10 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About Atheism

Set your stereotypes aside and get to know atheists all over again.

I’m a “big-tent” atheist, which includes whatever non-theistic labels people prefer: agnostic, humanist, secular humanist, freethinker, secularist, and more. This list applies to the whole tent:

1. The prefix “a” can mean “anti” or “non.” While some atheists are anti-theists, most are non-theists who have no desire to destroy religion. We don’t have a problem with believers until they try to force their beliefs on others.

2. Atheists are not necessarily protesters, though that’s how they are usually portrayed in the media. When they do protest, they protest government privileging of one religion over another or religion over non-religion.

3. Atheists are not angry at God (just as they are not angry at the Tooth Fairy), and most of us didn’t become atheists because something bad happened to us. We became atheists because we find no evidence for any gods.

4. Atheists are not less trustworthy just because we don’t believe in a judging God. Believing that of us only makes us think you would be untrustworthy were it not for your fear of God.

5. We can find joy without belief in God and an afterlife. We may not see any cosmic purpose of life, but we do find our own joyful purposes in life.

6. Most religious people are secular most of the time. Ask yourself how you would behave differently if you stopped believing in God. If you can’t come up with a good answer, then you are what I call a functional atheist.

7. Calling atheism a religion is like calling baldness a hair color. The “religion” of atheism and secular humanism is not taught in public schools, unless you think that conveying the best available scientific information is a religious act. If you wind up abandoning faith in supernatural things because of science, as many do, that is a collateral benefit to critical thinking.

8. Most atheists don’t go around proselytizing or promoting atheism. For every open atheist you know, there are probably dozens of non-identifying atheists whom you assume are religious. Many are afraid to come out of their atheist closets, and the varied reasons for that would require another list of ten or more things that I wish everyone would know.

9. Atheists don’t fit your stereotypes. There are good and bad atheists just as there are good and bad Christians, Jews, Muslims, men, women, and any other category. Judge people by their actions and the content of their character, not by their professed religious beliefs.

10. Most of the atheists I know have a good sense of humor, so I’ll end with a joke:

A Jewish atheist hears that the best school in town happens to be Catholic, so he enrolls his son. Things are going well until one day the boy comes home and says, “I just learned all about the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.” The boy’s father is barely able to control his rage. He grabs his son by the shoulders and says, “Joey, this is very important, so listen carefully. There is only ONE God — and we don’t believe in Him!”

Herb Silverman
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  • franklinshepard

    I tweeted this, but I’ll comment too: I liked the piece, except for the line, “If you wind up abandoning faith in supernatural things because of
    science, as many do, that is a collateral benefit to critical thinking.” That just seems unnecessarily snarky and off-putting. Many religious people embrace both the supernatural and science.

    • saneandreasonable

      Please. Most atheists are just self serving elitists. They think THEY know best. And from what I have seen on these blogs, they do hate God, and Christianity/Christians are at the top of the list.

      • Ed Buckner

        Methinks saneandreasonable demonstrates his own fallibility neatly. Apparently he thinks HE knows best.

      • Herb Silverman

        How do you conclude that atheists “hate God” since they don’t even believe there is a God to hate? Also, where is hatred of Christians in this article? Please read what I say in number 9 about stereotypes.

        • Todd Jensen

          Also see #8 – most atheists wouldn’t even post on these blogs. So you really don’t know about “most” atheists. I don’t publicly identify myself as atheist, and I’ve never belittled anyone about their faith. 99.999 out of 100 times, I just avoid any discussion of religion.

          • Humanist11

            I’m don’t suggest you discuss religion if it makes you uncomfortable, but if atheists as a group did that, religious people would have their way with everything. Imagine our constitution paralleling the bible, textbooks teaching creation, homosexuals thrown in jail, women kept silent, young kids convinced they are going to hell for sexual thoughts, no access to contraception, laws against vaccinations and so on. Everyone should push back against what is wrong in their own way.

          • Frugal Fashionista

            @Humanist11 – actually a lot of religious people do not want ‘as a group did that, religious people would have their way with everything. Imagine our constitution paralleling the bible, textbooks teaching creation, homosexuals thrown in jail” – that’s a vocal minority. I would say that much like the author’s point #8 about atheism, much the same could be said for people who believe in a god.

          • Timothy Cooper

            Maybe I’m in the minority as far as Christians go but I don’t want any of those things at all. I’m good friends with several gay people and I think ‘Creation” as far as what the Bible says is crap.

          • Humanist11

            If you believe there is “crap” in the bible then why do you believe any of it? How do you decide what is crap and what is divinely inspired? I think we have natural morals that serve us well and religious scriptures do nothing to improve upon them and usually cause harm. I think you believe parts of the bible are crap because you have a good sense of right and wrong.

          • Herb Silverman

            I think every book has some “crap” and it is up to us to decide which parts make sense to us and which don’t. That includes the Bible, Aesop’s Fables, and even The Candidate Without a Prayer.

          • Timothy Cooper

            Because the bible was written by people and they edited it to meet their goals. I’m more of an agnostic and think that something ” god ” hit the on button.

          • Todd Jensen

            No, I’m very outspoken when it comes to separation of church and state. I don’t think you have to identify yourself as an atheist for that.

          • Humanist11

            No, one does not have to be atheist to support separation of church and state. A good argument can be made that it protects the religious more than any other demographic. It should be common ground for all of us. Sadly it isn’t seen that way by some evangelical fundamentalists.

      • jimlouvier

        You accuse atheists of being elitist and thinking they know best. In that same statement you make it easy to gather that you are a christian and you think that YOU know best. Atheists can not hate any gods for the simple fact that we do not believe in them. Do you hate Odin, Ra, Shiva, Zeus, or Mithra? What many atheists do hate is the actions of the followers of gods that are contrary to what is right and decent. The push for legislation of their religious beliefs to force non-believers to follow the rules they place on themselves. That’s what we hate, not your god.

        • Susan Brinkley

          Well, Zeus -is- kind of an asshole… ;p

          • Timothy Cooper

            But lots fun at parties

      • jpsaverino

        @snr What part of me being an Atheist tells you that “I” know best? The only thing my Atheism provides me is the most humbling of cosmic perspectives. There is no elitism or self-service about free-inquiry, open discourse, the exchange of ideas and the scientific method for finding ruth? I feel that “we” know best as long as we continue toshare evidence and ideas. it’s the only way we get better. Sidenote: Explain to me how claiming to “know” god while “having faith” is not self-serving, elitist or hateful?

      • BruceMcGlory

        Oh yeah, I totally hate god. Just as much as I hate The Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy and Fred Flintstone. /snark.
        And, when you stop trying to force everyone to be xtians by disregarding the constitution, we’ll stop pushing back against that. Keep your religion to yourself and we’ll have no issues.

      • Jay Leonard

        I, for one, do despise christianity (but not christians). And I am a self-serving elitist (that actively promotes humanism, charity and lovingkindness). And I am atheist. And I am a scientist. And I am a philosopher. And I walked out of the (atheism) closet many years ago. So, I do know best (of what there is to know). I do know best (what is really real). I do know best (what is not possible). I do know best (how people deserve to be respected). I think that is as charitable a response as I can provide to hate-filled rhetoric. Peace.

        • furf

          this was painful to read lol. calm down on the parentheses. sure, it was all proper grammar, but it was awful to try to read.

      • Jackie Boehm

        Maybe ‘saneandreasonable’ might not be the most accurate name for you. You paint with a wide brush. :(

      • truth_machine

        Please. Most theists are dishonest assholes. Take you, for example.

      • Timothy Cooper

        Maybe you’re just a shitty Christian. The only hate I’ve seen is against atheists. They have been expressing opinions.

      • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

        Oh, I spend all day coming up with new and inventive ways of hating God, and phrenology, and trance channelling and dowsing… but none of that compares to my white-hot, seething hatred for leprechauns. Those buggers need to die. With fire.

        • thaicoffee

          You never were able to get your hands on that pot of gold, were you?

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            I did, but it was all five year old Hanukkah gelt, and wasn’t even tasty enough to be worth a sugar high. *sigh* Such is my lot in life. CURSE YOU, LEPRECHAUNS. (They could make up for it, you know, with a lifetime supply of Lucky Charms. Pray for me. Yes, to the Leprechauns. Lucky Charms are awesome.)

    • Elisabeth Hurley

      Yes thank you!! I was so excited to share this but now I have a strong internal debate going on, because I have no urge to insult my friends and family when I go to try and show them the other side a little bit. What a shame!

      • Pati Beardsley

        You’re doing yourself a disservice. How do THEY deserve to disrespect YOU just because THEY believe in a deity? Give yourself some credit. You are a worthy human being. If you insult them, it is THEY who have the issues. I’m sorry, but it’s time to level the playing field. You’re WORTHY. Don’t beat yourself up over it.

        • Elisabeth Hurley

          This has nothing to do with my worth. It has to do with empathy and love. I happen to love a lot of people that believe in a deity. Treating people like they’re idiots is not an act of love and not a way to treat my loved ones. It also will do NOTHING but push them in the opposite direction. It will not, as this article claims to want to do, bring them to any kind of understanding of my position as an atheist. 10 things you want theists to know about atheists? or 10 things you want all atheists to immediately reject because you choose to push them away in judgment? Maybe it’s 10 things you want them to know and 1 reason to continue thinking they’re all assholes. Be honest about your goal. Do you want more people to understand your perspective or do you want the temporary satisfaction of calling them names? It was a cheap shot, and frankly it ruined the goal of the whole piece. Really such a shame.

          • RichardSRussell

            Let me quote you something from a Christian who posted this above:

            Understand, the reason that most Christians are vocal about their beliefs is that they believe it to be the truth. That truth includes a Heaven with God and a Hell without Him. We would love for you to join us in Heaven, thus our incessant discussion of our beliefs.

            Would you suggest that this person, too, is being an asshole by trying to explain something he believes in to those who don’t and sincerely wants to share it with other people because he cares about them?

            When JWs or Mormons come to my door offering to share their “good news”, I tell them that I’ll listen to theirs if they’ll listen to mine. For some reason, they never seem to want to stick around for it. As long as nobody’s inflicting their opinions on anyone else (like the Salvation Army’s “listen to our sermon while you eat our food”), I don’t think there’s any damage done by saying “Here’s where I’m coming from and why I think you’d like it here.” People can always say “No, thanks.”

          • truth_machine

            Yes, they’re assholes.

          • Mike

            Thanks for that “ass”essment.

          • Humanist11

            Having an honest conversation about beliefs doesn’t have to involve anybody being treated like an idiot. If someone feels like an idiot then they should assess the root cause of that feeling. It usually leads to learning in most cases. You could write your own post to friends that matches your particular situation.

          • Sarin Birran

            I think the Franklin and Elisabeth’s assessment is more the consideration of the theist by the non theist. Not so much the theist feeling like an idiot or being made to feel that way, but simply atheists treating theists like mindless, or simple-minded, fools.

            It’s one thing to bring an idea forward for others to consider (atheism, humanism, etc.), it is another to belittle holders of existing beliefs with that idea. This works both ways, and modern religions are the worst about it.

          • Pati Beardsley

            You are an idiot. I was defending you. Why are you less important just because you’re not a krissie? Maybe you really Are, and just think it’s cute to say you’re atheist. Either way, good luck. You’re going to need it if you keep that mentality that all krissies are better than you.

          • Elisabeth Hurley

            Hahahaha. Wow.

    • http://www.invisiblegreen.com marcus

      I have to agree with franklinshepard on this. Your target audience for this post seems to be religious people, so calling abandoning faith a ‘collateral benefit’ is likely going to have them disregarding the other fine points you’ve made.

      • jpsaverino

        Sometimes mincing words can have more negative effects than positive. This piece was pretty well written. Calling something a collateral benefit is hardly damning or name-calling.

        • franklinshepard

          You think that eliminating one sentence that really has no bearing on the point he was trying to make would have a negative effect? How?

          The sentence clearly implies a sentiment offensive to many religious people. Excising it would allow those people to read this post and possibly understand and agree with it without being insulted. Otherwise, you’re just feeding the fire of people like “saneandreasonable” below.

          • http://www.invisiblegreen.com marcus

            When the point of your piece is to foster an atmosphere of understanding, mincing words is called for. Especially, when the statement in question makes it appear his goal is to convert people away from religion, reinforcing the stereotype he’s trying to eliminate in point eight.

          • Herb Silverman

            I didn’t say that believers in the supernatural are incapable of critical thinking. However, many who see how science conflicts with their faith apply critical thinking to abandon their faith. Others reconcile science and faith by taking some biblical passages figuratively instead of literally. They, too, apply critical thinking to modify but not abandon religion. I admire those who make decisions based on evidence and critical thinking, instead of unquestioningly accepting ancient beliefs, even if these people come to different conclusions.

          • truth_machine

            There’s no critical thinking it taking biblical passages as non-literal just to preserve irrational beliefs … it’s intellectually dishonest.

    • Stanley Sheckle

      Some atheists are colorblind when it comes to snark, and this author seems to commit that sin without realizing. Taking it as it was intended, it was very well done.

    • Julie K. McCarty

      I’m not entirely certain that this sentence is ‘snarky’. As an Atheist, and an Environmental Scientist, I know many scientists who have given up belief in super natural things because of their study in science. And I know a few scientists who still have belief in a deity, but not in super natural things. This sentence is a statement of who and what Atheists believe, not meant to appease believers in other religions. I understand not wanting to push others away, by way of educating, but this is just a statement of ‘what’ this person wants others to know about us. That sentence rewritten from a Christian perspective, I would not find ‘snarky’. It is what they believe.

      • franklinshepard

        Well, first of all, if you believe in a deity, you believe in at least one supernatural thing. :)

        Perhaps “snarky” was not the right word to use, but as I stated in another comment, it’s hard not to take away an implication that faith in supernatural things is something negative (otherwise, why would getting rid of that faith be a “collateral benefit”?) For a piece that is supposed to build bridges between believers and atheists, it seems unnecessary at best and counter-productive at worst.

        • truth_machine

          Of course it’s negative, and we should say so.

    • Humanist11

      If someone comes to a worldview closer to reality because of what they learn from science then that is indeed a benefit. As an atheist, if I’m exposed to evidence that a god exists then I’ll change my worldview to match evidence based reality. That too would be a benefit. It’s all about quality evidence! Cheers.

      • franklinshepard

        As marcus says in a comment above, “When the point of your piece is to foster an atmosphere of understanding, mincing words is called for. Especially, when the statement in question makes it appear his goal is to convert people away from religion, reinforcing the stereotype he’s trying to eliminate in point eight.”

        If you’re trying to reach religious people, speak to them on their own terms, rather than terms that will inflame them. That only makes them shut down and refuse to listen to anything you have to say. If you don’t want to reach religious people or change their minds, then say anything you’d like, but realize that you’re pushing them farther away from you.

    • Steven

      “Many religious people embrace both the supernatural and science”. That’s called cognitive dissonance. We all have it. Critical thinking helps to fix it, which is exactly the point in the article.

  • http://thechurchofpasadena.wordpress.com/ ChaplainDanGonzalez

    I am a recovering Baptist, went back to Judaism, and I like your joke :)

  • Ed Buckner

    Damn, but I hate publicly agreeing with everything one of my fellow atheists says. Especially with that part about us all being so variable, so un-monolithic. And I laughed out loud at the damn joke, too. –Ed Buckner

    • William Meyers

      I hope all is well with you and Diane , I am the short fat harley rider from PA and I want you to know what a pleasure it was to know you and Diane when you were in Buffalo, No Gods No masters–William Meyers

  • Carstonio

    I don’t know if gods exists or not, and from my perspective, Silverman errs in framing atheism in terms of “God.” In principle, that’s an exclusively monotheistic word that doesn’t apply to polytheistic or animistic religions. And in practice, the vast majority of Americans read the word as the name of the Christian deity. Too many atheists, particularly the anti-theists, implicitly treat the Christian or Abrahamic presumptions about deity as defaults.

    • Herb Silverman

      You’re right that I was focused on monotheistic religions. I did so because those are the dominant religions in our country. Also, polytheists were not the audience I was concerned about because I don’t hear them criticize atheism.

      • Carstonio

        Thanks for your response. I was thinking less about intended audiences and more about intellectual consistency – all assertions about godhood or the supernatural deserve scrutiny. At the least, if someone claims as unquestioned fact that the Christian god exists, it’s fair to ask why the person deems all polytheistic religions as unquestionably wrong, and also deems Islam and Judaism to be mistaken about the god.

    • jpsaverino

      No Western Atheist has the time or energy to worry about polytheists ruining our education system. We’re not worried about keeping animism from corrupting our congress.

      • Carstonio

        While that’s technically true, the folks who object to theocracy and creationism include millions of Christians. Everyone suffers when the wall separating church and state is weakened.

  • Krystal Maria

    I love this because it’s so hard to shake these thought processes from people who make a snap judgement based soley on my atheism. I have a local group and someone asked what we believed. I replied by saying that there was no other requirement than simply not believing in a deity. The girl was confused that it could be that easy.

    • frozen01

      I posit a theory: There are lots of people on the internet who claim that it takes just as much faith to be an atheist as a theist, and this kind of shot off another talking point that atheism is, itself, a religion. Perhaps she’s heard that one too many times and that’s why she was confused?

  • Steve Stark

    How embarrassing.

  • N.M. Porter

    This is great. The only issue I have is with the point on Atheism not being a religion – I agree that it is not a religion, but it has to be classified

    • Labyrinthia

      It would be classified as a belief. It isn’t a religion- it doesn’t meet any of the criteria of a religion. It’s also not a belief system, as it just encompasses one small part of a person’s morality and worldview.

      • N.M. Porter

        Unfortunately, strongly held beliefs don’t hold up in most legal realms, but “religion” does. For example, you can claim religious exemption for vaccination, but you claim exemption because you question the science of it, even if you have strongly held beliefs about the dangers of the side effects.

        • jimlouvier

          Isn’t religion just organized strongly held beliefs? Do you know if anyone has ever argued that distinction?

    • Kleur Creative

      Why? I hate the fact that atheists even have a label. What do you label someone who don’t believe in astrology? What do you call someone who don’t believe in Santa Claus? I am just a non-believer.

      • RichardSRussell

        Nobody is “just” a non-believer. Do you believe the sun rises in the east, that 2 + 2 = 4, or that the atomic number of carbon is 6? Those are all testable matters of fact, and once you’ve performed the test and arrived at the correct conclusion, you believe it.

        But do you think that blue is the prettiest color, unmarried people should not have sex, or the Green Bay Packers are the greatest sports team ever? Those are all purely matters of opinion, but I’ll bet you have beliefs about each of them.

        So the word “atheist” tells us not only that there’s something that you don’t believe in, but particularly what something. And it serves a useful purpose in the language of a culture where belief in God is often a default assumption.

        As to the occasional plaint that atheists don’t want to be labelled with a “negative” word, I offer these similar examples, each of which fills a useful linguistic niche: abolitionist, teetotaler, non-smoker, pedestrian, vegetarian, undergraduate, illiterate, newbie, virgin, bachelor, non-swimmer, landlubber, deaf-mute, snow bunny, apolitical, gentile, foreigner, stoic, dyslexic, amnesiac

        • Herb Silverman

          Sorry, Richard, but I don’t believe the sun rises in the east. I believe the earth revolves around the sun in a manner that makes it appear that the sun rises in the east.

          • RichardSRussell

            Then you have examined this testable matter of fact, arrived at the correct conclusion about it, and hold that conclusion as a belief. And I suspect that anyone who reads your careful analysis of the phenomenon will spend a moment or 2 reflecting on their own beliefs on the subject.

            Apropos of sunshine, do the days get longer in the summer? (By “days”, I mean the length of the daylight hours, not the 24-hour calendar day.) You’d be surprised how many people believe the wrong answer to that one.

          • truth_machine

            Not sure of your point … during summer there are more than 12 hours of daylight and during winter there are fewer. Do many people really get that wrong?

          • RichardSRussell

            They don’t get that part wrong, but that wasn’t the question. The question was “Do days get longer in the summer?”

          • Timothy Cooper

            The day stays the same, but the daylight hours get longer from your perspective.

          • RichardSRussell

            Yeah, see, this is the part where many people get it wrong. Summer begins on what? The summer solstice, right? The longest day of the year. By definition, every day thereafter — the entirety of summer — the days can only get shorter.

          • Jay Leonard

            I’m willing to bet every Alaskan, and other circumpolar peoples, get that one, right. We live by the length of the day(light), and we know our cycles well!

          • Timothy Cooper

            Oops I misread your question. I missed the summer part at the end

          • wckoko

            Isn’t it the rotation of the earth rather than its revolving around the sun that provides the illusion of the sun rising & setting ?

          • truth_machine

            Then you don’t understand a) what the word “rises” means or b) Galilean relativity.

        • Kleur Creative

          When it comes to god. facepalm I don’t just go around saying I’m a general non-believer about things. When I get into conversations where the fact is established that the topic is belief in god I call myself a non-believer. Did you really write all that so I could establish this point?

    • jimlouvier

      Please stop capitalizing “atheism” it is not a proper noun, it is simply a description. By capitalizing the word, it only gives theists ammo when they claim it as a cohesive philosophy or a religion.

      • RichardSRussell

        True. It’s like the difference between “Democrat” and “democrat”, between “Republican” and “republican”.

  • Labyrinthia

    The other day I read someone calling a rapist “Godless”. I’m just astounded how someone can conflate nonbelief in a diety with committing such a horrific crime.

    • frozen01

      People conflate homosexuality with pedophilia all the time, so I’m not as surprised.

      • Sean

        which is as ridiculous and offensive as when people conflate skin color with a propensity for crime.

        • humann

          ridiculous and offensive but also statistically supported. most really big crimes, the ones that hurt the most people, are committed by wealthy white men in suits.

          • rch427

            So, losing ones financial investment due to corporate malfeasance is much worse than being raped or murdered, huh? Thanks for clearing that up. Because we all know (but most won’t admit) what group statistically commits the majority of the latter types of crimes.

          • Timothy Cooper

            Yeah poor people because they can’t make ends meet.

          • Emma

            rch427, you obviously don’t understand the overarching systemic issues that arise from the notion of ‘wealthy white men in suits’.

          • rch427

            Emma, not only do I understand all too well what the protected, politically correct notions are of class, gender and ethnicity, but I also understand that they’re largely bullshit, and I’m willing to call them out as such.

            I’m a “white man in a suit”, therefore not only do I benefit from institutionalized privilege, but I am guilty for oppressing/denying opportunities to those not within my own group, right? Only a person with the most simplistic of reasoning would think so and apparently, some of them participate on this page. The reality is that no one has ever given me a job or money because I’m a “white man in a suit”. Whatever I have gained in life has been the direct result of my own industry, perseverance and decisionmaking.

            The irony never ceases to strike me — how the same politically correct pseudo-liberals who deny any validity to stereotypes when they’re applied to most groups (women, ethnic minorities, the poor) are the first to claim that the stereotype of “white men in suits” is valid. Well, you can’t have it both ways. Either “white men in suits” are some evil group to be condemned AND other identifiable groups can be evaluated (and possibly condemned) by *their* actions, or NO such characterizations and condemnations can be made. Which is it?

          • Emma

            The mistake you’re making is that you think you are a white man in a suit. And it’s clear that you’re not :) You’re thinking local whereas I’m thinking global. We’re talking about the notion of big global money making corporations. We’re not talking about simply being a man haha. As an example that hurts people: all big corporations use slavery for example. Usually in the form of labour. Big corporations don’t care much for the people either, rather they’ll do whatever they need to increase profits. Typically white people own big global money making corporations. And actually you could expand the definition to include white women in suits as they are much more highly represented these days. You have to be a little bit able to think outside the box on this one ;) What I’ve provided is an overly simplistic view on it but you can read wider if you were interested. Btw, what group exactly commits the majority of the ‘latter types of crimes’..? Hmmm? Anyway, I have to get back to my studies, becoming a professional engineer demands one’s full attention! Have fun!

          • Astralhippie

            The “wealthy white men in suits” she speaks of is not criticizing one’s quest for personal authenticity through commerce, capitalism, or otherwise. It is critiquing the fact that as our society favors commerce and bestows authority onto those of achieve the “rich white men” status, it is these men that possess the social status and mobility necessary to wage wars and affect global politics. I do, however, disagree with the “white” part of this stereotype; while the “elite” economic status is predominately Caucasian, wealth and the influence it breeds defies racial definition. While a terrible violation of human dignity, rape and murder have local impacts. Those tapped into the web of influence can change history.

          • Ronald N. Wall

            You are absolutely right, race is not the real underlying reason for inequality. It is really about an “elite” mentality where financial success is equated with respectability and power. People, men and women, even those of color, display a “racist” attitude towards those without money and power. There have been plenty of examples in our recent history.

          • Judith MacKay Dahlen

            I read an interesting article about the impact inherited wealth has on it’s beneficiaries. Speaking in general terms of course, the author observed that the children of wealthy folks never go through the personal building of wealth. Making money is all they understand, and some of the ways to do that are be cutting costs in various ways. In consequence workers get less and less and the gap between the wealthy and everyone else grows and grows. I remember now, it was related to the misuse of the scripture that says ” the poor we will always have with us” being used to dismiss concerns, ignoring the rest of the tale which instructed people to forgive other’s debts after a specified number of years… so balance could be restored for everyone’s benefit.

          • Neal Blaise Salogar

            “The reality is that no one has ever given me a job or money because I’m a
            “white man in a suit”. Whatever I have gained in life has been the
            direct result of my own industry, perseverance and decisionmaking.”
            Patently untrue and naive. We are all beneficiaries of unseen influences. “Horatio Alger” stories are a myth. And how do you know that you were never promoted or hired by some racist or sexist individual? I’m sure you work hard, but to see the result of your circumstance as wholly self-created is the height of hubris.

          • Judith MacKay Dahlen

            What purpose does it serve to make such presumptions about one and other? Believe each other when you tell your experiences and go from there. I recently had a depressing instance when someone told me I had no right to compare outlandish exclusion in my workplace with the experience of Martin Luther King in an Alabama café. This was a counselor who was supposed to be hearing about a devastating on going experience. I expected her, as my counselor, to say “Wow, if you think that it must be mighty bad” But no, because I’m an older white woman she jumped all over me. I stand by my statement. I do have an inkling of what people have gone through in a very mean-spirited environment. I truly realized that when the comparison dawned on me one day. All of God’s children need to stick up for themselves, and Dr. King, whom I idolize, showed me the way. Don’t presume to tell someone their experience is not real. Use the sense of common experience in diverse settings as a place to know one and other and make the world a better place.

          • DeadInHell

            Believing this about yourself is just further proof that you don’t, in fact, understand the topic at hand. And your extreme defensiveness is telling. Your response is the patented response of one who doesn’t want to admit to their advantages. You are trying to preserve the myth of the American dream, that all you need to get ahead in this country is hard work and perseverance or whatever nonsense you tell yourself and others to avoid confronting the seriousness of the inequality in our society.

            To deny that your race, class, and sex factor into your life chances and opportunities is…well, wrong. Just because no one ever walked up to you and said “Hey, don’t tell anyone, but we’re only giving you this job because you’re white! *high five*” doesn’t mean that you haven’t benefited from your status in society. The benefits and detriments of status are not always obvious. But they are real. No matter how often Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly tell you that they aren’t.

          • Ronald N. Wall

            Sigh. It is hard to give up on the stereotype of “white men in suits” when there are so many like you who help to fill the stereotype. No one claims you did not get to where you are today by simply being a white man in a suit. However, there are far too many who are unable to afford a business suit and those who do have them think it is only a matter of choice. If you think people choose to be poor, then you should get back on the boat and a time machine to Germany. You would fit right in. It is all about opportunity, not choice, and if you think everyone has the same opportunity in our society, you are very sadly wrong. Race has been an issue in this country since its founding. Perhaps, as a late arrival (so to speak) you do not really appreciate the history of this country. To deny racism by “white men in suits” is to deny simple fact, and that racism clearly still exists today.

          • Judith MacKay Dahlen

            When we use catch phrases we risk impairing productive conversation. The phrase white-men-in suits is an effective one, but it could be used by women, and poor people of all colors as well as racial groups, who have historically been oppressed, marginalized and are still kept down by growing capitalist extremism. While racism is a huge factor, and should be respected as legitimate complaint, we need to come together, respecting one and other, to make things better. Acknowledge it, but don’t let it become a hindering diversion.

          • Ronald N. Wall

            Also, your use of the term, “…politically correct notions” tell most of us exactly where you are coming from. This term, “politically correct” is used today as a slur and has no basis in fact. Go back to your tea party.

          • Jen

            Generalisations of any type will have flaws in them. But social and professional constructs do lend advantages to white men, who do progress into suits more easily that some others. Even in this day and age, a man will be promoted or given a raise faster than a woman in comparable jobs. A white man’s network may allow his “industry, perseverance and decisionmaking” to flow just a little more easily. You don’t need to be ashamed of where you’ve got – but please, don’t brush off everyone else as “simplistic” in recognising you do have advantages.

          • humann

            shh, c’mon suit-bro–I was only trying to ease them back into the idea that the demographic of race or ethnicity is still a valid metric in many instances. no matter how much everyone sticks their fingers in their ears and sings la-la-la, trying to wish it out into the cornfield. and go easy on the rape and murder stuff, really. nobody wants to look at those DOJ numbers because they’re clearly racist. I saw a young Israeli on TV the other day referring to himself as a third-generation holocaust survivor. I thought hmm, I’ve been voting green for decades but I guess in his brave new world my having German parents makes me a third-generation holocaust perpetrator. just like all white Americans need to be held accountable for slavery, even though my parents didn’t get off the boat until the civil rights movement was well underway. really I’m only trying to play by the new rules.

          • rch427

            Ah, got it. This interwebs thing isn’t so good at conveying sarcasm.

            “nobody wants to look at those DOJ numbers because they’re clearly racist.”

            Oh, absolutely. The most racist number is “8”, since it looks like the sort of noose that white people used to lynch black people with. And “1” is clearly patriarchal, as it evokes the erect penis (and “7” a bent one). Give me a good vaginal “0” any day, and a soulful brown “2”, representing the down-turned head of the exploited worker.

          • humann

            I’m starting to admire the depth of your hatred. how do you feel about gays though? maybe we could get a drink and talk about football. howbout them Lakers, huh.

          • Salero21

            Yup!!

          • Ronald N. Wall

            “Because we all know…” and just what are those statistics that we all know? It is easy to make broad claims with no evidence to support it. The wealthy are just as likely to commit crimes as the poor, there are just so many more poor people, and they many times have a better motive. There is a difference between sheer numbers and percentages. Statistics are a bitch that way.

          • Sean

            oh ho i see what you did there.

          • http://jbmaverick.wordpress.com/ Jack Maverick

            Actually they’re committed, overwhelmingly, by Muslim terrorists.

    • Ronald N. Wall

      I would not expect them to admit that a rapist could also call himself a Christian. The prison population has more people who call themselves Christians than any other religion or the number of atheists. The numbers closely mimic the general population of the U.S. That in itself seems to contradict the Evangelical claim that only through belief in God do we have morals and that non-Christians tend to be more immoral.

    • saneandreasonable

      it means he is not paying attention to god. Duh.

  • Elaine B Mitchell

    Being the only Atheist in a family, having a good sense of humor is very important.

  • Rolf Obermaier

    Hello, the first affirmation is false. The prefix “a” (or “an”) means “without” or “non”, never means “anti”. Get your greek straight. So, even if some atheist are anti-theists is never related to the “a” prefix. Just like apolitical means “not political” or “without politics”, never means anti-politics. (examples: apolitical, atheist, anarchy, anonymous, apathy, aphasia, anemia)

    I really would love to share it if you fix it!

    • Stanley Sheckle

      Read it again. He was specifically talking about “atheism”, not any of the other A words. And in that case, the A does have two meanings, exactly as he said. Don’t be pedantic, Rolf. That’s another inflexible religion most people hate.

      • Rolf Obermaier

        I think you should read it again, he wrote:: “The prefix “a” can mean “anti” or “non.” That is not accurate, the “a” does NOT have two meanings as he said.
        And you could use a little education when addressing others.

        • Jim Mader

          Education? Like not using the word “and” to begin a sentence?

          • Jay Leonard

            And is perfectly acceptable for starting a sentence in informal writing. A blog post is not a journal article; the rules are different. For example, you use one word and one piece of punctuation in “Education?” to convey a complete thought. We all understand your rhetorical application of inquiry in spite of your lack of provided context. You, sir, are an amateur troll.

          • Steven

            You didn’t refer to your AP style guide before writing a comment‽ You must be misundereducated.

          • furf

            do you like to wear fedoras

          • Jay Leonard

            bwahahaha! pro-troll. no fedoras here, though :)

          • furf

            I’m feeling it

      • truth_machine

        Don’t be a jerk and a hypocrite, Stanley.

    • Doug Wilkening

      And another thing: Atheists are people who don’t believe in “i” before “e” except after “c” or when sounded like “a” as in “neighbor” or “weigh”.

      Sorry, I couldn’t resist. You don’t know how many times I’ve mis-spelled “atheist” because of that singsong spelling rule the nuns taught me in grade school.

  • Kleur Creative

    The label atheist has such a bad connotation in society. I wish we could just all identify as non believers. What do you call someone who does not believe in astrology? What do you label someone who don’t believe in Santa? This label is why so many people identify us as a religion and say we have faith. This label perpetuates the idea that we “hate god” and are promoting ourselves. When my beliefs come up in conversation i prefer to just respond as if the person asked me if I believe in bigfoot or ghosts. I am a non believer.

    • jimlouvier

      The term atheist has a bad connotation in society due to the propaganda spread by the churches about atheism. They equate atheism with satanism and worshiping everything evil. It’s been a church practice for centuries to consider a non-believer as someone evil and seeking to hurt all believers.

      • RichardSRussell

        “Black” and “gay” used to be terms of opprobrium and oppression as well, until they were reclaimed as points of pride by the stigmatized.

        To all you closeted atheists out there, come out, come out, wherever you are! Be loud, be proud, be a visible atheist and a credit to atheism.

      • Kleur Creative

        Exactly my point. Drop the label, we can do the same work without it. What will
        christians call us if we don’t call ourselves anything? We don’t need a
        label to not believe in something.

        • David Schwartzman

          Just because you are afraid to be labeled as an atheist does not mean that the rest of us should be.

    • Humanist11

      I agree with your observation, but if we don’t use the word atheism and equate it with positive things, the stigma will never change. Religion has stolen the word and redefined it to suit their needs. It’s like saying the word “marriage” should be given to the religious completely and everybody else should call it a union or some other word. Religion does not get to redefine atheism or marriage for that matter. I’m proud to be atheist and proud to be good.

      • Kleur Creative

        I too am proud of my belief system but atheist is not a belief system. Drop the label, we can do the same work without it. What will christians call us if we don’t call ourselves anything? We don’t need a label to not believe in something.

    • Herb Silverman

      The reason I don’t call myself an a-astrologist (even though I am one) is that astrologists don’t try to force their beliefs into public schools and don’t try to to turn this country into One Nation Under Astrology. I’m a bit uncomfortable being called a non believer because I believe in many things: the worth and dignity of human beings; ethics are derived from human needs and interests and are tested and refined by experience; we are the result of unguided evolutionary change; morality is based on how our actions affect others; etc.

      • Kleur Creative

        I too believe in many things and only call myself a non-believer when the conversation has already established the subject of god. I don’t go around saying I am a non-believer in the sun or in gravity. Really? Really Really? I don’t care who try’s forcing crap on me, I don’t need to label myself as something because I think they are full of horseshit. I just think they are full of horseshit. I don’t believe in god……. so what? If I need to be part of a group for this I will join a group that believes in the separation of church and state. The label atheist is stupid.

    • http://www.miketheinfidel.com/ MikeTheInfidel

      Do you really think you’re going to avoid the social stigma of *being* an atheist by using another word?

      • Kleur Creative

        Yep Exactly

    • David Schwartzman

      The fact that some people think that the word atheist is bad is their problem not mine. I will not lower myself to use a less than accurate term because someone else is an uneducated fool.
      I reject the term “non-believer” because that presumes that belief presumes belief that a deity exists. It does not. We all have beliefs. I believe that based on the glaring lack of evidence of existence, that deities do not exist, just as I rely on the overwhelming abundance of scientific proof that the earth revolves around the sun or that the evolutionary process exists. I would argue the we are ALL believers, just that I believe differently from those who are theists.
      I am proudly atheist and a member of The Brights Community.
      When someone asks me of I hate religion I say no. I hate the bad things that people do in the name of religion.
      I agree that atheism is not a religion., It is a belief construct just as the myriad of religions out there religions are belief constructs.

  • Humanist11

    In your first point I’d agree the biggest problem atheists have with religion is that they tend to push their rules and morality on the entire population through government laws and practices. I disagree with the second part of your first point where you claim most atheists don’t want to see religion destroyed. It is my opinion that most thoughtful atheists despise religious teaching that indoctrinates children to distrust science, fear things that don’t exist and steals the natural wonder children have to discover the world as it truly is. This will never change until religion is marginalized in society. I will always support the right of people to believe in whatever they choose, but will promote critical thinking and evidence based beliefs wherever the situation calls for it, which includes pointing out the shortcomings of religion.

    • frozen01

      But “marginalized” and “destroyed” are not even close to the same things. It is completely possible for religion and atheism to coexist quite peacefully, since proselytizing and indoctrinating a distrust of science in children are not requirements for being religious, so you don’t have to “destroy” religion to prevent those things.

      • Humanist11

        So far almost every religion tries. Someone has to put up opposition.

        • frozen01

          There are tons of religions that do not go door-to-door, don’t try to influence politics, and actually believe in Science (or adapt their beliefs to fit with the current scientific understandings). But that wasn’t quite my point. My point was that one does not need to “destroy” religion in order for the religious and the non-religious to coexist happily, one only needs the religious to tone it down a bit. In other words, I absolutely agree that “someone has to put up opposition”, but I disagree that the goal of the opposition should be to “destroy” religion.

          • Humanist11

            I agree with you. I only want to marginalize religion to the point their followers do not have influence on society or cause mental anguish to their children. This can be accomplished through education in science, critical thinking skills and clear communication of ideas.

          • Brian_Bray

            They have toned it down a bit; compared to, say, the Inquisition. What they really need is to tone it down a lot, particularly in the U.S., because secular America feels constantly under attack. It’s still not even close too being proportionally represented in government. Peaceful co-existence has to start with the group holding the most power. For many it’s destroy or be destroyed.

      • Jay Leonard

        By religion, you generally mean judeo-christian (the “big three”) and not Buddhism or …
        While it is possible for a religion to “coexist quite peacefully” with atheism, that is not true of judeo-christian religions and religions that have rigidity in doctrine which prescribes a deity. (Note that Buddhism does not have this quality.) I do not support the right of belief in that which is insane or destructive, and really, neither do you. (I do not support the belief that contraception is evil, or that the world was created six thousand years ago…for example.) Contrary to a popular, and cowardly, perspective, most religions cannot coexist with science, let alone atheism.

        • Jim Mader

          Please stop calling Buddhism a religion.

          • Jay Leonard

            Buddhism is a religion with numerous sects. It is also a philosophical perspective. It is also a logic system. Buddhism is many things to many people, but it is definitely an organized and very popular religion. Please stop pretending that you know what you are talking about with silly quips. Have a lovely day :)

          • furf

            Are you kidding me? That was rude for no reason. It was all good until your little “silly quip” at the end. Act mature.

          • Jay Leonard

            Furf, shhhhh… I can *act* mature… but it’s not really fun. ;-) sometimes, you just gotta feed the trolls!

          • Adolfo Rufatt

            please stop calling Buddhism a relion, Buddhism is not a religion

          • Ronald N. Wall

            In the Air Force I spent time in Buddhist countries. I can tell you for certain that it is a religion with several different sects. It is also a philosophy, mainly in non-Buddhist countries. Often there is a very thin dividing line between philosophy and religion. If you practice Buddhist philosophy, it’s about self enlightenment and inner peace. If you practice it as a religion you are asking for help and protection from a supernatural being. Buddhists in countries where Buddhism is the norm do both, not unlike Christian fundamentalist and Christian progressives/liberals in the U.S.

          • Rob Klaers

            Buddhism is a recognized religion.

          • Brian_Bray

            Buddha wasn’t a god, but some sects treat him as one and have other supernatural elements as well (reincarnation of the Dalai Lama for example). Regardless, they believe in a higher power, even if that power is merely the enlightened self. As an atheist who practices Buddhist philosophy, I must admit hearing it called a religion stings a bit, but it does indeed have many of the earmarks of one.

        • Kay

          3=most? Really?

          • Jay Leonard

            I did not make that claim. Please re-read my statement. I said that judeo-christian religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) comprise the “big three” religious sects. I should have specified *in the west* afterward. At the end, I made a separate claim, that “most religions cannot coexist with science…” Thank you for forcing me to clarify that point.

          • Kay

            But that is the problem, you say “most” but that’s patently untrue. There are only 3 which can’t, and those 3 are not “most” they’re 3 of many. They may have more numbers than the others, but that isn’t the same as saying “most religions” any more than saying something that is only true of Chicago, LA and NYC is the same as true for “most cities” in the US.

          • Brian_Bray

            Just to be clear, are the 3 you’re referring to the same Big Three? If so, what is it about these three that makes them unable to coexist with science where others can? Thanks.

        • frozen01

          I meant exactly what I said: Religion. And yes, that includes the Big Three, and all others.
          Things like the belief that contraception is evil or that the Earth is only a bit over 6,000 years old, to use your examples in a more illustrative manner, are not prerequisites for being Christian. There are many sects of Christianity that have no issue whatsoever with contraception, and scoff at the idea of Young Earth Creationism. The people who actually believe these things are the minority within that particular faith nowadays. Even lifelong Catholics still tuck a rubber in their wallet just in case.
          Many of the religious persuasion are flexible enough in their faith that an understanding of and agreement with Science is not an issue whatsoever. These people might fill the gaps with their mythology, but for the most part they don’t disagree with Science at all. And while their numbers aren’t quite what you and I would hope, they grow larger every year.
          I’m an atheist who was raised in a Lutheran family, married into a Catholic one, and I have friends and loved ones of all sorts of faiths (including atheists and agnostics). I can tell you from experience that yes, coexistence is absolutely possible, given a proper, secular framework. It happens all the time, every day in this country. Why you think that’s “cowardly” is beyond me.

          • Brian_Bray

            If you scoff at the idea of young earth creationism, then you don’t believe in the story of creation as outlined in Genesis (Adam and Eve/the apple/original sin). If you don’t believe in original sin, the rest of the biblical message kind of falls apart. Saving us from that original sin was supposedly the whole purpose of Christ in the first place.

            Of course you can still follow Christ’s moral teachings, but is that enough to make you a Christian? His guide to living a good life was hardly original (Confucius gave us the “do unto others” talk 500 years prior), and if you believe the water-into-wine schtick I can recommend a few good Vegas shows. By extension, there’s really no good reason to call yourself a Catholic unless you’re in line with what other Catholics believe. Otherwise you could just practice what parts of it you do believe on your own. (Non-Catholics can tuck rubbers in their wallets too.)

            If a Catholic’s morality and philosophy are that malleable, were they ever truly valid in the first place? Is there any real reason to be a Catholic?

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            I don’t think he’s claiming to *be* a christian, though; why is it relevant to wonder the following: “Of course you can still follow Christ’s moral teachings, but is that enough to make you a Christian?” unless I’m, say, Bishop John Shelby Spong (of whose work I’m a fan, full disclosure) and trying to walk a tightrope bewteen a more rational, informed view of the world, informed by science, and still defining myself within the christian tradition?

          • Brian_Bray

            I wasn’t addressing him specifically, but Christians in general. Sorry to answer a question with another question, but doesn’t being informed by science automatically place one at odds with the essence of Christianity, which is that mankind screwed up right from the point of creation, and kept screwing up until god finally had enough and created a son to die to somehow save us from all that? Your use of tightrope as a metaphor is very apt; that’s a precarious position to be in!

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            Well, I’m an atheist, so obviously *I* can’t reconcile my view of the world and christianity, so I can say that in my *specific* case, yes, having a worldview in which science is important is incompatible with faith. What other folks do – how they choose to compartmentalize, where they cherry pick, that’s got nothing to do with me. I don’t want to do that, because that feels incredibly dishonest, but obviously it must work for some number of other people.

          • frozen01

            Yes, exactly. A lot of us are atheists, presumably, because we find it dishonest to cherry pick and compartmentalize. I’m not trying to defend that. My whole point is that as long as we have a secular framework from which we can find common ground, then we can all absolutely coexist. If someone thinks that 99.9% of the time, someone claiming that they can turn water to wine is a charlatan, but they believe it really happened just the one time, well, I’m going to disagree with them, but I’m not going to say that we can’t live on the same planet.

            Also, I’m a she :)

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            Oh, argh! haha. I should know better than to make gender assumptions – sorry about that. :)

          • frozen01

            No worries :)

          • Brian_Bray

            Have you seen any indication that it works for them in a way that atheism wouldn’t? I haven’t.

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            We have such indications from the religious respondents here in the thread: if your standard for believability is “that which makes me feel good” and not “that which I can support with evidence,” then it’s relatively easy to claim that one’s religious beliefs “work.” You and I are likely in complete agreement that that is an irrational standard of belief, but that only matters to the extent that you think your belief system ought to be rational in the first place.

          • Neal Blaise Salogar

            I’d say it can be. I’ve heard several high ranking Catholic officials bemoan a literal interpretation of the bible, whatever the “official” line may be.

          • Brian_Bray

            So why be part of an organization then? Why not just pray and worship on your own? That way you can believe what you believe and cherry pick what parts of the bible you agree with. Question some of it, question all of it.

          • Neal Blaise Salogar

            The value of the community, for one. I say that as an agnostic who still feels an association w/ the Catholic faith due to family and ethnic ties.

          • Brian_Bray

            I agree with you about the value of community; it’s essential to unite and support. Religion is one way to find community, but may not be the best way. Too often it serves only as an excuse to unite one group of people against another group of people, and ends up being more divisive overall than supportive.

          • frozen01

            To say that you can only be Christian or Catholic if you believe in absolutely, 100% of everything in the Bible or what the Catholic church says seemed to be a bit of a stretch there. By that definition, there is probably no such thing as a Christian or a Catholic in the first place (or any other religious believer for that matter), because, while someone might SAY they believe everything in the Bible if you were to go through it line item by line item I doubt that would be true.
            Would just following Christ’s moral teachings make you Christian? No. But a religion is *the combination of* beliefs, myths, practices, and community. To say that one aspect of it… let’s say a particular practice (whether that’s living as Christ did or using condoms)… is the sole defining factor, and it MUST be absolutely original to apply, seems a bit absurd. Conversely, to say that *not following* one aspect of it gets you kicked out of the tent is also absurd. It’s like saying that Wiccans aren’t really Wiccans because the Rule of Three sounds an awful like the concept of karma, or that they can’t be Wiccans if they treat the Christian gods (the Trinity, Jesus, the Virgin Mary, etc.) as another pantheon because other Wiccans don’t believe they should be included.
            I agree that the water-to-wine “schtick” is silly to believe, but that’s besides the point. The original topic was can the two groups coexist. None of what you says points to the groups not being able to coexist.

          • Brian_Bray

            I didn’t say you can’t be, only that there’s no real reason to be.

          • frozen01

            *lol* Well, let’s let them decide what their own personal reasons are. I’m sure they do have them, or they wouldn’t do it. Perhaps they find more redeeming features to the story of Jesus Christ than the whole “being saved from original sin” thing. Maybe they have a different definition of “original sin” than the one teased out from the events in Genesis. Or maybe they just think Genesis is complete myth, and Jesus came to be God’s representative on Earth to change the way humanity and God interacted. Who knows.

          • Brian_Bray

            Of course they should decide for themselves, and yes they have reasons. My goal is only to present another side to the largely uncontested dogma and indoctrination many of them have received over a lifetime, to get them asking themselves whether these reasons are particularly strong. Invariably they’re not. Parental emulation, social conformity, fear, shame, apathy, coercion, threats of eternal damnation… all of these are reasons. None of them are good reasons.

          • David Schwartzman

            You may think that they are not “good reasons”. But that is only your opinion. Not fact.

          • Brian_Bray

            Right. Please excuse me for not prefacing everything I say with “Just my opinion, but…”. I think it’s pretty much a given that statements made in discussion forums are opinions. Thanks for pointing out the obvious.

          • David Schwartzman

            For some people the idea of a religion inspires them to treat their fellow human being and the planet well and gives them peace and joy. AS long as they respect others rights to their different views and do not try insinuating their beliefs into the law (which many of the Christians I know not only do not try to do but vehemently oppose others dong so) I have no problem with them. I have no personal use for their beliefs, but I have no problems with them finding solace in them.

          • Brian_Bray

            We’re basically on the same page then, except I suspect they would still treat people the same way and have peace and joy regardless of their religious beliefs. Some people (believers and non-believers alike) have that disposition while others (believers and non-believers) don’t. I’ve known many who have kept their dispositions after crossing over from one side to the other, and religious people are among the nicest, and nastiest, people I’ve encountered.

          • David Schwartzman

            We do agree. One of my personal views is that religion is in effect “neutral” People who are “inherently” good will utilize religion as a catalyst/inspiration to do good things. People who are bad will use it as an excuse to engage in societally detrimental activities. I have met very few nasty atheists but far too many nasty religious people but I have met far more nice people from both groups. It is why I believe that there is a general set of human ethics and that religions have just co-opted them for their own uses, but that ethical behavior is not religious or deity based.

          • Brian_Bray

            Well put. Nobody corners the market on ethical behaviour. It pre-dates Christianity and religion by thousands of years.

          • Judith MacKay Dahlen

            Yup.

          • David Schwartzman

            Actually, like the overwhelming majority of Jews, most Christians do not believe that the Genesis story is to be taken literally, and they are just as legitimately Christian as those who do believe it should be.

          • Brian_Bray

            So what in the bible is to be taken literally? Who gets to decide that? If your religion is not bound by common belief, what is it bound by?

          • David Schwartzman

            Many of the ones I know take only the idea that Jesus was the human form son of their deity and that leaving their lives in his hands grants them salvation for the individual “sins” the inadvertently do in their lives. I would argue that the belief in Jesus as a saving entity is all that is really needed to be a Christian. Of course it does not matter to me since I reject the idea of an afterlife, deities, heaven and hell. And I am not even sure that Jesus was a real human being (definitely not a deity since there is not such thing.)

          • Judith MacKay Dahlen

            That’s a very good question. For myself, I have belief, but feel very liberated to question, trusting in my spiritual experiences and the assurance that I am loved. From that vantage point I can be open to the realities of historical context, and even angry about the fairy tale quality of literalist teaching.

          • Herb Silverman

            It seems that most Christians believe in the concept of
            Original Sin (Adam and Eve), so it must be difficult for many to hold that
            belief and also accept evolution.

          • David Schwartzman

            I have met a number of Christians who do not but believe in the salvation aspect of Jesus being meant for the mistaken or even unknown detrimental actions that the individual does in their own lifetime. Not that Everyone is born in a state of sin. And they do not believe in Adam and Eve or the 6 day timeline. Some of them take the Judaic viewpoint that their deity can use evolution.

          • Judith MacKay Dahlen

            Do they? Could be. I don’t have stats. But believe me, more and more of what scholars have learned about the historical evolution of the Bible is being shared with the lay people. The terms myth and historical context are used In our Bible study group at UCC. We’re not told what to think, we are asked what we think.

          • Sharon Fratepietro

            Reading any book thoughtfully and skeptically is a good thing.

          • Judith MacKay Dahlen

            yes. :)

          • Judith MacKay Dahlen

            All people get to THINK, and that should be respected. There are lot’s of Christians who are heavily questioning the literal interpretation of scripture. We know too much nowadays not to. It’s unfortunate, to put it mildly, that so many non-Christians have been so thoroughly indoctrinated in ultra conservative Christian thinking. Some atheists are the biggest converts to the current stereotype of literalist Christianity, to the degree I have been told I’m not a Christian because I feel free to question and open to the thoughts of others. I have to say I greatly appreciate the questions and historical perspective shared by my atheist friends.

          • Brian_Bray

            Thank you Judith. Out of curiosity, what about Christianity motivates you to continue practicing the religion?

          • Judith MacKay Dahlen

            Good morning ( at least here in Vancouver WA) I was raised in a loving, but sometimes tumultuous, home. Definitely not Ozzie and Harriet, as so many seem to visualize the stereotypical Christian family. Jesus was a figure of loving acceptance. Even as a child I couldn’t really buy into the idea that such a loving God would cause, or allow to happen, eternal torment. I mean… why bother? So it was I came to accept Christ as my Savior, even though I didn’t really believe in the thing he was supposed to be saving my from. (I see that today, and probably for some time, Christians have been challenging the idea of hell and trying to reconcile that with the idea of salvation as a motive for acceptance and belief) While I’m not broadly or deeply read, I now know that scholars have been pursuing the issue by delving into the historical realities of the biblical text, the various images of God as projected by authors with varied backgrounds. The one constant is the reality of my spiritual experiences as a Christian. When I was about 16 I received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It was a quiet and unexpected thing as I walked home from church. I think, for anyone, it’s a matter of being simply open in a moment. Rather than being limited in my world view, I feel safe and liberated to question indoctrination and consider what makes sense. When asked my religion I say I am a Christian Ecumenical Universalist. Ya know.. ALL God’s children… got a place in the choir. I don’t believe God is a huge human being and that there are streets in heaven paved with gold, that’s for sure. (it would be pretty, but gold would have the value of concrete, wouldn’t it? Ha!) I’m not afraid of God, because I’m sure I don’t need to be. I don’t see science as an antithesis of Creation. They support one and other in my view. What we keep learning about the universe, the evidence of evolution, is stupefying. As for “practicing” Christianity, in the sense of ritual, I really don’t. I currently attend two churches: United Church of Christ, and Metropolitan Community Church. The latter has services in the basement meeting rooms of UCC. I’m in it for the love and fellowship. I don’t dress up to go to church, I don’t stand and sit when everyone else does. ( partly because it hurts… I’m 67 with aches and pains) Thanks for asking. I know there are many like myself, to various degrees. I’m currently reading a book by Bishop John Spong called Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism. It wouldn’t surprise me if you’ve read it. Stay in touch. J>

          • Ronald N. Wall

            Thank you for sharing your experience. As an atheist I have no problem with those who seek religion for personal peace and comfort, and are tolerant of others who do not believe. I was raised in a Pentecostal church as a child and teenager. As I grew older, I began reading and researching facts about the Bible. I was also a huge fan of writers like Isaac Asimov who wrote about science as well as being a science fiction author. After a long and difficult process I went from being an Evangelical Christian to an agnostic to finally admit that I was really an atheist because of disbelief of a Biblical god. I am now 72 (next month) and I have never been more satisfied and unconflicted. I have never felt more free than when I lost the fear that was indoctrinated in me, worrying about hell or the second coming. I understand that some people find comfort in their religion by discarding all of that terrible stuff Evangelicals use to control people. Christian fundamentalism is based on fear and the “us against them” mentality. It is then reinforced by whipping up extreme religious euphoria. I now know, by my own research that the euphoria is the product of the brain, not any “Holy Spirit.” The only question I ask Christians who reject the bad things in the Bible for those that seem loving and supportive, is why? It seems to me that if you reject parts of the Bible and accept only those things that make you comfortable, are you not then simply inventing your own version of Christianity? Of course, that is nothing new and has been going on since the 1st century. Gnostics, declared heretics by the Roman and Greek bishops who assembled a version of the Bible, apparently believed that Jesus was simply a man, not divine, but divinely inspired. They did not worship a resurrected deity. If you do not accept the supernatural events described in the NT (or OT, for that matter), Perhaps you should call yourself a Gnostic.

          • Judith MacKay Dahlen

            I’m thinking I don’t have to call myself anything. One of the things Spong brings to light in his book is that the conflict between fear driven law imposers and the “All ya need is love” crowd predates written history. It may be that Jesus was merely and enlightened man, fiercely trying to liberate the people of his time from oppressive fears and hierarchical thinking; to empower them to behave in better ways without striving and fear. I hear what you’re saying about the euphoria. My atheist friend mentioned that to me as well. However, there may be both kinds, and that they compliment one and other. Who is to say that releasing those chemicals is not creating an opening for connection, or visa-versa? I’m not just being stubborn here. It’s a valid point. I speak as one whose family has experiences with second sight: predictive dreams, deja vu, psychic connectedness that have been profoundly confirmed. None of which were worked up to in any way. They just happened. Bingity-bang. Out of the blue, and sometimes unwelcome. I know others with the same kinds of experiences. Those are not the result of chemistry, unless, of course, the chemistry in the individuals DNA predispose them to it. Even so, it indicates another kind of connection that clearly exists and, to me, argues the existence of something much greater that we don’t fully understand. This does not mean that I would argue for you to return to your Christian roots. You have peace, and, even if you no longer believe in the concept of Jesus as Christ, that is what Jesus, the man or, son of God, taught people to accept, instead of being afraid. If there is no God, it doesn’t matter, if there is…I believe that entity knows the goodness of your heart and that’s what matters. You came to your conclusions because you rejected fear driven beliefs which are a device of mankind and never should have been pressed on you in the first place. In my opinion, for what it’s worth, you chose rightly, as confirmed by the peace you feel now.
            Warm regards, Judy D.

        • David Schwartzman

          Do not put most of Judaism into that mix. Judaism has long since agreed that anything that can be scientifically proven is valid, and most of Judaism has long since rejected the idea that the Torah and Tanakh are to be viewed literally. Even the overwhelming of Mainstream Orthodox Jews (not the Ultra-Orthodox/Hasidim/Haredim), both layperson and rabbi that I have met (and that number is in the thousands) believe in evolution, and other science. They take the first part of Bereshit (Genesis) with many grains of salt. that the “days” mentioned are in no way to be believed to be 24 hours. That Adam and Eve are concepts not real.
          And most of Judaism has no problem with atheism as long as atheists behave in a humane and civilized manner (which what most atheists want theists to do also.
          I was raised in a Jewish home and even once thought of being a rabbi (luckily I came to my senses). I rarely heard anyone condemn or criticize atheism or atheists. Also I always heard the need for US law and government to remain totally secular and the need for religion to be kept out of the public schools.

          • Herb Silverman

            David, You can still become a rabbi and keep your senses. Check the Society for Humanistic Judaism, which ordains atheist rabbis.

          • David Schwartzman

            Herb,
            Thank you for that input. I have decided that being a rabbi is not how I want to live my life.

          • Herb Silverman

            Me either. But I enjoy giving sermons/talks to Humanistic Judaism organizations, as well as to Unitarian Churches.

    • truth_machine

      “I disagree with the second part of your first point where you claim most atheists don’t want to see religion destroyed.”

      Have you polled them?

      • Jay Leonard

        I, for one, believe it is an ethical necessity that deistic, theistic, and oppressive religions are destroyed. I’m cool with religions (or religious practices) that don’t presuppose supernatural phenomena (a paradoxical position) and respect being human (egalitarian position).

        • Mike

          Am I correct that you Think Christianity should be destroyed because it is oppressive?

          • Jay Leonard

            Yes, Mike. That is exactly my position. Oppression is inherent in all judeo-christian (Abrahamic) religions, including each and every sect. Thus, it is a duty of aware humans who oppose oppression to oppose oppressive religious practices, and by extension, the structures that support them.

          • Mike

            If Christianity was being forced on someone, I would agree with you, but most Christians willing accept it.

          • Jay Leonard

            Most christians are born into it, raised by people who tell them that it is correct, that they should accept it on faith (without evidence), and that failure to behave accordingly will result in everlasting damnation and torture (either explicitly or implicitly). Moreover, there is a psychological fear of freedom that is associated with critical examination of their empirical situation. Throughout history, oppressed peoples have believed that they deserved the life of servitude, that they willingly chose to be where they were, and they willingly accepted their stations in society. It is only upon critical examination and reflection that they begin to see that they are, in fact, oppressed. It is only with that realization that the oppressed can name their oppressors and begin to fight for egalitarian principles, emancipation, becoming fully human, etc. Willingness to accept oppression does not negate the fact of oppression.

            Personally, no one asked me if I wanted to be baptized and indoctrinated. I had to fight my way to freedom of mind and action. I suspect that many atheists share my experience. I was oppressed by christianity and have seen it from within and without. My heart breaks for those who cannot see that there is a better way because they cannot accept the reality in which they exist.

            Far from a doctrinal argument, or a higher level dialectical dialogue about the merits of faith and reason, there are practical, real-world obstacles that must be overcome in order to be free; christianity (and many other religions, as well) make that task particularly challenging by refusing to acknowledge that it is oppressive, by design and in practice. When religious persons begin to see themselves and their situation objectively and subjectively, if they are honest with themselves, if they have sufficient evidence and capacity for reason, they begin to throw off the yoke of oppression. In some, it manifests as ceasing to attend services or participate in their religious community. In others, this awareness manifests as devotion to liberating other oppressed persons. The responses are myriad and complex, as is appropriate for the human condition. However, it is impossible to simultaneously acknowledge oppression of oneself and not wish it to cease. In short, choice and force are not the only, or even the best, measures of oppression.

          • Mike

            As you become of age, it is ultimately your choice.

          • Neal Blaise Salogar

            That’s like saying my parents could raise me illiterate, but when I turn 18, it’s my choice whether to go to college.

          • Timothy Cooper

            Going to church may not be forced on people that don’t want to go. But Christian principles are, and that’s the problem. That’s a form of oppression. Telling someone they are sinning is not only judgmental but can be used to oppress their respective beliefs

          • Amenemhat1

            Except the ones that were born in to it. You know, christians without a choice. Kind of like yourself. That’s oppressive….

          • Mike

            You cannot force someone into a religion. Sorry. It’s a belief. You believe, or you don’t. Pretty simple.

          • Sean

            there are plenty of forces within the various religions that counter members leaving or publicly disbelieving, some dangerous, some passive. Those born into it are often stuck with it for a whole bunch of differing reasons that boil down to either self interest or consideration of others.

            Many people wouldn’t disavow their religion because it would break their parent’s heart, or see their friends and family shun them. They might lose business or political connection/clout, and face harsh financial or social damage.
            Many people wouldn’t disavow their religion because AK-47 bullets and being burned alive hurt like hell and are scary.

            Having a child and raising it in such a system is a form of force, with the threats often both subtle and implied.

          • Mike

            Simply doing things, at least in Christianity, does not make you a Christian. It is a BELIEF. So, I stand by my statement.

          • frozen01

            You are talking about different things. Sean is talking about organized religion and public declarations of faith (whether truthful or not), and you are talking about what one actually believes in their heart and mind.

            Religions are an institution built around a set of beliefs. Religion and belief, however, are not synonyms.

          • thaicoffee

            Simply doing things does make you believe according to Sartre> “Kneel and you will believe.” Not to get all Existentialist on you or anything, but I do attend the “First Existentialist Congregation” so I guess Sarte and “The Age of Reason” would be my bible. Point being, going through the rituals leads directly to greater commitment. Why do you think Oreos wants you to do the whole “twist, eat cream filling, dip cookie in milk” ritual. Because it makes you brand committed by doing the action.

        • Lena Reynolds

          I’d say most atheists don’t agree with you there. Religion’s got its down-sides, and bad people have used it as an excuse to do bad things. But if anyone sees it as an excuse to do good things, in this big crazy society, I’m ok with it. Many people find comfort and purpose in religion. I don’t believe in god, but I attend a Unitarian church for the community, the sense of awe in nature and humanity, and the strength we gain from supporting one another, even as people with different beliefs. It’s a decision people should be able to ale for themselves and seeking to destroy religion sounds a lot more like oppression than coexistence does.

          • frozen01

            I agree with you, Lena. I’m an atheist, and I also attend a Unitarian Universalist church because I like the inspirational and often very informative sermons, plus it’s a great community. No one pushes their beliefs on anyone else, and all are welcome. It’s very refreshing.
            I also think it sounds pretty oppressive to say that one wants to “destroy” religion. That said, I don’t want to completely dismiss that oppression occurs at the hands of the religious, and that oppression needs to be stopped, too.

        • truth_machine

          “I, for one, believe it is an ethical necessity that deistic, theistic, and oppressive religions are destroyed. ”

          That has nothing to do with my question.

      • Rebecca Banerjee

        I know a lot of atheist and none of them want to destroy religion. All of them are tolerant people who simply want to live their life without having it affected by the religious beliefs of others.

        • truth_machine

          Another silly person who doesn’t understand the worthlessness of their personal anecdotes.

      • Humanist11

        Yes. I have.

        • truth_machine

          You’re a liar. You lack the capability to do a poll of sufficiently many atheists to get reliable results indicating whether anything is true of “most atheists”.

    • Kay

      There are only 3 religions, and only a portion of each of those, which are anti-science. Why are they elevated to the representatives of every member of EVERY religion, including those which are completely compatible with science, even helping to shape and evolve it?

      • Humanist11

        Kay, I agree that is true sometimes. It seems to be true as long as the science does not go against scripture, but when it does, the scientists are suddenly wrong because the scripture is presumed to be perfect. Evolution is a clear example. It has been shown to be an accurate explanation of life’s development on earth through many scientific disciplines to include predictions of future discoveries that have since occurred. I know many religious people accept evolution, but many intelligent theists do not because of the contradiction with scripture. Evolution, global warming, solutions to poverty and medical advances all fit into this area. Powerful people in our society consider scripture to be the highest authority and govern the country that way. It only serves to slow progress toward evidence and scientific based solutions to real problems.

        • Kay

          Again, you make the mistake of thinking “scripture” has a damn thing to do with most religions. It’s only applicable to 3, and those 3 pick and choose which parts apply to them.

          I suggest you do some research into the hundreds of other faiths on the planet, and you’ll better understand how it really is only the Abrahamics that have science issues. Read up on Heathenry, Hellenismos, Theodism, Feri, Sikhism, Native American Shamanism (and that varies by nation and tribe).

          • Humanist11

            It mostly the big three that do damage to society, so I will focus on those. Faith in general is the main problem.

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            If the Asatruar ever rise to significant prominence in the US, and some portion of them start calling for an irrationally founded tribalism, I’ll oppose that too. Until then, here, now, Abrahamic monotheisms are simply a more pressing concern.

          • thaicoffee

            Kay, I am just not sure how Thor, Athena, Shiva, Ganesha, Quan Yin, and Avalokiteshvara, are all working together to get everyone to watch Cosmos on a Sunday night. Seriously, tons on theistic fantastical belief systems – each one with equally high improbability.

          • Kay

            Because unlike Christianity, those faiths all value knowledge. They don’t try to keep people stupid and scared. In Heathenry, like Buddhism, there is the idea that if research reveals a fact that was previously unknown, the practices that would contradict that fact must change, not the other way around. It’s not about touchy-feely eclectic bs, It’s knowing that your job is to be wiser and more educated or you stagnate as a member of society. “All working together” is again trying to cram all religion into a preconceived notion of Christianity that has jack all to do with all the other religions on the planet.

            And if you really have to question the commitment of the Greeks? The ones who invented half the science and math being used in the show?

      • Jay Leonard

        Hold on. What is your evidence that only three religions are anti-science? Seriously. I would like a source or a really great argument. Please name them, also.

        • Kay

          Easy, the Abrahamics – Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The rest are either compatible, or in some cases, responsible, for the science foundation you have today. And the reason is an issue specific to the Abrahamics – they insisted on writing a book after the fact that included a concrete timeline. They painted themselves into a corner where they must either waver on the “official Word” or deny science. No other religion has those kinds of stipulations. If something directly contradicts it, they change, or view the original as apocryphal, or look at ways the narrative still fits in with science.

          And as I said earlier, it’s not all the Abrahamics, only those too unyielding to incorporate logic into their lives.

    • Mike

      As a Christian, I’ve never been taught to distrust science. With science, like you, I need proof to believe. Even with religion, I need some proof to believe; that would be the Bible.

      • Humanist11

        Why do you consider the bible to be credible evidence? Couldn’t it have been simply written from the ideas of men long ago, perpetuating myths passed down generations? I have not found any evidence that the bible is divinely inspired.

        • Mike

          …and there in lies the faith part. I admit full well to that.

          Although, proof other than the Bible, exists to Christ. Of course the miracles and supernatural elements will have to remain faith.

          • Humanist11

            That is where thiests and atheists part in accepting things as fact. To us, faith is believing in something without evidence. For something so important in life as a foundation for all decisions, faith is a bad gamble. Faith did not put man on the moon or discover electricity. The scientific method, governed by natural laws and thoroughly tested by non-partisan scientists did. A smart buyer would not buy a car or house on faith, so why let faith dictate one’s moral compass?

          • Mike

            Your assumption is that faith negates science, which is hardly true.

          • Humanist11

            My assumption is that religious people use faith (belief without evidence) to give unquestioned credibility to scripture. That becomes the filter that science must pass through before they will accept it. Using faith to justify a basic premiss carries the fallacy through all major decisions.

          • Mike

            When referring to Christianity, the only acknowledged word of God is the Bible. What science is curtailed by the Bible?

          • of_dragonflies

            Apparently any science produced by women: 1 Timothy 2:12

          • thaicoffee

            I didn’t even know about that one. Punks!

          • Humanist11

            Science shows the bible to be incorrect about things like creation and the great flood so believers declare the science used to show these contradictions invalid. Carbon dating, interpretation of fossils, geology, DNA mapping. Ken Ham is a good example of this. I’m not saying you are like this, but many religious people are.

          • Mike

            1. I would say science seems to say the Earth is very old, but that doesn’t disprove Creation in the sense of Adam and Eve.
            2. In what way does carbon dating, interpretation of fossils, genealogy, or DNA disprove or go against the Bible?

          • mobsie666

            How about adam and eve? Genetically the human race couldn’t have developed from just 2 sources. The dna would break down due to inbreeding. The earth was created in 7 days? Well we know that’s not how it happened either. The tower ob babel, you can’t build a tower to heaven, we know that now. They didn’t know it then when they made the bible up. Also the tower of babel suggests thats how different languages came about. We know that’s not true either. How about noah and his ark? The world totally flooded? Really?

            I could go on forever with scientific innacuracies in the bible.

          • thaicoffee

            Generally, the science that is curtailed by the Bible is limited to only those discoveries made by anthropology, archeology, biology, astronomy, chemistry, evolutionary psychology, quantum physics, paleontology, climatology and even entomology – Did you know there are over a half million species of just beetles? They would have filled the ark on their own without a single other type of plant or animal on board. Seriously, do you “believe” in evolution? or that light was created before plasma that generated it? in photons?

          • Mike

            But faith in a religion does not prevent any of that either. What’s your point?

      • wandalee

        The existence of the bible is not proof of anything except that there is a book called the bible. Nothing in the book called the bible can be verified or corroborated, therefore it is all hearsay, not proof….. besides, why do you need proof, isn’t faith all you should need?

      • truth_machine

        Only an imbecile could consider the Bible to be a form of proof.

    • David Schwartzman

      That is not the same thing was wanting religion destroyed. They may not want religion to have any influence in government and law and want to assure that beliefs that have no scientific validity ( for example: creationism, or religiously defined intelligent design) are not allowed to be taught in public school science classes, and that government sponsored prayers not be allowed, but that is not the same thing as wanting religion destroyed.

    • cyber

      if I understand you clearly this is my response to what you have said: maybe if all the christian assholes would learn that we’re sick of being set at the same level as a criminal, we might stop harrassing you hypocrits. but I guess your god wasn’t meaning you when he said not to judge another human. Whatever reason you find to say you believe the truth doesn’t matter if you’re right you’ll burn along my side

  • msjennijennjenn

    I love that in the middle of this article an ad for finding the right church popped up.

    • RichardSRussell

      That’s what the “Faith Street” website’s main purpose is.

    • thaicoffee

      I can help here. For those in Atlanta, there is First Existentialist Congregation, also, Sunday Assembly, the Fellowship of Reason and the Unitarian Universalist Congregation is very atheist friendly. I was actually raised atheist so never saw the purpose of belonging to a church community. When one suffers a severe loss though, such as a death in the family, it is nice to have a community that is not work based, more than a book club, and supports your world view like, well, an atheist church. I mean, I am in the South, and someone needs to be there with a covered dish.

      • Herb Silverman

        I’m a member of the Unitarian Church in Charleston, and as an atheist have even given some sermons there. They are very atheist friendly and generally focus on doing the kind of good works that humanists also do. Here in the Bible Belt of South Carolina I’ve heard a Unitarian defined as “an atheist with children.” It’s easier for some people to tell their neighbors that they and their children attend the Unitarian Church rather than no church at all.

  • RichardSRussell

    Most atheists” — by which I mean about a billion Chinese — don’t even realize they are atheists, because they’ve lived their entire lives in a society where long-suppressed religion is barely noticed, so they’re like fish baffled by the concept of water.

    And herein lies an important lesson: Not believing in any gods doesn’t prevent them from believing in all sorts of other tomfoolery, like feng shui, traditional Chinese “medicine”, ancestor veneration, numerology, ghosts, Communism, the horror of pet turtles (no kidding), etc. In short, “atheist” isn’t even a guarantee of critical thinking, let alone anything else. It just means “a person who doesn’t believe in gods” — for whatever reason or no reason at all — and that’s the only thing we all have in common.

    • Humanist11

      I’m married to a Chinese non-believer and your assessment seems accurate in my case.

      • frozen01

        To be fair, this doesn’t just apply to just Chinese people/culture. I’ve been an acknowledged atheist for seven years, and even I still find myself instinctively falling back into superstitious practices. Just yesterday I had a whole serious conversation with a friend about astrology, knowing full well that it’s complete bunk, and will occasionally catch myself knocking on wood or being afraid to say something out loud lest I tempt fate (for example, my husband moved to the US from England and we’ve spent four months trying to find someone to rent out his house. We finally had an offer yesterday, but I still haven’t told anyone because, even though I know such a thing doesn’t exist, I’m afraid deep-down of “jinxing” it since it’s not finalized yet).
        It’s a hard habit to break.

    • lolsuz

      The “horror of pet turtles”? I must know what this means!

      • Phraustt

        Let’s just say it’s not pretty when a male turtle starts becoming enthusiastic.

        • lolsuz

          Oh my.

      • RichardSRussell

        Well, I see that Faith Street still hasn’t cleared my attempt at posting a link to the website, so let’s just say if you google “15 Top Chinese Superstitions knoji”, click on the top hit, and scroll on down to #10, you’ll know what it means.

  • Jenbee

    I don’t think it’s fair to say most religious people are functional atheists. I would think it incredibly disrespectful for a religious person to invalidate my non-belief with some cheap rhetoric that allows them to deem me religious in some way despite my assertion that I’m not. People have a right to decide for themselves what they are.

    • jpsaverino

      Jen, it’s a minor abrasion. I’ve known Catholics who call Protestants “Cranky Catholics.” I can also bring up many situations where Christians will assume Atheists are just closeted Christians by the way they tell stories about deathbed confessions, “no Atheists in foxholes”, Atheists still say “bless you” to sneezes and Atheists screaming “Oh, God” during sex. It’s all a mild offense.

    • Herb Silverman

      I only applied “functional atheist” to those who would behave the same whether or not they believed in God. I left it for individuals to decide for themselves whether their behavior is affected by their God beliefs, and how often.

      • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

        If belief that christ died for her sins is the one thing keeping my neighbor from plastering “God hates fags” stickers all over the boyfriend’s car, well… the thing is, can *anyone* really make a case that belief has *ever* constrained action? It seems to work the other way around – you rework the belief system to *justify the actions you wish to do, anyway*.

    • truth_machine

      So no one is allowed to express an opinion or make an argument if it conflicts with what people think they are? Anyway, you have completely mischaracterized the statement.

  • http://www.SusanScottOnline.com Susan Scott

    I appreciate your words of rationality and humor. Unfortunately, as is true with any group, the people who get the most press are not those who are taking a “live and let live” approach but those who spew hate. Post like this one, which encourage open, thoughtful and tolerant discussions don’t get a lot of attention. Since you have a sense of humor, I will offer this one little poke :) You say atheism isn’t a belief system because “conveying the best available scientific information” isn’t a religion. Religion is defined as “a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe” Since we cannot prove how the universe began (because anything proven must be observable, measurable, and repeatable) then the origins of the universe must be taken on faith. Hence it is a religion.

    • RichardSRussell

      the origins of the universe must be taken on faith [emphasis supplied]

      Nope. You don’t have to conclude anything about the origin of the Universe, not even that it had one. There are 5 main hypotheses to answer the question “Where did everything come from?”:
      (1) Some entity made it. (Religious people always claim it was their entity.)
      (2) It’s always been there.
      (3) It sprang into existence spontaneously (like electron-positron pair production writ large).
      (4) It’s not really there; we’re all living in The Matrix.
      (5) The question is meaningless, like “What’s north of the North Pole?”

      There isn’t enuf evidence available to seriously support any of these hypotheses, so — far from concluding that we must take one of them on faith — the most reasonable position to hold as of 2014 is “nobody knows”.

      • Stanley Sheckle

        Home run, Richard.

    • BruceMcGlory

      One’s personal unfamiliarity with science doesn’t equal “x must be taken on faith”.

    • Humanist11

      On the question of the origins of the universe, atheists and scientists also have the choice of “we don’t know”. Religions and their true followers don’t have that option and squashes all credibility.

      • Timothy Cooper

        I took a religious study class in high school and the teacher, I guess trying to combine creation and evolution said that there was around 1000 years of day and then 1000 years of night. Complete bs trying to mesh the two.

  • JSG

    I for one, am a deist, because I simply think there was an intelligent catalyst behind the creation of existence. I think that’s a fairly logical thought to have. Don’t read into that, and don’t slap a *religion* on what I said. I don’t present that premise or discuss it as fact, because it hasn’t been tested, and we may not know how to test that. A few things about the article that bum me out.. that particular writer equates a belief in god to a belief in the tooth fairy… that’s condescending. Equating my idea that there may have been something intelligent behind the creation of existence, because, well, existence exists, to the toothfairy is off-putting. Another thing, is that, as many other public atheists seem to think, is the perpetuated idea that many of faith can’t differentiate between faith and fact, or are science deniers.

    • RichardSRussell

      But how do you explain that quarter under your pillow?
      Or all the cool stuff Santa brings every year?
      Or the existence of the Universe?
      Musta been somebody, right?
      Other than political power, why is one of those beliefs respectable and the other 2 childish?
      Evidence-wise, they’re indistinguishable.

      • JSG

        I understand the point you’re trying to make, but they’re not good questions to ask. A parent put that quarter there, and parents/family put the cool stuff Santa brought. None of it got there without a catalyst. Agnosticism is one thing, but to be an active atheist, ie. “THERE IS NO GOD,” is illogical, and as silly as those who present the same faith I have as *fact*, (which I don’t).

        • RichardSRussell

          A parent put that quarter there, and parents/family put the cool stuff Santa brought.

          You and I know that, but does a little kid? No, they believe in some magic entity. It’s what Daniel Dennett calls the “intentional stance” (and what I prefer to call the “secret-agent theory”), that actions happen because some conscious entity intended for them to happen and made them happen. It’s a logical fallacy that humans are extremely prone to, and the above questions — despite your disapproval — are in fact good ways of drawing the parallels.

          • JSG

            I hear you, Richard. I’m not trying to present that as a way of saying, “that’s why there *is* a deity.” I’m only saying that I think it’s logical to think there *might* be a deity. I’m not trying to present that as fact. I just think it’s reasonable to “appreciate” the idea, or those who have the idea, that there “might” be a deity, if at least in the sense of a simple catalyst.

          • RichardSRussell

            Indeed, the idea that there might be a deity is the #1 item on my list of contending hypotheses for where everything came from (coupla posts down from here). But my understanding of deism (which may or may not reflect your flavor of it) is that it contends not that there might be a creator entity but that there in fact is one, and that all competing hypotheses may be safely discarded. Yesno?

          • JSG

            Well, I’d agree that some deists want other hypotheses discarded, but that’s not the case for me. With that said, there are people of any given thoughts on any given discipline who are not open to considering other ideas/hypotheses.

          • JSG

            I had written a reply, but I don’t know where it went. I more or less said that some deists may want to discard competing hypotheses, but I don’t. The same can be said for any number of positions of any number of other disciplines and how some people just don’t want to listen to others’ ideas.

        • Humanist11

          As an atheist, I can understand and respect a deist position about the universe much better than a specific religion. Your’s is a position of someone who thinks and is being honest. You list evidence to show there is no Santa or Easter Bunny, but the absence of evidence for the origin of our universe is not a reason to claim that a god did it. It just means that our knowledge has not reached the point where we can definitively claim to know the answer.

          • JSG

            Oh, sure, I totally respect that and agree. I think the biggest struggle between the deist and the atheist community is how some people who believe present their beliefs and forced expectations on others. Science may or may not learn how to test the broad idea of a deity down the road, but until then, we all need to unite and reap the benefits of what we do know and what we’re learning. That’s *my* biggest gripe with literal creationists, and I say that as a deist. I don’t think the majority of believers, (whatever specifics), are science deniers, it just seems many that are have too much power.

    • Carstonio

      I appreciate that you don’t present the thought as fact. Still, I don’t understand why someone would regard the thought as anything more than speculation. If the proposed hypothesis can’t be tested, then there would be no way of knowing whether it’s right or wrong, and it would be useless in making predictions. The thought presumes that existence can only be created by an intelligence, so its logic is only internal. I prefer not knowing and taking no position, instead of taking a position that may be wrong and having no way to know if it’s right or wrong.

      • JSG

        I understand, and don’t mind calling my “belief” speculation. I just have the idea, thought, or even, hypothesis, that existence had an intelligent catalyst. I actively take that position and hope some day we can test it. Until then, I won’t present it as fact or think others that think differently are wrong. I simply prefer not to take an active position that there is *definitely* not a catalyst. Like I said above, the only issue I really have with *some* atheists is that my speculation that there may be an intelligent catalyst gets equated with the toothfairy. I get it, but don’t think it’s fair… but then again, I realize I live in a world where the Ken Hamms and Westboro folk have microphones. I don’t say that to judge.. I only say that to point out that not all believers are literal creationists.

        • Carstonio

          Tooth fairy? I wouldn’t make that comparison. Instead, my issue with the intelligent catalyst concept is that it doesn’t answer the question that it would ostensibly answer. It just substitutes one mystery for another – how did the intelligent catalyst come to be? It’s like using putty to fill in the missing piece of a jigsaw puzzle.

          And you’re right about most believers rejecting literal creationism. That movement is best understood as a political one, not a religious one.

          • JSG

            I hear you, Carstonio. The bottom line is, for me, is that it’s fun to discuss, share, learn and ponder :-)

          • Jay Leonard

            I believe that you are referring to the infinite regression fallacy. Where did the Universe come from? God. Where did God come from?… um, SuperGod? Okay, but where did Supe…. and so forth. Cheers :-)

        • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

          I’m not taking the position that there “definitely” isn’t a designer (you’re using the wording “intelligent catalyst” here, but call it what it is), but I am taking the position that until there’s a *reason* to believe in one, there’s not a good reason to accept the existence of one just because it may suit some subjective, emotional need.

          • Mike

            If you believe the story of Jesus to be true, then you have a reason. If you don’t, then I understand your position.

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            If I’m an atheist (I am), then it can be taken as a given that I don’t think a historical Jesus (if he existed) was a divine being. The point isn’t that christians don’t have *reasons* for believing as they do – it’s that their reasons are not based on any testable evidence. It *feels good* to believe. That doesn’t demonstrate anything to someone who doesn’t share the same subjective *need to believe.*

          • Mike

            My point, is that Christians have their reason. I’m sorry you don’t.

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            Are you as sorry that I don’t think Vishnu exists? Are you as sorry that I don’t think Odin exists? Your sorrow isn’t actually that – it’s arrogance. Once again, I am not saying you don’t have *a* reason to believe. I’m saying your reasons are not based on any actual evidence. That it sounds like a good idea *to you* doesn’t count as evidence of anything other than, “It sounds like a good idea to Mike.” That doesn’t get to count as objective evidence, no matter how much you may *want it to.*

          • Mike

            I believe that Christ/God is the only true God. Without Him, we will be in some sort of Hell after death. You do not believe that. I’m sorry because of what that means according to my beliefs. I would not wish any kind of Hell on anyone. It was a genuine sorry.

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            You don’t get to tell me I’m headed to hell *and* feign sorrow in the same breath, Mike. That’s not genuine sorrow. It’s *just* arrogance.

          • Mike

            I can’t say it any other way. If you take my genuine sorrow as arrogance, that is your choice.

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            It isn’t actually about choice; it’s about the dangerous implications of your religion.

          • Mike

            They are what they are. I am a Christian, a believer in Christ and God. I did not make up the rules. Since that is the case, I pray all will come to Him during their lifetime.

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            *eyeroll* So, your solution to the arrogance inherent in your belief system is to call for ever more christian triumphalism?

          • Mike

            Why wouldn’t it be?

            If you believed Zeus was the one true God and only through him would you have everlasting life, wouldn’t you fight for others to believe?

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            I might, but my ‘fight’ would be on precisely the same footing as yours, Mike: you ought to believe in Zeus, because… well, because I say so. That doesn’t get to count as *good evidence* I’m right. It’s *only* evidence that *I think I am.*

          • Kay

            If you believed Zeus was the one true God and only through him would you have everlasting life, you’d be practicing a made up religion that has no basis in history. And for your information, the millions of people who practice reconstructionist religions do not “fight for others to believe” because we find it tacky and insulting. We honestly do not care what you believe, as long as you keep it out of laws that govern us and stop teaching your kids to bully anyone different than they are.

          • Mike

            I do not believe religion should be forced on others through law. Also, I’ve never condoned bullying. I’m sorry you find Christians who want you to be Christian, too, as insulating. We see our religion as the truth, and respect you as another human enough to want you to be saved too. It’s about love and saving, not about forcing.

          • Kay

            You can “want” all you wish, but that does not equate to a right to invade people’s space or harass them. And I don’t do blanket statements about Christians. We have a JW hall nearby, and about every 2 or 3 years, someone comes to our door. I tell them politely we’re not interested and to have a nice day, but please take us off their list. It’s years before we see anyone again. They smile, are polite, and perfectly understanding.

            Meanwhile, I know a few Catholic women who are horrible, spiteful people, and when told that their insistence on praying for me is considered insulting to my faith, they continued to do it, and made sure they told me they were doing it, because they knew it was an insult and essentially an aggressive act.

            I consider neither of these to be representative of all JW or all Catholics or the larger umbrella of all Christians. I’m sure the JW’s are praying for me sincerely as they leave, and the 2 Catholics are sneering when they pray in front of me while silently hoping horrible things happen to me, but at least the JW’s have the decency to keep it to themselves.

          • Mike

            No one should ever be harassed. If you ask someone to go, then they should go, and I agree that blanket comments for groups of people just don’t work.

            That said. as a Christian, I would respect your desire for me to leave, but it’s our faith that says everyone needs Christ. I would and will continue to pray for you.

          • Kay

            Even after you’ve been told that praying for me, attempting to indebt me to a deity I don’t worship against my will, is rude and offensive, regardless of what you personally believe? If you believe your prayer has power, and I tell you my belief is that using that power of prayer to try to convince a deity to coerce me to change my mind is incredibly offensive to members of my own faith, do you just go on the assumption that everyone who practices mine is wrong, you are right, and we just don’t know any better?

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            Hehe. I could have gone a whole year without thinking a reconstructionist would leap into this calling out historically inaccurate worship-claims about the Greek pantheon. Thanks for giving me something to smile at, Kay :D

          • Herb Silverman

            My problem about your loving God, Jesus, is that he would condemn to eternal torture good and kind people who happen not to believe that Jesus is God because they don’t have sufficient evidence for holding that belief.

    • Herb Silverman

      I only brought in Tooth Fairy to point out how ridiculous it is to tell atheists that they hate someone whose existence they don’t believe in. Also (see 6), I would classify you and other deists as functional atheists which is, behaviorally, equivalent to atheist.

      • JSG

        Thanks for the reply, Herb! I understand your point of view :-)

  • http://skepticink.com/dangeroustalk Dangerous Talk

    11. Atheists are not big meanies. We love people and we love life, but when we see injustice, we have to step up and speak out. It just some happens that religious tends to be at the center of most of the injustices we see in society today.

    • faithstreet

      Good one. Anyone else have more items they’d add to Herb’s list?

    • frozen01

      Well…

      Atheists love people, love life, and speak out against injustice as much as any other group. There are depressed, introverted, angry, or apathetic atheists, just like there are happy, outgoing, calm, or politically-active atheists. And sometimes, those traits can describe the same person ;)

  • Pati Beardsley

    I totally cracked up at the joke at the end. This article makes “admitting” so much easier, in a society where one “must” be a “christian” to be “valuable” and not seen as a devil-worshiper.

  • Stanley Sheckle

    I am a former Christian who went from altar boy to atheist, and nearly all of these points are precisely correct. There are a few bad apples on both sides, but the vast majority of atheists are pleasant people that you would like to have as a neighbor.

    • RichardSRussell

      As an atheist, I can say the same about almost every non-atheist I’ve ever met, including my 2 current roomers, a quasi-Buddhist from Vietnam and a Muslim from Syria, both med students at nearby University of Wisconsin Hospital and outstanding human beings.

      • Thomas King

        Then we have no disagreement, Richard. The vast majority of theists are decent people, regardless of their belief in gods. I think most atheists want to be judged by the totality of their contribution to society. Why not treat theists the same way?

      • Jane Smith

        But the article was about atheists.

    • Jane Smith

      Atheists need to be more vocal, in a non-negative way. Mr. Silverman’s article would only be necessary if atheists were largely unknown to religious people. If people realized that many of the calm decent people around them were atheists, they would soon forget the negative stereotypes.

  • VegasJamie

    The most enlightening thing I found since I became atheist is that the ratio of good:bad things that happened to me never changed and would have been the same either way.

  • Mike

    Understand, the reason that most Christians are vocal about their beliefs is that they believe it to be the truth. That truth includes a Heaven with God and a Hell without Him. We would love for you to join us in Heaven, thus our incessant discussion of our beliefs. Just don’t let a “Christian” say that God hates someone for what they do. He may hate WHAT they do, but not WHO they are.

    • Timothy Cooper

      But if everyone you talk to is trying to convert you to “save you” it gets old fast.

      • Mike

        Sorry that it gets old, but they do it because they care for you.

        • Thisisjosh

          Care for me silently. across the street.

        • Timothy Cooper

          No they care about themselves and trying to feel good about “helping” someone that they know nothing about.

    • Jay Leonard

      Many people believe many things to be truth, that does not excuse them proselytizing. I love my grandmother, but I won’t try to convince her to not believe in her catholicism. Just because you love someone, that does not excuse treating that person as a thing which must be changed externally, nor as a project, nor as a “soul in need of saving” or any other rhetorical nonsense. At its core, attempting to convince someone to believe something must be done through arguments based in reality and empirically verifiable (inter-subjective) facts. Anything less is an attempt to appeal to emotions (fear, anger, mistrust, loneliness) or to play on vulnerabilities (addiction, hunger, oppression) because all that is offered is faith, which is not based in reality, is deeply personal, and intellectually dishonest. Just because you believe that purple aliens will save humanity from itself, that does not mean that anyone else should. Just because you fear the absence of god, that does not mean that you should spread that fear so that you can offer a reprieve. Proselytizing faith through fear of hell is akin to giving away alcohol to make more alcoholics so that you can offer them room at your rehab center. It is oppressive behavior and should be treated as such.

      • Mike

        The Christian belief system is that you must be saved to go to Heaven. Just take someone trying to convert you as a compliment and move on. Although they are truthful, I am not a fan of the fear and doom converters.

        • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

          “You’re going to hell” is not a compliment.

        • Jay Leonard

          It is not a compliment, it is an attempt to reinforce systemic oppression. I am insulted each and every time and will not “move on” when confronted by such activity.

          • Mike

            They are giving their time and their energy because they want to help you according to their beliefs. I’m not asking you to convert, but they are doing it because they care for you. I’m sorry if you can’t see that.

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            It’s not as if we can’t understand what you’re claiming. It’s that your claims do not hold up to reason. “You will suffer eternally in hell unless you believe in the things I do” *is not complimentary*. It’s not motivated by good wishes *for me.* You, like many a christian before you, may buy the myth that a conversion onus placed upon you by your faith is a good thing, but that doesn’t mean that it actually *is* a good thing.

            You may *think* you are “helping,” but you’re not. You’re *reinforcing your own view of the world.* That’s not about helping *me;* it’s about *you.*

          • Jay Leonard

            You seem a genuinely kind person. However, you cannot seem to hear me. I understand that they think it is out of love… but in reality it is the systemic horizontal reproduction of oppression. I’m sorry that you cannot see it. Maybe you could look at Paulo Freire’s “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” as a way of gaining some insight. He was christian and a loving human, and would probably have mixed feelings about my invoking of his opus as a reference in this context, but it applies.

          • Mike

            As an organization, the church has done some suppression, that much is obvious. The Bible, on the other hand, especially the NT, teaches man to love and forgive, not to suppress, but to give a helping hand.

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            …and here, we’re expected to pretend history doesn’t exist. “Some suppression?” The new testament says some nice things; it also says plenty of idiotic things. That you cherry pick the few you like is neither here, nor there.

          • Mike

            Ward, as long as you keep making assumptions about what I do and think, I will not be responding to you.

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            No surprise. Persecution fantasy isn’t at all uncommon, among christians, as I said.

          • Timothy Cooper

            But don’t most Christians do that same thing with non – Christians. They assume

          • Jay Leonard

            it’s like a slave telling a free person whom he or she loves, “you should join me here, as a slave, it is wonderful and my master loves me and gives me all that I need.” The slave may truly believe that he or she is happy and may be motivated by love, but is grossly misinformed and has a distorted perception of reality due to his or her oppressed state of existence. This is how I see conversion attempts; as an assault on my liberty and intellectual honesty.

          • Mike

            I will not deny that I have given my life to God, and try my best to appease him, but I see nothing wrong with that. It is my free will to do, not forced upon me.

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            Then why defend proselytizing, here? Because those proselytizing “care?” They do, but not about me: they care about having their choices reinforced. It’s not the same thing (not that I expect you’ll be honest about that, but it’s not actually about you, individually, kiddo).

          • Jay Leonard

            That is why it is so scary. Willfully becoming oppressed is most insidious.

          • Mike

            If by choice, I see no reason to fear it.

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            If this was just about you, individually, in a social vacuum, choosing to believe in a dangerous belief system, that wouldn’t be worth opposing, but you know perfectly well that isn’t what’s happening.

        • David Schwartzman

          I would argue that most Christians who proselytize do so not out of caring for others they do it because they need to reinforce their own beliefs and the idea that someone rejects their beliefs is threatening to them. They only care for themselves. It is not a compliment. It is harassment.

          • Mike

            Clearly your opinion, and you are welcome to it. I, on the other hand, accept people to be honest and good without any prior action to judge them by.

          • David Schwartzman

            When one is the target of proselytizing, then one’s opinion has greater weight.

      • Timothy Cooper

        No Jay the aliens are green. JK well said

  • Carstonio

    Muhammed Ali once said that “No Viet Cong ever called me n****r.” My version is, “No atheist ever called me deserving of hell.” I can understand religious people taking offense when some anti-theists belittle the intelligence of believers. But it’s far more humanly offensive when a religious doctrine insists that people who disagree with the doctrine deserve everlasting torture, not just atheists but also people who belong to different religions. I continue to be astonished that anybody who claims to love others would honestly believe in the justness of the hell concept. Thankfully, I’ve encountered plenty of Christians who deem a literal hell to be unjust and who argue that the entire concept is heretical.

  • Jim MacQ

    #7 is fallacious. A more accurate comparison is to a hairstyle, not color. Bald is a hairstyle.

    • Phillip Mitchell

      Not sure if humor or pedantry.

    • RichardSRussell

      There are a dozen other similes if you prefer. Sampling:
      • If atheism is a religion, then health is a disease.
      • Atheism is a religion like abstinence is a sex position.
      • Saying atheism is a type of religion is like saying peace is a type of war.
      • Atheism is a religion the same way “off” is a TV channel.

  • Guest

    I am a theist, but appreciated the article. It is important to recognize the lack of mono-anything. Their are over 7 billion of us and the chances of painting with a broad brush accurately is extremely slim. Really like the joke, too.

  • Timothy Howe

    I am a theist, but enjoyed the post. It is important to recognize that there is no mono-anything (culture, religion or lack thereof, political party, language group, etc.). There are over 7 billion of us and to paint with a broad brush invites great inaccuracy. I very much liked the joke.

  • Indie_Thinker

    Because religionists generally don’t bother to read articles like this or educate themselves in this area, I think it’s better that I identify, when asked, as Atheist AND Humanist. I am proud of both, but religionists seem to have already bought into a negative Atheist stereotype. Alternatively, they don’t seem to know about Humanism, so it can sometimes be a conversation starter. If this happens, I will proceed to discuss Humanism AND Atheism, including the kinds of things referred to in your piece.

  • Alex Kidd

    TOUCHÉ

  • Will Moredock

    Herb closes with a great joke. And speaking of jokes, check out the Fox News clip embedded in the post. It’s a hoot!

  • BM

    Summarizing:
    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

    And said Jesus’ story was embellished and “mythicized” by
    many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
    and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

  • Nicole Cassel

    I disagree that ‘atheists do not wish to destroy religion’ or ‘Atheists do not try to push their beliefs on others’. By not allowing children to learn ‘both’ ways that creation came about (creationism vs Theory of Evolution) Atheists are indeed pushing their ‘beliefs’ onto the young generation of children. If you ban children from even remotely pursuing the questions of: “is there a God?” by saying “No! And if you believe in Him, you are ignorant or brainwashed!” These things hinder a child’s belief in something greater out there, yet we peddle Santa Claus on them, another ‘mysterious’ father figure that we never get to see…

    One side sees themselves as intelligent and rational while thinking that the other side is only believing in mysticism and voodoo. And that statement can apply to either side.

    If you are truly accepting of a person can believe in anything s/he wishes, then why so adamant about taking God out of the pledge of allegiance? Or off money, or out of courts? Why a strict non-theism across the board, touting it as acceptance when it is forced conformity?

    And to Christians…stop pushing Hell and damnation upon non-believers. That era ended in the ’80’s. You want to win over their hearts? Then practice and love one another and show them the love Christ showed to those that he spoke to. And remember, Jesus was crucified by Jews, by his OWN! Not everyone loved him, not everyone can be saved. This is the time to win over with love, not with shaking your fingers and telling them of they are wrong and bad, and should feel bad.

    And to Atheists….God isn’t going anywhere, whether you believe in him or not. You don’t have to believe in Him, that is your choice. But if you truly feel you are an accepting individual, then do accept that Christians are here, they can be your friends, too!

    And please, do not confuse Catholics for Christians. Catholicism is a government, Christianity is a religion. Don’t get these two mixed up. Christians don’t agree with Catholicism for good reason.

    • skeptic15

      “By not allowing children to learn ‘both’ ways that creation came about (creationism vs Theory of Evolution) Atheists are indeed pushing their ‘beliefs’ onto the young generation of children.”
      You are confusing science with creationism -creationism is not science. As such, it has no place in science classrooms. Creationism should be taught in church or in philosophy/religion classes – and if creationism is taught in public schools as part of philosophy/religion, different versions of “creation” myths should probably be discussed. But these myths are not science.

      • RichardSRussell

        Creationism should be taught in church or in philosophy/religion classes

        No, actually, it shouldn’t be taught there, either. The place where it belongs is in a history of science class, where we could stack it alongside such other “Can you believe they actually fell for this once?” garbage as the flat Earth, heavy rocks falling faster than light ones, phrenology, the “imbalanced humors” theory of disease, and so on.

        • Mike

          You’re not really helping your cause by insulting people’s beliefs at “garbage”. I understand some “Christians” provide a poor example for their faith, but your comments do not help your stance.

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            Why should christian creation beliefs be privileged? Because lots of other people agree with you? That doesn’t make them factual. It makes them popular.

          • Mike

            Who said anything about being “privileged”. I just stated insults are not the best way to get your point across, as I said that Christians who use fire and hell to convert are , for the most part, doing a disservice to Christianity.

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            If we’re discussing appropriate places to teach christian belief systems, and not, say, Roman pagan belief systems, then yes we *are* privileging christian beliefs. I get that you may understand why your belief system isn’t science, but you’re still essentially taking the responding poster to task for not appropriately “respecting” your preferred myths. Why should he? Why should I?

          • Mike

            I wasn’t jumping on the evolution/creationism topic, I merely commented on his “garbage” comment.

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            Which leaves me with the *same* question: *why* should christian creation beliefs be privileged?

          • Mike

            Again, I was not commenting on any Christian privileges. If you tell me what privileges we receive, I would be glad to comment on them.

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            The assumption that your belief systems should be given unearned “respect,” here.

          • Mike

            I didn’t ask for anyone’s respect.

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            Ah, but you did: I shouldn’t call demonstrably false myths “garbage,” right? Why? Because you believe they’re true? You’re free to do that. If your faith is actually as sustaining as persons of faith tend to claim, why does it matter to you how I may characterize it?

          • Mike

            Demonstrable? Christianity takes faith. How can you disprove a faith.

            You’re right, you are free to insult others for what they believe, I’m just not sure what purpose it serves.

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            If you feel insulted because I correctly call your belief system wishful thinking, then you’re looking for reasons to feel persecuted; that’s a common rhetorical tactic with many christians, so it wouldn’t be at all surprising if that’s what you’re doing. You’re dodging into a corner with this latest: how can one “disprove” faith? You misunderstand how truth claims work. If you claim “Jesus Christ existed and died for your sins as the son of the One True God,” then the burden of actual proof for that claim lies with you. I don’t need to disprove the existence of the ether, or mana or the New Ager’s “White Light,” either, because *there isn’t any evidence for those things.*

          • Mike

            Wishful thinking is one thing. Garbage is another.

            My proof is the Bible, if you don’t believe it, that is your choice.

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            *eyeroll* that you have a book of scriptures that tells you what you want to hear, in places, and that you ignore anywhere it becomes inconvenient, isn’t proof of anything save for “I get to cherry pick from this book of scriptures as it suits me to do so.”

          • Mike

            You say that as if I wrote the book. Where have I even mentioned actual scripture?

            It was a good conversation until you started making up things that I’ve said. God Bless and have a good day.

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            The simple truth, Mike, is that you want to be told that your beliefs are special, because you believe in them. So does every other religious person on earth, but the thing that makes you *dangerous* is that you’re unwilling to accept the arrogance of your position.

          • RichardSRussell

            Creationism is garbage. I call a spade a spade. I feel sorry for the people who’ve fallen for it, but I have nothing but contempt for the concept itself. Creationism says “I don’t know the answer, so I’m gonna go with a fairy tale that some bloodthirsty narcissistic nomads came up with 3000 years ago and insist that everyone else has to believe it, too.” That makes it a masterful combination of ignorance and arrogance almost unparalleled in today’s society.

            And don’t even get me started on how atrocious faith is. It’s the planet’s all-time, gold-medal, blue-ribbon undisputed world champion WORST method of making decisions EVER!. Nobody ever uses faith for anything that truly matters, and certainly not for anything that can be tested or measured.

          • Mike

            I for one believe that the earth is much older than the 10,000 years or whatever, but I also believe that God created each species. It is my belief and hardly garbage.

            Evolution, uses similarities in some fossils to prove that all life started from one organism. That can not be scientifically proven, but it is your right to believe it.

          • RichardSRussell

            You’re right in one respect. Nothing whatsoever in science can be “proven”, because proof is a concept that only applies to abstract things like logic or math. All knowledge in science is held tentatively, subject to revision as better information comes along.

            With that disclaimer out of the way, no biologist on Earth subscribes to your garbagy explanation of how speciation works. Science may not be confident enuf to prove things, but it sure knows what sorts of ideas have been disproved. That’s why I continue to call it “garbage” — because it’s been thrown out so it doesn’t keep stinking up the place.

          • Mike

            If science can only be defined by what it disproves, than how has science proven something that can neither be proved or DISPROVED is “garbage”?

          • RichardSRussell

            Consider Aristotle’s theory of falling bodies. He held (without actually trying it) that a rock twice as heavy as another would fall twice as fast. Seemed reasonablym so nobody questioned it for 2000 years. Then Galileo tried it. Didn’t work. Garbage. Galileo’s explanation was much better, but still not quite right. Newton improved on it. Einstein improved on Newton. Is Einstein’s the final answer? Possibly, but we don’t know for sure. What we do know is that it’s the best one available to us at present.

            We also know that creationism is garbage, just like Aristotle’s guess as to how fast objects fall. Why? Because both of them fail to explain our observations of the way the real world really works.

          • Mike

            I’m sorry, but this analogy does not prove your point. Experiments and science disproved Aristotle’s theory. There is no test that can disprove a religion.

          • RichardSRussell

            Not for those sufficiently determined to believe it, no. But reflect on this lesson from history. Number of instances where science and religion have been in conflict and science has prevailed: countless. Number of instances where religion has prevailed: zero.

            What are the odds that you have hit upon the one and only exception to this universal pattern?

          • Mike

            Religion maybe, but I speak as a Christian, and nothing in the Bible has be disproved by science.

          • RichardSRussell

            Oh, Mike, you poor sap. You really are too far gone to be helped, aren’t you?

          • Mike

            I pray the same cannot be said for you. God Bless and have a great night.

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            I strongly suspect, at this point, that he understands fully well that his claims are silly (nothing in the Bible has been discredited by science, Mike? Which creation order in Genesis do you take literally?) but he’s not going to admit that in public.

        • Mark

          No need to call someone else’s belief “garbage”.
          That just makes it harder for you to convey your point.

    • Jay Leonard

      Santa Claus is also not real, for starters, and we should not be systematically lying to children about it. Similarly, we should not be lying to them about science. Science is, in the broadest possible sense, a methodology for learning about the physical universe. Science classrooms are for learning about the facts that the scientific method has allowed us to access. In no way, under any conditions, should religious belief (which is by definition not based on scientific methods) be allowed anywhere near a science classroom. From your post, though, you could use some time in one, learning about what science really is, and what it is not. Children should not be banned from questioning, but neither should they be offered falsities in response; creationism is verifiably false, based on, yup, you guessed it, scientific methods of acquiring knowledge.

      God, Jesus, Gotama, Krishna, Zeus, etc. have no place in the public sphere of a pluralistic democratic society. The United States of America is NOT a christian nation, it is a secular nation. God was not in the pledge originally, but was added by religious zealots in the early 20th century (about a hundred years ago). It does not belong on our money because our financial institutions are not christian, and we should not imply that they are. Religious beliefs and practices should have ZERO influence on the courts in a constitutionally secular society structured on egalitarian principles of law. (In contrast to Sharia law in some Islamic countries, for example. Or how the Vatican is run on Catholic legal structures.) We should not legislate from religious belief because that oppresses people who do not share that belief. We must separate church from state or we will have a system of oppression built into our government, which our founders clearly knew.

      Your sentiment about winning people over with love is nothing but a top-down pedagogy designed to convert non-christians to your particular sect. It is oppressive, and repressive, and dishonest.

      I am friends with many christians and that is likely the case with nearly every atheist in America. Your statement is irrelevant. We dislike christian beliefs, not christians in general.

      And please, Catholicism is a religion, by definition. In fact is it one of the older organized religions on ol’ Terra. Your sectarian disregard for Catholicism is indicative that you belong to a different sect of christianity… that derived from Catholicism… which derived from Judaism… hmm… very similar to being Sunni… which derived from root Islam… which derived from Judaism… or being zen buddhist… which derived from chan buddhism… which derived from…. oh, fuckit, you get the point… get over your sectarian divides and see the bigger picture, religions are religions regardless of which sect a person subscribes to as most relevant to him or her personally.

    • Kay

      There is no such thing as a “non-believer”. Someone having different beliefs than you does not equate to having none. It’s simply arrogant to assume anyone who disagrees with you has nothing.

    • serfdood

      So much fail in your post I will only address a couple of your rants.

      On your assertion that both creation and evolution be taught. One is a scientific theory, the other is a belief based upon bronze-age mythology. One should be taught in science class, the other, if taught at all, belongs in a cultural or religious studies class.

      On your question about God in the pledge of allegiance or on our money. You do realize that ‘under god’ was only added to the pledge in 1954, and ‘In god we trust’ was only made our country’s motto in 1956? They started adding it to our money in 1957.

    • msburrows

      I don’t think it’s unreasonable to only want science taught in public science classes. Parents are free to offer any beliefs or ideas they want to their children, but the government has no business peddling Christianity to children. That is the place of the parents. I don’t think any parent should really want that taken away from them. However, my children are aware that there are many non-scientific beliefs about our origin. They also know they can ask me any question, and I’ll answer them honestly. They are free to explore religions, and I even will/have been willing to facilitate them in that. They are exposed to Christianity everywhere; through their family, friends, even advertisement. One can hardly shelter a child from such things in this culture. And I have never attempted to. They know my beliefs, and they know that it is a deeply personal thing and I don’t tell them what they should believe. I also do not teach them that Santa is real. You seem to think you know what goes on in the homes of complete strangers. You are very confused. I just don’t want the government meddling with religion or vice-verse. Religion should remain a personal freedom, not be dictated in any way by the government.

    • frozen01

      What do you mean “both ways”? There are hundreds of creationist stories out there. Would you be okay with teaching children that the Hactcin made the earth as a woman and the sky as a man? Or that the universe started when a sleeping giant named Pan Gu awoke and stretched out, breaking the egg which contained him and the universe, causing “impure elements” to coagulate and form the earth? Or how about that black people exist because Earthmaker fell asleep at his kiln? Or that all the various races of man are due to the panoply of colors of clay at Spider Woman’s disposal?

      No one is “banning” anything. A student can take a comparative religion class (which I think should be offered in all schools) or attend church. But just like you would not teach someone musical theory in shop class, you wouldn’t teach religion in science class. The purpose of science class is to teach things that are verifiable via the Scientific Method. You would not teach that 1 + 1 = 72 in Math because a group of people convinced themselves this was the case and wanted you to “teach the controversy”, would you?

      If anyone can believe anything he or she wants, which is absolutely 100% true in this country, why WOULD we have only one god represented on our money or in our pledge of allegiance? You seem to be under the impression that there are only two choices: The Christian God, or none at all, and that’s simply not true. You say yourself that you don’t feel atheists have to believe in your God, so why are YOU forcing conformity by making everyone, whether they are Christian, atheist, Buddhist, Wiccan, Muslim, or whatever, pay homage to YOUR God on our money and in our pledge? Why is it not better to simply render onto Caesar what is Caesar’s and keep your personal beliefs where they belong: In your heart, your home, and your place of worship? I don’t ask you to sing the praises of my favorite band whenever pledging allegiance to our country, so why do you want me to bring up your favorite god whom I don’t believe in? Is spending a dollar bill that doesn’t have the word “God” on it offensive to you? Is pledging fealty to your nation without mention your deity an insult in your book? No? Well, being forced to spend money and say a pledge that promotes your God is offensive to me (and many, many others) because it goes against the Jeffersonian concept of separation of church and state, something that many consider to be highly important to the success of this nation.

      By the way, the dictionary disagrees with your definition of Catholicism.

    • Mark

      I agree with you on the point that Atheist do push their belief onto others, and they have indeed bluntly stated that they deny religion.
      I think many people with a belief tend to push their beliefs on others.
      And yes, Atheism does deny all religion, most claim that all religion should be abandoned.

  • Gray Area

    11. Atheists are making the biggest gamble with their lives. If they are wrong, then they cannot rectify their decisions, just because they didn’t have the tangible evidence that they were looking for.

    • skeptic15

      Are you trying to invoke Pascal’s wager? Seriously?

      • Gray Area

        It’s a weak argument, but it’s valid nonetheless. If someone has to walk away from several thousands years of religious traditions, then there should be an upside to do so.

        • RichardSRussell

          Not only is it not valid, there are so many things so very wrong with it that there are entire websites devoted to analyzing them all.

          • Gray Area

            Well, I guess that settles that

          • RichardSRussell

            If only!

            Once this meme got started, it’s been almost impossible to track it down in all the places it’s found its way to and set the record straight. “A lie goes ’round the world 7 times before the truth gets its boots on.”

            Aristotle did a thot experiment (didn’t want to dirty his hands with the actual physical kind) in which he concluded that a rock twice as heavy as another would fall twice as fast. And that seemed reasonable enuf without further investigation (and such was the brilliance of Aristotle’s intellect otherwise) that nobody thot twice about it or challenged it for nearly 2000 years!

            Then Galileo came along and mused “Wait a minute. Wouldn’t that imply that a rock 10 times as heavy would fall 10 times as fast? That doesn’t seem right.” So he tried it, and lo! The rocks fell at the same speed. That was in 1589. It’s been in science textbooks ever since. Yet even today, over 4 centuries later, you can still find people who think that Aristotle’s blunderous belief is accurate.

        • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

          It’s not “valid” just because it sounds like a good idea to you. The Wager hinges not on the existence of a god in the abstract but on the existence of the christian one, and the “reward” predicated on belief in that specific one. “If the christian god exists, it’s better to believe, because you’ll be rewarded in the afterlife.” It hinges on two completely useless assumptions: 1) All humans are essentially greed-driven, and 2) that greed motive can be usefully channeled into moral behavior.

        • frozen01

          It’s not a valid argument, because it assumes there are only two options. In reality, there are countless options, but you don’t see theists paying homage to every single god “just in case they’re wrong”. It’s really a cliche at this point, but despite that, it’s true: The only difference between atheists and any monotheist is that atheists believe in one less god. If atheists should start believing in Yahweh because to do otherwise is to make “the biggest gamble with their lives”, shouldn’t Christians (for example) then also start believing in, I don’t know, Hecate or Quetzalcoatl to avoid the same gamble?
          And if longevity is the reason you’re in this game, wouldn’t it make far more sense to be Zoroastrian?

    • Jim Mader

      Dear Mr Pascal,

      Which of the 3500+ gods should atheists latch on to?

    • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

      If Pascal’s Wager is your sole justification for ethical behavior, then congratulations: your moral code is precisely the same as a kindergartener’s.

    • Kay

      What if you’re wrong? What if all this time you were supposed to be honoring the AEsir? What if you are supposed to be living by the Delphic Maxims and not the 10 Commandments? You’re so busy being sure atheists are wrong, have you ever stopped to consider you chose the wrong deity?

    • honkidonk

      Gambling on fairytales?

      Wow you will regnet that statement when the noodles are upon you!

  • Sarah Liz

    I do believe in Jesus Christ. With my entire heart and soul and thank Him for what he has done for me and the blessing he bestows on me and mine. I read this entire excerpt and I am thoroughly confused how you can NOT care about what happens to you after you are gone. Have you ever wondered where your dead family members and friends went after they passed? What happens to you after the fact and aren’t you even a LITTLE scared you will go to Hell? I am just plain curious. I mean no harm. Just a good debate :)

    • BM

      Just as Jesus did, we die and are recycled in the form of atoms and molecules generated from our decomposition products. And a blast from Yellowstone’s volcano is overdue so now what will you do?

      • Sarah Liz

        That sounds far too scientific for me.

        • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

          The point is, the best available evidence we have that doesn’t rest on “just take my word for it” suggests that there’s no you after you die – no you to experience unending bliss, but no you to experience torment, either. It’s wishful thinking, writ large. It’s understandable to want to go on, forever. We are, as far as we know, the only creatures who can conceive of our own mortality and so it’s not really surprising that we’ve devised hundreds or thousands of stories we tell ourselves to get around that, but the point is that there’s no *evidence any of them are true* beyond the understandable human desire for wish-fulfilment.

          • Sarah Liz

            I could very well become dirt in the end. But *if* there is something bigger than that, I certainly don’t want to learn too late.

          • Sarah Liz

            Jesus’ blood is my afterlife insurance policy, if you will.

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            Right, but we’re right back to Pascal’s Wager, Sarah. Show me some verifiable evidence that any shred of me exists after I die, and I’ll reconsider the wager itself, but until then, there’s as much reason to believe it’s a good idea as there is the following:

            It is better to chase rainbows than not, because if you do, and you’re wrong, you gain nothing, but if you do, and you’re right, you gain a pot of gold.

            Can you see my point, here, that regardless of its internal consistency, its foundational assumptions are just wrongheaded? There’s no good reason – suppositions about pots of gold notwithstanding – to accept that magical irish elves ride around on rainbows and can be tricked into rewarding me.

            Can you see my deeper point that the hinge-point of Pascal’s Wager – it’s better to live according to christian principles because if your bet is right, your reward in heaven is infinitely more than my bet that when we both die, there’s nothing – is *deeply* selfish, and a profoundly stupid reason to make a moral claim?

          • Sarah Liz

            I was not familiar with Pascal’s Wager, so I looked it up. It seems very accurate to say the least, although I didn’t read it in full, and my only source of information came from Wikipedia. (Not sure how right-on or credible this is, but none the less, this is where I look up everything I want a basic run-down for.) The only thing I find flawed in what I did read is this: is there or isn’t there? LOL As basic is that is, and it truly does make up the the essential component to this argument, but I am not questioning is there or isn’t there for the most part. (Will go into detail in a minute about this.) See, my beliefs are deep. VERY deep. I don’t wonder if God exists, so according to Pascal, my bet is ‘on,’ because I don’t doubt. My heart truly believes it. Now how or where I came to this conclusion, I haven’t a clue. I believe God chose me. As Christians, we do believe in a super-natural idea that things do happen for a reason and a reason we may never ever understand or figure out. Isn’t that how life is? Even non-believers can’t explain everything they encounter or why things happen to them or how life just plain doesn’t make sense or work out the way they want. OK- to my point on my “for the most part” comment. I believe as a believer there is two sides to this : the good and the bad. Extremely blunt, but here it goes: Jesus’ “job” (if you will) is to save people. Satan’s “job” is to destroy people. NOW, take this one for thought: Jesus does NOT save people here on earth in their earth form, For example, a woman is raped, a child is abducted, a husband cheats on his wife…..I truly believe that God Himself washes his hands of the filth that goes on here. So when anyone were to say “God allowed this to happen or God did this” is a very vague statement. Non-believers often jump to blame God, yet Christian believers fight the demons in their head to say that there was no protection from such in this evil world and you can’t blame a God who’s let the Devil run rampid. (Another point…..jeesh!) Likewise, Satan doesn’t destroy people physically by burning them at stake at their mundane job at the office or at home with the family at dinner, but pounces their insecurities and doubts. For example: You think you are feeling out of sorts today? It’s ok – call into work and lie about why you can’t come. They’ll never know. -Or- An attractive woman wants to have a drink with you at the bar. Your wife is at home, and you are at the bar just for “mind-clearing” because things aren’t just as you want in many regards and you merely need a time-out. You and the woman hit it off more drinks come, and eventually you are doing things with her that no married should be doing with another woman. (Extreme things) But you go home to your wife without saying a word. The devil gives you the idea that you need that. The devil is REAL! He will get you in everyday life. Maybe not to the extreme as the latter example, but if your heart isn’t secure to battle what you shouldn’t do (Jesus safety) then the devil ALL ready has you. He doesn’t have to do anything at all because ultimately, between the two parties, he all ready has you. OK, long-winded, kids are in bed, beer in hand. :) Good debate! Please don’t take offense. I genuinely enjoy your conversation

          • Sarah Liz

            I just realized I didn’t explain my for the most part piece as well as I had wanted. Ultimately, my doubts are from the devil. If I doubt Jesus or what he can do for me, that’s because Satan found a crack in my faith and he is coming in to confuse me. My “crack” might be anything and everything that allows for a bad day…..kids getting to me, me being tired, being broke, etc. All these things can make for a cranky person, and one who is simply “not themselves.” And THAT is when he will devour us.

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            Why is doubt from Satan? Why is god so arrogant that the parts of his bible that *clearly make no sense* cannot be held to account for that fact?

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            Your defense of the Wager is of a piece with others I’ve heard: the problem, though, is that it puts the cart before horse. *If* you assume heaven exists, and *if* you assume the christian proposition is the way to get there, then, yes, the Wager makes sense with those as givens. But that *only* works if you *already* assume those things. Folks citing the wager often think it’s a slam-dunk rhetorical proof that christian morality ought to trump, but it’s not a well-founded argument for belief; it’s an after-the-fact justification for it, and as a moral guide, it’s selfish, and childish. You really think that the sole argument for goodness is that God will reward you in heaven? There’s really no other reason for goodness than your own reward? This is the essence – and the essential flaw – of the wager.

            Some of the rest of your reply strikes me as odd – not surprising, because you’re copping to some of the things I’ve heard before (the question of evil gets shunted off to satan, which is a cop-out), but it doesn’t really address the capriciousness of god, in any meaningful way. God chooses to wash his hands of a woman who’s raped? Really? Why should I consider that god worthy of *anything*, let alone even a passing respect?

          • Sarah Liz

            You have gone into depth in a lot of things. I will take a few points at a time and wish you to elaborate on how you feel:

            Good works will not get you into Heaven.

            God doesn’t wash his hands of the women who was raped, but to the man who did this to her.

            If evil doesn’t stem from a super-natural form (Satan) then where does it come from? Not all evil comes from mental illness (psychologically or mentally defunct people)

            Can you describe anything or anyone else in the world a cop-out?

            I am off to my dad’s for supper in a few. Will be back later on tonight :)

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            “Good works will not get you into Heaven.”

            a. Heaven doesn’t exist. It’s wishful thinking for folks who don’t want to face mortality. b. If you’re hung up on being the specially-chosen people of god, you can only ever define your specialness in opposition: you need heathens, your god will condemn, regardless of any other measure of their goodness, in order to assert your own specialness. This is an idiotic hangover from a period of iron-age stupidity christians would do well to chuck in the bin, because it reflects really poorly on the lot of you, but I’m not holding my breath.

            “God doesn’t wash his hands of the women who was raped, but to the man who did this to her.”

            You are trying like hell to convince me that god loves me (no he doesn’t. He doesn’t exist, and if he did, arguments like this only demonstrate how little thinking some of his followers content themselves with), and then you chuck in more necessary condemnation. If I thought gods existed, at all, this would just be further proof that christians are generally exclusivist, with massive sexual hangups.

            You’re not really concerned with getting to the root of why cultures produce people (usually men) who feel empowered to subjugate others (usually women) because your *entire* culture is based on the notion of an all-powerful *male deity who subjugates.*

            I’m vastly more concerned with changing the culture that permits some people to think that sexual violence is their birthright than I am with worrying about whether or not god’s hands have gotten a washing lately.

            “If evil doesn’t stem from a super-natural form (Satan) then where does it come from?”

            People, the same as everything else in human cultures.

            “Not all evil comes from mental illness (psychologically or mentally defunct people)”

            I never claimed that it did. You’re headed toward a strawman claim that I reject the idea of evil, here, and that I think that “bad people” are just “misunderstood.” Nope. Some humans are just bad people, and when they cross some lines, when they break some social contracts, it’s just for a society to remove them *from society* – not because they may be reformed (they may be, but they may not, as well), but because it’s in the interest of the *rest of society to do so.*

            “Can you describe anything or anyone else in the world a cop-out?”

            This *is* a strawman. I didn’t describe you, or anyone else, as a cop-out. I said some of what you’re *doing* is a cop-out. That’s not the same thing. Shunting the problem of evil off on the other half of your mythic deity construct (satan) is a way for you to wash your hands of the consequences of your own actions. If you do something nice for me, that’s not because god made you of a nature to do that (because, according to you, he made you to fail, remember?) but when you do something *bad*, that’s ultimately not you *either* – it’s satan capitalizing on your own, god-created weakness.

            The whole framework is toxic.

            If you do something nice for me, thank you. If you do something shitty, make amends. Don’t waste your time and mine shoehorning any of it into your myths.

          • Sarah Liz

            Fair enough. You seem cross (I hope not with me, but just the ideas presented) I would still like to continue to talk, but need to know you are still interested. The last thing I want to do is create an enemy. Thanks, Ward.

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            You’re completely misreading my tone, Sarah, I’m not at all upset. I should have added a qualifier at the start, or something, maybe, to make that more clear. In that vein, lemme try for one now: I think your belief system isn’t benign woo. I think large parts of it are actively dangerous. That doesn’t mean I think *you* are actively dangerous. It does mean I think you’re misguided, but eh, lots of religious people think I’m misguided, so that’s a wash. I’m just trying to address the followup points you’re raising as honestly as I can.

          • Sarah Liz

            Again, fair enough. Do you think any part of atheism is dangerous?

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            Oh, of course it could easily be. Humans are capable of stunning cruelty to each other; Maoist purges aren’t allowable just because Mao and I both think religion is a bad idea. Again, I try to approach this as reasonably as I can – some ideas humans have come up with are hogwash. Some of them are benign; some of them are good. Some aren’t. We can separate one from other with careful reasoning and reasonable people can come up with ways of coexisting, because in the end that’s *all* we’ve got…competing sets of human ideas, religious ones included.

          • Sarah Liz

            I like the way you put that. Very clear and concise and easy for me to understand. You are very well-read and very insightful. Did you study this at college or is this all based on your own findings? You certainly know what you are talking about. No cracker-jack business as some of the others have portrayed earlier in this conversation.

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            Well, as a couple of other people have said, elsewhere in the thread, the only thing in common atheism gives any random collection of atheists is a shared refusal to accept the existence of supernatural beings in the absence of evidence. It doesn’t even rule out other sorts of woo, as the others have pointed out. There’s a tradition in the modern US that atheism and rationalism tend to be tightly interrelated, but they’re not always, and you can’t automatically assume they are, just because someone claims an atheist label.

            I *hope* my conclusions are reasonable, because reason is the best way (I think) humans have yet come up with for arriving at the truth, but that’s ultimately – really, ultimately – just a claim that I think reason is a pretty good idea. Other folks will differ.

            To more directly get to your question, like many american atheists/rationalists, I read, obsessively, about everything. Hehe.

      • honkidonk

        Jesus is s fairytale figure.. Never existed

    • RichardSRussell

      Have you ever wondered where your dead family members and friends went after they passed?

      No, I stuck around long enuf to watch the first coupla shovelfuls of dirt go in. You could probably do the same.

      It’ll be a little harder in my case, since, to quote my favorite Hebrew philosopher*, “I’m going to go where my dear old Jewish mother always wanted me to go — to medical school!”

      ––––––
      *one Herb Silverman

      • Sarah Liz

        I know physically where people go -into the ground, yes. But I do want to bring up a point – Point number 4. Believing in Christ means that you want to be Christ-like. Therefore you WANT to be a trustworthy person, you WANT to be mindful and loving towards others, just as the Bible calls us to do. (Reference Bible verse We are not like this out of fear. Is that what Atheists think of Christians, that we do right out of fear? And if if that is the only reason that we do “good” or are “trustworthy” then what’s your reason if there is ultimate no consequence to who you are on earth?

        • Sarah Liz

          Sorry was adding Bible reference but posted it without : Luke 6:40, Ephesians 5:1-2, 1 Corinthains 10:31. I will gladly elaborate on these verses (if anyone wants) and if you don’t have a Bible on hand or the will or want to look them up online. :)

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            …and here, we get to the meat of the matter. You’re here to witness. Sigh.

          • Sarah Liz

            Absolutely not. I won’t be shaken in my faith. As I can imagine you don’t want to be shaken in yours either. I am here to learn. NOT TO WITNESS. Promise.

          • Sarah Liz

            I had posted not expecting anyone to give a crap what the references mean, but to back up with *where* I get the things I am saying.

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            Liz, that you have scripturally founded reasons for believing the things you do is not actually in question, among large numbers of atheists. Resorting to scripture, though, in these sorts of discussions, is a common tactic: it tends to be a way of shutting out debate. If that’s not you, I apologize, but can you see *why* folks may react negatively once the scriptural references start coming? I could just as easily cite parts of the Dhammapada or a Hindu Mahabarata – but if you’re a christian, neither of those texts are authoritative as sources of *truth*, right?

          • Sarah Liz

            Sarah is my name :) Sarah Liz in full :) Not sure who the 2 people you mentioned are. :) Surely, I understand where you are coming from. As this conversation continues though, imagine us in a college course together (and any others who participate in this debate). You are you, I am me, and we bring to the table what we know, what we feel. That is all. Again, I am not here for any other reason. I would imagine a Christian / Jew / Catholic– any one of us would come off being disregarded if we started the converstation “You should ALL believe in SOMETHING. Let me show what you need to know.” I am much more interested in the deeper levels of atheism. What brought you to where you are today. The main reasons you have chosen what you believe (or don’t believe), had you ever had other beliefs, etc.

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            I apologize (really stupid mistake, sorry about that). If you don’t mind me using your name, Sarah it is, then. The thing is this: I started out completely unable to reconcile the notion of a “loving god” and a hell of any sort. That god is a being we’re supposed to understand as a parent, right? He’s your Heavenly Father, right? Christ is your model for appropriate behavior, right?

            The whole thing is a rigged game, Sarah. No parent who makes any of the demands the christian god does – old testament or new – is a *fit parent.* He’s a sociopath.

            The standard of Christ is impossible, because he’s *divine.* You won’t ever *be* truly Christlike, right? The best you can hope for is that your professed belief that christ died for you will be sufficient for God’s grace, right?

            That makes this notion of god a truly capricious asshole. Even without a scientifically-minded view of the world, that rests on the necessity for some kind of evidence, prior to belief (I believe that if I throw a rock off the roof of my house, gravity will pull it down to the ground, but I can *test that belief myself, if I need to*), even without that scientifically informed worldview, this notion of god is *still* insane (at the very least, insane to me).

          • Sarah Liz

            Even in my faith, we as Christians do cross the very points you have said. I have never thought of my Savior as a sociopath, but ultimately, I very well see how one could, Are his standards hard to live by? Yes. Too hard at times. And that is when the devil pounces us. We drink, we smoke, we retaliate against one another, we take loved ones and turn them into hated ones, the list is as long as forever is, I struggle with this too – not because I find Him a crazy (insane notion as you put it) but because I am human and we all fall short. But that is where grace comes in. God KNOWS we can’t be like Him. He created us! (Another point not addressed yet, but one I would love your take on as well.) He created us to falter. That is why we have been saved by the shed of the blood (I know, please bear with me here.) Do I walk that fine line? Yes I do. I know I am not good enough to be Christ-like but I always believe that my heart has been redeemed into WANTING that ticket to Heaven and shining to others as testiment of life. Why? Because I honestly believe Jesus lives in my heart.

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            I don’t question that your belief is honest – I trust you when you tell me you believe, and that it’s not just some game you’re playing; I trust you when you tell me you think your reasons for believing make sense, but the thing is: they don’t make any *rational* sense. They don’t hold up to scrutiny if you want things like testable claims and evidence. As I said, many people live in a world where those things aren’t especially important, and if that was all there was to the matter, it would be enough to let them believe in things I don’t – it would be of a piece with folks who live their lives by whatever their astrologer or tarot reader said that day. It’s entirely possible that those folks are being manipulated unscrupulously, but for the overwhelmingly most part, belief in that kind of woo is generally harmless. There are glaring exceptions, of course, but generally harmless.

            But whole cultures have been subjugated over refusal to accept one or another points of christian dogma; it’s not the same thing. In this specific case, christian belief, and the cultural and political supremacy it holds, is actively dangerous.

            He created us to falter? Sarah, I think you’re headed toward the usual christian apologetics around “free will,” there, but that idea *is insane.* That may offend you, but I have no better way to put it. It’s insane. God made me to fail, so that I could accept the sacrifice of his son, whose sacrifice is necessary because … god made me to fail. That god *does not deserve worship.* He’s insane.

            There are plenty of rational reasons to doubt the existence of gods in general, but all that’s needed to doubt the existence of the christian one is simple decency.

          • Sarah Liz

            I don’t know why it is like it is either. All I know is that I have been called to follow. I take no offense to anything you say at all. I APPRECIATE you taking the time to talk with me! I don’t consider myself a mundane Christian, as I was once a very lost person who knew of God and the antics behind all that – but ultimately didn’t care. I used to go to church, find the other “bad” kids to kick it with and sneak out the back door to smoke LOL Once upon a time, this was useless to me as well. I think God opened my eyes somehow. I can’t explain it. I am not supposed to know I am sure because that is the beauty of the unknown. I believe the unknown because I have felt it :)

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            Oh, I have plenty of ideas about why christianity has evolved the way it has, but they – predictably – don’t rest on “Well, god’s just mysterious” because I think that’s a cop-out. Christianity is an accretion of centuries of other stuff (which isn’t to say that that makes it wrong simply by dint of that – everything is built on prior stuff, including, and especially science) some of which is decent, some of which is downright lunacy and much of which falls somewhere in the middle. Christians, these days, have the unfortunate necessity of reconciling a set of iron age myths with the modern era, and it’s not something that most folks tend to think much about because they’re not actually reconcilable. The god of the bible can be literally anything you want him to be – provided you cherry pick your scriptures sufficiently. If god can be twisted into *anything* that’s not going to bode well for any objective argument in favor of belief, because whatever flavor of (christian) god one chooses to accept depends entirely on which scriptures are ignored at any given time. It’s purely serving an *emotional need in the adherents*.

            That’s understandable, to be sure: humans have been inventing religions for a long time, and they’ll stick with ‘em for an awful lot longer than I can expect to be here, from all available evidence. But that doesn’t mean they’re not open to serious scrutiny, just because it’s a popular human thing to do. :)

          • Sarah Liz

            It seems these days that Jesus is not the popular thing to do. Many people claim to love God / thank God, but don’t live by Him at all. So saying thank you is enough credibilty to GOD? I dunno, it just doesn’t seem like that is right- that people aren’t right- in what they think and believe God really is. I liked your cherry-picking comment. That’s SO true, for me as well. We do have a tendency to disregard what we don’t want to hear, don’t we? Religion or not. Nobody wants to hear someone tell them they are ugly or the car they just bought looks stupid or why would you date him/her? People turn the other cheek when they are offended or something doesn’t suit them. If you are insulted, you learn to walk away or detach. It is quite simple. Bible verses are no different…..at all.

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            Oh, come *on* Sarah: demographic surveys have been stable and consistent for decades. Roughly 75% of the US identifies as christian, of one sort or another. Are you calling no true scotsman on the vast majority of them? On what basis? You want to be in the minority, for bragging rights? If so, well… you may want it, but the facts don’t support that claim, if that’s where you’re at.

          • Sarah Liz

            No, what I meant by that is people claim God in their life while they don’t practice the virtues that they should. I believe God works wonders and people change based on His works in their life. It is as simple to me as saying to a family member you don’t quite care for “Love you.” at the end of a phone conversation. You don’t love them. You don’t even really like them. But when they say they love you before they hang up how awkward is it if you just hang up or respond with “See ya.?” The only bragging right I have is that I REALLY want Christ in my life and therefore I really try, day to day, to do the best I can to walk His way. I slip – because I am human, and ultimately make stupid choices at times. But I want to be a shining light and testiment for people around me. Just like Jesus is for those who believe. Most people do NOT go out of their way to do things a Christian way, even though they claim they are such. That’s all.

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            But that’s *not* all. You’re saying that’s “all” when it’s convenient, and you’re saying that your nature to slip up and falter is part of god’s design, when it suits your argument. It’s not *surprising*, Sarah – pretzel reasoning is fairly common among the religious – but again, that doesn’t mean we throw up our hands and say, “oh well, it’s all a mystery!”

            It’s not a mystery. You’re arguing out of both sides of the implications of your belief system and ignoring it when it gets inconvenient.

          • Sarah Liz

            I don’t want to ignore any point you need me to express. Please tell me if I have blown one over. And when I say “that’s all.” I am indicating that I have no further thing to express or I don’t dig too deep with the matter, but have basic reasoning for what has been said.

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            Your apologetics for sin are incongruent, I’ll start there. On the one hand, you seem to want folks to see it as little more than human nature – we all slip up, right? But on the other, you’re adamant that god can’t just let *everyone* into heaven, human nature be damned. The irrationality is that god created that human nature *in the first place*, which you yourself believe – and have said, several times.

          • Sarah Liz

            Anyone CAN go to Heaven. All that ultimately needs to be done is the recognition of the shed of the blood and claim that Jesus is Lord and there are no Gods bigger than Him. With that life changes happen. HUGE changes. Nothing happens over night, but your heart will receive a peace you have never felt before and you will experience a gift that will allow you to see things the way you have never seen them before.

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            Pardon me, Sarah, but that’s no different than saying anyone can be a liberal (full disclosure: I am) – they just have to subscribe to the tenets of liberalism. You’re simply saying “Sure, you can be a christian too!” I think you know perfectly well that’s a cop-out with respect to what I’ve been saying. Again: of *course* your faith rejects the notion that works *can be a measure of good*, because your faith is founded on an excluding, tribalist mentality, and no amount of “but everybody’s free to convert, at any time” changes that.

          • Sarah Liz

            It’s a choice. And one you are completely against I see. (But that is why I am here. To LEARN from others, as I have said a time or two before.) Not everyone can be a liberal. Not everyone can be a boss. Not everyone can be a vegetarian. Choices…..everywhere. I certainly don’t like to say or think anyone is going to hell (other than my enemies!! LOL J/K. Bad joke.) but what has been taught to me in that regard tells me otherwise. I am not here to ‘save the day’ because from what I have gatherered over the last few days anyway, I am the laughing stalk of the neighborhood anyway, and have been told many things that purely make me in a way – crazy to non-believers. So be it. I have been called worse…..much worse, and by own parents at that! Such is life. I have chosen my God because there is something that He has given me that sees far past what any human has given me. I never felt it or saw it before I really started to apply Him to my life. I am not perfect. You can see that I am sure, as we have only been chatting what, 2 or 3 days now? I am flawed. I am screwed even, if you will. But I NEED that structure in my life. I need His promise – otherwise, what the hell am I here for. We are born to turn to dirt in the end? Something deep in my soul tells me that is just not true. That Superior that “doesn’t exist” is my safety net to fall back on, and I will not be turned into believing it was merely my life that turned its direction on me, but something MUCH greater than that. Life has tossed fireballs at me that I just couldn’t handle. And prayer pulled me through. Dang near miracles have happened to me. I choose to believe that it is from the hand of my Protector. Because He came to my aid when I called on Him.

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            “Not everyone can be a liberal.”

            Not everyone is *going* to be, but the point is, if I held a belief system that said, “non-liberals are going to be tormented for eternity,” why should anyone *want* to be liberal, regardless of whatever positive values I think that liberalism has, regardless of whatever I think is good about it? Wouldn’t that *massively* overshadow *any* good that I argue liberalism does? Just saying, “well, you can always just give up being a conservative (or a liberterian, etc etc) and become a liberal too” isn’t a solution – it’s just a cop-out, because I’m unwilling to think of anything beyond liberalism uber alles.

            “certainly don’t like to say or think anyone is going to hell”

            You may not like it, but it is an inescapable fact of your belief system, all the same.

            “…have been told many things that purely make me in a way – crazy to non-believers.”

            I don’t think you’re crazy. I think you want some certainty where you’re never going to get it and you’re clinging to something that gives you an illusion of that sense of certainty. It just happens that what you’re choosing to cling to is a particularly bad set of ideas.

            “…there is something that He has given me that sees far past what any human has given me.”

            That’s an understandable *feeling* but it’s not an especially reliable one. All arguments *for* belief can eventually rest on this, religious or otherwise. All religious arguments for belief eventually *do* rest on exactly this. The problem is that “feels good to Sarah Liz” doesn’t excuse the parts of it that are toxic.

            “I am flawed.”

            By the standards of nearly any religion (with the possible exception of tiny, fringe neopagan ones), so am I. So is everyone. Even my own preferred humanism doesn’t claim humans never make mistakes, or come up with some *bad* ideas. You’re human. I think it’s healthier to accept your humanity, because you’ll never be anything else, but that’s me.

            “But I NEED that structure in my life.”

            I don’t think anyone here is challenging you on what you think you need – I’m certainly not. What we don’t understand is the huge appeal a belief system that’s at its core founded on so much suffering, which is fundamentally guaranteeing that suffering to most of the world, whose deity by *any* reasonable standard is psychotic, holds for what seems like an otherwise generally reasonable, generally nice person. I’m not even suggesting that you ought to give up being a christian – I am saying “in for a penny, in for a pound” is a profoundly – I mean *profoundly* – dumb idea. You really want to organize your world around a set of particularly bloodthirsty myths dreamed up by a set of iron-age men? Why? Not *everything* in the bible is a good idea. It’s just not.

          • Sarah Liz

            I appreciate your explanations. I will not be shaken by my “myth” though. I don’t need tangible proof. My toxic faith and my belief in “dumb” ideas will ultimately save me one day. I just can’t be told otherwise. In the Bible, it says “I once was blind, but now I see.” You can’t see what you can’t understand. Mythical and false and insane to you. As real as water and air to me. If you could just see an inch into what I see you would not think this is bullshit, but you may just be a Believer too. I am not here to witness. Please please don’t think that towards the middle / end of our discussion that I am. I have learned one thing (among many many things) buy joining this forum – those who haven’t endured the supernatural feeling of the Holy Spirit are indeed the ones who are the first to dismiss it.

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            I’m quite sure your witnessing here makes you feel good.

          • Sarah Liz

            I don’t consider this witnessing. You won’t take an ounce of what I say as truth anyway, and there is no transforming your mind, and that is fine by me. Witnesses don’t give up on attempting to save others by the Word. I never meant to attempt to change your mind. I only wanted to learn from the disagreements and differences from one side to the other. I very clearly learned what I needed. I thank you for that.

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            Oh, of course you’re not going to be honest about it, but that doesn’t really change anything. You’re here to witness, as I thought originally, or you’d not be here, publicly congratulating yourself for having felt the holy spirit and telling us all about it.

          • Sarah Liz

            I don’t think I understand your point here. Maybe because you entirely missed mine. It’s ok though, I have gained what I needed from this discussion, and again, I thank you for your time. :)

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            I don’t think that’s honest, kiddo, but again, I’ve had plenty of experience with this kind of thing, from you folks. None of your tactics – from feigned interest to pretending you’re “here to learn” is remotely original.

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            Are you assuming I have any interest in shaking your faith?

          • Sarah Liz

            None at all. I just want to make sure we both understand (mainly me to you) that it is clearly not my intent :)

        • RichardSRussell

          Is that what Atheists think of Christians, that we do right out of fear?

          I can’t speak for all atheists (nobody can), only myself.

          No. I think that Christians (and almost everybody else as well) do right because human beings are immensely social creatures, and a million years of evolution has pre-disposed us to get along with our fellow human beings. We want to cooperate with them and earn their good opinion and good will. That’s why almost everybody you meet is basically nice, regardless of their religious beliefs or lack thereof, and why we are so horrified when some sociopath like Adam Lanza comes along who obviously lacks that proclivity.

          The only reason we trot out the meme you cite is out of exasperation at being continually asked “What’s stopping you from stealing, burning, raping, and killing as much as you want?” To paraphrase Penn Jillette, “Nothing whatsoever. I’m already stealing, burning, raping, and killing exactly as much as I want.”

          What baffles us atheists is why some Christians apparently think everyone needs to have some kind of supernatural woo-woo belief to keep us behaving like civilized human beings, as if that’s the only thing restraining them from a life of crime and destruction. Asking the question is intended to get them to examine their own motivations for moral behavior. Is it truly only because of a fear of Hell? If so, then I’m really glad they do believe in Hell, but I find it hard to imagine that this would account for more than a teeny, tiny percentage of Christians.

          • Sarah Liz

            I do not ever doubt or deny the fact that PEOPLE can be good people without any sense of religion or faith. I have seen it. People who would protect one another in any time of need or degree of suffering for those they love – or for those who merely need them at the moment. (ie A person walking down the street sees someone drop their wallet, so that person grabs it quickly, stops the other person and hands it to them.) That’s an act of kindness. And in such situations we should ALL do such things for others. I DO believe everyone needs a a belief in faith of some kind. That helps in give one comfort and mental / emotional guidance far beyond the things money can buy. Am I afraid to go to Hell? You bet. It’s eternal torture. But it’s not the only reason I have chosen Christ to be in my life. In fact, it isn’t the most significant part of it. I believe that Jesus died for me. Because I was born in sin and belong to a world that doesn’t encourage ‘good’ behavior. Let me clarify one thing – I am far from perfect. I have a dirty past. I used to have a problem with lying. I currently smoke and drink. I live with a man who is not my husband. Does God strike bargains with sinners? No, he does not, therefore I still commit against God daily. But my life is changing.and I have come so far all ready and I honestly beleive that my God has altered me – and is STILL working on me – if nothing else to be a symbol to others that He will meet you where are and start those changes when you accept Him as Him.

          • RichardSRussell

            Sounds as if you already have enuf challenges in your life as it is without adding to them the burden of having to please some imaginary critter with impossibly high standards that you’ll never be tested on. At least do yourself the favor of chucking that fear of Hell. Ain’t never gonna happen. No such place. Enjoy the life you have here as if it’s the only one you’re ever gonna have, because it is.

          • Sarah Liz

            All other comments aside, I have one question for you : How do you know there is no Hell?

          • RichardSRussell

            Backwards question. The default assumption about anything is that it doesn’t exist unless there’s reason to believe it does. So really, what you should be asking yourself is “How do you know it does?” And, once you do that, I think you’ll find that there’s no particularly good reason to believe it actually exists, because all you have as the basis for believing it is the word of some people with a track record of being notoriously wrong but still willing to take your money in exchange for passing along those wrong ideas.

          • Sarah Liz

            Very interesting. I don’t know that there is a Hell either. But I will be absolutely sure I don’t fall victim of it just in case it is there. So I choose to believe :)

          • RichardSRussell

            Of all the things you could possibly choose to believe in, why pick such an awful one? Why not choose to believe that, I dunno, there’s a room somewhere in America where twice a day somebody delivers a kidnapped baby to be raped to death by rabid baboons? That would be ever so much nicer a thing to believe in.

          • Sarah Liz

            I am not sure I follow you. To me it is not awful. And I completely disagree with your vulgar and disgusting comment, but I am absolutely sure that was your intent. I mean no offense to you- I am here to LEARN from another side that I just plain don’t understand. But please do not offend my beliefs either. Thank you :)

          • RichardSRussell

            You think my comment was “vulgar and disgusting” but to you the concept of billions and billions of people roasting in screaming agony for all eternity “is not awful”? You are some piece of work, lady. You’re welcome.

          • Sarah Liz

            So I am guessing the conversation is over?

          • Sarah Liz

            And I re-read your comment, it appears you misunderstood me, or maybe I misunderstood you. I believe in JESUS. That is not awful to ME but it definitely appears awful to others in here. I took your comment as you were calling Jesus awful. I am sorry if I didn’t get what you meant.

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            He’s saying that Hell, for any of various definitions of hell, is an awful thing to choose to believe, if I understand his point correctly.

          • Sarah Liz

            Well with spirituality comes the whole package. Heaven isn’t a ‘free’ ride for everyone. As with EVERYTHING in life. You can’t earn your paycheck without paying your taxes. (Sad but true). You can’t buy a car expecting it will last forever. (Even if the stupid thing does cost $80,000). You take a vow of a lifetime to your spouse, but you and he or she both run the risk of being unfaithful. There is an ugly side to everything. EVERYTHING.

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            Apples-and-oranges. I can look at the rational explanations for why my refusal to work will result in my not being paid; but you’re comparing that to the consequences of *nonbelief in a supernatural being* for which there is *no testable evidence.* I can test the consequences of “no work = no paycheck.” I have to take your word for it that nonbelief in the necessity of christ-as-savior will land me in hell. (The more harmful, broader social implications of the toxic nature of this belief I get to up above in your comment on god making us imperfect by design, but that is as good an argument as any I could make for the notion that this god deserves no worship).

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            Pascal’s wager; the problem is that this sounds *really* good to christians, but then, you’re already assuming you’re very likely to be rewarded, so naturally enough, you conclude that you’re making the safest possible bet.

          • Sarah Liz

            Don’t you think that living in Heaven in the safest place you could ever imagine isn’t a good reward for anyone who lives on the earth? It’s a beautiful place here, yes. We are at free will, yes. But with that comes sickness, violence, emotional problems, sadness, stress, we all know where I am taking this. Wouldn’t you like to see another side? (Hi Ward, I am in for a good debate only. I found this thread on my Facebook, as I have a great friend who is a firm atheist. I couldn’t help but be drawn in. I love to learn from others. What better way to learn another side than to talk with the people?)

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            Here’s the problem with Pascal’s Wager: it’s founded on no evidence whatsoever. If you live in a world in which evidence is rather more necessary than not (many people don’t, but I do), the Wager – regardless of how internally consistent its logic – doesn’t make any sense, because there’s simply no good *reason* to accept the premises on which it is founded in the first place. I could just as logically – as a matter of internally consistent logic, rationality be damned – say that it would be better for you to chase after rainbows because, well, you never know – there might actually BE a leprechaun, with a pot of gold, at the end, and if you *do* find one, your reward will be greater than mine, if I never chase them.

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            How do I know there aren’t any unicorns or leprechauns? How do I know there aren’t gnomes waiting to steal my firstborn? The whole point of hell isn’t to posit something which can be demonstrated with evidence; it’s the stick-end of a carrot-and-stick proposed by christianity.

          • Sarah Liz

            I don’t know if there is leprechauns or unicorns, I assume no, but I clearly see your point. But nowhere have I ever heard that unicorns died on a cross to save me and you alike.

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            But the point is this: at some point in time, large numbers of people *did* believe unicorns existed; for some given period in Western Europe, it was taken as a given that they existed and had specific magical properties. There was every bit as much *evidence for that belief* as there’s present evidence for either a) the existence of heaven, or hell, or anything else after death, or b) the salvific power of christ’s death. That you never heard about the magical properties of unicorns doesn’t mean large numbers of people *once believed it to be true,* unquestioningly.

          • Sarah Liz

            Were you raised in church?

          • Sarah Liz

            (Just a question)

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            Yes.

          • Sarah Liz

            Ok, now this sparks interest to me in a great way. Do you care to share your experience?

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            About church? I’m afraid it will likely bore you: no huge “God is dead” epiphanies, I fear. I wasn’t converted to atheism ;) I simply found the contradictions required to believe were too much to sustain, and I stopped worrying about belief.

          • Sarah Liz

            You cannot bore me. :) Unless it is just so boring for you to even write it :)

          • tatoo

            I wasn’t born in sin. So, I didn’t need anyone to save me.

          • Sarah Liz

            Committing a sin (or in street / everyday language, that would be a lie, stealing, etc.) That is what born into sin means. We all are born into it. We all do it. No one has the ability not to.

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            But it’s not that simple, is it? Sin is that which separates me from god – unless I accept christ as my savior, it separates me *permanently*, right? It’s much more insidious than a simple reframing of human nature. It’s a toxic idea, Sarah. That’s why folks don’t simply buy this explanation.

          • Sarah Liz

            Yes, we are separated from God because of sin. That is the idea though, isn’t it? We are all doomed here to live in a place where NOTHING is guaranteed. No one can ever guarantee your safety, your health, your finances, nothing. We will all make bad choices that often times will lead to problems in the things I just stated.

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            …and here’s where the fundamental differences in our worldviews start to show up, I think. I’m not “doomed” to exist. I simply exist. But I approach this from a profoundly more humanist perspective than christians generally do, and I don’t think this is a vale of tears, best escaped. The world is just the world, and is, in some sense, whatever we make of it. Some human things are pretty good: I’d rather live in a world with antibiotics than not. Some human inventions are pretty horrible: I’d rather humans hadn’t come up with racism, or homophobia, or 10,000 forms of sexism, or a whole host of other stupid things, but the world I’ve inherited is just the world I’ve inherited. My job, while I’m here, is to try and leave things a little better than I found them, I think, to try and leave the generation that will follow me with a planet that values the things I do, in some small way.

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            “What baffles us atheists is why some Christians apparently think everyone needs to have some kind of supernatural woo-woo belief to keep us behaving like civilized human beings…”

            Maybe those christians really do need the stick end of the carrot-and-stick to keep from indulging in whatever selfish desire suits them. (I hope not, but it is more or less all I can conclude, given the way some folks argue this.)

        • tatoo

          I am a nice person. Volunteer at places. Treat others nicely. Break no laws. I don’t need god to do that. And I am not doing nice things because of god. That would be pandering–what’s in it for me–but because I guess I was raised that way.

    • honkidonk

      Why do you believe anything at all? Its so childish..

      • Mike

        Nice response. It really adds weight to the argument to insult someone’s beliefs as childish, whimsical, etc.

        • honkidonk

          Well.. It is.

      • Sarah Liz

        Because my heart craves a divine supporter. I can’t answer all the things that are handed to me in life. I truly believe that my Comforter will take over when my mind and heart fail me. Thanks for calling my beliefs childish. Makes me wonder about you as well, my dear :)

        • honkidonk

          Your heart pumps blod. That’s it.

          Believing inn anything is plain old stupid.

          • Mike

            Honkidonk, that is your belief.

          • honkidonk

            Please don’t lie.

            Biology wins.

          • Mike

            Okay, that is not your belief? (I want to clarify and make sure we’re not talking bout the heart pumping blood.)

          • honkidonk

            No. I don’ t believe inn anything.

            Belief is failure of thought.

          • Mike

            That is your opinion, your belief. You are welcome to it. If you have anything else to say, let me know.

          • honkidonk

            Please don’t lie.

          • Mike

            You’re funny…or crazy. I don’t know which.

          • honkidonk

            Well, at least i’m no liar…

          • Sarah Liz

            So first my beliefs are childish, and now they are stupid, is that correct?

          • honkidonk

            Belief has allways Been stupid, childish, primitive, and so forth…

            Don’t do it.

          • Sarah Liz

            Why? Please explain.

          • honkidonk

            You would have to grow out of it to understand.

            Join the adults.

          • Sarah Liz

            So are you saying that when you were young, you had a faith in Jesus, but then realized when you got older that is was childish? Are you classifying Jesus with the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy? Very curious – I appreciate you writing me. I am here to learn from others. Thanks :)

          • honkidonk

            No, I’m not.

            Belief is belief, and believing in anything is failure og thought.

            Ny parentes respected me way to much to lie to me, so i never got fooled. It dosent matter what one believe, it’s all worthless.

          • tatoo

            I have often questioned belief in god, but it wasn’t til I was I was in my forties ( the death of my son probably initiated that) that I decided he didn’t exist. It was actually liberating. Since then, 30 years, I have not missed faith in god.

          • Timothy Cooper

            Stop trolling and learn to type.

            And everyone believes in things.

            Idiot

          • honkidonk

            You poor little liar..

          • Timothy Cooper

            Look up belief.

            Never mind I’ll post it

            An acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists.

            So anyone the accepts that any statement is true is childish or stupid.

            And I never claimed to believe in god.

          • honkidonk

            You should get better sources. Thats bull..

            Belief is for the weak mind.

          • Timothy Cooper

            So if I believe there is no God I’m weak minded too

            Lol poor little troll

          • honkidonk

            Yes.

            Is this really hard for you?

          • honkidonk

            Liar.

        • tatoo

          If you need to believe it, fine. Lots of my friend believe in an afterlife. It isn’t rally a choice. In my heart, it just isn’t there. I guess I don’t need the reassurance, or I would believe it.

    • US_Citizen

      Hey Sarah,

      honkidonk obviously did not offer you a good response. Not clear as to his direction.

      I happen to be an atheist, where I can explain why (I) don’t hold the same passion to this afterlife scenario as you do. It is simple, I don’t hold any valid reason to believe that there is an afterlife. By means of the current knowledge I hold, it isn’t physically possible for me to enter any realm after my body is dead. Once my organs stop, which includes my brain, everything that was me would be gone forever. With the exception of my body which will of course deteriorate into the earth and where little organisms will feed upon.

      As an atheist I hold no belief in a god or any portion of the various myths that surround a given god. As I do not have any evidential structure to base a positive belief on. In all, I hold no belief in a soul, heaven, hell, god(s), angels, satan or any other character that would fall under a religious teaching.

      Hope this helps you understand a bit better.

      • Sarah Liz

        I completely understand your comments, through and through, and I appreciate your taking the time to share with me! But have you ever EVER thought of an afterlife and what would happen to you *if* there is one?

        • US_Citizen

          Yes, of course. I use to be a christian.
          There is absolutely no evidence, only hearsay, as to the existence of an afterlife. Coupled with the fact that once our organs are dead, they are no longer functioning. Since the brain is such an organ and which is also responsible for who we are it is impossible to even think of acknowledging a afterlife if there was one once our brain is dead. Since without a brain there would be complete void, not even the acknowledgment of void. Blank.

          Also considering that Christianity, as well as its roots from Judaism is relatively young as to other religions. From what we have in regards to historic relics is that animism was one of the first types of religions, if you can call it that. Where they thought everything had a soul. There wasn’t a god or gods. Then came the mult-god religions, such as Zeus, Isis… Then came the singular god type of religions, Christianity being one of them.

          People will believe all sorts of things. Regardless of how fantastic the tale, one will always be required to show proof. Since the dawn of religion, there simply hasn’t been any real evidence provided. IE; One requires faith to believe. Faith, meaning to believe in something without evidence. Something, I would never do, as it goes against my core beliefs of reason. Simply put, I prefer to look both ways before crossing the road. I never take it on faith. Nor, is a snake oils salesmen going to convince me to disregard logic for fantasy.

          • Sarah Liz

            I understand that. But let me ask you this: Do you put trust in the lights that blink at a railroad crossing? If they are not blinking, you assume it is safe to cross. Likewise, if they are blinking, you assume that they are warning you NOT to cross. Just to very, do you agree? (I am enjoying seeing both sides. :) Thanks so much for taking the time to converse with me!)

          • Sarah Liz

            Verify*** :D

          • US_Citizen

            If I were at a railroad crossing, I would look both ways regardless. Just like I look both ways before crossing a intersection when there is a green light. I always take precautions, as should you. Mechanical things can at times result in error, as can ones disconnect from prejudging a possible occurrence or lack of an occurrence. Thus it is necessary to always cross-check utilizing ones reasoning abilities.

            Not all atheists feel like I do when it comes to the question of a god. As some prefer to state that there might be but, they have no valid reason to accept that the claim is true. I on the other hand, find the claim completely false. For me, there never has been a god, nor a god prior to the idea of a god from my known knowledge of what is available within what we know of our species history. There have been many gods, gods in which were popular within the time frames of yester year. Today one of those gods happens to be one you believe in. Tomorrow may lead to another type of god. Regardless of what god that may be… there will of course always be the requirement of faith amongst the believers of said god in order to allow belief of said god. A mindset I am incapable of adhering too.

          • Sarah Liz

            Regarding the railroad crossing, you look and that’s good. I don’t. LOL I put trust in something I can’t test because it is not my job, but certainly hope that it works in the end. That is religion as well as railroad crossings. I believe that Jesus is my blinking light :) I believe my God has been around since before anything, so He is not just this era’s God but the God of all times. He created the Heavens and the earth. On a different note, you had mentioned before that you used to be Christian, is that right?

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            Again, apples-and-oranges. Trusting that a given railroad crossing is being maintained is not the same thing as “Believe that Jesus Christ died for your sins, and accept him as your savior, or you’re off to hell for eternity.” One of those things I *can* test. One of those things I can *only ever* take your word that it’s true. There’s no *other* evidence I can look at beyond, “Sarah Liz says so.”

          • Sarah Liz

            Quite respectfully, Ward (and I mean absolutely no harm in this!) atheists think too much. :) I don’t need an explanation for everything in life. And that, I suppose, is the core difference between what I believe and the flipside to beliefs. :)

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            If thinking too much is vice, then a sinner I shall quite happily remain. I’m not saying I have an explanation for everything – but it’s not wrong to point out flaws in critical thinking (in yours, in mine, in anyone’s) where we see them.

          • Sarah Liz

            And I thoroughly enjoy your perspectives. I may have mention how and why I ended up on this thread: A dear friend of mine had posted this article on Facebook, and as a curious mind, i read, and naturally started reading the comments that followed. She is a firm (and I mean FIRM) atheist. I have tried to really have a chat with her about her beliefs and disbeliefs and hse has never taken the opportunity to share. I am fascinated with the human mind and heart. I have just as much interest in serial killers (read on dozens of them, watched a few films, documentaries, interviews etc.) but by no means am I interested in doing as they do. Still, I am intrigued by their stories and what led them to do what they do.

          • Sarah Liz

            And this is no different. I love to learn real life things. Not from what such middle ages philosopher brought to the table or some psycho teaching like David Karesh. But real people. Everyday people. Those are the ones that matter the most to me.

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            It’s probably neither here nor there (I claim no knowledge of your friend just because we’re both atheists), but some folks have had really toxic experiences with religion, and simply don’t want anything to do with it in their own lives. She may not be *able* to talk about any of it in ways you want, depending on her experiences.

          • Sarah Liz

            I understand that. And I do know of some extreme hardships she has endured as well, and have just wondered if this is where it stemmed or if she recieved a bitter taste in her mouth from, as you said, her own religious experience. See, I don’t have much faith in churches myself. Only because they are run by man, and you can’t take word un-flawed from another human being. (Philosophers and previous preachers and teachers from different times count as well.) Still,I attend to gain personal growth and to hear the scriptures that I can and need to apply in my life. Churches want money. They like to judge. They will pick and choose who they want to actively represent them. Rarely do they chase anyone who leaves them. They write them off. I don’t need another person to tell me what I am doing wrong, likewise I don’t need another to pat me on the back when I have done right. I am solid as a person in that regard, I do NOT participate actively in church functions (outside Saturday evening service or Sunday morning service.) I don’t need mind-bending people in my life. I just need Jesus.

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            I say this as gently as I can, but every last one of your objections to *church* can be applied to your *scripture.* I make exactly the same objections to it – because *it too is a product of human invention,* Sarah. I know you believe otherwise, and I’m under no illusions that I can, or should, convince you otherwise, but can you see why it can be maddening to hear christians say these sorts of things about the organized faith and then suspend that same critical thinking when it comes to the loonier, and dangerous parts of the faith itself?

          • Sarah Liz

            Yes, I quite certainly can. And that is mainly why I don’t jump the bandwagon of church. I don’t have a religion, because religion is falsified in many ways. (I am Christian – solely believing in the blood of Jesus Christ. I go to a Bible-based church, one who accepts people as they are and doesn’t cast stones for being tainted. I am not Baptist, Mennonite, Apostolic, Pentecostal, etc,) The Bible as far as my regards IS the truth. And I have not learned it all, but am still on the progression of wanting to gain from it. The Bible was written by man, yes, in the days that Jesus walked the earth. Where is the viable truth in that? There isn’t one, as it doesn’t have a publication date, but that is what I believe. Unlike Pascal, who decided to throw an equation in the mystery of what you need to do. There either is or is not. True. But why did some man after a thousand years want a theory now? I can imagine how scary that time period would have been. None the less, I don’t believe in philosophy. The theories are there for entertainment or for unjust knowledge that was put into college courses to taint the spiritual mind. Unless you are wide open to believe damn near anything or have the “nothing to lose” mentality, THAT is all hogwash.

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            The problem here is that if one is willing to thoroughly compartmentalize, the bible, cherry-picked sufficiently, can be turned into a useful moral guide, but that requires ignoring – really, honestly, *ignoring* – the bulk of the text, not just copping out to it being allegorical or some other handwaving. I see that as profoundly dishonest, and much as I respect somebody like John Shelby Spong for trying to rescue the bible from fundamentalism, I don’t think it can happen, without excising much of the text which even Spong can’t do. It is a collection of iron-age myths and it represents the biases of the iron-age men who wrote it. We have better ideas, now. I’m not saying you can’t tease some useful guidance out of it (you can), but you don’t need the religious framework that surrounds it to do that. I can recognize that the Great Commandment isn’t horrendous. I can recognize that “love each other” isn’t a bad starting point for a moral system – but it’s larded down with so much chaff that there’s very little wheat.

            Pascal was trying for a logical proof of belief in a historical context of Western European atheism, Sarah – he was trying to use the tools of logicians to argue for belief. (I don’t think it IS a good argument for belief, but we’ve been through that.)

          • US_Citizen

            You should not be driving!!! You are putting every person on the road, as well as on the train at risk due to something you believe in via faith. Not to mention the millions of dollars worth of damage that would occur due to your un-evidential beliefs. I hope you don’t live near me, this is terrifying.

            You believe in these things as stated and where you stated that you don’t care if it is true or not because it isn’t your job to do so. Yet, you push these beliefs unto others. It appears you have complete disregard for the integrity of information you push, as well.

            Again, I am an atheist. One whom also cares very much about what is true and what is not true. Since you have little regard to the truth, your character is highly suspect too me. Thus my exchange at this point will most definitely appear rude and alarmed.

            In other words, there are certainly things that I personally quibble with as to possibilities, where I don’t have proper evidence. Of course, unlike you, I am not claiming that these ramblings in my head hold any fact based structure. Thus, I don’t push them unto others. Rather, I keep them private, as should you. Since that is the most intellectually honest thing to do. The day you can provide evidence is the day you can happily push your agenda unto someone, such as myself. Until that day, you will (always) be at a loss.

          • Sarah Liz

            Fair enough. I didn’t expect anyone to “like” me in here. And I am only trying to learn a side I blatantly don’t understand, so therefore to really dig deep in another realm, I suppose I have to put forth things the others in this room don’t like – therefore I can get a true reading of what is concrete to you. Served me well, as I have gotten far with this. You are free will to call me a loss. I can take that with stride, no worries at all. I am just a bit confused by your past – used to be Christian, does that mean you actually accepted Jesus into heart at some point? And when you decided that that wasn’t viable anymore, did you actually ask Him to let you go?

          • Sarah Liz

            And regarding the railroad, of course I do look. Who wouldn’t? I have 4 children, and 3 stepkids, all of whom put their trust in me – mom and driver. It was an analogy I suppose and a bad one at that. But do I walk blindly (at times) in this world. Yes, because I am a human being and even if I read every book under the sun, I would still not know everything.

          • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

            Your reaction sounds like some I’ve heard before: it’s *just not possible* to “accept Jesus into your heart” and end up an atheist at some other point? Sure it is. You conclude that what you once thought was true is instead unsupportable, and isn’t a well-founded idea.

          • US_Citizen

            Let me reply with a metaphor. When I was a child I believed in Santa Claus. There were many times that my parents found me lingering through the house at night in the hopes to catch Santa Claus in the act. I was even found sleeping outside once, as I wanted to meet Rudolph.

            I too believed in fairies, leprechauns and unicorns as a child. My mind was quite imaginative. All these beliefs are exactly the same as your belief, in that neither of these beliefs hold any evidence for their existence. Now that I am an adult, I can state too you that you are without any valid claim. That you are being dishonest in your claims. As no one should question anothers beliefs and for that matter put forth a belief without backing up their claims as true. True being with evidence in hand. Stating that you have a happy feeling, or that you have been lucky up to today in crossing railroad tracks without any reference to the traffic without any harm to yourself or others is not a evidence based claim. Rather it is one of delusion. One that you are building a solid case for, for yourself. Please stop.

    • tatoo

      No. We die and disintegrate. Sure, i hope I am wrong and will be some place, but I don’t believe it. And i can’t be scared of hell, since I don’t believe in it. I am also not scared of ghosts for the same reason.

    • frozen01

      I’m not even a little scared I will go to Hell, just in the same way I would imagine you’re not even a little scared you will go to the dark planets of Cao Dai or the Hifhel of Asatru.

      • Sarah Liz

        I have not even heard of those places! Where do they stem from?

        • frozen01

          Cao Dai and Asatru, as I said.

          Now that you are aware of these religions and their “version” of Hell, are you afraid you’ll go there?

          Or how about the concept of reincarnation, a belief in which predates the Christian Hell, is shared by many religions, and is something you’re probably more familiar with.
          Are you afraid that you might end up being a dung beetle in your next life?

          How about Jehovah’s Witnesses? Are you afraid that you won’t be among the chosen?

          Or maybe none of them are right and we’re all doomed. Maybe hurricanes and tornadoes and floods are all some heretofore-unimagined god going “no, no, NO! You’ve got it ALL wrong! Why aren’t you paying attention to me?!?! *lightening bolt*” So many different possibilities to be anxious about ;)

          • Sarah Liz

            I have actually studied with Jehovah’s Witnesses before (not really by choice – got conned into it as that’s how they roll. You give them an inch they will take more than a mile.) And although SOME of what they teach match what I believe, they are far too over-bearing and they are not my cup of tea. Being a chosen one does not come from a state of belief or a branch of religion. I don’t believe that all. It is personal, in your deepest depths of emotional need. I don’t think everyone experiences that need. I don’t believe in reincarnation, but honestly, I don’t really understand all the politics behind that either. This Cao Dai business – how could I fear something I just learned about yesterday? You take 1,000 people – ask each one – do you know of Cao Dai and then ask them do you know of Jesus? I am sure the latter will have more recognition, even if it is just by name.

          • frozen01

            Sarah, you seem like a very nice person, so I really don’t want to come across as mean, but you’re really missing the point. When you learned about it (whether it was yesterday or 40 years ago) and the number of people who are aware of it have no bearing on whether or not it is real. The amount of time that you are aware of Cao Dai as a religion won’t have much bearing on whether or not you’re afraid of its dark planets. You’ll only start becoming afraid of them when you start believing that there’s a possibility they exist. Right now, that possibility for you is 0… which is the same possibility for me that Hell exists.

            Okay, let’s try this another way:

            When you ask an atheist whether they’re not even a little scared that he or she will go to Hell, you’re basically asking “aren’t you afraid, even just a little bit, that you might be wrong?” It’s not a bad question, but it supposes that there is only two possibilities: 1) You are right or 2) The atheist is right. In actuality, you’re ignoring the third option: 3) Neither of you are right.

            You say that you’ve studied with Jehovah’s Witnesses and you found them too over-bearing and not your cup of tea. Perfectly fair. But aren’t you even slightly afraid that you’re wrong and the Jehovah’s Witnesses are right? You say that being a chosen one has nothing to do with your state of belief or your branch of religion, but what if you’re wrong and it does? Regardless of how long you’ve been aware of the religion, are you even slightly afraid that you’re wrong and the practitioners of Cao Dai have it right?

            If you’re not at all afraid, that’s perfectly fine and normal… and I would venture to guess that the reason you aren’t afraid is the same reason why atheists aren’t afraid of Hell.

            I’m about as afraid of Hell as I am of Santa’s reindeer falling through my roof and squishing me. I “care about what happens to me after I’m gone” in the exact same manner that I “care” about what presents Santa will bring me (in other words, I don’t believe in Santa, therefore I’m not going to “care” about what presents he’ll bring me). When I’m gone, I’m just gone, so no, I’m not going to “care” about what happens to me because there will be no me.
            And if I’m wrong? Well, I could be just as wrong if I chose your religion. I could drop everything and become a nun, dedicating my life to Christ, believing it whole-heartedly… and when I die, I could still end up in Hell, or one of the myriad of versions of it, because I didn’t pick the one correct religion out of thousands. That’s assuming that any of the religions we’re aware of are correct in the first place.
            After all, there is another option: 4) Nobody is right.

  • BM

    Do atheist apologists consider themselves “all-knowing” earth-bound gods????

    • frozen01

      Dunno. What’s an “atheist apologist”?

      • BM

        a·pol·o·gist
        əˈpäləjist/
        noun
        plural noun: apologists
        1.
        a person who offers an argument in defense of something controversial.
        “an enthusiastic apologist for fascism in the 1920s”
        synonyms:defender, supporter, upholder, advocate, proponent, exponent, propagandist, champion, campaigner; More

        • frozen01

          Right, I know what the word “apologist” means. I’m looking for context. The term “Christian apologist” has a certain connotation to it that does not exist in the definitions of the words “Christian” or “apologist”. What is the connotation here? And if there is no more context or connotation than simply “an atheist who offers an argument in defense of atheism”, then what on earth does this have to do with being a god (aside from it always being a good idea to say “yes” when someone asks you if you are one [kidding]).

        • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

          There’s no real “atheist apologetics” other than science, though, which – while controversial in places – is evidence-based. Its use in religion isn’t.

  • Zalgo

    I came here just for the free rages,trolls,and people arguing like it matters,

    • Mike

      For Christians, it completely matters, but from what I’ve seen, this comment board has been fairly civil in its discussion. Welcome.

  • Kay

    I’m just wondering when the atheists AND the Christians will acknowledge the majority population of the Earth which are neither, and that offering blanket statements about anyone who isn’t atheist or isn’t Christian makes them look woefully uneducated.

    • honkidonk

      The majority og the population on this planet are atheists. Get over it.

      • tatoo

        Actually, I think the majority religion is Christian, but it really doesn’t matter what the majority are.

        • honkidonk

          Well, you are wrong. There is atleast ten times more atheists than religious people.

          And it does matter.. Look at the religions hate and surpressions. Religion is the worlds largest problem by far..

        • Kay

          Christianity has a plurality, coming in around 33%, but looking at the world’s population as a whole, the majority are neither atheist nor Christian. They belong to all of the other religions generally ignored completely in these discussions. While it can be entertaining to watch people bickering about the world as if their very limited set of conditions are reality, most of the time it’s sad. All that knowledge out there that people can’t be bothered to even acknowledge, let alone examine, before speaking as if they are experts on the subject.

  • honkidonk

    There is only one point needed;

    1. Atheists are people who are not theists.

    And that’s it.. Atheism does not exist.

  • disqus_Z3O3kveuFJ

    this may be the most thoughtful sector in the entirety of the internet.

  • US_Citizen

    The top questions I get from theists once they discover that I am an atheist are;
    1.) But, what about your soul.
    2.) Aren’t you afraid of hell.
    3.) Are you a devil worshiper.
    4.) Are you mad at god.
    5.) You don’t know how to listen to god.

    As of late, I have been really itching to hold a sign opposite of the churches in this area to offer a opposite opinion of their huge church signs. I am tired of seeings signs stating that I am going to hell or the like. It is rude, mean spirited and uncalled for.

    • Timothy Cooper

      This sounds like a discussion my brother had with my wife and mom. He announced he was an atheist and they both brought up several of those on your list. But one that gets me is “well I’ll pray for you”. If you don’t believe in a god what’s that going to do.

      • US_Citizen

        Totally missed that one! I hear that too, quite a bit. You can always respond with; While you are at it, ask Zeus to prove his existence by sending a special lighting bolt my way that is in the shape of a unicorn.

        • Timothy Cooper

          Right!

    • Thomas King

      Better idea. Wear a bright t-shirt that clearly marks you as an atheist, and then go about your life. Every time you look people in the eye and say hello with a smile, you will rock their world. I say this from experience. On the other hand, hold up a sign outside church and you mark yourself as a crank.

      • US_Citizen

        Never stated I would, only that I have been itching too :) In other words, a little fantasy of mine. Nothing more. You are right, in that it wouldn’t help in how they deem atheists.

        I do wear atheist shirts from time to time. I also do activism every once in while but, only when I deem a positive outcome of my activism.

      • frozen01

        I’m a fairly-heavily tattooed woman with a few piercings to boot, and I *LOVE* doing this! I mean, I held doors open for people long before I joined the ranks of the inked, but it’s still very satisfying to see the looks on people’s faces :D

  • BM

    Summarizing in three words: DO NO HARM!!!! Now go do something more interesting than worrying about whether there is a god or not. Or whether there is heaven or not as those three words will get you to wherever you are going.

  • http://slrman.wordpress.com/ James Smith

    Becoming Free

    Blame it on my parents. They always told me to “think for yourself”. I doubt they ever considered what would happen if I really did that.

    Now, I suspect what they meant was, “Think what we tell you but do it in your own words.” Too late. When I was 13, I began to question everything and soon the total absurdity of religion became apparent.

    Because I have been “encouraged” (forced) to read the bible several times, it was easy for me to see the contradictions in the book, what christians professed to believe, and how they really lived.

    When I refused to go with them to their church, they said they would “Make me go.”

    I asked them, “How are you going to make me? How will forcing me to attend church change my mind?” Already, their attitude was starting to harden me against everything else they would tell me.

    Their next idea was to have their minister talk to me. I told them it was a waste of everyone’s time. They persisted and had him come to the house to “Talk some sense into me.” (as if that ever works for anyone) After about 15 minutes of him quoting the bible to me and me pointing out that he was either wrong in his quotes or showing him how it said something else in another place, he became very angry and told me I was going to hell. I suspect it was because I knew the bible better than he did and was, at age 13, able to prove how ridiculous his arguments were.

    I told him, “If there is a Hell I’ll see you there. Save me a nice place, OK?” He said I was an impertinent, disrespectful child. By then, I was angry myself and for the first time, I told a christian that he was a hypocrite, a liar, and a fool. My parents insisted that I apologize. I refused and left the room to a lot of yelling and threats.

    For the next four years, I heard about this at least once a week. So the night I graduated high school, I left my parent’s home and didn’t see them again for well over a year. By then, with the credits I had accumulated in high school and summer school, I had completed a couple of years of college. Fortunately, I was able to pay for this myself. I was entering the army and wanted to try to make peace with them, but had to listen to the same old recriminations and arguments again.

    The next time I saw them was two years later when I was getting married. After several years of an on-again, off-again relationship they finally agreed to just not discuss it any more. I’d like to say that worked, but subtle hints slowly became outright condemnation. Then I took a job transfer from Ohio to Arizona, so family meetings were rare enough to become occasions for something other than contention.

    I do have to say that I appreciate the other things they did for me, like encouraging my education and equipping me with the work ethic and attitudes I needed to survive and thrive at that early age. In those areas, they were excellent parents and I am grateful for those things.

    What did I learn? Even your family can turn against you if you refuse to share in their illusions. There are times, if you are to become your own person, you must stand firm in what you know to be true.

    • Ted Bravinski

      Are you still harping on about being made to read the bible? Do you see this: . ? It’s the world’s smallest violin and it is playin a sad song all for you.

  • Toni Gray

    I like that the father told his son there is only on god and we do not believe in him. Well he got the first part correct, there is only one god and I know it and believe in him. so what do you gain in thinking there is no god, nothing. What do you loose if your wrong everything.

    • https://plus.google.com/+WardChanley Ward Chanley

      …Pascal’s Wager. Please cite some independently verifiable evidence that I will continue to exist after I die and I’ll consider the Wager again. Until then, though, it’s *still founded on a premise for which there is no evidence.*

      It would be better for you to hunt for the Flying Spaghetti Monster because if you find him, he will bless you with his noodly appendage, and your reward will be at least 100% greater than if you refuse to search for him.

    • frozen01

      That assumes there are only two options: Christianity or nothing.

      Truth is, there are millions of options. No, COUNTLESS options. You and I could spend the rest of our lives debating whether or not Jesus wants us to repent only to die and be greeted by a star-shaped cloud of blue gas called Morlufynt who then dooms us to spend an eternity listening to Skrillex because Morlufynt’s an avid jazz fan and we didn’t follow its commandment to master the cornet.

      So, you better start with those cornet lessons. You know, just in case. After all what do you gain in thinking there is no Morlufynt? Nothing (besides more free time). What do you lose if you’re wrong? Well, the freedom to listen to something other than Skrillex, I suppose.

  • http://www.ACIMessentials.com Patricia Robinett

    The word “Spirit” means breath, the life force. The more we are in tune with the life force, the healthier and happier we are. Somebody took that, put it in a tidy little box, turned it on its head by injecting fear into it, and made a business out of it.

  • Michael Brown

    I have friends that are atheist and a couple that are antitheist and there is a marked difference in their tolerance for religion and its adherents. The most rabid antitheist often says that entire states with majority Christian populations (like Texas) “should be razed to the ground and salt thrown on the ashes” because of things like the Supreme Court allowing the Ten Commandments to be displayed at the state Capital and its law requiring abortion providers to have hospital privilege. Other atheists may offer opinions, but usually little else and never really identify irreligin as a primary factor in their opinion.

  • WhyWorryNow

    I’m a full believer in God. I have been praying for his support since my first memory. If that wasn’t so, I’d be atheist. They are flat honest good friends. I went to people to get donations for a dinner for brain injured & their friends. Most of the money came from atheist. I always feel when they give something, it truly comes from the heart. There’s no expectations of everlasting promises further down the road. Love the joke!

  • Gaius Baltar

    “3. Atheists are not angry at God (just as they are not angry at the Tooth Fairy)”

    I think religious people would respond better to this if it said something like “just as Christians are not angry at Buddha.”

    • RichardSRussell

      Buddha was real.

  • Gaius Baltar

    And yes – living as an Atheist does sometimes require more faith than believing God will save us.

  • Bill Snoot

    Atheism does not in itself embody the truth, but the truth begins with atheism.

  • BM

    DO NO HARM!!!! Now go do something more interesting than worrying about whether there is a god or not. Or whether there is heaven or not as those three words will get you to wherever you are going.

  • mark farley

    the most amazing thing about atheists is that they insist on having a discussion about something that they insist does not exist.

    • SisterMachine

      There are no gods. However, in America and all around the world, there is no shortage of religious people forcing their beliefs upon others and dictating the law based on cruel and antique moral systems. Thus, we discuss.

    • http://www.landoverbaptist.org/ Team Red vs. Team Blue

      We don’t insist god doesn’t exist; no honest atheist does that. We just don’t find the claims in favor of invisible Sky Fairies to be compelling. So we don’t believe them.

      And when all around us, the world is shoving this nonsense down our throats, we are pushing back. That’s why we talk about it.

      • mark farley

        check out the message some “fairy” sent to me.

        starting a little over 20 years ago many complete strangers would tell me i looked like george clooney. i basically ignored it, but there it was and still happens occasionally to this day. now i was married to my wife Elizabeth who passed away just over 6 years ago. Elizabeth was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and never started treatment. Elizabeth was on life support for approximately 6 weeks before we chose to set her free.
        i would visit her every day and read to her from the Bible
        always the same chapter : John 14
        … Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my fathers house are MANY MANSIONS.
        14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
        fast forward 5 years and George Clooney has released a film titled The Descendants. if you are not familiar with the film it starts out where george and his family make a decision to terminate his wife who is on life support in a coma and her name is Elizabeth. one of the themes of the movie revolves around a massive estate in Hawaii.

        • http://www.landoverbaptist.org/ Team Red vs. Team Blue

          Sorry for your loss. Deal with it in whatever way works for you. Good luck.

  • nyterpfan

    IMHO it’s not about “destroying” religion–but rather REDEFINING it–reevaluating what we wish to teach and how we wish to teach it. The more science reveals to us–the more religions that rely on the supernatural become irrelevant. Our challenge is to come up with something that encourages free inquiry and a respect for life and human dignity without relying on creeds and dogmas that are fraught with fallacies and illogic.

    • BM

      Did all that already and concluded after much research that religion is and always was a con game.

  • SisterMachine

    “We became atheists because we find no evidence for any gods.” I don’t think this is really accurate. I never became an atheist, I was born an atheist in secular Sweden, where up to 85% of the population are atheists and the rest do not really talk about their god/-s. I never even thought about any evidence for the existence of a god, since it mostly is a non-issue. Jesus has been a good story we tell around christmas (or as we say, Jul or Yule), just like the stories of Oden and Freja
    and Loke. I loved greek mythology most – those were the best stories when I was a child, I had no reason to assume that these characters were supposed to be real, and thus no reason to test any evidence. What I am saying is: Atheism is the natural state. You become religious when people you trust make you believe those stories are real.

    • http://www.landoverbaptist.org/ Team Red vs. Team Blue

      We are all born atheists.

      • SisterMachine

        Which was my point.

      • Anal distroyer

        How do we deny the existence of god when we have no concept of god at birth. That would agnostic…… Atheist are always trying to make their religion superior then others. Before you comment on my beliefs system I’m agnostic so % face

        • http://www.landoverbaptist.org/ Team Red vs. Team Blue

          Saying that atheism is a religion is like saying baldness is a hair style.

          But in any case, reason, facts, and truth are superior to superstitious nonsense, 100% of the time.

  • Rich LaDuca

    Herb,
    Point of correction on the prefix ‘a’ – It means ‘lacking’, or ‘without’.
    As far as the difference between ‘atheist’ and ‘anti-theist’ – The following is as fair an assessment as any:
    > Not all Atheists are Anti-Theist
    > All Anti-Theist are Atheist.

  • Jorge Maguiña

    Great stuff!!! especially the joke!!!

  • isiaka Almaroof.

    I believe in and practice good deeds every second of my existence. This belief and action does not prevent me from being angry when I happen to be. My good deed then follows with a reflection of my angry emotion, realizing that scientifically, it is not even good for my body and brain. So, I reflect and re-phrase my action gently, analytically to the extent that the other party sees my point. I will not necessarily co-opt the other party to my thinking process but simply state my position objectively. It is up to the other party to reason objectively or not reason objectively.

  • disqus_ggvdslgvY6

    Slight dispute with #3: I hate god in exactly the same way I hate Darth Vader. And for the same reasons.

  • Salero21

    Actually, there is nothing much worth knowing about atheists that’s not already mentioned in the Bible.

    • BM

      Please present added details.

  • http://akritimattu.wordpress.com/ Akriti

    Loved it.

  • Ronald N. Wall

    I now have another hero: Herb Silverman. Right on, Herb!

  • Vincent Chang

    Sssplendid!

  • TTWSYFAMDGAHJMJ

    IN REPLY TO HS:”ATHEISTS ARE NOT NECESSARILY PROTESTERS,

    ANS: Explain the Atheist Communist assaults on Christianity. Some 300 million deaths caused by Atheism just in the last century comparable to the 2.3mil deaths caused in Christian violence over its entire existence viz. thousands and thousands of years.

    Didn’t the Secularist Enlightenment murder millions of French religious believers during the “Reign of Terror.” Its leader, Robespierre, had to be hung in order to stop the lunacy.

    Than there is the luminary iconic leaders of Atheism, Stalin, Hitler, and Mao, not to mention the N. Korean leader, Kim Jong-Il, sweethearts of tranquility and pacification. Atheist China has murdered over 400 million unborn by abortion alone and is cannibalizing prisoners body parts to sell on the open market.

    A common militant Atheist statement is, “If we don’t stand up and be counted we will lose the very freedom we hold most dear; freedom of thought”

    Such an unsubstantiated statement is inflammatory, illogical, and paranoid. Many atheists believe Christians can’t think logically, that that they are deluded, and that they believe in myths. They describe Christians as bound by foolish antiquated beliefs, and that they need to abandon their religious bigotry and become a ‘free thinker’ like Atheists. Namely, many Atheists don’t want believers to think like believers do.

    • Ronald N. Wall

      Please, spare me the old “communist” bs. You have been thoroughly indoctrinated by your church it appears. I tolerate Christians, but this kind of ignorant remarks about atheists is hard to take and not make a rebuttal. However, I know how futile it is to try and reason with someone who has been completely brainwashed by religious zealots.

      • TTWSYFAMDGAHJMJ

        Communist are Atheist are they not?

        • KootHoot

          ???? Communism is a political / economic theory separate from religious belief, many communists are believers and many atheists are capitalist. Hitler was a Catholic, so whats your point? Atheism is all about logic and reason and the absence of blind faith.

  • TTWSYFAMDGAHJMJ

    IN REPLY TO HS: “WE DON’T HAVE A PROBLEM WITH BELIEVERS UNTIL THEY TRY TO FORCE THEIR BELIEFS ON OTHERS.”

    ANS: Christians do not force their beliefs on others; Muslims (The Quran) and Atheists do that. China, Russia, and N. Korea are examples of Atheist forcing their belief that there is “No God.” and the State, not God, becomes the sole dictator of Morality, irrespective of human nature…

    America, based on our Christian Heritage, has fostered the Christian principle of Freedom of Religion. Because of this Heritage no other country in the world or in History is comparable to America’s Religious Tolerance.

    By Religious Toleration “is understood the magnanimous indulgence which one shows towards a religion other than his own, accompanied by the moral determination to leave it and its adherents unmolested in private and public, unless its views are a natural evil to society.

    Toleration is akin to patience which also connotes an attitude of forbearance in the face of an evil. “However, every citizen has a moral obligation imposed by conscience not to tolerate evil; to be intolerant to evil so stated in the Declaration of independence…

    Intolerance shown by parents towards grave faults in their children is an obligation imposed by conscience, although, if it be carried to the extreme of cruelty, it degenerates into a vice. On the other hand, excessive toleration towards an evil becomes under certain circumstances a vice, for example when secular rulers look with folded arms upon public immorality.

    Atheism is an evil to Society; it is a presage to obscuring and obstruction of the inviolable Rights of all mankind (Communism, Socialism, Fascism); it forces its moral evils on the Moral and Natural Freedoms of all mankind manifested by legalizing murder (Abortion), and personifying ideas that undermines Marriage and the Family (Gay Unions) of which internally destroy the fabric of the social order and subsequently the integrity of the individual.

  • TTWSYFAMDGAHJMJ

    IF YOU WIND UP ABANDONING FAITH IN SUPERNATURAL THINGS BECAUSE OF SCIENCE, AS MANY DO, THAT IS A COLLATERAL BENEFIT TO CRITICAL THINKING.

    ANS: The touchstone of the value of philosophy as a world-view and methodology is the degree to which it is interconnected with life.

    This interconnection may be both direct and indirect, through the whole system of culture, through science, art, morality, religion, law, and politics. As a special form of social consciousness, constantly interacting with all its other forms, philosophy is their general theoretical substantiation and interpretation.

    The specific sciences cannot and should not break their connections with true philosophy.

    Science and philosophy have always learned from each other. Philosophy tirelessly draws from scientific discoveries fresh strength, material for broad generalisations, while to the sciences it imparts the world-view and methodological im pulses of its universal principles. Many general guiding ideas that lie at the foundation of modern science were first enunciated by the perceptive force of philosophical thought.

    Science cannot legitimately separate itself from Philosophy and Philosophy cannot legitimately separate itself from Christianity or the true God who founded it, lest it become a false philosophy of Materialism, viz. Communism, Hinduism, or Budhism, or other various false ideologies of Religion and Paganism.,.

    • KootHoot

      You are starting to sound hypocritical. Below you advocate tolerance for other beliefs and here you dismiss them as false.

  • TTWSYFAMDGAHJMJ

    IN REPLY TO HS: “MOST RELIGIOUS PEOPLE ARE SECULAR MOST OF THE TIME. ASK YOURSELF HOW YOU WOULD BEHAVE DIFFERENTLY IF YOU STOPPED BELIEVING IN GOD. IF YOU CAN’T COME UP WITH A GOOD ANSWER, THEN YOU ARE WHAT I CALL A FUNCTIONAL ATHEIST.”

    ANS: What nonsense and absurdity is this? Human life is guided by Morals and Principles designated by our Human Nature whose author is the Creator. These natural principles are dictated in the 10 Commandments. Without them there can be no legitimate social order. What ensues without them is suppression of man’s Inalienable Rights. Namely, there can be no Inalienable Rights, that are stated in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, without a Transcendental Authority that authors them in Human Nature and of which are so designated by the Founding Fathers as self-evident.

    America’s first Chief Justice John Jay wrote: “No human society has ever been able to maintain both order and freedom; both cohesiveness and liberty apart from the Moral Precepts of the Christian Religion. SHOULD OUR REPUBLIC ERE FORGET THIS 1 PRECEPT OF GOVERNANCE; MEN ARE DOOMED.”

    Jay’s Associate Justice on the Supreme Court wrote: “The real object of the (First) Amendment) was not to countenance, much less advance, Mahometanism, or Judaism, or infidelity, by prostrating Christianity; but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects (denominations).” —Original Intent, by David Barto.

    Man’s very freedom and the domestic tranquility depends on the very convergence of our acts of human life to the principles of Christian Moral Doctrine. De Tocqueville wrote, ““Liberty cannot be established without morality, or morality without faith.”

  • TTWSYFAMDGAHJMJ

    IN REPLY TO HS: #10. “Atheist Jew”

    ANS: DICTIONARY COM.: “A Jew is a person whose religion is Judaism.” The dictionary defines a Jew as “a member of the Semitic people who claim descent from the ancient Hebrew people of Israel, are spread throughout the world, and are linked by cultural or religious ties.

    Culture is described as “the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group.” In this contex the beliefs and behaviors of Judaism

    Consequently, there are no Atheist Jews. An Atheist may have once been a Jew, or his decedents descended from the Hebrew people, but when he stopped believing in God, his behavior and beliefs are no longer Jewish. The Culture of an Atheist is Secularism. An Atheist, who was once a Jew, has lost his link to his Jewish Heritage and is an adversity to his once Jewish Culture. He is an adversary to the Jewish Culture and the Jewish religion…

    It seems quite ironic to complain that Atheism is not a religion and then to cite the term a “Jewish Atheist.” that connotes some kind of religious connection to an Atheist…

  • TTWSYFAMDGAHJMJ

    IN REPLY TO HS: #4. “Atheists are not less trustworthy.”

    ANS: Scriptures reads Mark 10:27”And Jesus looking on them, saith with men it is impossible; but not with God. For all things are possible with God and in Mark 13:22, “For there will rise up false gods and false prophets: and they shall show signs and wonders, to seduce (if it were possible) even the elect.”

    Atheists are lest trustworthy because their moral standards are subjective to human error. Namely, Atheists make man the sole authority of Good and Evil.

    To protect man from human error, God created the Catholic Church (CC) and endowed it with INFALLIBILITY. That means its universal teachings are without error. Anything that contradicts them is in error.

    This infallibility is indoctrinated in the Scriptures ((•Matthew 28:18-20; •Matthew 16:18; John 14, 15, and 16; •I Timothy 3:14-15; and •Acts 15:28 sq. Matthew 28:18-20). God is Truth and Truth does not contradict Truth. He is superior to man and so is his CC superior to all man made Churches that contradict His CC.

    “What men call the failure of Christianity is no proof that it is not God’s final revelation. It only makes evident how real is human liberty and how grave human responsibility.

    “Christianity is furnished with all the necessary evidence to create conviction of its truth, given goodwill. — “He that hath ears to hear let him hear.’ Her teachings are of impeccable certitude and She boast of Her infallibility of her universal teachings (John 21:15-17).’ ”

    Hence, the Church cannot error in Her universal teachings and doctrines by virtue of its gift of infallibility and God as its invisible head. Those who lose moral authority are those who contradict Her universal teachings whether it be Her own dissident members or the non-believing outside the Church.

    The Natural Moral Law is dictated by God. It is made known through God’s Catholic Church instituted by the Son of God and endowed with the gift of infallibility by the auspices of the Holy Spirit, therefore, She cannot error in Her universal teachings..

    • KootHoot

      The more I read from you the more disrespect I have for you and your religion. The CC is infallible???? What about all those people murdered by Catholics over the centuries simply for daring to have different beliefs?

  • TTWSYFAMDGAHJMJ

    IN REPLY TO HS #9: “Judge people by their actions and the content of their character, not by their professed religious beliefs.”

    ANS: How is this possible our lives are formed by our religious beliefs of ethics and morals? The, Ten Commandments command us to “Love our neighbor as you love yourself, and as God so loves you” and “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”.”

    Further,, the Christian is commanded to perform the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy. . They are headed by Faith, Hope and Charity, followed by the Four Cardinal Virtues of Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance, and embraced by the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit, Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, And Fear Of The Lord.

    “The moral life of Christians is sustained by the gifts of the Holy Spirit. These are permanent dispositions which make man docile in following the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Human virtues are firm attitudes, stable dispositions, habitual perfections of intellect and will that govern our actions, order our passions, and guide our conduct according to reason and faith. They make possible ease, self-mastery, and joy in leading a morally good life. The virtuous man is he who freely practices the good.

    “The moral virtues are acquired by human effort. They are the fruit and seed of morally good acts; they dispose all the powers of the human being for communion with divine love.

    “The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit are Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, and Fear of the Lord. They belong in their fullness to Christ, Son of David.(Isa 11:1-2).
    They complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them. They make the faithful docile in readily obeying divine inspirations. The fruits of the Spirit are perfections that the Holy Spirit forms in us as the first fruits of eternal glory.The tradition of the Church lists twelve of them: “Charity, J, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Generosity, Gentleness, Faithfulness, Modesty, Self-control, and Chastity.” (Gal 5:22-23),

    “Let your good spirit lead me on a level path. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. If children, then heirs, are heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Rom 8:14, 17)..

    Hence, man must live his life according to the will of God. In doing so man is harmonized with the world he lives in and perfected for the Paradise he has been destined for.

    • KootHoot

      To suggest believers have a monopoly on morality is arrogant and just plain wrong. The millions of people killed in the name of religion are a clear indication believers can be evil and can justify their evil as serving their duty to their god or religion. I would stack up my morals against anyone’s and they do not come from a belief in god but a belief that we as mankind are alone on this planet and are thereby obligated to make life a pleasant as possible for all while we are here.

  • TTWSYFAMDGAHJMJ

    IN REPLY TO HS #3: “WE BECAME ATHEISTS BECAUSE WE FIND NO EVIDENCE FOR ANY GODS.”

    ANS: To the contrary, there is no evidence that there is not a God; there is a multitude of evidence God exists from reason alone., notwithstanding the modern day miracles verified at Lourdes and Fatima alone.

    Further, Aristotle, the Father of Logic, noted that logic and common sense testify that an infinite string of causes must have an initial cause. Thus, man’s existence testifies to God’s existence in that man was created in the beginning of all mankind.

    In addition, that which is ordered presupposes an intellect. If we entered a room scattered with pages of all the words in the English language, could they ever be collated into the novel of “Gone with the Wind” with out an intelligence doing so? With all the raw materials to make a 747 piled in a field, could a 747 become real without an intelligence collating the material.

    Hence, the Universe is organized; that presupposes an organizer. That organizer is Whom we call God.

    Notwithstanding the multiplicity of Jewish History, the miracles of Jesus who upon his command the deaf heard, the mute spoke, the lame walked, the sick were healed and the dead rose.. Before thousands of witnesses, he commanded the skies and the seas, and even rose to life after being murdered..

    Only those who have lost their common sense, their ability to see and reason believe there is no God.

  • Ronald N. Wall

    TTWSYFAMDGAHJMJ •”To the contrary, there is no evidence that God doesn’t exist.” What kind of crazy logic is that? There is no evidence that Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny or little green men from Mars do NOT exist; so, do you believe in them? Another thing that bothers me; when I post something I stand up for it by posting my name, rather than hiding behind a screen name consisting of alphabet soup. I do this whenever I post remarks to a blog comment, even tho’ I often receive hateful and bigoted replies from some so-called Christians. Who are you, anyway? Why should we even stop to consider what you, as a self appointed expert, has to say? You seem to feel that the Bible is proof of it’s own authenticity. Since as atheist and agnostics most of us consider your “Word of God” to be nothing more than the legends, myths and superstitions of an ancient people, why do you (like many fundamentalists) think we’d be convinced of anything by passages from that book? Besides being terribly uninformed about who and what atheist are, many of your remarks reek of bigotry and intolerance, and that turns many of us off immediately. I think that you may be preaching to the choir, rather than to Herb Silvermann, hoping that none of your flock stop to consider intelligently without bias what Silvermann and other atheist have to say. The only reason I am even responding to the nonsense you post is that maybe, just maybe someone who actually listens to you might take a second to think about what Dr Silvermann has to say. Perhaps a few will realize that atheists like myself reject bigotry, racism, homophobia, superstition, intolerance and the blind obedience to dogma that fundamentalist religions of all descriptions promote. Many of us became atheist after actually reading the Bible with a critical eye and rejected the war mongering, genocidal, homicidal maniac who destroys his own creation out of anger, even innocent children. And then demands a blood sacrifice for “our” sins.

    • KootHoot

      Well said Ronald!

  • TTWSYFAMDGAHJMJ

    IN REPLY TO RW: “BESIDES BEING TERRIBLY UNINFORMED ABOUT WHO AND WHAT ATHEIST ARE, MANY OF YOUR REMARKS REEK OF BIGOTRY AND INTOLERANCE, AND THAT TURNS MANY OF US OFF IMMEDIATELY. I THINK THAT YOU MAY BE PREACHING TO THE CHOIR, RATHER THAN TO HERB SILVERMANN, HOPING THAT NONE OF YOUR FLOCK STOPS TO CONSIDER INTELLIGENTLY WITHOUT BIAS WHAT SILVERMANN AND OTHER ATHEIST HAVE TO SAY.

    ANS: Intelligence without bias assumes Reason and Logic and there is no reason or logic to what Atheists say. They deny the Inalienability of their natural rights. They defy reason. For an Atheist, Morality must, by necessity, be a matter of opinion as opposed to its objective and universal facts.

    The Commandments are fact. God didn’t change them; though they appear several times in Scripture, they do not contradict themselves. Why, because they are the moral code for human behavior and the nature of humans does not change, neither do its binding laws of behavior, or man would cease to be human.

    Many rulers attempted to write the Commandments but they fell into the dispositions of despotism and totalitarianism, because reason is fallible to error but the word of God is infallible. He is Omniscient and Prescient. He is Truth itself. Being an Atheist you cannot understand the rational logic behind such statements because you have a closed mind.

    Putting one’s faith in what has obviously failed, as Atheists do, is nothing more than blind prejudicial arbitrariness against Reason and Truth.

    Our nation was founded on our Christian Heritage that’s why it has become the greatest nation in History. As America begins to refute its heritage it begins to digress into the fate that other nations became, an invitation to the Four Horsemen of Apocalypse.

    It’s not bigotry or bias to defend the truth, but is bias not to seek what is true.

    • Ronald N. Wall

      TTWSYFAMDGAHJMJ – I read your comments looking for answers to my questions and found none, even though your response is labeled, “IN REPLY TO RW.” My first question, having nothing to do with the Bible was, who are you and why do you hide behind your alphabet soup of a user ID. You don’t even tell us what it means. That indicates to me that you did not even bother to read my comments, you are simply, once again, preaching to the choir. I made this short so maybe you will read it and then go back and read my original comments. Not that it will do any good, as I’m sure you have your mind made up and no amount of reasoning will change it. There lies the principal problem with fundamentalist like yourself.

    • KootHoot

      America is the greatest nation in history because of it’s Christian heritage???? I fear it is you who is blind. Have you seen the murder stats for the US compared to other developed nations? Have you forgotten about that whole slave thing that the nation was built on, or the desecration of the native american culture and people. Yeah those are indications of a very moral nation. Not!!!

  • Robert Troy Drury

    Professor, can you tell me why it would be objectively wrong to cheat in one of your classes?

  • http://jbmaverick.wordpress.com/ Jack Maverick

    “The “religion” of atheism and secular humanism is not taught in public schools”
    Sure it is. If God does exist, then He is obviously THE central thing in the universe, in life. But by excluding Him from any core curriculum, public schools are in practice stating that knowledge of Him is completely non-essential to preparation for life as an adult – and therefore they’re, in effect, “teaching” atheism.

    • OhioBrian

      Some of the ontological arguments for God’s existence (with the big “G” as mostly referring to the Abrahamic god here), while sounding the most intellectually grounded are in truth actually some of the weakest logically. Just from the start of your assertion, “If God does exist, then” implies that he then must actually and accurately thereafter be described, but you’ve skipped this step and cannot proceed to the “then” as you already have the definition assumed; “God” in your estimation, as it does not follow directly from His or his or hers or it’s or their existence that they are omniscient, omnibenevolent, universal, or even timeless, is likely based on the descriptions of the deity found in the Bible. The only thing that perhaps we can assume, based on the crude definition, is that “If gods do exist,” they are likely more powerful, knowledgeable, long lasting, etc. than human beings.

      Also, its a huge leap to claim schools teach atheism when they don’t talk about God in classes that aren’t religiously focused (as most are not), any more than perhaps it would be fairly strange to see kids learning about Molar Chemistry in Sunday School. At worst religion in schools is left ambiguous as “these are subjects that you parents and church should instruct you on” was how it was put to me by several teachers, and last time I checked the US was still one of the more religious societies albeit about the earliest to adopt a secular government with freedom of religion as well setup a public education system.

  • http://jbmaverick.wordpress.com/ Jack Maverick

    “Most of the atheists I know have a good sense of humor,”
    That’s funny – most of the ones I know, don’t. ;)

    • OhioBrian

      I’m betting that most of the atheists you actually “know” haven’t revealed themselves to you as such but are in fact “closeted” like most of us and go “through the motions” of public faith not to be ostracized. Even when I occasionally lead my family in mealtime prayer, I’m sure most of them might be shocked how much during I think to myself how hysterical and comical it all is that they actually believe in SpookyStarBabyDaddy (my own coined term for the Christian Mono-Trinity aka “ShamRockGod”). Seriously, once you get to a certain point it feels little different (but actually quite a bit more absurd as adults) than when I ask my kid cousins/niece what they hope for from Santa Claus.

  • Andrew Hawkins

    Number 7 is incorrect and is a common mistake that should be corrected. Atheism is not the absence of religion, but the absence of belief in a God. Many Buddhists are atheists, but still adhere to a strict religion. Therefore, the analogy is not really correct.

    • OhioBrian

      Yours is a very strict and narrow interpretation stemming perhaps from the original Greek etymology of the word which was taken reflective to their own societies as well those perhaps in surrounding Levant for which all religion to them was essentially theistic in nature. For all practical purposes then, in most western societies, atheism means both a lack of belief in God and gods, but also supernatural or unscientific(or beyond scientific) explanations for the as yet unknowns of the universe, as well a disbelief in what is really an unproven spiritual component of our nature. In that sense for instance Atheism may be very much counter to Buddhism as here there remain concepts such as enlightenment, Buddhist cosmology, timelessness aka immortality which though claimed possible possible by ordinary humans may be seen as making them akin to types of deities subject to disbelief. Further, “god” in Buddhism is left much more ambiguous making it much more akin to agnosticism, yet still there are components very similar to more theistic religions, ex: absolute “truth”, “reality”, “totality of existence” essentially represent the divine in many Buddhist teachings.

      From my own standpoint as a nonbeliever, I do respect Buddhism very much and think it probably closest to such “truth” whatever this may be than most any of the other worlds’ major religions, primarily as its perhaps more a moral philosophy and way of life rather than obsession over death and disbelief(apostasy) compared with most others.

  • Anal distroyer

    If atheist hate having different religions crammed down their throats why do they crammed down their religion down other people throats Very confusion world we live in.

    • OhioBrian

      A somewhat valid point but then again there’ll likely always be theological as well cosmological debate. Also, in many ways its a question of positional relativity and power. For example, in most of the ostensibly categorized “Christian” or “Islamic” countries, it is these religions that are in positions of power, or mandated socially for people to be considered “proper” members of society. A similar analogy might be to perhaps how people of these religions may have felt in say the USSR, or currently China, etc; a lot has to do with who’s in control, or actually much more so in Atheists in the West, how much people truly abide by religious freedom, tolerance, political religious tests, etc. for which through the Republicans for the past 40 years or so, fundamentalist tenants have become highly politicized.

  • cyber

    I am an open atheist but I am only anti-asshole-filled-faith-group-that-is-also-hypocritical (basically I’m sick of christians)