DNA test reveals believer is part atheist!

DNA test reveals believer is part atheist! November 14, 2013
atheist dna cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward
“Atheist DNA” (by nakedpastor David Hayward)

You’ve heard the story, haven’t you, of the white supremacist Craig Cobb being informed on TV that his DNA test reveals he is 14% African. He refused to believe it or fist bump the host and went down some conspiracy theory road.

We talk a lot about atheism in our online community because many of us are atheists or are struggling with it.

I claim that those who always profess they always believe are either always lying or always living in denial.

Do you need biblical warrant? The many Old Testament lamentations. The man who said to Jesus, “I believe, help my unbelief.” Jesus on the cross crying out to an absent God.

I am part atheist and I’m proud of it. I have been and know different kinds of atheists. What do you think of these categories?

  1. LOCAL: She no longer believes in the personal god she used to. He has disappointed so many times that she’s decided there’s no evidence of his existence anymore.
  2. CONTINENTAL: He no longer believes in the god of his religion. Perhaps he’s agnostic in that he believes there’s no proof for the existence of deities.
  3. GLOBAL: She rejects the belief in the existence of deities. She takes the position that there are no gods. Period.

Which one would your inner atheist identify with right now?

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  • Some days I pick all 3. Some days just 1. Am I admitting this on patheos? Must be some TLS bravery leaking out to the wider world.

  • haha crysti tls bravery. yep 🙂

  • You left off universal and multiversal 😉
    I’m probably migrate somewhat between 2 and 3.

  • LOL ! Nicely done. Ohhhh, the Horror !

    This reminds me of a few things:

    (1) The Japanese have a word for “foreigners” called “GaiJin” which means “OUTSIDE person”. It has all sorts of negative connotations which Japanese deny. Well, when they come to the US and in conversation I refer to them as a GaiJin (we speak Japanese), they look at me in horror [like your cartoon] . Finally, they understand what their word really does.

    (2) Theists view Atheists with moral disgust — they may deny it, but if you created this DNA test, we could prove them liars too.

    (3) Here, in one of my early posts (2009) I wrote about The Theist in the Atheist. The opposite side of the coin.

  • BTW, as you can imagine, that post I just linked pissed off a lot of Atheists.
    No one wants their specialness picked-on

  • Sabio, I agree with your post that you referenced. I think we each have a lot of unconscious stuff going on in our minds and the conscious aspect of it is only one transient view into the larger goings on. Some of us can hold a stable self-identity for some time but we all shift quite a bit as for what our conscious mind manifests. Even though I consider myself a long-standing atheist, I’m sure there are theistic components lurking around in my subconscious – and I am fine with that. It is just the way we all are.

  • Cecilia Davidson


    This makes me think of that knot image that showed up the other day. We’re all interesting messes and tangles. We have moments of doubt and crises of faith – and it’s apparently a thing for atheists to have crises of faithlessness. I mean, I myself think there could be something out there but the god I was raised to believe in just doesn’t sit right with me anymore. It’s like I’ve outgrown that god and it’s not, at first, a fun feeling.

  • Hello David.

    You nicely described the different meanings that the word “atheism” can have.
    I hold fast to the historical French and German definitions meaning “believing there is NO God”.

    It is true that among conservative Evangelicals, doubts are most often seen as something very bad, and I truly hope it will change in this part of Christendom.


  • Agree!

  • When my mind wanders theistic, it is the monkey god (here), not the cat dog. The cat god of my youth has disappeared, I think.
    Loved the pseudo-rage — feels good, don’t it?

  • I am a continental and global atheist. I live my day to day life as if no god exists. However, I can not be certain a god of some sort does not exist and has not yet revealed itself to us, so I am agnostic on the god question. I don ‘t think any of the gods humans have created so far are God, but there “could” be a god we don’t know about. For me, it all about probabilities. Even Richard Dawkins doesn’t say, there is absolutely no god of any sort. Is it probable? No, and this is why I live my day to day life as an atheist. So, outwardly I am 100% atheist. Inwardly, I am 99.000005% atheist. 🙂

  • thanks bruce. i like dawkins.

  • Agree, Bruce. Like you I am an ex-Christian.
    In practice (“outwardly”) 100% atheist, mentally 99% atheist — but heck, my mind laughs at categories, so I can’t trust her ! 😉

  • Andy

    If you’re an atheist, the phrase “OMG” does not apply.

  • Andy

    You’re an agnostic, David. There’s no middle ground with Atheism.

  • You obviously haven’t been paying attention.

  • Andy, atheists don’t get to define Christianity and Christians don’t get to define atheism. Each groups gets to define themselves. And when there is a wide range within the group, the definitions can be somewhat loose.

  • Correct. Not that I know anything about atheism. 🙂

  • Andy

    You’re right, Jeff. THAT job belongs to the good folks at Merriam Webster: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/atheism?s=t

  • What? All atheists aren’t godless heathens who are bitter, angry, hate God and Christianity, are under the control of Satan, and secretly desire to live an immoral life? 🙂 (just putting together the things many Evangelicals tell me about my atheism. After all, their bible says all atheists are fools)

  • It is usually unwise to use dictionary definitions to define complex, multifaceted groups like atheism. I am sure Christians would not like atheists to do this when defining Christianity. We rightly understand that Christianity is a complex, multifaceted term that can be defined a variety of ways.

  • Andy

    Just speaking the language of the people, Bruce. Sorry about that. I’ll go back to my insular, head-in-the-sand religious world, now.

  • Andy

    It is usually unwise to use words like “correct” when the truth is such a complex, multifaceted thing that can be defined in so many ways. :/

  • Do people still use dictionaries? 🙂 I understand where you are coming from. However, I get ripped frequently when I write about Christianity and I don’t identify which subset of Christianity I am talking out.

    I am an outspoken atheist but some atheists don’t like me because I am an accommodationist who refuses to say all religion is evil and has no value. At the end of the day, I don’t give a $&@!

  • Andy

    I’m sure I’d like you just fine. I just liked your reply, at least!

  • Gun Nordström

    If I am longing for a life in harmony and take the advice of Jesus to seek it within, then I am beginning to learn about the invisible part of myself. When observing the movement of my thoughts I am getting to know how my mind works. Little by little I learn more and more and I am finding out that the eager observer in me is able to see the truth and untruth about events, persons, issues etc. If I am approaching an issue having whatsoever beliefs, they make me blind as whatsoever belief is made up of experiences from yesterday. I can use nothing old (no old dogmas or bias) when observing issues in the present moment. By saying I am a Christian, a Muslim, an Atheist etc., I am de facto putting on dark glassses which are preventing me from reaching the omnipresent truth within.

  • Cecilia Davidson

    Semantics. Don’t be a jerk just because this agnostic doesn’t fit your perceptions of what atheism and agnosticism entail.

  • Cecilia Davidson

    And you gave a blanket remark on how Atheism cannot possibly have a middle ground with having spiritual practices.

  • Andy

    That depends on how you define “jerk.”

  • Cecilia Davidson

    You’re the one playing the semantics game, not I.

  • Cecilia Davidson

    It does feel good to point out where even my own team gets it horribly wrong

  • klhayes

    LOL! Too funny. I would identify with the Continental atheists

  • klhayes

    I think what David means is that people’s faith ebbs and flows throughout life. And many Christians do wonder if God exist. Mother Teresa had some pretty dark moments.

  • Christopher R Weiss

    Meh! More categorical hair splitting. If your answer to “Does god exist?” is “I don’t know,” then in terms of belief, your answer is still “no.” Whether your god is personal or some sort of deistic spirituality, the line is whether you accept something supernatural or not. When you say “I don’t know,” you are still not accepting anything supernatural.

    The difference between atheism and belief is that atheism is an umbrella term. Atheists differ greatly with many different justifications for rejecting or not accepting the supernatural, while I have heard christians say that Mormons and Jehovah witnesses are not “true” christians, whatever that means. Atheists typically do not create long and involved conditions for membership since it isn’t really a club or a group or a movement in spite of attempts by believers to dump us all in with Hitchens, Dawkins or Silverman. Contrast this to any organized religion or even more spiritual points of view like Buddhism, and entire books will be spent arguing about subtle shades of gray.

    Most atheists are unknown as such because there is no distinguishing characteristic except for the answers to a few simple questions.

  • Gary

    “When you say “I don’t know,” you are still not accepting anything supernatural.” … “then in terms of belief, your answer is still “no.”

    I am forced to disagree with this conclusion entirely. I believe it greatly over reaches in an effort pigeon hole everyone into one polar extreme or the other. But the simple fact is…you don’t get to define my belief. When I say I am a believer who accepts the role of an agnostic…I most certainly am not declaring that I don’t believe. What I am saying is I think the existence of God is more likely, but I accept that I cannot prove it and may be wrong. For you to declare that this mixture of honesty in my approach to reality is in fact a complete denial of all things supernatural may help you deal with varying beliefs…but it most certainly does not represent mine.

  • All this chatter about defining “Atheism” inspired me to re-organize my posts on “Defining Atheism“.

    I laugh when people identify with labels. It is the politics of labels and definitions that nourish the banter here. We are all such funny creatures.

  • Gun Nordström

    The roots of our main religions (from the latin word religio = reconnect) are human beings who have felt their connection to the inner source of their being. At the same time they have also felt that all things are one, as they are (made of) the very same energy. Buddah sitting under the bodhytree felt this oneness and the “good news” of Jesus was that we are all children of the same energy that he named Father. Within different organized religions we have named it God, Allah, Jehova, Tao etc. Are we not in this century ready to grow up by understanding this simple fact? Is it so difficult to comprehend that we are all sisters and brothers of the same source? When revealing this circumstance how we have been trapped by our mind, it will not be possible to make war between countries anymore nor to be fighting on a personal level. We will only be interested in putting this knowledge into action and it will be spread like the morning light when the night is over.

  • Mark

    No need for me to reply to Christopher now. You’ve stated my belief on this pretty succinctly. Thanks.

  • @Gun

    (1) Are you familiar with the “Etymology Fallacy“?

    (2) “Oneness” jargon for Buddhism is just one flavor of Buddhism and usually the Western Romanticized New-Agey Flavor. Your whole comment is just idealistic, monistic new-age religion stuff. It is a religion of its own kind which tells others — look, I will tell you who your real god is. Still a religion game, my friend.

    Expecting Oneness Mystical religion to save the world is naive, I am afraid. Instead, how about non-coercive variety? Don’t try to blend everything together.

  • Yesterday, same day as David addressed inner atheists,
    Epiphenom’s Tom Reese coincidentally posted an article showing that Atheists may have an inner Theist — See “Atheists get sweaty when daring God“.

    (then see my comment there about how I make sense of this)

  • Sven2547

    Ha! I love it!

  • Christopher R Weiss

    You still believe. You have taken a side whether you pose it in terms of probabilities or likelihoods, this still means you believe in something supernatural.

    The qualifiers only come up when you try to classify your beliefs. However, the split between believer and non-believer/atheist is pretty simple. Do you accept that the supernatural exists? If you say “I don’t know,” that is not a yes.

    Trying to step down from a personal god, to a generic god, to a spiritual force, to a mental intentionality separate from the physical world (Buddhism), this still poses a binary condition. Either you accept the existence of the supernatural or you don’t. How you qualify this belief is up to you.

    This idea that agnostics are somehow “okay” because they haven’t take a side is silly. They are still not accepting of the supernatural.

    All honest people will acknowledge things in terms of likelihoods. This hairsplitting of trying to create shades of gray between fundamentalists, agnostics, and atheists doesn’t really matter.

  • Gary

    No I still think you are committing a very basic logical fallacy. The absence of certainty is not a declaration of support one way or the other. Clearly we agree that “I don’t know” is not a yes. But to state that it IS a no is simply not logical. Let me try an analogy.

    If I am standing in a room and preparing to go into the next room which is completely blocked from my view, and someone asks me if I believe there is light present in that other room, I may declare “I don’t know”. Because the absence or presence of light in that room may impact how cautiously I enter it, I may try to evaluate the probabilities. I.E., is it day or night and do I know anything about the presence of windows? Is it part of a building or house with electricity? Are there children living in the home with a penchant for leaving lights on or are they well trained to shut them off? All of these clues may help me formulate an opinion, but without further proof I honestly have no way of knowing for certain.

    But by your way of thinking…for me to admit I don’t know means I am declaring that in fact there is NO light in the room. It would be silly for me to say that because I do not know if there is light, I am declaring absolutely that there is not.

    I don’t know may not be an acceptance of the supernatural, but it clearly is not a rejection either. I don’t get your hairsplitting accusation. I don’t believe I have ever encountered someone who argued that the absence of proof is itself proof of absence.

    As for the idea that anyone is implying that agnostics “are somehow okay”, I have no clue where that is coming from. I believe agnostics are okay, as well as atheists and believers.

  • Gun Nordström

    It seems that those who name themselves Atheists have especially hard to understand that we are parts in an immense, in our 3rd dimension invisible, energy. And this is due to the fact that you have decided to believe there is nothing except what we can see with the eyes of our body. And so you will continue believing until you will get interested in going beyond what your mind is telling you and follow great Masters advice to go seeking within.

    But it is more surprising that Christians often separate themselves from the so called New Age movement. Their Christian glasses make the light of this movement for peace and love as invisible for them as for Atheists. The New Age is representing a change in the conciousness of the human race, as more and more people are awakening through an individual experience of the fact that we are all parts of the ONE AND SAME ENERGY SOURCE. This is no matter of belief but a matter of telling about the possibility for everyone to experiencing this state. It is at the time being neither provable nor is there any words which can describe it. But we are ONE and in that state we are also parts of all knowledge.

    We are very blessed as the internet is spreading the needed informations in a very fast speed, changing the world through people interested in awakening to whom they are and who one by one are finding their pathless way to ALL WHAT IS.

    And Sabio, this information is a non-coersive one, as all good advices are.

  • Gun, My inner newAgeOnenessMystic says hi to your inner Atheist.

  • Oh great mystic of all unity, I bow to your deep insight.

  • Bruce, lots of us atheists agree with you the over-reaching generalizations about religion aren’t helpful. Keep up the good work.

  • Thanks Sabio. Just today an atheist said on Twitter that a creationist’s IQ is 60 points lower than an atheist. I thought, really? I despise this kind of mindlessness.

  • Yep, that attitude is prevalent on both sides of the isle: “If you don’t believe/think like me you are an idiot.”
    But which is worse, to think the other person an idiot or to think that they are morally corrupt and doomed to damnation and that you tell all your children the same and to avoid them.
    Too bad the two options have to be compared, eh?
    Most people here (religious and nonreligious) fortunately hold neither of these views.

  • Gun Nordström

    There is nothing mystic in the universe. All what is has its natural laws. When we dare to get acquainted with new interesting phenomena, they will reveal themselves to us and we get to know how they work. For instance as an example of our oneness with nature: As a little girl (from 4 years on), I was very fond of and interested in finding wild strawberries and somehow I knew, that they felt my intent to find them and that they got my feet going in their direction. My mother was astonished at the many litres I picked of them. My father got killed in 1941 in the war between Finland an Russia and I was sent as a packet with a label around my neck to a kind family in Sweden were I stayd for 2 years. They were very astonished at me knowing where to go for strawberries in places quite new to me. Last summer when walking with my husband on a path in a nearby forrest I told him that when we come home, I will take a big can and go picking strawberries on the backside of an empty cottage. I had never been there before but I found 2 litres of the berries I have for so long been in love with. Love and intent are the key to this and all other successes. As we are energetic beings with electromagnetic energy circulating in our bodies, we are able (with love and intent) to transfer energy with our hands to a wounded place in our own body and in the same way to others, as the cells of a wounded place are more negativ compared with the positively loaded cells in the healthy hand (plus will go to minus until a balance is established). If you hit your left hand, your right hand will automatically go to your left hand rubbing it while you are screeming: iiii . These are small examples of the fact that we are more than our visible bodies.
    I could continue telling you about my out of body experiences, travelling through space but that would be too long a text. My journeys are rather similar to what you can find by seeking on the net. And before it happened I very eagerly said with all of my heart: I SO WANT TO KNOW WHAT LIFE IS ALL ABOUT.

  • Not sure I understand the bizarre link, Cecilia.
    Second, I really don’t think in terms of teams, btw.

  • Gun Nordström

    HI Jeff! I love your humour. Humour (as for instance in David and Russell Brand) is going to show the world real freedom without any beliefsystems but gods acting in oneness saying only

    WE ARE.

  • Cecilia Davidson

    The intent was to show that there are fundamentalist atheists who are extremely ignorant and militant and it was that group that I was channeling.

  • Reiki has been shown not to work.
    QiGun has been shown not to work.
    All of this is nonsense.
    And I know, because I made a career out of such nonsense.
    But it seems very comforting to you.
    You ought to set up a website where you can share your insights and heal the world.

  • Gun, we all have beliefs systems — some filled with more nonsense than others.

  • Yeah, young, immature thinkers for sure.

    I save the word “militant” for people who kill for their beliefs: Christian fundies who shoot pro-choice providers, Muslim fundies who bomb innocents, or Americans who bomb innocents for the deluded belief that they are spreading democracy. I want to keep the meaning of the word “militant” for these important uses. Using it for pure rhetoric is dishonoring the deep, deadly beliefs and practices of these folks.

    I would encourage you to stop buying in to the Christian rhetoric on this item. You’ve seen this, no?

  • Christopher R Weiss

    You are standing up a false analogy for the simple reason that the supernatural lacks any form of confirmation and verification like electricity in a house. If anything, what we have seen is that every spiritual assumption has failed any sort of test and believers are forced into gods of the gaps type arguments or dramatic reinterpretations of reality. Philosophers have produced long winded tomes of sophistry to “prove” that materialism is fatally flawed, blah, blah, blah. However, the simple fact that nothing spiritual can ever be demonstrated in a way to prove a skeptic wrong, shows its weakness. Going back to your example someone can walk into the building and test for light, electricity, etc. Your argument and analogy fails completely because of the possibility of verification.

    When it comes to absence of proof, people can at best assert hypotheses, which are statements that are neither disproven nor proven. An agnostic is not making even a hypothesis. They are saying that either hypothesis has some probability, and neither is more likely than the other. However, at no point are they accepting the truth or existence of the supernatural.

    I have seen many believers extend special dispensation to the agnostic because they are still “open minded.” If they have been exposed to all of the same information you have, and they still come back with “I am not willing to join your side,” what does this mean to you?

  • Gary

    Sorry but you are still committing the same basic logical fallacy. Frankly…it is absurd for you to try to completely redefine the simple phrase “I don’t know” for your argument. I also cannot understand WHY you feel so driven to do so other than to satisfy some sort of personal bias. I think I am done attempting to reason with you. Reason is not one of your strong suits.

  • Christopher R Weiss

    You still don’t get it… the consequence for religion and belief is the same for the agnostic and the atheist. The difference is irrelevant on how this is qualified.

  • Gary

    Oh I get it alright….you are making statements which have risen to the level of gibberish.

  • Christopher R Weiss

    Sorry if the concept of logical equivalence escapes you. It is common for less intelligent people to miss what this means.

  • Gary

    The “concept of logical equivalence” most certainly does not escape me so spare me your arrogant attack. The fact is…it does not apply to our discussion. Like before…you seek to define falsely. All from your silly notion that “I don’t know” actually means NO.

  • Christopher R Weiss

    I saw your original comment that was deleted…. very classy indeed.

    At this point, your emotional investment in trying to make me look wrong is making it impossible for you to admit you might have made a mistake. My original objection was with the author’s splitting people into meaningless groups. I have stuck with that thread and provided further explanation about the impact and equivalency of atheism and agnosticism. You have continued to object to this classification by saying I have committed a fallacy. You have not identified what fallacy I have committed, and I have shown you how I supported my position. The fact that you cannot understand what this means and how it is related to the original article is your problem.

    I am reminded of an important aphorism I learned from a math professor long ago:

    Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig.

    At this point, you seem very annoyed.

  • Gary

    Good I am very glad you saw it. I did not delete it so I can only assume it was deleted by David. My original response is EXACTLY as I intended it to be considering your slam about me being “less intelligent”. Ironic, considering your silly premise to begin with which you insist on defending at all costs. At this point I really don’t give a fuck what you think nor do I have any desire to converse with you further.

  • @ Christopher Weiss

    I love that phrase about teaching a pig to sing. A surgeon I once worked with used it often to help spouses how to understand each other — that is, to give up on trying to change each other.

    Concerning Gary’s deletion of his “Fuck off” comment — we should commend him. He has a proven track record to drop into that rhetoric, but perhaps is starting to build a filter, albeit it a delayed filter. Nonetheless, baby steps!

    Concerning your category of “supernatural” belief as enough to bump someone out of the atheist category: I think categories are slippery and yours is too. “Belief”, for instance is a problematic notion, as is “supernatural”. There are Atheists who belief in Ghosts, for instance (no matter how much you’d prefer otherwise) and just don’t believe in god(s). There are Atheists who when highly scared have prayed — did they switch beliefs or always have an inner theist or, is the notion of having one consistent self which holds exclusive beliefs an Atheist myth?

    I agree with Gary that saying “I don’t know” does not make one an “Atheist” unless one declares themselves an atheist. You can feel otherwise, but then you are being a prescriptionist about language use. Or perhaps I am misunderstanding you.

    BTW – do you have a website?

  • Christopher R Weiss

    My point remains that the impact of atheism and agnosticism is the same. Neither group participates in religion.

    Gary’s comment was moderated and removed. So much for progress.

  • Christopher R Weiss

    How long until this comment is deleted?

    You are one classy dude.

  • @ Christopher: Sorry, could you spell it out for me in brief terms again? What is the shared “impact” of both atheism and agnosticism (Christian or Atheist)?
    Is your point philosophical (substantial) or linguistic (prescriptive)?
    Or am I confused?

  • I think moderation is often a good policy. I don’t allow smokers to smoke in my house for instance, no matter how much they rant about constitutional right? 😉
    Comment policies can help keep things transparent, though.
    Some commentors and bloggers are against comment policies — but that is what makes horse races, eh? I just don’t go to smoking bars and avoid some websites, depending on the milieu.

  • Gary

    No Sabio…I called him an ass following his reference to my “lower intelligence” and david apparently decided to delete it, not me.

  • Ah, my wrong, Gary. But if you don’t mind, I will continue to hold on to hope for you. 🙂

  • Gary

    Thanks Sabio. 🙂 Still…I love the freedom to tell someone who resorts to telling me I am less intelligent because I don’t agree with them to fuck off. This is not likely to change anytime soon.

  • Christopher R Weiss

    I think the owners of a site should be able to moderate all they wish. They are paying for the hosting, the software, etc. It is THEIR site. Anyone who feels differently can stand up their own site and rant to their heart’s content.

    I am also completely against anonymous trolling. I think you should have to have a valid online identity with a picture of you, etc. One of the things that I know emboldens people on the internet is being protected. People will write things they would never say to you face to face. We need to make forums like this more transparent, which will encourage politeness.

  • I would prefer if people didn’t tell each other to fuck off. But on the other hand I would prefer that people wouldn’t talk arrogantly down to others no matter how clean their language. What’s worse? Close-minded arrogance or a swear word?

  • Christopher R Weiss

    My position is simple and pragmatic. I am a lifelong atheist and a materialist. I was raised Catholic, but unlike many people, I had a very pleasant experience overall, so my atheism is not an emotional response. My first degree was in philosophy, and my focus was 20th century analytic philosophy. I also have advanced degrees in math and computer science, focusing on AI and computation. I look at philosophy as a subject with a lower case “p,” taking the advice of Richard Feynman very seriously:

    “Philosophy of science is as useful to scientists as ornithology is to birds.”

    This applies to many areas of philosophy in general. I see some philosophers going to great lengths to show that materialism is “fatally flawed.” To this, my response is very simple. Provide one verifiable example where something non-material is even possible let alone testable.

    I see people getting wrapped around the axle when it comes to belief by creating artificial categories and separations. Many agnostics and atheists create meaningless subcategories and qualifiers that really don’t add anything to the discussion except as weak attempts to separate their versions of non-belief from anti-theists such as Dennett, Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens. Consequently, my reaction to this type of article is based on seeing it as yet another failed attempt to create more meaningless categories.

    Similarly, I have seen people such as Buddhists go at great lengths to show how the flaws in traditional religions, but then these same proponents support the idea of a nonmaterial mind separate from the body that can leave and come back in some weak form of reincarnation. Buddhism in even this philosophical form is still a religion with a supernatural component.

    While I can appreciate the need to classify oneself and to create differentiation between groups, this idea of being “part atheist” is an abuse of the meaning of the term atheist. Similarly, an agnostic who does not say the supernatural exists, but prefers “I don’t know” is creating yet another false separation. The impact on religion and spiritualism by the atheist and agnostic is still one of non-participation. The only real difference is that some atheists are anti-theists and actively oppose anything spiritual. Most atheists don’t actively oppose anything that doesn’t affect them directly, which is what most agnostics do in practice as well.

    It would take pages and pages to refine my positions further, but this is an incomplete and high level summary.

  • Christopher R Weiss

    If you follow the thread, my tone was more or less polite until my argument was called “gibberish” and Gary became insulting. Yes, I did respond with arrogance. Yes, I did it to bait Gary somewhat. However, I prefer polite words over swears and insults.

  • Christopher, as part of the Christian majority it is easy for you to say these things about disliking people hiding behind aliases. As part of the majority, you are probably not personally acquainted with the concept of the Tyranny of the Majority. Many people live in a tenuous social situation where if their unconventional beliefs were known, there could be sever social repercussions. For example, both my sons are in the Boy Scouts. I’m an assistant scoutmaster. Each of us is an atheist. If our lack of religious belief were to become known, we may get kicked out of scouts. They have a rule that each person involved in scouting must profess a belief in God. They even ask for the name of the church that you attend. There is other ostracizing that would occur as well within my community. We have to live under-cover right here in America. Land of the free.

  • Christopher R Weiss

    Wrong buddy… I am an atheist… open and freely available to all.

    I have been in the minority all of my life. I think anonymity on the internet has turned some people of all stripes into trolling cowards.

    I am married with children, and I have lived in my house for 15 years. My wife and I have been together for a very long time. We chose a suburb of a college town, knowing this community would be more open minded. There are places I would not live for exactly this type of backlash. Anyone who knows me well, knows where I stand. I won’t allow my sons in scouts because of the religious association and their long history of homophobia.

    To make things even more complicated, my wife is a dark skinned Hispanic Indian and I am a pasty-white mixed European. There is nothing we can do to hide the nature of our relationship.

  • Egg on face. I should have read all your earlier posts.
    I was purposefully staying out of the atheist vs agnostics vs “I don’t know” vs “haven’t thought about it yet” distinctions.

  • @ Christopher,

    I found this answer a bit odd. Let me explain why.

    First, my name is a pen name and I don’t have a tiny little picture of my self for an avatar. So I am sure you were trying to accuse me of being a “trolling coward”. Which seems at odds below with your statement of: “However, I prefer polite words over swears and insults.”

    It seems you like fighting words.

    Anyway, I choose a pen name to protect my professional life — and I have much experience in this realm.

    Yet you tell us that “We chose a suburb of a college town, knowing this community would be more open minded.” Which sounds either “wise” or “cowardly” depending on if I wanted to paint you has a hypocrite or not.

    You never answered my question: Do you have a web site.

    If not, then my post called “obscure threader” may apply to you in part and help eat away at your self-righteous, hypocritical accusation of cowardice.

    All that said, above you tell us your are a “lifelong atheist”. I think that demographic studies would should certain personality trait differences between lifelong atheists and those of us who were once believers as adults. I think such difference determine many of our emotional stances on religious issues in ways we are often blind to. Would you suspect so also?

    BTW, thanx for sharing your background. But, as that post I linked to says, it would be much cooler to see that information on a post or blog. Likewise, clicking on my apparently trolling, vacuous symbol (even if more easy to recognize), you can find my blog, read my entire background and see lots of pics of me. So there are ways around the cowardliness you accuse us of. Why not try it.

  • @ Christopher,

    Thanx for sharing.

    Concerning your “high level summary” of your “simple pragmatic” view:

    I am sympathetic to some of your feelings that categories can be “meaningless”, if not counterproductive or even destructive. But we agree that, if used well, they can be helpful too.

    For instance, you use the category of anti-theist, which I think is useful in some ways but limited in others. Language is like that, eh?

    But when all of a sudden you say, “this idea of being “part atheist” is an abuse of the meaning of the term atheist.”

    All you do is expose your prescriptionist position. In other words, you have a meaning for the term “atheist” that you feel all others should use.

    Well, I don’t want to go on much longer so I will stop here.

  • Christopher R Weiss

    I didn’t say all anonymous people were trolling cowards. What I said is that anonymity tends to make people more likely to be trolls. You didn’t read what I said carefully. You seem fair and reasonable in general.

    “I think anonymity on the internet has turned some people of all stripes into trolling cowards.”

    I don’t have a web site, and I have nothing to hide. I prefer to participate in discussions than to post long essays on a blog.

    It seems unfair that you feel you need to hide to protect yourself personally or professionally. Being open has never hurt me. I don’t walk around with buttons on my coat trashing religion, but I don’t shy away from answering questions when asked.

    I went to Catholic school, I was raised in a Catholic family, and I am married to a christian woman who was also Catholic for quite a while. I haven’t had a personal experience that influenced my perspective. If anything, I didn’t meet another person who admitted to being an atheist until I got to college. Consequently, I have not lived in an atheist echo chamber that would make me blind to other perspectives.

  • Christopher R Weiss

    I couldn’t disagree more strongly. There are not shades of being an atheist. There are subgroups within the umbrella term, but atheism is pretty clear. If someone says he is an atheist, yet he believes in ghosts too – this is a contradiction. If someone rejects traditional religion but believes in the supernatural, this is not atheism. Atheism is a descriptor. It is not a single philosophy or set of morals no matter how much believers try to pin this down. People justify atheism differently, but the descriptor “atheist” doesn’t change based on how its justified.

    Agnosticism is equivalent to atheism in its effect.

    You can call this prescriptive. However, other people are starting use the term atheist in a much looser or gradual sense for something which is more binary or yes/no than that.

  • @Christopher,

    Reading your comment , it appear you are not reading mine with much depth, so I will just let stand what you wrote stand and not correct in the obvious places. I suggest, as my post says, that you put up a blog and discuss anonymous blogging and I may visit to discuss. But for now, it seems you are talking but not listening.

  • Christopher R Weiss

    I already provided my answer… that would be no, I am not going to blog.

  • There’s a first on the internet…people talking and not listening. 🙂

  • You obviously did not read the post I linked for you. It suggests putting up a mere page about yourself — not blogging. But since I suggested it, you might not want to listen to that also.

  • Christopher R Weiss

    I have linkedin and Facebook pages. Feel free to search if you wish. I searched for you. You are prolific. The site you referenced earlier is a blog, so excuse me for using your example as the context.

  • NP. As my post suggests (I linked in for you so there was no need to “search” if you were reading carefully), consider linking your FB page or linkedin to your Disqus profile. Or don’t.

  • There is a link to his Facebook page on the top right of his Disqus profile. I took a look at it. He is from Michigan. That explains everything. 🙂

    Just kidding. A little jab at the unnamed state up north. 🙂 2 weeks to the big game,

  • Ah, thanx Bruce. But if you go there, his “About” page contains next to nothing. So I would suggest that if that will be his link, that he continues adding more.

    Meanwhile, it was a bit rude to point out that he is from Michigan — no one is perfect! 🙂

  • Christopher R Weiss

    The reason I use my real name is that anyone who wants to know more about me can do so with one minute on a search engine. You can even see my history as a student at MSU, including scholarships I won, awards I won as a philosophy student, etc. Assembling a single profile that I post in threads seems redundant.

    I read your post on threaders, and I don’t agree that I fall into the category you describe. You assumed because I did not respond in detail, that I did not read it. Anonymous threaders who may use sock puppets to further obscure their identities tend to make obnoxious comments tossed over the wall. I am anything but anonymous even if you find me obnoxious.

    I understand your concern about protecting your identity. You’re a doctor, etc., etc. I work in IT, systems, and statistical consulting. I have had hundreds of clients. Not once has my online presence been an issue nor my lack of religion. I have a large family. Not a single one of my children has suffered for the fact that I am an atheist. My two oldest daughters are both in medical programs (DO and physical therapy school respectively). They hide nothing either.

    We have to agree to disagree. My online identity is available in fragments, but nothing is anonymous. Yours is summarized and centralized, but anonymous. I can grant you that you are certainly not of the cowardly troll category I was referring to previously. However, my point remains that anonymity encourages trolling even though most anonymous people are not trolls. The offense you seemed to take appears to be based on taking my statement as an absolute generalization rather than a trend, which I thought I made clear in the use of the word “SOME.”

    I don’t think your charge of “hypocrite” applies either since I have done nothing to hide who I am other than not actively posting links to my other online profiles.

  • Yes, Christopher, you are amazing.

    And I am sure everyone who reads you will be doing google searches to find out more about your amazing background.

    I don’t see how we are agreeing to disagree unless you are still telling me that I need to be like you.

  • Well, Christopher, our probable disagreement comes most likely from two sources:

    (1) Our Views of Language

    (2) Our Views on How the Mind Words

    I cover these issues pretty extensively on my blog as I see them as the root of many misunderstandings or at least many unnecessary disagreements.

    The issue of “Who is an Atheist” must indeed be similar to the issues behind the controversies of “Who is a Christian/Muslim/Patriot …..”

    How we answer our question, as a methodology, should probably be applied to all of these.

    I won’t burden this thread with the issues, but one lead in post, if you are at all interested, is my one on “The Myth of Definitions“.

    But after writing this, I am inspired to start writing a post on “Who is a Real Atheist” where I will address the issues of the politics of language, theories of mind, prescriptivism and more. Thanx for the inspiration. Maybe God is using you, a natural atheist, to speak to me.

  • Sabio, I’ll respond to you since your comment is the latest one in this discussion but this probably applies more to Christopher. I view the Naked Pastor website as an experiment in a public discourse where with on the one hand criticizing the negative aspect of religion but on the other hand trying to form a community across diverse religious beliefs. As such, it is somewhat counter to the mission to try to define and attach labels to people. Hopefully we can all find ways to understand other people that have different life experiences and have not walked in the same shoes. It is a learning process for me and I don’t always succeed. I have a legacy of some nasty comments and some supporting comments. Hopefully, over time, I’m becoming more supporting with a goal to understand the other person.

  • sorry, mate– i don’t see how this applies to my comment

  • Christopher R Weiss

    Thanks for making your approach and position clear. Please continue talking to yourself if you wish since this is no longer an exchange. It seems like you couldn’t move off of the initial statement that you assumed applied to you.

    Got it! I won’t waste any more time, since you have made it very clear you don’t wish to actually discuss anything.