Substitute “atheism” for “religion”, and it still works! »« A Moroccan hero: Imad Iddine Habib

Today is the National Day of Reason

We live in an unreasonable country, so I don’t expect that the National Day of Reason will get as much attention as the idiocy of the National Day of Prayer. But apparently we’re not supposed to pray today. Big change for all of you, I know.

But here’s a suggestion: usually we just sit quietly and let the faith-heads get on with their ritual nonsense. Today, though, take another step: if you find yourself in a situation where people are wasting your time babbling at an imaginary man in the sky, don’t hold your tongue. Stand up, say “NO”, and turn your back or leave the room. Let them play their game, but don’t let them continue without knowing that you reject superstition.

Unfortunately, that’s easy for me to say — I’ll be at a university, where I’ve never seen a prayer invocation. I think I’ll keep the television news off, too, or I might be waving my middle finger at the screen a lot.

If you don’t have an opportunity to openly express your contempt for prayer, you can at least sign the petition being sent to Obama.

Comments

  1. Brad Peters says

    Personally, if I got angry, turned my back, and left the room every time someone said something that sounded superstitious or irrational, I would find myself alone far more often than I do. I probably wouldn’t have many friends either. Most people are superstitious or irrational when it comes to some thing or another.

    PZ, isn’t it better to engage in conversation when possible? Rather than openly express contempt and aggression, shouldn’t we be fostering some kind of acceptance of the person, while calmly and firmly rejecting their ideas? I am sick of this angry militant atheist nonsense – in my view, it is an adolescent attitude. Letting go of the ‘aggressive’ part does not mean that you have to become a pacifist… though I am sure I will be accused of it.

  2. Ogvorbis, broken failure. says

    Two things: First, what is the reason for this day of reason?

    Second, This morning, while filling the car with gas, the man on the other side of the pump started complaining about how Obama had driven up the price of gas so that he’d have to get rid of his truck (a Chevy Suburban with ALL the options).

    I pointed out that the price of gas is pretty much where it was when he took office and that they price of gas had jumped from $1.25 to $3.50 during the Bush administration.

    He replied that god has given us enough oil to last until Jesus returns so there is no reason for the price to go up except for the environmentalist whackos who don’t want people in comfortable cars.

    Now, keep in mind, I am wearing my NPS uniform. The green & gray. With the arrowhead. A symbol of conservation. I replied, “You do realize that every generation has been sure that Jesus will return during their lifetime and that every single generation has been wrong?”

    He replied, “But it’s been exactly 2000 years. A millennium.”

    Me: “A millennium is 1,000 years. And you have no idea what year your myth was born or died.”

    Him: “He was born Christmas Day of the year 1.”

    Me: “You might want to actually read your book of myths. And, while we’re at it,” I hung up the pump and grabbed the receipt, “try thinking about those generations who will follow you. Your kids. Your grandkids. Do you really want them living in a shit hole because you want to use everything up? Selfish bastard.” And I walked around to get in my car.

    Him: “I’ll pray for you.”

    Me: “Never worked for anyone and never will.” and I got in my car, started it up, and left to the sound of Pete Seeger singing Five Fingers Has the Hand. I felt bad leaving him so quickly but I had to get to work.

    Had I already know this was the day of reason, I would have done things differently.

    No, I think I got it right.

    Peace and reality to all.

  3. says

    It’s okay. I try to make up for my prayerful friends by blaspheming extra hard today.

    I suppose we could all move to Charlotte, NC for the day. It’s officially the National Day of Reason there by mayoral proclamation. And Mayor Foxx was tapped by Obama to be the next transportation secretary, which means… I don’t know, maybe we can look forward to having… secular roads, or something? No, it doesn’t mean anything.

  4. Blondin says

    Personally, if I got angry, turned my back, and left the room every time someone said something that sounded superstitious or irrational, I would find myself alone far more often than I do. I probably wouldn’t have many friends either. Most people are superstitious or irrational when it comes to some thing or another.

    Well, if refusing to play their game one day a year would alienate you from all your friends maybe you should be a little more discerning in who you befriend. Anyway, nobody is suggesting you should get angry or be rude. Be engaging and accepting while calmly but firmly rejecting their ideas if that’s what works for you. My prediction is that you’ll still get angry, rude contempt and aggression in response from some of your friends because – how dare you question their right to voice their unreasonable, irrational beliefs and opinions, or demands, about how the rest of us should conduct ourselves and live our lives.

  5. Irmin says

    Interestingly, in Germany the “Kirchentag” (church day) of the protestants started just yesterday (and it’s lasting longer than a day actually). These things seem to come in masses. Even our president (having only a representative role, but nevertheless) was there. So much for separation of church and state.

    Mind you, news coverage of this was only positive of course. It’s such a nice gathering of sheep.

  6. DLC says

    Just once I’d like to see people, for this one day, read through the long litany of biblical impossibilities, contradictions and outright stupidities.

  7. consciousness razor says

    I am sick of this angry militant atheist nonsense – in my view, it is an adolescent attitude. Letting go of the ‘aggressive’ part does not mean that you have to become a pacifist… though I am sure I will be accused of it.

    Jebus, you believe it’s actual, physical aggression such that it’s opposed to pacifism? And that pacifism is somehow a bad thing you wouldn’t even bother to defend?

    If the Day of Reason isn’t about opposing bullshit like yours too, I’m not celebrating.

  8. says

    If anyone is in the area of the Minnesota State Capital in St. Paul from noon to one today Minnesota Atheists is having our regular Day of Reason rally in the rotunda (the Day of Prayer people will be out front praying it doesn’t snow). There are usually school groups touring the capital while we are there and walk by hearing our speakers and seeing our signs. There is one legislator who will speak and be associated with us.

  9. truthspeaker says

    Getting up and leaving is aggressive? Who knew?

    Fortunately for me this never comes up. The only religious people I know are my inlaws, and they don’t even say Grace before meals when I’m over there. And if I did, they wouldn’t care if I didn’t participate.

  10. Brad Peters says

    @#7 ‘consciousness razor’

    “Jebus, you believe it’s actual, physical aggression such that it’s opposed to pacifism?”

    I never said anything about physical aggression; like most people in these online discussions, you put words in your opponents mouth so that you can pretend to make a point, while allowing you to dismiss a view that opposes your own as little more than ‘bullshit.’ You should also know that ‘reason’ is more than just ‘opposing bullshit’ – its about being capable of views that may differ from your own, otherwise you are probably inclined to go around defending your preferred ideologies or dogmas.

    @#9 ‘truthspeaker’

    “Getting up and leaving is aggressive? Who knew?”

    I never said that it was openly aggressive, though calling people names (e.g. ‘faith-heads’) and being generally disrespectful is a form of it. And yes, walking away is also form of ‘passive aggression,’ as is your sarcasm “truthspeaker.”

  11. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Your concern is noted, and tired, and naive, and Exactly The Same Advice Every Mainstream Person Has Ever Said To Any Activist On Any Issue In The History Of Social Change, Brad Peters.

    How about you sit quietly doing nothing while the rest of us carry on.

  12. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    …its about being capable of views that may differ from your own,…

    I think you must be missing a gerund between “of” and “views”/

  13. anteprepro says

    A Wild Accomodationist appears!

    Accomodationist uses Banal PRATT!
    It’s not very effective.

    Accomodationist uses Smug Indignation!
    It’s not very effective.

    Horde faints from boredom.

  14. says

    “Jebus, you believe it’s actual, physical aggression such that it’s opposed to pacifism?”

    I never said anything about physical aggression; like most people in these online discussions, you put words in your opponents mouth so that you can pretend to make a point, while allowing you to dismiss a view that opposes your own as little more than ‘bullshit.’

    Here’s the thing, though – “pacifism” is a term with a specific meaning which is generally NOT applied to verbal or emotional aggression. It’s a term that refers to a person’s refusal to engage in physical violence as a means of conflict resolution. To my knowledge, it hasn’t ever been used to refer to the refusal to use verbally aggressive tactics, like name-calling or mockery.

    You’re pretty verbally aggressive here, I’ll note. What’s the deal–”pacifism” (according to your idiosyncratic definition of the word) for me, but not for thee? Some atheists are jerks to non-believers, therefore it’s okay for you to come in here and be a jerk to us? Nice “logic” you’ve got there.

    You should also know that ‘reason’ is more than just ‘opposing bullshit’ – its about being capable of views that may differ from your own, otherwise you are probably inclined to go around defending your preferred ideologies or dogmas.

    “being capable of ____________ views that may differ from your own” – I’m guessing that “understanding” goes in the blank there, or something similar.

    File this under the category of philosophy dudebros stating the painfully obvious, under the assumption that they are the only ones around who realize it, and expecting people to smack their foreheads upon receipt of the deepity, going, “Gosh! Whyever did I not think of considering or understanding views that are different from my own? EVERYTHING IS DIFFERENT NOW!”

    Thanks for the lesson. You’re still wrong.

  15. kagekiri says

    Brad Peters:
    I never said anything about physical aggression; like most people in these online discussions, you put words in your opponents mouth so that you can pretend to make a point, while allowing you to dismiss a view that opposes your own as little more than ‘bullshit.’

    So, because people misunderstand you for your poorly chosen personal definitions of the words “aggression” and “pacifism”, they’re dismissing you unfairly, so you, in turn. dismiss them with essentially no attempt at understanding them. At the same time, you accuse them of the very act you’re committing, i.e., mis-characterizing an opponent to dismiss them without attempting to understand them.

    What’s that word we’re looking for? I’d call it hypocrisy, except that you’ve actually made far worse an attempt to understand your “opponent” than said “opponent” has in understanding you. Projection and a total failure of introspection are probably more apt to describe your behavior.

    And it’s funny, because your first comment similarly fails to even comprehend PZ’s suggestion as you accuse him of being a militant.

    Brad Peters:
    Personally, if I got angry, turned my back, and left the room every time someone said something that sounded superstitious or irrational, I would find myself alone far more often than I do. I probably wouldn’t have many friends either. Most people are superstitious or irrational when it comes to some thing or another.

    He’s NOT actually saying to do this every day to everyone without reservations or consideration, which is what you claim he’s saying. He’s saying to do it specifically today, the National Day of Prayer.

    PZ:
    But here’s a suggestion: usually we just sit quietly and let the faith-heads get on with their ritual nonsense. Today, though, take another step:…

    Yet your comment implies that he is advocating it all the time, and claim it’s standard “militant atheist nonsense”.

    Again, YOU, in fact, are the one mis-characterizing others with an inaccurate generalization and dismissing them unfairly, just like other jerks and trolls on the internet.

  16. Brad Peters says

    I will only say a couple things and I will take my leave. Yes Sally, you are correct for questioning my usage of the word ‘pacifism.’ I was using it in the less common sense, and as defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “2: an attitude or policy of nonresistance.” My point was to say that we can abandon the ‘aggressive’ part while still resisting. I was also anticipating the accusation (which eventually came at comments #13 & #15) that to be critical of an mocking and aggressive approach means to “do nothing” or to be an accommodationist. You are also correct to say that two wrongs do not make a right with regard to what might be my own aggressive attitude – I apologize. As to what I failed to fill in the blank… that was “being capable of seriously entertaining views that may differ from your own” (I was in a rush and missed that). As to the comments above (#17), I can say that for the same reasons why we should value reason any day of the month/year, we should probably advocate against unnecessary aggression and mockery any day/month of the year. I think PZ is one of the ‘less-militant’ folks online and I value what he has to say… I was only questioning whether the tone is necessary.

  17. consciousness razor says

    I never said anything about physical aggression;

    You made the comparison to pacifism, apparently from free association after going down the metaphorical rabbit hole with “militant atheist nonsense.” But if that isn’t even supposed to mean anything at all, then it’s still bullshit.

    like most people in these online discussions, you put words in your opponents mouth so that you can pretend to make a point, while allowing you to dismiss a view that opposes your own as little more than ‘bullshit.’

    It is little more than bullshit. What else is there to say? If you want to substantiate your argument, you could try, but you haven’t.

    I’ll leave aside the question of whether things are much different offline rather than online, even though you simply assert it.

    But notice that all you’re doing is making unsupported claims — not doing a damn reasonable thing given the situation, just reaching for some kind of smear because I opposed something you said.

    You should also know that ‘reason’ is more than just ‘opposing bullshit’ – its about being capable of views that may differ from your own, otherwise you are probably inclined to go around defending your preferred ideologies or dogmas.

    Yep. I should and I do, if “being capable of views” is supposed to mean capable of reasoning about them. In that case, I am capable, thank you very much. But it’s not bowing down before every bit of nonsense someone churns up with a fake tone of “respect.”

  18. truthspeaker says

    Leaving an event or declining to participate in an aspect of it is not “mocking”, nor is it “aggressive”.

    (And neither is using sarcasm, for that matter).

  19. consciousness razor says

    But you probably don’t have many friends, truthspeaker. Because angry militant atheist nonsense is nonsense.

  20. Rawnaeris, FREEZE PEACHES says

    Brad Peters says,

    I was using it in the less common sense, and as defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “2: an attitude or policy of nonresistance.” My point was to say that we can abandon the ‘aggressive’ part while still resisting.

    These two statements are contradictory. You can’t be nonrestistant to something while also resisting it.

    Unless you’re Schrodinger’s Cat, then maybe you could.

  21. anteprepro says

    I was also anticipating the accusation (which eventually came at comments #13 & #15) that to be critical of an mocking and aggressive approach means to “do nothing” or to be an accommodationist.

    I apologize profusely for my comment. I shouldn’t have called you an accomodationist. I should have said tone troll. And that would have fit the Pokemon theme so much better too…

    I was only questioning whether the tone is necessary.

    …in addition to being dead-on accurate. Oh, word choice, why must you betray me so!

  22. truthspeaker says

    consciousness razor

    2 May 2013 at 1:21 pm (UTC -5)

    But you probably don’t have many friends, truthspeaker. Because angry militant atheist nonsense is nonsense.

    There was that time at the party senate district convention where we all said the Pledge of Allegiance, but I left out “under God”….

    …and nobody reacted as if I were being “aggressive”, or noticed at all, for that matter.

  23. consciousness razor says

    These two statements are contradictory. You can’t be nonrestistant to something while also resisting it.

    I think he’s trying to say he’s neither “militant” nor a “pacifist” (keeping in mind his weird definitions) but is of course in that lovely, golden region in the middle, where he is just as “resistant” as he ought to be, no more and no less.

    For some reason, I’m reminded of times when pacifists were given prison sentences for their … uh… non-resistance? … to their country’s involvement in various wars. Maybe they should’ve been a little more “militant.”

  24. Rey Fox says

    Getting up and leaving is aggressive? Who knew?

    Existing openly as an atheist is aggressive.

  25. says

    I will only say a couple things and I will take my leave.

    In other words, “I realize that what I have said is indefensible but don’t have enough integrity to admit it.”

  26. says

    as defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “2: an attitude or policy of nonresistance.”

    Is it just me, or is this basically a straw version of pacifism? Because from everything I’ve learned about pacifism, it’s definitely NOT a policy of “nonresistance.” It’s a policy of non-violent resistance. The whole point of pacifism is to demonstrate that resistance does not require violence, not to sit around not protesting things that need protesting. It’s like looking up feminism in Merriam-Webster and seeing the second definition say something like, “A movement to institute matriarchal systems of female domination of the world, possibly including the mass incarceration and/or murder of men.”

  27. says

    Your concern is noted, and tired, and naive, and Exactly The Same Advice Every Mainstream Person Has Ever Said To Any Activist On Any Issue In The History Of Social Change, Brad Peters.

    How about you sit quietly doing nothing while the rest of us carry on.

    Exactly.

    This thread – especially the quick surfacing of yet another tiresome tone troll – inspires me to go back and add another sentence or two – with much more offensive language! – to my own Day of Reason post. I was too damn polite!

  28. kagekiri says

    I think the word you were looking for, Brad, was “passivity” or “being passive”, not pacifism. Passivity might be more suitable as the opposite of open aggression.

    I can say that for the same reasons why we should value reason any day of the month/year, we should probably advocate against unnecessary aggression and mockery any day/month of the year

    Reason means no aggression or mockery ever (straw Spock logic…??)? Aggression against religion is unnecessary? I disagree fundamentally, then. Better try and actually write out said “reasons for advocating reason” that apply to never using “aggression and mockery”.

    Polite objections aren’t always enough, and politeness is rather biased towards personal emotions.

    I’ve been accused of mockery even when making reasoned arguments concerning religion (along with being accused of being untrustworthy and unloving, disrespectful, etc). I was not being aggressive, I was making an impassioned plea for why I could still be a good person while being an atheist to my family. I only criticized their ideas, yet they reacted as if personally attacked.

    Another example: when I was a Christian, I felt horribly embarrassed and mocked when someone “aggressively” rebutted my Creationist arguments online with overwhelming evidence of evolution. Did that person making me feel bad mean he was wrong? I later learned he was just trying to state evidence, to clear the air; he didn’t really intend to make me feel bad or dumb or make me deconvert, yet he did all three.

    Do these examples mean that reason itself, which makes such a mockery of religion, should be toned down? Does offense of the brain-washed and trained self-martyrs matter more than humanity or truth?

    What is more important to you: stopping the mental roadblocks to reason/knowledge caused by religion, and the damage caused to human happiness by religion, or just sounding nice to everyone? Because I know what’s most important to me, and “perceived tone” or “perceived aggression” of the religious is not near the top of that list.

    I won’t fault you for attempting to be polite; go for it. I even agree that aggression isn’t always the best way. But passive-aggressively criticizing those who feel the need to be more “aggressive”…that’s weak and incredibly subjective.

  29. yazikus says

    I emailed my state senator to let him know that some current legislation he is sponsoring (making it legal for people to discriminate against other people if they have a “sincerely held religious belief”) is ridiculous, and non representative of what we the voters want. So I guess that was my contribution.

    I’m lucky that where I work only a few people self-identify as christians, but none are practicing, and the others just don’t claim any faith. I can’t imagine being subjected to prayer at work.

    The town I live in is very conservative, but lately I’ve met a few brave individuals who identify differently. It is so great to know you are not alone! It is funny though, when we are chatting (in a small gift shop, say) and we are furtively whispering, stopping when anyone comes close lest they hear us, because it could hurt us professionally. And by funny, I mean sad.

  30. says

    Another example: when I was a Christian, I felt horribly embarrassed and mocked when someone “aggressively” rebutted my Creationist arguments online with overwhelming evidence of evolution. Did that person making me feel bad mean he was wrong? I later learned he was just trying to state evidence, to clear the air; he didn’t really intend to make me feel bad or dumb or make me deconvert, yet he did all three.

    Do these examples mean that reason itself, which makes such a mockery of religion, should be toned down? Does offense of the brain-washed and trained self-martyrs matter more than humanity or truth?

    What is more important to you: stopping the mental roadblocks to reason/knowledge caused by religion, and the damage caused to human happiness by religion, or just sounding nice to everyone? Because I know what’s most important to me, and “perceived tone” or “perceived aggression” of the religious is not near the top of that list.

    kagekiri, I think your whole comment was such a clear, concise encapsulation of exactly what the issue is here, and the part I quoted above is especially important, IMO. Thanks for this! I could not agree more.

  31. Masquirina says

    Yes, you should definitely stop “mocking” irrational ideas, no matter how harmful they are to the progress of society. Whenever you and that fiery madman Dawkins explain the molecular processes governing eye development to someone who thought God plucked them from his eye tree and screwed them in lightbulb-style, it’s exactly like a quadruple-mule kick to the face while stabbing the heart. If only atheists and science elitist tyrants could someday be:
    a. more inclusive, accepting of new ideas, and gosh-darn friendly to outsiders, and
    b. less critical of and eager to control the lifestyle choices, behaviors, and actions of other people like religious people, the world would be a much better place with less lives permanently damaged or ruined by other humans.
    Seriously guys, it hurts feelings when you think you’re better than everyone else, stop being mean.
    Now excuse me, I have to go tell a gay person they’re pretty much worthless garbage if they don’t change, and petition to have people wearing hijabs arrested on the spot; filthy heathens both of them.

    Sincerely,
    Ann Coulter

  32. says

    Brad Peters:
    Perhaps it will be YOU, among all the reasonable people out there, who will define the term ‘militant atheist’, taking into account how ‘militant’ is typically used in discussion (then you can trot out a dictionary definition). I, for one, am glad to see atheists as vocal as Dawkins* or PZ.

    *he needs to stick with speaking about atheism though. His privilege leads to dismissing the concerns of others, especially as related to feminism.
    ****
    Ogvorbis:
    Nicely done.
    So strident of you.
    I wonder at what point you were militant…

  33. Ichthyic says

    I am sick of this angry militant atheist nonsense

    yeah, I’m sick of people making up shit to see if it sticks too.

    oh wait…

    I just insulted you didn’t I?

    oops.

  34. Ichthyic says

    “being capable of seriously entertaining views that may differ from your own”

    answer me this, bright boy:

    Why does Richard Dawkins refuse to “debate” the likes of Ken Ham?

    do you even know?

  35. stevem says

    Found this on Slate:
    Ridiculous Fox News Claim of the Day: Reason Caused the Holocaust

    As you might suspect from the title: Fox is claiming, “Reason itself led directly to the Holocaust” — as a reaction to the Enlightenment. So Fox is saying “don’t even think about what we say, we’re right, believe us, or you’re a Nazi!“? Just what I always thought they were saying: “thinking is bad for everyone else if you do it, so don’t ever do it, just pray”. It sickens me how popular FauxNews is, here in ‘Murica’. How can we be so stoopid?