Atheists Continue to Win Hearts and Minds With their Fetching Spokesmen

Atheists Continue to Win Hearts and Minds With their Fetching Spokesmen August 17, 2012
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  • marc

    The video is not available where I am, you got another link? Im in South Africa. Thanks for the great blog btw.

  • Thomas R

    For a long time the American Atheists group was seen, even by atheists I knew online, as kind of a fringe conspracist group. Sadly it seems like the last few years has seen more vocally hostile atheists than the ones I knew from college or when I first went online. (Used to the atheists I knew would crack some jokes, but were a bit “live and let live.”) So the radicalized atheists might like this “9/11 shows God doesn’t love you if he did exist” stuff.

    • Rosemarie


      American Atheists is just carrying on in the tradition of its late founder.

  • TheRealAaron

    A perfect example of “God doesn’t exist – the bastard!”

    That guy needs to get his story straight… either God doesn’t exist and was totally uninvolved in 9-11, or he does exist and decided not to stop 9-11. Those are different propositions, and need to be handled differently.

    You can’t just pile them on top of each other like “Mark Shea doesn’t exist! And he’s a terrible writer!”

    • Andy, Bad Person

      Exactly. Over time, I find that plenty of atheists believe in God; they just hate him. It’s no wonder many polls come out with theist atheists.

      • dpt

        I see this too. They are angry and, in place of self reflection, need an exterior target to blame. (Though this is a tendency we all have at times.)

    • Thomas R


      Although some take the position that what they’re saying is that the evil in the world means there is no God or that God is not good. These kinds of arguments never did much for me, (curiously the simple “why should there be a God?” or “Isn’t what you’re saying to good to be true?” arguments shook me more at times) but I guess they mean some to some people.

      One problem I have with them is once you argue that our bodies are poorly designed, good children die while jerks live to be elderly, etc to me you’re left with a pretty bleak viewpoint. What’s the appeal? The answer I get at times is “Why should the truth be appealing?” Which makes sense in a way, but isn’t exactly encouraging. Most evangelists of other positions don’t say “yeah our worldview sucks, but it’s true so choke on it.”

  • Brian Westley
    • Irenist

      From the article: “Sharp as the rise in self-identified American atheists may seem, the poll also notes that the new findings merely bring the United States in line with Saudi Arabia, which also reports 5 percent convinced atheists.”

      What’s “working” in the sense of winning converts is Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. Particularly its First Commandment: “Thou shalt love thyself above all things, and call this ‘Spirituality'” and its corollary Third Commandment: “Thou shalt indulge thy all-holy self by sleeping in on Sundays instead of going to church, and then maybe watching some football later. Possibly with nachos. Mmmmm….nachos.”

      • Brian Westley

        “What’s “working” in the sense of winning converts is Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.”

        Well no, it’s just an increase in the atheist population.

        • Irenist

          MTD isn’t the same thing as atheism. Atheism is the absence of believe in God or gods. MTD is the belief that God wants you to be happy and nice to people but not really put yourself out or anything. MTD, under the name “spiritual but not religious,” is spreading like a California wildfire. Atheism, not so much.

          • Brian Westley

            Well, this poll was about the increase in the number of people who describe themselves as “convinced atheists”; I agree it isn’t the same as MTD.

            • Thomas R

              I admit I’m skeptical of that poll. What I think is likely happening is people who didn’t believe in god are more willing to say that.

              Also to say American-Atheist had anything to do with this rise is not shown even going by the poll. Maybe the popularity of “House” or “Grey’s Anatomy”, Cristina Yang being an open atheist, is the reason. Or maybe it is Dawkins and Harris, but neither of them are in American A so far as I know.

            • I’m also wary of the poll. Especially given the stark choices in the survey. I think numbers show that overall more people are abandoning traditional views of God or approaches to religion. The number of people claiming atheism has grown, but the diversity within atheism has also grown. Remember the legendary Pew Research poll that found something like 6% of atheists believing in a personal God and over 20% of atheists praying. What’s that even mean? So if atheism is growing, it could also be the result of an increasingly broad definition that, to some at least, apparently includes praying to a personal God.

              • Thomas R

                In fairness there was times in my life where I wasn’t sure I believed in God, but I still prayed. Going by that and others I think a solid atheist might pray as a mental habit to relieve stress or as a show of support for a friend. I knew one atheist who prayed with my Mom going by “Sure I don’t believe this, but you do and if this is the way you want me to ‘be there for you’ than okay.” Not all atheists are alike. Some see theism as foolish, but usually harmless. So they’d see praying to God more the way you or I might see talking to a child’s toy. This is why I’ve had trouble adjusting as many of the atheists I knew were more like “it’s silly/false, but if it helps you that’s fine as long as you’re not bothering me.”

              • One thing to keep in mind about the poll: I believe that the 1%-5% shift is within the poll’s margin of error. I wouldn’t doubt there’s been an increase in people calling themselves atheists. I would doubt the extent this poll shows.

                Also, I believe a poll in the UK recently showed that 30% of atheists sometimes pray to God. Identification is a complicated issue.

  • A Philosopher

    Can we lock David Silverman and Bill Donohue in a room together as part of some kind of demented Huis Clos scenario?

    I rather like Stewart’s final statue suggestion, though. Infinitely recursing it would be even better.

    • I’m not sure it’s a fair comparison in this case. I’m no fan of how Donohue behaves, but he tends to act the way he acts on the defensive, that is, he reacts – sometimes badly IMHO – to things he perceives as attacks. He doesn’t go over there and say to someone ‘you may find comfort in this but screw you, it’s bothering me and your basis for comfort is stupid and wrong anyway.’ There is a difference. I realize much of this brand of militant atheism, like many modern PC movements, is founded upon the idea that if I’m exposed to something I disagree with, I could end up in years of counseling having suffered from a complete mental breakdown due to seeing things I don’t agree with. And in that, Silverman is simply using the tactic at hand that has yielded some past victories. But in this case, I would say, unless I’ve missed where it’s happened, that Donohue hasn’t gone down that path.

  • Bob Seidensticker

    The point raised by Silverman is pretty on target IMO. God gave us a cross symbol in the rubble, but he couldn’t get up off the couch to stop the destruction in the first place? God’s cross calling card becomes a reminder of what he could have done … but didn’t.

    • Mark Shea

      Like many atheists, you can’t seem to make up your mind. “God doesn’t exist, the heartless bastard” is an incoherent argument.

    • Rosemarie


      Since when is God supposed to prevent everything bad from happening on earth? He never promised to do that and is not bound to do that. Even when He Himself came to earth as a Man, He didn’t prevent us from nailing Him to a cross. He personally experienced human evil and ugliness, He identified with every suffering innocent person and transformed that ugliness and suffering into redemption. God doesn’t prevent all evil but He does bring good out of our evil acts, which is what the cross at Ground Zero represents – hope amid the destruction and suffering.

    • Many atheists condemn Christians as sheep, blindly following their faith. Yet they also condemn the idea of a God who allows humans to have free will. “He should get up off the couch and prevent people from doing bad things!”
      So we are sheep for following a tyrannical deity who crushes our freedom… AND we are fools for praying to a heartless God who allows us make mistakes.