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Gene Mims and the mysterious missing point

Some Christian dorkasaur named Gene Mims has an argument for silencing atheists. It’s about unicorns.

Unicorns

Stay with me for a moment and I think I can give you a better understanding to my perplexity concerning atheists.  You see I do not believe in unicorns.  You may and that is surely your right, but I don’t.  They are cute in cartoons, movies, and comic books, but I must confess that I don’t believe in them.  So what’s the point.  The point is that since I don’t believe in unicorns I don’t give them much thought.  I don’t write about them or speak about them.  I don’t go to conferences on how to stop people from believing in them.  I do not fund legal societies to stop people from being able to talk about unicorns in schools and public places.  I  don’t worry if people celebrate holidays dedicated to unicorns.  For me they don’t exist.

Give It Up

To all bent-out-of-shape atheists I say simply, GIVE IT UP! Find something else to worry about like global warming, Republicans, education, war, and rain forest destruction.  Let those who believe in God alone.  If He doesn’t exist then why all the worry and concern?  If He does exist then you don’t care anyway.  He won’t bother you.  Try not to be bothered by what you don’t believe in and work on what you do know. The more you talk about God the more likely it is that those who may share your position might begin to doubt it and actually search for Him and find Him.

Aww, we have something in common. I don’t believe in unicorns, either! So I don’t spend much time dwelling on them, myself. We’re both a-unicornists! We should form a club.

Of course, there’s a reason I don’t worry much about unicorns or unicorn believers. We don’t have institutions dedicated to preaching about unicorns every week. People don’t get tax breaks for believing in unicorns. Unicornists don’t have a de facto lock on elected office. Nobody is telling me I need to include unicorn biology and paleontology in my courses at the university, or in high school. The unicorn lobby is essentially non-existent.

I’m not at all concerned about unicorns. If we had them, it would be unicorn-believers who would worry me. I’m not afraid of getting gored by a unicorn, and neither is Mr Mims, but we might just have reason to be terrified of the kind of fanatic who would consider mindless faith in unicorns to be a necessary prerequisite to moral behavior and inclusion in civilized society, to the point where they try to force unbelievers to obey and be silent.

Same with God, Mr Mims. Gods don’t exist, so they don’t trouble me in the slightest. But I fear your dumbassery, Mr Mims — that exists, unlike the invisible being to which you so zealously devote your life.

Maybe you should think just a little bit more deeply about your analogy between god and unicorns. I think there’s a significant similarity that you missed.

Comments

  1. anteprepro says

    Fuck but this argument is old and stale. I think our resident Deacon Duncan did well at batting around the ridiculousness of this one a few years back.

  2. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Yawn, Unicorns? What next? Pixies? Fairies? Leprechauns? Poltergeist? Boring and inane “logic”.

  3. kantalope says

    argumentum ad unicornium?

    In fact, I’m tired of all those Unicornian Witnesses knocking on my door, Latter-Day Unicornists following them up, and the new reformed westboro unicorinians waving signs and sticking brochures in my face.

    That’s why I won’t be quiet about the unicornimions.

  4. ststeel says

    So, if he doesn’t believe in Unicorns, does this mean he also does not believe in Deuteronomy 33:17, Job 39:9-10, Psalms 22:21, Psalms 29:6, Psalms 92:10, Numbers 23:22, Numbers 24:8 and Isaiah 34:7 of the King James Bible ? He himself has said in the past :

    We need a Bible study curriculum that lifts up God’s Word, not only as infallible and inerrant, but as alive and sweet and wonderful and good,” Mims said. “That’s not an option; it’s the answer.

    How can he believe in the inerrancy of the bible, and not believe in Unicorns ?

  5. monimonika says

    One word: BRONIES

    Sure, they don’t believe actual unicorns exist, but an argument can be made that moral principles can be derived from such creatures.

  6. says

    Can we start a unicorn lobby? I think it’d be fun, and when shit got Really Serious we could show off just how Really Serious it is by temporarily teaming up with our rivals the Pastafarians against our common enemies.

  7. Brian says

    thecynicalromantic: Dude, you’re getting dangerously close to stirring up the ongoing battle between the Pastafarians and the followers of the Invisible Pink Unicorn.

    (… blessed be her holy hooves)

  8. tuibguy says

    I actually do believe in unicorns because I have seen paintings of them. And a movie.

  9. bcmystery says

    I believe in unicorns because there’s one on my window sill right this very moment. It’s killing a mime with its avenging horn.

  10. mikee says

    @NateHevens #10

    You summed up the problem brilliantly

    “It’s the believers that are the fucking problem”

  11. says

    I, personally, will willingly bow down and worship our single-horned masters. As soon as they appear before me and prove themselves worthy of my worship.

  12. says

    Ah, of course! We should just ignore the Christians. They simply want to be left alone. It’s silly of us atheists to keep talking about them like they have any effect on our lives. Sheesh!

    Now, gay marriage! That’s a thing to make a fuss about because letting gay people get married will will have a vast, dangerous impact on all of us as a nation, y’know?

  13. says

    I wonder if he’s the same with the Qur’an. Since he doesn’t believe in it, he doesn’t worry at all about Islam, doesn’t try to convert them, doesn’t say that believers in the Qur’an will go to hell.

    Nevertheless, since he doesn’t think that atheists are right, I’m glad that he’s not the slightest bit concerned about them and what they say, and wouldn’t write an article about how they should act.

    Or…

    Glen Davidson

  14. zibble says

    For me, this is the telling part of that inanity:

    Let those who believe in God alone.

    Religious people always frame the argument this way, like we’re barging into grandma’s house and ripping the crosses off her wall and laughing in her face. What are we actually doing to pick on religious people? At the general worst, we’re insulting them on our private blogs and on the occasional TV show. More typically, we’re expressing what we think and why we want other people to think that, too.

    Believers don’t just want to be left alone. Believers feel entitled to validation. Believers need other people to reassure them, because after we’ve summarily destroyed the church’s authority, its evidence, and its power to threaten, social validation is all that theism has for support.

    It says a great deal more about religion that the mere existence of people who disagree and aren’t afraid to say so inspires so much more obsession, so much more violence. Just a reminder that half a million people organized to demand that a few atheists on the internet be put to death. Meanwhile, here, atheists organize to feel a bit smug.

  15. stever says

    Well, there’s the narwhal, whose “horn” is really an elongated tooth.
    There are also some surgically-altered goats, and one bull. You start with a very young bull calf or a kid, and surgically move the hornbuds to the center of the forehead. When the horns grow, they fuse and the natural curves cancel, pointing the horn straight ahead. The unicorn goats were created for a circus. The bull was made in the 1930′s to support a theory that such things were done in ancient times to create herd leaders, and that led to the unicorn legend. The modern unicorn bull easily dominated other bulls. When it lowered its head to charge, tip of the straight horn was right in front of the animal’s center of gravity. You could imagine the effect of a charging bull’s worth of momentum behind what amounted to a lance.

    I’ll stick with the Invisible Pink Unicorn. She’s more elegant than the FSM, and the paradox of being at once invisible and pink fits right in with all of those other religious Mysteries.

  16. pocketman says

    Unicorns are awesome; God hasn’t done anything in millennia. People worshiping unicorns would actually have a more valid cause for the act.

  17. says

    @Glen Davidson:

    Mims has only posted 14 articles at that site in the last five years, so at least 14% of his effort over the last half decade has been directed at topics that he should ignore entirely if he followed his own rules.

  18. stevem says

    What, you don’t believe in unicorns? PROVE that they don’t exist, PROVE IT to me, I know they exist, I have one in my own garage, PROVE that I don’t. /snark

    But all the time, I see theists say much the same: “I know God exists, you stupid atheists, PROVE to me God doesn’t exist.” You can never convince them that atheists don’t KNOW God doesn’t exist; not even that we try to force you to agree with us. The point is, we’re saying, “there is no proof that God exists”. “Prove that He DOES exist; nobody can prove that whatever does NOT exist”. And, then, like PZ says, we don’t care if you believe HE exists, just don’t make laws about it, and stop teaching kids that His existence is a FACT.

  19. alwayscurious says

    I don’t have anything against unicorn believers.

    However, I don’t like how they visit my house insisting that I buy a unicorn, then purchase pasture & food for the same. I don’t want to be told that I will be skewered by unicorns in my sleep if I don’t do this. Promises of magical powers and wish granting horns must first be demonstrated before consideration will be given.

    Additionally, I am put off by unicorn sales clubs that insist that I have to only buy THEIR chosen breed of unicorn which is superior in all ways to unicorns belong to others. I don’t appreciate how they will kill innocent bystanders & each other over minor points such as hair texture & horn length.

    Please respect my right to not have a unicorn, not pay taxes to a government that supports unicorns, and not to have my children indoctrinated to believe that only white unicorns with pastel manes and purple horns are TRUE unicorns.

    Thank you, glad we have an understanding.

  20. Nemo says

    Find something else to worry about like global warming, Republicans, education, war, and rain forest destruction.

    But, that’s exactly what I am doing. Time after time, dig into a right-wing policy, and the bottom-line justification offered for it is “Because God said so.” This is obvious in the case of “social conservatism”, but it goes beyond that. Take, yes, global warming. Increasingly, its deniers justify their position by saying “God wouldn’t let that happen.” Climate is God’s domain, so nothing humans do can possibly affect it, they say. And ultimately, I can only answer that with, “But there is no God.”

  21. brucegee1962 says

    Yay, I sent a link to PZ and he put it up!

    When I found this post, I wrote the following and attempted to post it there. Needless to say, it’s still in moderation, so I wouldn’t bother putting anything else there — it looks pretty old.

    Here’s what I wrote to him:

    I wonder if you’d feel the same way if you happened to live in a country
    where unicorn-belief is seen as a necessary to run for higher office, and
    non-unicorn believers are universally seen as untrustworthy or evil. If you
    and your family are depicted as more dangerous to the country than felons,
    maybe you’d want to defend your unicorn non-belief.

    Of course, that country was founded by devout unicorn-believers, who would
    have wanted unicorn belief to be taught in all the schools, even if they
    didn’t say so in so many words. So of course your kids are going to be
    exposed to instruction in the unicorn version of history and unicorn
    biology. Unicorn biology, by the way, pretty much denies everything that’s
    taught in traditional biology textbooks — instead of the “theory” that
    bodies are composed of cells and organs, it teaches kids about how they are
    made out of rainbows and sparkles. There’s a controversy between the two
    different theories, after all — we’ll just teach them both sides, and then
    they can decide for themselves which one they believe.

    And I’m sure you won’t mind when the principal and the other students
    constantly badger your kids about why they aren’t “unicorny” enough, and
    why they don’t wear the sacred sign of the horn around their necks. You
    also probably won’t mind when assemblies start off every assembly and
    gathering with addresses to the “Great Unicorn in the Sky.”

    Speaking of the Great Unicorn, by the way — if one of your kids happens to
    fall in love with someone and wants to get married, well, you’ll need to
    run it by the unicorn-believers first to find out if it’s going to be
    permitted. It seems the Great Unicorn has some very particular ideas about
    who is allowed to get married and who isn’t, and if your kid wants to get
    married to somebody the Great Unicorn doesn’t approve of, well, that would
    be Against the Law, don’t you know. Plus the Great Unicorn and all
    the ‘cornies are going to tell your kid and his partner all about how
    they’re going to be shish-kebabbed for all eternity because of how much the
    GU hates his type.

    Actually, when you look over the laws of that country, there are quite a
    few that might seem a bit nutty,. They all make perfect sense once you look
    at them from the “WWUD” point of view, though.

    That’s not even bringing up the followers of the Orange Unicorn. Those
    people believe that their Unicorn wants to kill everyone who lives in the
    country of the Green Unicorn where you’ve settled. The followers of the
    Green Unicorn are just as convinced that their leader wants them to make
    the Orange folks into second-class citizens.

    Maybe after you’ve lived there for a while, you might start speaking up a
    bit more about your unicorn-unbelief than you do now. Unless you live in
    the Orange Unicorn country, because they’ll kill you for that as soon as
    you open your mouth. They will honest-to-unicorn cut off your head, just
    for saying unicorns don’t exist. So there’s that.

    Anyway, back in our world, I’m sure that atheists will quit talking about
    God all the time around the time that Christians have the same influence on
    governments worldwide that unicorn-believers do.

  22. says

    You can stop reading right at the beginning of the title. The typical spelling goof says all: “Athiests”. It’s a mistake made typically by the dumbest fundies. I have seen it from atheists, but it’s very rare. From fundies it’s right up there, very common along with misspelling someone’s name while commenting on their article that’s right in front of them (or should be; they also love to comment on things they haven’t read, including their own Holy Book). Right, Prof. Meyers, Prof. Hawkings?

  23. ck says

    I made the mistake of clicking around on Gene’s site. What a surprise it was to find this Christian pastor is a supply-sider who blames Obama for everything wrong in his nation. The “people who claim to be atheists” was a nice touch, too.

  24. says

    Time after time, dig into a right-wing policy, and the bottom-line justification offered for it is “Because God said so.”

    Not only that, but also “Armageddon will come sometime soon, so why worry about X”. The number of End-Times believers is even higher than that of creationists in the US.

  25. Anri says

    Find something else to worry about like global warming, Republicans, education, war, and rain forest destruction.

    Right.
    Because – and I think we can all agree on this – belief on god has no bearing whatsoever on any of these issues.

    Nope. None.

    Nobody refuses to believe in climate change for religious reasons, nosireebob.
    No-one is a Republican due to faith issues.
    There’s absolutely no individuals, or groups, or well-funded worldwide political campaigns out to ruin reality-based education based on anything anyone has ever said in any holy book ever. Even a little.
    War is utterly unrelated to religion. No points of contact… if Kevin Bacon were god, war would be – without a doubt – the single exception to Six Degrees of Separation. Yep.

    Now, unicorns… unicorns are fabulous!

  26. Lofty says

    Athy, athier, athiest? Makes sense to me. I’m the ayhiestest of them all.
    ……………..
    Believer: Hi! Let me tell you how wonderful giving 20% of your income to God is!
    No!
    You big meanie, stop persecuting me!!111!!

  27. skeptico says

    Don’t these bozos ever check first to see if an argument has been dealt with. Dinseh D’Souza came out with almost the exact same argument over five years ago. It was debunked quite clearly here:

    But what if everyone you met did believe in unicorns, and not only that, but worshiped a unicorn, held a book about unicorns to be the divine truth of the universe, invoked unicorns in political contexts, and speechified about how non-believers were indecent people waging a war on morality, which could only be predicated on the unquestioning belief in unicorns? Then, maybe, D’Souza would think about writing that book. But of course, that’s not really true, because if that was the world we lived in, then Dinesh D’Souza would believe in unicorns.

    Jeez – regurgitating a twit like D’Souza from five years ago.

  28. frankb says

    #18

    The modern unicorn bull easily dominated other bulls

    The unicorn bull would be a bad idea evolutionarially speaking. Both bulls could be killed on the first charge.

  29. says

    Maybe you should think just a little bit more deeply about your analogy between god and unicorns. I think there’s a significant similarity that you missed.

    So close and yet so far.

    So, to paraphrase Neil Degrasse Tyson: I go just one fabulous beast further.

  30. whheydt says

    If he any relation to Forrestt Mims? The guy who was set to start doing SciAm’s “Amateur Scientist” column until he shot his mouth off at a creationist get together and tried to claim that his (incipient) position at SciAm as support for creationism? (He got dropped like a hot potato and never got the job.)

  31. duce7999 says

    In my unicorn-scientific-skepticism, it is totally fine!

    Come one guys, let’s not worry about the unicorn believing skeptics, they could have “evidence.” I am not here to contemplate any qualitative evaluation of “good” unicorn skeptics or “bad” unicorn skeptics. Now, let’s all just agree to welcome the unicorn believing skeptics. They will be joining us in our mission to help people that don’t know how to address claims learn how to address claims correctly… but not unicorn claims. Otherwise you are stupid and a liar and I hate you and you can’t come to my tent party.

  32. mikecline says

    My comment on his blog…

    Hi Gene, if you knew that a large group of people was actively doing strange and harmful activities in the name of unicorns, would that get you more interested in speaking out on the fact unicorns don’t exist or would you continue to ignore the unicorn nonsense? What if millions of people believed that talking to those imaginary unicorns would get them a better job, find them the perfect mate, or cure their children’s diseases, and got in the way of them actively trying to take care of those things themselves? What would you do if you found out government policy, science, and education were being twisted and corrupted by these unicorn believers, trying to insinuate their unicorn belief into everything, even using their powerful position to force others to believe in unicorns? What would you do if people mutilated their children, justified hatred and suffering, and even killed others all in the name of unicorns? Would you still just be a quiet unicorn unbeliever and just leave it at “they aren’t real, their harmless, it’s silly, why bother?”, or would you become anti-unicorn, and do your best to help those who were being harmed by the ridiculous belief in non-existent unicorns?

  33. says

    Helpful of him to lampshade the rather glaring parallel between unicorns and deities for us though, I guess…

    See also ‘when the clergy finally gave up and started calling it an invisible sky fairy too’.

  34. says

    It is kinda nice of him to lampshade the rather glaring similarity between believing in gods and believing in unicorns, tho’…

    (See also ‘the day the clergy gave up and started calling it a magical sky pudding, too’.)

  35. thumper1990 says

    Find something else to worry about like global warming, Republicans, education, war, and rain forest destruction.

    I like how he seems to think that Atheists do not worry about these things as well. Are people only allowed to worry about one subject at a time?

    The more you talk about God the more likely it is that those who may share your position might begin to doubt it and actually search for Him and find Him.

    No. The more we talk about how gods don’t exist, and the more evidence we present to back that claim up (or rather, the more “evidence” in support of their existence which we show to be fallacious), the more people stop believing in them. There are stats to back this up. Why else is Atheism growing more rapidly now than ever before?

  36. skaduskitai says

    Mikecline, you pretty much summed up my sentiments exactly. If/when fanatic unicorn believers start with crazy and harnful bullshit like crashing planes into buildings we certainly won’t stay as indifferent to unicorns as we currently are.

  37. terrellk70 says

    This nut case doesn’t believe in unicorns? It’s in his bible. I think here should re-read (if he ever has read) Isaiah 34. That bat shit crazy chapter mentions unicorns, dragons and a satyr. Any really good magic book has unicorns, dragons and satyrs in it.

  38. thumper1990 says

    @terrelk

    What version? Because I just went and looked up Isaiah 34 (I was curious, didn’t know the babble had unicorns in) and the nuttiest one is the KJV (par for the course), and that only mentions dragons. The NIV has just normal animals.

  39. says

    @41 “Are people only allowed to worry about one subject at a time?”

    Could be that’s the author’s intellectual stretch limit. Think Dunning-Kruger – people with the least capacity assume that everyone else is probably no more competent than they are.
    But, that’s where intellectual limits and fantastic solutions meet: when something’s too much or too complex to think about, Jesus comes in, the world ends, the J-Man solves everything one way or the other, further thought process unneccessary, no worries. I think that’s perhaps the strongest popular appeal of all the facets of Christianity.

    As a lot of speeches from Christians show, their greatest worry – from the Pope to Ken Ham – is the danger posed to their faith by spreading intellectual maturity and open criticism in the countries where just about all their gradually dwindling wealth comes from. They love to boast amazing numbers and growth rates of believers, but that’s all happening in the poorest countries, or among the poorest segments of the population. Without money flow from “the West”, religion in poor countries can only just drag itself along and is presumably bound to wither away. All the conflicting forms of religious faith will just keep bashing away at each other while the more advanced rest of the world finds better stuff to do. As we know, that’s not a smooth transition. Nonbelievers in countries where fanatics have real immediate power over jurisdiction and police forces can’t be so relaxed.
    Which puts us right back to The Point, Mr. Mims.

  40. terrellk70 says

    Thumper1990

    The KJV had all that ball shit in it and I guess they changed it in the later version of the bible. The other version changed unicorns to oxen and I believe they just left out the dargons and saytr. Go figure. Of course as you know it a sin to change even one word of the bible.

  41. Turtles says

    I can’t believe no one has commented on his page yet.

    Or maybe he only allows posts that agree with him. Good to see that number is currently “zero”.

  42. says

    I’ve heard that before. My response is always, “As soon as there’s an ‘Office of Unicorn-based Programs’ at the White House, I’ll worry about unicorns too.”

  43. thumper1990 says

    @Felix #45

    Re. one of the strongest appeals of religion being that it simplifies complex real-world problems down to a level where they are easily “explained”, and thus not something the believer has to worry about or struggle to understand, I definitely agree with you.

    @terrelk70

    Ah, I did not know there was more than one version of the KJV :) thanks. I wish I could find the damn thing, it sounds hilarious even by the standards of the babble. The version in the NIV is just horrific; it’s just another “yay, genocide!” passage, and is in desperate need of some dragons, satyrs and unicorns to lighten the mood :(

  44. comfychair says

    Man, I tell ya. At least twice a week, a pair of them damned Univangelists turn up at the house trying to bury me in piles of their Unicorn literature with all that garbage about the ‘One True Horn’ and the rest, always when I’m right in the middle of something important like recreational abortions or sacrificing a goat or something. I mean, they seem nice, I guess, with their nice matching shirts and nice neckties and nice widdle bikes with the nice unicorn horns strapped to the handlebars…

  45. thumper1990 says

    @comfychair

    Are the unicorn horns on the handlebars sharpened to a nasty point, inscribed with verses from the Holy Handbook of Invisible Equine Hoof Care, and dripping with some fluid that looks suspiciously like Holy water, by any chance?

    If you look on the base, you should find “Heathen Converter 5000 – Made in China” stamped there.

  46. Marcus Hill (dripping with unearned privilege) says

    Are people only allowed to worry about one subject at a time?

    Yes. That’s why Atheism+ is wrong – we can’t worry about the nonexistence of gods and social justice simultaneously.

  47. Doug Little says

    Unicorns
    Stay with me for a moment…

    Sorry you already lost me at Unicorns.

  48. comfychair says

    (apologies if #51 sounds like a riff on previous comments, it was written in its entirety in my head about 15 seconds into the reading of PZ’s post, before I’d clicked thru and seen any of the comments, so I just decided to roll with it – mostly, I just could not bear to see ‘Univangelists’ end up on the cutting room floor just because I happened to show up late)

    ;]

  49. Sastra says

    Try not to be bothered by what you don’t believe in and work on what you do know.

    Lots of good points in the comments above, but I’m going to rant about the fundamental inconsistency of this trope. I’m so sick and tired of it.

    You can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that God is real and that learning this truth is THE most important, significant, valid solution to the common human problem of the meaning for our existence — and then present “God” as just a personal preference. When you do this you lie. You lie in order to shut down dissent. You do it for self-protection … and you dishonor the very God you claim to believe in.

    You shift the debate by shifting the claim.

    Consider. There are 2 different frameworks which value the diversity of ideas: the Diversity Smorgasbord and the Diverse Problem-Solving Group. The Smorgasbord is where we present our identities, lifestyles, and preferences — we bring out our favorite “food.” There’s no right or wrong here and it’s not a cooking contest. If someone likes unicorns — decorates their house with unicorns, collects unicorn statues, goes to unicorn-lovers conventions — then that’s just their personal choice. Maybe you feel the same way about Star Trek. Neither side should be “bothered” by the other.

    The Smorgasbord is non-judgmental because it’s about self-expression. And it doesn’t just include likes and dislikes, it includes matters of identity like race, nationality, sex and gender. The whole point of diversity is to celebrate and value all the different ways there are of being human.

    The Diverse Problem-Solving Group is different. The point of diversity here is to consider a lot of different views and — eventually — arrive at a single consensus. That’s because we’re dealing with fact claims which aren’t just about expressing ourselves and the solutions matter. We’re working towards progress in knowledge and understanding for all humanity — and we’re working from the values we all share and the common ground of the world we all stand on. Is global warming happening? Does homeopathy work? How can we minimize violence and help eliminate conflicts?

    Does God exist? Is Jesus Christ the son of God who came with an important message for mankind?

    Hey. Think now. If those are real questions then godamit STOP trying to shift atheists towards the Diversity Smorgasbord in order to shut us up. Stop meeting honest and sincere and reasonable dissent with the reflexive habit of suddenly pretending that aw, all you are doing is liking unicorns and you’re not bothering anyone and gosh why don’t we just go back to our Star Trek convention and stop raining on your parade. You’re supposed to care about the truth of your solution to the common question of how we all discover the nature of reality. You’re supposed to think it matters whether God exists or not.

    And if you do then there needs to be a debate about this. Atheism is a respectable argument which comes into the Problem-Solving Group and it will STAY in that diversity framework. We are not going to allow you or anyone else to nudge us into thinking that oh, no — we’re just bringing another dish to the table and we’re rude and annoying to insist that everyone has to put this entree and only this entree onto their plates whether they like it or not. Don’t force others to be like you. Let them like their unicorns. Unicorns aren’t important.

    Neither, apparently, is God. To us …and to you and all the other believers.

    Right. That’s bull. I call shennanigans on this tactic. It doesn’t fool us, nor should it fool you.

    I mean, really, Mims. Religion belongs on the Diversity Smorgasbord? That’s how we ought to approach it? Have you thought this one through? Think again.

  50. Catrambi says

    Did anyone notice that this is the same exact argument that Neil deGrasse Tyson used against organized atheism?

    It’s funny how, in one respect, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Gene Mims are equally dumb.

  51. grumpyoldfart says

    For those who were asking for biblical references to unicorns:

    King James Version
    Numbers 23:22
    Numbers 24:8
    Job 39:9,10
    Psalm 29:6
    Psalm 92:10

    Strong’s Concordance has them listed here:
    http://www.blueletterbible.org/search/translationResults.cfm?Criteria=unicorn&t=KJV

    The KJV 2000 version interprets the original Hebrew as “wild ox” but most of the other KJV versions stick to “unicorn”.

    Versions other than the KJV versions almost always use “wild ox” rather than “unicorn”

  52. Sastra says

    Catrambi #59 wrote:

    It’s funny how, in one respect, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Gene Mims are equally dumb.

    The “Good Atheist” is one who places “religion” into the Diversity Smorgasbord and agrees that religion is and should remain a personal, private decision, an expression of someone’s identity. Their basic take is that “as long as it leaves me alone I’m fine with it.” The Good Atheist believes that after all there’s nothing inherently intrusive about religious belief: people who take it seriously and bring it out in public like it’s actually true are just so weird. Extremists. You’d think they’d know you shouldn’t do that. In the experience of the Good Atheist, most religious people know better and compartmentalize their faith as if it’s only true for them. That’s normal to religion. It should be encouraged, for our own sake as atheists, since religion isn’t going to go away.

    I find the Good Atheist an odd combination of pragmatism and naivete. I know a lot of Good Atheists. They’re okay. I don’t think we ought to leave the field to them, though.

    When it gets right down to it people who believe in God want God belief to be in BOTH the Smorgasbord and the Problem-Solving Group. I think that’s partly an immunizing strategy — and partly the result of believing that you draw the conclusion that God exists not because of reason and evidence but because of the kind of person you are. You are open, loving, and receptive to the divine nature of Spirit. You find the right answer to the God question through your heart, not your head. Faith is an expression of your deepest self.

    And that last rationale screws the atheist very, very hard. There is no freaking way we atheists ought to accept this framework, I don’t give a damn how much they smile and tell us they love and respect us anyway. Like hell. At least we only think they came to a mistaken conclusion.

    If Tyson isn’t interested in organized atheism that’s fine. Not everybody is interested in organized astrology. But I don’t think Tyson would take kindly to someone comparing one of his arguments against a popular but mistaken belief in, say, Planet X, to arguing against unicorns. It’s in his field.

  53. widestance says

    For those who read the various posts about unicorns: I had a student explain to me that unicorns were, indeed, in the Bible, and therefore could not fictional. He then claimed to me that they were simply extinct now, ergo the Bible wasn’t wrong. It’s really kind of an elegant apologetic. Bats-in-the-belfry crazy goes without saying, but really not bad for a 14 year old.

  54. Sastra says

    Oops, I meant “organized astronomy,” not astrology. Though I suppose astrology could substitute for Planet X.

    By the way, atheists who think that “everyone” laughs at astrology, Planet X, the paranormal, and the sort of woo the professional skeptics investigate must be living in some sort of bubble. At least that’s what it seems like to me. There’s a disturbingly large faction of the liberal, educated, progressive intelligentsia which fervently believes in spiritual (not religious) forms of hokum — or, if not believing it outright, “deeply respecting” the faith of those who do manage to accept in these holistic, cutting-edge, quantum, ancient forms of science.

    How large a faction is it? Disturbingly large. I’m feeling too lazy to look up the numbers, but I remember it made me feel queasy. Plus, of course, I’m surrounded by them. I laugh at astrology I get my head handed to me by outraged ‘open-minded’ people who have personal anecdotes which ought to show me my opinion is just that.

  55. Catrambi says

    Sastra #61

    I’m not sure what this “Good Atheist” stuff is about.

    Anyway, I wasn’t commenting on Tyson’s choice not to participate in organized atheism. He can choose to participate or not – it doesn’t matter to me one bit. Presumably, if he had anything to bring to the table, he would.

    I was only commenting on his completely moronic argument against organized atheism and people identifying as atheists. He used an analogy to golf, saying that while he doesn’t play golf himself, that is not enough to motivate him to call himself a “non-golfer”, or to “gather and strategize” with other non-golfers.

    In making this analogy, Tyson made exactly the same moronic mistake as Mims.

  56. says

    The earliest references to unicorns appears to be garbled descriptions of rhinoceroses. Therefore I feel it is my right to convince people to believe in them.

    Also I’m less concerned about the tax breaks than I am about the people flying planes into buildings. Basing your behavior on lies is always a bad idea.

  57. says

    I used to feel this way about believers in unicorns until the Unicorns are Real Society started getting away with a litmas test for polititions who now feel forced to take positions sympathetic to unicorn believers as if their carreers depended on it. Now I get kind of mad at the protesters with signs next to the local horse ranch who believe that for every horse that is born a unicorn dies and that is murder. Every day you read a new story about these kookoo brains running amok. I think when they blew up the horse clinic to stop all the horse births it should have been the last straw.

  58. Sastra says

    Catrambi #64 wrote:

    I’m not sure what this “Good Atheist” stuff is about.

    I wasn’t disagreeing with your post, I was taking your example of Tyson making a “non-unicornist” style argument (?) and extending it to use Tyson as an example of the Good Atheist — an atheist who is content to give religion a pass because as long as it’s not directly intrusive then why care what other people do?

    And yes, it’s the same mistake as Mims. Only Mims is presumably not able to delude himself into thinking that believing in God is just like golfing … or believing in unicorns. But if he can get genial atheists like Tyson to smile, shrug, and agree, then there’s pressure taken off his ability to maintain and spread his faith.

  59. Sastra says

    @Davol White:

    Yes .. and I started getting pissed off when the Unicorns are Real Society convinced the general public to feel very, very sorry for the people who can’t bring themselves to believe in unicorns. It must be so hard to live without an ability to feel, appreciate, love, or accept unicorns … or anything else, for that matter. It’s called nihilism. They sell unicorn-shooting guns at the nihilism store. Fact. Or would if they could. Another fact. From the horse’s mouth, so to speak.

  60. satanaugustine says

    Was going to leave a comment on Mims’ site until I realized the post is from March 2009.

  61. hypatiasdaughter says

    #64 Catrambi
    Tyson is a bit of an optimist about things like this. He said that he wasn’t worried about the outcome of the Dover Trial (IIRC) because of course the school board was going to lose – they were breaking the law!
    Because he really isn’t paying attention to the issue, he, like many liberal xtians, thinks that people trying to put CreoID into schools are just a small bunch of extremist kooks. And aren’t we lucky that the Constitution is on our side.
    I just don’t think he, like the liberal xtians, is really informed about the slow corrosive chipping away of the Constitution that is being done by this “small kooky minority”

  62. skeptico says

    Well big surprise – he doesn’t actually allow comments through. Loser.

  63. Catrambi says

    Sastra #67

    Sorry, I didn’t read your post at #58, so I didn’t have the full context and therefore had a hard time piecing your post together.

    hypatiasdaughter #70

    I don’t know. I understand that Tyson might be underestimating the influence of the religious right, but no regardless of how nicely I try to interpret his statement there is no way in which comparing the influence of religion to the influence of golf can be called not stupid. It’s not only a matter of underestimation either – it’s a clear qualitative difference between the attitudes and general functions of gold and religion in society. Even though I’m sure he’s good at is job and all, it’s simply impossible for me to know that Tyson said this and not think he’s a bit dumb. Or very dumb.

  64. Catrambi says

    Can’t believe I said “gold” when I meant “golf”. I’ve got gold fever.

  65. says

    I love the things he mentioned that we should be worried about.
    Global warming, an unsettling percentage of people think we shouldn’t worry about climate change because the world will end soon when Jesus comes back.
    Republicans, some of whom believe the above plus Noah, and dominionism.
    Education, creationism and climate denial.
    War, like in the middle east? Yeah I think there’s a religious component there.
    Rain forest destruction, rapture again.