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When you let assholes be the public face of atheism, it’s no wonder we have a bad reputation

I am no fan of Bill Maher. I was extremely uncomfortable with his selection as the recipient for the Richard Dawkins Foundation award in 2009, and I could only accommodate it by telling myself it was solely for his movie, Religulous, and not a general appreciation of his asshattery. And I didn’t even like Religulous! Orac was spot on in his criticisms, and while I’d hoped to talk to Maher at some time — we were even seated at the same table — he showed up late, complained about the brand of water served at the table, did his acceptance speech, and blitzed out of the room immediately afterwards. While happy to get an award, you could tell he was completely uninterested in associating with the riff-raff of atheism.

He also showed up with an extremely attractive young woman who could have been his daughter, or even granddaughter, but was actually his date. She was pleasant to talk to, quite unlike her sugar daddy, and actually bothered to engage the table briefly in light conversation. But you could tell that Maher’s ideal woman was candy to decorate his arm in public. It also illuminates his behavior — the man has a history of sexist remarks. Is it any surprise that he has done it again?

Bill Maher benefits from the hive mind mentality of so many atheists. You cannot disagree with Bill Maher without simultaneously delivering a slap to atheism — you must not foster divisiveness. You must accept all prominent celebrities who openly embrace atheism as pure paragons of human goodness — it is simply too complicated to think that a person might have a mix of views that are sometimes appealing, sometimes repugnant. So we constantly loft up “heroes” as exemplars, failing to recognize that the essence of atheism has to be a recognition of the flawed humanity of its people, and then we end up with primitive atheists getting defensive and angry at all those critics who point at the awkward reality of those heroes, whether they’re Feynman or Maher or Sanger or whoever.

The problem is compounded by the fact that these same boosters of the Brave Hero Leader of Atheism simultaneously insist that atheism has no guiding principles or morality or goals — it’s a complete moral cipher that simply says there is no god. So sure, as long as you clearly state that there is no god, you can be sexist or racist or endorse bombing the Middle East or love Ayn Rand with all your heart or believe that the poor deserve their lot since Darwin said “survival of the fittest” (he didn’t), and still be the paradigmatic Good Atheist. In the absence of any moral principle, we can promote even moral monsters, or ascientific promoters of bunkum and quackery, to be our representatives — and if you dare to disagree, you are ‘divisive’ and ‘bickering’ and doing harm to the movement.

I am tired of it. Atheist organizations, step it up, clean up your act, and put together a clear statement of what you stand for. If it’s just that you agree that you believe there is no god, fine; if you think the only cause worth fighting for is separation of church and state, that’s a good cause and it’s reasonable to limit your goals; if you want to promote science education, I’m all for it. But I think you need to go further. You need to recognize the implications of godlessness, that there is no Chosen People, that there is no godly support for patriarchy, that everyone is equal under Nature’s law, and that that means there is a whole raft of social and political causes under your purview…and that you should have a broader statement of the meaning of atheism. I want to know what you stand for. This current vacuum of any attempt at an understanding of what atheism ought to mean is exactly what allows assholes to flourish.


I apologise for the “sugar daddy” comment, which implies that the woman had no say in the relationship. That was not my intent; Bill Maher came off as a sexist pig, but she was actually quite an interesting person. She seemed more intelligent than Maher, that’s for sure.

Comments

  1. remyporter says

    Hunh. For all of these decades, I’ve had it in my head that Bill Maher was gay. Well, at least I’m still right about him being an asshole. My asshole detector is never wrong.

  2. says

    I think the Atheist Organizations have made a clear statement by supporting racists, libertarians, and misogynists. They like write rich men in power and like to see brown people, poor people, and people without penises or Y chromosomes subjugated.

  3. says

    I am a fan of Bill Maher’s, but I don’t disagree with anything PZ has said here. He definitely makes atheists look bad, and he’s the sort of person you don’t want on your side even when he agrees with you. Still, I enjoy most of his comedy, and his show often features good guests who I don’t often see elsewhere on television.

  4. Jacob Schmidt says

    The problem is compounded by the fact that these same boosters of the Brave Hero Leader of Atheism simultaneously insist that atheism has no guiding principles or morality or goals — it’s a complete moral cipher that simply says there is no god.

    What really bugs me is that effectively nothing follows from atheism. Sure, you can dismiss a bunch of religion’s as false once you reach atheism, but after that, you need other principles. Religious freedom does not follow from atheism. Supporting atheists who are isolated in a sea of religious people who don’t understand and don’t treat atheists well? Does not follow from atheism.

    They pick and choose the values they want (some of them are very good) but the reaction “you don’t have to fight against sexism/racism/poverty to be an atheist” is nothing more than an ad hoc dismissal in which not even the proponents of that argument believe.

  5. doublereed says

    Maher always seems to me like the epitome of the atheist stereotype. Smug, crass, rude, and condescending. It’s why I find it surprising that people think Dawkins fits that mold, because he’s so much less asshole-ish than Maher.

    It makes me wonder if some horrible thing happened to Maher to make him an atheist. Only because that’s stereotypical.

  6. Muz says

    Isn’t she going to sink that strychnine-laced hat pin deep the moment you let go? Or is it like that bit from The Naked Gun with the extra arm?
    You haven’t really thought this one through Bill

  7. says

    Yeah, “Nothing follows from atheism.”, unless, of course, you actually believe, as I do, that there is no fundamental difference between believing in a magical being that created the universe, and conveniently wants everything that you do, and things like:

    1. A magical force that makes markets work, in what just happens to be the way you want them to.
    2. A magical force that make women the way you want them to be.
    3. A magical force that creates separate “races”, who are, for your convenience, somehow profoundly different, and you can thus treat the way you want to.
    4. Etc.

    All of them are denials of reality, for your own personal damned convenience, and provide, at minimum, the self centered “right” to deny other people some, or all, of their own rights, intellect, and agency.

    But, yeah, there is no way that having the presence of mind to reject the source material for so much of this crap should either require denying also the crap itself, or anything similar too it…

  8. loren says

    He also showed up with an extremely attractive young woman who could have been his daughter, or even granddaughter, but was actually his date. She was pleasant to talk to, quite unlike her sugar daddy, and actually bothered to engage the table briefly in light conversation. But you could tell that Maher’s ideal woman was candy to decorate his arm in public.

    This part caught my eye, because at the time he was given the Richard Dawkins Award, Maher was dating Cara Santa Maria. An extremely attractive, and much younger, neurobiologist and science communicator.

    Although they were publicly a couple at the time, and for the next couple of years thereafter, I can’t find any photos or references as to who, specifically, was Maher’s date to the Atheist Alliance gathering. But if it *was* Santa Maria, I think it’s doing her a gross disservice to refer to her as arm candy.

  9. azhael says

    Never liked him…He very occasionally makes me laugh but he has “arsehole” written in giant letters on his forehead and he strikes me as someone who will never learn to, or is even interested in improving himself.

  10. Kevin Kehres says

    And, of course, here we come to the crux of the problem.

    Who among the major “players” isn’t some sort of asshole? Dennett…that’s one.

    As the saying goes, “All the world is mad except me and thee, and I’m not so sure about thee.”

  11. says

    A good article. Unfortunately, I didn’t see the point in belabouring the apparent age of Bill Maher’s date. Such “ad hominem” statements are of no use to your argument and very disappointing.

  12. Jacob Schmidt says

    Such “ad hominem” statements are of no use to your argument and very disappointing.

    That’s not what ‘ad hominem’ means.

  13. Kevin Kehres says

    @14–

    That’s not what “ad hominem” means.

    The ad hominem logical fallacy is demonstrated by the following:

    “Because Bill Maher is an asshole who only dates arm candy, therefore his arguments about (insert topic here) are false.”

    What PZ said is, “Bill Maher is an asshole who only dates arm candy. I wish he weren’t a prominent face of atheism.”

    Different things entirely.

    Here endeth the lesson on logical fallacies.

  14. Shatterface says

    Different things entirely.

    No, it isn’t, and He also showed up with an extremely attractive young woman who could have been his daughter, or even granddaughter, but was actually his date. She was pleasant to talk to, quite unlike her sugar daddy, and actually bothered to engage the table briefly in light conversation. But you could tell that Maher’s ideal woman was candy to decorate his arm in public. It also illuminates his behavior — the man has a history of sexist remarks. Is it any surprise that he has done it again? isn’t just an ad hom, it is profoundly patronising to the woman in question and denies her any agency in the relationship.

  15. dogfightwithdogma says

    @3 Ibis3, Let’s burn some bridges

    I think your remarks are a gross over-exaggeration, particularly the part where you claim that Atheist organizations would “like to see brown people, poor people, and people without penises or Y chromosomes subjugated.”

  16. says

    loren

    But if it *was* Santa Maria, I think it’s doing her a gross disservice to refer to her as arm candy.

    You understand that the actual characteristics of a woman do not matter when talking about what some man sees a woman for. If for him the primary quality is good looks then for him she is arm candy, no matter if she’s got 1 PhD or 10.

  17. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    isn’t just an ad hom,

    Not an ad hom, which is something more than just an insult. PZ insulted Maher. Why do folks always make that mistake?

  18. Muz says

    Sugar Daddy is pretty harsh if it was Cara Santa Maria. She seems like she’s been very active of her own volition before and after their relationship.

  19. Shatterface says

    You understand that the actual characteristics of a woman do not matter when talking about what some man sees a woman for. If for him the primary quality is good looks then for him she is arm candy, no matter if she’s got 1 PhD or 10.

    If you are arguing that he is her ‘sugar daddy” – i.e. someone who bestows gifts or favours in return for sexual favours – you are implying that she is someone who accepts gifts or favours in return for sexual favours, so why not just call her a hooker and have done with it?

  20. Gerard O says

    Comment #58 (wherever it was) withdrawn. I salute you again Sir, this time for real.

  21. says

    Shatterface

    If you [1] are arguing that he is her ‘sugar daddy” – i.e. someone who bestows gifts or favours in return for sexual favours – you are implying that she is someone who accepts gifts or favours in return for sexual favours [2], so why not just call her a hooker[3] and have done with it?

    1. Who’s that “you”?
    2. No, not quite. Do you understand that one of them or both can fundamentally disagree about the transactional character of the relationship?
    3. Sex worker shaming? Really?

  22. loren says

    Sugar Daddy is pretty harsh if it was Cara Santa Maria. She seems like she’s been very active of her own volition before and after their relationship.

    I should have also pointed out that even if it *wasn’t* Santa Maria, that still doesn’t necessarily make the date deserving of the label of “arm candy” treating Maher as her “sugar daddy”. Another young woman might have been comparably smart and capable as Cara.

    The fact that Bill had a three-year relationship with Cara is plain evidence that whatever his own faults, he’s apparently capable of attracting intelligent, educated, and, yes, beautiful women who are much younger than himself. So it’s hard to make assumptions about them based on him.

  23. Muz says

    Loren:

    Yes, that’s true. I was only saying that if it was Cara at the time then I’m fairly sure it wasn’t a Sugar Daddy relationship and her career has never had any particular boost from her association with him. Where as with someone we know nothing about there’s nothing to say (except that it’s a harsh judgement in and of itself).

  24. doublereed says

    You understand that the actual characteristics of a woman do not matter when talking about what some man sees a woman for. If for him the primary quality is good looks then for him she is arm candy, no matter if she’s got 1 PhD or 10.

    You nor PZ know what the actual characteristics of the relationship is. You can’t judge Bill Maher for that because you have no idea if that’s the primary quality he wants. That was just a crass judgement of PZ.

    It’s not okay to judge Bill Maher like that even if you think he’s a douchebag.

  25. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    PZ,

    He also showed up with an extremely attractive young woman who could have been his daughter, or even granddaughter, but was actually his date. She was pleasant to talk to, quite unlike her sugar daddy, and actually bothered to engage the table briefly in light conversation. But you could tell that Maher’s ideal woman was candy to decorate his arm in public.

    Have to agree with those criticizing this part.

    How could you tell that Maher’s ideal woman was candy to decorate his arm in public? You didn’t actually say how could you tell that, and the implication was that any attractive young woman dating an older man is there as a prop.

    I don’t care about Maher’s reputation, but your assumptions are a bit demeaning to women. She’s attractive, so she’s eye candy. Implication of calling him her sugar daddy is that she’s dating him for fame? money? publicity?

    You could have just skipped this. You could have found some sexist statement to prove your point, but this is just reaching and as a plus, it actually shits on her as much as on him.

  26. says

    “I want to know what you stand for?” . . . “What atheism OUGHT to mean?” This sounds like the same “Atheism Plus” crap Jen McCreight tried to shove down our throats a couple of years ago as an attempt to subvert atheism with feminist indoctrination. It was bullshit then and it’s bullshit now. Stop trying to redefine atheism to conform to your own personal political agenda. The ONLY political agenda atheism has or should have is protecting the rights of atheists. The same reason we don’t join your movement is the same reason we don’t join churches. And if you choose to label me an “asshole atheist” for this post I’ll wear that as a badge of honor. I’m already a proud member of the facebook group ASSHOLE ATHEISTS.

  27. Trebuchet says

    Changing the topic just slightly, let’s not forget that Maher is every bit as anti-science as Ken Ham.

  28. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    dogfightwithdogma @ 18

    I think your remarks are a gross over-exaggeration, particularly the part where you claim that Atheist organizations would “like to see brown people, poor people, and people without penises or Y chromosomes subjugated.”

    Looks like, acts like, quacks like, is. Atheist organizations repeatedly side with bigots against marginalized groups. If you don’t like your precious atheist organizations being characterized that way, take the issue up with them.

  29. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    Todd Pence @ 29

    The ONLY political agenda atheism has or should have is protecting the rights of atheists.

    Did I miss the meeting where every atheist on the planet got together voted you the arbiter of what the political agenda of atheism ought to be?

  30. zenlike says

    Todd @29, you realise you sound just like those anti-gay christian assholes, right?

    I won’t call you an asshole atheist. I will just call you an asshole. Assholes are found everywhere, no need to link it to any particular set of beliefs.

  31. says

    Funny/sad how some atheists are angry to see positive social changes associated with atheism. They’re pretty adamant that atheism be associated with being arrogant assholes though… and they’ve been really successful with the general public. Between Maher and Dawkins and the rank and file shitheads, they’ve cemented the idea that atheists reject religion because they’re horrible, amoral people who want to avoid judgment for hurting other people.

  32. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Regarding Maher’s tweet…. it’s impressive how much wrong one can pack in such a short statement.

    The image of slapping a “crazy” woman:
    Oh come on…. woman trying to kill you (I somehow can’t help reading you as a man, I really have no idea why) in such a way that you can hold her wrists and then calm her down with a slap.
    Such a film noir image. Even when a woman is trying to kill you, all it takes to hold back the feeble creature is to hold her wrists, while she struggles to push at you with her dainty hands (what? I’ve seen movies)… And if things get really out of hand you have to slap some sense into that silly head.

    That’s the image I see when I read that description. And I’m guessing that’s the image a lot of people see (thanks, Hollywood. Such bullshit. So demeaning to women. Even while we’re murderous, we are weaklings.

    Comparison of Hamas and the above:
    … He wrote Hamas, but who Israel is “slapping” are Palestinian people indiscriminately. And comparing what is happening in Gaza to slapping someone is an insulting, horrible understatement.
    People are dead. And the numbers are still rising.

    Their wrists weren’t being held, they are being held hostages in their own country, or rather, part of it.

    The comparison is especially interesting if we look at the trope of the powerless woman this image relates to, that I described above.
    Instead of being a dangerous force of evil, it would make Hamas feeble, week, and with no real power against Israel. But Israel is totally justified in murdering slapping hundreds in self defense, right?

  33. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    This sounds like the same “Atheism Plus” crap Jen McCreight tried to shove down our throats a couple of years ago as an attempt to subvert atheism with feminist indoctrination.

    Gee, you never, ever, thought about what the consequences of your atheism means. Don’t like feminism? Does it come down the four words “Guys, don’t do that.”. When they shouldn’t have done that?

  34. says

    doublereed

    You nor PZ know what the actual characteristics of the relationship is.

    And neither have all the other people here who are totally sure about the nature of the relationship because of who she is and how long it lasted.
    I haven’t even made any claims about her or the relationship. I simply pointed out that one thing did not exclude the other.

  35. HappyNat says

    Todd @29

    By “shove down your throat” do you mean “write a blog post and form a group of like minded people”? If not how did she shove anything down your throat? Did she make you join the group? Spam your email? If someone wants to start a subgroup and you don’t want to join, it’s pretty easy not to join. The fact that you took offense to this says more about you than Jen.

  36. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Yeah, Atheism + are totally trying to shove their ideas down people’s throats.
    That’s why they hang out in some forum somewhere, not even openly identifying as members of A+ while commenting at other places.
    (at least I haven’t heard a peep from anyone about being in A+ for a while now)

  37. Cyranothe2nd, there's no such thing as a moderate ally says

    @29
    “The only political agenda atheism has or shoupd hace is protecting the rights of atheists…”

    Including women, right? So then, things like right-wing Dominionist encroachment on contaception and abortion *are* atheist issues, by your own lights.

    Or did you really mean “only the rights of white dudes should be an issue atheism cares about”?

  38. doublereed says

    @39

    Oh come on. You were totally implying that Bill Maher dates women by their attractiveness regardless of their other qualities, or that it’s a totally fair judgement for PZ. Anyone would read #19 that way. You’re being ridiculous.

  39. doublereed says

    If I was Cara Santa Maria and someone referred to me as arm candy, I’d be pissed.

    Then again, if I was Cara Santa Maria then I’d be a badass. So it probably wouldn’t be so bad.

  40. says

    doublereed
    1. I have a nym. Use it, ffs
    2. Who died and made you all-knowing of whatever I implied or not? Who’s that “anyone” again?
    3. Who the fuck knows? I am not Bill Maher and hopefully neither are you.
    4. You’re an asshole, just in case nobody told you today

  41. chigau (違う) says

    Todd Pence #29
    In case you’re not just a drive-by troll,
    Bless Your Heart.

  42. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    The name Cara Santa Maria was familiar, I had a vague recollection of some interview or panel she held.

    Oh yes, this. Well, that woman should just stay at home, her looks are apparently too much not to mention in a way, even for decent people, one of which I shall not mention (*whispers* guy in the header of the post).

    Can we just skip demeaning women? A woman can be attractive and date an older guy without having him as a “sugar daddy”.

    Thanks so much.

  43. marinerachel says

    Oh, the reactionaries!

    “SHE TRIED TO SHOVE IT DOWN OUR THROATS… by which I mean she wrote a blog post and I lost my shit….”

    How about, before anyone ever uses that expression again, it becomes mandatory that one experience having something literally shoved down their throat so they can ascertain the appropriateness of the expression because you sound fucking dumb when you refer to someone writing a blog post on their own personal blog no less as shoving anything down YOUR throat.

  44. Al Dente says

    Todd Pence @29

    I’m already a proud member of the facebook group ASSHOLE ATHEISTS.

    I’m not surprised.

  45. dogfightwithdogma says

    @31 Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm

    You actually think that Atheist organizations want to see these groups “subjugated”? You don’t see how over the top this rhetoric is?

  46. Athywren says

    @Todd Pence, 29

    The ONLY political agenda atheism has or should have is protecting the rights of atheists.

    Why should atheism have even that agenda then? How do you get from the position that there’s no reason to believe in gods to the position that people who don’t believe in gods deserve rights unless you add something else to your atheism?
    That’s atheism, plus your belief that atheists deserve the same rights as everyone else.
    That’s atheism plus.
    Bloody indoctrinated atheism plussers like you are giving atheism a bad name!!!!1!

  47. Athywren says

    (It’s also worth noting that a lot of atheists are women, and it seems a little strange to assume that we should defend their rights to take a contrary position on topics of religion, but that their rights with regard to gender are irrelevant.)

  48. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    dogfightwithdogma @ 52

    You actually think that Atheist organizations want to see these groups “subjugated”? You don’t see how over the top this rhetoric is?

    Read for comprehension please:

    Atheist organizations repeatedly side with bigots against marginalized groups.

    I’m sure, if asked directly, they’d vociferously deny wanting any such thing. However, they routinely side with vile people via failing to condemn such people when they do and say horrible things, which perpetuates a culture in which marginalized people are, in fact, subjugated. You don’t get to claim to oppose oppression while simultaneously scrambling to maintain an oppressive status quo.

  49. samihawkins says

    I have to agree with other people that the one bit about her being ‘arm candy’, a completely baseless assumption, left an extremely bad taste in my mouth in what was otherwise a delicious post.

    Though I’m not sure how it’s possible for me to be posting this when this site is supposedly an oppressive hivemind that doesn’t allow dissent or criticism of our leaders…

  50. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    samihawkins @ 56

    Though I’m not sure how it’s possible for me to be posting this when this site is supposedly an oppressive hivemind that doesn’t allow dissent or criticism of our leaders…

    The universe should commence unraveling in 3…2…1…

  51. omnicrom says

    I watch Bill Maher’s show every week, and this is the sort of shit that annoys me. On one hand it’s nice to hear a loud voice calling out shit like wealth inequality, the worthlessness of my government, and the existence of global warming as actual, factual problems. On the other hand he’s a privileged buffoon who frequently gives Dear Muslima style screeds about Islam and says stupid insensitive shit like this. This particular tweet is just the latest in a long line of such blinkered, pompous stupidity.

    I wish he wasn’t as abrasive as he is, doublereed @7 nailed it that Maher plays perfectly into the general stereotype of atheism. Whenever someone dismissively refers to /r/atheists Maher’s shit-eating grin is probably close to what they’re imagining.

  52. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    I’m sure, if asked directly, they’d vociferously deny wanting any such thing. However, they routinely side with vile people via failing to condemn such people when they do and say horrible things, which perpetuates a culture in which marginalized people are, in fact, subjugated. You don’t get to claim to oppose oppression while simultaneously scrambling to maintain an oppressive status quo.

    Quoted for massive, uncomfortable truth.

    Silverman and Muscato may claim to be feminists, but everything they say and do says the exact opposite very, very loudly.

  53. says

    I did not intend to demean Maher’s girlfriend at all. He brought her in, didn’t even introduce her to the others at the table, and his cavalier attitude towards us, and her as well, really rubbed me the wrong way. But she was the far more interesting and open to conversation than he was, and I mean only to say my respect for her was far greater than for him.

  54. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    PZ, thanks for acknowledging the criticism and explaining.

  55. mntraveler says

    Back in the 90s Bill Maher played a movie role that was a dead-on parody of his persona today. The movie was “Cannibal Wonen in the Avocado Jungle of Death.” Don’t let the title scare you off. It’s a hilarious sorta-feminist take on “Heart of Darkness,” Skewers everything in sight. A Women’s Studies professor gets sent into the jungle (set in San Benardino County!) to track down her predecessor, Francine Kurtz, who has gone native and it trying to unite the warring tribes of cannibal women. (Their war is over the proper way to eat the feral men they prey upon. One tribe believed they should be eaten with guacamole, the other clam dip.) She hires about utterly clueless sexist pig to guide her up the river into the jungle. You can figure out who plays the guide…

  56. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    That’s not what “ad hominem” means.

    Does fucking ANYONE use “ad hominem” correctly, ever, any more except when they’re correcting some smugnorant sack of shit?

  57. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    By “shove down your throat” do you mean “write a blog post and form a group of like minded people”? If not how did she shove anything down your throat? Did she make you join the group? Spam your email? If someone wants to start a subgroup and you don’t want to join, it’s pretty easy not to join. The fact that you took offense to this says more about you than Jen.

    Kinda like this…

  58. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    @31 Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm

    You actually think that Atheist organizations want to see these groups “subjugated”? You don’t see how over the top this rhetoric is?

    To be fair, they may simply be indifferent to their subjugation.

    I’m not sure there’s a difference.

  59. says

    If we can’t judge Maher’s attitude towards women by who he was with, then let’s judge it by the fact that one of his favorite hangouts is the Playboy Mansion.

    Good enough?

  60. Amphiox says

    The ONLY political agenda atheism has or should have is protecting the rights of atheists.

    It would seem that Pearce@29 doesn’t consider women and minority atheists to be atheists, since otherwise he would have no cause to rant against Atheism+, whose mission statement is partly the protection of those rights.

  61. says

    To be fair, they may simply be indifferent to their subjugation.

    I’m not sure there’s a difference.

    I was going to say “the standard you walk past is the standard you accept,” but no, the evidence is not for indifference. It is for active support: the tweets lauding anti-feminists like Glen, the cosseting of “secular” forced birth advocates, the Lindsay speech at WiS2, the fawning over Dawkins and Shermer, the retention of Ben Radford. Sorry. That’s not mere apathy.

  62. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    Judge him by his words. That’s actually good enough.

    Talk is cheap.

    Although apparently I’m now advocating in favor of mainstream atheist organizations, so there’s that. *eyeroll*

  63. says

    I agree with PZ, that atheist organizations need to take a persons body of work not just a few positives to award them with recognition. I am actually curious why people like AronRa, Matt Dillahunty, Seth Andrews, Jen Peeples, Tracy Harris, and many others who are in the spotlight, but aren’t rich, and do it because they believe in it are left out of the picture.

  64. marinerachel says

    Some atheists are women. If the job of atheists is to protect the rights of atheists that would include women’s issues.

  65. unclefrogy says

    I think the issue is to protect the rights of atheists to be atheists no matter who they are. Their rights as women or Negros. or homosexuals or other minorities are different from “everybody else” because they are different from “everybody else” or something like that the logic seems to go off the rails some where in there
    Maher is just an OK comic but a comic not a philosopher or a political leader or even a cultural leader He is just a celebrity. Why should anyone pay that much attention to a celebrity about anything outside of their area of celebrity as if they are a big deal as in this case where he is just a comic..

    uncle frogy

  66. says

    @#32 Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    “You’re not interested in feminism. Fine. Why are you here?”

    Oh, gee I don’t know. Could it be because this sight advertises itself as a freethought blog and feminism is one of the twentieth century movements most inimical to freethought?

  67. says

    ##33 Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm

    “Did I miss the meeting where every atheist on the planet got together voted you the arbiter of what the political agenda of atheism ought to be?”

    Yeah, you did. Maybe you ought to set your alarm next time.

  68. says

    @ #34

    “Todd @29, you realise you sound just like those anti-gay christian assholes, right?”

    Uh . . . no, I don’t. I would ask you to explain this statement, but I’m afraid that my triple digit IQ score might be a barrier to my comprehending this explanation.

  69. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    Todd Pence Presents: Argumentum ad Because-I-said-so-um

  70. says

    @ #40 HappyNat

    “By “shove down your throat” do you mean “write a blog post and form a group of like minded people”? If not how did she shove anything down your throat? Did she make you join the group? Spam your email? If someone wants to start a subgroup and you don’t want to join, it’s pretty easy not to join.”

    You know what? You’re absolutely right. My choice of words was inaccurate and I rescind them.

  71. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Could it be because this sight advertises itself as a freethought blog and feminism is one of the twentieth century movements most inimical to freethought?

    Freethought (from Wiki):

    Freethought or free thought is a philosophical viewpoint which holds that positions regarding truth should be formed on the basis of logic, reason, and empiricism, rather than authority, tradition, or other dogmas.

    I haven’t seen any academic evidence that feminism isn’t needed because the sexes are utterly and totally equal, including equal pay, equal harassment, equal rapes and rape attempts…..Hence feminism is good freethought…..

  72. Athywren says

    @Todd Pierce, 75

    Oh, gee I don’t know. Could it be because this sight advertises itself as a freethought blog and feminism is one of the twentieth century movements most inimical to freethought?

    You haven’t bothered to actually listen to what feminists have to say, have you? Inimical to free thought?
    Research. It’s not fucking hard. It’s also, you know, a good way to demonstrate that you‘re not inimical to free thought.
    Oh, unless you mean they’re hostile to just thinking whatever the fuck you want to without regard to what’s actually true… that may be accurate.

  73. says

    Todd Pence

    Oh, gee I don’t know. Could it be because this sight advertises itself as a freethought blog and feminism is one of the twentieth century movements most inimical to freethought?

    Others have answered the main thrust of this so I’ll just add a minor point. What you appear to be saying is that you’re here on some sort of truth-in-advertising campaign, objecting to someone using the term “freethought” in a way that is, to you, objectionable or inaccurate.

    Are you really that petty?

  74. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    I would ask you to explain this statement, but I’m afraid that my triple digit IQ score might be a barrier to my comprehending this explanation.

    “007?”

  75. consciousness razor says

    Oh, gee I don’t know. Could it be because this sight [sic] advertises itself as a freethought blog and feminism is one of the twentieth century movements most inimical to freethought?

    If that’s your daughter in the picture, I feel sorry for her. If not, I still feel sorry for her.

    But no, that could not be. I don’t know if you wanted an answer to your rhetorical question, but I did anyway, because you’re a fucking dumbass who seems to need somebody to give him a fucking clue.

    That wouldn’t actually explain why you’re here though, anyway. Couldn’t you just fuck off, even if that were the case?

    Uh . . . no, I don’t. I would ask you to explain this statement, but I’m afraid that my triple digit IQ score might be a barrier to my comprehending this explanation.

    So, it’s about 100 then. That’s … uhh… impressive? Why would that even be a barrier?

  76. Louis says

    …my triple digit IQ score…

    You realise an IQ of 100 is average, right?

    Louis

    P.S. Don’t get me started on a) the limitations of IQ as a measure of anything, b) my ENORMOUS IQ, c) my MASSIVE embarrassment that I: i) mentioned b) even in jest, and ii) that when I was 16 I actually {blush} CARED ABOUT b).

    [Shame mode]

  77. consciousness razor says

    “007?”

    Hmmm, it’s possible. We should probably start with 001 and see where that leads. Who knows? Maybe the vague bullshit will stop and we’ll get some actual information out of him.

  78. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    I would ask you to explain this statement, but I’m afraid that my triple digit IQ score might be a barrier to my comprehending this explanation I can’t actually defend my position, so I’ll just stick with inane one-liners instead.

    FIFY

  79. zenlike says

    77 Todd Pence

    “Todd @29, you realise you sound just like those anti-gay christian assholes, right?”
    Uh . . . no, I don’t. I would ask you to explain this statement, but I’m afraid that my triple digit IQ score might be a barrier to my comprehending this explanation.

    OK, lets see:

    tried to shove down our throats

    attempt to subvert atheism with X indoctrination.

    Stop trying to redefine X to conform to your own personal political agenda.

    I’m sure your ‘triple digit IQ’ can figure things out from here (actually 50% of the population has ‘triple digits IQ’, so I don’t know that it’s such a big point to brag about.)

  80. Athywren says

    @consciousness razor, 85

    Uh . . . no, I don’t. I would ask you to explain this statement, but I’m afraid that my triple digit IQ score might be a barrier to my comprehending this explanation.

    So, it’s about 100 then. That’s … uhh… impressive? Why would that even be a barrier?

    I know, right? How to make yourself look ridiculous in two easy steps:
    1) Act as if having three whole digits in your IQ is impressive.
    2) Act as if the only possible way to hold religiously inspired backward views is to have a IQ below 100.

    (Bonus
    3) Act as if IQ scores can tell you anything beyond your ability to spot patterns.)

  81. zenlike says

    So, once again a ‘we must keep atheism pure’ asshole shows in the end that they are indeed openly anti-feminist. Congratulations, Todd, you are proof number 11 million that a divide within the movement is a very good thing.

  82. consciousness razor says

    That’s what the Ancient Alien Reptiloids want you to think, Daz.

    … Atheists are cool with that shit, right? And anti-vaxx, homeopathic nonsense too. I’ve been told by a very reliable source that those don’t involve gods, therefore it’s all gravy. (Okay, it was Louis, but at least I’m pretty sure I was told that and didn’t just have a hallucination.)

  83. says

    It’s usually not a good sign when a poster brings up their supposed high IQ in a thread that has nothing to do with IQs in the first place. Or bringing it up in most other circumstances.

  84. Rasmus says

    No, dealing with Hamas is like dealing with a family of people who you keep locked up in the basement of your house that you inherited from your grandpa, who broke into the house back in the 1940’s and took it from the grandparents of those people.

    Your family has made a ton of improvements to the house (it was a total dump when your grandpa stole it), but strangely enough the people locked up in the basement don’t appreciate this and are really angry at you.

  85. says

    Rasmus:

    That’s about the best explanation I’ve ever read about the Arab Israeli conflict, although you might mention that they sometimes kill a few of the basement dwellers.

  86. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    Rasmus @ 97

    Or perhaps like showing up on the shores of some unexplored land and bringing civilization to it by means of murder, rape, kidnapping and theft and then wondering why the savage natives aren’t grateful.

  87. Louis says

    Mentioning IQ out of context or as a means of scoring points should ALWAYS result in being mocked unto severe shame. I expect nothing less.

    Louis

  88. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I think the “sugar daddy” comment pretty much shows what PZ thinks of women.

    Wrong, what he thinks of asshole men. Why do those who criticize PZ always get reality backwards? [/rhetorical]

  89. chigau (違う) says

    PSI
    <blockquote>paste copied text here</blockquote>
    Results in this:

    paste copied text here

    I bet a 99.9 could manage.

  90. Al Dente says

    Considering that he’s more than borderline literate, it’s likely Todd Pierce not only has a triple digit IQ but is also a 6th Grade (or equivalent) graduate.

  91. says

    Nerd of read head:

    He is calling a women a prostitute because he didn’t like who she was dating, and probably can’t understand why she wouldn’t want to be with a “nice guy” like him

  92. Al Dente says

    John Rove @104

    I see that reading comprehension is not your first language. You reply to someone and can’t even get their name right. Then you make up two canards about PZ, one that he called a woman a prostitute when he didn’t and the other that he was supposedly jealous that the woman was with someone else rather than him.

    Do you want to try again, this time with real facts?

  93. chigau (違う) says

    John Rove
    …and probably can’t understand why she wouldn’t want to be with a “nice guy” like him.
    now there was a giant leap

  94. says

    feminism is one of the twentieth century movements most inimical to freethought?

    Have you read Jacoby’s Freethinkers, a history of the freethought movement? Have you heard of Emma Martin, Eliza Sharples, Annie Besant, Ernestine Rose? How about Elizabeth Cady Stanton or Matilda Gage? Mary Wollestonecraft Shelley?

    Jesus Christ, you ahistorical fucking ignoramus, feminists were leading the freethought movement from the very beginning. Go read Jacoby’s discussion of Ingersoll’s feminism, for instance.

    In his preface to the prominent freethinker and feminist Helen H. Gardener’s Men, Women and Gods (1885), Ingersoll said flatly, “Woman is not the intellectual inferior of man. She has lacked, not mind, but opportunity…There were universities for men before the alphabet had been taught to women. At the intellectual feast, there was no place for wives and mothers. Even now they sit at the second table and eat the crusts and crumbs.” Even worse, in Ingersoll’s opinion, was the tendency of many husbands to regard religious superstition as the guardian of their wives’ fidelity and their daughters’ chastity. “These men think of priests as detectives in disguise,” Ingersoll said, “and regard God as a policeman who prevents elopements.”

    The result, in nineteenth-century America, was a union of religion and law in which women were expected to stay in a marriage even if they were regularly beaten and maimed by their husbands. In 1888, the New York World published a remarkable interview with Ingersoll in which he linked the right of a woman to divorce, and to obtain support for her children, with a case of domestic violence considered shocking even in a society where marital violence against women was rarely considered worthy of a headline. It seems that a man in the New York City borough of Queens had torn one of his wife’s eyes out of its socket and then, a year later, returned home in a drunken rage and tore out the other eye.

    The blind wife could leave her husband and live separately from him, Ingersoll noted, but she would still be forced to stay legally married to her assailant and would “remain, for the rest of her days…a wife, hiding, keeping out of the way, secreting herself from the hyena to whom she was married.” (From 1787 until 1967, adultery was the only ground for divorce In New York State—a policy upheld in the twentieth century largely as a result of strong lobbying by representatives of the powerful Catholic Archdiocese of New York).

    In a forceful statement that sounds very much like the 1970s’ feminist critique of male domestic violence, Ingersoll asked, “Must a woman in order to retain her womanhood become a slave, a serf, with a wild beast for a master, or with society for a master, or with a phantom for a master? Has not the married woman the right of self-defence? Is it not the duty of society to protect her from her husband?…She may not remain in the same house with him, for fear that he may kill her. What, then, are their relations? Do they sustain any relation except that of hunter and hunted—that is, of tyrant and victim?”

    And Ingersoll barely matched the ferocity of Stanton, who considered religion to be one of the greatest obstacles to equality.

    Dear god, but you ignorant assholes piss me off so much. Feminism and atheism have been intertwined for the past several centuries, and you have the clueless, oblivious gall to march in here and declare the two inimical. Fuck. Off.

  95. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    He is calling a women a prostitute because he didn’t like who she was dating,

    Only in your delusional brain. One without the idea women are your equals in all ways, including the ability to say “no”.

  96. says

    Al Dante:

    How would you define “sugar baby”? I took it as a derogatory term. Are you saying he meant in a complimentary way?

  97. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Are you pretending to be an atheist to make atheists look bad, or is up always down for you

    Only for you, who hasn’t cited one bit of evidence, only given their questionable opinion…..

  98. Al Dente says

    John Rove @110

    As I said, reading comprehension is not your first language. Read the last paragraph in the OP and then tell me how PZ called the woman a prostitute. Take your time, there’s many big words in the paragraph, some with more than two letters.

    Incidentally, in your @111, you still misspelled Nerd of Red Head’s name. If you can’t remember the difference between “red” and “read” then you can always copy-paste.

  99. says

    Todd Pence @29:

    “I want to know what you stand for?” . . . “What atheism OUGHT to mean?” This sounds like the same “Atheism Plus” crap Jen McCreight tried to shove down our throats a couple of years ago as an attempt to subvert atheism with feminist indoctrination. It was bullshit then and it’s bullshit now. Stop trying to redefine atheism to conform to your own personal political agenda. The ONLY political agenda atheism has or should have is protecting the rights of atheists.

    • Creationists use their religious beliefs to justify teaching creationism in school and oppose the teaching of evolution
    • fundamentalist theists advocate for abstinence based sex ed (which is derived from their religious beliefs) in schools, despite the fact that such programs are not only ineffective, but are harmful to teens
    • religious beliefs are cited as justification for homophobia
    • religious beliefs are cited as justification for opposing any action to reverse the effects of climate change
    • religious beliefs are cited as justification for corporal punishment
    • religious beliefs are cited as justification for capital punishment

    These problems that society faces all have significant opposition from religious believers for religious reasons. Given the lack of evidence for the existence of any higher power, what becomes of those religious reasons?
    If you no longer believe in god, should you still believe that state sanctioned killing is justified bc god?
    If you reject god belief, should you still believe that it is permissible to beat your child bc god says so?
    If you reject belief in a deity, should you still believe that god gave the earth over to us and we don’t need to make any effort to reverse climate change?
    If you don’t believe in god, should you still believe that homosexuals are going to hell or do not deserve marriage rights?
    If you’ve rejected a belief in god, should you believe that people should wait till marriage to have sex, bc god said so?
    If you don’t believe in god, should you continue to support creationism in schools?

    This is what I (and other atheists) are talking about when we say there are logical implications to not believing in a deity. Believing in a god carries implications: whether it’s how to teach sex ed, how to treat gay people, or how to punish children. Those implications exist. If you remove god belief, and reassess your personal beliefs, a domino effect ought to occur, whereby you realize that other beliefs you have are wrong. Given that divine justification for those beliefs is gone, one ought to abandon those beliefs.
    Do you understand now that there are logical implications to rejecting a belief in a god or gods?

  100. chigau (違う) says

    Often, misspelling someone’s name is used to score a ‘rhetorical’ point.
    However, the point of substituting “read head” for “Redhead” escapes me.

  101. Al Dente says

    I see in my post @115 I did a John Rove. I misspelled Nerd of Redhead’s name. Nerd, I apologize.

  102. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Nerd, I apologize.

    Don’t worry. Have a grog. *Pours grog into two tankards, and one hands over, while sipping the second tankard*

  103. Athywren says

    @Tony, 116

    This is what I (and other atheists) are talking about when we say there are logical implications to not believing in a deity. Believing in a god carries implications: whether it’s how to teach sex ed, how to treat gay people, or how to punish children. Those implications exist. If you remove god belief, and reassess your personal beliefs, a domino effect ought to occur, whereby you realize that other beliefs you have are wrong. Given that divine justification for those beliefs is gone, one ought to abandon those beliefs.
    Do you understand now that there are logical implications to rejecting a belief in a god or gods?

    See, this is why the idea that being an atheist makes you rational is a bad, bad, bad idea. These things that you’re talking about become clear, but only if you’re trying to work through the logical threads rationally. It’s like when you’re playing sudoku, and you note that the number you just wrote in precludes other squares from containing that number, which may lead on to their being necessary in another. It follows more or less like clockwork and, sure, you might miss one of those boxes when you’re marking them off, and that might throw your current calcuations off, but you’ll get there. On the other hand, if you don’t pay any attention to the other numbers, you can just end up with anything, even though they’re precluded by what you’ve already noted down.
    Long story short, if you wanna be taken seriously, it’s not enough to be an atheist, you’ve also got to be good at sudoku. Yeah, pretty sure that was my point… pretty sure.

  104. Athywren says

    @chigau (違う), 117

    However, the point of substituting “read head” for “Redhead” escapes me.

    Maybe he’s trying to imply that Nerd’s a component of a hard drive?

  105. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Maybe he’s trying to imply that Nerd’s a component of a hard drive?

    ???
    The Redhead is my trophy wife of 40+ years. Why does certain type of atheist have a problem with a long-term marriage? *Raises eyebrow*

  106. Ermine says

    @several:

    However, the point of substituting “read head” for “Redhead” escapes me.

    Well, he did the same thing with Al Dente’s name in post #110. Either it’s intentional, (and decidedly childish!), or his “triple-digit IQ” really is a nice round 100 or so at best – and he’s proud of it!

    That’s also the post where he quotes PZ as calling Maher’s date a “sugar baby”, but that never actually happened. Why am I not surprised?

    He’s certainly not scoring points for his honesty, wit, and elegant thinking so far..

  107. chigau (違う) says

    Nerd

    The Redhead is my trophy wife of 40+ years.

    I’m sorry to break this to you.
    Have you seen the movie Brazil?
    or The Matrix?
    Things are not as they seem.
    Except the grog.
    That’s real.

  108. Athywren says

    Have you seen the movie Brazil?
    or The Matrix?
    Things are not as they seem.

    No! NO! Don’t take the red pill! Don’t take the red-
    *watches in horror as Nerd becomes an MRA*
    *sinks to knees in the rain, arms spread out to the side, head falling back to face the heavens*
    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!

  109. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    it’s not enough to be an atheist, you’ve also got to be good at sudoku.

    *raises hand sheepishly

    Are fill-in puzzles an acceptable substitute?

    ;)

  110. says

    Hey, wait, how come all these comments are still here when so many of them disagree with PZ about “arm candy”? It’s UNIVERSALLY KNOWN that PZ deletes all comments that disagree with him. UNIVERSALLY I tell you.

  111. says

    Athywren:

    *sinks to knees in the rain, arms spread out to the side, head falling back to face the heavens*
    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!

    I have this image of Christopher Reeve in Superman: The Movie after he finds Lois Lane dead and shouts at the heavens.

  112. says

    Another among the major “players” who isn’t some sort of asshole? (Kevin @ 13) – Anthony Grayling.

    Both philosophers. Maek you think.

  113. says

    When you let assholes be the public face of atheism, it’s no wonder we have a bad reputation

    I agree completely. Enough so that I made a video (partly) on this subject. This is a 101 thing, nothing the Horde isn’t well familiar with anyway, but… here it is.

    Lost My Heroes

  114. Sili says

    132.
    Ophelia Benson,

    Another among the major “players” who isn’t some sort of asshole? (Kevin @ 13) – Anthony Grayling.

    Both philosophers. Maek you think.

    Yeah. How the fuck did they manage turning out right arseholes, being both atheists and philosophers an’ all?

  115. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    #133: As PZ said, that was absolutely fantastic. I wanted to give a standing ovation, but my cat would think I’m odd.

  116. ledasmom says

    I don’t even know how to do this sudoku thingie.

    You can always play the Worcester/Harvey Ball variant: you win if you can fill the grid in so the squares filled by any one digit form a smiley face.

  117. says

    abbeycadabra:

    I agree completely. Enough so that I made a video (partly) on this subject. This is a 101 thing, nothing the Horde isn’t well familiar with anyway, but… here it is.

    Lost My Heroes

    Like others here, I enjoyed your video. Good job.
    Oh dear, I’ve got a case of the hivemind again, don’t I?

  118. The Mellow Monkey says

    abbeycadabra @ 133: I loved your video! I had to pause several times to try to catch all the stuff in it because it was jam packed full of goodness.

  119. Athywren says

    Hang on, am I surrounded with non-sudoku-players here? OMG! You monsters! Why are you dividing the community!?

    @abbeycadabra, 133

    Great vid. The only criticism I can think of is that most of the text isn’t up long enough to read it without pausing, but, fortunately, pausing to read doesn’t make you lose track of where you are in the video, so maybe that’s ok. All hail General Idea!

  120. rhymeswithlibrarian says

    I don’t recall seeing this clip brought up on FTB before; it’s a charming little piece where Bill Maher makes fun of male rape victims. Proving once again that just because you’re an atheist doesn’t mean you’re not the enemy.

  121. Jonny Johnson says

    “So sure, as long as you clearly state that there is no god, you can be sexist or racist”

    Or you can not be sexist or racist.

    “or endorse bombing the Middle East or love Ayn Rand”

    Or not endorse bombing the Middle East or love Ayn Rand.

    “or believe that the poor deserve their lot since Darwin said “survival of the fittest” (he didn’t), and still be the paradigmatic Good Atheist.”

    Or you can not believe that.

    I’m also not sure why PZ uses the term “good atheist”, as if these things are all accepted so long as you call yourself an atheist. If you believe in all sorts of crazy shit, are racist, sexist, and an asshole, you are still an atheist if you don’t believe in a god. It doesn’t mean you’re a “good” atheist. That’s in the eye of the beholder I guess.

  122. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I’m also not sure why PZ uses the term “good atheist”, as if these things are all accepted so long as you call yourself an atheist. If you believe in all sorts of crazy shit, are racist, sexist, and an asshole, you are still an atheist if you don’t believe in a god. It doesn’t mean you’re a “good” atheist. That’s in the eye of the beholder I guess.

    Yep it’s in the eyes of those who judge said behavior against a broader tapestry of expectations, based on a broader morality based on their concept of what atheism means, and the consequences of being an atheist. Good atheists defend all of humanity. Bad atheists still segregate based on mumble jumble bumble, and only feel good about themselves at the expense of others.

  123. Terska says

    Famous people are usually disappointing to meet in person. We imagine we have so much in common with them and think that we could really hit it off with them but it usually falls flat. They are constantly approached by their fans. I imagine it just becomes impossible to handle after a while. Decent manners are the most we can usually hope for.

    I enjoy Maher’s show. He often has interesting guests and he is usually pretty funny. I noticed he likes to touch his guests on the arm when he talks to them. He did it to Frank Luntz and Luntz flipped out. It was weird.

    He did put up a million dollars of his own money to help defeat Romney.

  124. says

    “So sure, as long as you clearly state that there is no god, you can be sexist or racist or endorse bombing the Middle East or love Ayn Rand with all your heart or believe that the poor deserve their lot since Darwin said “survival of the fittest” (he didn’t), and still be the paradigmatic Good Atheist.”

    I would say you can be an Atheist. You can’t be a good Atheist while holding those ideas, but you can still be an Atheist, and you’re just as much of an Atheist as someone who is more enlightened.

    Now when it comes to self-consistency… well, I would argue that no coherent view, Atheistic or Theistic, happens to justify racism, sexism, or any of those other things, so it’s not so much an implication of Atheism as an implication of logic.

  125. says

    Jonny Johnson:

    I’m also not sure why PZ uses the term “good atheist”, as if these things are all accepted so long as you call yourself an atheist.

    He’s poking fun at all those defenders of atheism, those #braveheroes who would have everyone adhere to the dictionary definition of atheism.

  126. A. Noyd says

    Jonny Johnson (#149)

    I’m also not sure why PZ uses the term “good atheist”, as if these things are all accepted so long as you call yourself an atheist.

    What Tony said. It’s a reference (in the form of an ironic title—note the caps) to a position taken by certain of PZ’s detractors. In their minds, the only thing that makes an atheist an atheist is non-belief in gods. They think nothing can or should follow from that, like being a good person. (Except for the instances where they do think so, but they’ll still claim otherwise.) See this thread from comment #57 on.

  127. says

    “What Tony said. It’s a reference (in the form of an ironic title—note the caps) to a position taken by certain of PZ’s detractors. In their minds, the only thing that makes an atheist an atheist is non-belief in gods. They think nothing can or should follow from that, like being a good person.”

    What do you mean by “follow?” I would say that it’s impossible for a racist or sexist to be logically consistent anyway, so atheism isn’t really a factor, but even granting that avoiding those things follows directly from atheism logically, that doesn’t mean that people who don’t take their atheism all the way aren’t real atheists, any more than moderates aren’t real Christians, they’re just inconsistent.

  128. says

    Davis Collins:

    What do you mean by “follow?”

    Don’t know if you’ve read the whole thread, but on the subject of what I think ought to logically flow from atheism (if one doesn’t stop applying a rational, logical approach to ones views upon ditching god belief), see my comment upthread.

    I would say that it’s impossible for a racist or sexist to be logically consistent anyway, so atheism isn’t really a factor, but even granting that avoiding those things follows directly from atheism logically, that doesn’t mean that people who don’t take their atheism all the way aren’t real atheists, any more than moderates aren’t real Christians, they’re just inconsistent.

    I don’t think I see anyone denying that these people aren’t atheists. Just that they’re not applying the rational thought to those beliefs that accompany many forms of theism. These people seem to think that there are no logical implications to rejecting god belief, which is funny because there are many beliefs that accompany belief in god. I don’t know of many people that claim to believe in god and that’s it. It’s almost always I believe in god and this other stuff too.
    I wonder if there are any Theism+ communities.

  129. HolyPinkUnicorn says

    I do like Maher’s show for the unapologetic atheism (rare on TV, even HBO) and the interesting guests he has on–albeit, he also has celebrities and token conservatives–but the considerable downside is he also very good at displaying some of his very stupid ideas.

    Last night, one of his show’s main topics, Israel’s latest war, made him say that part of the reason Israel wins all the time (true only from a purely military standpoint, and even that is really about inflicting way more casualties, not winning) is because it has more Nobel Prize winners. But no mention of the billions in aid to Israel from the U.S. (to then use to buy U.S. weaponry).

    And Maher can be a downright quackadoodle when it comes to what he believes food can do. From a 2005 NY Times article: Anything that goes wrong with the body I can fix with herbs. Never mind what, say, some E. Coli-tainted spinach could do to him. Or how herbs won’t exactly help him fix a case of smallpox.

  130. A. Noyd says

    Davis Collins (#156)

    What do you mean by “follow?”

    Logically, morally, whatever. I’m just talking about the views of PZ and his detractors because Jonny was confused about PZ’s meaning. I’m not stating my own opinion. Look up PZ’s past writing on “dictionary atheism” if you want more. You should be able to find most of it under that term.

    that doesn’t mean that people who don’t take their atheism all the way aren’t real atheists

    Yeah, no shit. Find someone here who disagrees.

  131. consciousness razor says

    I would say that it’s impossible for a racist or sexist to be logically consistent anyway, so atheism isn’t really a factor, but even granting that avoiding those things follows directly from atheism logically, that doesn’t mean that people who don’t take their atheism all the way aren’t real atheists, any more than moderates aren’t real Christians, they’re just inconsistent.

    Inconsistencies have a way of being fairly persuasive. People can’t handle them very well, probably because they can’t happen in reality. You get people saying “all men are created equal,” and given enough time, they might start to actually mean it, even when those are black men or gay men or (shockingly enough) even women. They might even come around to noticing this “creation” stuff isn’t actually consistent either, so we might as well fix that part too. Being rational isn’t by any means necessary for anyone, nor is it easy, but all we can do (what we ought to do) is to try our best.

  132. says

    #155 mikee
    #148 Al Dente
    #147 Uncle Ebeneezer
    #145 Athywren
    #144 The Mellow Monkey
    #143 PatrickG
    #142 Tony! The Queer Shoop
    #139 chigau
    #138 UnknownEric the Apostate
    #136 Lofty
    and of course
    #135 PZ Myers

    Thank you all so much! I’m very glad you liked it! Ave General Idea!

  133. screechymonkey says

    Tony @157:

    I wonder if there are any Theism+ communities.

    Depends what you mean by the +. If you mean just “something beyond theism,” then pretty much every religious community qualifies. It’s why people slide so readily from one church to another while they find something that fits their values.

    If you mean a + that corresponds to what the Atheism+ community advocates, then… I dunno. Some come closer than others, I guess.

  134. says

    I don’t think I see anyone denying that these people aren’t atheists. Just that they’re not applying the rational thought to those beliefs that accompany many forms of theism. These people seem to think that there are no logical implications to rejecting god belief, which is funny because there are many beliefs that accompany belief in god. I don’t know of many people that claim to believe in god and that’s it. It’s almost always I believe in god and this other stuff too.

    Racism, sexism, homophobia etc. can all be argued for without assuming the existence of gods. The only arguments for them that should necessarily go away along with theism are the inherently religious ones, which are not all of them. Arguments from genetics or biology for these positions are not religious, and thus are not inconsistent with atheism. What that, along with the fact that none of those positions directly assume that gods exist, means in practice is that there is absolutely nothing inconsistent about being a racist atheist that isn’t inconsistent about being a racist and a theist, or a racist and a Flat-Earther, or a racist and a Round-Earther.

    As for applying reason consistently, well sure, in that sense being a racist is inconsistent with being an atheist, but that doesn’t seem to have much significance. That argument for Atheism+ works exactly as well for Round-Earth+, Electromagnetism+, Evolution+, Feminism+, Ducks-Exist+, and Pretty-Much-Any-True-Thing+. It’s a true fact, but it’s not a very important one.

  135. Rey Fox says

    I’m a little annoyed at how the MRAs seem to have taken over the “red pill”. The feminist Sinfest strips also had a red pill. Probably they did it first.

  136. says

    “I’m a little annoyed at how the MRAs seem to have taken over the “red pill”. The feminist Sinfest strips also had a red pill. Probably they did it first.”

    They got it from conspiracy theorists who like to abuse the matrix all the damn time.

  137. says

    Davis Collins:

    Racism, sexism, homophobia etc. can all be argued for without assuming the existence of gods. The only arguments for them that should necessarily go away along with theism are the inherently religious ones, which are not all of them. Arguments from genetics or biology for these positions are not religious, and thus are not inconsistent with atheism.

    Yes, they can be argued without assuming gods exist, but I’m referring to the great many believers who have beliefs derived from their religion. For a great many people, their opposition to marriage equality, abortion, or evolution is because of their religious beliefs. When you remove that foundation, what is left? If your only reason for opposing same sex marriage is bc you think it was the will of your god (and this is true for many people) and you no longer believe in that god, you ought to ditch that belief.

  138. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    rhymeswithlibrarian at #146

    Lucky Bastard Syndrome?
    Ugh, that was disgusting.

    Thanks for linking to that video, even though it put me off my breakfast.

  139. Gerard O says

    So I’m loving PZ Myers’ smackdown of Bill Maher, then comment #108 rolls up, and he’s lauding the “ferocity” of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Really? A sample of her thought on black voting rights:

    What will we and our daughters suffer if these degraded black men are allowed to have the rights that would make them worse than our Saxon fathers?

    Professor, you need a few days rest.

  140. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    Gerard O @ 169

    PZ wasn’t claiming all the women he listed were right about everything that they ever said; just that the connection between feminism and atheism is not a new thing. Read for comprehension please. Jesus.

  141. Athywren says

    @Davis Collins, 164

    Racism, sexism, homophobia etc. can all be argued for without assuming the existence of gods.

    Sadly, I can back this up.
    I recently had a guy add me on Steam who looking for “someone to talk to who won’t make me angry” (which is, you know, a great way to sell yourself).
    Among the various discussions we had up until the point where I got tired of his almost incessant need to bug me (I mean, seriously, playing mah games here bud) were such fabulous topics as why third wave feminism is a cancer on the face of modern society (proven with a video of an angry woman shouting at a christian preacher at a gay rights event, followed by, you guessed it! Andrea Dworkin et al quotes! That’s right! Prove 3rd wave feminism wrong with 2nd wave quotemines, woo!), why progressivism necessarily leads to allowing paedophilia and bestiality (because of how you can just assume consent if they don’t struggle too hard (No, really, that was in there; “consent can be assumed if the child or animal remains still and happy,” according to whose assessment? Oh, yes, the person fucking that child or animal. Seems pretty legit to me!!)) and why other races are, in fact, another non-human species. That last was “proven” with cranial capacity data, neuron counts, crime stats, and an evolutionary tree showing that non-african humans left africa (and thus stopped breeding with african humans so often), while african humans remained there. No mention of god anywhere to be seen.

    And that, kids, is why you shouldn’t accept friend requests on Steam. How does so much smug certainty coexist with so much factual wrongness? I mean, sure, political correctness, whatever, but factual correctness (which oddly enough seems to map alongside political correctness most of the time) actually matters.

  142. Gerard O says

    Seven of Mine #169 looks up, hears a rustling sound, a human shape in the distance…

  143. says

    #169, Gerard O:

    That is so symptomatic of the mindset I oppose. “Oh, he had good words for Stanton — she must be his shining hero! Ha ha, I’ll shock him by pointing out her flaws.”

    You won’t set me back in the slightest. She is not my “hero”, I am well aware of her flaws, as I am of all the people I mentioned. You think in a black&white way, that if someone lists some people who are good at some things, then I must be only accepting perfection.

    You’ve made my point for me again, and demonstrated how oblivious you are in the process.

  144. says

    Giliell @2 wrote:

    Yeah, killing hildren is just like slapping somebody.
    Got that.
    But in the end, they’re just brown children, so who cares
    *puke*

    Since when are Palestinian hildren “brown”? I know they don’t consider themselves “brown”. And how are they browner, if brown at all, than Israeli hildren?

  145. zenlike says

    Wow, rhymeswithlibrarian, that clip you linked to in 146 was disgusting (but thank you for linking to it). As someone living on the other side of the ocean, I only know Maher from some specific things like his movie/documentary (which I though was somewhat nice, until he started interviewing extreme-right-wing politicians in a favourable light), his show is not broadcast over here.

    If I was a viewer of his show, and that fragment came along, I would immediately stop watching his show. In those couple of minutes, he completely dismisses that under-age boys can be statutory raped. It completely dismisses those boys, and even calls them ‘lucky’. Disgusting.

  146. Gerard O says

    PZ Myers #175: Dude, please, just calm down.
    There’s a reason I mention all this, because if we don’t pay the strictest attention to what we say and do, secularism could turn to a pile of shit, a pack of zombies congratulating themselves for working out that an invisible giant doesn’t throw a tantrum every time you eat a ham sandwich.
    The truth is that the moral compass of a lot of Western liberals is already out of joint, as evidenced by the reaction to the US-financed pulverization of Middle Eastern ghettoes. A century ago proto-libertarians were pushing the eugenics agenda, backed up by racialist pseudoscience; today, pseuds like Charles Murray and Steven Pinker have jumped on the same bandwagon. Guess who gets away with it? While Murray is relegated to the think tank circuit, Pinker is cherished as a crusader against the forces of Darkness, and lavished with awards from so-called ‘humanists’.
    Feminism, like most mass movements, has a dark side. Many of the British suffragettes went on to become supporters of fascism. The Australian novelist Miles Franklin went the same way. Some are simply anti-male bigots, others are slime, some are vicious racists. Forget about Stanton — there are too many problems today without dredging specimens like her to the surface.
    My point? We need to get better, otherwise we’ll end up like libertarians, pushing the same barrow of horseshit 100 years from now.

  147. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    My point? We need to get better, otherwise we’ll end up like libertarians, pushing the same barrow of horseshit 100 years from now.

    Yet you don’t seem to be part of the solution, only a complainer of the problems. It’s hard to create, easy to criticize.
    So, you need to calm down yourself and gain a perspective.

  148. says

    #178, Gerard O

    Dude, please, just calm down.

    You made a comment. I replied to it.

    Dude, how ’bout if you stop being a condescending piece of shit?

  149. Athywren says

    @Gerard O, 178

    My point? We need to get better, otherwise we’ll end up like libertarians, pushing the same barrow of horseshit 100 years from now.

    “No grandma! This is how you suck lemons!”
    Anyway, haven’t you heard? Criticising the flaws of a movement is divisive – you’re supposed to just shut up about those things and accept that people don’t mean any harm by it.

  150. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    Gerard O @ 178

    Forget about Stanton — there are too many problems today without dredging specimens like her to the surface.
    My point? We need to get better, otherwise we’ll end up like libertarians, pushing the same barrow of horseshit 100 years from now.

    You don’t get better by pretending your past mistakes never happened, fuckwit.

  151. Gerard O says

    I was happy today with my new enamel-coated cast iron frypan, and now Wisconsin’s version of Lou Reed has ruined it with his mean words. Dude, you need to lay of the dope.
    BTW, the war that I ended with that email the other day might just start up again. Be prepared.

  152. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Dude, you [I] need to lay of the dope.

    After I fixed that for you, I couldn’t agree with you more. Lay off the attitude. It will get you nowhere.

  153. The Mellow Monkey says

    Gerard O @ 178

    Feminism, like most mass movements, has a dark side. Many of the British suffragettes went on to become supporters of fascism. The Australian novelist Miles Franklin went the same way. Some are simply anti-male bigots, others are slime, some are vicious racists. Forget about Stanton — there are too many problems today without dredging specimens like her to the surface.

    And so you suggest…what? Pretending that “specimens” like Stanton never existed? That all examples of atheists who were racist should be purged from history? In that case, that’s basically everybody. We all have our biases. We’ve all been raised in a toxic culture. No one–not even those targeted by bigotry–is safe from internalizing that shit.

    The goal is not to find paragons of virtue and hold them up to admire. We just need to do a bit better than let assholes like Maher represent all of us. That doesn’t mean we pretend Maher or Stanton never existed. Stanton existed and she was a feminist and an atheist. Acknowledging this in a list of atheist feminists is not the travesty you seem to think it is.

    You know who the primary victims of racist white women are? Women of color. You know who the primary victims of sexist men of color are? Women of color. Frederick Douglass and Elizabeth Cody Stanton are both fantastic examples of this, because they both seemed to decide that only white women counted as women and only black men counted as black:

    During a heated meeting in New York City’s Steinway Hall in 1869, Stanton wondered, “Shall American statesmen … so amend their constitutions as to make their wives and mothers the political inferiors of unlettered and unwashed ditch-diggers, bootblacks, butchers and barbers, fresh from the slave plantations of the South?” At which point, Douglass rose, paid tribute to Stanton’s years of work on civil rights for all, and replied, “When women, because they are women, are hunted down through the cities of New York and New Orleans; when they are dragged from their houses and hung from lampposts; when their children are torn from their arms and their brains dashed out upon the pavement; when they are objects of insult and rage at every turn; when they are in danger of having their homes burnt down… then they will have an urgency to obtain the ballot equal to our own.”

    Even while describing things that happen to the women of his own race, he still fails to make the connection that giving him the vote is not the same as giving black women the vote. He cannot for one moment admit that the racist oppression black women suffer is different from that the men suffer and this difference is, in fact, because they are women. Even today that legacy continues, with that NYT article talking about “blacks [winning] the right to vote” in 1870, ignoring the fact that half of them did not.

    Yet it would be absurd not to speak in glowing terms of the good Douglass accomplished. He did remarkable, positive things. He also accepted the sexist idea that it was by giving power to the men in a community that the lives of women in that community would be improved. We can acknowledge both, just as we can acknowledge the good Stanton accomplished while acknowledging the shitty stuff she said and did.

    Elizabeth Cody Stanton was an atheist and a feminist. Acknowledging this, admitting she has a place in our history, is not the same as embracing her racism. Recognizing the current of racism in white feminism–and the current of misogyny in just about everything–is one of the steps in actually dealing with it.

  154. tuibguy says

    This sounds like the same “Atheism Plus” crap Jen McCreight tried to shove down our throats a couple of years ago as an attempt to subvert atheism with feminist indoctrination.

    Shoved down your throat? Must have been rather painful. I don’t recall her attempting to force all atheists to adopt this attitude at all. Perhaps I missed something?

    Oh, yeah, she had an idea and a bunch of assholes got all toasty about it and made more of a fuss about not liking her idea and threatening her and calling her names and really being a bunch of babies when they could have just passed on by without a shitload of unnecessary drama by saying “not for me.”

  155. says

    BIG fan of Bill Maher’s humour segment, even like that smugness about his humour that put you off, but completely agree on your rant against his sexism and anti-vaccine positions.

  156. Akira MacKenzie says

    Tony @ 167

    If your only reason for opposing same sex marriage is bc you think it was the will of your god (and this is true for many people) and you no longer believe in that god, you ought to ditch that belief.

    That’s more or less how I came to my present leftist opinions. After spending most of my adolescence and young adulthood a right-wing, anti-gay, anti-choice Catholic, attending history and a few philosophy courses in college eroded away my faith. After that, I started to examine what I believed politically and culturally through the lens of my new-found atheism. For instance: since my opinions on homosexuality (as well as sex in general) and abortion were all built upon a foundation of religious claims, they fell apart rather quickly and I found myself support GLBTs and a woman’s right to choose rather quickly.

    It’s pretty clear to me that the opinions of assholes like TJ and Glenn aren’t informed by applying atheism and skepticism to their views on gender, race, economics, etc.. I think they’re based on something a little more base and ugly.

  157. octopod says

    Since when are Palestinian hildren “brown”? I know they don’t consider themselves “brown”. And how are they browner, if brown at all, than Israeli hildren?

    The word you want to look up here is “racialization”. “Brown” is a word commonly used by Americans (and Europeans? Not sure) to indicate anyone who is not white, and not black, but still racialized; as such it often doesn’t have much to do with skin colour or indeed any other phenotype, but with the perception of the person speaking, who in this case is (inferred) Bill Maher.

  158. opposablethumbs says

    abbeycadabra #133, I liked the video a lot too – it’s very well-written and well delivered. The comments are a total pain, as usual, so it’s probably well worth ignoring them (I’d’ve gone for calling the douchehats douchehats or something like that instead of a gendered attribute, but a) I don’t have anything like the ability to make a recording like that in the first place and b) the gleeful “gotcha” nigglers almost certainly don’t have the capacity to grasp the difference between punching down and punching up anyway. Still, it’s kind of funny that that was the only actual point any of them could find to make).

  159. says

    Octopod @190

    Well, thank you Octopod, that does clarify things. As far as I know, “brown” isn’t used to mean “racialized” in Europe. It isn’t used that way in France in any case. There is a word, “basané” which I suppose means something like “swarthy” or “suntanned” that is used usually disparagingly about Mediterranean type peoples.

    I have seen “brown” used a lot on Pharyngula. It really shocked me. I thought the people using it had never been outside of white-bread America, had never in fact seen a Muslim with their own eyes and for some strange reason imagined that Muslims all had brown skin. I thought it was ignorance mixed with color obsession.

  160. says

    Wisconsin’s version of Lou Reed

    Who?

    the war that I ended with that email the other day might just start up again. Be prepared.

    Oh, you are just so silly. OK, here’s the first salvo: Bye.

    I think I just won.

  161. consciousness razor says

    Here is the world’s tiniest triumphal arch, poopyhead:

    ====
    |        |
    |        |
    |        |

    It might be a little lopsided.

  162. consciousness razor says

    You can’t even fit one horse through a π, much less a conquering hero and all of his sycophantic lackeys. That’s just pathetic.

  163. consciousness razor says

    On average, about half the size of my arch. They are doing the cabbage patch.

  164. broboxley OT says

    have not visited for a while, PZ you are entirely correct. Many people of many persuasions are given a free pass because of their (non)beliefs by those who wish to promote the cause. Atheists don’t really have a bad reputation, but the opposition drags out the odious as examples every time they see an asshat in action. You(collective) need to promote the SallyST’s MsFord and others.

    As for how many angels can dance on the head of a pin the answer is 12

  165. says

    Gotta respectfully disagree. I grew up listening to the opinions of hundreds of Southern Baptists about atheists, and they knew very little except they were losing battle after battle in the courts and they hated it and hated atheists for challenging their hegemony over everything civic. Maher pisses off these people and that’s the way I like my Southern Baptists–pissed off–they pop aneurisms sooner and die.

  166. says

    Wow. PZ actually does not know the difference between turn of the century women’s rights movements with modern day feminism? How clueless can you get?
    One blogger recently wrote of PZ that he acts like he is still in High School. Considering the apoplectic hissy fit my comment a few weeks ago caused him to throw, I’d say that they overestimated him by at least three institutional levels.

  167. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    ntury women’s rights movements with modern day feminism?

    Yes, how clueless can YOU get? Think about that for while.