1. scribe999 says

    Listened to her interview on Freethought Radio a few weeks back…definitely deserves more exposure.

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  3. vanharris says

    I don’t know what was the most annoying aspect of the video: the stupid religionists or the stupid thumping noise accompanying it. I didn’t need that noise in order to feel irritated by the subject matter.

  4. eddie says

    That was a truly awful tune. If we’re agin godbotting repetitive trolls, I for one think we should be against brain-dead, repetitive cheezee-pop.

  5. Rhubarb says

    Link has gone out to several friends. Problem is that it takes a certain ability to grasp abstract concepts and synthesize the message, and that’s just what the god babblers lack. They seem to need nice, concrete, see-it-on-the-page certitude.

  6. Capital Dan says

    I don’t mind it. It’s got a nice message. It’s not my kind of music, but it’s certainly someone’s kind of music.

  7. firemancarl says

    Well, I saw nothing in that video to convince me that there is anything wrong with religion. ;-)

    The music isn’t my cup o’ tea, but hey, I can rave…

    Damn typepad gave me fits trying to sign in!

  8. SaintStephen says

    That was magnificent and stirring.

    At the same time, I guess I’d never seen the footage of the stoning (and kicking) of that poor Muslim woman. Stirred something very deep inside me, it did.


  9. Gregory Greenwood says

    Lets all remmember the message that the creationists want us to take away; that scary atheist kids are coming to murder you with revolvers (the favoured gun of the godless. Not like those pious automatics) sometime soon. They don’t care about god, so a crazy shooting spree is the obvious next step!

    Talk about the epitome of the crude politics of fear.

    Great video (with a terribly annoying sound track). I have seen the images of that muslim woman being stoned before, but it turns my stomach anew everytime I lay eyes on it. Religion truly does make monsters out of people.

  10. Jenniffer Groceman says

    This video is beautiful, scary, moving, heartbreaking, terrible, and very nearly perfect. All the terror, the chaos, the hate and anger- at the end where the atheists show up, it feels calming. Suddenly, it’s rationality and logic, calmness and serenity. Reason riding up to save the day. Lovely.

  11. rhys.rhaven says

    This video does nothing. I’m a former member of Case Western CFI, and have been following various new atheists for quite a while. I’m not new to this argument. All this anti-religion gimmick does absolutely -zero- to change things. From a recent slashdot comment:

    “Religion is a form of mild schizophrenia. It is a disconnect between ones internal model of the world and the reality of it.” Driven by 2 things: an inability to accept reality as it is, and the fundamental need of human beings to -know- answers to questions on which science has no answers. Where did I come from? Where do I go when I die? Why am I here? Science does have logical answers for these questions, but they are not meaningful to the majority of people. How is -not- why.

    Saying “Religion is bad, here is atheism and reason” does not work. (Warning, Car analogy): Its like offering a person who has a fully working, badly tuned windshieldless SUV a wrench and telling them hydbrids are better. You’ve just given someone a position on a single issue and a tool, when previously they had a working, if woefully incomplete solution.

    Start explaining how a person can live a full life in the bounds of reason and without Gods. I know I know, atheism isn’t a religion. You’re all different and disagree, I get it. (Its like I’m trying to promote Linux and have to explain distros and window managers.) So try with Humanism. Try with your own personal view of the world. Its not nicely packaged like religion, but its better than just screaming about the madness people do in the name of God.

  12. Steven Mading says

    rhys.raven, I don’t live in your imaginary universe in which criticizing bad ideas and providing your own ideas are mutually exclusive activities. I live in the real world where one can do both, and in which your comment makes zero sense.

  13. Steven Mading says

    It’s a good message. Too bad the odd singing is modified and badly mixed such that it’s almost impossible to make out the words.

  14. rhys.rhaven says

    Steve Mading @ 23;

    Put that way, True. It makes no sense. But: taking a score card, of

    1) Critizing Religion
    2) Providing Own Ideas
    3) Both 1 and 2
    4) Squid

    And go back 3 months on Pharyngula and rate the articles. See which comes up more. I was trying to make my point that within a specific group/article/community, #1 comes up far far more than number 2, and it is much less effective at changing things among people who might wander onto this site.

  15. Steven Mading says

    Rhys, you are incorrect that doing (2) more than (1) is effective. That’s exactly what religions have been attempting to do to gain converts from each other and yet the number of fractured denominnations still grows. If that approach worked, then one denomination would be “winning” over the others.

    I’m also sick and tired of people arguing that speaking out requires a careful analysis of efficacy first and that anything that’s less effective should be censored. As if the only purpose of communication was political.

  16. Steven Mading says

    Rhys, I should also point out that if you start from the premise that the only way to shoot down one answer is to provide a replacement answer, then you are really being an ass toward all those people who’s position is that there really isn’t an answer because the question is invalid in the first place. I don’t need to provide an alternate answer to the sorts of questions religions ask if I think those questions are invalid in the first place. For example, the question “why are we here” is a common thing religions attempt to answer, but it starts from the presumption that there is such a thing as a deliberate sentience that wanted us to be here. If there isn’t, then the question “why” we are here doesn’t need to be answered because it wasn’t even valid to ask it the first place. It’s a gibberish statement similar to “What does purple sound like”, where the grammar fits but the semantics don’t map to anything that makes sense.

    When the religious dishonestly frame the debate by asking the wrong questions in the first place, then your idea that it’s better to counter this by spending a greater portion of your time coming up with your own answers to those invalid questions than by shooting down the questions in the first place is pretty much conceding the argument to them from the start.

  17. rhys.rhaven says

    Steve #26: Your second paragraph, I’ll agree. I don’t think it should be censored, but this video is political. Therefore I do rate it on its efficiency.

    And I’m not incorrect. Religion is a war of worldviews. Its a propagation of memes. Memes can be modelled very similarly to biological organisms (PZ strike me down if I’m wrong here). Different memes are effective in different environments (suburban America, rural North Korea, etc), with a switching price between them.

    There is a large overhead price in switching from a theistic worldview to an atheistic one. For your meme to prosper, it must provide more benefits than the persons current meme with a low enough switching overhead to make it worth it. To convince someone reason is a better way, you must show how its better (this video with some elaboration can help), but also provide a cohesive enough experience to answer questions I mentioned in #20, that the switching price is low.

    One denomination IS winning, and that is liberal Christians. They provide a less rigid structure than conservative Christianity with all the trappings they were raised with.

  18. rhys.rhaven says

    Steve #27: I don’t think there are answers to those questions. I’m part of that group of people.

    But Yes, my premise is that those questions are required at this time by huge portion of the human species. I see that as fact. Are you suggesting waiting until they no longer require such questions, when they are like me, where “I exist, cool.” is enough? Maybe that is the better view to take. But ignoring the need for such answers is ignoring reality and I find that a very reprehensible thing to do.

  19. Jessie says

    Many people need something to believe in and a sense of purpose. I rather liked AC Grayling’s idea that the meaning of life is to create purpose for ourselves and to care for one another. It would be nice to see that positive message pushed more rather than ‘religion is bad and those who believe are stupid or dangerous’ but that’s not really the prevailing attitude on this particular site. Try secular humanism if you are looking for non-religion with an established system of beliefs and a support network.

  20. Gregory Greenwood says

    ‘But ignoring the need for such answers is ignoring reality and I find that a very reprehensible thing to do. ‘

    So we are ‘ignoring reality’ by not making up meaningless answers to questions that fly in the face of the very concept of a rationalist, materialist understanding of the universe?

    We are acting in a ‘very reprehensible’ fashion because we refuse to allow theist apologists to frame the entire debate about religion exclusively in their own terms?

    This is a simple case of you can lead a person to the facts, but you cannot make them think. If a person is not satisfied by the force of the scientific process, and is not prepared to doubt their theism in the face of the complete lack of evidence for any deity, then they cannot be convinced of the value of atheism because they do not want to be convinced of the value of atheism. Their attachment to their religion is emotional, not rational. The truth, as they say, hurts. Especially when it conflicts with The Truth(tm), and many people have a very low pain threshold.

  21. Steven Mading says

    Rhys, thank you for admitting, indirectly, that what you are really advocating for here is that we be dishonest. If you agree that these questions don’t have answers (which you claimed you do in your post) then your entire screed is a push for adopting the morals of a used car salesman. I am not willing to lie in order to convert people over to my way of thinking, even if doing so was more effective. Honesty is the first criteria. Period. Only after that has been satisfied should the question of which of several equally honest approaches is more effective come into play. But using efficacy as a criterion to choose a dishonest approach over an honest one will never win points with me.

    Oh, and you are incorrect that Liberal Christianity is winning. In the US perhaps, but not worldwide.

  22. rhys.rhaven says

    Steve #32: Saying its “To be dishonest” is forcing this debate into a bottle for viewing. Its the only debate the I bother participating in anymore, and the only that our CFI group had a hard time with. Its not so clear cut.

    Is the role of a secular semi-political organisation (CFI, SSA, AA) to change the world to a better one by absolute truth, or by what works?

    Ex: Do you ally yourself with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship because Campus Crusade for Christ is a bigger evil? Because the touchyfeely ones are less likely to vote/lobby for madness than the others?

    Or do you piss both of them off because ultimately they are both wrong? (The touchy feely ones are on less stable ground than the evangelicals.)

    Do you post anti-religion flyers around, promote videos like this, or do you join the Campus Interfaith Council and try to say you’re in the same league, just to get your voice heard? You must play “nice” then. This is some of what we deal with. Practicality vs Purity.

    Also: I did say liberal christianity is winning in the US, as different memes work in different environments, the same as organisms.

  23. Gregory Greenwood says

    To follow up on Steve’s point, ‘Liberal Christianity’ is hardly a singular denomination. You have Liberal Catholics and Liberal Protestants who would probably object to being lumped together.

    Furthermore, the term ‘liberal’ is relative in this context. Even people who are liberal by the standards of Christians can have some very illiberal attitudes by the standards of liberal non-believers.

    Pushing atheism through stealth or attempting to dress up atheism in the ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ of a pseudo-theistic body of answers to a set of querstions that most atheists would say are not worth asking and have no meaning is a clearly dishonest tactic. We are advocating fewer lies and less manipulation of the gullible, not the propogation of a faux-atheist cult.

    Jessie @ 30;

    ‘It would be nice to see that positive message pushed…’

    I hesitate to speak for all Pharyngulites, but I think it safe to say that Pharyngula is not in the business of ‘pushing’ any message. We value honesty over whether what we say is considered sufficiently ‘positive’ or not. In any case, humanism and atheism are hardly mutually exclusive. There are plenty of secular humanists who comment on this very site. I am not sure that absolutist pidgeon-holing of we godless into various classes is accurate or helpful.

  24. Jessie says

    Gregory (34)

    I agree that complete honesty is required. I am not suggesting the use of dishonesty in any way.

    As I said ‘prevailing attitude on this particular site’, I don’t think that pigeonholes anyone.

    My comment about pushing a positive message was a general one about the negative way atheism/secularism is often seen by the religious as having no values and no meaning. The comment I hear is that non-believers are all about what they don’t believe rather than what they do.

  25. Gregory Greenwood says

    Jessie @ 36;

    Atheism is not a homogenous movement. We have no dogma, no (un)holy texts and no prophets. We come from every part of society. We believe in a wide variety of different personal moral codes and political and social philosophies. The only factor that unites atheists is clear from the name. We are a-theistic. We do not believe in a transcendent, universal intellect or supernatural creator. That is it, the only qualifying factor one must possess to call oneself an atheist.

    Many theists choose to propogate the old and well worn canard that atheists are by definition amoral because theists contend that all morality flows from god. We reply that there is no proof for the existence of any deity, and that morality, like all social norms, flows from humanity itself with perhaps a little nudge from evolution.

    You will never find a sigular manifesto of atheist beliefs because no such creature exists. Since our only uniting factor is a lack of belief in god, and this factor is most easily expressed in negative terms (unless one has a penchant for linguistic gymnastics), then it is inevitable that, to someone who is new to atheism, our position may seem negative.

    Such negativity is not automatically a bad thing when you have to spend so much time combatting the unsubstantiated asertions and flights of fancy presented as fact (or ‘woo’, which is used as a shorthand for such things) that are often the stock in trade of many theists.

    I for one choose an open position shorn of equivocation or any manifestation of double speak. I wear my atheism ‘warts and all’. It may not always be pretty, but it has the virtue of being honest. That said, I flatter myself that such blunt truthfulness does not make me unduly uncouth or impolite except when I am suitably provoked.

  26. tuckerch says

    My view of atheism. (YMMV)

    No god. No satan.
    No heaven. No hell.
    No eternal salvation. No eternal damnation.
    No christ. No antichrist.

    You’re born. You live. You die.

    Between the first and the last, don’t be a dick.

  27. F says

    I was hilariously unaware that Pharyngula and its forum were here to proselytize atheism to the religious in a manner that they can digest.

    Have fun with your organizations.

  28. Mal Adapted says

    I’m largely in agreement with Steve Mading and tuckerch. What theists, or humanists, might think about anything they read here doesn’t concern me. Pharyngula offers non-theists a place to find others of like mind, and respite from the frustrations of living among believers. It helps me feel like I’m not alone. I’m profoundly grateful to PZ for providing it, and to the witty and insightful commenters who contribute.

    I wish you all a happy New Year, however you calculate its beginning.

  29. says

    I mainly agree with Greenwood. I don’t think atheism is something that can or should be packaged into something appeasing to the religious. If you are to convince someone of the truth you can only do so by telling them the truth, regardless of how negative it might seem.

    I am an atheist but I used to be revolted by the majority of other atheists by what I thought was unnecessary cruelty whenever they debated religion. I still think that some atheists could stand to be more polite but I no longer think an atheist ought to tip-toe around the issue of religion. It’s not wrong to plainly point out how inconsistent and illogical religious belief is. It’s the truth and it must be made clear as such. If you soften the blow by packaging atheism (using the word like this feels dirty to me, it makes as much sense as trying to package nothing) so that it appeals to someone who would otherwise be repulsed by what you’re saying then what are you convincing them of? Only lies. You’re only succeeding in replacing one lie with another, and that does no one any good.

  30. Gregory Greenwood says

    acochetti @ 42;

    It is nice to know that someone agrees with me!


    One of the hardest parts of being an ‘out’ atheist (I hope it will not offend the LGBT Pharyngulites if I borrow the term) is finding a way to express your opinion without coming accross as being a jerk for the sake of it while also not simply avoiding the topic all together. It is one thing to know you are entitled to your opinion. It is entirely another to convince others of the fact.

    Sugar-coating atheism is wrong because it is disingenuous. Atheism is not about creating a new pseudo-religion. It is about the right of those who do not believe in any deity to be free of all religion. I for one would not be at all concerned if believers kept their faith solely as a matter of personal conviction, but when they try to force others to live according to their superstitions it is time to draw a line in the sand.

  31. rhys.rhaven says

    I don’t need any of these questions. I don’t care that anyone believes anything. But then they vote. And instead of being content to live their life with whatever madness they want, they try to force it on the rest of us.

    I’m active because I don’t want to end up on the next watch-list created for Sexual, Technical, or Social deviance. Religion scares the hell out of me.

    An example: This is a failed bill in the Ohio legislator in 2007. These are the votes for it. Created by “Citizen’s for Community Values,” it would destroy the adult industry in the State of Ohio. Notibly, all adult businesses must close between the hours of 12am and 6am. I know quite a few people whos businesses would be destroyed. Churches would do it if they could. I’m just terrified that if something changes, they could do it. They could do a lot more than this. Its merely priority (and a constitutionally minded governor currently) that this bill failed. Another: Look at the anti-abortion schitck in the massive healthcare debate.

    So its not Pharyngula’s problem. This is the wrong place for it. But I care about what the theists think because they vote. Otherwise, Muse142’s video makes me very happy. Science is interesting, if you don’t agree you can fuck off.

  32. Insightful Ape says

    The music was absolutely great. What is does (and I don’t know why anyone would expect more) is add another voice. Because we need to be visible, since the invisible and the nonexistent look awfully similar. At least that is one thing we can learn from god himself.

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  34. says

    Speaking of witches, watching that video just made me realize how perverse the industry and the associated memes that lives off of the deaths of innocent people who were persecuted by religious fanatics is. I think except for the stoning that was the most unnerving portion of the video. The idea of witches existing is viewed as silly and it’s adapted for things like football teams and businesses but people actually did die.

    I don’t mean to say I am outraged, rather I am unsettled.

  35. John Morales says


    I don’t care that anyone believes anything. But then they vote. And instead of being content to live their life with whatever madness they want, they try to force it on the rest of us.

    It’s worse than that, JimRhys!

    They force it on their children.

  36. says

    @52 & 53

    Sorry, was referring specifically to what was shown of Salem in the video. I’m sure I’ll be outraged as soon as I click your link, John.

  37. John Morales says

    acochetti, I too apologise for my brusqueness.

    I blame my own outrage — cruelty and torment inflicted on people (not just physical, but psychic) motivated by superstition is in no way a historic disgrace to humanity. It goes on today, right now.

  38. says

    No it’s alright; after beginning to watch Channel Four’s documentary I regret how I worded my post. It’s really disgusting how this still happens. Africa is deeply troubled in more ways than one. In case anyone else is interested, the documentary is split into parts on YouTube:

  39. Mobius says

    Just to say a little more…

    This video certainly concentrates on the violent dark side of religion. And certainly not all religious, or even a significant minority of the religious, are violent.

    But I know that most of the religious people I know do not want to face that this dark side exists, at least not in THEIR religion. I think that they are fooling themselves.

  40. arensb says

    Capital Dan @#15:

    I don’t mind it. It’s got a nice message. It’s not my kind of music, but it’s certainly someone’s kind of music.

    Funny, while I was watching the video I was thinking that that’s not my favorite type of video, but it’s got a nice soundtrack, and who’s the performer?

  41. JM says

    In the interests of accuracy, can I point out a few things where this video is not entirely honest.

    At 0:46 there is a sequence showing an explosion.

    That sequence features cross-hairs in the center of the frame and the following text at the bottom:

    “04/10/05 13.17.12 Az: 180.2 El: -7.2”

    I’m assuming that Az means Azumeth and El is Elevation.

    I think there is a pretty good chance this sequence is from a gun camera (maybe on a tank?) and does not represent a bombing.

    Now I think we can all agree on a couple of things: a.) god is a delusion and b.) religion justifies an awful lot of hate.

    But religion is not the only ideological delusion. Words like “democracy” and “freedom” are perfectly capable of being harnessed in the service of evil as well. The post WWII era has seen the liberal ideals of the Enlightenment – as embodied in the US empire – put to service just as effectively.

    Witness Iraq, where I suspect that sequence may come from, and the delusions of the US effort there. So why do I think this comes from Iraq, and why from the US?

    Because it looks like Iraq and from the context the video implicitly claims a middle east origin. And the US, because a.) only the developed nations have gun cameras, guerillas (ok, I’ll let you call them terrorists) do not; and b.) of those only the US releases such footage routinely. For propaganda purposes.

    My point here is that this video makes a dishonest conflation – one that is common in the new atheist push – that violence and terrorism can be sheeted home to religion and religion largely alone.

    In reality it can’t. Any ideology is suitable as an organizing principle to drive large numbers of people to give your cause support, religion just happens to be the most successful historically.

    Religion does not cause violence. It is simply an organizer of violence motivated by other causes. Democracy, freedom and other ideologies do nearly as well given the right circumstances.

    What causes violence is competition for resources. Like oil. If I were an atheist Iraqi, I would be just as pissed off about the US actions in my country over the last decade as any jihadist.

    Now religion in its mystical form – as a tyranny over the minds of (wo)men – is vastly more pernicious in its effects on most peoples lives than its effects in war. We will not abolish war by abolishing religion.

    We will abolish war only by being honest about its real causes.

    The two issues – religion and war – are different. You do the atheist cause no help by conflating them. Abolishing religion will do far more to abolish the day-to-day tyranny exercised over peoples lives than it will to end state-based violence.

    Which makes that objective far more important than a unfulfillable utopian dream of ending war.

    Cue outrage from those suffering cognitive dissonance…..

  42. Cruithne says

    It would have been nice to post a warning that the video contains some pretty graphic imagery.
    I know kicking a woman to death is a bad thing, I don’t need to see footage of it.

    Shit exploitative nasty nasty video.

    What next, posting beheading videos without warning us?

  43. Rincewind'smuse says

    Science is interesting, if you don’t agree you can fuck off.

    Thanks for giving the password, I’m sure now that you’re in :)

  44. jrsutter says

    I didn’t like seeing the images of the woman being stoned/kicked. I couldn’t watch after that. I would like a warning in the future. I’m not squemish, but stuff like that effects me pretty badly.

  45. jaybgee says

    I was really surprised by how amazing that video was. It was a weird mix of hope (the upbeat music) and despair (the reality of the insanity). The music kinda reminds me of Depeche Mode’s “People are People”.

  46. John Morales says


    I’m not squemish, but stuff like that [a]ffects me pretty badly.

    You’re in denial; if stuff like that affects you pretty badly and you couldn’t watch after that, it means you’re squeamish.

    (It affects me too, for that matter, I choked up and shed a tear or two at the video acochetti linked to. But I watched it. That makes me less squeamish.)

  47. Steven Mading says

    Posted by: rhys.rhaven Author Profile Page | January 2, 2010 5:43 PM

    Steve #32: Saying its “To be dishonest” is forcing this debate into a bottle for viewing. Its the only debate the I bother participating in anymore, and the only that our CFI group had a hard time with. Its not so clear cut.

    Is the role of a secular semi-political organisation (CFI, SSA, AA) to change the world to a better one by absolute truth, or by what works?

    Your post seems to contain the unstated premise that what you’re advocating for changes the world to a better place. I don’t agree, which is why I don’t agree with you. Trying to make the world a better place by telling lies with useful efficacy is, to me, a bit like trying to go north by walking south. The willingness to engage in propaganda to get your way is, in itself, a detrimental thing by my value judgements if the goal is to reduce the amount of suffering that is caused by the frequent practice of dishonest methods of persuasion (which is what my beef with religion is, is that it’s the biggest example of that very practice).