Alien bodysnatchers and spiritual zombies…my favorite people

Dwight Longenecker is apparently writing some awful book that includes a discussion of atheists. He has some very strange ideas about us, as this excerpt shows. [Oops, wait! That page has magically disappeared! Good thing I grabbed a copy before he deleted it.]

Is there really such a thing as an utterly authentic atheist? I think so. I have a dreadful feeling that there exists a sort of human sub-species who have lost their spiritual capacity completely. These authentic atheists do not profess belief in God, nor even disbelief. Instead they seem entirely deaf to such ideas. They do not hate the Church or say the Bible is a fairy tale. They do not spit out bigoted remarks that blame the Pope for the holocaust or missionaries for murder. They do not attack the arguments for the existence of God, say the universe is random, or call Rick Warren a simpleton. They do not rage against God, any more than someone born blind has dreams in color. These are the authentic atheists. They plod through life eating, working, shopping, breeding and sleeping, and God never seems to flit across their consciousness. Members of this sub-species may be sparkling sophisticates or ill-bred boors. They may be the decent and moral folks next door, or they could be despicable murderers. In a frightful way, it doesn’t matter. If they exist, perhaps they have bred and spread like the alien bodysnatchers, and exist in our midst like spiritual zombies—indistinguishable in the teeming mass of humanity except to those few who see them and tremble.

Weird. He recognizes that atheists have the same range of variation that theists do, and do everything believers do, and even admits that the differences don’t matter (and isn’t that frightful!), but still, the fact that god-thoughts don’t flit across their brains all day long makes them zombies and something to fear.

I can see his concern. I understand that there are people who plod through life eating, working, shopping, breeding and sleeping, and squid never seem to flit across their consciousness, either. That I manage to avoid categorizing these poor afflicted individuals as members of a different subspecies or as scary zombies is simply testimony of an inherent decency that Longenecker lacks. Of course, there are a few differences between squid and gods: squid exist, and people don’t look at people who love marine organisms and use their beliefs as a reason to forgive them for raping children, or thinking that Rick Warren is not a dangerous simpleton.


By the way, one good thing about deleting the post is that he also wiped the comments. I have a real problem with reading blogs written by Catholic priests: it’s all the sycophantic commenters who insist on calling the author “Father”. There is only one man who I loved and respected who earned the right to be addressed as “Father” by me, and he didn’t do it by being an example of gullibility or by teaching me to worship ghosts. It’s a title that resonates strongly with me, and I hate to see it used for people who don’t deserve it. It’s like seeing Kent Hovind called “doctor”, only worse.

Also, it’s fucking Patheos. Patheos, the web portal that didn’t have enough bullshit on display, so they opened an astrology portal.

Comments

  1. Beatrice says

    The whole thing is ridiculous and it’s probably useless to seek any sense in this, but why should anyone tremble in front of these authentic atheists?
    If they are just like regular people, it’s their own business if God sends them to some special pit in hell reserved for those who don’t give him any thought. He doesn’t even accuse them of being some kind of a morally corrupt threat to good pious human beings, just that they are vile.

    Was this the whole article? If not, I would like to see the rest. It’s really horrible. I know that religionists think some awful things about us atheists, but this article is particularly vile.
    I would even prefer one that says that we all lack morality or something similar, than this one which implies that some people are simply beyond despicable for no reason at all.

  2. chigau (違わない) says

    My father used to call the priests “Father” and he wasn’t a Catholic.
    That was weird.

  3. nathanielwiner says

    And not only did the dude scrub the original post, he scrubbed the post accusing all us stupid atheists of taking his original post horribly out of context.

    I said it before that post was wiped, and I’ll say it again. I really look forward to your amazon book reviews. Can’t scrub those.

    Also, Orwell called. He said your an amateur.

  4. says

    As I was just saying in the Lounge, it’ll be fun to see the reaction of the religious bloggers there.

    Brings to mind this old thread in which Paul W. attempts to reason with Chad Orzel, and Orzel desperately evades the obvious conclusion: that if he accepts the notion that religion and science are compatible he has to accept that astrology and science are compatible in precisely the same sense. My favorite part is where Orzel dismisses the argument on the basis that Paul W. hasn’t named any prominent scientists who believe in astrology. Hilarity ensues.

  5. says

    @ Chigau: The term “Father” when addressing a priest, is a title, from what I remember. Personally, I refer to the pope as “Mr. Ratzenger”, or “That vile excuse for a human being.”

  6. anteprepro says

    So the authentic atheists are apathetic atheists who just don’t give a fuck? How convenient .

    But it’s nice to see that the good Christian can shit all over hypothetical atheists who behave perfectly morally and aren’t uppity at all, even when implying how evil unauthentic atheists are. Because, despite how good they seem, and how they aren’t even mean to religion, their indifference is because they are “spiritually” deficient human-shaped beasts! Kind of shows exactly why being nice and quiet for the religionists won’t do jack shit.

  7. Brownian says

    Well, we call men ‘Mister’ without it being obvious just what they’re supposed to be masters of.

    Nonetheless, it would be funny to refer to a Catholic priest as ‘Dad’ and see what they say about it. I bet they deal with that issue in seminary school.

  8. anteprepro says

    Considering what hateful drival patheos has what can we say about the atheist bloggers there?

    If we can believe the stories of the FTB migrants, then the answer is: They need the money.

    Though I have to admit that, coincidentally, there is a sad deficit of “stridency” among the Patheos atheists. Probably not nearly enough of them would bother giving this person the venom he deserves. Because Patheos is all about civil dialog and all. Mmmm-hmmm.

  9. danielwilliams says

    For once I actually came across this before PZ or someone else on FtB picked it up. My first impression was that Longnecker was trying to define atheists out of existence with a No True Scotsman fallacy… is description of the “authentic atheist” seemed like extreme hyperbole. But in the (now deleted) comments he was defending this characterization and saying that anyone who genuinely says they lack a belief in a god falls into this.

    Most interestingly, Longnecker (I THINK in the main article, might have been in the comments) described himself as being a high-functioning autistic man, and detailed how his notion of what the “genuine atheist” must be like was a projection of how he would feel if he didn’t have God.

    Too bad this was deleted. I wonder why? Certainly couldn’t be shame.

  10. glodson says

    I like that posting. It boils it down to a simple thought, even though us authentic atheists do everything the theists do, we are still a sub-species because our broken brains don’t allow for us to have blind faith in something for which we see no evidence for. And often evidence against.

    Also, I don’t know why the existence of the astrology portal bothers me so much. It is just as silly, and rife with scam-artists, as any of the religion pages already. I guess I’m still making allowances for religion without even realizing it.

  11. hotshoe says

    Interesting. Here is JT’s reaction to the new astrology-portal announcement:

    Patheos is all about the conversation. I’m glad they acknowledge that the conversation can include requests for evidence and conclusions of “that’s bullshit” when the evidence either sucks or is non-existent.

    Good.

  12. anteprepro says

    . It is just as silly, and rife with scam-artists, as any of the religion pages already. I guess I’m still making allowances for religion without even realizing it.

    I’ll venture a guess as to why: Because society makes allowances for religion. We atheists are the exception to the rule, but religion is generally viewed as serious business with cultural clout. It is not dismissed as ridiculous, it is viewed as something significant and as a legitimate way to tackle important questions (even if those Other People have gotten the wrong answers). Astrology? Not so much. Even a good chunk of the people who don’t think astrology is ridiculous think it is far more trivial than religion; a passing source of brief, daily half-believed prophecies, more entertainment than guide. Though it is just as ridiculous and trivial from our vantage point, it is viewed as more ridiculous and/or trivial than religion by the general population. So, that may be why an astrology portal seems more baffling than a religion portal, even to people who know that both are heaping mounds of bullshit: Because we expect to salivate over the Seriousness of religion, but don’t expect the same of astrology.

    ( The number of people (~25% of Americans) that believe in astrology is roughly equal to the number that believe in witches and aliens. And is less than the number of people that believe in ghosts. Compare to the 75% of Americans that consider themselves Christian, the 90% that believe in God, 60% that attend church at least on occasion, 80% that say that religion is important in their life, and the 60% that pray daily. The gap between religion and astrology in terms of social support is rather significant.)

  13. glodson says

    @15, I agree. There’s a numbers game going on here. Religion is normalized, while Astrology remains more fringe. But in my case, I think the fact that up until about last year, I considered myself Christian. Thirty some odd years of thinking that religion was somehow special is a hell of a habit to break.

    I think the other reason it bugs the hell out of me is that I really enjoy Astronomy. There’s some fascinating things, real things, in this Universe that we can see and study. I eat that stuff up, and I do my best to understand it. So it is just a kick to the balls to see people look up at the sky and vomit bullshit in the hopes of scamming people out of money. Not that astrologers do any star-gazing. But just the idea that astrology gets associated with astronomy bugs me.

  14. says

    Dwight has a new post up in its place about people who desperately hope there isn’t a heaven or a hell, so they don’t have to account for their behavior. I expect my comment will not pass moderation. Needless to say, he’s the one hoping some god-concept finds him righteous, because otherwise his rhetoric is despicable.

  15. Gregory Greenwood says

    Among all the usual blather and wilfull misrepresentation of atheism that we have come to expect from theists, this bit stood out for me;

    They may be the decent and moral folks next door, or they could be despicable murderers. In a frightful way, it doesn’t matter. If they exist, perhaps they have bred and spread like the alien bodysnatchers, and exist in our midst like spiritual zombies—indistinguishable in the teeming mass of humanity except to those few who see them and tremble.

    So, in the world according to Longenecker, it doesn’t matter whether an ‘authentic atheist’ lives an ethical life or is a mass murderer – the mere fact of non-belief renders ‘authentic atheists’ into terrible, subhuman monsters lurking within society that are to be feared and reviled… for an attribute of themselves that Longenecker himself believes that they have no control over, as we can see when he wrote;

    Is there really such a thing as an utterly authentic atheist? I think so. I have a dreadful feeling that there exists a sort of human sub-species who have lost their spiritual capacity completely.

    Wait a second…

    Artificially dividing humanity up and identifying a group as dangerous even if they are completely law abiding and do no measureable harm to anyone?

    Reflexively despising this group of people for an aspect of themselves that (Longenecker argues) they cannot control?

    Questioning whether members of this group can even be afforded the status of being fully human?

    It almost sounds like Longenecker is trying to model his hostility toward atheism on existing bigotries – a form of ‘godless-phobia’ perhaps?

    I wonder what would come next, if Longenecker wasn’t just a fool blathering inanely on the internet, and actually had the means to oppress these ‘spiritual zombies’? Would atheists start finding burning crosses left on their lawns? Would there be the internment of unbelivers into ‘spiritual re-education camps’? Or would that be considered pointless, what with atheists supposedly being only demi-human?

    At the risk of Godwinning the thread terribly, one cannot help but wonder whether the likes of Longenecker wouldn’t prefer a more permanent – one might even say ‘final’ – solution…

  16. raven says

    Dwight L. is an idiot.

    1. There are around 1 billion No Religions in the world, growing rapidly. This would make them the third largest religion if they were a religion.

    2. They are among the best and brightest humanity produces. No Religions are correlated with intelligence and education.

    They do not rage against God, any more than someone born blind has dreams in color.

    We don’t hate the gods any more than he hates Zeus, Ahura Mazda, or elves. And for the same reason.

  17. says

    Dwight has a new post up in its place about people who desperately hope there isn’t a heaven or a hell, so they don’t have to account for their behavior.

    Which certainly doesn’t raise the question of why tales of torture for doubt were attached to highly doubtful claims.

    Yes, the truly evil people think without implicit threats coloring their judgment. Can’t have that.

    Glen Davidson

  18. yoav says

    They may be the decent and moral folks next door, or they could be despicable murderers.

    So Dwight agree that it’s not believing in his favorite sky fairy that makes people moral, it’s a small step but with guys like that you take what you can.

  19. Josh, Asshat, Embarrassment to Atheists, Gays, and Free Speech. says

    That’s super original.

    I know, like WAY! Oh my god it just makes me soooo hot when a guy is, like, super-smart and a great thinker, you know? Totally crushed out!!!

  20. says

    Wait a second…

    Artificially dividing humanity up and identifying a group as dangerous even if they are completely law abiding and do no measureable harm to anyone?

    Reflexively despising this group of people for an aspect of themselves that (Longenecker argues) they cannot control?

    Questioning whether members of this group can even be afforded the status of being fully human?…

    I just can’t imagine why it was taken down. (Of course, Fincke would probably be OK with it. Longenecker didn’t call anyone stupid, after all.)

  21. says

    I spoke too soon:

    I’m talking about the dull breed of people who never give God or the meaning of life or their own humanity a thought at all. Ever.

    This “dull breed” who’ve never given a thought to their own humanity are the authentic atheists. “Conscious” atheists are inauthentic. Somehow.

    Still laughing:

    I suspect that people who deny the existence of hell because God is “too good to send anyone there” are really proposing that God is too good to send them there.

    You tell ‘em, Longenecker. Your god’s not too good to send those jerks to hell. And if they need a reminder that this imaginary figure you worship is an asshole, direct them to the Bible.

  22. anteprepro says

    But in my case, I think the fact that up until about last year, I considered myself Christian. Thirty some odd years of thinking that religion was somehow special is a hell of a habit to break.

    I think the other reason it bugs the hell out of me is that I really enjoy Astronomy. There’s some fascinating things, real things, in this Universe that we can see and study. I eat that stuff up, and I do my best to understand it. So it is just a kick to the balls to see people look up at the sky and vomit bullshit in the hopes of scamming people out of money.

    Ah. That would factor in as well, I suppose :)

    Dwight has a new post up in its place about people who desperately hope there isn’t a heaven or a hell, so they don’t have to account for their behavior.

    Because Christian theology is totally about accountability for behavior. People who do bad stuff go to hell, people who do good go to heaven, no exceptions. It’s not like they think that everyone is bad regardless of what they do, and that the only people allowed to go to heaven are those that beg for God to turn a blind eye. It’s not like that is one of the core doctrines. Nope. Heaven is a reward for the good people, not just for the people who believe a certain way.

    Wait a minute. Christianity is the one with “karma”, right?

    I just can’t imagine why it was taken down. (Of course, Fincke would probably be OK with it. Longenecker didn’t call anyone stupid, after all.)

    Depends on whether “human sub-species” counts as an epitaph. Remove that specific phrase, while still implying it, and I’m sure it would be fine.

  23. anteprepro says

    I suspect that people who deny the existence of hell because God is “too good to send anyone there” are really proposing that God is too good to send them there.

    Well “them” would be a sub-set of “anyone”. But that’s nice of Dwight to play mind-reader. I suspect that Dwight excuses hell by dismissing critics as selfish because he is a pig-headed idiot who can’t grasp simple concepts and prefers to just tell people what they REALLY think to avoid exposing his utter intellectual inadequacy.

  24. says

    I’m talking about the dull breed of people who never give God or the meaning of life or their own humanity a thought at all. Ever.

    Sastra could slap this guy around like a hockey puck. His thinking is not about the basis for beliefs but about the kind of people believers are vs. the kind of people atheists are. That’s why the “authentic” atheists must be a dull, unenlightened, unreflective sub-species lacking the essential spark of humanity. It’s quite gross, and why Gregory Greenwood’s summary and comparison above is so chilling.

  25. brianwestley says

    Most interestingly, Longnecker (I THINK in the main article, might have been in the comments) described himself as being a high-functioning autistic man, and detailed how his notion of what the “genuine atheist” must be like was a projection of how he would feel if he didn’t have God.

    That might explain some things (though I haven’t found what you’re referring to); a few months back, I said I thought he was a sociopath, given his complete lack of empathy:

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/standingonmyhead/2012/06/can-you-be-good-without-god.html

  26. says

    @anteprepro at #10

    I hope I am exempted from that critique. I’d like to think there aren’t a whole lot out there who are as strident as I, and I certainly haven’t changed anything since moving. ;)

    JT

  27. says

    Dwight Longnecker is writing a book on ATHEISTS!!! Oh wow! I can’t wait to read it because I have this man to thank (in part) for my own de-conversion. After his complete dismissal and asinine answers to my honest questions on his blog, back when I was still trying to keep my faith, I realized that it was all a bunch of bull crap. Thank you Dwight Longnecker!

  28. infraredeyes says

    Gregory Greenwood @21 makes an important point. This is not just nonsense, it is dangerous nonsense.

  29. Rodney Nelson says

    Longnecker’s The Authentic Atheist has reappeared. There’s some industrial strength atheist hating going on. Longnecker denies us our humanity:

    . If such people exist, then we are witnessing a radical and tragic decline in the human race, for it is sub-human to exist without a god of any kind… When a humanist declares his independence from religion, he is not exalting his humanity, he is lopping off an important part of it—for the whole of human history and culture declares that a glorious and eccentric part of being human is to seek God.

    I’m not given to using foul language, but if I were face to face with Dwight I would be really tempted to give him a big “fuck you” for calling me sub-human. Dwight must be like his fuhrer, Pope Benny, a believer that some people are “untermenschen.”

  30. hotshoe says

    @anteprepro at #10

    I hope I am exempted from that critique. I’d like to think there aren’t a whole lot out there who are as strident as I, and I certainly haven’t changed anything since moving. ;)

    JT

    Hey, JT, you’re definitely exempted from that critique – I’d say if anything you’ve gotten more “strident”. Didn’t you write that you could be free to be more anti-theist since you left SSA? Coinciding in timeframe with your appearance at Patheos, but maybe not just a mere coincidence, since Patheos does provide a blogger like you with neighboring theists to mock and attack.

  31. robinjohnson says

    kennypo65:

    @ Chigau: The term “Father” when addressing a priest, is a title, from what I remember. Personally, I refer to the pope as “Mr. Ratzenger”, or “That vile excuse for a human being.”

    Hear, hear. It’s a small but irritating example of religious privilege that titles like Father and Reverend are expected to be, and usually are, used even by people who aren’t members of the religion in question. A small but hopefully irritating-to-the-right-people thing that atheists can do is refuse to use them.

  32. anteprepro says

    I hope I am exempted from that critique. I’d like to think there aren’t a whole lot out there who are as strident as I, and I certainly haven’t changed anything since moving. ;)

    Yes, I will give you credit for being as Gnu as ever. But even though I respect a lot of the others who wound up over there, they really are kind of…meek. Once you get enough cred over there, you should make up for their lack of volume and try shitting all over the carpet every so often. Maybe tear up a few couches and knock over a few vases as well. You know what to do.

  33. unclefrogy says

    if anyone needed an example of the reason religion is dangerous and could lead to things like the Inquisition or “the final solution” this would be a good start.

    It also sounds a little too close to paranoia to not be looked into.

    uncle frogy

  34. says

    That might explain some things (though I haven’t found what you’re referring to); a few months back, I said I thought he was a sociopath, given his complete lack of empathy:

    Now that‘s a fascinating exchange. I’ve tossed this general question around in the past, and I’m still unsure. I think a lot of the time what seems like sociopathy is actually the effects of religious indoctrination. I mean this in the sense that people like him have been taught that the “grounding” for their (presumed, and often terrible) morality is their belief, and this has given them a sense of security and righteousness. Thinking this, it’s difficult for them to understand how others who don’t have this grounding can be authentically moral. (If they’re converts, I think they often reconstruct their pre-religion past as immoral. Sometimes this is just dishonest propaganda, but I believe often it’s how they come to remember it: they had to have been bad because they hadn’t had a real reason to be good.)

    I’ve asked one or two religious people who were talking about how their faith inspired their environmentalism whether they would still care about or be active in environmentalism if their god didn’t exist.* I haven’t yet received an answer; it’s just ignored. I haven’t had the sense that they were avoiding it because their answer would be “No.” I think many people realize at some level that this faith business isn’t the basis for or even necessary to their moral action, but aren’t able to admit it. This is probably true not only of doing positive things but not doing harmful things – they wouldn’t be stomping on people for personal or societal goals whether they were atheists or not.

    I also think there’s just a stupid, and in this case quite dangerous, game going on which is about showing up atheists as intrinsically bad.

    Of course, he might well be a sociopath, but even then it’s hard to separate the sociopathic religious influence from any “pre-existing” tendencies. (Not that I think you were arguing anything about the sources of his sociopathy.)

    *Actually, I think I usually ask about if they personally came to disbelieve – otherwise, it’s too easy for them to project the question onto their vision of an atheist rather than thinking about what they would do.

  35. says

    What if our own existence from our father making love to our mother rests on the fact that the whole cosmos has an ever-loving Father? What if the big bang was a masculine explosion of delight, love and creative force on a cosmic scale? What if God implanted a seed of life into all things? If so, then he really is the father of all, and that minute and precious element we call “life” is a tiny droplet of God implanted by Divine power into each and every cell of creation. If this is so, then calling God 51

    “Father Almighty” is not just an outmoded metaphor, but it is the very essence of his divine identity, an expression of his connection with all things living, and an indispensable description of who he was, and is and ever shall be.

    You cannot make this stuff up.

  36. Christian says

    I have a real problem with reading blogs written by Catholic priests: it’s all the sycophantic commenters who insist on calling the author “Father”.

    Except his own children, of course. They are expected to call him “Uncle”.

  37. hotshoe says

    Dwight Longenecker is a Catholic priest (although married with a family, ordained under the special dispensation to poach formerly Anglican priests for the Pope’s stable). So it’s not surprising that he reveals his sickening opinion that priests using child pornography should be viewed as less harmful to society than teenaged boys having consensual sex with teenaged girls. Because the true sins, of course, are not child rape and a hierarchy that deliberately chooses to protect and support the child-rapers; rather the true sins are the secular acceptance of sex for anything other than procreation and in the confines of anything other than man-woman matrimony.

    God damn every Catholic everywhere, and double damn anyone who converted to filthy Catholicism as an adult.

    Dwight Longenecker is also a blithering idiot cocooned in froth:

    Because people laugh and cry, I’m sure all humans have souls, even if they neglect them. But if my hunch is right that some people never give God a thought, then they are the best evidence that such a thing as an atheist might exist after all. If such people exist, then we are witnessing a radical and tragic decline in the human race, for it is sub-human to exist without a god of any kind. Real religion is a universal part of the human condition. In every culture and language—from primitive tribesmen who grunt at the stars to sophisticated technicians who grunt at computer screens, the troublesome religious instinct persists.
    When you look at the human religious instinct askance, doesn’t it seem quirky and unexpected? If we are only brutes, why this universal, tender and mysterious instinct to fall on our faces and before our immense and intimate Maker? If we are animals, why do we see spiritual beings everywhere? Dogs sniff and lift their legs at trees; men see mournful dryads imprisoned there. The real religious instinct in man is a kind of madness, and is as unexpected, beautiful and bizarre as those other forms of human madness called music, laughter and dance …

    What kind of human being could write that overblown nonsense ?

    Humans laugh and cry, therefore, we are proven to have souls ?

    Music, laughter, and dance = madness ?

    And the subtext that music, laughter, and dance have no value in themselves, unless at least one of the gods conceived by humans is somehow behind it all? Pompous church-serving nonsense.

    Dwight Longeneck dribbles on:

    The alleged atheist has strayed into a hall of mirrors and gotten lost. He’s mistaken a reflection for reality. It might look like God is a projection of our imagination, but in fact we’re the products of his.

    IN FACT we’re the product of his [god's] imagination?

    Citation desperately needed, fuckwad.

  38. anteprepro says

    What if the big bang was a masculine explosion of delight, love and creative force on a cosmic scale? What if God implanted a seed of life into all things?

    So, God jizzed the universe into being, and then impregnated all living things? The religious have really got to learn how to use metaphors with caution.

  39. says

    What if our own existence from our father making love to our mother rests on the fact that the whole cosmos has an ever-loving Father? What if the big bang was a masculine explosion of delight, love and creative force on a cosmic scale? What if God implanted a seed of life into all things? If so, then he really is the father of all, and that minute and precious element we call “life” is a tiny droplet of God implanted by Divine power into each and every cell of creation. If this is so, then calling God 51

    Someone’s been reading Dave Simms

  40. Josh, Asshat, Embarrassment to Atheists, Gays, and Free Speech. says

    There’s no way to Godwin this; it’s actually, literally Nazi-like rhetoric as Gregory pointed out. It’s horrifying. Does anyone believe such vile rhetoric would stay up for an instant on Patheos if it were an atheist making those remarks about religious people? Everyone would instantly condemn the dehumanization. But us? Fuck us. We’re not human.

  41. says

    …and I see that Longnecker quoted it with this phrase:

    “…or call Rick Warren a simpleton.”

    But in his book

    “…or accuse Billy Graham of being a simpleton.”

    Maybe he thinks no one knows who Billy Graham is or just wants to tweak Warren’s nose (or the noses of Warren’s drooling fans)? Still…

  42. Ogvorbis: broken and cynical says

    So, God jizzed the universe into being, and then impregnated all living things?

    Ah. Tribbles.

  43. anteprepro says

    There’s no way to Godwin this; it’s actually, literally Nazi-like rhetoric as Gregory pointed out.

    Fundies like this could probably cut and paste a Hitler speech and just find and replace “Jews” into whatever group they want to bash. To adjust any further than that would just be giving in to political correctness.

  44. dianne says

    So, hang on now…if atheists are sub-human or non-human, does that mean it’s ok with him if we have abortions, use contraception and get married to the person we love, regardless of gender? Perhaps this view should be encouraged…Ok, maybe not. Because it’s obvious where it’s going. No one need feel guilty about exterminating maggots or invading aliens, right?

  45. says

    If we are only brutes, why this universal, tender and mysterious instinct to fall on our faces and before our immense and intimate Maker?

    I really like this bit.

    Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death *biff*
    (gets up, continues)
    I will fear no evil: for thou art with me
    *biff*

    That’s prayer in a nutshell.

  46. says

    If we are only brutes, why this universal, tender and mysterious instinct to fall on our faces and before our immense and intimate Maker?

    OK, three things:

    1) Tender? Intimate?

    2) Carl Sagan wrote about these as gestures of submission, shared, at least, with some canines.

    3) This reminds me of Steve Wells’ Drunk with Blood, mentioned by Caine here a while back. A recurring OT theme is that people in the stories are always falling on their faces. I can’t read those words without laughing now.

    OK, four:

    4) “If we are only brutes…”? *deep breaths*

  47. chigau (違わない) says

    Bad theology.
    Humans don’t “have” souls they are souls. They temporarily “have” a body.
    Longenecker is a convert?

  48. Walton says

    Wow. What a ridiculous rant.

    (From his biography, I’m guessing the author is one of those Anglican priests who left the C of E for the RCC because of OH NOES TEH WIMMINZ and OH NOES TEH GAYZ.)

  49. says

    What if the big bang was a masculine explosion of delight, love and creative force on a cosmic scale? What if God implanted a seed of life into all things? If so, then he really is the father of all, and that minute and precious element we call “life” is a tiny droplet of God implanted by Divine power into each and every cell of creation.

    Because otherwise all there would be is inert, passive, uncreative, unmoving…something. Or nothing. You know, like a woman.

    Have I mentioned how much I loathe Catholicism?

  50. dianne says

    There seems to be some backpedaling going on here…In a comment to his (now restored) post, Longnecker says, “Nowhere did I say that atheists were sub human or a sub species.” despite the fact that the reference to “a sort of human sub-species who have lost their spiritual capacity completely” is right there in the text. He also claims that he was joking about the “there is a sort of person who plods through life in a dull stupor never thinking of God, heaven, hell or the meaning of life. Ever–and that these dull types were perhaps the only ‘authentic atheists’.” comment.

  51. Menyambal --- Sambal's Little Helper says

    If he’d examine his own motives instead of imagining bullshit about people he cannot understand, he might do some good. I get the feeling that his conversions were motivated by a desire to get more bling in his religion. He wanted the robes and the rituals and the grandeur and the hierarchy and the pope.

    Speaking of Godwin: This guy would have joined the Nazi party for the boots and stayed for the bigotry.

  52. ChasCPeterson says

    ‘subspecies’ is not an insult. It’s not comparable to ‘sub-human’. My local subspecies of garter snakes are still full-on garter snakes. If one wanted to (and of course nobody does) recognize subspecies of Homo sapiens, they’d all still be full-on human.

  53. Gregory Greenwood says

    What if our own existence from our father making love to our mother rests on the fact that the whole cosmos has an ever-loving Father? What if the big bang was a masculine explosion of delight, love and creative force on a cosmic scale? What if God implanted a seed of life into all things? If so, then he really is the father of all, and that minute and precious element we call “life” is a tiny droplet of God implanted by Divine power into each and every cell of creation. If this is so, then calling God 51

    “Father Almighty” is not just an outmoded metaphor, but it is the very essence of his divine identity, an expression of his connection with all things living, and an indispensable description of who he was, and is and ever shall be.

    There is that weird catholic sex obsession again. I mean, the Big Bang as a cosmic godly ejaculation? From a ‘father’ of such incomprehensible virility that he impregnanted everything? And with no mention of a ‘mother godess’ figure in this equation, doesn’t this imply that god committed the old ‘sin of Onan’ in order to acheive this end?

    Somehow, I can’t imagine that a reton of the christian creation mythology that began with “In the beginning God fapped the heaven and the earth into being” would go down very well with the Vatican…

  54. Menyambal --- Sambal's Little Helper says

    ChasCPeterson, he was calling atheists “sub-human” in an earlier version … just in jest, of course. He changed it because we weren’t able to comprehend that he was joking.

  55. Gregory Greenwood says

    ChasCPeterson @ 65;

    ‘subspecies’ is not an insult. It’s not comparable to ‘sub-human’. My local subspecies of garter snakes are still full-on garter snakes. If one wanted to (and of course nobody does) recognize subspecies of Homo sapiens, they’d all still be full-on human.

    I somehow doubt that Longenecker was using the term with its strict scientific meaning – I am pretty sure from the context of the rest of his comment that he was using ‘subspecies’ to mean ‘less than fully human’ in this case.

    For that matter, even if he didn’t mean to say outright that atheists are subhuman, inventing a patently ridiculous partition within humanity that attempts to suggest that a particular set of intellectiual positions is indicative of some fundamental physiological difference that is of such magnitude that it requires the recognition of a new subspecies of human is still dangerous in itself. It is step one in a process of dehumanisation – it is ‘othering’ at its most basic and crude. Such a position is eminently ammenable to being used as a justification for for all manner of oppression – including violence and even genocide – as history has taught us on all too many occasions.

  56. anteprepro says

    People laugh, people cry. You can’t explain that.

    *snort*

    ‘subspecies’ is not an insult. It’s not comparable to ‘sub-human’. My local subspecies of garter snakes are still full-on garter snakes. If one wanted to (and of course nobody does) recognize subspecies of Homo sapiens, they’d all still be full-on human.

    Separate but equal!

  57. abb3w says

    I’d disagree that Longenecker’s wiping of the comments seems a good thing, despite how asinine some were from both sides. It seems a practice (Selective Exposure in type?) frequent when the tide of the commentariat swings discussion or tone in a direction not to the liking of the religious.

    Contrast PZ’s approach of closing off further comment from a handle, or occasionally sealing an entire thread and dumping the stragglers to Thunderdome, but generally leaving the provocations intact.

    Some local political shenanigans have reminded me about the conjectural difference of shame-cultures from guilt-cultures. (Though supporting citations are sparse.) For a shame culture, covering up a criticism means it’s all good; for a guilt culture, there is a sense that truth of the “sins” will haunt. This sort of memory hole that Longenecker relies on seems to the former more than the latter; a concern with reputation and dominance rather than truth and substance.

  58. Cuttlefish says

    Since he’s reposted a version of his essay, but is moderating comments, I thought I’d leave this here in case he doesn’t approve it. In response to a comment, and his response to that comment…my own counter-comment.

    It is remarkable to think that “different manifestations of the Divine” would be worth warring over. Even your choice of the phrase “Judeo-Christian religion” does not accurately portray the history of conflict between the various Christian sects and Jewish sects (between, within, among, there is no shortage of groups willing to kill others over “different manifestations of the Divine”). Your interpretation is a very modern view, quite different from the actual history of conflict between warring sects. At the moment you come across as making opinionated comments about something you don’t really know very much about.

  59. Menyambal --- Sambal's Little Helper says

    Longenecker:

    After all, we know that God does not sit on a throne in heaven wearing a crown and a red robe. God is pure spirit.

    How do we know that God is pure spirit? The Bible says that he walked in the garden in the cool of the evening, if you want to be poetic, and generally acted like a spoiled teen, if you want to be realistic. The people who are paying your salary believe that he had a son, and you aren’t in the business of convincing them otherwise.

    But we have to picture God somehow

    Because he is imaginary, and you can’t actually see him or communicate with him. He is not real, and you just used words that show that “we have to picture God”.

    when we try to imagine a “pure spirit” all we can come up with is a bottle of vodka or rubbing alcohol. Therefore to picture God as the cosmic Father who sits on a throne as the ruler of all is probably the best image we could come up with.

    The “therefore” there doesn’t follow at all. And the word “probably” doesn’t fit, either. For a sophisticated theologian, you surely do write mighty poorly.

    Some will protest that he then becomes a fairy tale king, but why is everyone so down on fairy tales?

    Not everyone is so down on fairy tales. You’ve just scored a straw point off nothing.

    you will see that fairy tales connect humanity with the deep unconscious realm

    Not necessarily so for fairy tales, but if so, so does religion (which is a fairy tale). And, actually, most religious people that I have known seem to be expressing their unconscious urges, fears, beliefs and, all to often, hatreds.

    So when we imagine God as the great cosmic Father King, awefully robed and crowned, we’re not being superficial but fishing deep.

    If we agree with you about the fairy tales, that is. And maybe we are still being superficial, even then. And is fishing deep a good thing?

    We didn’t think up the image of the cosmic Father King. It was given to us.

    By whom or what? By God? By nature? By some money-grubbing priest?

    It’s part of humanity.

    Because you Catholics have killed all humans who wouldn’t have it.

    It’s engraved in the history of the human race.

    No, it isn’t. The Egyptians didn’t have it, a long list of matriarchal groups didn’t have it.

    It was revealed to us as the sun mounts in the morning and as the first whisperings of love well up in a fifteen-year-old boy.

    The sun doesn’t mount, and what is welling up in a fifteen-year-old isn’t love. And how are those “revealed”?

    That’s what we call “revelation,”

    Which to most folks means it was spoken by God. You just made it into a hormone rush—speaking of deep urges.

    It is that hint of something beyond and that glimpse of glory that the atheist squints not to see.

    No, it’s an urge to have a father, just like the urge to be a father that is twisting its way up your fifteen-year-old.

    And atheists aren’t blinding themselves to glory, they are squinting to see past the bullshit. But thanks for the insult.

    Which raises some curious questions, for instance, “Why do that?”

    Why do which? Again with the lack of clarity.

    There is something heroic about an outspoken unbeliever.

    There is indeed.

    Nice poetry, even if you are being snarky:

    He wears his denial of God on his sleeve with a certain panache. He challenges the deity as Cyrano de Bergerac duels with death. The atheist courageously contradicts the instincts of the entire human race to declare the non-existence of God. Like a latter day Don Quixote, the atheist rides off to joust with the windmills of superstition, religion and the God of fairy tales.

    Well said. Thank you.

    With touching absurdity, the crusading atheist overlooks the irony: he spends all his real time and effort refuting something he thinks is a myth.

    And we are back to the belittling patronage. And really, what is wrong with that? Aren’t you refuting, here? Aren’t you trying to correct a wrong idea?

    Listen carefully—we aren’t refuting the myth, per such. We are usually thinking that the myth is self-evidently false. What we are fighting is the real-world consequences of religion, like boy buggering.

    That is why I like atheists.

    Thank you. You do pick an odd way of showing it.

    The rebel in me always admires people who paddle upstream, and should they attempt to scale a waterfall in their canoe, my admiration for them increases.

    Oddly enough, canoeing upstream is one of my hobbies, but I use a pole for going up rapids.

    Despite all the evidence, despite the universal religious instinct of the human race, he acts on his solemn belief that there is nothing to solemnly believe in.

    What is the evidence, again? Where is the universal instinct, and how is that evidence? Mine isn’t a belief, and it certainly isn’t solemn.

    For a sophisticated theologian, you hold one of the simplest beliefs about atheism. I’ll use little words for you, Son. (Is it okay if I call you “Son”? I can’t call you “Father”, and don’t like you well enough to call you “Sonny”. “Sonny Boy”, maybe?)

    An atheist has no belief.

    You say we lack spirituality—what we lack is belief. Is isn’t that we have a deep and abiding faith that there is no god, despite the obvious evidence—like we are deluded morons or something. We are NOT deluded—we lack delusion.

    To be narrow, an atheist lacks your particular delusion. (He still may think his children are lovable, for instance.)

    He believes too much and cares too much for truth to really be an atheist.

    Huh?

    Look, I am from Missouri, oddly enough, and you need to show me. (For you folks from civilized places, Missouri is called the “Show Me” state because it was once filled with skeptics. (The residents were also once called “Pukes”.))

    But I’m also tired. You are on your own for the rest of the article, Longenecker. I deeply and solemly believe you will keep screwing it up.

  60. ckitching says

    I like his constant assertions that religion and God is universal. Author Dan Everett found out otherwise when he went out to “save” an Amazonian tribe that really had no use for the ideas he was selling. But maybe they’re sub-human, too.

  61. vaiyt says

    ‘subspecies’ is not an insult.

    It is when it’s meant to imply someone is not a “normal” human. Atheism isn’t like a birth defect.

  62. mythbri says

    Guh.

    My first foray into Patheos was made because JT left. I can see that there’s no reason to explore any of the other blogs there.

  63. Menyambal --- Sambal's Little Helper says

    Atheism isn’t like a birth defect.

    Quite true. Atheism is the normal, healthy state in which we are born.

    Religion is the disease, contagious and crippling.

    Skepticism is the vaccine.

    Humor is the vitamins.

    Science is the exercise …

    … I should have stopped up there a ways.

  64. jose says

    He seems to be describing the “Nones”. I know many people who don’t give a crap about spiritual/existential issues. Their philosophy is practical and materialistic and they are happy members of the human species. They aren’t disgusted or horrified by the idea that death means you die (as opposed to saying you “pass on” or “go to a better place”, etc.) I live in a “cultural catholic” country where religion still holds power at higher levels of government but it has simply faded away for many regular people.

  65. FossilFishy (Νεοπτόλεμος's spellchecker) says

    Wait, what? I’m not an authentic atheist? But, but, but, I have a certificate of authenticity, [rummages around] er, here somewhere, that they gave me at my first baby roast.

  66. Menyambal --- Sambal's Little Helper says

    Ing:

    With touching absurdity, the crusading atheist overlooks the irony: he spends all his real time and effort refuting something he thinks is a myth.

    FFS, Aryian supremacy is a myth. Lots of people seem dead set not to let it gain popularity.

    Ha! Good one, Ing.

    I spend real time and effort blowing up imaginary tanks,
    http://www.atari.com/battlezone, because it amuses me.

  67. Amphiox says

    With touching absurdity, the crusading atheist overlooks the irony: he spends all his real time and effort refuting something he thinks is a myth.

    Because, of course, it only matters what the individual himself thinks, and it only matters that the individual himself is not misled by myths.

    That other people might be misled by myths, and might end up being harmed by this just doesn’t matter, and for someone to be concerned about this possibility is so touchingly absurd.

    And religion was supposed to inspire what regarding morality again?

  68. Menyambal --- Sambal's Little Helper says

    Perhaps the physical world is only real within his own perception?

    I’d say the “Creation Science” guys have that going already.

  69. ckitching says

    Oh for fuck’s sake. God exists, otherwise solipsism?

    Well, it’s different than the usual: God exists, otherwise moral nihilism. Although, I think he was trying to hit that one, too, elsewhere in his rant.

  70. unclefrogy says

    That guy really puts in sharp relief the thing I dislike the nost about religion and believers.
    He is way to concerned about what everyone else is thinking and doing. He has to judge those who think different as intrinsically less than he is.
    If there is no god and religion is a made up story about what and where it all came from than what ever will I do??
    There must be a god looking out over all of us and judging so we can live for ever. Otherwise I would be left face to face with my life in this “infinite perspective vortex” of space and time and I am such a little thing and only here for such a short time.

    He brings up Cyrano who does not shrink from liFe for fear of death or god but embraces it with open arms without illusions knowing that death is the end. He does not fall on his knees and prey to his “heavenly father” to forgive him only his beloved Roxanne is his concern.
    I DO SO DISLIKE FUCKING PRIESTS
    sorry for the caps it was a mistype but it looked good and I really mean it
    uncle frogy

  71. John Morales says

    <reads OP>

    Also, it’s fucking Patheos. Patheos, the web portal that didn’t have enough bullshit on display, so they opened an astrology portal.

    <checks>

    “The Patheos Astrology coverage will offer a Daily Horoscope, a Daily Tarot Card feature, Astrology Commentary from Patheos Contributors, Lunar Phases, Monthly Forecasts and detailed information on each sun sign.”

    <Ack!>

  72. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    Author Dan Everett found out otherwise when he went out to “save” an Amazonian tribe that really had no use for the ideas he was selling. – ckitching

    It’s worth remembering that the outside world’s knowledge of the Pirahã is pretty much completely dependent on what Dan Everett says. We should be wary of basing arguments on a single uncorroborated study. The claim of a universal “religious instinct” is in any case adequately refuted by the existence and growth of naturalistic subcultures.

  73. says

    He calls Pacific Islanders who worshiped the Duke of Edinburgh “savages”. When a commenter rightfully accuses him of racism, he says the Islanders’ cannibalism made them savages.

    This from a guy who every Sunday feeds people what he insists is A-grade Jesus steak.

  74. strange gods before me ॐ says

    In any case, the Pirahã do have religion, as far as Everett’s own reports go: “Xigagaí, one of the beings that lives above the clouds, was standing on a beach yelling at us, telling us that he would kill us if we go into the jungle.”

    More on that, from Steve Farmer:

    «But a closer look at the evidence suggests a more complex and quite melancholic story: among the few artifacts noted in Everett’s works are Pirahã necklaces made “from seeds, homespun cotton string, teeth, feathers, beads, beer-can pull-tabs, and/or other objects,” whose functions “are decorative only secondarily, their primary purpose being to ward off the evil spirits that they see almost daily” (Everett 2005). As this passage suggests, the claimed reluctance of the Pirahã to tell myths may itself testify to the fearful hold gods and spirits have over their daily life. The inclusion among Pirahã spirit-deflectors of “beer-can pull-tabs” also hints that the impoverishment of this rapidly dying culture may involve recent disruptions to old ways of life. The result as one severe Everett critic notes may be a “creolized, stripped-down remnant” of older values tied to the Pirahã’s earlier links to tribes known to have once possessed a rich mythology (Levinson 2005).»

    +++++
    If Everett doesn’t recognize that as religion, that’s probably a function of Everett’s own recent Christianity.

    On the other hand, I haven’t yet seen a report in Everett’s own words where he says they don’t have religion. So the story may be a function not of Everett’s reporting as such, but of others’ paraphrasings.

    Anyway, I don’t find it too remarkable if the Pirahã don’t have a creator god. Pascal Boyer in Religion Explained mentions (iirc) there is an African tribe who barely mention a creator god, have no use or regard for him, don’t appeal to him or otherwise do rituals about him, and so on — deism, approximately, except they do revere other, closer gods. It’s not much more of a stretch to imagine losing the stories about that unimportant god.

    But if Xigagaí is not a god, what is he? Ancestor spirits are rather clearly another class of supernatural being, but Xigagaí is apparently not that. If he’s a member of the Pirahã’s most powerful class of supernatural agents, and not an ancestor spirit, then Xigagaí is a god — unless the Pirahã say “yes we know what gods are supposed to be, and Xigagaí is not that.”

  75. DLC says

    Patheos. from Pathetic. Pathetic adj. the quality of not being worth bothering over. see also : dumb, craptacular, crummy.
    Much like the forms of delusion, lying and conman-ship espoused at the website.
    Seriously, this is the host site of the “Atheists pray for 40 days “experiment” ” hahaha.

    Yes, Padre Smugness, we do exist. People who do not believe in your magician, who are quite happy without him. We laugh, cry, dance, love screw and have full lives without your magic crackers,jesus juice or incense-huffing.

  76. Ichthyic says

    I DO SO DISLIKE FUCKING PRIESTS

    yeah, there’s just so much shame and guilt afterwards.

    no fun at all.

  77. says

    Ckitching:
    Atheism = moral nihilism isn’t really a new concept, considering how often we’re accused of having no basis for our morality*. Hell, in the past we’ve had nihilists posting here ‘cos is the universe doesn’t care, why should they? It is a thing, is what I’m sayin’.

    But the argument from solipsism is some serious Philosophy 101 shit.

    *That’s okay by me– I still can’t figure out WFT is so ethical about Christian “morality” anyway.

  78. ckitching says

    @sgbm
    You’re probably right. The term “gods” is so pliable that a lot of different versions can live under that umbrella, and I sometimes forget that it doesn’t have to mean a creator god and/or his/her minions. However, it would still be difficult to reconcile their beliefs as the “differences in understanding The Divine” that believers like to trot out when branding non-believers as abnormal. There isn’t exactly much common ground there.

  79. ckitching says

    @Audley

    Well, that’s easy. Christian morality is ethical because before you do something bad, you have to find justification for it in the Big Book, whereas godless heathens can just go ahead and do it. Even better, you get to override your own empathy and compassion for anyone your church opposes and do bad things to those people, too.

    And why do I suspect the nihilists you talk about having posted here were either libertarians, or anarcho-capitalists, too?

  80. ah58 says

    I’ve been on the site having a dialog with the priest in question.

    From the priest:

    God, on the other hand, does not simply ‘exist’ he is the ground and source of all existence. ‘Proving’ that he exists is rather like proving that energy exists. I could doubt the existence of energy and you would have a pretty hard time ‘proving’ to me that it exists. That is because some things are so basic as to need no ‘proof’ and no ‘proof’ is possible because their existence is so fundamental to everything.

    My reply:

    Your explanation of the Christian God is simply an assertion. It would be trivial to prove that energy exists. All you have to do is point a flashlight at a wall. Now show me a God.

    His response:

    Do you think the existence of energy is so obvious? Allow me to play the devil’s advocate with you then and I will take the position (for the sake of argument) that there is no evidence for the existence of this thing you call ‘energy’ and that it is not real.

    You say that it is proved by shining a flashlight on a wall. But that’s not energy. That’s light. It’s just the result of the chemical reactions in a battery which produce electricity which is sent to the bulb which produces light. Where’s this thing called ‘energy’ that you suggest is real?

    That’s either some serious scientific illiteracy or major dishonesty right there. Evidently, light and electricity aren’t energy in his world.

    To which I replied:

    Light IS energy. Electromagnetic energy. Yes, it’s the result of chemical reactions (which use energy exchange) and electricity (which is also energy). You seem to have a strange definition of energy. What do you think it is?

    I’m awaiting his response. It will be interesting to see what he considers this mysterious “energy” to be.

  81. Menyambal --- Sambal's Little Helper says

    ah58, “energy”, to a lot of woo-mongers, is life energy or mystic energy or whatever mystic catch-all they mean at the moment. It isn’t any scientific definition of energy.

    Christ only knows what a confused Catholic priest thinks “energy” is. Good job of asking, and please let me know what he says.

  82. ckitching says

    Good luck, ah58. When I saw the blurb he put at the bottom of his post that said he wouldn’t debate anyone he thought either didn’t read his post, or didn’t read it correctly, I assumed he was not the type to argue honestly and would dismiss criticism by arguing that you’re not understanding him. When I saw some of his replies to the people who challenged him, I knew it.

  83. ah58 says

    For those interested, here’s the priest’s answer:

    You say light is energy, but that is only because you believe in energy to start with. You haven’t proved energy exists! Light is just light. That’s all. Then you come up with this idea of ‘electromagnetic energy’. I’ve never heard anything so stupid in my life! Energy from magnets? Then you talk about energy from chemical reactions? There’s no such thing as energy. It’s just chemicals.

    It gets worse. You say Light is energy. Then you say chemical reactions are energy. Then you say magnets are electricity. So which is it? You can’t have it all three ways? What next? Wind is energy? Fire is energy? Everything you say is contradictory. How can light be energy and chemical reactions are also energy?

    How do you know there is such a thing as energy? Only because someone has told you so. Do you base your whole experience on hearsay? Obviously. How do you know they were not lying? Have they ever given you any evidence for energy? Can you give me any evidence for its existence? Tell me one personal experience you’ve had with this thing called energy which would make me believe in its existence.

    I looked up energy on the internet trying to understand, but every article was by someone who used lots of complicated language discussing something which is absurd to start with. All these long articles about protons and neutrons and stories about all these invisible little things whizzing about and bumping off each other. There’s no evidence for any of it! Invisible particles? Then after they tell you all that they say they’re not particles after all, they’re invisible waves! None of it’s real! Furthermore all the articles were written by people who already believed in energy so they were biased.

    I looked for pictures of energy and all they could show was pictures of lightning bolts! Is that it??!! Is that all the evidence they could put together? It’s like they believe in this invisible zapping wizard in the sky who goes around zapping people with lighting bolts and they call that ‘energy’.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    You see? I could go on forever in this vein, and anything you could do to try to convince me of the existence of energy I could (with only a little ingenuity) dismiss as foolishness.

    Of course the whole thing is absurd, but what may be difficult for you to understand is that your arguments against the existence of God and the supernatural seem just as absurd to me.

    I would call that a pretty dishonest answer and I told him so.

    My response:

    That has to be one of the most dishonest answers that I’ve seen in a long while. To say there’s no evidence of energy is to simply lie.

    In the first place, you don’t have to even understand the basics of physics to experience things like light and electricity. They’re there to be experienced whether you’re a scientist or not. Simply changing the catagories that you put things in doesn’t make them go away.

    As to having deeper understanding, you could do the experiments yourself to prove the existence of energy. They’re repeatable and they give results. Experiment on the supernatural? Nope, no repeatable, verifiable results.

    To simply naysay anything in spite of all the evidence to the contrary is self-delusion. To ask for something besides fuzzy feelings and assertions is not. The supernatural does not have mountains of evidence to support it’s existence. It only has hearsay and the words of believers. There is no way to verify it or test it. I can show you electricity, light, heat, motion, pretty much any kind of common energy on demand. You simply can’t do that with anything supernatural. That’s why a lot of people don’t believe it. We apply the same standards to religious claims that we do to claims made about any other things said to exist.

    What you’ve provided in these comments as evidence for the supernatural simply isn’t. It’s either hearsay (like the story of cars passing through each other) or you placing your own supernatural explanations on things that don’t appear to be supernatural at all (your exorcism story).

  84. strange gods before me ॐ says

    It’s either hearsay (like the story of cars passing through each other)

    Haha, what the fuck?

    I’m so glad you mentioned that here. It’s hilarious. I’ll post his story here for others to laugh at.

    Dwight Longenecker says,

    One night when I was a young child asleep in the back of the car my parents were on the way home from leading a youth group. They were traveling down a country lane only wide enough for one car. Steep banks rose up on either side. They crested a hill and saw another car speeding down the lane towards them. They knew as they went down into the next dip in the road the oncoming driver would not see them. There was nowhere to go to the right or the left and no room for the two cars to pass. My parents said later that in a split second what they feared was upon them. The other car was in front of them. They braced for the head on collision. My mother said she could see the terrified face of the other driver. Then it was over. They looked out the back window of the car to see the tail lights of the other car receding into the distance. My parents were both very sane and spoke about this in a matter of fact way. The two cars went through each other, or time was suspended or one car (or both) de materialized.

  85. ah58 says

    Oh, I have no illusions of “winning” this argument. It was more to see how a supposedly “sophisticated” theologian would back up his arguments. Turns out he’s not so sophisticated after all. Who da thunk it?

  86. julietdefarge says

    “Eating, growing, exploring, playing and sleeping, and God never seems to flit across their consciousness”

    Every child ever born.

  87. gussnarp says

    Attempting to memory hole embarrassing blog posts must be a common tactic for the Catholics at Patheos. There’s another guy over there who made a horribly irresponsible website attacking condoms and birth control and promoting Catholic “natural” family planning. He made two blog posts crowing about this wonderful site he had made that was going to get people to stop using condoms, then when the Friendly Atheist picked up on a particularly hideous graphic from the site, the blog posts bragging about it quietly disappeared.

    As for Dwight, his about says he’s a former evangelical, former Anglican, now Catholic. I don’t have enough interest in his bile to search through his blog, but one wonders if he attacks evangelicals and Anglicans the same way he does atheists. Surely he must have found that they were completely wrong about God too. I guess we just must be a terrifying threat to justify the amount of server space and Papal pronouncements dedicated to demonizing us and comparing us to Hitler.

  88. dianne says

    There is now a follow up post that asks atheists what evidence they would accept as good enough to demonstrate the existence of God. I replied with a very low-bar suggestion: Any evidence of an effect by a God or Gods on the known universe. My comment is in moderation. Who wants to bet that it never comes out?

  89. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Any evidence of an effect by a God or Gods on the known universe. My comment is in moderation. Who wants to bet that it never comes out?

    Gasp, you mean physical evidence, not Sophistimacated Theology™? Oh no, poor priest.

  90. fastlane says

    Can one not even view comments at Patheos without registering? I’m not seeing comments at all on part 2 or 3 of his rants.

    I might just be missing something, my brain seems a bit less than functional this monday morning….

  91. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    He is letting sceptical comments out – but when people tel him what evidence they would accept, he either simply refuses to accept the answer – claiming that they wouldn’t accept what they say they would – or he wriggles, obfuscates and evades. He really is a remarkably dishonest little shit, even for a Catholic priest.

  92. Amphiox says

    Well, before one can make any comment about what kind of evidence would indicate the existence of god, one must first provide a specific definition and description of god, in order to determine what kind of effect said god would be expected to have on the physical universe.

  93. Menyambal --- Sambal's Little Helper says

    Speaking of dishonest, I like that he makes his magical car story depend on the fact that his parents were scrupulously honest. He later in life went on to reject their flavor of religion to move to Catholicism. He maybe hasn’t stopped to wonder if they were being false about their religion? Or maybe he should have stayed with the miracle-making religion?

  94. michaelmcguinness says

    Depends what you mean by “spiritual”. You could take it to mean, whatever isn’t covered by daily needs, or whatever is beyond the material. Here are some examples of these things: Love, art, pleasure, empathy, solidarity, compassion. Are there people who are entirely without these? If there are, then it’s a tragedy, as this guy says. But we have to ascribe that tragedy, as always, to a specific social and systemic cause, to the totality.
    And it’s a fallacy, a false dichotomy, to say that one must either be a base materialist, with no notion of the finer and nobler things in life, or else a blindly obedient and ignorant theist, in thrall to some dogma or other. What about the existentialists? Distrustful of science and dogmatic materialism, but carving out their own meaning in life? It’s nonsense to suggest that one must either be in thrall to some hierarchy, or spiritually empty. And by “spiritual” I don’t mean so much belief in a spirit, as an appreciation that there is more to life than materialism, like an appreciation of the qualitative, experiential, emotional richness of life, experienced through love and art and compassion and solidarity.