussion where they might earn my respect, or I’ll grant them very little time, let alone respect. If an adult cannot even respect their own child, then they certainly won’t be getting mine!

  • SecMilChap

    Hmmm …. a substantive and useful response. I don’t think I’ll spend any time trying to learn from it, however, and I’ll recommend that my colleagues not bother to “engage” in meaningful discourse with you. Did you train for this role at Trump U, or just model your “thinking” on his Twitter account? OK Folks – incoming – stand by for another devastating irrelevancy!

  • Connie Beane

    I sincerely doubt that criticism of religion by atheists is a factor in the actions of the nut jobs who single out churches or mosques, any more than it’s a factor when they mow down people in movie theaters, schools, etc.

    Tempering criticism of the evils of religion on these grounds is about as sensible as tempering criticism of wife-beating on the grounds that it might provoke some idiot to beat his wife.

  • mamtor2

    So should we respect homophobes who are motivated by religion but it’s OK to mock non-religious homophobes? What a confused piece of racism this article is.

  • Rich

    On paper, I agree that we should criticize the beliefs without disrespecting the believer. Though, I think it best to use great discretion on which beliefs and which believers we criticize. If the beliefs are fairly benign, why engage in criticism? For many, their ideas/beliefs have become blurred with their notion of self (and anyone can become prey to this). For these individuals, a criticism of their beliefs automatically becomes a criticism of them. Further, in order for anything productive to come of these interactions, these interactions need to not become emotional. Hugely challenging! With these thoughts in mind, those endeavoring to provide productive criticism are navigating in choppy water and should be mentally and emotionally prepared and thoughtful about who to criticize and when to criticize.

  • This writer is absolutely correct.
    The person deserves respect but the dogma does not.
    That is the hardest part to do when someone online calls you a name and disrespects you, but we must be better than that and remember that most of us had beliefs in the past that we no longer hold to be true too.
    We should give all people proper latitude and stick to reasoning and facts that expose the [flawed] origins of and weaknesses of their particular religious beliefs.

    What happened in NZ was a simple white supremacist act of terror, nothing less, nothing more.
    I have the utmost respect for the way they handled it with their immediate ban of dangerous weapons that no one needs for any logical reason and how fast their government acted.
    Too bad that we in America can’t get this done too.
    However; we have too many “ammo-sexuals and idiots though (and too many [GOPers] in government making laws that have no business doing just that)…

  • Ocelot Aardvark

    Not a TЯ卐m₽ TOAD, like you. With your vindictive gibberish, you have all the earmarks of being one yourself.
    And if your “colleagues” are as arrogant and ignorant as you, then they have nothing of value to contribute either.

  • SecMilChap

    The gostak distimms the doshes.

  • Martin Penwald

    But christianity is exactly the same as islam. Just look in the U.S.A, where you can easily find “good christians” calling for the death of homosexuals. Misogyny too is very strong in christians circles, and yet you claim it’s only a problem for islam.
    There are muslim women who don’t wear any distinctive clothing, and still claim they are muslims. And there are christian women who have to wear specific pieces of clothing (long dresses, head covering, etc).
    If you have a problem with islam but not christianity on these basis, that makes you an islamophobe.
    If not, why singling out SOME versions of islam?

  • Martin Penwald

    And yet, we see a lot of people in this thread insulting atheists and proud of it. But don’t you dare critic religions!

  • Martin Penwald

    What are atheists beliefs ?

  • Courtney

    Yup agreed, but in some parts of the world their is more emphasis on religious requirement than others. Like in countries that enforce sharia law. Most western countries separate religion from the government, so it easy to say from a relatively privileged point that Christianity has some strict beliefs, but these are not a requirement by law. One could simply ignore a particular requirement of their religion to fit their western lifestyle (which im sure is the case for many Muslim migrants). It is also relatively hypocritical to say that Muslim women who choose not to wear their religious clothing are doing it because they have free will, as this is not the case in many countries (even within western countries). Some have the freedom to do, but many more do not. Also did i say that i just have an issue with Islam, because im pretty sure i didn’t. I would feel the same if a christian prayer played in parliament because there should be a distinct separation between religion and government. I think that government house wasn’t the right place to play the prayer. Also im not sure you are aware of the meaning of islamophobe, i do not heed hatred towards Muslims, or Islam, but distainly disagree on the homophobic and misogynistic parts of Islamic religion. The same goes for Catholicism and Christianity, and any other religion that holds those same views.

  • I have been bashing religion for years, I still respect most religious people that respect me, knowing that I am an Atheist, however I do not respect religions that preach HATE . Most religions do!
    One way is to preach Humanism and the like instead of bashing God.
    Also pointing to the damages religious ideology has done in the name of a suposidly loving God makes a point without a personal offence.

  • Iron Chariots

    That’s very kind of you to “unblock” me.
    I don’t have to make up anything,for it is found in the bible.
    That’s why I’d like you to read it.
    Just 3 things…
    On your judgement day fantasy.
    One time I was asked if I was afriad I would go to hell for being an atheist.
    I replayed, yeah sure, to the same extent hat you are afraid of being eaten by a dragon.
    She said ” But dragons aren’t real”.
    lol, that flew right over her head. Poor thing. I suggested she find a dictionary and look up the word ‘atheist’.

    On your sin fantasy
    The very concept of sin comes from the bible. Christianity offers to solve a problem it invented.
    Tell me Ocelot Aardvark, would you be thankful to someone who cut you with a knife in order to sell you a bandage?

    On your satan fantasy.
    Let’s think about it.
    Bible satan was created by bible god.
    Bible satan works closely with bible god to punish those that don’t do bible gods bidding.
    Why would satan want to punish people, for eternity mind you, for doing what he wants them to do?
    Unless bible god and bible satan are in partnership. A team in which satan is also the good guy for doing gods punishing.

    Two suggestions,
    1) Read the bible properly. From cover to cover instead of picking and choosing what suits you.

    You can claim anythings real if the only basis for beliving in it is that nobody has proven it doesn’t exist, so…
    2) How about proving something is real BEFORE attributing things to it.

    Thanks

  • ratstar770

    I’ll assume this is a rhetorical question.

  • ratstar770

    Not everyone become believers only through faith. Some people go through a life-changing experience.

    As their experience is deeply personal, it’s not for anyone to take that away.

  • ratstar770

    I don’t see anyone here criticising atheists.

  • Martin Penwald

    You seem to assume a lot of things.

  • ratstar770

    Just that atheists’ beliefs are very obvious, isn’t it? So one can surmise the question is rhetorical. Or more likely, troll variety.

  • ratstar770

    Seems like you are just baiting.

  • RichardSRussell

    Certainly their experiences are their own, and we couldn’t take them away if we wanted to. But how they interpret or explain those experiences is fair game for questioning. If you read the essay I posted above, think about the analogy to the colored sheets of paper. Sure, they saw yellow, orange, and green (their lived experiences), but was that what was really going on? Additional information provides a new perspective.

  • ratstar770

    It is indeed a fact that people experience things differently, which is what the theory of Qualia is all about.

    However, one cannot change a person’s view by challenging what they know, especially if what they know is experiential. I find there is actually no point in debating what a person believes. What we actually need is ownership. Everyone should accept their own beliefs and each other’s, and at the same time we should take responsibility for whatever our, and others’ beliefs, would result in. Whether a person is Christian, Muslim or atheist, we all have baseline beliefs in humanity. If any one of us uses our beliefs to harm another, that is not acceptable and should be a subject for reprimand.

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    People deserve respect.

    Ideas don’t.

    I’ll attack any deplorable idea(s) I come across.

  • Iron Chariots

    Yep and no suprise. It’s christian based media or christian bias media who will and always look for another term.
    Anything but Christian based terrorism.
    Christian types commonly divert from the truth to a ‘reality’ they prefer

  • TheNuszAbides

    If you treat them like they’re all the same (big bonus clue you seem to have missed so far: they aren’t), no wonder you imagine that only one tactic will make a difference.

  • Mustafa Curtess

    I understand why you might think so – but the exact same emotion drives all Abrahamic superstition because it was designed to by the first Jewish story- tellers who realized that that talent could be used to control their fellow men. If you don’t grasp the common origin of both Christian and Muslim dogma – then it is yourself who is missing the clue.

  • TheNuszAbides

    If it’s so obvious to you perhaps you could clarify things for the numerous theists who make/borrow/swallow false presumptions about what atheism actually is, what atheists think/do/don’t do/can’t do/etc.

    How broadly or narrowly do you define it?

    You know that a sustained incredulous reaction to theist beliefs/claims is not the same thing as explicitly precluding the possibility that, for example, deists are correct (setting aside, for now, the extensive more-specific (and generally as-unfalsifiable) beliefs/claims of theists) … Don’t you?

    The only thing we all have in common is “we aren’t convinced that any higher power [as described by any publicly accessible religion] exists.”

    How much does that actually tell you about what “atheist beliefs” are?

  • ratstar770

    I’m a former atheist from a family of atheists. I don’t argue for argument’s sake. Every person is entitled to their own beliefs.

    What you posted is so much nonsense and whoever asked what atheists believe is obviously just spoiling for a fight. I don’t wish to entertain this kind of talk.

  • TheNuszAbides

    No, I get that beliefs can overlap, be inherited etc. and I’m quite aware of many versions of the history of various religions – by the way, how did you manage to leave out Zoroastrian influence on ancient Hebrew henotheism?

    Your “it’s the only thing they understand” is still absurdly overstating the case. It just looks like you’re headed for “anyone who doesn’t think like I say all _____s think isn’t really a _____.” Which is just as silly as when theists say it about rival sects – or atheists.

  • TheNuszAbides

    I see you haven’t given much if any thought to readers who, for example, have never been personally acquainted with any sort of self-identified atheist

    (as opposed to “for argument’s sake” – you utterly failed to retrodict my motives on that score, and I don’t particularly care what the motive of the upthread questioner was – it became irrelevant when a third independent mind pressed you on specific points.)

    By insulting the effort to be more specific by dismissing it, without justification, as “nonsense”, all you’re indicating is that you somehow grew up among atheists without ever noticing the difference between “there is no such thing as a god”, “

  • TheNuszAbides

    Apologies for my fat thumb prematurely posting. However, I suspect you can complete the last sentence that trailed off – though if it truly didn’t make sense to you (i.e. by “nonsense” you meant not to bait/insult but that, maybe, the phrases were unnecessarily convoluted, a common fault in my writing) why didn’t you ask a question to clarify instead of taking the substance-free high horse “I won’t entertain this kind of talk”?

  • ratstar770

    I’m not sure what direction everyone replying here is aiming at. My main point is that atheists, much like anyone of any faith, should not ram their personal beliefs down others’ throats. I just don’t see the point.

    Then someone asked what are atheists’ beliefs. It did not seem like an earnest question. Obviously an atheist does not believe in God, so I did not feel compelled to answer such a question. It could be rhetorical, it could be someone baiting, but it did not seem like someone just wanting to know, or the start of meaningful debate.

    As for your statement I apologise in return as it seemed you had been asking in the same vein as the previous poster.

    I would say, respectfully, I thought it was obvious what atheists believe. The belief is opposite whatever the person of faith has. Hence the atheist wouldn’t believe in God, Jesus, Mohammed, heaven and hell, etc. I feel that atheists should not impose their beliefs on others as if they feel the other person is wrong. So if someone “I hope he’s resting in heaven now”, I don’t think it’s appropriate for atheists to slam that person’s belief in heaven. The original intent was to wish something good on another. Atheists wish to negate what they feel is the false belief but what actually happens is they negate the good intentions behind such expressions of faith, which just makes them look like villains.

    I made an exception about beliefs that cause harm to others. In such a case, people should speak up, but not to frame it as disbelief of that particular faith but rather that it is not in anyone’s interest to promulgate that belief. I hope this answers your question.

  • ratstar770

    Each would have their own perspective and interpretation as according to the theory of qualia.

  • I am a Pagan Polytheist. I do respect all believes, including atheism. Like most Pagans, I firmly hold the opinion that it is not ok to impose your opinion on others, or try to actively convert them against their will. Confront fundamentalists all you like (they exist in all beliefs, including atheism and paganism). There you can argue that they were the ones who started aggressively promoting their (often rather narrowminded opinion), so speaking out against that is fair self defense. However, please remember that any belief also houses a lot of people who simply want to experience their spirituality in peace. Even when you sincerely belief they are wrong, please leave them in peace. They do not bother you or anyone else, so why bother them? There’s nothing as annoying as atheists visiting pagan blogs with the intention to ridicule our beliefs (ok, one thing is equally annoying: the christian fundamentalists trying to tell us we will go to hell. So please, don’t be like them and leave people who simply have a different worldview alone.)

  • TheNuszAbides

    Respect reciprocated! I see now how my ‘pushback’ was at best tangential.

    I consider myself igtheist (after a Protestant upbringing, pre-adolescent 2nd baptism, a fairly unremarkable drift away from church and a mixed pantheist/panentheist/fuzzy-agnostic 20s and 30s), so my commenting habits at patheos tend to be about drilling down on an individual’s definitions and assumptions.

    Sometimes I overreact to relatively innocuous remarks because I’ve just switched over from exchanges involving huge *pre*sumptions, which in this case had just been happening at Cross Examined before I reacted to your use of ‘obvious’.

    If you’re still game for this topic drift, may I ask if there was any variation or extremism in your family’s atheism? Apatheism, anti-theism, etc.?

  • ratstar770

    Sure no worries. Written communication tends to be misunderstood.

    I would say my family was a mix. My father was a rather militant atheist, as in he would willingly challenge anyone for debate. He did have great respect for Jesus though, saying “as an ordinary man, he was treated extraordinarily (cruel)”. Most of my siblings are a mix of agnostics and apatheists. None are churchgoing but everyone had a church wedding, if you know what I mean.

    I myself chose to be atheist in my youth but not through my upbringing. I actually found my family’s views to be pessimistic, and even though I wasn’t very religious, I was sometimes envious of people who had such strong faith in a higher power. However I could not believe in some of the church views, and I disliked the fatalistic attitude of some believers. I wanted to hold my own fate in my hands, and take credit for both failures and triumphs.

    The reason for my current faith is a long story, not something to dwell on. But perhaps my annoyance at a lot of religious debate stems from my upbringing.

    I’m glad we are having a proper talk, hope you got something out of it.

  • Cromulant Ale

    Can you criticize the belief but still have respect for the believer?

    I can’t, no. I don’t respect people who believe stupid things. I’ve tried and I’ve failed And I’m done trying. And I will not try again. I hate them.

  • Cromulant Ale

    but we must be better than that

    People always say that. But they never tell me why.

  • Cromulant Ale

    I see a lot of people criticizing atheists. Everywhere.

  • Cromulant Ale

    You’re wrong.

  • I feel there is nothing inconsistent or contradictory about supporting one’s right to hold ridiculous beliefs while at the same time mocking, ridiculing, and trying to change their minds through rational arguments.

  • Ridiculous beliefs are worthy of ridicule, by definition, if not only because they can be harmful, since beliefs inform actions.

    Public ridicule, especially by friends and peers is probably the best method to change one’s mind.

    If all your friends think it’s silly to “read your stars” and say so openly and collectively, then you are more likely to change your opinion on the matter than by any other method.

  • ratstar770

    Same number as Christians or Muslims being criticised so don’t feel so special.

  • ratstar770

    I don’t see the point of ridiculing anyone. I think you should get out more then you will see the whole gamut of humanity. You might see tribesmen offering sacrifices to nature, or casting spells to heal people. You would not think of ridiculing them. This is their way of life.

    Ridiculing someone will just make you seem petty and small minded. A more sophisticated approach is just to smile enigmatically when someone says something which seems patent nonsense to you. This can disturb someone far more than irate protests because then they’re puzzling about your behaviour.

    If their belief causes harm then speak out. Again ridicule will not win you fans anywhere. It just seems like you want to feel smug and superior. That’s not a very mature approach.

  • Excuse me, but what makes you think I need to get out more? I probably know a lot more about other societies and customs than you do. So don’t be so presumptuous.

    Just because it is their “way of life” doesn’t somehow give it a pass. That’s as bad as saying “its ok because it’s their religion”.

    Your “enigmatic smile” could also be interpreted as a form of passive aggressive ridicule. You also seem to think that I mean to laugh hysterically while pointing at someone when they do something like slaughter an animal in order to make it rain.

    This isn’t what I mean. I mean I will use reason and arguments to show them the absurdity of their method. I’d tell him something like “what if the guy down the street is slaughtering an animal so that it won’t rain because his kid has a soccer game”? etc…

    Get it?

  • Cromulant Ale

    Nope. Only atheists.

  • ratstar770

    You are excused young man.

    I’d like to know which countries you have been in, in what capacity, and if you immersed yourself.

    I have been to other countries not just as a tourist, where you get only a sanitized version, but as a volunteer worker. My line of work does not require open-mindedness, but it is quite difficult to help people if you feel superior to them. A good attitude is essential to help any individual regardless of their gender, race, or religion. I find that those who are secretly bigoted or have a superiority complex due to their race often make policies detrimental to the welfare of people we try to help.

    In our work we aren’t required to convince anyone of what we believe in. We don’t discuss politics or religion as these can be divisive and undermine what we are trying to do. But often, yes, we do end up discussing these things, in a respectful manner.

    As for feeling your “rational” belief is superior to others, this is the same as what your ancestors probably felt when they imposed their Christian beliefs on the natives they beat down and stole lands from. I apologise if I presume. But I find it galling that westerners always feel superior or more civilised in whatever country they invite themselves to. First it’s impising Christianity on others, then after discarding religious belief they wish to impose secularism. It’s not the ideas themselves but the attitude which is quite annoying to a non-westerner.

    Note also that advances in science were made by Christians such as Galileo and Isaac Newton. They were very rational individuals who did not feel that their faith impeded their scientific discoveries. In fact having a faith in a higher power motivated them to study the mysteries of the universe, for from their point of view, it is rational that someone laid down the ground rules of the universe, which only need be discovered.

    So why not just smile enigmatically if presented with a different point of view? That you see it as sarcastic speaks of your own personality. You see people as out to get you in a simple smile.

  • You have been a busy boy reading Dawkins, Harris, Hitchins and maybe even Dennett. I can tell from you phrases and consistently logical ideas building one on another. You appear young in your pic too. Excellent. Too bad people like ratstar are not as busy.

  • ratstar770

    I am indeed a busy lady my friend. As I have mentioned, I have been a volunteer health worker, where I learned to have a more open attitude. I stopped only when I became a mother, but I still have a full time career. What part of this does not seem busy to you? It’s all about time management.

    What have you done for the world, may I ask? I have not heard you rebut any of my statements and are letting others do it for you.

    I find it faintly amusing that you praise this young man’s “logic” when he has not presented any argument and instead states his opinion that people’s beliefs must be ridiculed. In fact I am still waiting for his reply.

    You atheists will not gain anyone’s respect by being smug and acting superior. You are no different from zealous people on the right.

    Your ancestors imposed Christianity on native peoples in their own lands, thinking they are right. Do you agree with that? And now you impose your beliefs, again thinking you are right. It’s not so much your beliefs, but your attitudes which are galling.

    If I scrutinise your life I will probably find beliefs that seem nonsensical which I can ridicule. Probably it’s the way you raise your children, or how you treat your colleagues, or even the way you cook your meatloaf. Those who boast about their cleverness, I find, are very often not so.

    As for your idol Dawkins, he is all for Christianity because of its values. Seems funny after all the time he spent denigrating it.

  • Freedom of speech, human rights, equality of women, LGBT and other minorities. No barbaric punishments, due process of law etc…

    Animal rights.

    Need I say more?

  • Ruthlessly?
    Victimise?

    If that were the case then why are so many Muslims fleeing their own countries and seeking refuge in the “ruthless” west, ie mainly Europe?

    Please elaborate.

  • Totally agree.

  • Kit Hadley-Day

    solid answer, just a word of warning, talking about ‘evolved’ civilizations is a often a dog whistle for white supremacists and dominionists, you may want to be careful not to be misunderstood, I like to make sure what someone means, plenty of people on the net will just make assumptions. I always use ‘progressive’ to avoid that issue.

  • Good point.

  • Mustafa Curtess

    Weird – isn’t it? THe USA protects and partners with the worst Muslim country (Saudi Arabia) and the only places Muslim refugees are safe is in the countries destroying their homelands.
    There’s no way to elaborate. I have no idea why the USA military is even in the M.E. Our war on Afghanista is the longest one in U.S. history and has just radicalized everyone we haven’t killed yet. Soldiers terrorizing Afghani kids to take bibles and crosses and parents telling them to smile and take them, and bring them home to be burned or destroyed.

  • Mustafa Curtess

    Yessss!

  • Jerry Rivera Mendrez

    Hey your spealing nonsence of the church , dont do that. This is just a point for you to back of me now. Dont be ignorant you heard. Dont ever speak to me again do you fucking understand.

  • Resorting to insults is a sign of defeat and shows you have no argument.

    I will always speak out about evil religions and churches like yours.

    If you’ve been speaking to spirits then I suggest seeing a psychiatrist because you probably have a neurological condition. You may become a danger to yourself and others.

    Good luck.

  • rationalobservations?

    I appreciate your good intentions but am puzzled by your assertion that atheism is a form of “belief”?

    NON belief in all the millions of undetected and undetectable gods goddesses and god-men is NON belief.

    Do you consider that non participation in sky diving is a form of sky diving, or that total baldness is a hair style?

  • rationalobservations?

    I am very much supportive of the sentiments expressed above.

    I regret that I sometimes lose patience with the most willfully ignorant and delusional recyclers of mythology, legends and propaganda but it may be only a demonstration that many of us atheists hate the delusions, NOT the delusional?

  • This is really discussing semantics… An atheist is someone who is convinced that gods do not exist. Their personal experiences convince them that this is the ‘truth’, however, it is still a conviction that cannot scientifically be proven (for the simple reason that there does not exist an exact definition of the meaning of the word ‘deity’ that every religion agrees on and that can be tested empirically and convincingly). So yes, for me that is still a ‘belief’.

    (And note that a person may believe in god(s) but still decide not to actively practice a religion, hence I don’t see the relevance of your sky diving example).

  • rationalobservations?

    Non belief in all the millions of undetected and undetectable gods, goddesses and god-men is a place marker, not a “belief”.
    If any evidence of the existence of any of the millions of undetected and undetectable gods, goddesses and god-men was discovered we would accept that evidence once it was validated.

  • There are things that for me are damn clear evidence of their existence, but I also know that you will never accept my observations of them as evidence. Your ‘belief’ is that the only things that exist are the ones that can be measured by machinery, while I see them as a rather poor substitute for the human mind. (For instance, from the point of view of a machine, ‘love’ does not exist either.) I do not say that I am right and that you need to agree with my beliefs, but I think that you have no right to put yourself as the yardstick by which the validity of all other opinions should be measured.

  • rationalobservations?

    “There are things that for me are damn clear evidence of their existence, but I also know that you will never accept my observations of them as evidence.”
    Give examples. Reference the evidence and reveal the location in which that evidence is conserved and available for authentication?

    “Your ‘belief’ is that the only things that exist are the ones that can be measured by machinery, while I see them as a rather poor substitute for the human mind. (For instance, from the point of view of a machine, ‘love’ does not exist either.)”
    This appears to be a straw man logical fallacy of your own making since it fails to reflect my own position of that of modern science and technology.

    I no longer hold any “beliefs”.

    I accept that for which empirical evidence exists and reject that for which only myths and legends support.
    I accept all forms of tangible and verifiable evidence – not exclusively that which “machines” (technology) verify. A brain scan can detect the centres of of the brain that “light up” when the emotion of love is detected and the alteration of enzymes within the blood and other physical symptoms make “love” easily detectable. Love not only exists but is detectable by “machines” (modern technology).

    “I do not say that I am right and that you need to agree with my beliefs, but I think that you have no right to put yourself as the yardstick by which the validity of all other opinions should be measured.”
    Another straw man?
    I do not put myself as a yardstick for anything (but perhaps patience, curiosity and stubbornly seeking after evidence supported truth regardless of time required or distance traveled).

    I put EVIDENCE as the yardstick by which to measure and evaluate claims.
    There is no evidence of the existence of any of the millions of undetected and undetectable gods, goddesses and god-men – including the originally Canaanite god “Yahweh” and Roman god-man “Jesus”.
    There is no historical evidence in support of biblical myths and legends of in support of the diverse and different mythologies of other
    fraudulent religions.

  • My ‘evidence’ consists of things like a considerable amount of otherwise inexplicable synchronicities that started happening after I began working with my gods on a regular basis. Also, some intense mystical experiences during meditation as well as some channeled messages whose content was confirmed to me independently by a number of other people. So, plenty of stuff which, for me personally, is convincing enough that my practice is worthwhile, and that the existence of gods seems to be the most logical explanation for my experiences.

    Some of that may or may not be confirmable by brain scans, but I do not care. I have no interest whatsoever in converting anyone to anything, nor do I want to be a scientific guinea pig. If you decide that you prefer a world without gods, that is fine for me. But I do take offense when atheists start using words like ‘delusion’ and ‘fraud’ when people report religious experiences. Or do you really, honestly believe that every person in the world who follows some kind of a religion, now or in the past, is such a complete idiot that they would continue doing that if there was nothing convincing them of the truth of their beliefs?

    And for the record: I do have a PhD in Mathematical Logic, so I am quite attached to rational thinking. But in this case the conclusion I have come to is that the existence of gods is currently the most rational explanation for me. I do not expect you to believe me if you do not share these experiences (completely understand if you don’t, in fact). But I have come to my conclusions after carefully evaluating the evidence available to me, so if you insist on being insulted because I called ‘atheism’ a belief, then I could do the same. As far as I am concerned my polytheism is not an irrational belief but rather a carefully considered theory based on a number of personal observations. If at some point my observations lead me to conclude that I have made a mistake, then I am openminded enough to change my conclusions.

  • rationalobservations?

    No actual evidence at all then…

  • And that is exactly why I did not bother to give any to begin with. Because I knew you were going to dismiss whatever I was going to say anyway… (And newsflash: I don’t care. My gods are not the kind that tell me I need to convince everybody of their existence, they have more important things to worry about.)

    A question: if you are so sure there’s no gods and religion is bullshit, why do you waste your time frequenting a website on the topic of religion? Why not instead spend your time on something productive like trying to help out with your favourite good cause?

    Or is it that you are secretly so scared that whatever deity or religion that has traumatized you in the past might turn out to be real after all, that you need to waste all your time shouting out to the world about their nonexistence?

  • rationalobservations?

    Newsflash: I recently received and award acknowledging more than 30 years of support to one charity among many that I am actively involved with and contribute to on a monthly basis year in and year out for more than 30 years.

    “… if you are so sure there’s no gods and religion is bullshit, why do you waste your time frequenting a website on the topic of religion?”
    I am not sure of anything other than there is no evidence of the existence of any and all the millions of undetected and undetectable gods, goddesses and god-men.

    “Or is it that you are secretly so scared that whatever deity or religion that has traumatized you in the past might turn out to be real after all, that you need to waste all your time shouting out to the world about their nonexistence?”
    This is truly a pathetic low in your failed diatribe of garbage and denial.
    It would appear to be even more stupid to fear the nonexistent than to believe in the nonexistent.

    You are asked for evidence supported facts and still respond with nothing but bull$#1t insults and propaganda. You should be getting to know that doesn’t do anything but mildly annoy the third largest and fastest growing human demographic of the godless and superstition free humans that now outnumber any individual cult, sect and business of fraudulent religions?

    There is no historical evidence of the existence (and centuries later written ridiculous legends) of “Jesus”. Nothing!
    There is no evidence of the existence of any of the millions of undetected and undetectable gods, goddesses and god-men – including the pathetic originally Canaanite god “Yahweh” and Roman god-man “Jesus”.

    The oldest/first bibles were written by small teams of men in the late 4th century and those pathetic prototypes and very, very different from those in circulation today that were written, re-written and re-re-re-re-re-written, added to and deleted from, edited, amended, exaggerated and re-re-written by later living teams of men until the bizarre and internally contradictory, historically inaccurate and historically unsupported, scientifically absurd versions of bibles in circulation today were fabricated.

    Your anger and ignorance appears pathetic.

  • How is it ‘propaganda’ when I keep repeating that I have no intention whatsoever to convince anyone of anything? If you choose to be an atheist, that is perfectly fine with me.

    And may I remind you that I am not a Christian. If you take issue with Christian fundamentalists and their tactics, I am with you on that. And of course the bible is nothing more than a book written a long time ago, and of course it is ridiculous to consider it as a source of absolute truth. But again, I AM NOT A CHRISTIAN, so if your issue is with them, you are talking to the wrong person.

  • rationalobservations?

    You already made it very clear that you do not consider you could offer any credible answers to my questions and that to attempt to answer would only end with you looking even more ignorant, foolish and gullible than your previous entries have already indicated.

    If you have invented your own personal “god” – that’s not unusual. Almost all theists and deists do that and none can justify, validate or excuse their delusions – so don’t take your failure badly.

    You need not reiterate or further emphasise that which you have already made so very clear.

    Best wishes
    RO?

  • You have not answered my question: WHY is it so important to you to try to invalidate and ridicule someone elses beliefs? What do you personally stand to gain from doing that?

  • rationalobservations?

    Your personal delusions are your problem. It’s interesting to discuss delusions as a way to cure them. If not for you then for other less deluded readers of these columns.

    Why do you never attempt to validate, justify or excuse your beliefs?

    I do not need to ridicule the already ridiculous btw.

    It is you who chose to engage with me but have done nothing but avoid anything meaningful in your comments. Why do you think that is? (Rhetorical question for you to think about)

  • Why do people like you always assume that theist are all idiots who came to their beliefs in a mindless fashion? I am constantly validating my beliefs, and if I ever come to a point where I find a reason to change them, I will.

    The difference between you and me is that I use a different kind of criterion for validation. The important question to ask is what my beliefs bring me, and if it harms anyone to believe as I do, should I ever come to the conclusion I was wrong.

    So far my conclusion is that my beliefs lead me to be generally happier as they stimulate me to be the best person I can be. (By which I am NOT implying that an atheist cannot lead an equally happy and ethical life!!). So in the worst case, my happiness is caused by a placebo effect. What does anyone have to gain by destroying that? Have you ever thought about that when you try to ‘help’ those people you call deluded?

  • rationalobservations?

    You already made it very clear that you cannot validate, justify or excuse your “beliefs” and that’s OK as it is your prerogative to appear as delusional as you wish.
    If your delusions make you happy – be happy.
    Reality and the love of mankind is enough for most of us.

  • And again you do not answer my question. What makes you think you have the right to try to destroy someone elses worldview? For that is what you seem to be quite consistently trying to do here and in other similar discussion threads.

  • rationalobservations?

    I destroy no valid worldviews. I merely continue a lifelong endeavor of learning and teaching and passing on wisdom and knowledge to the ignorant and the willfully delusional.

    If your mental stability really is totally dependent upon maintaining fantasies and delusions, please seek professional help soon.

  • I am not delusional if I seek to live my life in service to bettering life on this planet. The gods I pray to are ones that you encounter out in nature everyday. You just see them as natural phenomena whereas I also work with the consciousness behind them. Feel free to think of that what you want, but now I must go as there is a planet that needs my assistance.

  • rationalobservations?

    I have lived my life in service to my family, several charities and the wider population of our recently evolved species of ape. There is no need for belief in undetected and undetectable super-spooks for humanitarianism.

    You appear to have confused the non-paranormal “god” many (including Albert Einstein) Spelled N.A.T.U.R.E with the product of human imagination that includes all the undetected and undetectable gods, goddesses and god-men that appear in human fiction but never in reality.

    Apart from your wacko belief in magic and the paranormal – we have more in common than divides us. As is the case for all members of our recently evolved species of ape – as you would expect since we are all the product of the same processes and history of 4,000,000,000 years of the evolution of life on Earth and around 1,000,000 years of evolution before our own distinct species of ape first appeared 195,000 years ago.

    https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn9989-timeline-human-evolution/
    http://www.newscientist.com/wp-content/uploads/2006/09/dn9989-1_300.jpg

  • And I can only applaud your charitable work. So can you please judge me by my this-world actions and accept that we just have different motivations for doing what we do, and that there are things we will most likely never agree on?

    I have all possible respect for atheism as a world-view, but also believe that nobody has the right to claim moral superiority over others based on their (non)-beliefs, whatever these may be, no matter how wrong you may think they are. And I believe that brings me back to my original comment in this thread.

  • rationalobservations?

    I judge everyone on what they do and have traveled at least 9 times round the world and lived and worked in many countries dealing with, employing and training many people and educating them and many others.

    I accept that even the most militant and vitriolic religionists share the same inherited and evolved humanitarian and cooperative instincts as most godless atheists demonstrate across the educated , free and predominantly secular democracies of the developed western world. How could it be otherwise since all members of our so very recently evolved species of ape share exactly the same Circa 2,000,000 years of evolution from hominid to “human”?

    I claim no personal moral superiority but do observe that the least religious free, democratic nations score highest on the scale assessed and published annually by the “Vision of Humanity” organisation as the “Global Peace |index”.., and of course it is an old adage but none the less true that evil is never done so gleefully as when done in the name of religion.

    Thinking about 1600 years of violence, slaughter and oppression in the name of christianity since it was so brutally and murderously imposed upon the world in 4th century Rome, and the 1400 years of Islamic Jihad and current atrocities, it may appear that Hitchens was right when he observed that religion poisons everything. Thank goodness the antidote of education and free. secular democracy has been discovered to be the antidote to that poison.

    My disagreement with religionists is that they support fraudulent and self serving human businesses of religion that are already obscenely wealthy and merely hoard the surplus of income after their overheads and expenses in a world filled with human need that they pontificate over but do nothing to aid.

    At least as a “pagan” you don’t support one of those self serving enterprises to my knowledge.

  • You make some valid points, but something that I tend to notice a lot in arguments like this is that people claim to be criticizing ‘religion’ as a whole, but then if you look a bit closer, all the arguments and example seem to be about Christianity and Islam specifically, so that is not general religion, but a particular style of monotheism.

    Some general observations:

    – Is ‘religion’ potentially dangerous and is there a risk that it brings out the worst in people? Absolutely yes. Only, the very same can be said about anything that engages people so strongly on an emotional rather than purely rational level. You could equally make the case that we should stop being in close relationships to other people, because if you would go to look at homicide statistics, then I would bet the number one reason why people commit murders is because of love. Religion similarly can bring out the best as well as the worst in people. That does not mean it should be abolished.

    – Is there a problem if your religion brainwashes you and tells you that you should no longer think for yourself or that all truth is to be found within the pages of a book? Yes, absolutely, only that is not a characteristic for every religion. The Abrahamic religions are actually some of the only ones with a book, but because they happen to be the most well-known ones, people often assume it to be a necessity. It is not.

    – I absolutely agree with you that there are some inherent issues with monotheistic religions, especially with the assumption that there exists a single deity that is all-powerful and good. Because it implies the existence of absolute truth, and if you then get people claiming to have that god on their side and using that as an excuse to claim power for themselves, then of course you get a problem. And unfortunately that scenario has played out quite a bit too often in Christianity and Islam, that is certainly true.

    ONLY…

    NOT ALL RELIGION IS LIKE THAT. Have a think about this: there have indeed been a lot of wars committed in the name of religious ideology, but almost without exception, these have happened in a monotheistic concept. If you look at the history of for instance ancient Rome or ancient Egypt, then wars were about conquest of territory and had nothing to do with religion. If you are polytheistic, then it becomes a little bit harder to get offended by someone else gods: you can perfectly accept their existence without having to worship them yourself. They don’t pose an existential threat to your beliefs like they do when you only believe in the existence of a single one. Also, there is no inherent correlation whatsoever between being religious and lacking critical thinking skills. The cradle of philosophy lies within ancient Greece, which was a polytheistic society.

    Without wanting to imply anything about atheism, religion CAN help people be a better person. NOT because, as some Christians indeed claim, NOT because it would not be possible to be a good person if there is not someone up high who is supervising your every move and is going to severely punish you for everything you do wrong. THAT is bullshit. Then why? For the same reason as why the people we love can bring out the best in us. ‘Healthy religion’ is about being in relationship with OTHER. To give a non-monotheistic example: if you see the world as fundamentally alive, if you see for example the Earth as something that has a consciousness of its own, and you develop an active relationship with that being, then it becomes quite a lot more difficult to actively harm it, because you know it in a different way. Nature is no longer ‘pretty landscapes’ but becomes a Person deserving of our love and respect. And as I said I am no Christian, but the true core message of Christianity is ‘Love your neighbour like you love yourself’. That is still pretty good advice, and if only people would have bothered to follow it a bit more, none of those wars you mentioned would have happened.

    So if I may ask you, next time you criticize religion, can you be a bit more precise and criticize all the unhealthy forms it can take (like fundamentalist christianity or fundamentalist islam), but please respect those of us for who it is a source of inspiration.

  • rationalobservations?

    I wonder if you can name a “healthy” major religion that holds a large number of people in thrall and causes no harm?

    I agree that there are a few minor religions that appear to be pretty benign in the greater scheme of things, but christianity has been a blood soaked blight upon the world for more than 1600 years since it was brutally and murderously imposed upon the world in the 4th century and Islam has been a similar blight in the 1400 years or so since it was invented and started the blood soaked trail of Jihad.

    The core of all humanitarianism is the “Golden Rule” that was “borrowed” or interpreted by many religions but predates all of them.
    The Golden rule is all anyone needs to live a good and harmless life – with or without any god(s) delusions.

  • Has it ever occurred to you that Christianity and Islam actually are the anomalies within the history of world religion? For most of us, they form the paradigm of what religion is supposed to be like, but that is mostly because we don’t know any better. Religions are not supposed to be about converting people and conquering the world. Religions are not supposed to be big homogenous things.

    Hinduism for instance is not a single religion. It is a mish-mash of small local groups who happen to agree somewhat on what the major deities are. The Westerners who first tried to describe it just decided that it ‘had’ to be one thing because that was the situation they were used to. Look to ancient Greece and you will discover that the cultus of the ‘same’ deity can differ so much from town to town that it is actually up for debate whether they are really the same at all.

    I think that ‘healthy’ religion should be a small local thing, practiced in small loosely-connected groups without any central leadership. Moreso, if you would go back to ancient time and you would ask people what their ‘religion’ was, they would not even understand what you were talking about. Religion as something that you do on sundays would be an absurd idea to them. For them it was simply about honouring a web of relationships that went beyond the visible and included ancestors and forces of nature and such as well. This was just a part of daily life. No more, no less. This was not about controlling or brainwashing people.

    And so I think your reasoning is flawed when you claim that your ‘Golden rule’ predates religion. Humanity has been in relationship with gods and spirits for as long as humanity exists. Anything that predates that would predate humanity. It may well be that that ‘Golden rule’ predates formalized religions like Christianity, but then as I have repeated time and time again, Christianity is not the only model of religion.

    Anyhow, I think that the idea that ‘ethics’ is somehow the reason why people have religion is nonsensical. You can indeed be an equally ethical person with or without religious practice. I very much disagree with sociologists and their theories that religions were invented to make people behave in certain ways. It is simply about relationships that extend beyond the material world. Nothing more. Nothing less.

  • rationalobservations?

    We agree on many thinks except that which is pure speculation on your part.

    All that remains for you is to present verifiable evidence that anything exists outside of the material universe?

    Thanks for an interesting exchange of ideas.

  • I think that is a part where we will have to agree to disagree, for the simple reason that we will never be able to agree on what counts as evidence. Just for the sake of argument, what kind of ‘evidence’ would you consider to be convincing? For instance, there are cases of medically verified miracles where someone has been cured after praying to a Saint or deity or visiting a sacred place. Is that sufficient evidence that something supernatural could possibly be a factor? If not, is there anything that would convince you short of a marvel-comics-type appearance of a deity-superhero?

  • rationalobservations?

    I wonder if you can name one medically verified “miracle”?
    I am aware if the claims but all fail scientific investigation.
    Anecdotes and urban myths are not evidence.

    People naturally enter remission from illness but no magical miracles are ever verified.

  • That is a different discussion. I am not trying to prove anything here, I am just asking what would potentially count as proof for you. So, please give me one example of something that, if it were to occur (hypothetically) for you would be acceptable as proof, or at least, a type of occurrence where you would be willing to accept that a supernatural cause could be one of the possible explanations.

  • rationalobservations?

    You claimed miracle cures were real.
    As for evidence?
    Anything empiricsl, tangible and authenticated would be a start.
    There are many millions of undetected and undetectable gods goddesses and god-men among which yours is/are nothing unique.

    It appears to a growing number that logic and reason suggest blind belief in all the mythological entities, or none. The third largest and fastest growing human demographic believe in none.

  • As I said, let’s agree to disagree on this as neither of us is going to budge on this. It was certainly interesting to talk to you.

    But if I may give you some advice: if you want people to hear you out, it is a rather bad idea to call them delusional. And I believe it would be more productive for you to point out the many flaws in christian theology rather than to press people on giving evidence for the existence of deity. For it is most likely that they will be like me in disagreeing with you on what counts as evidence.

    But I fully support you in your cause if you would instead switch your focus to pointing out that an all-powerful deity who on top of that is supposedly ‘good’ yet insists on sending people to hell for minor mistakes, while at the same time being so inefficient that he cannot even send updates to a memo (the bible) sent out two thousand years ago, is an absurd contradiction.

  • rationalobservations?

    “… neither of us is going to budge on this.”??
    Logic and evidence “budged” me in my childhood.

    Two points.

    It’s true that argument alone rarely opens a closed mind for the key to a closed and locked mind can only be found within it.

    “.. he (“god / aka “Yahweh”) cannot even send updates to a memo (the bible) sent out two thousand years ago, is an absurd contradiction.

    The oldest / first bibles ( Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus ) were hand written by anonymous scribes in the late 4th century and no trace of any similar texts has ever been discovered dating from what only became the “1st” century at what at the same time became the “8th” century. Both these 1600+ years old books of mythology differ significantly from each other and both differ in many thousands of ways from centuries later written bibles in circulation today.

    Roman christianity dates from the 4th century, not the first. Even the oldest christian institution agrees:

    “Our documentary sources of knowledge about the origins of Christianity and its earliest development are chiefly the New Testament Scriptures, the authenticity of which we must, to a great extent, take for granted.”
    (Catholic Encyclopedia, Farley ed., vol. iii, p. 712)

    The Church makes extraordinary admissions about its New Testament. For example, when discussing the origin of those writings,

    “the most distinguished body of academic opinion ever assembled” (Catholic Encyclopedias, Preface) admits that the Gospels “do not go back to the first century of the Christian era”

    (Catholic Encyclopedia, Farley ed., vol. vi, p. 137, pp. 655-6).

    This statement conflicts with priesthood assertions that the earliest Gospels were progressively written during the decades following the death of the Gospel Jesus Christ.

    In a remarkable aside, the Church further admits that,

    “the earliest of the extant manuscripts [of the New Testament], it is true, do not date back beyond the middle of the fourth century AD”

    (Catholic Encyclopedia, op. cit., pp. 656-7).

    Best wishes to you and yours
    RO?