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Apr 05 2012

Think of it as culling the herd

Uh-oh, atheism is in trouble. We keep losing our great leaders, seduced away by the entirely reasonable arguments of Christianity.

We have lost Patrick Greene.

The Christian news media is all excited about winning over this “longtime atheist activist” to Christ. Not only has he become a follower of Jesus, but he’s planning to study to become a Baptist pastor.

There’s one catch to this fabulous story of recovering a lost soul: who the hell is Patrick Greene? Atheist activist? I had no idea who this entirely forgettable person was, until I did a little digging to remind myself.

He’s a crank.

He’s a somewhat notorious kook in the atheist movement, best known for calling into The Atheist Experience show and threatening to sue Ray Comfort over a bumper sticker he found offensive. His “activism” consisted of making ill-founded accusations and getting thoroughly chewed out by the real atheist activists, like Matt Dillahunty and Russell Glasser.

The real story is that Patrick Greene is getting old and having medical problems, and a local congregation raised money to help him out. He’s been bought, in other words. Even in his “atheist activism”, he was simply a litigious fool who clearly had his own self-interest in mind, so it’s no surprise that he’d cheerfully flip sides at the first sign of personal gain.

They’re welcome to him. He’s an idiot who was repudiated by atheists for his actions.

45 comments

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  1. 1
    jamessweet

    He’s a Scotsman, alright, but he’s a rather silly Scotsman, isn’t he?

  2. 2
    frog

    He was a Scotsman, but they’ve turned him into a blancmange.

  3. 3
    docsarvis

    Ah yes, but he was obviously not a true Scotsman.

  4. 4
    Louis

    In other news: people change their minds for lots of reasons.

    Excited: colour me not.

    Gotta be honest though, good on that local congregation. That’s sterling work. Okay so it’s the “Basic medical care?…Basic medical care?…Bible!…” trick that missionaries have pulled the world over since time immemorial. But I will never look at charity, even charity with nefarious motivations, as a 100% bad thing.

    Sad to see this is “necessary” in this day and age.

    Louis

  5. 5
    'Tis Himself

    The real story is that Patrick Greene is getting old and having medical problems

    I’m getting old and having medical problems but you don’t see me threatening to become a monk so I can get treated.

  6. 6
    Louis

    ‘Tis,

    I’m getting old and having medical problems but you don’t see me threatening to become a monk so I can get treated.

    I stubbed my toe therefore Jesus?

    Louis

  7. 7
    Glen Davidson

    So atheism is not based upon Patrick Greene? His conversion does not supply the evidence needed to show that there is a God?

    The point has gone missing, yet again.

    Glen Davidson

  8. 8
    Anthony K

    Not to fear: I’m planning to join Arica, thereby cancelling out Christianity’s extra person’s worth of truth.

  9. 9
    Louis

    OH NO WE LOST BROWNIAN!

    And as Glen hinted above, although atheism is not based on Patrick Greene, it IS based on Brownian.

    Fuckballs!

    Now I’ll have to go to church and hand back all that money that was {ahem} “resting” in my account.

    Louis

  10. 10
    Anthony K

    OH NO WE LOST BROWNIAN!

    S’alright. I’m still in the planning stage. Because I just miss going to church soooooo much or whatever utterly ludicrous thing the faitheists say.

  11. 11
    Randomfactor

    This is the guy who took money from the atheist community and then bemoaned how it was only the Christians who helped him, right?

    Guy should start his own religion with the rest of the conmen.

  12. 12
    mnb0

    Please click a bit through and have a good laugh:

    http://atheistexperience.blogspot.com/2008/07/patrick-greene-checks-in.html

    Can’t wait to hear that Patrick Green preaching. Must be funnier than Eddie Murphy at his peak.

  13. 13
    Louis

    Brownian,

    Phew. I thought I was going to have to sing hymns there for a minute.

    Mind you, those faithiests, they’re, they’re, they’re so nice.

    Therefore Jesus. Probably. Well maybe. Who knows?

    Louis

  14. 14
    raven

    Looks like Patrick Green raised the average IQ’s of both the atheists and the xians.

    What is the going rate for a soul these days? A rhetorical question, I’m sure the xians couldn’t afford mine.

  15. 15
    Sketch

    Well, judging from his performance on the Atheist Experience, Patrick Green already had down to a T the spurious religious reasoning – e.g. appeal to authority, special pleading, ad nauseam, appeal to personal offense etc. Wasn’t it only a matter of time before the content of his beliefs reflected the manner in which they were arrived at?

  16. 16
    consciousness razor

    There will be more rejoicing in heaven over one idiot who converts to idiotism than over ninety-nine idiots who do not need to convert. Says so in the Bible.

  17. 17
    Sastra

    In his book Losing Faith in Faith, former pastor Dan Barker says that he was surprised by the reactions of his Christian colleagues when he came out as an atheist. None of them wanted to hear his reasons. Not even the people who had made such a big song and dance about ‘reasonable faith’ or apologetics were interested when he tried to explain why he no longer believed.

    Instead, they brushed aside his rational concerns in order to express their concern over how much he must have been hurt over something or someone in the church. He must have a personal problem, an emotional crisis of some sort. As far as they were concerned, that’s the only reason a Christian would become an atheist. Hardly anyone wanted to argue with him or debate the issues — at least, when they did, they rapidly dropped it in order to express their conviction that he must have a personal grudge or sorrow.

    Well, the first thing I always want to hear when an atheist converts to Christianity is his reason. I’m not going to assume, upfront, that it’s a personal need. Minion or not, I’m not going to automatically agree with PZ.

    So here’s what he offers:

    “There’s been one lingering thought in the back of my head my entire life, and it’s one thought that I’ve never been able to reconcile, and that is the vast difference between all the animals and us,” Greene told The Christian Post on Tuesday, as he began to explain his recent transformation from atheist to Christian. The theory of evolution didn’t answer his questions, he says, so he just set those questions aside and didn’t think about them anymore.

    Ok … NOW I’m going to agree with PZ.

    The theory of evolution doesn’t explain how super special humanity is — so there must be a god? Oh, come on.

    He may have been an atheist, but he wasn’t a secular humanist. In addition to the nonsense about wanting to sue someone for exercising their right to free speech, he didn’t approach his question rationally — by looking for an answer. There’s a lot of popular scientific works addressing the evolution of the human species.

    “Setting questions aside and not thinking about them anymore” is a great description of the faith mindset, though. Hey, how did God do it? Um … set that aside, we don’t think about that.

  18. 18
    Russell Glasser

    I’ve heard Matt Dillahunty answer the question about why he lost his Christianity many times. He set out to prove that it was true, found that he couldn’t justify it after honest examination, and found he couldn’t remain intellectually honest without giving up that belief.

    By contrast, Patrick changed his mind because somebody gave him money.

  19. 19
    radpumpkin

    So, we lost one loon, but gained a priest at the American Atheist meeting? A most equitable trade, it would seem.

  20. 20
    zathras

    The Christians shouldn’t be too excited because on this Christian web-site it says about Greene:

    “Greene plans to either join a nearby liberal congregation or may even start his own chapter of the Rainbow Baptists, an outreach ministry of The Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists that supports the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. He says he feels strongly that homosexuality is acceptable in Christianity, and claims the Bible’s original approach to issues of homosexuality has been altered over the last 2,000 years.”

    http://www.christianpost.com/news/atheist-activist-becomes-christian-after-believers-show-him-compassion-72655/

  21. 21
    billygutter01

    So, we lost one loon, but gained a priest at the American Atheist meeting? A most equitable trade, it would seem.

    I couldn’t agree more.

  22. 22
    anubisprime

    PZ @ OP

    ” They’re welcome to him. He’s an idiot”

    Guaranteed…they will not notice!

  23. 23
    Regular Joe

    Think of it as culling the herd

    So it appears the lie-uns got one of the weak/sick/lame…all the better for the rest of the herd (more pasta for me).

  24. 24
    Anthony K

    Phew. I thought I was going to have to sing hymns there for a minute.

    Well, we’re not off the hook yet. There’s still the problem of how much I just miss church!

    So, I think I’ve come up with an idea: the Harvard folks already have the UU/Anglican/whatever stuff covered, but we need a Catholic version, so I’ve come up with a form of secular Mass:

    First, get some people together.

    Participants: all face the same way. Officiant: face the other way. Tell the participants to sit down. Then have them stand up. Then sit down again. Stand up. Sit down. Do this intermittently throughout the next hour.

    Everyone: sing a song off-key. It doesn’t matter what the song is about, just as long as it’s uninteresting and sort of upbeat. If one of the people can play and there is access to a piano or guitar, have them play along with enthusiasm completely disproportionate to the quality of the song.

    Officiant: have someone read a story from mythology. Then have another read a different story. Finally, read a third story. They should all be read as soberly as possible. Remember: this shit is deep!

    Then, awkwardly weave all three stories together. Pretend they’re allegories for how we use Facebook, or iPhones, or four-way stop intersections, or some other facet of modern life they have absolutely no fucking bearing upon except in the most meaninglessly metaphorical way.

    Everyone: sing another off-key song. Shift uncomfortably while doing so, and hope the others’ voices will drown yours out if you mumble and choke on the words. They won’t, because they’ll be doing the same thing. The guitarist or pianist should be literally fucking the shit out of their instrument, like it’s the last sex they’ll have. Wonder how anyone could possibly even pretend to like this song that much without being on ecstasy. Put away the lyrics sheets halfway through the coda, in the hopes that you’ll end the pain through sheer volition. It won’t, but you’ll do so anyway, just like how you nudge your car forward at a red light hoping to prematurely shift it to green. Hey, a metaphor!

    Officiant: pass around a bowl with the implication that everyone should throw in a twenty. Make a lot of noise about the poor and downtrodden. This is called foreshadowing.

    Then, have some dry bread and cheap wine. Using the same cup, make sure anyone with mouth sores eats and drinks immediately after you, but before anyone else.

    Participants: it’s crass to worry about hygiene at this point, and none of the older people will. Wonder if you’re tasting whatever that one guy seemed to be loudly smacking around in his mouth while you were considering allegorical implications.

    Everyone: finally, when that’s all done and over, retire to the basement for coffee with a few of the individuals. You don’t have to like them; you just have to dislike the others slightly more. Wonder aloud about someone who hasn’t attended in over a week. Speculate about the terrible things that must have befallen them to make them miss such a wonderous celebration. Hint at relationship troubles, or maybe something wrong with the kids they raised poorly if they have them. Whatever the potential reasons, keep the thought that they must have deserved it due to their poor lifestyle choices. We may not believe in God, but the God we don’t believe in surely doesn’t punish people for no reason!

    This is just a start. I haven’t said anything about the clothes, or the torture porn on the wall, but these are probably important for getting the feel right.

    It’s too late for Patrick, but surely we can keep others from following his footsteps into oblivion.

  25. 25
    Jasper of Maine

    @Zathras 20

    The heck? He’s been a Christian for like 5 minutes and he’s deciding Christian doctrine as an expert?

    Yep, he’s found his niche I think.

  26. 26
    anubisprime

    Actually when ya cogitate profoundly maybe it could be said, with full justification, that while the Jeebus droolers IQ spirals downward yet again…

    the Atheist collective IQ climbs in direct proportion…yet again…!

  27. 27
    consciousness razor

    Participants: all face the same way. Officiant: face the other way. Tell the participants to sit down. Then have them stand up. Then sit down again. Stand up. Sit down. Do this intermittently throughout the next hour.

    Needs more kneeling and distracted parents coaxing their children to shut the fuck up with toys and treats.

    Everyone: sing a song off-key. It doesn’t matter what the song is about, just as long as it’s uninteresting and sort of upbeat.

    Every now and then a dirge would be appropriate. For example, at Christmas time there ought to be a secular version of Silent Night in the key of puke-sharp, to inspire you to drown a sack of kittens when you get back from the midnight ceremony at dawn.

    If one of the people can play and there is access to a piano or guitar, have them play along with enthusiasm completely disproportionate to the quality of the song.

    [...]

    The guitarist or pianist should be literally fucking the shit out of their instrument, like it’s the last sex they’ll have. Wonder how anyone could possibly even pretend to like this song that much without being on ecstasy.

    Wait, hold on. You don’t expect them to be able to play their instruments well, right? Just as if they were on ecstasy, I hope. Otherwise, that would be quite un-Catholic and detract from the experience.

  28. 28
    Loqi

    @Brownian -
    That pretty well describes my memories of church as a kid. I don’t know whether to laugh my ass off (because of how patently silly it all is) or have depressing flashbacks (same reason).

  29. 29
    mits

    Bullshit! I’m still here and I’m certainly not reconsidering my atheist position. Oh, wait, it’s a different Patrick Greene…Carry on then.

  30. 30
    d cwilson

    Can we nominate S. E. Cupp to be the next atheist to be “saved”?

  31. 31
    Sili

    Oh noes! They got Patrick!

    At least we still have Anthony Flew.

  32. 32
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    He might also be getting deaf. My dad, a lifetime atheist from age 12, in the old folks’ complex care residence, found himself nodding and agreeing with people who said that they were born-again Christians with Jesus as their savior.

  33. 33
    robro

    Brownian — I see you have been to church and you have seen the light. “Stand up, sit down, fight, fight, fight…” was what my friends and I called it down at the Jefferson City First Baptist Church. That was the morning after the Saturday night football game, so it was natural to transfer the cheer to the service. Followed occasionally with cheers for the baby Jeebus…”Give me a J” (and stop bogarting it).

  34. 34
    unclefrogy

    when you were describing the church service I think you left out one element that would be a “lead singer” who would lead the participants I immediately thought of Johnathan and Darlene Edwards as choir director and singer and submit this as an audition selection.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=alWBCVHGPnY&feature=related

    uncle frogy

  35. 35
    dangeroustalk

    I’m pissed at the media coverage of this shit. Here is my article on that: http://t.co/jwWa5HI5

  36. 36
    saguhh00

    A book designed to convert people makes fun of non-believers, how clever!

    Seriously, it should be obvious that books written to convert people would make fun of non-believers.

  37. 37
    grumpy1942

    Sure. Because for them to get strident is ok. It’s just not ok for us.

  38. 38
    Martin Wagner

    Well, maybe Patrick will finally found the kind of church Alain de Botton has been so desperate to attend.

  39. 39
    ChristineRose

    The Christians shouldn’t be too excited because on this Christian web-site it says about Greene:

    “Greene plans to either join a nearby liberal congregation or may even start his own chapter of the Rainbow Baptists, an outreach ministry of The Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists that supports the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. He says he feels strongly that homosexuality is acceptable in Christianity, and claims the Bible’s original approach to issues of homosexuality has been altered over the last 2,000 years.”

    That’s kind of depressing actually. If there’s one thing a Christian hates it’s another Christian who comes to a different conclusion about his favorite contradictory passages with obscure untranslatable words. He’s got a hard path ahead of him, and he’s going to be walking it sick. I just hope he doesn’t start talking about the pleroma and the archons. That will really tick them off.

  40. 40
    andybreeden

    Too bad Jesus is dead. He would have been so proud of Patrick Greene.

  41. 41
    jfigdor

    I feel kinda bad for this poor guy. If we had a national single-payer healthcare system, I don’t even think this would have come up as an issue. It is also too bad that he didn’t make ties and approach any local atheist groups (or so I’m guessing since none of the articles I’ve read about this guy have mentioned him being a member of any local groups…) who might have been able to help him.

  42. 42
    jfigdor

    @ Sastra #17

    Yes. So right.

  43. 43
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    Has anyone got $1500? I will convert* to ANYTHING** for $1500. For $3000 you get autographed pictures and I’ll write you a song about my conversion experience.

    * on paper
    ** that is legal and more or less ethical. Not cannibalism, but possibly veganism.

  44. 44
    somenameorother

    Um… now that he’s a believer, that means he considers that bumper sticker a fact…

    Who wants to be the first to sue him? :)

  45. 45
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!


    Brownian:

    Because I just miss going to church soooooo much or whatever utterly ludicrous thing the faitheists say.

    -How big is the god shaped hole in your heart? I believe mine is 3 sizes too small.

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