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Godless goals, godless progress

Debbie Goddard has a most excellent post on Skepchick (she should write more!), declaring that the atheist movement should care about poverty.

Unless we address the classism and broaden the elitist culture of the atheist movement, the underprivileged students in the Philadelphia public school classrooms that I’m familiar with and in the South Los Angeles classrooms that Sikivu Hutchinson works in will continue to be marginalized and will never have access to the “enlightened” educational opportunities that the movement too often takes for granted.

Some would say it’s not the movement’s responsibility to address poverty and public education. I disagree. This is a movement; we want the world to be a better place than it is now. We want to reduce suffering and foster a just society. If we agree there’s no cosmic justice system and there’s no reward for suffering after we die, we need to effect change here, now, in this life, in this world, for as many people as we can reach. Education is key for change to occur.

You won’t be surprised to learn that I agree completely, and that education is an excellent priority for atheist communities to pursue. She cites the Black Skeptics article I mentioned earlier today, in which they are looking for donations for their First in the Family Humanist Scholarship. It’s a worthy cause, and I donated…you should too, if you can.

Every effort to improve human knowledge is a contribution to atheism, so anything you can do will help; teach a child, donate books to your local library, volunteer at your elementary school. It’s our cunning godless scheme to make the world a better place.

Comments

  1. Acolyte of Sagan says

    Is it just my imagination, or is it really starting to feel that the cats are, if not exactly allowing themselves to be herded, at least coming round to the idea of strength by organisation?

  2. atheist says

    I am really, really liking this new wave of atheist/skeptical organizing and getting involved in the culture.

  3. says

    Hear, hear.

    But

    Every effort to improve human knowledge is a contribution to atheism

    Isn’t it more to the point the other way around:
    (almost) every effort to increase atheism contributes to human knowledge?

  4. atheist says

    @ aggressivePerfector – 5 February 2013 at 5:58 pm (UTC -6)

    As Amanda Marcotte would say, both/and.

  5. Gregory Greenwood says

    Creating a more equitable society should be the concern of every progressive and rationalist worth their salt, and education is key to acheiving that goal.

    Unfortunately, as we know all too well, the atheo-skeptical community has more than its fair share of reactionary idiots who will doubtless complain that this is somehow ‘not the purview of atheism/skeptcism’, is supposedly ‘too political/controvercial’ and ‘dilutes the important message’ (we know how very, very much impotance the would-be conservative gate keepers of skepticism place on stating for umpteenth time the obvious non-existence of Bigfoot and Nessie, to the exclusion of any actually socially relevant issues).

    Then we will get the shrieking misogynist goons who will be up in arms not so much over the subject matter as the simple fact that it is a woman who is talking about it.

    Then there will be those privileged, well educated, relatively wealthy, middle class white guys who just hate being reminded that the fact that they are privileged, well educated, relatively wealthy, middle class white guys gives them a huge advantage in life not shared by the less privileged in society.

    This problem is of a daunting enough scale without having to struggle against those within the community who are too wilfully blinkered and/or bigotry ridden to see the merit in addressing it, but this issue must still be a prioroty for socially aware atheists and skeptics – those among us who find dealing with such hard social realities offensive can always retreat into their favoured self-congratulatory bubble of how very smart they were to see the non-existence of god and other unevidenced woo, and leave the rest of us to actually try to apply rational thought to making the world a better place.

    Not that they will have the good grace to actually do that, of course…

  6. Mattir says

    I work and live in a majority minority community, taking my atheism, science, and craft enthusiasm into public schools as a naturalist, run day camps for 3rd-5th graders, lead Cub and Boy Scout groups, and generally spreading the message that learning is the most pleasurable thing human beings do and if they’re not getting that in their classrooms (which are heavily heavily of the drill-and-kill educational system) then someone is doing learning and/or teaching RONG.

    I don’t have a whole lot in common with the affluent white neighborhood atheists that meet in the local Skeptics in the Pub groups, but I have a boatload of fun in my day-to-day work life.

  7. RFW says

    “Atheists should [also] concern themselves with global poverty.”

    No, they shouldn’t. The world is full of bad things, but no one has the time, energy, and resources to battle them all. Let the atheist groups concern themselves with atheism, and those who want to combat global poverty can join some other group dedicated to that battle.

    Meanwhile, other atheists will concern themselves with:

    * home improvement scams
    * corporate involvement in politics
    * homeless cats
    * homeless people
    * keeping public libraries open
    * the beggars in Telavi, Kakheti, Georgia
    * ensuring that all Cornish pasties actually come from Cornwall

    or such other issues as they may decide to work on.

  8. Rob Grigjanis says

    “education is an excellent priority for atheist communities to pursue.”

    Absolutely, but I don’t see scholarship funds, admirable as they are, breaking the cycle of poverty, except for the lucky few. That requires structural and attitudinal changes which address the root problem of poverty; lack of money. Welfare is a godawful, expensive, inefficient mess, which, while doing some good, also serves to make the poor jump through hoops, and make them feel even worse about being poor.

    A more enlightened approach would involve something like the Guaranteed Basic Income. There was a study done in Manitoba in the 70s, the results of which were not published until recently. Summary here. Excellent talk on the subject (by a Canadian Conservative senator!) here.

  9. John Morales says

    RFW, who are you supposedly quoting?

    (Has it escaped you that the piece is about the atheist movement, not about atheists?)

  10. Rob Grigjanis says

    aP @3: “(almost) every effort to increase atheism contributes to human knowledge?”

    Yeah, but I’d rather give a kid a chance at a healthy childhood, with a decent education. Start with a healthy, educated population, and the sky’s the limit for atheism and knowledge.

  11. Rob says

    Isn’t it more to the point the other way around:
    (almost) every effort to increase atheism contributes to human knowledge?

    I suspect it’s a positive feedback loop.

  12. Mattir says

    Scholarship funds are not the only way to break the cycle – social involvement, especially delivered in an egalitarian, peer-to-peer manner, in the lives of individual children and families helps hugely as well. It may not get an individual child elevated to a middle class life and a scientific career, but it will shift the cultural attitudes, lessen dependence on religious institutions for social support, and generally enrich the secular minority community.

    I agree that systemic change is an enormous priority, but individual, one-on-one involvement is also critical and is where many secular types seem to fall down – too busy working on reforming the system for The Poor(tm).

  13. jeff34345 says

    I just saw a weird video from Neil deGrasse Tyson in which he misleads people about what Atheism is, and says he’s not an Atheist, while describing his Agnostic Atheist beliefs. He seems to be wanting to distance himself from people like PZ, and is willing to mislead people to do so. I find it impossible to believe that Neil doesn’t know what Atheist means, and I’m pretty shocked to see him mislead people presumably to avoid offending religious fans.

    Neil deGrasse Tyson: Atheist or Agnostic?

  14. says

    RFW:
    from the OP:

    Debbie Goddard has a most excellent post on Skepchick (she should write more!), declaring that the atheist movement should care about poverty.

    Please note that Ms Goddard is speaking of the *atheist movement*, rather than individual atheists.

  15. The Mellow Monkey says

    I think these scholarships and anything to help those interested in getting a higher education is a worthy goal, but it overlooks a major problem: not everyone can go to school and get a great, middle class job.

    Some people do not have the capability. Some people do not have the interest. Some people might have it all, but there just aren’t middle class jobs out there for every single person in poverty.

    I don’t mean that as a downer, though. There are all sorts of ways we can fight poverty, even if you can’t donate for scholarships. As Mattir said at #13, social involvement can help, too. So can advocating for programs that can help people’s lives in general.

  16. Mattir says

    I totally understand NDG’s reluctance to come out as a capital A Atheist-Agnostic. He is in a very very public role, the stigma against atheism in the US African-American community is enormous, and as a purely pragmatic matter, I think it’s completely reasonable for him to articulate the values of secular humanism/freethought/atheism/agnosticism without necessarily using the A-words. He pushes the Overton window from inside, others tug from outside.

    Both types of activists are important.

  17. Mattir says

    Mellow Monkey –

    YES! This is why individual involvement and cultural change are so tremendously important. Progress takes generations, and shifting attitudes in small ways for individuals now can have enormous impacts on the lives of their children and grandchildren and the lives of other people around them.

  18. great1american1satan says

    The primary underprivileged group to which I’ve belonged in like is the poor. The been-in-homeless-shelters-as-a-child kinda poor. I appreciate that someone thinking about us!

    I just realized the other day that the whole deep rifts issue can be boiled down to something pretty basic – a bunch of people with a common interest and shared space suddenly realized some of them are conservative and some of them are progressive, and due to the reactionary, vitriolic stupidity of the American conservative, shit exploded like TNT.

    Actually, I’m sure a lot of people on both sides of this divide are just moderates. I imagine the moderates siding with evil are just slyming because that’s where their friends are and they are really good at ignoring horror. Any moderates who are rightly disgusted with that have been driven into our warm embrace.

    How’s it goin’, guys? A little easier to breathe here, amirite?

  19. says

    RFV is Poe-ing, but it’s salutary to note that derailing threads stops discussions from achieving things. The criticism that atheism as a movement shouldn’t be concerned with social justice issues is a parallel to the skepticism has no business addressing politics arguments we’ve seen recently — cool, thanks for that, noted. So now comment if you’ve got something constructive to offer, otherwise you’re just jamming up the works. Lots of movements have had to absorb change, and promoting an ethical and socially concerned atheism has the dual benefits of doing and achieving something good and worthwhile, while helping to repair the image of the bad stereotype, the unethical amoral atheist.

  20. Anthony K says

    Let the atheist groups concern themselves with atheism, and those who want to combat global poverty can join some other group dedicated to that battle.

    Why? Is the world at the optimal number of groups dedicated to causes? What calamity is supposed to befall us should some groups merge or others split off?

    I don’t know about you, but I haven’t heard any convincing cases for gods lately. Frankly, I don’t think any are forthcoming. For how many years am I expected to ruminate over the silliness of transubstantiation?

    At some point, this worldview has to impel me to act, whether acting means to acknowledge the truth of Debbie Goddard’s comment “If we agree there’s no cosmic justice system and there’s no reward for suffering after we die, we need to effect change here, now, in this life, in this world, for as many people as we can reach” (assuming of course that one gives a shit about suffering, but nonetheless it’s a case for mixing atheism with humanism and social justice), or whether it simply impels me to find the universe wondrous, immense, and fulfilling as it is (the case for mixing atheism with science).

    If you wish to fight against theocracy, or ceremonial deism, you’re mixing your atheism with politics. There are other groups dedicated to protecting secularism—should atheists who want to work on issues run off and join those groups, leaving atheist groups ‘pure’?

    Pure atheism is boring. There are probably no gods. That’s it.

    Everything else is mixing atheism with some other facet of the human social experience.

    But that’s okay. The real world works like that.

  21. Anthony K says

    It’s seriously fucked, this desire to spread atheism for atheism’s sake. How weird is it to effectively say, “I don’t care whether you’re starving, sick, underpaid, or abused, but I do care whether or not you believe in gods.”

  22. Mattir says

    Sikavu Hutchinson’s excellent book, Moral Combat, does a huge amount to address the “I don’t care whether your’re starving, sick, underpaid, or abused, but I care about whether you believe in gods” problem. Basically organized secularism, until very recently, has ignored the systemic issues that force many minority communities to continue to be enmeshed with parasitic religious organizations.

  23. says

    Anthony K:

    How weird is it to effectively say, “I don’t care whether you’re starving, sick, underpaid, or abused, but I do care whether or not you believe in gods.”

    It’s well beyond weird, it’s downright wrong. From where I sit, it just goes back to the notion of a men’s club, where the privileged sit around and have discussions about how darn smart they are and how much better they are than the great unwashed.

  24. catlover says

    @ Rob Grigjanis (#9): thank you very much for telling us all that a guaranteed income had actually been done somewhere! Awesome! Too bad it was stopped. Hardly anyone ever talks about the fact that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. advocated this. He said, “I am now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective — the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.” This is a quote from his last book, “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?” (New York: Harper & Row, 1967). It is essential that the atheist movement must do what we can to change society for the better, as soon as possible, out of well-developed moral convictions. We atheists need to show others by our actions that you don’t need to believe in a god to be ethical and highly moral people who care about others.

  25. david says

    Poverty and ignorance are breeding grounds for religion. Hence the success of fundamentalism in the red states.

  26. The Mellow Monkey says

    Anthony K:

    How weird is it to effectively say, “I don’t care whether you’re starving, sick, underpaid, or abused, but I do care whether or not you believe in gods.”

    Yeah, who are we? Mother Teresa?

  27. nathanaelnerode says

    Make no mistake about this. One of the tactics used by abusive religious organizations is brainwashing of the poor by monopolizing the education of the poor. (They will usually allow for the rich to get secular education.)

    This single issue is actually a major part of the history of Mexico. And they’re back at it, in the US — they view the “charter school” movement as a scheme by which they can replace public education with church-run education.

    Ever wondered why groups who don’t care at all about the poor are so hell-bent on letting the poor use government money to go to private schools? Yeah. Brainwashing opportunity.

    So, yes, this is *absolutely* an issue. Arguably a *core* issue.

  28. nathanaelnerode says

    Uh, I will say that scholarships are approximately the least effective, most elite-maintaining scheme I can think of for attempting to address issues of educational inequality.

    Fed up with the scholarship system, designed to lift a few lower-class people into the elite, reformers invented stuff like, you know, public schools. And even public colleges.

  29. ck says

    My point exactly.

    Oh, okay. I wasn’t exactly sure. She is revered by some secular people who don’t realize that her devotion to charity was often merely skin deep.

  30. Anthony K says

    Holy shit. If you haven’t followed the last link in Rob Grigjanis’ comment #9, please make an effort to do so. It’s an hour-long video; I’m twenty minutes in, and it’s been stellar so far. I don’t agree with everything he says, but his is a conservative perspective I can support.

  31. ck says

    I don’t agree with everything he says, but his is a conservative perspective I can support.

    Keep in mind that the Canadian conservative party used to be named the Progressive Conservatives, and they used to have quite a bit of diversity of opinion. Since the Reform party absorbed and replaced it, the party shifted quite a bit further right as those who were insufficiently conservative were replaced by people from the Reform party. However, despite this, the policies of the current Canadian Conservative party would still be (far) to the left of the Democratic party in the U.S.

    I think you kinda missed MM’s OH SNAP!

    I assumed it was mocking sarcastic, but the meaning of the sarcasm changes quite a bit depending on if you have a high or low opinion of Mother Teresa.

  32. says

    It’s seriously fucked, this desire to spread atheism for atheism’s sake. How weird is it to effectively say, “I don’t care whether you’re starving, sick, underpaid, or abused, but I do care whether or not you believe in gods.”

    Awesome.

  33. RFW says

    I wasn’t poeing and you can replace “atheists” in my paraphrase with “the atheist movement” if you wish. Same objections stand.

    It’s an unpopular point of view, but who’s to say that global poverty is a more important issue than homeless cats or beggars? That’s a personal evaluation that each person makes for him(her)self, an evaluation that depends on a host of personal factors, including one’s taste for activism of any kind.

    The atheist movement (if there is such a thing – just as there is some question if such an entity as “the gay community” exists given the heterogeneity of the gay population) does have a problem in its ranks with serious misogyny, so that’s an issue they need to address, as P-zed has repeatedly emphasized.

    Perhaps the issue is that I’m not one of those “strident new atheists”, preferring the “burrow from within and sow seeds of doubt” approaches.

  34. Anthony K says

    It’s an unpopular point of view, but who’s to say that global poverty is a more important issue than homeless cats or beggars?

    I’m not even sure how to parse this in a way that makes any sense. Is global poverty more important than beggars? Are you using a definition of ‘more’ that doesn’t indicate a relative difference in magnitude? Is two hundred people drowning a more important issue than twenty people drowning? However could we solve such a conundrum?

    That’s a personal evaluation that each person makes for him(her)self, an evaluation that depends on a host of personal factors, including one’s taste for activism of any kind.

    Yes, my personal evaluation of my taste for activism certainly does throw a monkey wrench into the whole idea of whether or not lots of suffering is worse than not as much suffering.

    so that’s an issue they need to address, as P-zed has repeatedly emphasized.

    So, never mind all of that stupid bullshit you just wrote, apparently PZ decides for you when an issue is important.

    Thanks for your time. Please be sure to recycle those 3-D glasses for the next visitor on your way out.

  35. says

    catlover

    “I am now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective — the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.”

    Indeed, in Community Development, one of the precepts is that the best way to help the poor with services is to make them available to everyone. This is first because making things available only to ‘the poor,’ or worse (and more common) ‘the deserving poor,’ large numbers of people will be defined out of that category, however much they need the help, and even more people will be unable to jump through all the hoops needed to prove that they’re sufficiently poor (The hoops also cost money, which means that less is available for actually providing the services, too). Secondly, the middle and upper classes will never stop whining about any service that’s available to the poor and not them, even if they have no conceivable need of it and wouldn’t use it if it were available. Seriously, these entitled fuckers will not shut up, and it’s easier just to make it available to them too than it is to fight about it. In some cases, it’s also more efficient to just give the services to everyone (Health care for example), but in terms of providing services, saturation pretty much always requires it.

    RFW
    Anyone who gives half a shit about peopel considers poverty to be a greater issue than stray cats. As for beggars, nice job comparing the homeless to animals for one. Also, do you have any idea what an idiot you sound wondering if homelessness is a greater problem than poverty?

  36. llewelly says

    Acolyte of Sagan | 5 February 2013 at 5:53 pm (UTC -6) :

    Is it just my imagination, or is it really starting to feel that the cats are, if not exactly allowing themselves to be herded, at least coming round to the idea of strength by organisation?

    Perhaps the infamous difficulties of herding cats were little more than a smokescreen made by those who wished to preserve their positions within the kyriarchy.

  37. bradleybetts says

    AND when the anti- A+ crowd start whining you can tell them that higher education and better quality education is positively correlated with Atheism, and therefore this is advancing the cause. That might even get them to donate, providing you don’t mention it helps people. ‘Cause that’s not Atheism, you know.

  38. bradleybetts says

    @RFW #44

    It’s an unpopular point of view, but who’s to say that global poverty is a more important issue than homeless cats or beggars?

    What are beggars created by? That’s right, poverty. So solving poverty would solve…? Begging, that’s right! Have a cookie.

    So what you’re really asking is “Is the sum total of human misery that can be blamed on poverty more important than the issue of stray cats?”. And the answer is yes, yes it is. I’ll leave you to figure out why.

  39. sawells says

    @Gregory Greenwood, comment 6 : When you wrote “we know how very, very much impotance the would-be conservative gate keepers of skepticism place on stating for umpteenth time the obvious non-existence of Bigfoot and Nessie…” , that’s a misprint that deserves to be a word.

    Anyone for definitions? I think “Impotance” sounds like “an excessive degree of importance ascribed to something that’s actually quite trivial, to the detriment of more significant issues” – but that could be polished up a bit.

  40. Louis says

    I’m just going to have to agree with Brownian…I mean Anthony K. You know what this means? Echo chamber. I know, I know. I should be more responsible, try to cause more Deep Rifts, that sort of thing. He does have funny facial hair if that helps. Does that help? I mean that could be a compliment.

    Oh it’s all so difficult!

    Louis

  41. Gregory Greenwood says

    Sawells @ 53;

    When you wrote “we know how very, very much impotance the would-be conservative gate keepers of skepticism place on stating for umpteenth time the obvious non-existence of Bigfoot and Nessie…” , that’s a misprint that deserves to be a word.

    Anyone for definitions? I think “Impotance” sounds like “an excessive degree of importance ascribed to something that’s actually quite trivial, to the detriment of more significant issues” – but that could be polished up a bit.

    It has finally happened – my sloppy spelling and malapropisms have created a new word. ;-P

    I like your definition – it combines elements of ineffectual impotence with gross, arrogant self-importance to perfectly describe the obsessions of the type of atheo-skeptic who thinks that mixing socially progressive values with atheism/skepticism is the worst kind of secular heresy imaginable.

  42. Gregory Greenwood says

    Louis @ 54;

    I feel your pain, Louis – it is so darn hard to be both an unthinking member of the echo chamber choir and a divisive, discursive-dynamite-weilding excavator of Deep Rifts(TM) at the same time. It is just so unfair! How are we supposed to be properly evil, progressive atheist feminazis if our critics cannot even agree on the manner and character of our perfidy? Can’t they have a meeting over at the Slymepit and agree on a single definition already? It is exhausting trying to be multiple mutually exclusive types of supervillain all at the same time.

    I don’t know if I should be in my secret volcano base demanding that the governments of the world pay me *Dr Evil Voice*1 million dollars!*Dr Evil Voice* or I will fire my space born deconversion ray at the Vatican, or if I should be in my penthouse purchased with the ill gotten gains of A+, plotting to manipulate society to ensure the enslavement of all real manly men…

  43. David Marjanović says

    If the Mollies ever make a reappearance, your post @ 23 is getting nominated. Loudly.

    Thirded. And 27, too.

    @nathanaelnerode
    Your whole comment at #36 is brilliant.

    Seconded.

    I’m just going to have to agree with Brownian…I mean Anthony K. You know what this means? Echo chamber.

    Echoed.

    it is so darn hard to be both an unthinking member of the echo chamber choir and a divisive, discursive-dynamite-weilding excavator of Deep Rifts(TM) at the same time.

    *pretends to clear throat*

    Louis, you sign your comments, even though your name is already proudly displayed above them. That makes you a poopyhead, did you know that?

    See? Easy.

  44. carlie says

    It’s seriously fucked, this desire to spread atheism for atheism’s sake. How weird is it to effectively say, “I don’t care whether you’re starving, sick, underpaid, or abused, but I do care whether or not you believe in gods.”

    I’m just going to sit and bask in the beauty of this statement for awhile.

    *also anxiously checking queue number, sees sign up front still says “now serving [00]“

  45. Akira MacKenzie says

    Caine @ 29

    From where I sit, it just goes back to the notion of a men’s club, where the privileged sit around and have discussions about how darn smart they are and how much better they are than the great unwashed.

    What is one of the main arguments we hear from theists regarding their supposed moral superiority to atheists? Why, they organize charities, they build hospitals, their run homeless shelters! Where are the explicitedly atheist philanthropic efforts? According to the narritive, theists, particularly Christians, care about the poor, while athesists only seem to care about cold, souless, carnal, science. Realist as I am, I realize that Christian charity ultimately just a means to prey upon the desperate, but it gives them a massive advantage when trying to convince others who is “good” and who is “heartless.” Even the Megachurch assholes who preach “prosperity gospel” get to look altruistic so long as they send some cans of crappy store-brand sweet corn at the local food pantry.

    You accept that deities and the superntural are silly. Good! You rail about the historical cruelty of religion. Fine! The next question is, what are you going to do with those revelations? Where do they lead you? If you can’t come up with a worthwhile answer, congratulations! You’ve just played right into the bible-beater’s hands by becoming the very stereotype they point to when condemning atheism.

  46. says

    Rob Grigjanis, #11

    Your goals are the proper goals. My position is that prerequisites for those goals are knowledge and/or extraordinary good luck. I prefer to rely on the former. Promoting disbelief in absurd fantasies is just one part of improving the state of human knowledge. We should even remain open to the possibility that there may be cases where promoting atheism inhibits these goals, though given that religion poisons just about everything, in the long run, a harsh attitude towards religious belief seems profitable. (Note that this is not the same as the accommodationist position that religious ideas are compatible with rationality.)

  47. Olav says

    Rob Grigjanis #9:

    A more enlightened approach would involve something like the Guaranteed Basic Income.

    I have been involved (on and off) with basic income discussions and activism for almost three decades now. Never thought I would see someone mention it here. Thank you.

  48. mcallahan says

    Another great cause for the A+ movement. I’m all for it. My peeve is hearing a single mom high school biology teacher in Paradise CA tell me she is terrified of losing her job if she dares to mention evolution. How can she teach biology? Paradise is a town of 26K population with another 26K in the greater area. Fighting religious intimidation in schools should be a front burner cause.

  49. Cyranothe2nd says

    by Llewelly

    Perhaps the infamous difficulties of herding cats were little more than a smokescreen made by those who wished to preserve their positions within the kyriarchy.

    QFMFT!

    by Great1American1Satan

    I just realized the other day that the whole deep rifts issue can be boiled down to something pretty basic – a bunch of people with a common interest and shared space suddenly realized some of them are conservative and some of them are progressive, and due to the reactionary, vitriolic stupidity of the American conservative, shit exploded like TNT.

    I agree. As Llwelly so wonderfully noted, I think the Deep Rifts are really about those who don’t want their privileged questioned, and those who see atheism/skepticism as a vehicle for also questioning the status quo that we’ve been taught to accept. If we can hold the lens up to God and religion, why not racial injustice, or global poverty, or imperialism?

    I also think that those who believe that atheism shouldn’t have anything to do with social justice are passively absorbing the idea that atheism means that we have no moral philosophy of our own, or no real impetus to act on a moral imperative (in the way that Christians, for example, act on the idea that they must convert the “lost”). We should. We do. As citizens of the world, we have a moral duty that goes beyond poking holes in religious institutions. That’s only a first step. If we are going to tear these institutions down, we seriously have to ask ourselves what (if anything) we want to replace them with. Its not enough to just criticize the Church, without also looking at why people support the Church and what consolation the Church offers, beyond the promise of eternal life.

  50. Cyranothe2nd says

    More thinky thoughts…

    For me, skepticism is about being able to critically engage with systems of power. But engagement/critique is not an end goal, and I feel like a lot of skeptics want it to be. What am I critiquing the system for? What is my purpose? What is the ideal I hold in my mind about what the system should be? If I critique capitalism, for instance, don’t I have in my mind the ideal that economic systems should be fair and equitable? SO WHY NOT FIGHT FOR THAT GOAL THEN?

    What is the point of critique, if not to raise consciousness to the fact that something is not working, and then REPLACING IT WITH SOMETHING THAT DOES WORK?

  51. says

    Besides, if you solved poverty, more people would be able to take in stray cats.

    The Canadian government found it was cheaper to send everyone a monthly child benefit cheque than to figure out who didn’t need one by virtue of income.

  52. Gregory Greenwood says

    David Marjanović @ 57;

    *pretends to clear throat*

    Louis, you sign your comments, even though your name is already proudly displayed above them. That makes you a poopyhead, did you know that?

    See? Easy.

    It is always gratifying to see a master at work…

    ;-P

  53. Maurice Smith says

    If I may have a moment of you all’s time and express thoughts about Christianity with you and your friends or family, and if you will give me back your comments and questions I will answer them in the way that the Lord God of Israel, would want me to answer you… Why Christianity is not a religion. Christianity is not a religion because, it is about a God who created us, knew the plans that He had for us, and through that he created us, whether we be man of female, to live a life that is based upon faith, and trust in him, and which during that time that He was creating the world and Satan A.K.A Lucifer(Morning sun) A.K.A Allah, the God of NOTHING, PERIOD! Roams about, to and fro, upon the face of the earth seeking whom He may devour, and another thing the Devil doesn’t have horns, he doesn’t have a long tail of a pitchfork, not that’s greek mythology! That’s fantasy, that’s fiction. The devil looks like you and me… Yep, let that sink in, and so when That Old Serpent came up to Eve, she was told not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and she understood, although she fell for satans lie. Did God tell you not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil?” , (P.S: There is only one God, I say that truly and respectfully from all that He has brought me through, though I’m only fifteen in a half, and about to turn sixteen tomarrow, if it is the Lord’s will for that to be so.) (P.S.S:I may do this many times.) She did replied with, “God told us not to eat of it, or touch it, or we die.” Satan turned her words around on her and told her another lie, “You will not surely die.” he said, he said, For in the day that you eat of it, God knows that your eyes will be opened and you will be like GODS knowing Good and Evil.” And so when she SAW that the fruit was PLEASING TO THE EYES, (The Lust of the Eyes),GOOD FOR FOOD, (The Lust of the Flesh), AND DESIRE-ABLE FOR GAINING KNOWLEDGE, (THE PRIDE OF LIFE), she TOOK of the fruit, and ATE OF IT, AND HER EYES WERE OPENED, SHE ALSO GAVE SOME TO HER HUSBAND AND HE ALSO ATE OF IT, AND HIS EYES WERE OPENED. (and beforehand they knew not that they were naked, although after they ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, whether it was small little grapes, or an apple, an orange, they ate the fruit,) And they saw that they were naked and they were ashamed, so they sowed together fig leaves and laid in the garden, and in the cool of the day the Lord came looking for them, “Where are you?” He said. “I hid because I was afraid to see you, and saw that I was naked,” Adam said. Who told you you were naked? (At this question Adam lied) “The woman gave me of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil, and I ate of it.” God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” She said the serpent deceived me, and so I ate of the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil.” God said to Satan, Because of you have done this, Cursed are you above animals! You will eat of the dust of the ground,(by this God was telling him that he will feed of of the FLESH, US!!! We were born in sin!!! Although God had a plan, He didn’t walk around Heaven scratching His head, saying, “What am I going to do?” (“No!!!”)) And I will put enmity between what you birth and what the woman births. And what comes out of the woman, you will strike his heel, although what comes out of the woman will eventually CRUSH the head of Satan!!! God made us more then conqueror before we were born into the world. That is why John testified to those who believe and trust Christ, because they believe that Christ was the son of God, and in the power of His resurrection, 1 John 4:4, “‘Greater is He who is within us, than He who is in the world.'” Jesus was given ALL power in Heaven and on Earth, there was power in that blood. I AM the WAY, The Truth, and The Life, No man comes unto the father, but by me, Matthew 4:4, ‘Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God”. Matthew 4:7: ‘ It is also written: Do Not Test The Lord, God is not to be mocked. I am speaking to you by the grace of God, He loves you, whether you be a drug addict, or a Rapist, God loves you, and He wants to set you free, Jesus came to help the Jews, and when this purpose had been finished, the historical Jesus was crucified, and He descended down to Hell to take back all the spiritual gifts, and the keys of Hell and Death, and to give us another chance at salvation, 3 is the number for resurrection, 7 is the number of completion. 11 is the number of disorder, 12 is the number of order. If we, America keep dividing up the Jew’s land A.K.A God’s land, God will divide up our land. If we curse the Jewish nation, God will curse us. America isn’t God’s chosen people, we aren’t God chosen people, the Jews are!!! Although God is real, and He wants you to know more about him and his love. Just say this simple prayer: “‘Lord, I know I’m a sinner. I know that you love me and that you want me to know more about you, and that you have a purpose for my life. This is not all to life, although you want to be with you in eternity. Lord, I admitt that I have doubted you, used you, and even hurt you. I want to get back right with you, I want to experience that love that can’t be understood physically mentally, or emotionally, but spiritually. And right now Father, I ask you into my heart, and I’ll make you my Lord and Savior. There’s no other God’s like you. NONE!!! Come in to my life, in Jesus’s name, Amen.'” You will find that God wants to get to know you better.

  54. Maurice Smith says

    God loves you. May He make His face to shine upon you, and bless you and your families, and show you that there’s MORE to life than what you see. In Jesus name, we pray, amen. To those who have accepted Him into their lives know that you have been saved. And get the word out.

  55. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    God loves you.

    How can something that doesn’t exist love anything? It’s up to you to prove existence with solid and conclusive physical evidence. Your evidence free wall of text won’t do, as the babble is nothing but a book of mythology fiction. God->babble->God is circular reasoning, a logical fallacy. Typical godbot logic. As anybody not robotically repeating slogans would know.

    You need to show evidence for both your imaginary deity and the babble being anything other than a book of mythology/fiction. Evidence that will pass muster with scientists, magicians, and professional debunkers, as being of divine, and not natural (scientifically explained), origin. Essentially stand back and point to the equivalent of the eternally burning bush.

    Until then, Yawn, nothing to see here folks. Just another evidenceless delusional fool pontificating about something that doesn’t exist.

  56. Lofty says

    Maurice

    Christianity is not a religion because,

    Eh? Then why are the christers claiming tax exemptions? I’d like your lot to hand over a few thousand years of back taxes please.

  57. says

    Maurice Smith – Dude, give it a rest. Go hang out in your prayer closet or something. Pretend we answered the door naked.

    Most of the people here are more than familiar with xianity, dear. Lots of of us grew up that way, then we discovered reality. And reality is wonderful. You should taste it sometime.

  58. Lofty says

    I would also like to melt down the Vatican, so to speak.

    The Blowtorch of Reason is being applied as we speak. (Hey would someone please turn up the gas?)

  59. Beatrice says

    Matthew 4:4, ‘Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God”

    Damn. Now I’m going to have the corresponding church song stuck in my head.

    Congratulations, Maurice Smith, you just received 50 points on your Get into heaven card. Only 35,285,392,835,735,000 more to go. Happy groveling efforts and may the odds be ever in your favor!

  60. mythbri says

    @Maurice Smith

    You sure spent a whole lot of words saying absolutely nothing.

    Everyone needs to be good at something, I suppose.

  61. Hekuni Cat, MQG says

    mythbri:

    Everyone needs to be good at something, I suppose.

    It probably explains why Maurice Smith isn’t good at paragraphing. He’s over his limit.

  62. Hekuni Cat, MQG says

    Caine:

    Oh no. Maurice Smith is the Reap Paden of Goddists!

    That’s a terrifying thought. :D

  63. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    if you will give me back your comments and questions I will answer them in the way that the Lord God of Israel

    awwwwwwwwwwww

    I was hoping for the Lord God of Dance.

    Why Christianity is not a religion.

    Goes on to describe a religion.