ABC’s “What Would You Do?” Gets It Very Wrong


Today someone shared with me a link to a promotion for an episode of ABC’s “What Would You Do?”

For those unfamiliar, the program uses actors in public spaces to test how the general public will react to particular situations that often involve moral responses. I’ve seen one where a man slips drugs into his date’s drink in front of other bar patrons while his date is in the bathroom. Many people came forward to warn the woman about what had happened, and a few challenged the man with the drugs directly. In another segment, they had a pretty blonde woman struggling with her bike lock at a local park. Passersby stopped to assist her. When the person struggling with the lock was changed to a young black man, however, the responses were quite different–hostile and accusatory.

It’s actually an interesting concept that challenges social prejudices and perceptions. It sometimes makes us look deep inside America’s, and perhaps our own, prejudices.

However, a recent segment highlighted a negative (and highly inaccurate) atheist stereotype, showing an atheist obnoxiously confronting a family in a restaurant, as the family tried to have a prayer before their meal. The atheist actually gets up, goes over to the family, and tries to tell them to stop praying because it makes her uncomfortable.

How many times has this happened in your presence? If you’re like me, the answer to that is “never.”

Outside of our well-publicized stint with Patrick Green on our “Foolish Atheists” episode (please don’t e-mail Patrick!), I’ve never seen an atheist actively try to repress anyone’s right to free exercise in a space where such expression is legal. On the contrary, I’ve heard from atheists who have had to endure religious promotion in their workplace, atheists who have been threatened or abandoned by their religious families, atheists who have relatives trying to indoctrinate their children in secret. But I have yet to see an atheist act like the one in this segment.

I posted a comment at the Facebook page for this promo short–as have (at this time) about 1,600 atheists, some of whom you might recognize. I encourage you all to add your voices there. I see this as nothing short of perpetuating harmful defamation against this community and hope (perhaps in futility) that we might get something in the way of an apology from the station or the program itself.

While we have atheists suffering real persecution (see Jessica Ahlquist and Steven Hewitt as real world examples of what happens when an atheist stands up on behalf of religious freedom–even if you’re a child or a veteran!) The Religious Right is most often the group doling out the bigotry and bullying, not on the receiving end–although to hear them tell it, they’re one of the most oppressed powerful, well funded, well organized, politically connected majorities in modern times. Their god should do a better job of protecting them against the disempowered, disorganized, politically disenfranchised, socially mistrusted atheist minority.

Someone in comments offered a suggestion for how this show could have been more realistic and also more relevant to the current public reality: They suggested the family have one older child who refuses to participate in the prayer for reasons of conscience, and have the parents respond with derision, insult, punishment threats, bullying and other forms of coercion. I’d love to see if my guess about what would happen in this Texas town would be correct. I would guess that patrons in the restaurant would side, in large part, with the parents and even help to shame the child to conform. That’s actually a scenario we DO often hear about in our letters to the show–with disturbing frequency.

Comments

  1. oldskoolnyc says

    Yeah, I saw the link in Tracie’s fb feed. Like many I enjoy the show, but probably won’t be watching that or any other episodes in the future, if this is the best straw man scenario they can produce. Anybody have links, of any petitions or like please share. This type of bullying, and false victimhood needs to be addressed. Shame on you ABC, and WWYD!

  2. Narf says

    How many times has this happened in your presence? If you’re like me, the answer to that is “never.”

    From time to time.  I had the incident a few years ago, when an atheist friend of mine and I were talking in a late-night Denny’s, and some fundie got up and preached Bible-verse-Bible-verse-Bible-verse at us for a few minutes, on his way out.  A few months ago, I saw a pair of … I think they were Jehovah’s witnesses … witnessing to some woman and her daughter, inside of a Walmart.

    Oh, wait, did you mean this sort of activity from atheists?

    Hmmmm.  Umm, let me get back to you on that.

  3. Tawn says

    Normally they do a switch so that the skin colour or gender is different.. it would have been really interesting to contrast the reactions of people if it was a muslim family praying..
    but yes, this is a very unrealistic scenario.. perhaps a little better would be if an atheist family / couple were sniggering quietly about the praying and the Christian actors got upset at them.

  4. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I’m probably one of the most vocal people here, and I’ve never went to a stranger and “berated them” for their displays of religion. However, if a stranger specifically started a conversation with me, I would not hold back and continue the conversation (unless and until the stranger wanted to stop), but it hasn’t happened yet.

    It would take a lot for me to butt into someone else’s conversation. There might be a level of shenanigans that might produce my involvement, and especially if I could come to the defense of someone being bullied, but again, it hasn’t happened yet.

  5. Narf says

    @Tawn

    it would have been really interesting to contrast the reactions of people if it was a muslim family praying..

    😀
    That would be a much more interesting and enlightening experiment, yes.

  6. Knight in Sour Armor says

    @4 Tawn:

    My wife and I have a tendency to do the “quiet sniggering” bit when we see this sort of behavior, but we’ve yet to see anyone get upset about it.

  7. Johnpaul R says

    I’ll be the Catholic who jumps into this.

    You’re semi-right. I haven’t seen anyone come up to me in real life and do this. However, my online presence is absolutely filled with this. If I congratulate someone with “God bless”, or say “I’ll pray for them” (sick family member, tragedy e.g.) I’ll get plenty of people mocking it, telling me I’m a sheep, asking to stop believing in fairy tales,etc.. This is just a visual example of what I see online. If you believe that cyberbullying is the same as in life bullying then you see that you’re just seeing people act out what many of us see daily in our social media lives. I think everyone is more brazen when you don’t have to face the people they’re lashing out at so I agree seeing this scenario might not be an everything occurrence. But it is absolutely a reflection of what goes on in our lives. It is what all Atheists do? Of course not. But does it happen? Absolutely.

    End of the day, you’ll don’t believe. I do. I wish you did. You wish I didn’t.

  8. Monocle Smile says

    @JPR

    However, my online presence is absolutely filled with this

    Not only is this irrelevant, partly because it’s likely you’re just poking the bear, but atheists don’t just receive mockery…we get fucking death threats on the internet and to far higher a degree than you’ll ever know. How many christian forums and blogs are there? How many of them call us demon spawn? Hell, some even call for our extinction. What you’re seeing online is a tiny slice of what we’ve had to deal with, both online and in real life, for decades.

    End of the day, you’ll don’t believe. I do. I wish you did. You wish I didn’t.

    So we have a disagreement about reality. How do we go about resolving this? Because god beliefs aren’t merely a matter of personal preference.

  9. Itchie says

    @Johnpaul R.

    I think you have missed the point here. Bullying and cyber bullying can come from vocal Atheists on the internet, as the internet is a trolling society. What this program showed is an Atheist interrupting a family at prayer. This does not happen as we don’t really care if someone is praying in public.

    It’s a conflation, based on the court cases brought forward to remove religious symbols from government buildings and public schools. They have taken a justified grievance, and put it in a different scenario which no one could justify. It shines an unjust light on atheists.

    Also, atheists don’t, in general, wish you didn’t believe. We leave that for anti-theist. 🙂

  10. Johnpaul R says

    However, my online presence is absolutely filled with this
    @Monocle Smile

    Not only is this irrelevant, partly because it’s likely you’re just poking the bear, but atheists don’t just receive mockery…we get fucking death threats on the internet and to far higher a degree than you’ll ever know. How many christian forums and blogs are there? How many of them call us demon spawn? Hell, some even call for our extinction. What you’re seeing online is a tiny slice of what we’ve had to deal with, both online and in real life, for decades.

    It’s completely relevant. The show is taking things we see constantly online and in social media and turned it into a live demonstration. It’s completely germane to the point I was making. This is a reality.

    I’m sure you get death threats, called spawn and other nasty things from a very small sliver of the religious population. But the same way you don’t want to be grouped in with radicals, neither do we. There are billions of religious people. Maybe a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent are this radical. You know it, I know it. Don’t take the outliers and use it to define billions.

    So we have a disagreement about reality. How do we go about resolving this? Because god beliefs aren’t merely a matter of personal preference.

    Well, we both know how this plays out. You have a tangent of thought that just makes everything chance (big bang just happened, universe just formed, life just started, mankind just popped up, etc..) and my tangent is that a Creator (who can’t be identified) is the Mastermind behind it all (while leaving us without a shred of proof) and gives us a list of things to do to move into the next life (if it exists). The only reconciliation is compromise in acknowledging my limited proof means as much as your lack of proof. Let’s be pragmatic, your entire belief system is based on nothing. You can’t possibly show me anything saying you’re right. You have conjecture and mix it with some clever people’s perspective. On my hand, I have Jesus and the Bible. I’ll grant you Jesus’ works could be exaggerated (I’m going to assume you don’t doubt He existed) and that the Bible’s stories of Jesus make him supernatural. Obviously no video,audio, Instagram or FB posts make it impossible to show Him performing a miracle. So I can see that acknowledging this takes a degree of faith. I have faith and I candidly have had my doubts. However I’ve seen more in favor than non so the difference engine in my noggin takes me to believing. And while not many admit it, I think plenty of religious people go through this. They might not talked about it, but a crisis of faith isn’t uncommon (IMHO)

    My experience with Atheists is that there is absolute certainty in their non belief. I find that hard to imagine. Again there is nothing supporting the position that the entire universe is just random chance. We know almost nothing about the universe (yes we’ve made amazing strives) but any scientist will tell you that our knowledge has a limit and there are plenty of things we can’t explain. To ignore a Creator as a possibility is , to me, textbook ignorance. I respect the Atheist who says they don’t believe but realize they don’t know. It’s the hard liners that I take umbrage with. But as I said above I don’t lump everyone together.

  11. says

    >If I congratulate someone with “God bless”, or say “I’ll pray for them” (sick family member, tragedy e.g.) I’ll get plenty of people mocking it, telling me I’m a sheep, asking to stop believing in fairy tales,etc.

    So, once you confront *someone else* with your religious beliefs in an open forum–public response is issued, some of it negative. This is not what the show portrayed. This family was not confronting *other people* in that public space with their beliefs. And while they refrained from confronting this woman with their beliefs, their beliefs remained none of her business.

    You are confusing people responding to *your* proactive insertion of your beliefs into a dialog with others, with someone imposing their opinions of your beliefs on you in a situation where you have not opened that public dialog by actively involving (wittingly or unwittingly) other people. Once you confront a group of people with your religious beliefs, *you* have initiated that dialog, not them. Saying you have a right to impose your religious views on any group-X, and nobody in group-X has a right to offer their views in response–is unreasonable. That is not an example of someone imposing on you. It’s an example of someone responding to your imposition.

    This is an obvious and meaningful difference when it comes to evaluating how you’re beliefs are “treated” by others. Not everyone respects our beliefs. So, when we share them with other people, we may get responses we don’t like–that’s a risk of sharing your beliefs with other people. If it’s not something you like, then do what this family did, and do not confront people with your religious views. Then, if someone confronts you–*they* will be the people who look like assholes.

    If the father of this family had gone over to the atheist woman to pray over HER meal, then I don’t give a crap if dad has 100% of the best intentions in the world–he’s the one out of line. And that woman can give him rhetorical hell about his beliefs, and she’s not the ass any longer. Likewise, if dad starts going around to random tables doing this, anyone in the establishment should feel free to confront him similarly. HE would be the one who made it other people’s business at that point. And he’d be the one who acted in a way that actively elicited response from public others.

  12. rodney says

    “The show is taking things we see constantly online and in social media and turned it into a live demonstration.”

    Did they say they were doing that on the show? I used to watch the show, but I guess they started running out of legitimate scenarios, and everything was way over the top and ridiculous. If they’re acting out message board flame wars now, then I’m really glad I stopped watching. I agree, this is an absurd scenario that I have never seen play out in a real life setting.

  13. Johnpaul R says

    @Rodney

    If they’re acting out message board flame wars now, then I’m really glad I stopped watching. I agree, this is an absurd scenario that I have never seen play out in a real life setting.

    So you’re saying that cyberbullying isn’t bullying then because it’s online. Seriously? This is a real issue. Just because people are more brave given the blanket of internet anonymity doesn’t mean it doesn’t spill out.

    You’re splitting hairs. It is happens, it happens. Whether it’s online or to someones face. If this were the reverse (atheist getting railed on) you’d say that it’s a great depiction of what you go through right?

  14. davidsimon says

    Let’s be pragmatic, your entire belief system is based on nothing. You can’t possibly show me anything saying you’re right.

    You know already in advance that no evidence or argument could possibly change your mind? That seems like a pretty bad habit for anyone who is interested in learning anything at all.

    My experience with Atheists is that there is absolute certainty in their non belief.

    No, this is a common misconception. Atheists tend to be empiricists and skeptics, who as a general rule don’t claim absolute certainty about anything (excluding possibly some special cases such as logical contradictions).

    I’m very confident that there is no deity, and I’m also very confident that the Earth is round. However, I’m not absolutely confident about either, since it’s always at least theoretically possible that tomorrow a pile of contrary evidence could come rolling in.

    To ignore a Creator as a possibility is , to me, textbook ignorance.

    You’re trying to improperly wiggle out from under the burden of proof. We are not ignoring your hypothesis; we’re perfectly willing to consider your hypothesis as soon as you’ve got some halfway decent evidence for it. We haven’t seen any yet.

  15. rodney says

    “So you’re saying that cyberbullying isn’t bullying then because it’s online. Seriously?”

    No, not seriously, I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about, you’re responding to something I didn’t write. If you’re going to make up your own conversation, then just pretend I agree with you and leave it at that.

  16. Johnpaul R says

    @rodney

    No, not seriously, I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about, you’re responding to something I didn’t write. If you’re going to make up your own conversation, then just pretend I agree with you and leave it at that.

    You said that this is was essentially a “message board flame war” acted out. So you essentially diminish it. The feeling and emotion is gives is just as valid whether in person or online. You made it sound like it’s a harmless online argument so there is no reason to see it in person.

  17. Narf says

    Damn, I was in the process of writing a response, when Tracie’s comment popped up, saying almost exactly the same thing, since she noticed the problem, too.  I shouldn’t have gotten up to make coffee, before proofing and sending it.  😀  Oh well, I said things a little differently, so I’ll finish up and send it anyway.

    Your comparison is completely inapt, Johnpaul.  In the scenario in the show, the Christian family was minding their own business, having a private religious observance before their meal.  The straw-atheist was intruding … you know, like an evangelist.  We pretty much never do that, while I’ve been the focus of the same from Christians, on many occasions..

    What you’re talking about with the online games is utterly different.  You were already engaged in a conversation with these people, even if it is a public forum.  You inserted your religion into a situation that had nothing to do with it.  You’re the interloper in that situation.

    I know you think that saying “God bless” is a simple, neutral thing to throw around like it’s nothing, but it isn’t.  Your perception of it as such is a result of your Christian privilege, and you can’t even see it.  When you do that sort of thing within your circles of fellow Christians, it will pass unremarked upon.  When you do that sort of thing in a wider, multi-cultural forum, you’re injecting your religion, opening the floodgates to whatever religious comments someone else might have.

    You can hang around here and become a regular, joining into the more social/political conversations.  If you leave your religious beliefs out of it and approach the political subjects from a perfectly secular perspective, we won’t bring up your religious beliefs in particular, most likely.  The moment you insert your own religious perspective into it, though, it’s on.

    I’m sorry you get offended by people jumping on your religious beliefs, when you broach the subject, but I’m not sorry those people do it.  Mockery is one of the things that can help make people self-examine more and shake off their irrational beliefs.

  18. Narf says

    @14 – Johnpaul R

    So you’re saying that cyberbullying isn’t bullying then because it’s online. Seriously? This is a real issue. Just because people are more brave given the blanket of internet anonymity doesn’t mean it doesn’t spill out.

    No, he’s saying there are a lot of dickheads online, particularly in online games.  Would you like to challenge that statement?  😀  It’s what we expect more of, online, because that’s how people act more often, online.

    There are the further issues that Tracie and I already pointed out, but even at this base level, the difference between people’s online behavior and their meat-space behavior is an important distinction.  Taking the way that a bunch of 14 year-olds act in a video game forum and directly presenting that as the way that older people of that category act in person is very dishonest.

  19. Johnpaul R says

    @Davidsimon

    Let’s be pragmatic, your entire belief system is based on nothing. You can’t possibly show me anything saying you’re right.

    You know already in advance that no evidence or argument could possibly change your mind? That seems like a pretty bad habit for anyone who is interested in learning anything at all.

    Sorry but your response makes no sense. There is nothing right now on the subject. If that changes (as it does) we take it as it’s goes. But yeah, right now there is no knowledge out there that explains creation is a random coincidence. Am I wrong?

    My experience with Atheists is that there is absolute certainty in their non belief.

    No, this is a common misconception. Atheists tend to be empiricists and skeptics, who as a general rule don’t claim absolute certainty about anything (excluding possibly some special cases such as logical contradictions).

    I purposely wrote that it was my experience and also noted that I know not everyone is at the extreme. If you look up I did make a note that I respect the Atheist who just says they feel this way (and admit they might be wrong).

    I’m very confident that there is no deity, and I’m also very confident that the Earth is round. However, I’m not absolutely confident about either, since it’s always at least theoretically possible that tomorrow a pile of contrary evidence could come rolling in.

    Fair enough. Very level headed. The earth is actually not round, it’s flat on top 🙂 (just keeping a light mood lol)

    To ignore a Creator as a possibility is , to me, textbook ignorance.

    You’re trying to improperly wiggle out from under the burden of proof. We are not ignoring your hypothesis; we’re perfectly willing to consider your hypothesis as soon as you’ve got some halfway decent evidence for it. We haven’t seen any yet.

    First off, I was saying that in my experience the Atheist who’ve confronted me speak in absolutes.

    However, this is something I find causes a divide. I believe in a Creator. My proof is that Jesus walked the earth, performed miracles and his actions are well documented in the Bible and there are non historical references. So I have some proof. If you want to disprove that (show the Bible is pure fiction or that Jesus was just a mortal man) then have at it.

    Your thought is everything is just random (no sentient design). Shouldn’t you base that one something? I’m not being combative, just saying that any hypothesis should be based on evidence.

  20. Johnpaul R says

    @Narf

    Damn, I was in the process of writing a response, when Tracie’s comment popped up, saying almost exactly the same thing, since she noticed the problem, too. I shouldn’t have gotten up to make coffee, before proofing and sending it. ? Oh well, I said things a little differently, so I’ll finish up and send it anyway.

    Your comparison is completely inapt, Johnpaul. In the scenario in the show, the Christian family was minding their own business, having a private religious observance before their meal. The straw-atheist was intruding … you know, like an evangelist. We pretty much never do that, while I’ve been the focus of the same from Christians, on many occasions..

    Maybe you don’t. But as I’ve said, no one person represents everyone. Also, doing it doesn’t need a location. If you do it online, it’s the same as real life. Maybe you feel it’s not , but it is.

    What you’re talking about with the online games is utterly different. You were already engaged in a conversation with these people, even if it is a public forum. You inserted your religion into a situation that had nothing to do with it. You’re the interloper in that situation.

    I know you think that saying “God bless” is a simple, neutral thing to throw around like it’s nothing, but it isn’t.

    I never relegated this to online games (if you actually mean games like Call of Duty or something). I was broadly saying any social media or non faced interaction.

    Saying “God Bless” isn’t neutral. No, to me it’s intimate and special. It means the core of my being wishes you the best. It’s not me forcing you to convert, it’s not me telling you you’re wrong. It’s me wanting the best for you. To take it any other way is saddening for me to hear.

    Your perception of it as such is a result of your Christian privilege, and you can’t even see it. When you do that sort of thing within your circles of fellow Christians, it will pass unremarked upon. When you do that sort of thing in a wider, multi-cultural forum, you’re injecting your religion, opening the floodgates to whatever religious comments someone else might have.

    Christian privilege? I don’t even know what that means. When we were slaughtered by the thousands in ancient Rome? When we lost Constantinople through a slaughter? Oh , maybe the Coptic Christians being behead now? Sorry I’m even acknowledging the term but you can’t expect a serious answer. I will say this, if you don’t believe in anything what exactly do you feel entitled to in terms of a “privilege”. There is no privilege for not believing in something more than is a golf course exclusively for non golfers.

    To your actual comment about “not seeing it” I guess I assumed that people were capable of accepting someone wanting the best for you. Instead you take it as something terrible. Sorry but that’s a sad way to go through life. I’ll take anyone wishing me the best. My daughter had a scary surgery and a person I’ve known told me he was a wiccan and did some kind of prayer or chant giving his best wishes to her. You know what I did? I said thank you. Do I think it helped? No I don’t. But that wasn’t the point. I thank him because he took the time to devote his feelings and beliefs to my daughters well being. I know you can’t understand that (since you believe in nothing above man) but it’s a good feeling even when the source isn’t based on my faith at all. Just to cover satan, no I wouldn’t be thrilled with that. Satan is a product of Christianity. Want to call me a hypocrite because I wouldn’t want a satanist blessing be my guest.

    I think your definition of injecting religion is too broad. Telling someone to convert and that they’re going to hell is injecting. A colloquial greeting or offer of love/support/friendship should be taken as such.

    You can hang around here and become a regular, joining into the more social/political conversations. If you leave your religious beliefs out of it and approach the political subjects from a perfectly secular perspective, we won’t bring up your religious beliefs in particular, most likely. The moment you insert your own religious perspective into it, though, it’s on.

    I assume it’s easy when you don’t believe in anything since secular thought is all you need to think about. When you believe in two things they intertwine. I’ll discuss what I like, how i like it. I’m capable of being respectful and polite. If you feel something I say need to prompt your “it’s on” be my guest. I really came her just to comment on something I saw through FB but if something catches my attention I’m happy to engage.

    I guess the bigger question is do you really fear hearing from the other side? There is an old adage in business that when two people agree on everything one person isn’t needed. I can’t imagine that in any magnitude. If you want to just beat your chests about being right then I get it, but I always like hearing from people far away from my opinion.

    I’m sorry you get offended by people jumping on your religious beliefs, when you broach the subject, but I’m not sorry those people do it. Mockery is one of the things that can help make people self-examine more and shake off their irrational beliefs.

    I never said I was offended. Maybe I hear things that make me sad (because nice moments get turned into ugly ones) but I’m an adult. I take it in stride. The fact you don’t mind people jumping on it is a great example. It’s sad you like watching someone get jumped on. It shows immaturity (I’ll assume you’re in you mid 20s?) since you feel someone else’s beliefs deserve a dog pile from people who don’t agree.

    As for the mockey line, I’ll just let you read that a few times. It’s so condescending and full of undeserved hubris. My beliefs might appear irrational to you because you have no beliefs to start with.

  21. Johnpaul R says

    *Fixed the quoting from above*

    @Narf

    Damn, I was in the process of writing a response, when Tracie’s comment popped up, saying almost exactly the same thing, since she noticed the problem, too. I shouldn’t have gotten up to make coffee, before proofing and sending it. ? Oh well, I said things a little differently, so I’ll finish up and send it anyway.

    Your comparison is completely inapt, Johnpaul. In the scenario in the show, the Christian family was minding their own business, having a private religious observance before their meal. The straw-atheist was intruding … you know, like an evangelist. We pretty much never do that, while I’ve been the focus of the same from Christians, on many occasions..

    Maybe you don’t. But as I’ve said, no one person represents everyone. Also, doing it doesn’t need a location. If you do it online, it’s the same as real life. Maybe you feel it’s not , but it is.

    What you’re talking about with the online games is utterly different. You were already engaged in a conversation with these people, even if it is a public forum. You inserted your religion into a situation that had nothing to do with it. You’re the interloper in that situation.

    I know you think that saying “God bless” is a simple, neutral thing to throw around like it’s nothing, but it isn’t.

    I never relegated this to online games (if you actually mean games like Call of Duty or something). I was broadly saying any social media or non faced interaction.

    Saying “God Bless” isn’t neutral. No, to me it’s intimate and special. It means the core of my being wishes you the best. It’s not me forcing you to convert, it’s not me telling you you’re wrong. It’s me wanting the best for you. To take it any other way is saddening for me to hear.

    Your perception of it as such is a result of your Christian privilege, and you can’t even see it. When you do that sort of thing within your circles of fellow Christians, it will pass unremarked upon. When you do that sort of thing in a wider, multi-cultural forum, you’re injecting your religion, opening the floodgates to whatever religious comments someone else might have.

    Christian privilege? I don’t even know what that means. When we were slaughtered by the thousands in ancient Rome? When we lost Constantinople through a slaughter? Oh , maybe the Coptic Christians being behead now? Sorry I’m even acknowledging the term but you can’t expect a serious answer. I will say this, if you don’t believe in anything what exactly do you feel entitled to in terms of a “privilege”. There is no privilege for not believing in something more than is a golf course exclusively for non golfers.

    To your actual comment about “not seeing it” I guess I assumed that people were capable of accepting someone wanting the best for you. Instead you take it as something terrible. Sorry but that’s a sad way to go through life. I’ll take anyone wishing me the best. My daughter had a scary surgery and a person I’ve known told me he was a wiccan and did some kind of prayer or chant giving his best wishes to her. You know what I did? I said thank you. Do I think it helped? No I don’t. But that wasn’t the point. I thank him because he took the time to devote his feelings and beliefs to my daughters well being. I know you can’t understand that (since you believe in nothing above man) but it’s a good feeling even when the source isn’t based on my faith at all. Just to cover satan, no I wouldn’t be thrilled with that. Satan is a product of Christianity. Want to call me a hypocrite because I wouldn’t want a satanist blessing be my guest.

    I think your definition of injecting religion is too broad. Telling someone to convert and that they’re going to hell is injecting. A colloquial greeting or offer of love/support/friendship should be taken as such.

    You can hang around here and become a regular, joining into the more social/political conversations. If you leave your religious beliefs out of it and approach the political subjects from a perfectly secular perspective, we won’t bring up your religious beliefs in particular, most likely. The moment you insert your own religious perspective into it, though, it’s on.

    I assume it’s easy when you don’t believe in anything since secular thought is all you need to think about. When you believe in two things they intertwine. I’ll discuss what I like, how i like it. I’m capable of being respectful and polite. If you feel something I say need to prompt your “it’s on” be my guest. I really came her just to comment on something I saw through FB but if something catches my attention I’m happy to engage.

    I guess the bigger question is do you really fear hearing from the other side? There is an old adage in business that when two people agree on everything one person isn’t needed. I can’t imagine that in any magnitude. If you want to just beat your chests about being right then I get it, but I always like hearing from people far away from my opinion.

    I’m sorry you get offended by people jumping on your religious beliefs, when you broach the subject, but I’m not sorry those people do it. Mockery is one of the things that can help make people self-examine more and shake off their irrational beliefs.

    I never said I was offended. Maybe I hear things that make me sad (because nice moments get turned into ugly ones) but I’m an adult. I take it in stride. The fact you don’t mind people jumping on it is a great example. It’s sad you like watching someone get jumped on. It shows immaturity (I’ll assume you’re in you mid 20s?) since you feel someone else’s beliefs deserve a dog pile from people who don’t agree.

    As for the mockey line, I’ll just let you read that a few times. It’s so condescending and full of undeserved hubris. My beliefs might appear irrational to you because you have no beliefs to start with.

  22. ironchops says

    @JPR, Welcome to the atheist whack-a-theist blog. Have fun!
    It seems to me that nearly all groups like to pick on other groups with differing looks, beliefs or philosophies. It seems that in spite of ourselves we like to have someone to look down on. That is a shitty human trait.
    I go to a church that simply sees atheist as non-believers. But there are some in my church that are stupid like that. They think it is there job to convince atheist the error of their ways. I think those people are so spiritually connected that they are no earthly good at all and actually do the devil’s work….if there is or ever was a “Devil”.

  23. says

    Christian privilege? I don’t even know what that means. When we were slaughtered by the thousands in ancient Rome? When we lost Constantinople through a slaughter? Oh , maybe the Coptic Christians being behead now? Sorry I’m even acknowledging the term but you can’t expect a serious answer. I will say this, if you don’t believe in anything what exactly do you feel entitled to in terms of a “privilege”. There is no privilege for not believing in something more than is a golf course exclusively for non golfers.

    Translation: “I don’t know what you’re talking about, so you’re being silly and you’re wrong.”

    Think harder, please.

  24. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Johnpaul R #11:
     

    big bang just happened

    Do you disagree that inflation, the rapid expansion apparently following a not yet understood phenomenon nicknamed “the big bang”, happened?
     

    universe just formed

    Do you disagree that the universe formed?
     

    life just started

    Do you disagree that life started?
     

    mankind just popped up

    If you were trying to describe evolution, you failed.
     
    See: Dust -> Adam.
     
     
    Oh, you have a problem with “just”. It’s pronounced “physics”.
     
     

    the Mastermind behind it all (while leaving us without a shred of proof)

    The only reconciliation is compromise in acknowledging my limited proof means as much as your lack of proof.

    You have that backward.
     

    I’ve seen more in favor than non so the difference engine in my noggin takes me to believing.

    You said “not a shred of proof” and “have had my doubts”.
     

    My experience with Atheists is that there is absolute certainty in their non belief.

    I’m certainly not impressed.
    That is not a certainty of – that thing you keep saying – believing in nothing? What does that even mean?
     

    there are plenty of things we can’t explain.

    And yet, here you are, having already decided you have the explanation.
     
     

    You have conjecture and mix it with some clever people’s perspective.

    Yes, how silly of us to examine the universe to learn things about it and to listen to clever people.
     
    Somebody’s got to stand up to experts!
     
     

    On my hand, I have Jesus and the Bible.

    We know almost nothing about the universe

    Try reading other books, written by clever people.
     
     
    @Johnpaul R #20:

    I believe in a Creator. My proof is that Jesus walked the earth, performed miracles and his actions are well documented in the Bible and there are non historical references. So I have some proof.

    You claim to have proof of a person walking around doing spectacular things. What does that have to do with a Creator of the universe invisibly masterminding every event so it appears to “just” happen? On the basis of what that person said? On what his fans claimed about him?
     
    What are these non-historical references? A story with such extraordinary events is fiction until corroborated. Lest we accept sanskrit Itihasa tales as proof of the flying Hindu monkey Hanuman (an incarnation of Shiva) who fought against the demon king, or comic books as proof of X-Men.
     
     
    @Johnpaul R #22:
     

    you believe in nothing above man

    Above? Elaborate. What does that word mean in your sentence?
     
    There are plenty of things directionally above us. Or capable of feats greater than humans can manage unaided. Or dangerous, requiring respectful caution. Or authoritative, in that we can currently do little to change outcomes.
     

    Saying “God Bless” […] means the core of my being wishes you the best.

    Define “core of my being” for us. That phrase is generally understood to be a metaphor. That you defined “God” with that phrase.
     

    Telling someone to convert and that they’re going to hell is injecting.

    Of course, you were merely spreading Good News.
     

    Christian privilege? I don’t even know what that means. When we were slaughtered by the thousands in ancient Rome? When we lost Constantinople through a slaughter?

    Your understandings of sociology and history are as deep as your understandings of physics and biology.
     

    you can’t expect a serious answer.

    Your comments so far haven’t given us grounds for such optimism.

  25. Johnpaul R says

    @Sky Captain

    big bang just happened

    Do you disagree that inflation, the rapid expansion apparently following a not yet understood phenomenon nicknamed “the big bang”, happened?

    universe just formed

    Do you disagree that the universe formed?

    life just started

    Do you disagree that life started?

    mankind just popped up

    If you were trying to describe evolution, you failed.

    See: Dust -> Adam.

    Oh, you have a problem with “just”. It’s pronounced “physics”.

    Amazing how much you inferred. Not remotely accurate to what I was saying though. If there is no Creator, no sentience, than all of things “just happened”. Nobody made them happen. They just did. I understand physics just fine. My point is that this vast complex universe is , to you, just the result of circumstance and randomness. If nobody made something, then it just happened. Physics isn’t a person. Just to clear it up further, I do believe the universe is billions of years old and I think the Big Bang is the most plausible explanation given what we know.

    the Mastermind behind it all (while leaving us without a shred of proof)

    The only reconciliation is compromise in acknowledging my limited proof means as much as your lack of proof.

    You have that backward.

    Nope. I have Jesus and the Bible. You have nothing. Little proof vs. No proof. If you have anything that shows the universe created without a Creator let’s hear it

    I’ve seen more in favor than non so the difference engine in my noggin takes me to believing.

    You said “not a shred of proof” and “have had my doubts”.

    I have faith. There have been times I’ve doubted it. I’m also a human being who tries to understand existence and how we can only be here for a blip in time to not exist for eternity (if there even is an eternity). When you contemplate your mind takes you in different directions.

    My experience with Atheists is that there is absolute certainty in their non belief.

    I’m certainly not impressed.

    I wasn’t trying to impress you. It’s a statement of my pesonal experience, not my review of Jurrasic World

    That is not a certainty of – that thing you keep saying – believing in nothing? What does that even mean?

    We’re talking about God. If you believe there is no Creator or God, then there is nothing beyond us. We exist and that’s that. Are you saying you think the universe was created by a non diety who just set it up but doesn’t have any ability to do anything?

    there are plenty of things we can’t explain.

    And yet, here you are, having already decided you have the explanation.

    You mean like you are also? I’m just giving my take

    You have conjecture and mix it with some clever people’s perspective.

    Yes, how silly of us to examine the universe to learn things about it and to listen to clever people.

    Somebody’s got to stand up to experts!

    I’m saying you replace proof (which there is none) with people’s conjecture who articulate to your belief. You could argue the Bible does the same thing if you like

    On my hand, I have Jesus and the Bible.

    No answer from you?

    We know almost nothing about the universe

    Try reading other books, written by clever people.

    Every scientist in astrophysics , astronomy admit our knowledge is limited. We know very little but it grows.

    @Johnpaul R #20:

    I believe in a Creator. My proof is that Jesus walked the earth, performed miracles and his actions are well documented in the Bible and there are non historical references. So I have some proof.

    You claim to have proof of a person walking around doing spectacular things. What does that have to do with a Creator of the universe invisibly masterminding every event so it appears to “just” happen? On the basis of what that person said? On what his fans claimed about him?

    If you believe He existed, performed miracles and rose from the dead I’ll take that as Him being at his word. If you want to argue He didnt exist or that it’s exaggerated go ahead.

    What are these non-historical references? A story with such extraordinary events is fiction until corroborated.

    google “non historical references to Jesus” – Josephus comes to mind.

    Lest we accept sanskrit Itihasa tales as proof of the flying Hindu monkey Hanuman (an incarnation of Shiva) who fought against the demon king, or comic books as proof of X-Men.

    They’re told as stories and Kirby/Lee/Dikta and the Marvel God’s all created the XMen

    @Johnpaul R #22:

    you believe in nothing above man

    Above? Elaborate. What does that word mean in your sentence?

    There are plenty of things directionally above us. Or capable of feats greater than humans can manage unaided. Or dangerous, requiring respectful caution. Or authoritative, in that we can currently do little to change outcomes.

    Saying “God Bless” […] means the core of my being wishes you the best.

    Define “core of my being” for us. That phrase is generally understood to be a metaphor. That you defined “God” with that phrase.

    Telling someone to convert and that they’re going to hell is injecting.

    Of course, you were merely spreading Good News.

    Christian privilege? I don’t even know what that means. When we were slaughtered by the thousands in ancient Rome? When we lost Constantinople through a slaughter?

    Your understandings of sociology and history are as deep as your understandings of physics and biology.

    you can’t expect a serious answer.

    Your comments so far haven’t given us grounds for such optimism.

  26. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    However, my online presence is absolutely filled with this. If I congratulate someone with “God bless”, or say “I’ll pray for them” (sick family member, tragedy e.g.) I’ll get plenty of people mocking it, telling me I’m a sheep, asking to stop believing in fairy tales,etc..

    Ok, I’ll disagree with most others in the thread and agree with you. I know that there are a lot of asshole atheists online, like the reddit and 4chan crowd. Also in online gaming.

    PS:

    The only reconciliation is compromise in acknowledging my limited proof means as much as your lack of proof. Let’s be pragmatic, your entire belief system is based on nothing. You can’t possibly show me anything saying you’re right. You have conjecture and mix it with some clever people’s perspective. On my hand, I have Jesus and the Bible.

    We have plenty of solid evidence that your god does not exist. I suggest Richard Carrier’s book “Why I Am Not A Christian”.

    It’s a tentative conclusion, and I’m open to future evidence, but the conclusion that there is no dragon in my garage is also a tentative conclusion, open to revision if new future evidence comes in.

    http://www.godlessgeeks.com/LINKS/Dragon.htm

    So I can see that acknowledging this takes a degree of faith. I have faith and I candidly have had my doubts.

    In the common vernacular: “I have no good reason for my beliefs, but I’m going to keep them anyway.” I wish you would understand that I am not impressed.

    My experience with Atheists is that there is absolute certainty in their non belief.

    My fucking ass. You are very probably misrepresenting your experience, or you do not properly understand your own experience. What you have very probably seen is are strong assertions that your god is bullshit, and your religion is bullshit, but most if not almost all of us atheists are open to future evidence that will change our mind, just as we are about garage dragons.

    PPS:
    Formally, an atheist is merely someone who lacks a belief that there is a god. This includes the common notion of agnostics. This includes the position of “I don’t know”.

    Again there is nothing supporting the position that the entire universe is just random chance.

    I don’t know is there is a beginning to the universe. If there is a beginning, I don’t know if there is an “explanation” or “cause”. However, I do know that your Christian god is not real.

    To ignore a Creator as a possibility is , to me, textbook ignorance.

    I don’t ignore the possibility. I just don’t conflate “creator god” with “Christian god and Jesus”. Even then, I don’t ignore the possibility that the Christian god is real. However, on the basis of the available evidence, I have merely concluded that it’s exceedingly unlikely to be real, just like garage dragons.

    I’ll take anyone wishing me the best. My daughter had a scary surgery and a person I’ve known told me he was a wiccan and did some kind of prayer or chant giving his best wishes to her. You know what I did? I said thank you. Do I think it helped? No I don’t. But that wasn’t the point. I thank him because he took the time to devote his feelings and beliefs to my daughters well being.

    “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” That’s what most of us do not like about your religion. Many atheists, myself included, do not doubt the sincerity and good intentions of most believers. We just believe that you’re unknowingly acting in a foolish and destructive manner. I can list numerous contemporary examples if you want.

  27. davidsimon says

    @Johnpaul R

    I believe in a Creator. My proof is that Jesus walked the earth, performed miracles and his actions are well documented in the Bible and there are non historical references.

    That’s a doozy of a claim!

    We don’t have much in the way of good contemporary evidence for Jesus’s actions, though for historical events so far back, involving people who were not very famous at the time, it can be hard to find data either way. But suppose we assume anyways that there were people who actually witnessed Jesus performing alleged miracles.

    Even under that assumption, you’ve only gotten your claim as far as that of modern-day mystics and recently founded religions. You still have to present evidence that the events were real instances of the supernatural, and not simply tricks or illusions.

    Keep in mind that people are not that hard to fool; see for example the JREF archives for many examples of modern supernatural claims that have been tested, found to be false or fraudulent, and yet are still widely believed (often even by the people who failed the test themselves!)

    Your thought is everything is just random (no sentient design). Shouldn’t you base that one something? I’m not being combative, just saying that any hypothesis should be based on evidence.

    It’s not quite accurate to say that I think “everything is just random”. Randomness implies chaotic noise. But the universe seems to be a reasonably orderly place, with invariant physical laws that are relatively simple when compared to things like conscious minds.

    Intelligent minds, on the other hand, are very very complex from we know about them so far. So if you are proposing the existence of a super-intelligent conscious entity at some primordial point in the universe’s history, you’re taking on a huge Occam’s Razor penalty by introducing a large number of new unknowns.

    I am not a physicist, and as I understand it even experts in that field are uncertain about what (if anything) might possibly have preceded the Big Bang. So, I don’t make any specific claims about the ultimate origins of the universe. However, among all possible hypotheses, complicated ones have a much smaller initial chance of being correct; the correct answer is more likely to be something that can be described using a hundred new mathematical statements than one requiring a billion.

  28. davidsimon says

    @Johnpaul R

    (Please use the “Preview” button to make sure you’ve closed your quote tags correctly before posting. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to parse your comments as the thread goes on.)

  29. Narf says

    @22 – Johnpaul R

    Maybe you don’t. But as I’ve said, no one person represents everyone.

    Do you know how to respond to something without misrepresenting it?nbsp; 😀  Seriously, man.

    At what point did anyone say that those evangelists represent  you?  You’re denying that there are many people of that variety … I believe your words were a fraction of a fraction of 1% of Christians … which is bullshit.

    Why would I say that a fundamentalist, evangelical Christian represents you?  That would be stupid.  I said no such thing.

    Also, doing it doesn’t need a location. If you do it online, it’s the same as real life. Maybe you feel it’s not , but it is.

    Look at the material of mine that you quoted, right before you said this.  At what point in that paragraph did I say anything about that behavior happening online or in person?  Try responding to what I actually say, not what you hear me saying in your imagination.  The forum of the behavior is irrelevant to what I was saying.

    I never relegated this to online games (if you actually mean games like Call of Duty or something). I was broadly saying any social media or non faced interaction.

    The same statement applies to those.  It’s just worse in online games.

    Saying “God Bless” isn’t neutral. No, to me it’s intimate and special. It means the core of my being wishes you the best. It’s not me forcing you to convert, it’s not me telling you you’re wrong. It’s me wanting the best for you. To take it any other way is saddening for me to hear.

    Well, if it makes you sad, you should stop saying it to non-Christians, because that’s the way we take it, after having religion shoved into our faces for so long, sometimes with the power of law.  If you want your wishes to be taken as you mean them, by non-Christians, you should phrase it in such a way that keeps your imaginary friend out of it.

    Also, if you think that the constant god-talk isn’t a method of soft-evangelism and pushed by the leaders of the religion as a way to keep people in the fold, you’re kind of gullible.

    Christian privilege? I don’t even know what that means.

    It means that you aren’t particularly in touch with reality.  When Christians are forced to stop preaching at everyone, including non-Christians, in governmental functions and public schools, they scream persecution.  When they’re forced to stop persecuting gay people, when their religion says they have to, they scream religious persecution.

    Christians think they own our government, even though our government is set up as an explicitly secular institution.  When we tell them to cut that shit out, they scream persecution.

    That is Christian privilege.

    When we were slaughtered by the thousands in ancient Rome? When we lost Constantinople through a slaughter?

    You aren’t living in ancient Rome or Constantinople.  You’re living in the US.  Persecution is not transferable.  Your cries of persecution are more disgusting, in light of what other Christians elsewhere actually went through.  You wouldn’t understand persecution if it bit you, living here in America.

    Oh , maybe the Coptic Christians being behead now?

    Are you  a Coptic Christian, living in one of the Muslim countries where this is happening?  No?  Then this is totally irrelevant.  You’re not being persecuted, here in America.  Your Christian privilege is showing.

    Sorry I’m even acknowledging the term but you can’t expect a serious answer. I will say this, if you don’t believe in anything what exactly do you feel entitled to in terms of a “privilege”. There is no privilege for not believing in something more than is a golf course exclusively for non golfers.

    Fuck you.  Seriously.

    When you think that someone not believing in your imaginary bullshit means that you get to piss all over everything that belongs to everyone else, to mark it as yours, you’re displaying a disgusting level of Christian privilege.  What the fuck is wrong with you?

    Saying that we don’t believe in anything, because we reject your imaginary bullshit, is also slanderous.  If you want to have a civilized conversation, you need to cut out this sort of shit, because I’m perfectly happy to respond in kind, when you say something this grotesquely offensive.

    I think your definition of injecting religion is too broad. Telling someone to convert and that they’re going to hell is injecting. A colloquial greeting or offer of love/support/friendship should be taken as such.

    When you have that Wiccan you mentioned trying to legislate her religion into the laws of your country and trying to force you into compliance with her religious dictates, you might take it a little differently, too.  Context is very important.  You seem utterly oblivious to context, though, with your holding up the persecution of Christians in ancient Rome and Constantinople, as if that had anything to do with you, right here and right now.

    Do you have any  idea how human behavior works?  Flooding our common speech with your banal Christian-isms is a form of soft evangelism … as was what your Wiccan friend did.  She just doesn’t have the political clout to make it threatening.

    I assume it’s easy when you don’t believe in anything since secular thought is all you need to think about.

    Again, fuck you.

    I guess the bigger question is do you really fear hearing from the other side?

    I’m freaking terrified of what the Christian theocrats want to do to this country, yes.  You’re helping to prop them up, by accepting a variant of what they believe.

    Your organization isn’t innocent of this, either.  The organization that you support is trying to screw around with the politics of any country that is still amenable to their influence.  Then, they hide those who like to screw around with little boys, protecting them from secular authority.  Your entire institution is rotten and corrupt.

    I never said I was offended. Maybe I hear things that make me sad (because nice moments get turned into ugly ones) but I’m an adult.

    Then, why do you believe in unsubstantiated fairy-tales?

    My beliefs might appear irrational to you because you have no beliefs to start with.

    And let me end this with another resounding “Fuck you,” which seems to be the theme of the second half of this post.  If you want someone to take anything you say seriously, you need to stop being such an insulting, condescending prick.&blockquote; Half of what you said in this comment to me was far more assholish tham most of what actual drive-by preachers say on this blog.

  30. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Oh, one other thing.

    I believe in a Creator. My proof is that Jesus walked the earth, performed miracles and his actions are well documented in the Bible and there are non historical references.

    There is not one reliable piece of evidence for any historical Jesus outside of the Christian bible and the Christian oral tradition. Not one. For more information on this topic, I suggest Richard Carrier’s books “On The Historicity Of Jesus” and “Proving History”.

    I must stress this again: The reasons why I am not a Christian are much better represented by his book “Why I Am Not A Christian”. However, regarding the specific technical academic points regarding evidence for Jesus, I would refer you to the other two books. In short, my atheism is not at all challenged by the potential truth that there was a human on Earth named Jesus who originated the Christian religion. What would challenge my atheism – my lack of belief that a god exists – is the potential truth that the man Jesus also violated physics by force of will or by appeal to a higher authority, e.g. miracles. Even videotape wouldn’t be good enough. Videotape isn’t good enough to convince me about alien abductions, and it’s not good enough to convince me about miracles. I know that videotapes can be forged. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. For a fuller discussion on that, in particular I suggest the book “Proving History”. If you wish for example extraordinary evidence that would convince me, I can provide examples upon request.

  31. Johnpaul R says

    First, to everyone sorry about the improper quoting. Never done it before, I think I have it squared away, my apologies.

    @Nerf – You’re absolutely what I thought you might be. I wish you the best. Obviously you can’t handle anything beyond your personal view. You’re quite the keyboard warrior as well , cursing at me in a chat discussion. All the best to sir. You might not want to embrace religion, but maybe try embracing some civility. You’re essentially a caricature of the worst in people. Nicely done. If you suddenly act an adult I’ll happily discuss this more.

    @SkyCaptain

    you believe in nothing above man

    Above? Elaborate. What does that word mean in your sentence?

    There are plenty of things directionally above us. Or capable of feats greater than humans can manage unaided. Or dangerous, requiring respectful caution. Or authoritative, in that we can currently do little to change outcomes.

    I mean you don’t believe in any Deity, Creator or higher power. You believe we’re here by whatever randomness brought us to being. And I don’t say that disrespectfully. If I’m wrong, then please share with me what you think.

    Saying “God Bless” […] means the core of my being wishes you the best.

    Define “core of my being” for us. That phrase is generally understood to be a metaphor. That you defined “God” with that phrase.

    To me, praying for someone or asking God to look over them means exactly that. I’m asking God, my ultimate force in the universe and the reason I exist, to look after another person and I offer my prayers to that person. You think it’s nothing, I think it’s sacred. This might sound sarcastic but you don’t have an equal to that since you don’t have that belief. It doesn’t make me better but it does mean it’s sincere. It’s also not some way of converting.

    Telling someone to convert and that they’re going to hell is injecting.

    Of course, you were merely spreading Good News.

    First off , I’m saying it’s injecting and as it’s wrong to scare people into anything. So I’m in agreement. You’re free to do as you wish. So drop the “you” because it’s not me

    Christian privilege? I don’t even know what that means. When we were slaughtered by the thousands in ancient Rome? When we lost Constantinople through a slaughter?

    Your understandings of sociology and history are as deep as your understandings of physics and biology.

    I though about how I’d reply to this. Funny that you feel I know knowing despite knowing next to nothing about me. I’m quite capable and do understand. If you need to think you’re the intellectual high ground then fine. I’m confident in myself, my intelligence and that’s fine for me. My point about this was that it’s not this sun and roses you seem to think it is. I’ve never gotten a thing from saying I’m a Catholic (granted a few days off like we all get).

    you can’t expect a serious answer.

    Your comments so far haven’t given us grounds for such optimism.

    Judging from the profanity laden reply I just saw I can see I’m among the serious thinkers of our time. I’ll try to keep up

  32. Narf says

    Let me add to what davidsimon said in #15.

    @11 – Johnpaul R

    There are billions of religious people. Maybe a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent are this radical. You know it, I know it. Don’t take the outliers and use it to define billions.

    Ummmmmmmm, what country are you living in, man?  I’m in an urban area, in the southeast.  I’m swimming in radicals.  I’ve had Jehovah’s Witnesses preach at me, at work, and I’m in a field that’s very much less religious than the population at large.

    A fraction of a fraction of 1%?  Bullshit.  Look, I was raised Catholic, too.  I remember.  Most Catholics in the US are a lot more chill than the other denominations, barring asshats like Rick Santorum.

    You need to look at the behavior of other  Christians, though, not just your fellow Catholics.  There are a lot of evangelicals in this country, and they often evangelize to everyone around them, as the name implies.

    Seriously, where are you, New York City or Boston or something?

    You have a tangent of thought that just makes everything chance (big bang just happened, universe just formed, life just started, mankind just popped up, etc..) and my tangent is that a Creator (who can’t be identified) is the Mastermind behind it all (while leaving us without a shred of proof) and gives us a list of things to do to move into the next life (if it exists).

    Ah, hello straw-man.  I was expecting you.

    Atheism says nothing about the Big Bang, the formation of the universe, how life started, and how mankind evolved.  Atheism is just a response to a single claim.  Our position is that your claims are unsupported by evidence … as you just freaking said, yourself, that the creator left us without a shred of evidence (although you used the word proof, which is inapplicable) … and that it’s irrational to believe in something without proper evidence.

    Your last comment has you treading on very dangerous territory.  Do you deny common ancestry?  Do you think that humans are unrelated to the rest of the animals?  If so, you’re off with the batshit, anti-science crowd, and you have no business accusing us of being irrational.  If not, why is that on the list?

    With the other things, you’re completely misrepresenting our position. I don’t know  what started off the Big Bag.  There are some physicists who say they have models for how the universe could have started itself, but I don’t understand enough of the physics to accept it or reject it.

    Abiogenesis is far more solid of a proposition than you’re probably even aware.  I highly doubt you’re up on what’s even involved with the field.  We have discovered organic molecules in freaking comets.  They form from the constituent elements in all sorts of different ways, here on Earth.  The formation of organic compounds into the first life is just a matter of biochemistry, doing what biochemistry does.  What’s the basis of your mythology?

    The only reconciliation is compromise in acknowledging my limited proof means as much as your lack of proof.

    You keep using that word proof, which has no use in a scientific discussion.  What you’re claiming to have is evidence, which you don’t have.  What you have is a book full of claims, with no evidence to back up those claims.  Almost everything in the Bible before King Josiah is sketchy at best, and everything before King David is flat-out fabrication.

    Your book is full of myths … not ’limited proof’, whatever the hell that means … mythology.

    Let’s be pragmatic, your entire belief system is based on nothing.

    As I said in my other comment to you, when you started insulting us like this, “Fuck you.”

    You can’t possibly show me anything saying you’re right. You have conjecture and mix it with some clever people’s perspective.

    We have what science has demonstrated to be most likely true.  A great deal of that conflicts with the mythology in your holy book.  We accept what has been demonstrated to most likely be true, based upon scientific examination, and we reject things that have not been demonstrated to be true … and we reject, even more strongly, that which has been demonstrated to be almost certainly false.

    On my hand, I have Jesus and the Bible. I’ll grant you Jesus’ works could be exaggerated (I’m going to assume you don’t doubt He existed) and that the Bible’s stories of Jesus make him supernatural. Obviously no video,audio, Instagram or FB posts make it impossible to show Him performing a miracle. So I can see that acknowledging this takes a degree of faith. I have faith and I candidly have had my doubts. However I’ve seen more in favor than non so the difference engine in my noggin takes me to believing. And while not many admit it, I think plenty of religious people go through this. They might not talked about it, but a crisis of faith isn’t uncommon (IMHO)

    So, you have nothing, in other words.  You have a bunch of stories, written down decades after the supposed events, which conflict in many ways with history recorded by the culture in which the supposed events took place.

    Your religion was cobbled together mostly by a guy who wrote a bunch of letters, who never even met the supposed founder of the religion.  Even more problematic than that is the fact that almost half of those letters were forged in his name, which is agreed upon by almost all non-fundamentalist biblical scholars.  Shouldn’t your universe-creating god have had a word with one of his priests who were putting together the Bible, to tell them to keep that forged shit out of there?

    And faith doesn’t get you to a rational acceptance of anything in the Bible.  Faith is synonymous with gullibility.  Faith is the excuse you Christians give for belief in something you were brainwashed into, as a child, when you know you don’t have a rational reason for belief.

    My experience with Atheists is that there is absolute certainty in their non belief. I find that hard to imagine. Again there is nothing supporting the position that the entire universe is just random chance. We know almost nothing about the universe (yes we’ve made amazing strives) but any scientist will tell you that our knowledge has a limit and there are plenty of things we can’t explain. To ignore a Creator as a possibility is , to me, textbook ignorance. I respect the Atheist who says they don’t believe but realize they don’t know. It’s the hard liners that I take umbrage with. But as I said above I don’t lump everyone together.

    This whole paragraph is also a complete bullshit misrepresentation.  What we’re certain of is that your claims are unjustified and unsubstantiated with evidence.  What we’re certain of is that it’s foolish to hold a religious belief, based upon the nonexistent evidence of every religion I’ve ever heard of.

    If you had a rational basis for your faith, you wouldn’t need to brainwash your children into belief in your religion.  You would wait until they’re old enough and have been taught critical thinking, and you would present the rational case for your beliefs.  But you don’t have that, so you brainwash your children.

  33. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    //poke Narf
    Like, … I don’t know how to say this. You know sometimes that we come off pretty abrasive to newcomers, especially the religious? That’s you now. However, it’s difficult for me to say this, because I think you are largely justified in your outrage and the way you have chosen to express that outrage. Just… meh.

  34. Johnpaul R says

    @Enlightenment Liberal

    However, my online presence is absolutely filled with this. If I congratulate someone with “God bless”, or say “I’ll pray for them” (sick family member, tragedy e.g.) I’ll get plenty of people mocking it, telling me I’m a sheep, asking to stop believing in fairy tales,etc..

    Ok, I’ll disagree with most others in the thread and agree with you. I know that there are a lot of asshole atheists online, like the reddit and 4chan crowd. Also in online gaming.

    I appreciate that. It’s a very real thing. But again I stress that I think it’s the minority. Sadly the trolls like Mr Nerf above ruin an otherwise civil coexistence.

    The only reconciliation is compromise in acknowledging my limited proof means as much as your lack of proof. Let’s be pragmatic, your entire belief system is based on nothing. You can’t possibly show me anything saying you’re right. You have conjecture and mix it with some clever people’s perspective. On my hand, I have Jesus and the Bible.

    We have plenty of solid evidence that your god does not exist. I suggest Richard Carrier’s book “Why I Am Not A Christian”.

    It’s a tentative conclusion, and I’m open to future evidence, but the conclusion that there is no dragon in my garage is also a tentative conclusion, open to revision if new future evidence comes in.

    http://www.godlessgeeks.com/LINKS/Dragon.htm

    I’ll have to read it before I can comment of course. But if there is something you can point out better than the dragon than please I’d like to hear it. There is no dragon in your garage, I know this because the unicorn doesn’t have bite marks 🙂

    So I can see that acknowledging this takes a degree of faith. I have faith and I candidly have had my doubts.

    In the common vernacular: “I have no good reason for my beliefs, but I’m going to keep them anyway.” I wish you would understand that I am not impressed.

    Funny way for you to look at it and again I’m not interested in impressing you or anyone. I have good reason. I’ve prayed and ask for helped during some bad times and those prayers were answered. I never said “God let me win the lottery” but there have been times where I needed comfort, focus, help and have asked God to help me. And I saw those things come to me. It’s an experience you can’t understand but I wish you could.

    My experience with Atheists is that there is absolute certainty in their non belief.

    My fucking ass. You are very probably misrepresenting your experience, or you do not properly understand your own experience. What you have very probably seen is are strong assertions that your god is bullshit, and your religion is bullshit, but most if not almost all of us atheists are open to future evidence that will change our mind, just as we are about garage dragons.

    If you’re offering anal, thanks but I’m a one woman kind of guy. So you’re asserting that I don’t actually know what happened in my experience. That’s a bold stance to take. I’ve been nothing but honest that I feel the extremists are minorities and that they don’t really speak for the atheist community. Explain what I have to gain by saying my experiences have been negative while acknowledging it’s not a representation of the whole. Seriously, that makes no sense.

    Formally, an atheist is merely someone who lacks a belief that there is a god. This includes the common notion of agnostics. This includes the position of “I don’t know”.

    Again there is nothing supporting the position that the entire universe is just random chance.

    I don’t know is there is a beginning to the universe. If there is a beginning, I don’t know if there is an “explanation” or “cause”.

    That’s refreshing to hear. I’ve met plenty of people who feels it’s fact

    However, I do know that your Christian god is not real.

    You can’t , therefore you don’t. You assume he isn’t as is your right to.

    To ignore a Creator as a possibility is , to me, textbook ignorance.

    I don’t ignore the possibility. I just don’t conflate “creator god” with “Christian god and Jesus”. Even then, I don’t ignore the possibility that the Christian god is real. However, on the basis of the available evidence, I have merely concluded that it’s exceedingly unlikely to be real, just like garage dragons.

    Well you just above said you “know” God isn’t real. Now you say you don’t ignore the possibility. It seems like you want to say it’s possible but maybe feel you can’t. I don’t know…….

    I’ll take anyone wishing me the best. My daughter had a scary surgery and a person I’ve known told me he was a wiccan and did some kind of prayer or chant giving his best wishes to her. You know what I did? I said thank you. Do I think it helped? No I don’t. But that wasn’t the point. I thank him because he took the time to devote his feelings and beliefs to my daughters well being.

    “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” That’s what most of us do not like about your religion. Many atheists, myself included, do not doubt the sincerity and good intentions of most believers. We just believe that you’re unknowingly acting in a foolish and destructive manner. I can list numerous contemporary examples if you want.

    If you don’t believe in God, my praying for you or damning you actually shoudn’t bother you anymore than a 4yr old in a toy cop uniform shooting at you with his fake gun. So my point about my friends Wiccan thing was that it was his way to show support and I appreciated it. So unless you’re making a point not connected to the story there is no harm, especially if you think I’m not praying to anyone.

  35. Johnpaul R says

    @Narf

    You can stop replying. I’m not interested in what you have to say. You’re a man child who can’t control himself. There is no place for you in my discussion. Sorry.

  36. Narf says

    You know sometimes that we come off pretty abrasive to newcomers, especially the religious? That’s you now.

    Yeah, and when you and Sky Captain respond to direct insults, as I was doing here, you’ll notice I don’t criticize you for it.  😛  This guy has turned into an absolute flaming asshole, starting with his second comment on the board.  Not a good way of introducing himself to the locals.

  37. Narf says

    You can stop replying. I’m not interested in what you have to say.

    Your loss, man.

  38. Narf says

    @33 – EL
    Anyway, if this guy takes away from this what an insulting, condescending jerk he’s being to an entire group of people, I’ve accomplished something.

    Seriously, when your argument is that we don’t have a religious belief, but he does, so he’s allowed to piss all over everything and mark it as his own, there’s something fundamentally broken in his perspective of society.

  39. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I have good reason. I’ve prayed and ask for helped during some bad times and those prayers were answered. I never said “God let me win the lottery” but there have been times where I needed comfort, focus, help and have asked God to help me. And I saw those things come to me. It’s an experience you can’t understand but I wish you could.

    Paraphrasing the great Matt Dillahunty, faith is the excuse people give when asked to justify their religious beliefs. When I asked again, you didn’t say “faith”. You gave specific examples, specifics evidence. That’s something I can at least partially appreciate and respect.

    However, to me, it’s just hearsay evidence, and so I do not find it compelling at all. I know that eye witness testimony is one of the worst kinds of evidence, and so I am not swayed. I recognize that you are probably not trying to sway me. I’m just expressing myself.

    However again, I strongly suspect that your own personal experiences should not be enough to even convince you. It sounds like a classic case of confirmation bias.

    However, I do know that your Christian god is not real.

    You can’t , therefore you don’t. You assume he isn’t as is your right to.

    My favorite argument is thus:

    There are dozens, if not hundreds of religions in the world. Even more if we include extinct religions. Almost all of those religions have had plenty of people who claim effectively identical religious experiences to you. It is a simple fact that almost all of them contradict the rest, which effectively means at most one can be right. That means all but one are wrong. When we look at explanations of why the rest are wrong, we begin to learn a lot about human psychology, including various biases such as confirmation bias, the fallacy of appeal to consequences, the cognitive bias of assigning agency too often and too frequently (Daniel Dennett calls this the intentional stance), and so on. Once you understand how all of those other religions are wrong, and once you understand how so many people can be mistaken about their false religions, it is a relatively simple matter to apply it to your own religion.

    In short, there is a silly but IMHO insightful saying online: We’re all atheists regarding all those other gods. I just go one god further. When you understand why you dismiss all of those other gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.

    With regard to Christianity and Roman Catholicism in particular, we can examine some of the particular evidence. In short, I have looked into several of the various miracle claims of the Roman Catholic church. For example, the purported incorruptibility of the bodies of some Catholic saints – a bizarre kind of evidence I must say. When you look into it, the claim falls apart. I suggest the book “Looking for a Miracle” by Joe Nickell for citations on this.

    So, what we are left with is a book with fantastic claims utterly unsupported by any other piece of contemporary historical evidence with regard to Jesus, and a bunch of people with purported religious experiences that are indistinguishable from the religious experiences of thousands, millions, of living people today of other religions.

    So, what is more likely? That the Christian god is real, and has chosen to expose himself in a way that is indistinguishable from the other false religions? Or that Christianity is just as false as all of the other religions? The answer is quite clear.

    If you don’t believe in God, my praying for you or damning you actually shoudn’t bother you anymore than a 4yr old in a toy cop uniform shooting at you with his fake gun. So my point about my friends Wiccan thing was that it was his way to show support and I appreciated it. So unless you’re making a point not connected to the story there is no harm, especially if you think I’m not praying to anyone.

    Off the top of my head, in this country alone, the United States, here are some examples of ill promoted by some religious people.

    – Opposition to gay marriage. Almost entirely religious in nature.
    – Opposition to access to abortion. Almost entirely religious in nature.
    – Opposition to contraception. Almost entirely religious in nature.
    – Opposition to teaching evolution and proper science. Almost entirely religious in nature.

    You are condoning, defending, and promoting the position that it is acceptable to believe things on insufficient basis. I do not care about your good intentions when you reasoning badly. Your implicit and explicit support of unjustified religious belief allows evils to be perpetuated in this world. Christopher Hitchens once said that religion is the biggest source of evil in this world, and of that I have little doubt. When a group of people together agree that critical thinking, rationality, science, and evidence-based thinking are a luxury that can be disposed, it should be no surprise when otherwise normal people behave foolishly and destructively.

    All it takes for evil to flourish is for good people to do nothing. – Often attributed to Emund Burke, but perhaps more accurately attributed to John Stuart Mill.

    With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil — that takes religion. – Nobel laureate Steven Weinburg. (It’s not literally true. It’s an exaggeration. However, it contains much truth.)

    As for the particular example:

    If you don’t believe in God, my praying for you or damning you actually shoudn’t bother you anymore than a 4yr old in a toy cop uniform shooting at you with his fake gun.

    Actually, it does bother me a lot. If I had a real problem and you said that you were praying for me, it would piss me off because you are wasting your time trying to help rather than taking real constructive steps that might do something. “Nothing fails like prayer.” If you were my friend, I would hope that you would take real constructive steps that might help rather than waste your time praying, and wasting my time telling me that you’re praying instead of doing anything substantive.

    That’s the problem with religion. If you honestly believe that prayer is effective, that means that in some cases you will go with prayer rather than going with some strategy that will actually work. That’s the danger of abandoning proper reasoning and proper justifications for your beliefs.

    Even if I was dying of cancer and there was nothing in particular you could do to help me, it would psis me off. Maybe you could help me out around the house or hospital. At the very least, you could be donating your time to a cancer charity event. At least that helps someone. Praying is just a waste of your time. If I’m dying of cancer and you pray for my health, that’s an offense and an affront to who I am. I would much prefer for you to be doing something that actually helps others, rather than deluding yourself into thinking that you’re helping others. At the very least, if I was dying of incurable cancer, I would rather that you try to enjoy your life and enjoy our little remaining time together instead of wasting your time on outdated arcane superstition, if only for your own benefit.

  40. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Narf

    Yeah, and when you and Sky Captain respond to direct insults, as I was doing here, you’ll notice I don’t criticize you for it.

    Maybe you should, lol. As I said, I cannot say your behavior is unreasonable or unjustifiable. I am just bringing up that perhaps we want to cultivate a slightly friendlier atmosphere. /tone-trolling

  41. Narf says

    Nah, you weren’t being anywhere near whiny enough to be a tone troll.  😛

    Mostly, I just lost interest in talking to this guy, so I had nothing to lose, letting go with both barrels.  When he misrepresents atheists as badly as the worst Christian apologists, I don’t think there’s much to be gained, trying to unfuck his head.  If Sky Captain was amused, reading my rants, then mission accomplished.

  42. Johnpaul R says

    @Narf – I’m not done with you yet.

    There are billions of religious people. Maybe a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent are this radical. You know it, I know it. Don’t take the outliers and use it to define billions.

    Ummmmmmmm, what country are you living in, man? I’m in an urban area, in the southeast. I’m swimming in radicals. I’ve had Jehovah’s Witnesses preach at me, at work, and I’m in a field that’s very much less religious than the population at large.

    A fraction of a fraction of 1%? Bullshit. Look, I was raised Catholic, too. I remember. Most Catholics in the US are a lot more chill than the other denominations, barring asshats like Rick Santorum.

    2.2 Billion Christians. If I said a million are hard core crazy extremists that’s .000454545454%. Go ahead, feel free to round up if you like. Most Christians go about their day. But whatever helps you keep you nasty attitude fueled.

    You need to look at the behavior of other Christians, though, not just your fellow Catholics. There are a lot of evangelicals in this country, and they often evangelize to everyone around them, as the name implies.

    One, again my numbers above make my point. Beyond that, are you so weak you can’t listen to something you don’t believe in? Are you going to catch their holiness?

    Seriously, where are you, New York City or Boston or something?

    I don’t see the relevance but NY

    You have a tangent of thought that just makes everything chance (big bang just happened, universe just formed, life just started, mankind just popped up, etc..) and my tangent is that a Creator (who can’t be identified) is the Mastermind behind it all (while leaving us without a shred of proof) and gives us a list of things to do to move into the next life (if it exists).

    Ah, hello straw-man. I was expecting you.

    Atheism says nothing about the Big Bang, the formation of the universe, how life started, and how mankind evolved. Atheism is just a response to a single claim. Our position is that your claims are unsupported by evidence … as you just freaking said, yourself, that the creator left us without a shred of evidence (although you used the word proof, which is inapplicable) … and that it’s irrational to believe in something without proper evidence.

    You need to look up straw man. I’m not making an argument there. If you don’t believe in a God, then you believe no sentient being created the galaxy. Therefore you assume it all happened organically. That’s a statement. Swing and a miss.

    Your last comment has you treading on very dangerous territory. Do you deny common ancestry? Do you think that humans are unrelated to the rest of the animals? If so, you’re off with the batshit, anti-science crowd, and you have no business accusing us of being irrational. If not, why is that on the list?

    The Bible wasn’t always taken literally (I’m guessing you know that already) and frankly I don’t understand why evolution and religion hate each other. God can create the earth and put things in place to make us into what we are. Now you want to debate man vs. everything else on the planet? We dominate the planet. We really don’t fit in very well. If man didn’t exist this planet would be so radically different. But that doesn’t mean anything , just saying we’re not the cheetah or whale.

    With the other things, you’re completely misrepresenting our position. I don’t know what started off the Big Bag. There are some physicists who say they have models for how the universe could have started itself, but I don’t understand enough of the physics to accept it or reject it.

    I don’t know either. But I do respect the laws of physics and thermodynamics which say something did cause it. Things don’t just happen. Maybe a big crunch right before? Who knows. The point is that we don’t know and the more we try to understand we hit roadblocks where you can’t just keep saying it just happened.

    Abiogenesis is far more solid of a proposition than you’re probably even aware. I highly doubt you’re up on what’s even involved with the field. We have discovered organic molecules in freaking comets. They form from the constituent elements in all sorts of different ways, here on Earth. The formation of organic compounds into the first life is just a matter of biochemistry, doing what biochemistry does. What’s the basis of your mythology?

    Thanks hipster, are there really cool bands I never heard of as well?

    Abiogenesis is admitted conjecture. It’s saying that organic molecules formed into living ones. Interesting theory but it’s a theory. I’d ask you how non sentient matter throughout the universe has rules they all follow (sure you could say it was all the same matter at the moment of the big bang) but it’s not my point. It’s an interesting theory that’s been around almost 150yrs.

    The only reconciliation is compromise in acknowledging my limited proof means as much as your lack of proof.

    You keep using that word proof, which has no use in a scientific discussion.

    I’m pretty sure Science likes proof.

    What you’re claiming to have is evidence, which you don’t have. What you have is a book full of claims, with no evidence to back up those claims. Almost everything in the Bible before King Josiah is sketchy at best, and everything before King David is flat-out fabrication.

    It is all fabrication? Well, there it is then. And you have evidence of this where?

    Your book is full of myths … not ’limited proof’, whatever the hell that means … mythology.

    And you’re proof or evidence is,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,?

    Let’s be pragmatic, your entire belief system is based on nothing.

    As I said in my other comment to you, when you started insulting us like this, “Fuck you.”

    Buy me a few drinks, throw some money around. To quote Homer (Simpson) “Sure I’m flattered, maybe even a little curious”

    It’s not an insult. Maybe you don’t understand my meaning. My belief system is based on God. You don’t believe in God. If you don’t think an entity created the universe then nothing created it. It just created because………………reasons.

    Awfully sensitive about something you’re making such a case over.

    You can’t possibly show me anything saying you’re right. You have conjecture and mix it with some clever people’s perspective.

    We have what science has demonstrated to be most likely true. A great deal of that conflicts with the mythology in your holy book. We accept what has been demonstrated to most likely be true, based upon scientific examination, and we reject things that have not been demonstrated to be true … and we reject, even more strongly, that which has been demonstrated to be almost certainly false.

    Yeah. except non of that has to do with what we’re talking about. And you’re even saying “most likely true” so obviously it’s just good hypothesis. And nothing about God has been demostrated false, sans a straw man argument.

    On my hand, I have Jesus and the Bible. I’ll grant you Jesus’ works could be exaggerated (I’m going to assume you don’t doubt He existed) and that the Bible’s stories of Jesus make him supernatural. Obviously no video,audio, Instagram or FB posts make it impossible to show Him performing a miracle. So I can see that acknowledging this takes a degree of faith. I have faith and I candidly have had my doubts. However I’ve seen more in favor than non so the difference engine in my noggin takes me to believing. And while not many admit it, I think plenty of religious people go through this. They might not talked about it, but a crisis of faith isn’t uncommon (IMHO)

    So, you have nothing, in other words. You have a bunch of stories, written down decades after the supposed events, which conflict in many ways with history recorded by the culture in which the supposed events took place.

    Your religion was cobbled together mostly by a guy who wrote a bunch of letters, who never even met the supposed founder of the religion. Even more problematic than that is the fact that almost half of those letters were forged in his name, which is agreed upon by almost all non-fundamentalist biblical scholars. Shouldn’t your universe-creating god have had a word with one of his priests who were putting together the Bible, to tell them to keep that forged shit out of there?

    I’ll just sigh and let you imagine my eyes rolling. Please expand on “the guy” who mostly put it together. I imagine documenting a known heretic who was killed by his own people would easy 2000yrs ago. You seem to be under the impression there was a Kinko’s or something. We’re talking about 120 people (first Christians) who spread across the world to tell this.

    And faith doesn’t get you to a rational acceptance of anything in the Bible. Faith is synonymous with gullibility. Faith is the excuse you Christians give for belief in something you were brainwashed into, as a child, when you know you don’t have a rational reason for belief.

    I actually didn’t didn’t go to church for years. Got out at 17, just went when visiting out of respect for my folks. Didn’t go back until I was almost 30 and fully capable of thinking for myself. Gullible usually means easy, and it wasn’t. Just as gullible for you to ignore 2000yrs of history, a Man who rose from the dead, and a pretty easy set of rules to live by because you just don’t get it right?

    My experience with Atheists is that there is absolute certainty in their non belief. I find that hard to imagine. Again there is nothing supporting the position that the entire universe is just random chance. We know almost nothing about the universe (yes we’ve made amazing strives) but any scientist will tell you that our knowledge has a limit and there are plenty of things we can’t explain. To ignore a Creator as a possibility is , to me, textbook ignorance. I respect the Atheist who says they don’t believe but realize they don’t know. It’s the hard liners that I take umbrage with. But as I said above I don’t lump everyone together.

    This whole paragraph is also a complete bullshit misrepresentation. What we’re certain of is that your claims are unjustified and unsubstantiated with evidence. What we’re certain of is that it’s foolish to hold a religious belief, based upon the nonexistent evidence of every religion I’ve ever heard of.

    Again Jesus existed. It’s really hard for you to just say anything besides outright denying He did anything.

    If you had a rational basis for your faith, you wouldn’t need to brainwash your children into belief in your religion. You would wait until they’re old enough and have been taught critical thinking, and you would present the rational case for your beliefs. But you don’t have that, so you brainwash your children.

    I have 2 children and most of my friends do as well. I guess they’re smarter than you as a child (or even now perhaps) because they ask questions, have reservations, and have discussions. Glad you feel kids are idiots.

    Incidentally critical thinking doesn’t result in believing in nothing. If I see sneakers I think they were made, they didn’t just show up. Hard to imagine the complexity of the universe as just appearing and developing without any influence.

  43. Narf says

    Basically, Tracie and I both explained exactly, in detail, how what he was talking about had absolutely nothing to do with the subject of the post.  He immediately went into obfuscation and misrepresentation mode.

    Hell, go reread the second half of comment 11.  That’s the same insulting tone that he maintained, even after the two thorough explanations.  He isn’t here for a civilized discussion, or if he is, he doesn’t know how to have one..

  44. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Johnpaul R #25:

    Every scientist in astrophysics , astronomy admit our knowledge is limited.

    Scientists do not have unlimited knowledge. This is not newsworthy.
     
     

    there are plenty of things we can’t explain.

    And yet, here you are, having already decided you have the explanation.

    You mean like you are also? I’m just giving my take

    My comment made no assertions explaining the things we can’t explain.
     
    As opposed to your “take”…
     

    I understand physics just fine. My point is that this vast complex universe is, to you, just the result of circumstance and randomness. If nobody made something, then it just happened. Physics isn’t a person. Just to clear it up further, I do believe the universe is billions of years old and I think the Big Bang is the most plausible explanation given what we know.

    You’re saying you think the universe was created by a [sentient noun] who just set it up but doesn’t have any ability to do anything. Or at least hasn’t in billions of years… except to make showy breaches of physics for a small group of people thousands of years ago-
     

    I never said “God let me win the lottery” but there have been times where I needed comfort, focus, help and have asked God to help me. And I saw those things come to me.

    -and slightly tweak mental states of adherents who don’t ask for things they couldn’t do for themselves with meditation.
     
     

    We’re talking about God. If you believe there is no Creator or God, then there is nothing beyond us.

    Tell me what characteristics this “Creator”/”God” has, and what that has to do with ancient Jewish folklore. From your grammar, I infer that’s a noun. Are you suggesting Genesis describes the early universe? And that the character El/Yahweh/Adonai is what I should use as reference for its character and expected behavior?
     
    You’ve swapped out “above” with “beyond”. That isn’t any more informative. The tree outside my window is beyond me by many metrics.
     
     

    You believe we’re here by whatever randomness brought us to being.

    I’m here because my Dad escaped an abusive home, by joining the military, where he travelled the world and made friends with a fellow soldier, whose sister he was introduced to upon returning, who then married Dad. They then performed some amateur biochemistry together. I don’t need to account for every second of history to live my life happily.
     
    The origin of the universe, if it had one, is trivia about one particular moment. There are interesting hypotheticals floating around, but Bronze/Iron Age cosmogeny is… quaint. I find trivia edifying, and I find mythologies entertaining.

  45. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Narf #41:

    If Sky Captain was amused, reading my rants, then mission accomplished.

    Your deeds please me. I shall reward your righteousness with comfort and focus.

  46. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Narf
    Again, I think you behaved reasonably. I just wanted to bring up the idea in order to perhaps soften the tone and ensure that we might maybe occasionally have religious people call into the show and participate in the blog discussion here.

    @Johnpaul R

    You need to look up straw man. I’m not making an argument there. If you don’t believe in a God, then you believe no sentient being created the galaxy. Therefore you assume it all happened organically. That’s a statement. Swing and a miss.

    False dichotomy. There’s a third option. “I don’t know.” I can have a positive belief that a god did it. I can have a positive belief that a god did not do it. I might lack both beliefs. I might be undecided. The “I don’t know” position is a proper position distinct from the other two. The “I don’t know” position is the proper position when you lack sufficient evidence to make a conclusion one way or the other.

    Even then, there’s another false dichotomy in the false dichotomy. Who says that either a god did it, or it happened “organically” ? Who says that those are the only two options? Here’s another: the universe has no beginning, and stretches infinitely far back in time. Maybe there are other options. If you know enough relativity and quantum theory, IMHO you should be very open to even weirder options.

    Further, the word “god” brings along a lot of baggage. Maybe the universe had a beginning, and it’s “cause” or “explanation” was a non-intelligent thing. That’s a fourth option. That seems just as plausible as your god hypothesis, and IMHO it’s actually more plausible, because the only kinds of intelligence I know arise as a result of new-Darwinian evolution.

    But that doesn’t mean anything , just saying we’re not the cheetah or whale.

    We humans are merely evolved primates. We are mere animals. We do not have immaterial souls that persist after clinical braindeath. The evidence on this topic is pretty solid. We are mere material, just like the other animals.

    I’m pretty sure Science likes proof.

    Confusion of terminology. To some people, “proof” means “evidence beyond all possible doubt”, e.g. “absolute confidence”. Whereas, in proper science, there is no such thing as evidence beyond all possible doubt. Every conclusion of science is tentative, and subject to being overturned if sufficient future evidence contradicts a tentative conclusion.

    To these people, they prefer terms like “(compelling) demonstration” and “(compelling) evidence” instead of “proof”.

  47. Johnpaul R says

    I need to make dinner but replying to EnlightenedLiberal

    I have good reason. I’ve prayed and ask for helped during some bad times and those prayers were answered. I never said “God let me win the lottery” but there have been times where I needed comfort, focus, help and have asked God to help me. And I saw those things come to me. It’s an experience you can’t understand but I wish you could.

    Paraphrasing the great Matt Dillahunty, faith is the excuse people give when asked to justify their religious beliefs. When I asked again, you didn’t say “faith”. You gave specific examples, specifics evidence. That’s something I can at least partially appreciate and respect.

    However, to me, it’s just hearsay evidence, and so I do not find it compelling at all. I know that eye witness testimony is one of the worst kinds of evidence, and so I am not swayed. I recognize that you are probably not trying to sway me. I’m just expressing myself.

    However again, I strongly suspect that your own personal experiences should not be enough to even convince you. It sounds like a classic case of confirmation bias.

    Like I said, religion isn’t easy and yes it’s an experience by experience thing. I can only speak to what I’ve seen. But someone said earlier even if it was on tape they wouldn’t believe a miracle. So it’s up to the person I suppose. I get you’re not swayed but glad you see that I’m using some examples form my experience

    However, I do know that your Christian god is not real.

    You can’t , therefore you don’t. You assume he isn’t as is your right to.

    My favorite argument is thus:

    There are dozens, if not hundreds of religions in the world. Even more if we include extinct religions. Almost all of those religions have had plenty of people who claim effectively identical religious experiences to you. It is a simple fact that almost all of them contradict the rest, which effectively means at most one can be right. That means all but one are wrong. When we look at explanations of why the rest are wrong, we begin to learn a lot about human psychology, including various biases such as confirmation bias, the fallacy of appeal to consequences, the cognitive bias of assigning agency too often and too frequently (Daniel Dennett calls this the intentional stance), and so on. Once you understand how all of those other religions are wrong, and once you understand how so many people can be mistaken about their false religions, it is a relatively simple matter to apply it to your own religion.

    In short, there is a silly but IMHO insightful saying online: We’re all atheists regarding all those other gods. I just go one god further. When you understand why you dismiss all of those other gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.

    With regard to Christianity and Roman Catholicism in particular, we can examine some of the particular evidence. In short, I have looked into several of the various miracle claims of the Roman Catholic church. For example, the purported incorruptibility of the bodies of some Catholic saints – a bizarre kind of evidence I must say. When you look into it, the claim falls apart. I suggest the book “Looking for a Miracle” by Joe Nickell for citations on this.

    So, what we are left with is a book with fantastic claims utterly unsupported by any other piece of contemporary historical evidence with regard to Jesus, and a bunch of people with purported religious experiences that are indistinguishable from the religious experiences of thousands, millions, of living people today of other religions.

    So, what is more likely? That the Christian god is real, and has chosen to expose himself in a way that is indistinguishable from the other false religions? Or that Christianity is just as false as all of the other religions? The answer is quite clear.

    A salient point. I didn’t expect to defend all religions. But let’s cut to the chase, it’s a belief in a God vs no God. Maybe God isn’t my white haired, robe wearing, harp playing God but doesn’t take away from an overall possible creator.

    If you don’t believe in God, my praying for you or damning you actually shoudn’t bother you anymore than a 4yr old in a toy cop uniform shooting at you with his fake gun. So my point about my friends Wiccan thing was that it was his way to show support and I appreciated it. So unless you’re making a point not connected to the story there is no harm, especially if you think I’m not praying to anyone.

    Off the top of my head, in this country alone, the United States, here are some examples of ill promoted by some religious people.

    Going to take these one by one

    – Opposition to gay marriage. Almost entirely religious in nature.

    Totally agree. If it was important I think Jesus might have mentioned it. Only other point is that there are plenty of non religious people who hate homosexuality. But we reap what we sow

    – Opposition to access to abortion. Almost entirely religious in nature.

    Same as above. Even when I wasn’t remotely religious I was opposed. It’s murder in my mind. Didn’t need God to get me there. If there is no life except this little blip we get, it’s wrong to deny anyone a chance at it.

    – Opposition to contraception. Almost entirely religious in nature.

    An interesting one. I don’t see the issue with contraception. The issue is that the abortive’s get mixed in which I default to my previous comment.

    – Opposition to teaching evolution and proper science. Almost entirely religious in nature.

    It’s not the majority, just the vocal minority on this. We get evolution and that the world isn’t 4000yrs old

    You are condoning, defending, and promoting the position that it is acceptable to believe things on insufficient basis. I do not care about your good intentions when you reasoning badly. Your implicit and explicit support of unjustified religious belief allows evils to be perpetuated in this world. Christopher Hitchens once said that religion is the biggest source of evil in this world, and of that I have little doubt. When a group of people together agree that critical thinking, rationality, science, and evidence-based thinking are a luxury that can be disposed, it should be no surprise when otherwise normal people behave foolishly and destructively.

    It’s a great thought, but look at the most gruesome genocides and wars and religion is no more to blame than anything else. It’s a great quote but doesn’t hold up.

    All it takes for evil to flourish is for good people to do nothing. – Often attributed to Emund Burke, but perhaps more accurately attributed to John Stuart Mill.

    With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil — that takes religion. – Nobel laureate Steven Weinburg. (It’s not literally true. It’s an exaggeration. However, it contains much truth.)

    Funny I always chuckle at that because many people quote that and then say religion was an opiate of the masses. So we’re a peaceful who don’t need the religion we created because we’re monsters. Just a side thought I know it’s not what you said.

    As for the particular example:

    If you don’t believe in God, my praying for you or damning you actually shoudn’t bother you anymore than a 4yr old in a toy cop uniform shooting at you with his fake gun.

    Actually, it does bother me a lot. If I had a real problem and you said that you were praying for me, it would piss me off because you are wasting your time trying to help rather than taking real constructive steps that might do something. “Nothing fails like prayer.” If you were my friend, I would hope that you would take real constructive steps that might help rather than waste your time praying, and wasting my time telling me that you’re praying instead of doing anything substantive.

    That’s the problem with religion. If you honestly believe that prayer is effective, that means that in some cases you will go with prayer rather than going with some strategy that will actually work. That’s the danger of abandoning proper reasoning and proper justifications for your beliefs.

    Even if I was dying of cancer and there was nothing in particular you could do to help me, it would psis me off. Maybe you could help me out around the house or hospital. At the very least, you could be donating your time to a cancer charity event. At least that helps someone. Praying is just a waste of your time. If I’m dying of cancer and you pray for my health, that’s an offense and an affront to who I am. I would much prefer for you to be doing something that actually helps others, rather than deluding yourself into thinking that you’re helping others. At the very least, if I was dying of incurable cancer, I would rather that you try to enjoy your life and enjoy our little remaining time together instead of wasting your time on outdated arcane superstition, if only for your own benefit.

    Wow. That’s an incredible leap. That only works if I say “I’m ONLY going to pray for you”. Sorry but that makes you kind of a bad person. If an Atheist said “I’ll be thinking about you” would you ask them why they’re not helping you more? Of course not, you get it’s a nice way of showing they care. But when it’s said with a religious context you just go to this worst case scenario. Jeez……..

    If you need help and someone doesn’t help you because they prayed (meaning it was in lieu of) that’s wrong. But you have to apply that to anyone giving you any affirmation.

  48. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    A salient point. I didn’t expect to defend all religions. But let’s cut to the chase, it’s a belief in a God vs no God. Maybe God isn’t my white haired, robe wearing, harp playing God but doesn’t take away from an overall possible creator.

    This is an intellectually dishonest dodge. Look at the conversation history. I said that the Christian god does not exist. You objected. I explained my position in more detail. Just now, you just tried to shift the conversation to a discussion about some nebulous first-cause god. That’s classic moving the goalposts.

    Regarding a nebulous first-cause god, my general position is “I do not know, and you don’t either”. I mean this: Based on the evidence in my possession, I find it extremely likely that you are not in possession of sufficient evidence to conclude that there is a first-cause god nor a god of any kind.

    Regarding the god as described in the Christian bible – that god does not exist.

    Going to take these one by one

    First, you should recognize that your religious beliefs do inform your actions, such as how you vote, and it informs the culture, which informs how many people vote. Thus, you now recognize that I have severe problems with you, and consider you to be a significant problem to moving society forward. It’s not just the fringe radicals. I also have problems with the common believer like yourself who objects to the things on that list.

    Point by point:

    Totally agree. If it was important I think Jesus might have mentioned it. Only other point is that there are plenty of non religious people who hate homosexuality. But we reap what we sow

    This is clear and simple bigotry, or tyranny. The consenting adults who are gay and engage in consentual informed gay sex harm no one else. Any interference in their own personal affairs is unjustified. It is bigotry. Even if your god is real, your god would be a bigot and a tyrant.

    Same as above. Even when I wasn’t remotely religious I was opposed. It’s murder in my mind. Didn’t need God to get me there. If there is no life except this little blip we get, it’s wrong to deny anyone a chance at it.

    There are two basic fundamental arguments for access to abortion. Let me give a brief recap of both. There’s also a few minor quips that apply against your particular religious leanings, and I’ll give some of those too.

    In my world, morality is about the well-being of conscious creatures, including their safety, happiness, freedom, self determination, including their unjustified killings, etc. Early term embryos / fetuses / whatever do not have brains, and thus they do not have minds, and thus they are mere hunks of flesh and I do not care if a woman chooses to dislodge a mere hunk of flesh. There is no such thing as souls. The “it’s a human in potential” argument is bullshit, because that’s also an argument against using contraception, and it’s an argument against having sex for procreation at every available opportunity.

    For the sake of argument, granting the premise that embryos / fetuses / whatever have functioning brains and thus have minds and thus deserve moral consideration, outlawing abortion is morally equatable to a hypothetical law that demands random citizens must be forced to give blood, donate one kidney, etc. Forced tissue and organ donation generally violates our sense of right and wrong, and forcing the mother to donate her womb and body to the well-being of the fetus is a simple case of forced tissue and organ donation. Note that I prefer the first objection, and I am somewhat skeptical of some of the very broad applications of the forced tissue and organ donation argument, but it should be mentioned.

    It should be noted that after fertilization of the egg by the sperm, up to several weeks later, it may split to become identical twins. Does that mean the egg had two souls in it before the split? Does god add another soul at the split? Do identical twins share souls? Further, after fertilization of the egg by the sperm, up to several weeks later, nearby fertilized eggs may join together and fuse, and grow into a single human being. This single human being has two sets of DNA. It’s called a chimera.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chimera_%28genetics%29#Humans

    Does that mean human chimeras have two souls? Does one of the fetuses die and go to heaven / hell when the eggs merge? Does god only add a soul after the merge? What if we prevented the eggs from merging? Would the eggs lack souls?

    Finally, your own bible has some clear guidelines on when abortion can be used.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ordeal_of_the_bitter_water

    In short, it says that if the husband suspects the wife of adultery, he can take her before the priest, and force her to drink some particular poison. If she miscarries but remains fertile, then that’s proof she is innocent of adultery. If she miscarries and becomes infertile, then that is proof of her adultery.

    It’s really quite clear:

    NIV, Numbers 5:

    21 here the priest is to put the woman under this curse—“may the Lord cause you to become a curse[b] among your people when he makes your womb miscarry and your abdomen swell. 22 May this water that brings a curse enter your body so that your abdomen swells or your womb miscarries.”

    IIRC, in the original Hebrew, they use the word for “thigh”, which in biblical Hebrew is often a euphemism for the sexual organs like womb. Dittos for “feet” and penis.

    It’s not the majority, just the vocal minority on this. We get evolution and that the world isn’t 4000yrs old

    Unfortunately, you cannot be fully with us in calling shenanigans because you yourself do not fully embrace proper scientific and rational thinking. Young Earth creationism is a symptom of a larger problem of lack of proper critical thinking. Lack of proper critical thinking has many negative consequences. That’s just one.

    It’s a great thought, but look at the most gruesome genocides and wars and religion is no more to blame than anything else. It’s a great quote but doesn’t hold up.

    Politely disagreed. I do believe that religion is the biggest source of evil in this world. Not the only source, but the biggest source. I believe that lack of critical thinking and tribalism is a larger umbrella that captures even more problems, such as the cliche Soviet Union, Stalin, Pol Pott, etc.

    Wow. That’s an incredible leap. That only works if I say “I’m ONLY going to pray for you”.

    Every moment spent praying is one more moment that you are not helping others, and every moment spent praying is one more moment that your waste from your own precious limited time on Earth. There is no afterlife. For your own good, please do not waste the time you have on foolish superstition.

    If an Atheist said “I’ll be thinking about you”

    False equivocation. There’s a difference between “I’ll be thinking about you” and “I’ll be praying for you” in this context. Substantial differences which I’ve already laid out.

  49. Narf says

    @Narf – I’m not done with you yet.

    Well, tough.  I already got it out of my system.  😛

    2.2 Billion Christians. If I said a million are hard core crazy extremists that’s .000454545454%.

    You’re not so good with the math and the book-learning, are you?  😀  That isn’t 0.00045%.  That’s 0.045%.

    And if you think there are only a million crazed fundamentalists in this country, never mind the world, you don’t get around much, do you? Do you think the Republican primaries could be the way they are, if there were only a million of the bastards?

    Check this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Level_of_support_for_evolution#United_States.  31% of the people in the US believe in Young-Earth Creationism.

    With 318 million people in the US, that makes about 98.5 million (I know how to use a calculator) anti-science, fundamentalist nutjobs.  That’s the US alone, never mind the rest of the world.  If you’re going to make shit up, you have to do better than that.

    Go ahead, feel free to round up if you like.

    How about if I round up to the real numbers, which would put it somewhere between 40% and 50%, given that The US population is about 76% Christian (lower in recent polls), and I don’t think there are many atheists or non-religious people who are Young-Earth Creationists.

    One, again my numbers above make my point.

    And again, your point is bullshit.  If you have to pull numbers straight out of your ass, which are off by 5 orders of magnitude, then I’m not impressed with your point.

    Seriously, where are you, New York City or Boston or something?

    I don’t see the relevance but NY

    Then you have NO  freaking clue, man.  😀  Holy crap. Come down here sometime or head out to some state like Oklahoma or Mississippi.  You’ll be absolutely shocked.

    Even here in the Triangle, in North Carolina, which is a triple-major-university, biotech-center urban-cluster, the amount of evangelical nut-jobbery is amazing, at times.

    The Bible wasn’t always taken literally (I’m guessing you know that already) and frankly I don’t understand why evolution and religion hate each other.

    You’re going to have to clarify that.  From the formation of the canon up until the Renaissance, it was taken pretty literally.

    It isn’t that evolution hates religion. It mostly has nothing to say about religion, unless you take one of the holy books seriously. Many religions tend to hate evolution, along with science in general.

    God can create the earth and put things in place to make us into what we are. Now you want to debate man vs. everything else on the planet? We dominate the planet. We really don’t fit in very well. If man didn’t exist this planet would be so radically different. But that doesn’t mean anything , just saying we’re not the cheetah or whale.

    Yet, we evolved the same way as the cheetah and the whale.  The evidence connecting us to the other apes is rock solid.  We are apes.  We evolved from other apes.  You seem to be rejecting common ancestry, which is just … wrong.

    If your god put us here, specially made, not related to the other animals, why did he plant such profound evidence to make it look like we had evolved from one of the other (now extinct) apes?  Is he just fucking with us, or what?

    I don’t know either. But I do respect the laws of physics and thermodynamics which say something did cause it.

    Uh, no, they don’t. Find me a credible, modern cosmologist who agrees with that statement.  Any religious person who tries to make use of the Second Law of Thermodynamics doesn’t understand the first thing about the Second Law of Themodynamics, never mind the other three.

    Things don’t just happen. Maybe a big crunch right before? Who knows. The point is that we don’t know and the more we try to understand we hit roadblocks where you can’t just keep saying it just happened.

    You should read up a bit more on cosmology, before you say this sort of stuff.  Go read some Hawking or some Victor Stenger.  Go see what Phil Plait and Niel deGrasse Tyson have to say on the subject.

    Abiogenesis is admitted conjecture. It’s saying that organic molecules formed into living ones. Interesting theory but it’s a theory. I’d ask you how non sentient matter throughout the universe has rules they all follow (sure you could say it was all the same matter at the moment of the big bang) but it’s not my point. It’s an interesting theory that’s been around almost 150yrs.

    You’re seriously abusing the word ‘theory’, here.  Abiogenesis is not a scientific theory.  It’s a set of hypotheses.  Evolution (and common descent with it) is a theory.  A theory is pretty much the highest thing that a scientific proposition can aspire to.  It’s the closest thing to ‘proven’ that you can attain, in science.

    Abiogenesis sure as hell isn’t conjecture.  We know it happened.  We have dozens of models for how it could have happened.  The problem is that we don’t know which of those models is actually correct, or if we haven’t come upon the correct model yet.  It’s the difference between ‘that it happened’ and ‘how it happened’.  You don’t have a theory until you know the how.

    I’m pretty sure Science likes proof.

    No, it doesn’t. Math and philosophy deal in proofs.  Science deals in evidence, laws, hypotheses, and theories.  You’re just wrong, although in your defense, a lot of pop-science sources get it wrong, too.

    ‘Proof’ isn’t a scientific term, though, except in the most colloquial sense.

    It is all fabrication? Well, there it is then. And you have evidence of this where?

    Modern archaeology, mostly.  The Jews were never in Egypt, as described in the Pentateuch.  The Egyptians took freaking meticulous records.  The exodus to the promised land never happened as described.  Camels, which are mentioned in Genesis, weren’t in the area until much later than 1200 BCE.  Many of the peoples that are mentioned in the conquest of Canaan weren’t there until after 800 or 900 BCE. The early Old Testament is full of anachronisms that indicate it was manufactured sometime after 800 or 900 BCE.

    Israel Finkelstein has done a lot of writing about this sort of stuff.  I think he’s the archaeology professor at Tel Aviv University, or at least he holds some similar position there.  Head of something or other.

    And you’re proof or evidence is,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,?

    Do you take Genesis literally?  Do you think there was a world-wide flood?  Do you think all languages were created by Yahweh, after the Tower of Babel?

    If not … myths.  And dude, almost everything we’ve discovered in the last couple hundred years has demonstrated that all of Genesis is pure mythology.  Pick a field of science.

    Yeah. except non of that has to do with what we’re talking about. And you’re even saying “most likely true” so obviously it’s just good hypothesis. And nothing about God has been demostrated false, sans a straw man argument.

    Uhhhhhh, no.  You don’t understand science, on a fundamental level.  All of these things are theories, which are the highest position an idea can attain, in science.

    I’ll just sigh and let you imagine my eyes rolling. Please expand on “the guy” who mostly put it together. I imagine documenting a known heretic who was killed by his own people would easy 2000yrs ago. You seem to be under the impression there was a Kinko’s or something. We’re talking about 120 people (first Christians) who spread across the world to tell this.

    All of your objections become ridiculous, when you add that it was an omniscient, omnipotent god who orchestrated all of this, who wants us to know he’s real.

    Strangely, you described what I think Yeshua likely was, if he existed at all.  He was probably a heretic whose cult followers spread some pretty wild stories about the things he could do, and it sort of snowballed from there.  If he was really the son of a god and had gone through great pains for our salvation, don’t you think he would have done a better job to get his message out to the rest of the world?

    What you’re proposing is preposterous, or at least indicates a god who really doesn’t give much of a damn.

    I actually didn’t didn’t go to church for years. Got out at 17, just went when visiting out of respect for my folks. Didn’t go back until I was almost 30 and fully capable of thinking for myself.

    Yet, you had been primed.  The childhood brainwashing is still what took hold of you and brought you back into the fold, when sufficient pressure was applied.  That’s how brainwashing is done.

    Gullible usually means easy, and it wasn’t.

    No, gullible doesn’t mean anything of the sort.

    Just as gullible for you to ignore 2000yrs of history, a Man who rose from the dead, and a pretty easy set of rules to live by because you just don’t get it right?

    Jesus rising from the dead isn’t history.  It’s a story, written down decades later, by cult followers who worshiped their founder as a god.  There is NO contemporary corroboration of anything in the Gospels.  For someone so important to history, there’s remarkably little mention of him.

    Again Jesus existed. It’s really hard for you to just say anything besides outright denying He did anything.

    What’s your evidence for this, besides stories told by his cult followers?

    I have 2 children and most of my friends do as well. I guess they’re smarter than you as a child (or even now perhaps) because they ask questions, have reservations, and have discussions. Glad you feel kids are idiots.

    Kids are very malleable, particularly by their parents and other guardians.  There’s a survival advantage to accepting what your elders tell you, uncritically, because most of what they tell you is important for your survival.  Unfortunately, the wrong stuff gets a free ride and gets imprinted just as thoroughly as the useful stuff.

    Incidentally critical thinking doesn’t result in believing in nothing. If I see sneakers I think they were made, they didn’t just show up. Hard to imagine the complexity of the universe as just appearing and developing without any influence.

    *sigh*  And you were doing so well, up until this last paragraph.  You really need to freaking drop that concept from your image of atheists.

    Atheists do not believe in nothing, and you just look like an idiot, every time you say it.  Critical thinking results in not believing things that do not have a sufficient evidentiary basis.  The stories told in the bible do not.

    What’s this insane fear you have, with the idea of admitting that you don’t know something?  It’s almost pathological.  You have this screwed up concept that if we don’t know something, but you claim to know something, based upon no credible evidence at all, you somehow win.  That’s not rational.

    .

    See?  I can be perfectly civil, except for a few well-deserved pokes, if you don’t get insulting … which you failed at, right at the end there, but whatever.

  50. Narf says

    @46 – Sky Captian

    Your deeds please me. I shall reward your righteousness with comfort and focus.

    *receives the pat on the head*
    Woof!

  51. Narf says

    @47 – EL

    Again, I think you behaved reasonably. I just wanted to bring up the idea in order to perhaps soften the tone and ensure that we might maybe occasionally have religious people call into the show and participate in the blog discussion here.

    I’m civil as long as he is, as you can see from my last monster comment.  I should have bitten at the bullshit in his last paragraph, but whatever.

  52. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Oh, and a few other odds and ends, such as the fact that striking a woman and causing a miscarriage is a mere fine, unlike murder where the proscribed punishment is death. See: Exodus 21 : 22-25

  53. corwyn says

    @31:

    To me, praying for someone or asking God to look over them means exactly that. I’m asking God, my ultimate force in the universe and the reason I exist, to look after another person and I offer my prayers to that person. You think it’s nothing,

    On the contrary, I think you are specifically trying to attract the attention of a demonstrably malevolent force in my direction, with the express purpose that the entity should interact with me. Given the evil things this entity is purported to do by those who believe in it, I an forced to conclude that you mean me the greatest possible harm. This is an entity you loudly proclaim to have caused to be tortured and killed his own son. THAT is how I see it.

    “May Satan take you into his bosom.” Can you feel that? That is what you are doing.

  54. Narf says

    54 – corwyn

    On the contrary, I think you are specifically trying to attract the attention of a demonstrably malevolent force in my direction, with the express purpose that the entity should interact with me.

    That is definitely another problem, Johnpaul.  Looked at from the outside, without your childhood brainwashing to force us to somehow believe that this being is the ultimate force of good in the universe, the Bible is freaking messed up.  The god of the Bible is a genocidal, filicidal, jealous, tyrannical monster.

    Have you read the whole Bible?  I’ve read the whole thing, cover-to-cover.  Most Christians don’t even realize what sort of horrifying stuff is in their holy book.  You can see it on display, when Christians talk about all of the evil stuff in the Koran.  I just want to shake the buggers and shout, “That same thing is in your holy book, too!

  55. corwyn says

    If you don’t believe in a God, then you believe no sentient being created the galaxy. Therefore you assume it all happened organically.

    “If you don’t believe in a Super-God, then you believe no sentient being created God. Therefore you assume God happened organically.”

    Given that a god is more complex by far than the early universe, assuming that the Universe happened organically (whatever that means) is more likely than that a god happened organically.

  56. joshuafisher says

    2.2 Billion Christians. If I said a million are hard core crazy extremists that’s .000454545454%. Go ahead, feel free to round up if you like. Most Christians go about their day. But whatever helps you keep you nasty attitude fueled.

    Wrong. You do realize you cant just divide 1 million by 2.2 billion and add a % to the answer, right? 1 million divided by 2.2 billion equals .000454545454 but to make that a percentage you have to move that decimal point two spaces. This kind of sloppy thinking is responsible for many bad statistics that get thrown around a lot.

  57. Monocle Smile says

    Wow, this blew up.
    Remember what I said a few threads ago about Catholic callers being self-important dicks? I must be a goddamn prophet. Let’s also add “don’t understand their own theology” to that description.

    JPR, do you have any clue how to use Google? Because you’d look a lot less like an ass if you did.

  58. Monocle Smile says

    @Narf
    Yeah, I’m usually a brow-beater, but not only can I no longer access FtB at work, I don’t really see the point. I’ve engaged with too many Catholics, ranging from this jerk to Thomists (NEVER engage these twats if you don’t want to fall asleep), and despite the many flavors of bullshit, they seem to think that all Catholics follow the same doctrine. There’s just a specific variety of arrogance and bone-headedness that comes with catholicism, it seems.

    Oh, yes…Narf and EL, I got the job in Los Angeles and I’ve been here a couple of months. Life is a bit better.

  59. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Oh, yes…Narf and EL, I got the job in Los Angeles and I’ve been here a couple of months. Life is a bit better.

    Cool.

    There’s just a specific variety of arrogance and bone-headedness that comes with catholicism, it seems.

    I can relate. Recently, I had to disown a Catholic former-friend after he said too many Fox News talking points, like racism being over, we need to give the police wide latitude in handling potential rights including looking the other way when they shoot reporters with rubber bullets (in the context of Ferguson), and when YEC was brought up he countered and said that liberals are just as irrational as Republicans because some liberals believe vaccines cause autism (true story), and people who believe that vaccines cause autism are more dangerous and more detached from reality than those who believe that the Earth is 6000 years old (also true story).
    /fun rant

    Also, contact me if you’re ever up in the San Fransisco area.

  60. Narf says

    Heh, damn firewalls.  That’s the nice part about being in the I.T. department.  Almost every place I’ve worked, for the past several years, we’ve had an outside line … which no one in the department abused in any way.  Really.

    Ugh, yeah.  Thomists.  I’d never heard the term, before you used it just now, and a Google search pulled up the appropriate Wikipedia page.

    I’ve dealt with a couple of those before, though.  The idiots think the Summa Theologica is the most brilliant philosophical treatise ever, rather than the vacuous 3 arguments that it actually is.  If you think the Ontological Argument, the Teleological Argument (three fucking times), and the Cosmological Argument are good arguments, you really need to take a few courses in basic logic.  The damned thing reeks of special pleading, the whole way through.  Kalam is bad enough, but the version in the Summa Theologica is even more primitive than that.

  61. ironchops says

    @ Narf
    Just remember that you hold the best end of the rubber mallet. That rubber just ain’t so soft!

  62. Narf says

    Is that in reference to the I.T. work?  I’m not entirely following you.

    If that’s the case, you would not believe how many users are in serious need of a good whack, with the firewall mallet.  For every blocked site or tool, which you need to do your job, there was some asshole who used it or something similar to infect the company network drive with a nasty virus.

    Fucking developers; I swear.  Considering that there were only about 200 of the buggers, in the insurance company I worked for, out of a workforce of about 5,000, they probably caused about 70% or 80% of the major virus problems.  I know they’re not network engineers, but I would expect anyone in a roughly I.T.-related field to have at least the first glimmering of basic web security and network security.  Apparently a lot of people specialize way too much and miss most of the basics related to their field.

  63. ironchops says

    @ Narf
    That was a reference to a previous thread where I said uncle and you dropped the proverbial rubber hammer. I was directing it to the exchange between you and JPR. That’s all I meant. Just funning you.

  64. Narf says

    Ohhhhhhhh, heh.  Good one.

    You’re seriously overestimating my mid-term memory, particularly after the last couple of weeks.  😀

  65. says

    It just got worse:

    https://twitter.com/johnqabc

    John Quinones @JohnQABC – July 19
    Tweet to John: “Congratulations on the continued negative perception of atheists I have never met and probably will never meet an atheist like that.”
    John’s response: “No, not all atheists lash out at prayer, just like not every one of the ethnicity of our racist actors is racist.”

    WHAT THE…?!

    Our racist actors aren’t really racists—they’re just portraying shits who subscribe to racism. So…
    Our atheist actress isn’t really an atheist—she was just portraying shits who subscribe to atheism.

    Is that what we’re saying here?
    His rebuttal makes NO sense!?

    And is he ACTUALLY suggesting that you can be a “good” racist? Or that finding an atheist who is an ass to people, is in the same ball park as finding a racist who is an ass to people? Sure, some racists are assholes…but some are really great folks–just like you can be a decent atheist (like the decent racist).

    Sometimes when you say or do a ridiculous thing, you’re better off just shutting up and not digging in.

  66. Narf says

    Ummm, what the fuck?  I almost wish I had cable, satellite, or a broadcast antenna, so I could make a point of boycotting this idiot.

    You know, we should get this guy and Dawkins together, for a competition to see which will make the most misguided comments on Twitter, in a given period of time.

  67. Narf says

    @58 – joshuafisher

    Wrong. You do realize you cant just divide 1 million by 2.2 billion and add a % to the answer, right? 1 million divided by 2.2 billion equals .000454545454 but to make that a percentage you have to move that decimal point two spaces. This kind of sloppy thinking is responsible for many bad statistics that get thrown around a lot.

    The brute math error is just the start of the problem.  Check out my full response in comment 51, if you haven’t already.

    If you’re going to try to do math, you should at least try to find some relevant statistics that might somewhat have something to do with what you’re trying to demonstrate, rather than mining them straight from your ass.  And anti-science idiots wonder why we don’t accept anecdotal evidence, when their side gets caught out, so often, just making shit up to ‘prove’ a point.

    Well, at least he explicitly granted me permission to round the numbers up, by five orders of magnitude  to some more realistic figures.  Thanks, Johnpaul.

  68. Narf says

    @67 – Tracie (again)
    The most charitable interpretation that I can come up with is that he thinks the scenario he’s constructed and the attempts to remove prayer invocations from public, governmental hearings are the same thing … which is still completely fucked.

  69. says

    Narf #70 – I saw someone put it very well in comments on that Facebook wall. They said that the show perpetuated the misconception that atheists are motivated to restrict religion due to intolerance rather than for preserving religious freedom.

    This is what it boils down to–and what you’re describing. But I felt that comment on Facebook really struck the heart of the problem. When it’s about intolerance, you’ll stomp it out wherever you find it–like anti-gay rights folks tried to basically make every area of life–including private areas–inaccessible to gay people and gay couples. Christians fear atheists are operating from that same basic motive of intolerance of them/their religion. This is how they seem to not see the line, or not see the relevance of the line, between personal/private worship and public/state sanctioned worship. To them, you’d just as soon stop them from having a nativity on their front lawn as stop them from putting it up at the local courthouse–because you’re not battling for religious protection and freedom (to protect yourself, and by proxy, others), but out of your total intolerance toward religion in any form or expression.

    In short: They’re projecting.

  70. Narf says

    When it’s about intolerance, you’ll stomp it out wherever you find it–like anti-gay rights folks tried to basically make every area of life–including private areas–inaccessible to gay people and gay couples.

    Like arresting two gay guys, having sex in the privacy of a hotel room or something, yeah.

    Christians fear atheists are operating from that same basic motive of intolerance of them/their religion.

    Ugh.  Yeah.  We’re just like them, only we worship science and ourselves …

    No, people, we want to reason you out of your religious beliefs, not force you out of them.  If you could somehow be cajoled or coerced into an atheistic position, I wouldn’t even want that, because the reasoned, skeptical part of our position is the far more important part.

  71. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    They said that the show perpetuated the misconception that atheists are motivated to restrict religion due to intolerance rather than for preserving religious freedom.

    I feel I must be a little clear. I don’t want to “restrict” religion – whatever that means. I want no censorship. I want no legal prohibitions against religious practice (notwithstanding other secular laws). I want full protections for religious evangelism.

    However, to borrow from Scott Clifton, imagine the kind of reaction you would get if in a party you said that you were certain that we are in The Matrix, and the reasons for this belief is a feeling you get when you concentrate really hard on the code that makes up the wall. Imagine the kind of social reaction you will get. I want something similar when a religious person expresses their nonsense religious belief. I do want a culture change where we do not socially support and condone extremely bad thinking – of all kinds

  72. Narf says

    Basically, a more poetic way of saying what I was getting at, in my last paragraph.  I like.

  73. Esquilax says

    #44 JohnPaul

    If you don’t believe in a God, then you believe no sentient being created the galaxy. Therefore you assume it all happened organically

    Okay. Hi! I dunno if you’re gonna come back to this thread but… you need to stop this. Are you gonna ask us what our beliefs are, or are you just gonna tell us? Because if you just want to dictate positions to us that we don’t necessarily hold then we really don’t have much to talk about, regardless of the conversation you’re trying to start. You might as well just have the argument with a sock puppet, if you’ve empowered yourself to argue both your side and ours. It’s frightfully rude.

    As you may have guessed, it’s also inaccurate: as you’ve said before, we don’t exactly have much in the way of evidence yet regarding the creation of the universe, and that alone is sufficient reason to suspend judgment and just admit it. This includes, by way of a skeptical assessment of claims, dismissing your god claims too, pending additional evidence. Not believing in your god certainly doesn’t entail believing no design was involved, that’s a false dichotomy on two fronts, the first being the aforementioned suspension of judgment, the second being that… well, there’s more ways for a universe to be designed than just your god, so even if we were bound to hold some position, and even if your proposed dichotomy was legitimate, you would still be wrong in asserting that disbelief in your god therefore entails acceptance of the other prong of the dichotomy. One could disbelieve in your god and believe in any other possible universe creating entity they could imagine, come to that.

    I say all this in the hopes that you aren’t actually purposefully demanding that our beliefs run along lines you dictate, and that you’re just unfamiliar with how wide the concepts can be. If you’re actually interested in an honest conversation… well, there it is.

  74. Narf says

    @76 – Esquilax
    Yeah, he’s pulling the same act as most Christian apologists.  I have yet to read a single Christian apologist, out of the dozen or so that I’ve read, who wasn’t a dishonest joke who propped up a straw-man of the skeptical and atheist positions, to show off to the sheep.  Several of them claim to be reaching out to skeptics, but they reveal themselves as flagrant liars, within a chapter or two.  Let’s see if Johnpaul can clean up his act and try actually addressing what we say, for a change.

  75. ironchops says

    @74-EL
    “I feel I must be a little clear. I don’t want to “restrict” religion – whatever that means. I want no censorship. I want no legal prohibitions against religious practice (notwithstanding other secular laws). I want full protections for religious evangelism. I do want a culture change where we do not socially support and condone extremely bad thinking – of all kinds”

    I couldn’t say that any better. I altered it a bit, hope you don’t mind.

    It would behoove religious people to educate themselves on the actual atheist position rather than trying to convert them. This way there can be an open dialogue between the groups rather than creating dissention. It would also behoove atheist to, for lack of a better statement, gently work with those that oppose themselves if, by some lucky chance, they might come to reason.

  76. AnnB says

    JohnPaulR:
    You left the church at 17. Then rejoined at 30. Yep, you were married and had your first child. Your wife pressured you to go back to church. Your parents pressured you, you pressured yourself, because you were brainwashed and in the 13 years you were out of the church you NEVER questioned what you were taught. You simply didn’t practice.
    Ask me how I know this. Well, not really. I don’t need any nonsense answer.
    And yes, you saying God Bless is offensive. If you really want to wish someone the best, just say that, “All the best to you.”

  77. rodney says

    “You might as well just have the argument with a sock puppet”

    No shit, that person has been talking to themselves in practically every post, although, to be fair, I gave up reading them fairly early on, so maybe they improved at some point.

  78. Narf says

    That’s why I felt free to just let go with the profanity.  When someone begins with so many declarative statements based upon a grotesquely distorted version of our position and isn’t asking questions but is berating us for holding those positions that we don’t hold … yeah, the conversation almost certainly isn’t going anywhere productive.

    We get callers to the show and people online who have grossly inaccurate concepts of what atheists think, but some of those come at us asking questions, puzzling over what their preacher told them and how nonsensical that position sounds.  I have all the patience in the world for those people, and I’ll spend hours of time clearing up their misconceptions.

    But when you show up declaring that we believe in nothing, and therefore we have nothing to say in opposition, when people try to shove their religion into our society and into our government … that only people with an opposing religion get to have a say in religious matters.  Yeah, fuck that, and fuck you.

    A great deal depends upon whether you’re actually listening to the responses or whether you’re just looking for the next thing to distort and preach about.  I got the latter impression off of this guy, starting with his comment.

    Speaking of which, though, it looks like we lost our little friend.  Oh well.

  79. Mr. Dave says

    Back to the subject at hand, I did my share and sent an admonishing note to ABC regarding its manufactured issue of the intrusive atheist. I stated that if such a thing was a significant issue, perhaps some genuine journalistic work would expose it to the light of day. As it is, ABC just created another twig to throw in the fire of Christian persecution fantasies, so I’m expecting Bill O’Reilley to jump on that fable and spank it like the media dominatrix that he is.

    On YouTube, I’ve already read comments of people who say that they’ve witnessed an atheist verbally accosting people for mealtime prayer, so I figure the new persecution fad might have a chance of catching on. I did comment that if it was a notable issue common enough to be of concern, why aren’t there already plenty of YT videos of it happening to back up the claim. For a Christian to pass up whipping out the smart phone to document some genuine persecuting atheists in our own American dining institutions, well… No wonder I haven’t had a television set or cable since 2001.

  80. frankgturner says

    @ Narf and Mr. Dave
    Too many people live inside of their minds rather than reality. There was this film with Robin Williams, “Final Cut”, that addresses this (seeing something different than reality). Frankly there are times when I think we need to have our lives recorded and at the end of each day have the documented evidence forced into our brains such that we remember reality the way it is rather than what we want it to be. I feel like I went through that for years. It is painful but I learned to deal with it.
    .
    Those people who remember an Atheist verbally according prayer at mealtimes would likely be dumbfounded if the documented evidence were shown to be different from what they remember. It happened in their mind and that was enough. It is why eyewitness testimony and confession is not all that reliable. Too many people treat reality (atheists included as indicated from previous threads) as though it were a JM Barrie novel. John Paul seems like one of those people.
    .
    If he is still reading I can tell him that despite his imagined understanding of what we believe many of us were raised Catholic (myself included) and HAVE experienced what he is talking about. That is likely off script for him though and he is not prepared with a comeback. It seems that is what the straw man is, how they imagine a person will respond rather than listening to how they actually do react. I can sympathize a little as it is human, atheists even do that to one another at times.

  81. frankgturner says

    @ ironchops
    BTW regarding actually trying to understand the atheist position rather than their straw man, too many are likely scared that actually learning the opposing position will convert them or some other bullshit like that. I have seen many a creationist start to actually try to learn what evolution is all about and in the process of educating themselves actually come to see that it has a firm backing/foundation. And not all of them loose their religion either. Many still have some modicum of faith.
    .
    What John Paul seems to be suffering from is “in group” bias. I have gotten a few believers to start understanding evolution reading Ken Miller before moving on to others. It gives them the feeling of being told by one of their own. I think that John Paul needs to learn the atheist position from someone whom he perceives as one of his own kind.

  82. Narf says

    @Mr. Dave

    … so I’m expecting Bill O’Reilley to jump on that fable and spank it like the media dominatrix that he is.

    Thank you SO  much, for putting that image into my mind.  😮

  83. Narf says

    @fgt

    Too many people treat reality (atheists included as indicated from previous threads) as though it were a JM Barrie novel. John Paul seems like one of those people.

    I think Johnpaul’s issue goes far deeper than that.  I could grant him that everything he said is accurate, as he described it, and he still has nothing.  He seems to be suffering from an inability to draw proper parallels.

    He seems to be under the impression that him bringing his god into a conversation in which his hecklers are already participants is roughly synonymous with someone getting up and butting into a social interaction that has nothing to do with him.  In this, he is mistaken.

  84. Mr. Dave says

    @Narf

    You’re welcome, I’m grooming my skills to offer my services to pharmaceutical companies in stimulating the market for prescription sleeping-aids. Bill’s a whore, anyways.

  85. Narf says

    Heh, I’ll send you the bill from my shrink.  She deals in pharmaceuticals, anyway.  You’d like her.  😛

  86. frankgturner says

    @ Narf #86
    Actually the issue may be deeper in that both ideas are not mutually exclusive. He may both fail to recognize a lack of significant parallels and seem to believe that with strong enough belief he can alter both physical and sociological reality. They may even be related to one another (e.g.: the reason that he sees a parallel where one is not present due to significant variables is related to a failure to recognize that his belief in such parallels despite their differences does not make it so).
    .
    Whatever the case he seems to no longer be listening. I doubt that he cares to comprehend.

  87. Narf says

    I doubt that he cares to comprehend.

    I was pretty sure of that after his second comment …

Trackbacks