Sep 28 2011

Old Atheists, same as the New Atheists

Wait a minute here…this cartoon is from 1903?

And it prompted this comment?

And I have realized that C.C. Moore was reincarnated as PZ Myers.

I feel weirded out by the comparison, but I did go ahead and order the collected writings. We’ll have to see if I experience deja vu and start having flashbacks or mysterious dreams of my past life.

Mainly, right now I want my own Whip of Ridicule and Sword of Cold Facts. I think I’ll pass on the funny hat with the candle.

(via Camels With Hammers)


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  1. 1
    Glen Davidson

    But…but…ridicule? Isn’t that what the Gestapo used?

    And New Atheists are even worse, they use Bad Language, causing delicate souls like Bob Enyart’s Willy to swoon and fall to the ground, possibly causing serious damage.

    It’s…Inhuman, Satanic!

    Glen Davidson

  2. 2

    And here I thought that if reincarnation was true you used to be Diogenes, he of the Turnips a la Hercules.

  3. 3

    I knew C.C. Moore.

    C.C. Moore was a friend of mine.

    You, sir, are no C.C. Moore.

    (sorry, just got done with the insult thread)

  4. 4

    I knew C.C. Moore.

    C.C. Moore was a friend of mine.

    You, sir, are no C.C. Moore.

    (Sorry, still under the influence of the insult thread.)

  5. 5

    Doh! I even refreshed the thread and my first comment didn’t appear so I reposted.


  6. 6
    screechy monkey

    Bah, who needs a Whip of Ridicule or Sword of Cold Facts when you have a cyberpistol?

  7. 7
    Greta Christina

    Mainly, right now I want my own Whip of Ridicule and Sword of Cold Facts. I think I’ll pass on the funny hat with the candle.

    No! The funny hat with the candle is essential! The candle is, like, the beacon of the light of truth! Or something. Besides, it goes with everything.

    And I’m pretty sure you can get a Whip of Ridicule at Mr. S. Leather.

  8. 8

    Gonna have to lay off the booze if you wanna be an Olde Atheist, though. Another reason to skew Gnu.

  9. 9

    I first read Nationalism, so i was quite put out i tell you. Then i looked again and saw it was Rationalism. *sigh of relief*

    The most stupid thing? I saw this picture before & did the same thing… One think one would learn.

  10. 10

    I’d take a Sword of Cold Facts over a Holy Avenger +5 any day.

  11. 11
    Elf M. Sternberg

    “Sword of Cold Facts” is the name of my Carl Sagan cover band!

  12. 12


    I first read Nationalism

    So did I. That was a confused moment.

  13. 13
    Thomas Lawson

    C.C. Moore might have had a much fuller beard (no offense, PZ) Moore on Twitter, but his paper was as indignant about religion as PZ can be on occasion, and Moore was but a puppy dog to deal with in person, based on accounts. He was punched in the face one day (because of his newspaper) and had to convince himself to fight back or be bludgeoned to a pulp.

    The comparisons stop there, because C.C. was wholeheartedly against the consumption of alcohol, but all American atheists owe quite a debt to his two federal court battles.

  14. 14
    Zinc Avenger

    To properly represent PZ it would have to have the Cephalopod of Truth behind, extending a friendly tentacle.

  15. 15
    Zinc Avenger

    And one hand extended, beckoning onwards the unleashed Ferrets of Pharyngulation.

  16. 16
    Monado, FCD

    I suspect that Mark Twain, or at least his rational skeptic part, was reincarnated as PZ Myers: Letters from the Earth, written in 1909, first published 1969.

  17. 17
    Monado, FCD

    Subbie, you can check by re-submitting without changing a word. If the comment has already gone through, the blog software it will tell you very nicely that it appears to be a duplicate post.

  18. 18
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    Hmm. Isn’t that a *Scourge* of ridicule?

  19. 19

    I wouldn’t try to emulate that guy’s build, unless you’re just starting out and don’t have a lot of gold. For an ordinary midlevel Atheist who’s going to grind seriously I would recommend that you obtain, at the very LEAST, the Axe of Science +4 (or possibly the Scythe of Actually-Reading-The-Bible-and-Noticing-All-the-Bullshit +3, if you’re desperate), Hitchens’ Shield of Mockery +5, the Amulet of Natural Armor +4, and the legendary Helm of Not-Being-A-Total-Idiot. The only worthwhile item in the photograph is the Armor of Rationalism, IMO.

  20. 20
    Christopher Kwolek

    How do we know what the candle-hat represents? There’s no label on it!

  21. 21
    Christopher Kwolek

    The other guy’s hat doesn’t have a label, either. WHAT DO HATS MEAN

  22. 22

    I agree about the hat, but would you be willing to wear the Lorica of Rationalism? If you are going to wield the Scourge of Ridicule, you really ought to have a matching leather skirt.

  23. 23

    Hazuki, that’s Diagoras. (For any other confused parties trying to Google the story as I did.)

  24. 24
    Gregory Greenwood

    Where is the Decaying Porcupine of Horizontal Suppositry +5, +10 versus trolls? An essential piece of kit for all gnu atheists adventuring in heavily infested threads…

  25. 25
    Thomas Lawson

    By the way, that Catholic priest, running away with the little hat and bag o’ money, is a pre-incarnation of Bill Donahue of the Catholic League.

  26. 26

    I highly recommend armaments that have a type advatnage. Odd as this sounds, they’re usually weak against their own type, if you can hit them with it. A bit like Psychic pokemon in the old card game, actually. Outfit yourself with a combination of Bible/Theology weapons like the aforementioned scythe and Philosopher-typed gear. Your armor should be Science and Philosopher as well.

  27. 27

    Don’t forget Robert Green Ingersoll, the “Great Agnostic” of the late 19th century. He anticipated Dawkins by more than a century. Compare Dawkins in The God Delusion:

    “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

    and Ingersoll in Some Mistakes of Moses:

    It is impossible to conceive of a more thoroughly despicable, hateful, and arrogant being, than the Jewish god. He is without a redeeming feature. In the mythology of the world he has no parallel. He, only, is never touched by agony and tears. He delights only in blood and pain. Human affections are naught to him. He cares neither for love nor music, beauty nor Joy. A false friend, an unjust judge, a braggart, hypocrite, and tyrant, sincere in hatred, jealous, vain, and revengeful, false in promise, honest in curse, suspicious, ignorant, and changeable, infamous and hideous: — such is the God of the Pentateuch.

  28. 28

    To anyone interested in the history of atheism and radical (i.e. non-accomodationist) enlightenment thought I highly recommend the fascinating book “A Wicked Company” by Philipp Blom, about the circle of philosophers and scientists around Denis Diderot and P.T. D’Holbach. After being told my whole life that the deists Voltaire and Rousseau were the prime thinkers of the french enlightenment this was a true eye-opener.
    And while I’m at it I might as well plug this librivox audiobook version of Holbach’s “Good Sense”:

  29. 29


    Psst! It would be “un titre français de fantaisie” because titre is male (you are using the correct article) even if the féministe is not.

    (This is not meant to be pedantic but helpful. It hurts a little in the ear. No offense.)

  30. 30

    I do think PZ would look smashing in that sash.

  31. 31

    I think I just found a name for my whip…

  32. 32


    (This is not meant to be pedantic but helpful. It hurts a little in the ear. No offense.)

    The French titles aren’t meant to be perfect, they came about thanks to an MRA troll. /derail

  33. 33

    who is the guy hiding behind the barrel of “comstock filth”?

    can’t quite make out what it says on his arm.

  34. 34

    More Watson Heston:



    (scroll down a little)

    and I think he’s written 3 books; the image for this thread probably came from this one:


  35. 35

    …it’s out of print, btw, so if you ever run into a copy of it, GRAB IT.

  36. 36

    @Caine, Fleur du Mal

    Ah. I was wondering about them for a while now. Thanks for that clarification (and congratulations to the Beaudelaire reference in your title. Very witty. I wanted to mention that several times before.).

    Still, I have to insist a little. If you speak French it just sounds wrong. It is like saying “it just sound wrong”. Even if not meant to be perfect you have to admit that you stumble over that sentence. On the other hand everyone likes Yoda and his English grammar was certainly not perfect. French is not my mother tongue either so they probably just successfully indoctrinated me after I have spent many years in a French speaking area.

  37. 37


    If you speak French it just sounds wrong. It is like saying “it just sound wrong”.

    I know, and the corrections really are welcome. :)

  38. 38
    Dr. Strabismus (WGP) of Utrecht

    @33 ichthyic who is the guy hiding behind the barrel of “comstock filth”?

    That is old Anthony Comstock, himself, of the famous Comstock Law, prohibiting the sending of pornographic materials through the mail.

  39. 39

    The scary part is that the situation was this obvious to at least some people 108 years ago. Light the candle-hats! We need to prevent the next century from being molested by religion as was the last (and all of human history).

  40. 40

    Still, I have to insist a little.

    Il faut que j’insiste un peu…

    they probably just successfully indoctrinated me after I have spent many years in a French speaking area.

    Yes they certainly have.

  41. 41

    @Sally Strange

    Hehe. You are right.

    When a native German speaker starts to use a Gallicism in English he is probably a lost soul.

  42. 42

    That is old Anthony Comstock, himself, of the famous Comstock Law, prohibiting the sending of pornographic materials through the mail.


    of course.

    thanks muchly.

  43. 43
    The Rat King

    So PZ is basically an incarnation of Sam Vimes crossed over from the Discworld.

    With a nice hat.

  44. 44
    David Marjanović, OM

    For an ordinary midlevel Atheist who’s going to grind seriously I would recommend that you obtain, at the very LEAST, the Axe of Science +4

    Not to be confused with Ockham’s Conan Axe +50.

  45. 45

    Ah, the candle. Maybe that’s where the inspiration for the “brights” came from. (That didn’t burn too long either).

  46. 46

    I hear you can do normal damage to fairies with a sword made of cold facts.

  47. 47

    I had an amazing conversation with a pagan today. At one point she asked if I was atheist. I said yes. She then completely shut down, saying that there was no reasoning with atheists. I feel I could have used the Sword of Cold Facts and the Whip of Ridicule at that point.

  48. 48
    Monado, FCD

    The candle is obviously the Light of Reason. It probably appears automagically when you step into Cartoon World. Why yes, it does appear to be a Scourge of Ridicule or perhaps a Cat o’ Nine Tails of Ridicule. I ♥ this picture!

    “Another beautiful theory slain by the Sword of Cold Facts.”

    Of course that’s not the Roman gladius, which is straight. Our soldier must have spent some time in foreign lands and acquired it as a spare. The Gay Sword of Cold Facts!

  49. 49

    Falchion of Cold Facts…

  50. 50

    don’t forget the skirt!

    If its not below the knees its not acceptable for school!!!

  51. 51

    What’s with the one-legged, one-armed, headless person?

  52. 52
    'Tis Himself

    C.C. certainly had the legs to wear a skirt. So many men don’t.

  53. 53

    But…but…ridicule? Isn’t that what the Gestapo used?

    No, the Gestapo used sarcasm, No…I was never head of Gestapo.

  54. 54

    rbh3 says: #27 – That was awesome. Thanks!

  55. 55
    Aqua Buddha

    Torch of torture… how clunky.

  56. 56
    Captain Quirk

    I like The Who reference. And yes, I suspect there were many atheists with similar views as prominent atheists today, but that there was less of a high profile, for the most part.

  57. 57
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    Captain Quirk, love your nym. I bow in your green oversized-pec direction.

  58. 58

    I love allegories.
    The man escaping to the right from the Attack of Rationalism must be a Pastor who has just dropped the Brand of Torture and the Bag of Pulpit Lies in his haste to escape. Beside him escapes a Cardinal? clutching a money bag. Beside the pair sits the broken Shackles of Persecution but whether they were just broken by the Sword (Falchion?) of Cold Facts is unclear. These two scoundrels were defending the bursting Barrel of Comstock Filth acquired by the NY Society for the Suppression of Vice. (The society apparently conducted their own raids and confiscated “obscene” material transported by mail). The barrel is bursting because of the inclusion of innocuous material? I can’t make out the name of the person gaping in surprise at Rationalism but it might be Henry Payne, the Postmaster General. It certainly looks like him from other caricatures. Perhaps this was some attempt to link Payne’s recent corruption allegations with the Society. Behind Payne? to the left cower the intellectual cowards behind their Pulpit Refuge, afraid to confront warlike Rationalism. To the right another Pastor with his back turned faces another crowd, reminding the viewer that there are many other scoundrels still out there.

    I’ve just found out there are many of these Watson Heston drawings! I need to collect and frame them!

    I particularly enjoy the in-your-face satire of Paul and his sociopathic misogynistic followers

  59. 59
    Marcus Ranum

    funny hat with the candle

    That’s a +5 helm of enlightenment!

  60. 60
    Dr. Strabismus (WGP) of Utrecht

    @58 Abelard

    No, the man beside the barrel is certainly Anthony Comstock, founder of the NY Society for the Suppression of Vice. Wikipedia’s bio has a picture, and the whiskers are distinctive.
    He was also the politician for whom the Comstock Law was named, and a postal inspector who bragged of destroying “15 tons of books, 284,000 pounds of plates for printing ‘objectionable’ books, and nearly 4,000,000 pictures”.

  61. 61
    Pierce R. Butler

    Dr. Strabismus (WGP) of Utrecht @ # 38: … the famous Comstock Law, prohibiting the sending of pornographic materials through the mail.

    “Pornography” in this case (which lasted for decades) including most gynecology and anything concerning contraception.

  62. 62
    Dr. Strabismus (WGP) of Utrecht

    @61 Pierce R. Butler
    Very true. Rem acu tetigisti.

  63. 63
    John Morales

    A candle in the dark is good.

    (And a metaphor for science, even)

  64. 64

    [kobold voice] You no take candle! [/kobold voice]

  65. 65

    I’m pretty sure that the name on Comstock’s sleeve is “Tony”.

  66. 66

    Reading The Friendly Atheist, Prof Myers? Anything to avoid work, eh?

    On the topic of armor

    The hat is essential. Aside from providing significant protection against charm effects and spells of the illusion school, it also provides shadowy illumination out to 30 feet! And as an added bonus, it adds a +2 circumstance bonus to intimidation and sense motive checks made against anyone who actively worships a deity. No dungeon crawling skeptic should be without it.

  67. 67

    “I think I’ll pass on the funny hat with the candle.”

    I don’t think the outfit works without the complete set. O.O

  68. 68

    Julian is correct. If you don’t get the set bonus then you’re really selling yourself short.

  69. 69

    So clearly, we have made progress since 1903….Oh, wait.

  70. 70
    Fedor Steeman

    A welcome addition to the superhero team of the Avengers!

  71. 71
    John Morales


    For you newbies: Armour of God

  72. 72

    Armour of God?

  73. 73

    Armour of God?


    Oh, sweet Mary and Joseph, I’m buying a set of those for me and my wife. I know she’ll get a kick of them.

  74. 74


    Here’s an issue of C.C. Moore’s paper the Blue-Grass Blade – “Edited by a heathen in the interest of good morals”. There are other issues too on this site.


    Just change the year in the drop down box.

    Pretty amazing that this existed especially in Kentucky! n_n

  75. 75
    Christophe Thill

    Modern rationalists don’t wear a candle on their head. They wear a LED flashlight. It’s full of quantum physics !

  76. 76

    Those rationalists back then had to put up with the pragmatism response, as opposed to today when there’s post-modernism filling that meta-criticism niche.

  77. 77
    Dr Marcus Hill Ph.D. (arguing from his own authority)

    Even then, the fight was getting old – hence the fact that Rationalism’s face is clearly saying “I’m pig sick of having to do this shit again”.

  78. 78


    (That didn’t burn too long either).

    The hat that burns twice as bright burns for half as long – and you have burned so very, very brightly, C.C.

  79. 79

    I think the hat may be capped with an oil lamp, not a candle.

    But if you really want a candle hat, try http://www.faithandculture.com/culturewatch.php?record_id=1213

  80. 80

    Two words:

    Skepticon Cosplay.

    Dooo iiiit!

  81. 81
    Rey Fox

    I’d lend you my LED headlamp if I could find the damn thing.

  82. 82

    The funny hat is a miner’s helmet — and represents a tiny light as the only illumination of vast stygian darkness.


  83. 83

    The “collected works” referenced are available for free at http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069867/

  84. 84

    well, i rather like the candle hat-thingy myself.

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