Maybe we are guilty of neglecting our obligations

Could D’Souza be right? Does our lack of religious beliefs really impair our ability to offer help to people?

I suppose that if we actually cared, we could have
sent teams to Virginia to do useful things like
stroke sad people’s thetans and
point to chairs and trees for them (a technique that will also sober up drunks in minutes, which sounds very handy). Even if the VT students aren’t in shock or drunk, I’m sure they’ll appreciate the important study tips. Did you know that the most important thing you can do is look up words in a dictionary — the bigger the dictionary the better — and that students get stupider because they don’t know words like “chimney” and “a” and “the”?

Man, I wish I weren’t an atheist so that I could also make up stuff to help people.

Maybe I also need to wish for profound brain damage so that I wouldn’t think those “assists” were such a reeking pile of putrid inanity.


  1. afterthought says

    I think Dawkins would have been a great speaker as would you, PZ. I do not understand why the religious fail to understand humanity, but there might be something important to note in their confusion.

  2. afterthought says

    Are thetans sexy? Who knew?
    Still, that a science fiction writer could make up a religion based on, well, science fiction, and get people to believe in it, might be the best joke ever.
    If there is an after-life (not!), old Ron Hubbard must be bent over in laughter.

  3. says

    Come on, PZ, be fair! I’m sure it takes tons of Scientological training (and scads of dinero) to attain the ability to point at things while big red “Attention” arrows float above your arm. I definitely can’t do that!

    And if I were distressed, and some nice Scientologist made those big red arrows magically appear, I sure as heck would be distracted and forget my troubles at least momentarily. I would be thinking, “WTF! They can do that?”

    You probably doubt L. Ron’s brilliance in other areas, too!

  4. jba says

    “old Ron Hubbard must be bent over in laughter”

    I think he would be pissed that he isnt getting the loot, that was the name of the game for him.

  5. afterthought says

    I think he would be pissed that he isnt getting the loot, that was the name of the game for him.

    Well, that and the women (He might say “chicks”).

  6. dorid says

    I wonder at times if these tragedies are more feeding frenzies for the religious… places where a large number of vulnerable people are looking to make some sort of sense out of what happened, and will willingly join up with anyone offering an answer, no matter how nonsensical.

    I want to know who’s helping with funeral arrangements, who’s paying into medical bills, who’s bringing casseroles to the families when mom and dad are at the hospital with their injured son. I want to know what’s being done to stop it from happening again. I want to know about things that are REAL. Who is REALLY helping those impacted by this awful event?

  7. Martín Pereyra says

    I think the link to the study tips is wrong. Here are the study tips. (I had to read by myself that “chimney, a, the” stuff.)

  8. Martín Pereyra says

    I think the link to the study tips is wrong. Here are the study tips. (I had to read by myself that “chimney, a, the” stuff.)

  9. Keanus says

    D’Souza is sick, very, very sick. He’s also a one-dimensional thinker. Not only can’t he think out of the box, he can’t even think outside a straight line. No, that’s wrong. He can’t even think outside a dimensionless point.

  10. Roy says

    Okay, then atheists should carry around a picture of D’Souza for identifying him and a hammer to ring his chimes. After the event, he need only count the bumps on his head.

    By the way, ‘clear a word’? Gee, I always thought it was a matter of looking through all the definitions and trying to figure out what the writer thought the word meant. I wonder what his world must be like if things get ‘cleared’ rather than figured out.

  11. Rhampton says

    NBC News is reporting that Cho Seung-Hui made the following statements in material he sent to the news organization “sometime after he killed two people in a Virginia university dormitory but before he slaughtered 30 more in a classroom building”

    You have vandalized my heart, raped my soul and torched my conscience. You thought it was one pathetic boy’s life you were extinguishing. Thanks to you, I die like Jesus Christ, to inspire generations of the weak and the defenseless people.


    Do you know what it feels like to be humiliated and be impaled upon on a cross? And left to bleed to death for your amusement? You have never felt a single ounce of pain your whole life. Did you want to inject as much misery in our lives as you can just because you can?

  12. Ahcuah says

    There is commentary from a Virginia Tech student here. He did mention an atheist perspective:

    You all watched the service. I appreciated the ecumenical approach, including Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, and Christian clergy. I will count the psychologist director of our counseling center as speaking the atheist perspective on healing. I did, however, have the thought that one of the professors killed was Indian, and most likely Hindu. I hope his family was able to find some solace.

    So D’Souza, in addition to being an idiot, was also plain old wrong.

  13. Christian Burnham says

    The NBC tapes show Cho talking about crucifixion, Jesus and Biblical imagery. I guess Schlossel and D’Souza will be now calling for the banning of all Christians moving across our borders.

  14. Nicholas says

    Unfortunately, I got to witness firsthand today what Christians are capable of in response to the Virginia Tech tragedy. I’m a graduate student at Florida Atlantic University, and today there was a Christian hate group that shows up from time to time to rant about abortion and homosexuality. Today, however, they also informed us that the victims at Virginia Tech were all burning in hell. Apparently being in the wrong place at the wrong time makes you a sinner? Anyway, don’t make the same mistake I did of thinking Fred Phelps is the only contemptable scumbag willing to bring himself that low.

  15. Kiwi Dave says

    Being an English teacher I followed up the how to use a dictionary link.

    There I discovered that a passage through which gases pass is a chimney. Foolish me. I used to think it was an anus.

    Thank you Scientology for improving my vocabulary.

  16. alcoolworld says

    I can proudly say I learned a similar though more heinous technique with only $300 and old reruns.
    I have vowed to use it only on asshats and ghouls.
    So, Mr. D’souza, “I crush your head!!!”

  17. BibleSmith says

    “Just get the command carried out, acknowledge and give the next command.

    Run until the person is no longer drunk. ”

    It works!!
    You just have to run it for 4-5 hours.

  18. alcoolworld says

    Man!… I wish there was an “edit Post” button here. I meant $300 for a color television…
    For FSM’s sake!

  19. Speedwell says

    Andreas, the webmaster at is a rational, decent man (so rational and decent in fact that the $cienos can’t find any skeletons in his closet to embarrass him with), an atheist, and just a very nice fellow. Norwegian, too. :) Go to his website and poke around, you’ll be glad you did.

  20. T. Bruce McNeely says

    Enter the vultures!

    What would be wrong about stepping back for a little while and figuring out what this is all about?
    The person I really feel for is the instructor who realized that there was something seriously wrong with Cho but could not get anywhere with her concerns. She may have done all that was practicable to do, but I’ll bet that she does not feel that she did wall that she could have dpne. I hope somewone is available to help her.

  21. Thanny says

    This discussion reminded me of the memorial held in Liberty State Park, NJ shortly after 9/11. I was there with several members of my immediate extended family, since we had lost a member in the attacks.

    There were apallingly unsatisfying speeches by a Christian, a Jew, and a Muslim. The latter said ‘Allah’ more times than George Carlin says ‘fuck’ in all his performances put together. The least offensive of them was from the Rabbi.

    And then Christopher Reeve and his wife Dana gave a speech (mostly her, for obvious reasons). Not a hint of religiosity. A lot of wise and sympathetic words, very articulately expressed. They got genuine, enthusiastic applause from everyone there.

    The religious wankers got some polite clapping.

    The only competition was a speech given by a very young man who had lost his father, which also made no references to religion.

    I don’t know about the young man, but I later found out the Reeves were atheists.

    So atheists can certainly be excellent speakers at such dreadful events, and be recognized as such by everyone present, regardless of their degree of religious delusion (is it clear yet which side of the fence I’m on?).

    I rather think that Dawkins would be quite good in such a situation. He has a very sympathetic and kind demeanor, despite his strawman reputation as an intellectual bruiser.

    Beyond that, I can literally not think of one speech given by a religious figure at any mourning event that was remotely good. By “good”, of course, I mean genuinely sympathetic and as uplifting as one can be to a crowd of people who have suffered a terrible loss.

  22. Fernando Magyar says

    With all this tragedy I sure needed a lighter moment,this Scientology stuff is beyond hilarious. Thanks!

    “You find that “chimney” originally came from the Greek word “kaminos,” which means “furnace.” Well now that really clears it up, it’s all Greek.

  23. says

    This does point out the need for a secular “mission.” (By secular I mean totally 100% non religious). We see this now and then in the US, like now. But overseas, where the missionaries roam, you see this need every single minute of every single day.

  24. chaos_engineer says

    About the “point to chairs and trees” link. They don’t really explain step 6: “Repeat until the person has good indicators and a cognition.”

    Based on the pictures, I think you’re looking for something like: “The wall and the tree are immobile, but I could certainly hit my husband over the head with that bench, or, better yet, the giant flowerpot beside it. [Smiles in anticipation.]”

  25. Torbjörn Larsson says

    things like stroke sad people’s thetans

    I always thought that scientologists were people of a different stroke.

  26. Torbjörn Larsson says

    things like stroke sad people’s thetans

    I always thought that scientologists were people of a different stroke.

  27. says

    Maybe I also need to wish for profound brain damage so that I wouldn’t think those “assists” were such a reeking pile of putrid inanity.

    If a communist is a follower of Karl Marx and a creationist is a believer in Biblical creation, what is an assist?