Announcing…FtBConscience »« CDD

Now that we have the formula, we have but to implement it

I decided I didn’t believe in gods when I went through Lutheran confirmation classes and realized what a load of codswallop it all was. That’s not easy to repeat with other people; the other side has many tried and true techniques to win people over to their culty silliness. We’ve all heard about love-bombing, and the thing is…it works on some people. But you know us atheists, we just can’t do the love thing, we’re all coldly rational and satanically ruthless in our criticism. But Jonny Scaramanga describes how he was weaned from fundamentalism, and suddenly, our strategy is clear.

Then, on my 19th birthday, someone bought me a vodka and Coke. And this was brilliant, because it just tasted like awful Coke. I could drink awful Coke. I already did when I went to my step-gran’s house and she produced a bottle that had been sitting open, in direct sunlight, for a month.

The discovery of vodka and Coke, which meant that I could go to the pub and join in, changed everything. I immediately started going to a Wednesday night rock club, where a double vodka and Coke was about £2. Because I’d never drunk in my life, I could get absolutely hammered for less than a tenner. And I did. A lot.

The first time I went clubbing, a girl took it upon herself to sit in my lap, before leading me to the dancefloor and kissing me passionately. This was the future.

OK, got it. Cheap alcohol, check. Rock music, check. Dancing, check. Kissing, check.

This is the solution. We can do this. If every one of you atheists carries out this procedure on one Christian each this weekend, we can double our numbers by Sunday morning. By my conservative estimate, if we repeat that every week, we’ll have deconverted the entire population of the US by late August. And it’s all stuff we do all the time anyway!

Man, all the time we’ve wasted with arguing when we could have just been partying…

Comments

  1. Banecroft says

    So… Alcohol is the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problem’s? Well, hell, the Simpsons taught us that long ago!

  2. anuran says

    Love bombing isn’t a Christian thing or even a religious thing, although religions which make love a big part of their theology have a built-in advantage. It speaks to a need for affection, acceptance and emotional safety. Religions that actively recruit use it because it’s effective. So do political movements, multi-level marketing and salespeople. Hell, even the ritualized AA intro. “Hi, my name is Quirblefleep and I’m an alcoholic” “Hi, Quirblefleep!” is an attenuated form of it.

    I’m sure atheists could do the same thing without compromising principles. “You’re one of us. There are other people like you. We accept you. We love you. You can relax around us and enjoy feeling happy and secure.” Throw in some extra smiles, personal warmth and maybe some old-fashioned non-sexual primate grooming and you’ll get a bunch of freethinkers. Offer a coolly respectful hyper-rational dispassionate affect for people who are emotionally happy wiht the Mr. Spock vibe and you’ll get a huge chunk of the rest.

    Yes, I understand you were being humorous. It masks an important point. If you want people to spend their social time in a group it helps to make the entire person comfortable.

  3. Rip Steakface says

    The discovery of vodka and Coke, which meant that I could go to the pub and join in, changed everything. I immediately started going to a Wednesday night rock club, where a double vodka and Coke was about £2. Because I’d never drunk in my life, I could get absolutely hammered for less than a tenner. And I did. A lot.

    But… but… PZ is a Washingtonian, not a UKer. I’m so confused.

  4. Tigger_the_Wing, Can Fly (provided xe uses an aeroplane) says

    PZ is a USAian, but Johnny Scaramanga isn’t.

    PZ borked the quote tags. =^_^=

  5. Tigger_the_Wing, Can Fly (provided xe uses an aeroplane) says

    Oops – that should be Jonny Scaramanga.

  6. says

    My favourite method of age-comparison: how much did it cost to get hammered, in each person’s teens/early 20s? (A double voddie was about 80p in my late yoof, so with coke, probably about a quid: half the cost of Jonny’s)

    More seriously, check out the comment under Jonny’s piece by lanamhobbs @ May 28, 2013 at 12:48 am. Kinda goes well with PZ’s previous post here; the CDD one.

  7. says

    OT

    Is there a way to put figures in a different font in comments, so that zeros don’t look like lower-case Os?

  8. rq says

    Trouble is, Christians go to church on Sunday mornings and get all forgiven and re-born and stuff (well, some of them do…) so it might take a bit more effort to actually deconvert them. Perhaps a sustained effort straight till Monday morning, that might do the trick!

  9. David Marjanović says

    Haha! Blcokqutoe fail!
    blcokqueto
    blcokqutoe
    blcokqutoe
    blcokqtueo
    blcokqueto
    blcokqtueo
    blcokqutoe
    blcoqkuteo
    blcokquote
    blcoqktuoe
    blcoqktueo

    …OK, these are particularly bad, I’m not used to this keyboard…

    blcokquote
    blcokqutoe
    blcokquote
    blcokquote
    blcokquote
    blockquote
    blcokquote
    blockquote
    blcokquote
    blcokqutoe
    blockquote
    blockquote
    blcokquote
    blockquote
    blockquote
    blcoqkuote
    blcokquote
    blcokquote

    Now I held my right hand a bit differently and got it right five times!!

    …Back to the topic. Two whole pounds per week was not the kind of money I had just lying around when I was 19.

  10. epicure says

    Cheap booze? Yes, fine. But having to dance, and to Rock’n’Roll? Eeeew…

    Live jazz and pints of mild and bitter did it for me – especially when I was allowed to sit in with the band. And especially the night when one of my teachers was sitting in the front row… Did I mention I was only 14?

    Still dislike Rock and Roll – and dancing…

  11. Turtles says

    “If every one of you atheists carries out this procedure on one Christian each this weekend, we can double our numbers by Sunday morning.”

    By the sound of it, with that technique then another 9 months later we would be tripling our numbers…

    Anyway, not sure my wife would be too happy with me going out, getting drunk and snogging Christians every weekend.

  12. says

    That actually makes sense to me. After all when showing someone a different way of living, do it in a fun way!!! Too bad I swore off booze for a while(except for Kahlua chocolate icing, mmmhh). Dang I wanna drink now…..garh!
    If I owned a Rolls I would have to get a bumper sticker that said: Jazz Rocks my Rolls!

  13. Pyra says

    Oh, if only Ham would come back to the store. I could give it a try. But he’s only been in once, with his wife. They smiled vacantly at nothing while someone told them about the deli, then they wandered away. They finally left without buying anything. They haven’t been back since. My effing tax money goes to that shithole of his, and he can’t even buy a damn thing at my store… Bah.

  14. eidolon says

    I’m not sure this is gonna work. Godbots have long said that ” It’s a fine line between Saturday night and Sunday morning”. It is a line that they have successfully kept intact for generations.

  15. says

    Yeah, well. Maybe you haven’t noticed this, but a high percentage of people in churches are what we euphemistically call “fragile.” They aren’t 19, they aren’t cute, they do not ooze charisma, they do not have a way with words. The booze reacts badly with their ADHD/depression/psoriasis/cancer meds; they puke in the bathroom and all the other clubbers laugh at them. Not that churches are all that much kinder what with lecturing them on how God would cure the blight if only they were a bit more submissive and prayerful, but at least you get to listen to a nice sermon about how God loves you even though no one else does.

    And truthfully? The Christian girls are just as likely to tempt their men with cheap drinks and affection. Irony of ironies, religiosity is not a good way to stay sober and celibate and plenty surrender to the whims of the flesh within the sheepfold. The new de-converts will be backsliding at a high rate.

  16. Sastra says

    Man, all the time we’ve wasted with arguing when we could have just been partying…

    Over the years I’ve had friends who told me that they “used to be an atheist.” When I would ask why they changed their minds about whether God exists the answers have all been crap — but they’ve mostly all been crap in the same peculiar way. They don’t have reasons: they have a story … and the story is about them.

    When you strip down to the basics you get a childish narrative about personal growth. They used to be one kind of person. Then they became unhappy with that. Then they became another kind of person and they like it better. They’re not so self-absorbed anymore because they decided to believe in Something Higher than Themselves.

    Basically then the existence of God is more or less a prop used to characterize who YOU are. The details and chain of reasoning behind the conclusion are ultimately irrelevant. Neither is God, technically. More important is who you are, the group you belong to, the values you hold, the choices you make on what to believe. Religion = identity. And you are now officially meek.

    Uh huh. Irony whiplash.

    I suppose one way to react to this is to play the game like PZ is pretending to do here (tongue-in-cheek.) Get people to think that no, no — being an atheist is fun and happy and you’ll like it. Figure out a way to “replace” religion with warm, accepting groups and warm, comforting thoughts. Make the identity more appealing and people will follow. Get the numbers up.

    Frankly, this disturbs me. It’s creepy. The issue is supposed to be the issue, not a hook for someone’s identity. And when you confront the believer with this they reluctantly admit it. So I am going to continue to waste my time arguing for the intellectual integrity of thinking objectively.

    Because I’m that kind of a person, I guess.

  17. says

    Really, gang, there’s a HUMOR tag on this post. I’m not making a serious proposal, nor do I even think it would work.

    We’re not going to succeed as a movement if we have to resort to love-bombing or doping brains with alcohol to get them to sign on.

  18. says

    Given that Jonny Scaramanga apparently made his discovery in 2004 I doubt he was dancing to rock music. Probably drum and bass, or whatever dance music dominated UK clubs in 2004.

  19. DLC says

    Randomfactor @20 : Remember, you’re either a part of the solution, or a part of the precipitate.
    —————————————————
    One problem with PZ’s plan is that good, gawduh-fearin Christians don’t go to clubs where there’s rocking and or rolling going on, or where strong drink is being served and consumed. And most certainly they don’t go Dancing. Only people who give in to horrible, awful satanic temptation go dancing.

  20. says

    @timgueguen

    Has the concept of a club where they don’t play the latest dance music not crossed the Atlantic? Irrespective of the year, quite a few of us take our first tentative steps into the world of booze and sexual impropriety in the non-threatening environment of an indie club or student night. It’s easier to dance if half the regulars are wearing cardigans.

  21. says

    The use of the term “clubbing” makes me think of dance clubs, so it just struck me as likely that Jonny Scaramanga was going someplace other than a place that plays rock music.

  22. says

    No, in the UKian vernacular (unless you’re a dance snob) if you’re going to a place full of vaguely hostile strangers, where it’s too loud to talk properly, and where there’s a dance floor and a plentiful supply of over-priced, watered down beer, then you’re going clubbing.

  23. says

    My deconversion started around age 8 in Vacation Bible School, when the nice lady told us a story about all the animals getting on a big boat…and I thought “no way that happened.” Pretty much instant atheist.

    But I think the only way to get deconversions though alcohol is to make it free alcohol. Then you’d have something!

    Seriously, though, the most horridly anti-rational Christians are those who used to be messed up with drugs and alcohol and were “saved” by Jeebus. You can’t tell them that Jeebus isn’t real, because they know Jeebus worked a miracle by getting them off the sauce. Never mind that Krishna, Xenu, Allah, and every other brand of theism or non-theistic philosophy/religion can make the same claim. To them, it’s Jeebus or nothing. I’ve told such people that they overcame their addiction themselves and only attributed it to an external source — but they’re not buying that.

    Those people, frankly, I’m OK with letting hold onto that delusion. Because I think they really and truly need that crutch. They traded one addiction for another. And I’m fine with that, because the Jeebus addiction doesn’t drive the wrong way down the freeway and crash into a mini-van filled with a mother and four kids.

  24. Loqi says

    In other words, Jager bombs > love bombs.

    I’m going to suck at this new atheist strategy. I don’t party, drink, dance, or listen to rock. I don’t even like Coke, awful or otherwise. I’m the worst atheist ever. Sad day.

  25. jaredcormier says

    This makes me want to open up a liquor store and call it “Holy spirits”

  26. timanthony says

    The site where Jonny Scaramanga describes how he was weaned from fundamentalism, leavingfundamentalism.wordpress.com, has plenty of material to remind of some the darkest aspects of christianity as enforced practiced in the USA. I can barely wrap my head around the psychological torture of successfully training girls to believe that if they so much as look at a boy, they may be ruining his entire life, as well as their own. But that story is there and I found it very freaky.

  27. says

    JS’s deconversion fits the standard evangelical narrative of a young guy seduced by the World and the Flesh into rebelling against Jesus — the “How long have you been sleeping with your girlfriend?” retort. But as Dan Finke points out: when you go commit some Terrible Sin, and not only does it not destroy your world, it makes you happy, happier than you ever were in church, and you’re not harming anyone, well it makes you question the system that told you it was Terrible Sin, doesn’t it? And if the Absolute Truth Cartel was shitting you about that, then what else were they shitting you about?

  28. evodevo says

    Wow, what a shallow insipid person – I don’t know if I want to count him as a “convert” or not. Evidently his “beliefs” were only skin-deep in the first place. I know a couple of fundie co-workers like this. At the first sign of trouble in life’s little journey, their “principles” are thrown under the bus (“backsliding”), until the next revival or whatever, when they get born yet again. They aren’t really very “moral” even when they are going to the Church of What’s Happenin’ Now.
    What immaturity.

  29. Azuma Hazuki says

    @27

    I would rather they kill themselves on the road than spread their poison to others, honestly. I know it’s an awful thing to say, and I know it also doesn’t work that way (drunk drivers tend to take other people with them…) but it’s my feeling.

    Their new addiction causes them to vote for, support, and in many cases personally advance the cause of the Christian Taliban. The harm may be less direct than driving blitzed, but also higher.

  30. says

    @ Azuma Hazuki

    I would rather they kill themselves on the road than spread their poison to others, honestly.

    Woah safari! Why go there? Religion is a memetic disease. It is in the very nature of the religion disease to attempt to spread itself.
    Would you want someone to die because they have cancer? Of course not.

    We’ll find a cure one day.

  31. stevem says

    so THAT’S the difference between Wine and “Hard Liquor”. They both are ‘alcohol’, but Wine leads you TO Gawd and “Hard” leads you AWAY. Makes so much sense now. Are “Winos” sacred, therefore?

  32. Sastra says

    Loqi #28 wrote:

    I don’t party, drink, dance, or listen to rock. I don’t even like Coke, awful or otherwise. I’m the worst atheist ever. Sad day.

    Not at all! You’re highly advanced in the strategy of immunizing yourself against religious conversion through peer pressure.

    Plus, they’ll leave you alone. All True Believers know that former atheists need to be able to tell a good story of how horrible they were before they found Jesus/Krishna/Spirit and were transformed. The worst you could say was “I used to read Pharyngula.” And then explain what that means. They won’t think you much of a trophy. Jesus died for your sins and …. well, you didn’t even try to make it worth His while. Worst Christian ever.

    (I’m not much of a partyer either.)

  33. The Mellow Monkey says

    Azuma Hazuki:

    I would rather they kill themselves on the road than spread their poison to others, honestly. I know it’s an awful thing to say, and I know it also doesn’t work that way (drunk drivers tend to take other people with them…) but it’s my feeling.

    Their new addiction causes them to vote for, support, and in many cases personally advance the cause of the Christian Taliban. The harm may be less direct than driving blitzed, but also higher.

    What the fucking hell? Are you seriously suggesting that you’d prefer Christians die than continue being Christians? What, there’s no possibility for someone to recover from alcoholism and turn into a Christian and be a decent person who supports human rights? Just, “Whelp! Better let the fuckers die!”?

    The vast majority of my allies in social justice activism have turned out to be liberal Christians. Somehow, in some bizarre twist of tolerance, I am able to work with them and appreciate their help and our shared values without wishing death upon them. Fucking A.

  34. David Marjanović says

    I’m going to suck at this new atheist strategy. I don’t party, drink, dance, or listen to rock. I don’t even like Coke, awful or otherwise. I’m the worst atheist ever. Sad day.

    Welcome to the club! :-) :-) :-)

    Jesus died for your sins and …. well, you didn’t even try to make it worth His while. Worst Christian ever.

    Ha!
    + 1

  35. David Marjanović says

    Azuma, please come to the [Lounge]. Not the [Thunderdome], mind you – the [Lounge].

  36. says

    @ Sastra

    In South Africa we have a (actually very good, except for the subject matter) rock star who sings for Jeeebus. He uses exactly this ploy in his lyrics: Jah, Maa larf were so empty from teh booze en tha druks… until… YHWH ,.. en therefore Jeeebus!

    He has a convention for xtian men, in the desert, called Karoo Mighty Men. Lots of hugging and love and cis (er, what was you thinking?) stuff.

    Quotable quotes: “God is real, He is not a figment of our imagination!” (Shout louder I can’t hear yooooou.)

    ” Die volgende fase het aangebreek. Ons raak intiem!” (Afrikaans: “The next phase has commenced. We are getting intimate!”)

    “Gryp die geleentheid aan, want as jy nie gaan verander nie, gaan niks verander nie…” (Afrikaans: “Grab the opportunity, because if you don’t change, nothing is going to change…”)

    “Karoo Mighty Men is all about “lives changed by God’s power and not just a mass camping out of men”.” (Errr, ja well, no fine!)

  37. keinsignal says

    all the time we’ve wasted with arguing when we could have just been partying…

    Who’s this “we”, perfesser?

  38. says

    I would rather they kill themselves on the road than spread their poison to others, honestly. I know it’s an awful thing to say, and I know it also doesn’t work that way (drunk drivers tend to take other people with them…) but it’s my feeling.

    30 years ago a woman I loved, pregnant with our child, was killed by a drunk driver.

    Here’s the thing about “it’s my feeling,” Azuma. Grownups eventually learn that every single feeling doesn’t necessarily deserve to be shared.

    (I’m doing that right now, in fact. See?)

  39. Greg Amann says

    Ever seen HBO’s “Generation Kill” Cpl Ray Person gets it right: “If Saddam had invested more in the pussy infrastructure of Iraq than in his gay-assed army, we wouldn’t have to come here and kick his ass again. A nut-based Haji is a happy Haji”.

    There is some truth to this…

  40. says

    Wow, what a shallow insipid person –

    Oddly, I thought much the same after reading your comment…

    I don’t know if I want to count him as a “convert” or not. Evidently his “beliefs” were only skin-deep in the first place.

    “The problem is, you were never a Real Christian™ in the first place!” Hmm, where have I heard that before?

    I know a couple of fundie co-workers like this. At the first sign of trouble in life’s little journey, their “principles” are thrown under the bus (“backsliding”), until the next revival or whatever, when they get born yet again. They aren’t really very “moral” even when they are going to the Church of What’s Happenin’ Now.

    And yet the author has appeared in national newspapers, national TV and radio shows, multiple blogs, podcasts etc talking about creationism in schools and suchlike. Yep, obviously “just a passing fad.”

    What immaturity.

    Indeed…

  41. Rich Woods says

    @timgueguien #21:

    Given that Jonny Scaramanga apparently made his discovery in 2004 I doubt he was dancing to rock music. Probably drum and bass, or whatever dance music dominated UK clubs in 2004.

    Jonny said ‘Wednesday night rock club’. Lots of UK night clubs have (or maybe had, since I haven’t been to one for about seven years now) a rock night. In my experience it’s usually held on a mid-week night when they know they can’t get a general crowd in and have to go for a specific taste in music to pull the punters in.

    Good times.

  42. says

    @32 & followups thereto: I think the point is, while rejection of religion may start for non-rational reasons — we are not Vulcans; we rarely figure out anything important in life by pure reasoning from first principles — we can and should go on to crystallize such insights into a systematic worldview, grounded in evidence (but also amenable to revision based on further evidence). Otherwise, we are indeed likely to become either superficial enthusiasts always chasing the latest shiny idea, or equally superficial bigots proclaiming our contempt for all those who don’t see things our way.

    Note: I know nothing about Scaramanga, so I have no idea whether he’s done any of that.

  43. robro says

    rorschach said, “If alcohol was a useful escape drug for religious believers, this planet would have been atheist 7000 years ago.”

    Bingo, and perhaps for much longer. Of course, for a very long time alcohol and drugs were the gateway to the religious experience. This is still true of some cults. Get stoned, see god. Drink ayahuasca, be god.

  44. grumpypathdoc says

    Though this post is supposed to be “humor” as PZ pointed out @19, I have to protest a bit as a recovering alcoholic and atheist who has, for his own good, sat through many AA meetings on my path to recovery.

    Nearly every drunkalog and drugalog I have heard includes the section on “when I had my first drink (or drug)”. They are nearly all identical to what was related by Jonny Scaramanga in his story. Not that everyone that drinks becomes an alcoholic but sometimes teen angst turned on its head by alcohol sends the old’ mesolimbic pathway on a destructive journey.

    Just sayin.

  45. Rip Steakface says

    I don’t drink and I love rock. And metal. And despite that, jazz (won the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award in high school!). Am I an outsider now?

  46. randay says

    As Doctor Louis Pasteur said, “A bottle of wine contains more philosophy than all the books in the world.”

  47. =8)-DX says

    #22 gussnarp

    But I hate cheap alcohol! Can I try it with expensive beer?

    That’s a contradiction in terms! Expensive beer is bad beer. Any of the cheapest Czech beers beat the expensive non-Czech competitors hands down, pants down =P. And the best Czech beers are cheaper than most imported ones.

    Oh, do you have to import our beer?

  48. Thumper; Atheist mate says

    @epicure

    Cheap booze? Yes, fine. But having to dance, and to Rock’n’Roll? Eeeew…

    @timguegen

    Given that Jonny Scaramanga apparently made his discovery in 2004 I doubt he was dancing to rock music. Probably drum and bass, or whatever dance music dominated UK clubs in 2004.</blockquote

    Note that he says "Rock", not "Rock 'N' Roll". There are plenty of club nights that have rock music, generally termed "Alternative Nights". I'd know, they're the kind of thing I preferr to go to, though I do go clubbing sometimes too.

  49. Thumper; Atheist mate says

    Ooops, borked the quote :) guess thats just the in thing on this thread :)

  50. Thumper; Atheist mate says

    @jamesfish

    No, in the UKian vernacular (unless you’re a dance snob) if you’re going to a place full of vaguely hostile strangers, where it’s too loud to talk properly, and where there’s a dance floor and a plentiful supply of over-priced, watered down beer, then you’re going clubbing.

    You’re going to “a club”. “Clubbing” does imply dance music. Otherwise that’s scarily accurate.