Atheists Rally on National Mall

It’s too bad that religious fundamentalism has grown so strong in the US that atheists feel the need to rally. To put none too fine a point on it, atheists are not well liked in America. The assumption seems to be that they are immoral and will corrupt the nation’s youth. From the Washington Post:

Long after blacks and Jews have made great strides, and even as homosexuals gain respect, acceptance and new rights, there is still a group that lots of Americans just don’t like much: atheists. Those who don’t believe in God are widely considered to be immoral, wicked and angry. They can’t join the Boy Scouts. Atheist soldiers are rated potentially deficient when they do not score as sufficiently “spiritual” in military psychological evaluations. Surveys find that most Americans refuse or are reluctant to marry or vote for nontheists; in other words, nonbelievers are one minority still commonly denied in practical terms the right to assume office despite the constitutional ban on religious tests…

On basic questions of morality and human decency — issues such as governmental use of torture, the death penalty, punitive hitting of children, racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, environmental degradation or human rights — the irreligious tend to be more ethical than their religious peers, particularly compared with those who describe themselves as very religious.

It’s a bit ironic that fundamentalists insist that America is a Christian nation, when many of the founding fathers were Deists and would have recoiled at these efforts to impose religious doctrine.

But I see I’ve been pulled into the heavy-duty earnestness of this crowd. Earnest is cute until maybe the age of 11. Hint: if you want to gain ground as a downtrodden minority, being cool is a faster path to success. Just look at the parade on Gay Pride day. Or how nerdiness is selectively fashionable (those horrible geeky glasses frames that became stylish in the dot com era are still in! Even the few people who look cute in them would look better in something else).

So these guys need serious help with brand positioning. Any advice?

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    1. Paul Jurczak

      This was a “Rally for Reason” – no need to mix marketing (brain washing) with it.

    2. Jane

      I’m a committed atheist and have no problem whatsoever with people of faith. After all, you cannot argue with faith.

      When people try to do a ‘conversion’ job on me, I simply reply: “Look, I believe that you believe, now why can’t you just believe that I don’t?” This states my case plainly, that I have no animosity towards them, an I hope they have none toward me. However it rarely ends that way for them.

      One of my favorite quotes:

      “I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to because I notice it always coincide with their own desires”. Susan B. Anthony

      I’m sure you can come up with a list of self-serving individuals to whom this quote refers.

      Here’s a starter of 3:

      George Bush
      Michelle Bachmann
      Rick Santorum

      1. Economista Non Grata

        I’m an atheist, however, if you put a gun to my head, I’ll tell you whatever you want to hear…. The value that lies in faith and religions is that they are exploitable demographics that are easily manipulated to advance a policy or economic agenda… Imagine, how easy it is to manipulate children with magic, the same applies to the faithful… Guilty as charged, your honor….! :-)

        Best regards,


        1. Rotter

          And so you think “faith”, the act of believing without a shred of proof is absent among atheists??? hmmmmmmmmmm….i think the difference is that theists have put that faith into an untouchable ideal construct, atheists put their faith in human beings….im not sure where i would put my fatih if i had any, but im sure it would not be in the hope of human perfection – btw “science” is the magic of atheists…

          1. redleg

            Science is a process of repeatable examination that relies on hard evidence to answer a question within defined parameters that leads to more questions.
            Faith is knowing something despite any and all evidence to the contrary, discouraging questions.
            Religion is dogma that prescribes how one exercises their faith.

            Science and faith are not opposite, since one is a process and the other is not. They are mutually exclusive, although they don’t have to be at certain scales/scopes. Science cannot be a religion, since it excludes faith.

          2. Christophe


            Please leave your faith in science aside while trying to argue that it cannot be faith based. Science is a method for explaining the mysteries inherent in human perception of the world. So is religion. Either can utilize scientific method and either can become dogmatic.

            Contrasting the zealously pure ideal of science with the terribly impure real-world manifestations of religion is a false and overly simple dichotomy. As practiced, science is replete with terribly impure real-world manifestations itself — as any scientist is well aware. You are engaging in intellectual dishonesty by pretending to respond to Rotter’s post when, in fact, you are ignoring his contribution.

            Rotter wrote “science” not science. You introduced the “pure”, unquoted term yourself. Rotter drew a parallel between science as currently practiced and used to its practitioners advantage, and religion as currently practiced and used to its practitioners advantage. He drew a parallel; you drew a false dichotomy.

            Also, stating that “Science cannot be a religion, since it excludes faith,” is circular reasoning. A term cannot be used to define itself. And a hypothesis cannot be proven by that hypothesis. Try practicing some science (without the quotes).

          3. K Ackermann

            At a certain point, science very much is faith. Does geometry exist independent of the mind? Does it exist independent of all the gods? Is it important?

            In quantum mechanics, is state vector reduction real? Is it important that it be real? All possibilities are to be included in the quantum state; does this include the Gödel metric?

            There’s a lot of faith in science.

            I’m pretty much an atheist, but I reserve the right to hope for a better place as I lay dying.

          4. redleg

            Science is a system of asking questions defined by measurable results. Measurable. The answers are generally more detailed questions. There is no faith involved. Trust in fellow scientists, but no faith.

          5. McKillop

            Rotter writes that atheists put their faith in human beings.
            How so?
            It appears to me that atheists argue for conclusions drawn after observation, and are often willing and able to change their conclusions based on new evidence. I presume that they do not “believe” in a specific god or specific religious tenets because there is no proof acceptable beyond metaphor.
            The argument that atheists are dogmatic and faith-bound in the same way that various fundamentalists from various religions is equivalent to arguing that people who object to racist bigots are bigots themselves.
            The technique is now _marketed_ as rovian political genius.

          6. Pat

            To whatever extent non-scientists have faith in science, it has been earned by subjecting its propositions to peer and puiblic scrutiny, not because the high priests of science have declared it to be the unassailable truth.

          7. Nathanael

            Science is *defined* by use of the scientific method, which actually works. Also known as “methodological empiricism”. There is lots of pseudoscience and appeals to authority among people with science credentials, but as Feynman would say, that’s not actually science.

            Religion *could* be empirical, but most religions aren’t, and religions which require belief in God or gods certainly aren’t — there’s ample evidence that there just aren’t any gods, outside our minds anyway. Many religions including most forms of Christianity actually *revel* in being anti-empirical, which is the many reason for these religions to be seen as enemies of sanity.

    3. Denise

      Considering the speed with which the Catholic countries of Western Europe are turning atheist, I think anything is possible.

      1. Nathanael

        Discovering that your “holy church” has spent most of the last 100 years as a ring designed to cover up sexual abuse of children *does* tend to get people a little more skeptical about religion…

  1. W.C. Varones

    What a load of crap.

    Nobody gives a crap about atheists.

    I’m secular/agnostic as are most younger people these days.

    These whiny atheists are begging for a reason to be aggrieved.

    1. ggm

      Not true. I’ll give you just one of many, many examples from my personal life:

      On the drive home from dinner at a boyfriend’s house, bf’s father asked what church I belonged to. When I told him I was an atheist, he completely flipped out and started ranting and raving that atheists are evil, never give to charities, have no morals, contribute nothing to society, etc. I was 15 at the time and it was a pretty frightening experience. He was so upset that he almost drove us off of the road. And this man was a liberal psychologist, not some uneducated fundamentalist right winger.

    2. Alex SL

      Atheist: I do not see sufficient evidence to convince me of the existence of gods.

      Agnostic: I really, really, really want to stress that you cannot prove a negative, but I do not see sufficient evidence to convince me of the existence of gods. And I am so much cleverer and more sophisticated than the people who call themselves atheists.

      Yeah, big difference. Also, by the same token you cannot really prove that there is no Easter Bunny, but strangely nobody thinks they need to proclaim their agnosticism about that… weird how that works. Wonder if that has something to do with people who disbelieve the Easter Bunny not being publicly maligned?

      1. Kiste

        Agnostics are chickenshit atheists, nothing more. For all intends and purposes they are exactly as godless as atheists, they just don’t like that label. It’s mainly an American thing, too.

        1. Anonymous Jones

          I don’t know much about chicken, but I can smell shit from a ways away.

          How in the world can anyone be sure there is no God?

          Atheists are as bad as theists. It’s preposterous. I’m sure atheism is very prominent in other cultures, just like theism. It’s makes sense. They are two sides to the same coin. There’s some hard-wired idiot gene in human beings that gives them confidence to venture into the complete unknown, not only with no facts and no logic, but literally into a realm where no facts and no logic are even possible.

          What freaking morons. Yeah, I’m chickenshit because I’m not willing to commit to something that is incontrovertibly outside the limits of my knowledge.

          What a bunch of dipshits I live amongst.

          1. Kiste

            I’m not really THAT interested in addressing your strawman version of atheism so let’s keep this short:

            Atheists see no reason for accepting the existence of a god because there is no evidence for it. It’s not a 100% certainty, it’s a more of a certainty beyond any reasonable doubt, based on the fact that no one has EVER produced any compelling evidence for it. Just like there is no evidence for Santa Claus, invisible pink unicorns or Underpants Gnomes.

            I’m an Underpants Gnomes atheist, and that would make you an Underpants Gnomes agnostic, I guess. While I cannot disprove the existence of Underpants Gnomes, I most certainly do not go through life pondering the infinitesimal possibility of their existence. Neither do you. So we’re actually identical in that regard.

            That you cannot prove a negative yadda yadda yadda doesn’t really add anything to the debate, it’s a just make-nice bullshit disclaimer for the chickenshit atheist, a.k.a the self-professed agnostic.

            “Agnosticism” is an utterly useless proposition and it is intellectually meaningless and I have less respect for the “agnostic” bullshitters than I have for Fundie Christians, who are at least honest about their beliefs.

          2. Wells Fargo Must Die

            Dear Kriste,

            Let me keep this even shorter.

            Atheism according to the dictionary, is the doctrine or belief that there is no God.

            That’s pretty clear. If you want to change the definition for yourself so be it. If you lack testosterone and need to add a little by declaring yourself an atheist even though you are technically an agnostic, even better.

            But let’s be very clear. You are neither bold nor intelligent. You are a loudmouth twirp who gets off on his atheism.

          3. Kiste

            Dear Wells Fargo Must Die,

            I don’t really give a shit about some simplistic dictionary definition of “atheism”. What’s relevant is what people who identify themselves as atheists actually believe.

            Go read a book or two. Even the Wikipedia article on Atheism would a good start.

          4. Wells Fargo Must Die

            I know you don’t. You are a wannabe. You need to identify yourself as an atheist because you do not like the term agnostic because you associate it with weakness. But your the weak one. You need the assurance of the stronger term to feel better. And then go popping off in a dick swinging contest.

            You are not any different than a fundy yourself.

          5. Kiste

            I’m outta here, since you seem to be unable to come up with anything resembling an argument and are obviously more interested in insulting me than in educating yourself.

          6. Nathanael

            Get a clue.

            Atheism is the *belief* that there are no gods. Everyone has *beliefs*.

            Agnosticism is a belief about the nature of *knowledge*. Most scientists would agree that nothing can be known for sure. But they hold *beliefs* anyway — beliefs based on the preponderance of the evidence.

            The preponderance of the evidence says there are no gods. So I’m an atheist. But indeed, we can never know anything for sure, so I’m agnostic. But if you claim to be agnostic and not atheist, you’re saying you never *looked* at the evidence, because if you’d looked at it, you’d be clear on where the preponderance of the evidence points (no gods).

    3. Yves Smith Post author

      My father finally told me he was an atheist at age 77. He never said so to us, and we did briefly go to Unitarian churches (and Unitarians believe in at most one God), so we kids would say “Unitarian” when asked and did not get any grief. He kept it under wraps because he was the mill manager (typically the biggest local employer) in hick towns, and I’m sure he concluded having his kids say in school that we were atheists would have hurt his ability to do his job. And my father was not at all the people pleasing type.

      So if he felt the need to be closeted, what does that tell you?

      1. LifelongLib

        My parents too go to the Unitarians when they feel the need for religious sanction.

        I always liked the “at the most, one God” bit.

      2. Eric L

        Interesting. I grew up in a small town, and it seemed at the time that a lot more people were openly atheist than gay, at least among high schoolers. Wonder if that’s still true…

        As far as what atheism needs branding-wise… nice-ness? I believe Ellen DeGeneres is one of the most effective gay rights advocates, not because she even does much advocacy, but because people who otherwise may not know openly gay people know her, and she seems alright. That sense that gays can be likeable people is more persuasive to most people that all the scientific information on it being natural and that gays can raise normal children.

        I suspect the public figures most associated with atheism in most people’s minds are people like Richard Dawkins. I don’t consider him to be immoral, but he doesn’t come across as nice, and a lot of people use niceness as a proxy for morality. He’s abrasive, because he knows he’s right and if everyone else were as smart as he is they would agree he’s right. He places a lot of value on being right; I think a lot of atheists are atheists precisely because they value being right. But most people aren’t concerned about whether atheism is right, they’re concerned about whether it is the downfall of civilization. For atheism to make progress, the message to get across is that atheists are okay people, like most people, with families and friends that they love and who try to treat others well because they want to live in a society where that is generally expected. And it does mean more atheists need to come out, especially the sort of atheists most reluctant to talk about their atheism because they value having good relationships with others more than they value making sure others don’t cling to silly superstitions out of ignorance.

        1. Alex SL

          He places a lot of value on being right; I think a lot of atheists are atheists precisely because they value being right. But most people aren’t concerned about whether atheism is right, they’re concerned about whether it is the downfall of civilization.

          Well, one could also argue that more people starting to care about being right instead of agreeing with their tribe is the only way humanity will ever improve anything.

          more atheists need to come out

          Full agreement to that!

        2. Moneta

          Well, if being right is a motive, religious zealots can be more sure of their beliefs than atheists.

          1. Economista Non Grata

            The shepherd manipulates his flock… No one is claiming that the faithful are evil, however they are ignorant… It sounds insulting, doesn’t it..? How else can you phrase that….? The assertion of faith in a creator can only be countered with ridicule or silence… You are all free to assert your faith and practice your religious beliefs, however, not on my couch!

            Best regards,


      3. evodevo

        Yes ! Someone who lives in a big city or a librul enclave like Frisco or New Yawk doesn’t have a clue what life is like in a small mid-western or southern town. To admit publicly to atheism there is to invite social exclusion at the very least. In some parts of the south the consequences would be much more dire. My father was a freethinker for most of his life, but as a middle management type in a small Ky. town, he joined the Methodist church and was even on the board. It would have been social/business suicide to admit that you didn’t “believe”. My atheism was present by the age of 12, but you didn’t “come out” till you went to college, or risked certain ostracism. Time for that to change. There are a lot of “closet atheists” out there who would be cheered to see that there are others of like mind. Only a few of the most daring (see Jessica Ahlquist) speak their minds in high school, and the results can be devastating.

      4. Too Lazy For Theological Debate

        ..But Too Scared Of Theocracy

        Back when I was an empty headed kid, I had a couple little buddies across the street from a very, very devout catholic family (their Dad was a car dealer sales manager – and I think he only made it thru the 1st Testament).

        When I started coming home spewing Fire and Brimstone, Mom and Dad decided they better take me to sunday school somewhere where I can get an alternate view of creation.

        After a few false starts in the protestant realm, they settled on Unitarian.

        So that’s where I discovered Rock&Roll, pot, and got laid for the first time. Not a complete waste of time I would say.

      5. redleg

        I am an atheist army veteran. If my employer knew I was an atheist I’d be out of a job by morning. If people really want nonbelievers to keep quiet the only thing they need to do is stop forcing religion on us, and crying “persecution” when someone tells them to stop.

      6. BDog

        My Dad grew up in a small town in Alabama, has always been an atheist and always has told others that he is an atheist. He moved to Houston and made a fortune in the oil and gas business. Never cared what people thought and would debate anyone on the spot. Debates people to this day.

        1. Nathanael

          Some people are tough as nails and in a sufficiently advantageous position to do what your Dad did. I was, too.

          Unfortunately, others aren’t. Those with fewer resources are more likely to face discrimination where staying “closeted” is the only way for them to keep their jobs.

    4. Doctor Brian Oblivion

      Whiny Atheists? I didn’t catch any in the clip so maybe you can point out the whiners. I could do with a laugh.

      One of these days atheists are bound to demand the right to vote or worship trees or something else. What’s next, mandatory man on dog cross breeding, two atheists one cup?

      That’ll wrap things up as far as marriage goes. Sigh.

      Atheists are right of course but they don’t have the decency to keep quiet about it and just hold their breath until they snuff it or something?

      A Gresham’s dynamic has forced honest men of conscience to flee the scene in disgust. God has been crowded out or perhaps He has taken Himself out with His own hand.

      The happiest and most content of all people should be those who have been saved, yet fundamentalists elbow each other out of the way to get to the microphone to start casting stones and judging with absolutist venom all those who do not join their inquisition. If God existed the hypocrites so intent on imposing an earthly makeover rather than praising the lord for the reward that awaits them in heaven would be the first into the internal pit, assuming they would even be allowed in.

      And don’t bother with that “free will” shit. If He existed (you have read the old testament, right?) word games aren’t going to protect charlatans from getting splattered with the blood of the lamb.

      A good faith house cleaning by an enraged deity would get a thumbs up from James Randi himself and the atheists would be buying the next several rounds for the big fella. These people aren’t fundamentalist or denialist, but they don’t buy the unconvincing faith requirement.

      They aren’t jackass enough to accept that any all-powerful God would exist who’d be hanging with a pig like Jerry Falwell, who at this moment is either nothingness (if the atheists are correct) or being gleefully shagged by the darkest demons of hell in ways which language cannot convey.

      God or no God, fundamentalism is the outward sign of inner demons and deep rooted mental illness. So point me to the whiny atheists. I’d rather party with those guys, eight days a week.

      God better bring it and smite the worst of the assholes claiming to speak for him or get the hell out and never come back. Fuck him if he can’t take a joke.

    5. Steve

      Why do you think atheists feel ggrieved? In what way? I think atheists are sick of “holier than thou” non-secular people, regardless of which holier than thou religion they follow.

    6. Jack

      Reasons to be aggreived?

      – In the US, parents’ atheism has been used to deny them custody of their children

      – In some states, laws explicitly prohibit atheists from running for public office (and even if they weren’t, over half the people in the US would not vote for someone, regardless of their political views, because they were an atheist)?

      – Recently, a Texas man was arrested for allegedly killing a fellow soldier because he didn’t believe in God.

      Those are just the first few that come to mind. There is a long list of justifiable grievances atheists have, even if you just limit it to the US. And not all of those grievances have to do with bad things happening to atheists, a lot of them have to do with the bad things that religious people do to each other.

      1. Jesse

        Oh man, I feel so aggrieved because somewhere in Texas someone was allegedly shot for being an atheist (this has all the makings of an urban legend, btw).

          1. Jesse

            Sure, though the motive now seems a little ambiguous.

            Brittany Green allegedly told authorities that her brother said he had shot Ramirez twice because he “did not believe in God and alleged that [the murder victim] reached for a gun,” the complaint said.

    7. another

      Atheists are the most agreeable people.

      They agree with Christians that Islam and all those other religions have got it wrong.

      They agree with Moslems that Christianity and all those other religions have got it wrong.

      They agree with Jews that Christianity, Islam and all those other religions have got it wrong.

      Et cetera.

      They even agree with agnostics about the lack of sufficient evidence to support any of these religious beliefs.

      Atheists have common ground with everyone.

    8. Jesse

      This is true whether people want to admit it or not. It’s possible that some of the older generations might be hostile to atheists, but the attitude I’ve mostly seen among young people is indifference. There’s really not that much contrast between me and most of the Christian friends I know. None of us go to church on Sunday, for example.

  2. Ralph Musgrave

    Studies have been done that compare the standards of behaviour of religious and non-religious people. I can’t quote chapter and verse, but there is one study out there that shows that divorce rates in the U.S are high amongst religious than non-religious people.

    Plus there is another study which shows that political corruption is higher in religious than relatively unreligious countries.

    1. EmilianoZ

      I was watching Gibney’s documentary on Jack Abramoff listening to his DVD commentary. All those guys (the Abramoff bunch) were deeply religious. Apparently Abramoff himself decided to become an orthodox Jew after watching “Fidler on the roof”.

      So, what Gibney was saying is that the religiosity is an integral part of the rotten politician/lobbyist package. It gives them a bullet-proof armor, not so much against others as against their own conscience (if they have one). In their own eyes, they are so godly, so essentially good that whatever they do can never be wrong.

      Blankfein is doing God’s work. Do I need to say more?

        1. Will Nadauld

          I am agnostic investigating the episcopal church. I was raised lds (mormon). I agree completely with the appearing godly to clear your own consience observation. Some of the most ruthless ( almost psycopathic) people I have dealt with operate this way. Also refuse to bring my children up in a religion that discriminates against gay people.

  3. Kujiranoai

    Athiests realize that there is no afterlife and this is the only world they have got, so they had better make the best of it, get along with everyone else and not destroy the world so they can leave something behind for their children.

    The religious on the other hand believe that they are gods chosen, are better than anyone not in their religious club and that whatever damage they do or selfishness they show god is going to sort things out (to their benefit).

    With th religious majoity in the US holding deluded ideas such as these is it any wonder the country is in terminal decline.

    1. aet

      A (perhaps surprising to some) number of religions have no beliefs concerning any so-called “afterlife”.

      Be that as it may, the “afterlife” is reserved exclusively for the Pharoahs!

      Everybody else is nothing but one of a bunch of of johnny-come-lately, wanna-bee, “afterlifers”.

      Just like horoscopes only really work for Kings. But that’s another story!

  4. Hugh

    Pew did a poll on religious affiliation back in 2007:

    1.6% identified as atheists. This is about the same number as Mormons (1.7%) or Jews (1.7%). 2.4% identified as agnostic, and 12.1% as nothing in particular. In this last group, 6.3% were secular unaffiliated and 5.8% were religious unaffiliated. By contrast, evangelicals account for 26.3% of Americans.

    1. Church lady

      You also have to distinguish between what people say and what they really think. Once on I did a fun thing. In repeated trials while being assigned to random interlocutors, I opened the conversation with “Praise Him!” In a clear majority of the cases the response was something like “FUCK YOU HAIL SATAN 666”

      1. ohmyheck

        Hey Church lady, did you notice that someone posted a comment downthread with the username “Hail Satan 666”? God, I love this place! (oops, I said “God”)

        As to my own username, it is a frequuetly-useed euphemism derived from The Land o’ Zion, where using “God” and “hell” is unacceptable, but “heck” wurks jus fiiiiine.

  5. Swedish Lex

    This will take a generation or two. Three generations in the US, perhaps.

    The most wealthy, equal, democratic, open and transparent countries tend to be those where people believe in ghosts and cults the least (relatively speaking). Take fear, poverty, opression and social contril out of the equation and people then tend to think that reality is OK, after all, without the need for imagined surrogates.

    Branding? Not my area of expertise. Get 1000 leading members of society to get out of the closet all at once?

    1. Denise

      Exactly so. Things will gain momentum when people with courage start to come out. We just need the ball to start rolling.

    2. redleg

      Anecdotal evidence: compare the rise of fundamentalist religions as a political force with inflation adjusted median wage.

      Hypothesis: increase standard of living for the bottom 99% over a decade and fundamentalist religions fade into the fringes…

  6. PunchnRun

    I have never seen any evidence for a god or gods as they are commonly defined. Ergo, it or they don’t exist – Occam’s razor principle.

    What bothers me about the avowed atheists who write columns and blogs is how much zeal they put into it. Almost as if they are evangelizing atheism. They are acting like their atheism is their religion. An oxymoron in some ways, but I guess some people just have to “believe in” something. Or have to tell everyone that they are right and everyone else is wrong. You aren’t going to win many friends that way.

    1. Alex SL

      What bothers me about the economists who write columns and blogs is how much zeal they put into it. Almost as if they are evangelizing economics. They are acting like their view of economics is their religion. An oxymoron in some ways, but I guess some people just have to “believe in” something. Or have to tell everyone that they are right and everyone else is wrong. You aren’t going to win many friends that way.

      You could do the same thing with everything somebody cares about. If you believe (1) you are very likely right, (2) somebody else is very likely wrong, and (3) getting this issue right matters to their, your or especially public well-being, then you try to change minds. Be it about superstition, evolution, tax policy, health care, homeopathy, foreign policy or gay rights. And peoples’ views on all of the items on this list, by the way, are influenced by their religious beliefs or lack thereof.

    2. diptherio

      This is a very good point. The problem does not really lie with theists or atheists, but rather with people of all stripes who are strangers to humility and are totally convinced that they, and only they, are right. Whatever conclusions they have come to must be the right ones and anyone who doesn’t agree is stupid or crazy. Dawkins falls into this camp along with Dobson.

      Neither side would care to admit that, given that the cosmos is infinite (whether we are looking outward or inward) and that our human minds are quite finite, that whatever “truths” fit inside our tiny skulls are likely, nay, necessarily, approximations at best, and likely totally wrong. This goes equally for the fundie Xians and the rabid atheists.

      A commenter above denies the existence of God(s) on the basis of never having encountered one or evidence of one, claiming that they must therefore not exist. The problem with thithats argument is that many people have encountered evidence for some “divine” presence. Good luck with your Occam’s Razor argument with those people (of whom I am one) That I’ve never been to Antarctica does not prove that it doesn’t exist, especially to someone who has been there.

      I think all sides could benefit from a primer in maybe-logic. Bi-valued truth statements are always misleading, at best,that and adoption of bi-valued thinking inevitably leads to strife, conflict and bad vibes. I, for one, am quite certain that BOTH the theists and the atheists are right, and also that NEITHER of them are.

      1. PunchnRun

        Point on bi-valued logic will drive further though. I’m no physicist but like to follow cosmology as best I can. Current thought tends to treat the universe as infinite, or assume it to be. In an infinite universe (multiverse?) all possibilities are realized. Monotheists often assume their god is infinite and all powerful. In an infinite universe that possibility must be realized, but so must the absence of such a god. How can such a contradiction be real? Ask Heisenberg.

        One thing’s for sure, nothings for sure. Darn, now I’m tripping on this gnarly mess. Think I’ll go back to my bits and bytes, they are conveniently bi-valued.

      2. Nathanael

        You, Sir, Madam, or whatever, are clearly a Discordian. (Look it up.)

        Anyway I’m a big fan of lack of humility. Humility is for people who might be wrong. ;-) Once you’ve spent enough time and energy researching something, it’s merely false humility to act humble, and false humility is an error.

  7. brian t

    Such cynicism in Yves’ piece and many comments. I guess that hanging around (or even just reading about) Wall St. and Washington DC will do that to you. When you’re surrounded by deceit, if everyone around you has an angle and a motive, then I guess it’s hard to recognise when people are just being straight with the truth as they see it.

    1. Mel

      America is the most heavily propagandized nation ever, anywhere. I’m working to try to prove that. It’s easier if you regard private-sector propaganda for what it is.

      A passage occurred to me the other day, and I couldn’t place it. I strip-mined all my Chomsky and Orwell — no luck. It turned out to be by Peter Drucker, bless him. It applies directly to the breakdown of political discourse and the destruction of meaning that we’ve been discussing:

      “Indeed, the danger of total propaganda is not that the propaganda will be believed. The danger is that nothing will be believed and that every communication becomes suspect. In the end, no communication is being received any more. Everything anyone says is considered a demand and is resisted, resented, and in effect not heard at all. The end results of total propaganda are not fanatics, [but] cynics — but this, of course, may be even greater and more dangerous corruption.” Peter Drucker, _The Ecological Vision_

      1. hermanas

        I spent all my time at sea and believe in the sailors’ god. Has no relation to church, though we may carve our home church. I was shuffled around the family when my mom died, all went to different church. Each said they were the only church.
        In the Fla. Keys, I heard, “everyone has to believe something, I believe I’ll have another beer.”

  8. craazyman

    I guess being an atheist means you can’t work for Goldmint Stacks — because, as we all know, they do “God’s Work.”

    Bowoaha ahahaha ahhahaaha hahahahahaha ah!

  9. F. Beard

    If one believes that life can evolve from non-life and if one believes that mankind will eventually be able to create life then what makes us believe that we would be the first Creator to have evolved?

    “You are My witnesses,” declares the LORD, “And My servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe Me and understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, and there will be none after Me.” Isaiah 43:10

    The implication is that God Himself may have formed. Why not? Given infinite time isn’t anything possible?

    1. skippy

      Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

      Ye are my witnesses – They were his witnesses, because, first, he had given in them predictions of future events which had been literally fulfilled: secondly, by his power of delivering them so often manifested, he had shown that he was a God able to save. Neither of these had been done by the idol-gods (compare Isaiah 44:8).

      And believe me – Or rather, confide in me.

      Before me there was no God formed – I am the only true, the eternal God. In this expression, Yahweh says that he was the first being. He derived his existence from no one. Perhaps the Hebrew will bear a little more emphasis than is conveyed by our translation. ‘Before me, God was not formed,’ implying that he was God, and that he existed anterior to all other beings. It was an opinion among the Greeks, that the same gods had not always reigned, but that the more ancient divinities had been expelled by the more modern. It is possible that some such opinion may have prevailed in the oriental idolatry, and that God here means to say, in opposition to that, that he had not succeeded any other God in his kingdom. His dominion was original, underived, and independent.

      Neither shall there be after me – He would never cease to live; he would never vacate his throne for another. This expression is equivalent to that which occurs in the Book of Revelation, ‘I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last’ Revelation 1:11; and it is remarkable that this language, which obviously implies eternity, and which in Isaiah is used expressly to prove the divinity of Yahweh, is, in the passage referred to in the Book of Revelation, applied no less unequivocally to the Lord Jesus Christ.


      Isaiah 43:1

      1But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.

      But now – This expression shows that this chapter is connected with the preceding. The sense is, “Though God has punished the nation, and showed them his displeasure Isaiah 42:24-25, yet now he will have mercy, and will deliver them.’

      That created thee – The word ‘thee’ is used here evidently in a collective sense as denoting the Jewish people. It is used because the names ‘Jacob’ and ‘Israel’ in the singular number are applied to the people. The word ‘created’ is used here to denote the idea that, as the special people of God, they owed their origin to him, as the universe owed its origin to his creative power. It means that, as a people, their institutions, laws, customs, and privileges, and whatever they had that was valuable, were all to be traced to him. The same word occurs in Isaiah 43:7, and again in Isaiah 43:15, ‘I am Yahweh – the Creator of Israel, your king’ (see also Isaiah 44:1; compare Psalm 100:3).

      Fear not – This is to be understood as addressed to them when suffering the evils of the captivity of Babylon. Though they were captives, and had suffered long, yet they had nothing to fear in regard to their final extinction as a people. They should be redeemed from captivity, and restored again to the land of their fathers. The argument here is, that they were the chosen people of God; that he had organized them as his people for great and important purposes, and that those purposes must be accomplished. It would follow from that, that they must be redeemed from their captivity, and be restored again to their land.

      For I have redeemed thee – The word גאל gā’al means properly “to redeem,” to ransom by means of a price, or a valuable consideration, as of captives taken in war; or to redeem a farm that was sold, by paying back the price. It is sometimes used, however, to denote deliverance from danger or bondage without specifying any price that was paid as a ransom. Thus the deliverance of the Jews from Egyptian bondage is sometimes spoken of as a redemption (Exodus 6:6; Exodus 15:13; compare Genesis 18:16; Isaiah 29:22; Isaiah 44:23; Jeremiah 31:11; see the note at Isaiah 1:27). It is not improbable, however, that wherever redemption is spoken of in the Scriptures, even in the most general manner, and as denoting deliverance from danger, oppression, or captivity, there is still retained the idea of a ransom in some form; a price paid; a valuable consideration; or something that was given in the place of that which was redeemed, and which answered the purpose of a valuable consideration, or a public reason of the deliverance. Thus, in regard to the deliverance from Egypt – Egypt, Ethiopia, and Seba are mentioned as the ransom (see the note at Isaiah 43:3); and so in the deliverance from the captivity, Babylon was given in the place of the ransomed captives, or was destroyed in order that they might be redeemed. So in all notions of redemption; as, e. g., God destroyed the life of the great Redeemer, or caused him to be put to death, in order that his chosen people might be saved.

      I have called thee by thy name – ‘To call by name’ denotes intimacy of friendship. Here it means that God had particularly designated them to be his people. His call had not been general, addressed to the nations at large, but had been addressed to them in particular. Compare Exodus 31:2, where God says that he had designated ‘by name’ Bezaleel to the work of constructing the tabernacle.

      Thou art mine – They were his, because he had formed them as a people, and had originated their institutions; because he had redeemed them, and because he had particularly designated them as his. The same thing may be said of his church now; and in a still more important sense, that church is his. He has organized it; he has appointed its special institutions; he has redeemed it with precious blood; and he has called his people by name, and designated them as his own.


      Skippy… now build me a golden temple and snap too it or its more beatings till moral improves! BTW how can you ever be free if your a slave and your only recourse over the terms of this contract (only equals can make contracts thingy) is to talk to your hands or some guy that won’t look you in the eyes (RRC). Freewill bah.

      1. F. Beard

        now build me a golden temple and snap too it or its more beatings till moral improves! skippy

        Now it came about when the king lived in his house, and the LORD had given him rest on every side from all his enemies, that the king said to Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells within tent curtains.” Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that is in your mind, for the LORD is with you.”

        But in the same night the word of the LORD came to Nathan, saying, “Go and say to My servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD, “Are you the one who should build Me a house to dwell in? For I have not dwelt in a house since the day I brought up the sons of Israel from Egypt, even to this day; but I have been moving about in a tent, even in a tabernacle. Wherever I have gone with all the sons of Israel, did I speak a word with one of the tribes of Israel, which I commanded to shepherd My people Israel, saying, ‘Why have you not built Me a house of cedar?’”’ 2 Samuel 7:1-7 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

      2. skippy

        The words don’t fit the reality, the actual historical physical occurrences are out side the meaning imbued, the authors detachment from the time line crates a self imposed need to embellish acts of which he did not observe, ad infini.

        The American brand, is just that, a brand. Pure marketing so detached from its roots, the founding fathers would gasp (granted they had the luxury of all the mod cons of the day).

        Skippy… care to address the rest of it or is it a case of pick and choose the bits your comfortable with.

        PS. how did the abos figure out carrying capacity 60 thousand years ago, yet your mob is still twisting in the wind for 3,800ish, repeating the same mistakes over and over is not a sign of intelligence. How much world do you need to be happy?

        1. F. Beard

          How much world do you need to be happy? skippy

          Mankind’s hope for survival (if there is no God) is not Australian aborigines. The West, for all its faults, has developed science and technology which might save us if say a killer asteroid heads our way.

          And it is the money system, based as it is on usury for counterfeiting money, that REQUIRES exponential growth and/or recurrent Depressions.

          1. skippy

            Play with the promissory notes as much as you like, it will change nothing… methinks. Changing the creation of an inanimate object does not change the power system one iota, they will still be in control. The folks that arbitrarily define reality with out consensus, popular reformation, cuz they say so. Kinda like you.

            Skippy… the fight is about control, whom has it, to what ends and why they feel that_it is theirs_to action.

          2. F. Beard

            Changing the creation of an inanimate object does not change the power system one iota, they will still be in control. skippy

            Common stock as money “shares” both wealth and CONTROL.

            I thought liberals and progressives believed in sharing? Or it is simply that they would rather be in charge? But even if they were in charge there is still that “socialist calculation problem” thingy.

          1. ohmyheck

            Hey wunsacon, thanks or the links. “E-Prime” is now mentioned in two separate links in this one comments thread. Too cool! The thing is, I’ve been unknowingly incorporating “E-Prime” into my perceptions for quite sometime. It hasn’t had the effect that some claim it can have. Maybe that’s because no matter how you use your words, people are only going to hear what they hear. Not much one can do about that.

    2. Steve

      If god herself formed at some point, then that makes god a natural creature, not supernatural. That takes the stuffing right out of religion.

      1. F. Beard

        That takes the stuffing right out of religion. Steve

        Religion IS contaminated with a lot of human speculation which is why I stick with the Bible.

        1. Gizzard

          Not trying to be a prick F. Beard because I usually really like your comments…. but isnt the Bible itself contaminated with human speculation?

          1) It was written by humans in a language far different from that which we read it in today, so there was much speculation as to what the original writers may have meant.

          2) It was assembled by a politically appointed council that speculated which writings were the best to tell he story they wanted to tell.

          Point being that the Bible was not a complete document dropped from heaven. It has been poisoned through and through with humans who had their own agendas and desires. Religion has been mostly about politics from the day it was conceived.

          1. F. Beard

            …. but isnt the Bible itself contaminated with human speculation? Gizzard

            In my opinion it isn’t. But the only way to be sure is to read it oneself and form one’s own opinion.

          2. Nathanael

            And, F. Beard, which translation do you read?

            Or do you read the Hebrew? In which case, which version, “mainstream” Masoretic or Samaritan?

            And for the New Testament, which of the Greek originals?

            It sure is contaminated by human interference; there’s no doubt about that.

  10. SR6719

    How about a rally for schizophrenics who do not believe in the ego and are incapable of uttering the word “I”?

    “The ego, however, is like daddy-mommy: the schizo has long since ceased to believe in it. He is somewhere else, beyond or behind or below these problems, rather than immersed in them…..”

    “There are those who will maintain that the schizo is incapable of uttering the word “I” and that we must restore his ability to pronounce this hallowed word. All of which the schizo sums up by saying: they’re f**king me over again. “I won’t say “I” anymore, I’ll never utter the word again, it’s too damn stupid. Every time I hear it, I’ll use the third person instead, if I happen to remember to, if it amuses them. And it won’t make one bit of difference.”

    And if he does chance to utter the word I again, that won’t make any difference either. He is too far removed from these problems, too far past them.”

    Deleuze & Guattari, “Anti-Oedipus”, pg 23

    “For me there is something else in addition to yes, no or indifferent – that is, for instance – the absence of investigations of that type. . . I am against the word “anti” because it’s a bit like atheist, as compared to believer. And the atheist is just as much of a religious man as the believer is, and an anti-artist is just as much of an artist as the other artist….”

    (Marcel Duchamp trying to explain his attitude of indifference to Andre Breton)

    1. patricia

      Duchamp equates different problems in order to negate them. He wasn’t at all stupid, he just didn’t care.

      So sure, it is better to find a word that defines one’s world-view rather than using it as merely as a declaration of what one is opposed to. It’s simply more stable.

      But just because we have a tendency to define ourselves in opposition, doesn’t mean there are no definitions: “And the atheist is just as much of a religious man as the believer is, and an anti-artist is just as much of an artist as the other artist….” That’s just sloppy thinking but Duchamp wanted everyone off his back. He was too busy enjoying being ridiculous, so for him the issues were moot.

      It was pointless for Breton to even engage. One wonders why he did not know that.

      1. SR6719

        Excellent comment.

        But atheists take themselves too seriously. Imagine someone who is a total agnostic with regard to the existence of reality. Reality may perhaps exist, but despite its self evidence our reality agnostic still detects a shadow of doubt, and confines himself to reality as an unverifiable hypothesis.

        However, I doubt he would take himself seriously enough to organize a rally at the National Mall for reality agnostics!

        patricia: “It was pointless for Breton to even engage. One wonders why he did not know that.”

        Because Breton stood in awe of Duchamp.

        However there are a number of things I dislike about Duchamp as well. For one thing, his contempt for sensual painting was irrational. And when it comes to introducing a scientific (or mock scientific) approach to art, I always preferred Seurat.

        Also, Duchamp was fiercely competitive and vengeful in establishing an outsider position for himself, becoming the “asp in the basket of fruit” as Robert Motherwell once said.

        In a sense he wanted to out-innovate every other artist, but the only way he could do that was by destroying the aesthetic ground on which their art was built. Perhaps his greatest achievement was the discrediting and undermining of the aesthetic.

        This was a triumph of destructiveness that has corrupted 20th (and 21st) century creativity.

        1. patricia

          “Perhaps his greatest achievement was the discrediting and undermining of the aesthetic….This was a triumph of destructiveness that has corrupted 20th (and 21st) century creativity.”

          Completely agree. He and his ilk also destroyed relevancy, which is just as sad as the loss of aesthetic (or perhaps inevitably goes together?)

          But the fact that Breton was in awe of Duchamp showed that the problem began before Duchamp arrived. What kind of back alley was Breton already walking down, such that he found Duchamp intellectually and creatively awe-inspiring?

          The world of art became twisted a long time ago. A combination of certain artists and those self-declared arbiters of taste that always haunt the art world lashed out when the final blocks of the Enlightenment tumbled down. No other response would be admitted. Then it turned on itself and destructed.

          “In a sense he wanted to out-innovate every other artist, but the only way he could do that was by destroying the aesthetic ground on which their art was built.” It is much the same kind of process that we see in the financial field. Get rid of all the rules and principles, erase the fundamental reasons we even have the field, because we worship the great god of innovation and freedom–and here we are. Only with the economy, the damage is much more direct, severe, and downright unbearable.

          One might think we might use the art field as a good example of what not to do. Instead, we seem to want to use it as the only way to proceed. Tres triste.

          1. SR6719

            patricia: “What kind of back alley was Breton already walking down, such that he found Duchamp intellectually and creatively awe-inspiring?”

            One more thing and I have to get to work….

            Personally I never cared for Breton. One of the paradoxes of surrealism was that a movement supposedly dedicated to liberation ended up becoming so doctrinaire. This was due to the personality of Andre Breton.

            Just before an major exhibition of paintings in Paris, Breton excommunicated the British painter Byron Gysin from the Church of Surrealism and ordered his works removed.

            On another occasion, the Belgian painter Rene Magritte himself abandoned surrealism after Breton, at a gathering of the fraternity in his studio, asked Magritte’s wife to remove the crucifix from around her neck.

            And so forth, there are many stories about Breton behaving like a dictator, these are just two that came to mind….

          2. patricia

            Yes but if it weren’t Breton, it would’ve been another. Any movement that dedicates itself to absolute freedom becomes, in the end, both doctrinaire and personality-driven. If fundamental principles are rejected, they come back around and bite our butts through one kind of fascism or another.

            Principles can be addressed in a hundred different ways but arrange them we must, and if we don’t, they derange us.

            Of course I’m broad brushing it, right? There has been some amazing work done in spite of all the rhetoric.

          3. SR6719

            Even today the situation is not entirely hopeless as there are holdouts against the trend towards post-art, artists still using avant-garde methods of art-making that might seem obsolete from a postmodern point of view. A few examples that come to mind are German Neo-expressionist painting, the Irish-born American abstract painter Sean Scully, as well as the photo-realist painter Richard Estes.

            And William Gass made an eloquent plea for a return to beauty in art, as follows:

            “…in a world which does not provide beauty for its own sake, but where the work of flowers, landscapes, faces, trees and skies are adventitious and accidental, it is the artist’s task to add to the world’s objects and ideas those delineations, carvings, tales, fables and symphonic spells which ought to be there; to make things whose end is contemplation and appreciation; to give birth to beings whose qualities harm no one, yet reward even the most casual notice, and which deserve to become the focus of a truly disinterested affection.”

        2. patricia

          Yes, and Ann Hamilton and Jerome Witkin and Jane Frere (mentioned because I re-looked at their work online today) and many many more. Isn’t it wonderful? There is always another chance and there are always people who in their own ways, continue “in spite of”, in their own ways, the latter even more precious because of it.

          Very good to meet you, SR6719!

          1. SR6719

            I love Jane Frere’s work.

            How many NYC-based artists would even think of living and working with Palestinian refugees?

            Nice meeting you as well!

  11. JefeMT

    Imagine there’s no heaven
    It’s easy if you try
    No hell below us
    Above us only sky
    Imagine all the people living for today

    Imagine there’s no countries
    It isn’t hard to do
    Nothing to kill or die for
    And no religion too
    Imagine all the people living life in peace

    You, you may say
    I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one
    I hope some day you’ll join us
    And the world will be as one

    Imagine no possessions
    I wonder if you can
    No need for greed or hunger
    A brotherhood of man
    Imagine all the people sharing all the world

    You, you may say
    I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one
    I hope some day you’ll join us
    And the world will live as one

      1. mk

        all humans as a species can be thought of as a single organism because we have the ability, capability, to cooperate and act as one to achieve something we all want.

        see how that works?

  12. JamesN

    Ahhh, the age of identity politics. I’m an a-THE-ist too, but feel no particular urge to declare it to everyone I meet. The THE-ists are doing enough of that already for all of us, and look how stupid it makes them look (Rick Santorum anyone?)? It’s pretty simple. When the ‘thumpers start spouting their s***, simply turn and walk away. Don’t respond, don’t explain, don’t defend. Just ignore. Sooner or later even the simpletons will get the message.

  13. patricia

    Groups tend to look like what they believe, I suppose.

    —Atheists tend to fuddy-duddy because they’re fine with what is.
    —American Christians tend to the plastic because they keep trying to force a belief system on themselves and the world.
    —Academics tend to the blasé because they are mostly interested in abstractions.
    —Businessmen/accountants tend to suits, being tucked into a field of numbers.
    —Artists tend to the rickety flamboyant because they enjoy playing with color/form.

    I’m actually rather glad that “branding” doesn’t work well for most of us. It is hype, just another layer to peel awy to get to the real thing.

    1. patricia

      Although it would be delightful if we had a little more fun with how we look. What’s wrong with a little more fun? But then I’m from the artist group, so I would think that.

  14. Norman

    Gish Yves, you sure opened a can of . . . . . here. What difference does it make what one believes in? It’s what one does here while being alive that counts. Anything else, is just that, else.

  15. dSquib

    I’ve always been an atheist but never really got with the need to form an identity around it. It’s just the absence of a particular belief, after all.

    I remember reading a thread about religion and atheism on Yelp or something like that, some posters were out and proud as atheists and were dressing it up in the language of “reason” and such. Then I saw another thread posted an hour later about “ghosts” and people recounting their “experiences”, with many of the SAME PEOPLE proudly atheistic on the atheist thread going on about how they “felt the presence” of their dead Aunt Hettie when eating pickles in the kitchen at 3am when they couldn’t sleep. (Aunt Hettie loved pickles you see, so it must’ve been her)

    Point being, not believing in God doesn’t necessarily make you a devotee of reason.

  16. Dan B

    “So these guys need serious help with brand positioning. Any advice?”
    We’re looking at their intrinsic brand in the video.

    1. Iolaus

      This is a joke, right? I look at that picture and I see a bunch of nondescript people. This crowd could be any crowd. Isn’t that the point?

      I’m not an aggrieved atheist; I’m a militant atheist. When the Nice Bible People come to the door to tell me about Jesus I look straight at them, and say in the levelest voice I can command under the circumstances, “I’m a militant atheist. I don’t know, and you don’t know either.” Then they leave me alone.

  17. Thorstein

    I have a magnetic bumpersticker that reads, “God Makes War OK”. I don’t often have the temerity to display it, but in four words I believe it neatly summarizes the role of religion–and especially monotheism–in society. Especially, this dog-eat-dog United States society where we are each expected to screw our neighbors or else get voted off the island. If there is no God, who will forgive us? To claim publicly to be an atheist–to say that one doesn’t need forgiveness is an affront to Americans’ ultimate Authority to Kill. This affront cannot be forgiven.

    1. Lidia

      RWNJ sis claims the reason that the God character killing all those innocent people in the OT—dashing babies’ heads in and so forth—is A-OK because He Is God and we are not.

      It’s the authoritarian follower meme where it’s Just and Proper for the State [in the God role] to have a monopoly on violence, and to exercise it.

  18. za

    I don’t really think you can re-brand it without getting rid of the root cause – human cognitive dissonance.

    The world bears no relationship to the myth – the demand for an internally-consistent fantasy model of the world. People tell themselves stories to reconcile the two.

    Theodicy works precisely this way. Politics does it ALL THE TIME. Clever sociopaths throughout history have had ready-made stories prepared about the mythology. Rational people mock it and are continually amazed by the batshit nonsense that others believe, ignoring the fact that rationality has absolutely nothing to do with it and tribal loyalty everything.

  19. Theocratic Dictators

    Jimmy Carter spoke of his faith, and man, the floodgates were opened after that. By the 80s we had Christian rock and roll bands. Tragedy!

    1. Morning Joseph

      A descent into fundamentalism has enourmous social impact. In 1980, our USSC decided to change what “cruel and unusual punishment” meant, brutal 3 strikes laws helped increase US prison population. Reagan put massive money into the failed war on the poor (drug war). The ol’ hustles, usury, debt collection, loan sharking – busting to get through the gate.
      Religion as distraction? Perhaps. The middle class was (is) losing badly in every way, but instead of focusing on how pirates are taking their jobs, busting their unions, selling off their futures, and legalizing fraud – ever larger numbers took to the streets in because abortion must be outlawed. The mortgage free-for-all is another example of perverse irony, and mis-labeling, as loan sharks would sell by implying they are doing God’s work, or you can trust ‘Christian Lending’, we’ll originate your ball n’ chain.

      1. Lidia

        RWNJ sis came out of Christian business school wanting to set up a biz called “Rent-a-Wheel”. It was supposed to “make money” by leasing multi-thousand-dollar sets of alloy wheels to Hispanics and gangsta wannabes in LA.

        Pure parasitism.

        But Christian!

  20. Jeebus Lobby

    Look out – we have a marked increase in fundamentalism in our Armed Forces. ‘Look out’ means look at history; it’s not encouraging in a time of even more destructive weapons systems and increasing aggression via economic woe.

  21. Hail Satan 666

    It’s just the modern craze for labeling enemies. When people make a cross out of their fingers and say, You’re an Atheist? My response is usually something like, What are you talking about, atheist? I just don’t pretend there’s a god. This typically starts an amusing argument about the difference between believing and pretending, when you have no objective basis for belief except peer pressure. Fun ways to proselytize nervous sectarians: They only tell you that stuff to control you. By making you profess irrational stuff, they’re training you to obey. Without your religion you’d be the same good person you are now, without all that nonsense. That’s the kind of magical thinking that every healthy eight-year old outgrows.

    This of course makes them hate atheists even more. But so what? People also hated mics, wops, sheenies, piners, beaners, dots, mackerel-snappers, and slopes, but they got over it. Come to think of it, Why is there no good slur for atheists? Don’t we deserve one too?

  22. Velse

    How can they spice up their rallies? Battle of the Gods! Costumed atheists compete for the God of Gods prize in several categories: Best Regalia, Most Arbitrary Law, Sexual Potency with Mortal Maidens, and Mr/Ms Somewhat Ethical.

  23. taunger

    the atheists i know that are politically active aren’t looking for equal rights, recognition, etc. they are more agressive in looking to purge religiosity from public life.

    its too bad, because 1), it ain’t gonna happen (duh), and 2) their arguments are poor and embarrassing to the power that faith can play in morality and society

    1. redleg

      They (we) are looking to purge religion from public life as it has been thrust there by zealots who cry “persecution” any and every time someone says “no”. People can and should believe/practice whatever religion they want to (or not) but keep it private, please.
      As an atheist I have had it with zealots, and am no longer willing to tolerate their intolerance.

  24. Eclair

    I’m an atheist and have been since the age of about 7, when I had a long discussion with my mom, about fairy stories, which I loved to read. Went something like this: So elves aren’t real. No, they ‘re pretend. And ogres aren’t real? Nope. And fairies, with wings? They’re pretend too. What about angels with wings? Oh, they’re real.

    And this ” God our heavenly father” stuff has always bothered me. Why not, if one must believe, a heavenly mother? Or, maybe, a transgender god: tall, blonde, with breasts and womb, a deep voice and a beard.

  25. Min

    “It’s too bad that religious fundamentalism has grown so strong in the US that atheists feel the need to rally.”

    You could also say, “Isn’t it great that there are enough open atheists in the US that they can hold a rally.” ;)

  26. Ben Abbott

    The “Deist” angle of the founding period is often overstated by both the overtly theist and the overtly atheist.

    200+ years ago, Deism didn’t represent an absent watchmaker. It was more along the lines or rejecting the divine origins of scripture and doctrines favored by *revealed* religions.

    Even so, much of *early* Deism was aligned with nominal Christianity (then and now). From the “Early Deism” section in wikipedia …

    * There is one Supreme God.
    * He ought to be worshipped.
    * Virtue and piety are the chief parts of divine worship.
    * We ought to be sorry for our sins and repent of them
    * Divine goodness doth dispense rewards and punishments both in this life and after it.
    —Lord Herbert of Cherbury, The Antient Religion of the Gentiles, and Causes of Their Errors, pp. 3–4, quoted in John Orr, English Deism, p. 62

  27. Dirk77

    If you are an atheist, all you are saying is that you require tangible evidence before you believe something to be true. That is it. If you’ve got people on your case about that, then your (or more precisely their) problems go far beyond religion. Further, I don’t think there is any omnipotent being component in Buddhism, yet I don’t see anyone harassing them about that. What is different there?

  28. craazyman

    If you’re an atheist, can you say stuff like:

    God damn it!


    Jesus Fucking Christ!


    Holy Moses what horseshit!


    God only knows.


    Lord have mercy!


    God God almighty!

    or do you have to censor yourself carefully to avoid hypocrisy?

    and what if somebody sneezes. Do you say:

    “God bless you”? Or do you just have to be impolite and silent.

    And what about the devil or hell. Can you say something like:

    What the hell are you talking about?


    What in devil’s name is that?


    Who the hell do you think you are?

    It must be complicated to be atheist. I don’t know how in God’s name they can manage it. boawhahaha ahhaahahaha ahahahahah

    1. Too Lazy For Theological Debate

      I’ll admit to that problem, and instead tried

      gosh darnet




      holy moley

      but that didn’t seem right either

      so I fixed it by just screaming “Big Bang” a lot.

      1. craazyman


        gawd is cheating

        everything else is plagiarism, except big bang, which is meaningless

        “The fool thinketh he can evade the Lord, as the braying ass thinketh he can escape the whip. But the hand of the master whipeth the fool’s ass and the fool into silence and the hand of the Lord whipeth the master if he be a fool and an ass. All three weepeth together, but their lamentations be a just punishment.”

        -Bloviations 8:3-4

        1. Too Lazy For Theological Debate

          I believe you mean “Big Bang” is UNNECESSARY- not “meaningless”.

      2. F. Beard

        so I fixed it by just screaming “Big Bang” a lot. Too Lazy For Theological Debate


        Many atheists were dismayed to learn this universe HAD a beginning because that fact is consistent with this universe having been created.

        1. skippy

          “Many atheists were dismayed to learn this universe HAD a beginning because that fact is consistent with this universe having been created.”…… beardy

          Nay. That is a conversation on going. See Hartle-Hawking Model

          Skippy… always grasping for – injecting bad metaphysical and philosophical assumptions into places they don’t belong. BTW it seems dark matter is the next step to understanding, possibly gains force with time.

          PS. Why do some seek, when they already know what they will find. Personally I like surprises in discovery.

          1. F. Beard

            BTW it seems dark matter is the next step to understanding, possibly gains force with time. skippy

            So as to overcome dark energy and revive the oscillating universe model? But there is no need. One can always postulate an infinite number of other (undetectable?) universes to overcome the stunning odds that this one was Created.

            One can always choose to disbelieve. The Flat Earth Society still exists though it has had to resort to more extreme arguments, I’ve heard.

            Btw, that discover of billions of planets around red dwarfs is good news – lots of real estate for mankind to expand in to. But where are the Aliens? Oops! It appears we are alone and thus unique.

          2. skippy

            400 – 500 billion galaxy’s.

            Skippy… probability math, you got some so you say?

            PS. whom did gawd contract to write the NASB from the ASV, why is it called the *American version* and not the Literal version or something like that… so confusing.

          3. F. Beard

            400 – 500 billion galaxy’s. skippy

            Not sufficient. There’s a book called “Rare Earth” by two non-theists that argues that Earth maybe the ONLY planet in the entire Universe with intelligent life.

            Btw, I was very disappointed when funding for SETI was canceled. The silence was very instructive (and increasingly embarrassing to some).

          4. skippy

            SETI? Do you have any idea of the space and time involved, a million years of listening would only be a few houses down the road. It was a lark, the money and effort is better utilized in other areas…. shezzz.

            Skippy… nothing to be embarrassed about, hat hanging is poor methodology, methinks.

          5. Too Lazy For Theological Debate


            Fortunately, most space alien races are still trying to get their wormholes to operate safely.

            Except for the one that got here and is presently running the world from deep underneath Rockwell, New Mexico.

            Which makes listening for EM radiation sound pretty silly.

            Might work for Martians, but they aren’t talking to us ever since that War of the Worlds incident.

            Don’t know how we got off on this tangent. I was just trying to fend off craazyman when he implied that atheists can’t even swear good.

          6. F. Beard

            Why do some seek, when they already know what they will find. Skippy

            Actually, I had a lot of preconceived notions about God that I had to unlearn as I read the Bible. Example: “God knows everything”. Then why this?

            “The heart is more deceitful than all else
            And is desperately sick;
            Who can understand it?
            “I, the LORD, search the heart,
            I test the mind,

            Even to give to each man according to his ways,
            According to the results of his deeds. “
            Jeremiah 17:9-11 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

            Why the need to search and test if God already knows everything?

  29. Moneta

    It must be complicated to be atheist. I don’t know how in God’s name they can manage it. boawhahaha ahhaahahaha ahahahahah

    Actually it feels great to offend without feeling any guilt.


  30. Peter Pan

    Positive branding takes too much thoughtfulness and makes my head hurt. Why not take the much easier route and label believers through negative branding. It’s a lot more fun.

    “The fundamentalist conservative Christian right is actually a secret satanic cult.”

    “Their words and deeds match in expressing their love of hate, killing and war.”

    “Abortion reduces the population of babies available to be slain on the alter as an offering to Satan.”

    See, isn’t that much more fun?

  31. Jack

    A consistent trend I’m noticing here is that everyone seems to want to put all atheists in a neat little package, either borne of old stereotypes, or atheists/agnostics generalizing from the self.

    What a lot of people don’t realize is that atheism is quite diverse. While certainly united in the disbelief in the supernatural, it can diverge from there quite significantly. You can have guys like Richard Dawkins who see religion as extremely dangerous – a cultural phenomenon people would be better off without – but then you also have more accomodationists like Alain de Botton who, while unequivocally rejecting the idea of the supernatural, think religion has redeeming value. To those atheists that share Dawkins’ views, that word “accomodationist” is seen as a negative, but those who would ally themselves with de Botton would accuse Dawkins’ supporters as being too strident. This is simply one example of the differences that exist that are easiest to digest for people less familiar with atheism, and its varied philosophical and political composition.

    This was one of the things the Reason Rally meant to address by having participation of famous atheists of various political stripes (from Penn Jillette, a stauch libertarian, to PZ Myers, an aggressive liberal humanist), and not only atheists, but allied theists (Tom Harkin, a US senator and Catholic, sent a recorded message of support).

    Like the Occupy movement, atheism, as a significant political movement, is largely decentralized and in its infancy, so having any coherent brand identity is difficult, but I don’t necessarily see that as a problem right now, either, it’s simply at that stage in its development as a movement.

  32. kris

    I don’t understand what Ms. Smith is bitching about and probably I never will.
    I was born in 1972 and grew up in Albania. In communism RELIGION WAS FORBIDDEN until its fall in 1990. Richard Dawkins would have been a common boring university professor in communism back in time.
    My family in Tirana (the capital) is typical, which means any combination of the following:
    – Christian Orthodox by tradition
    – I go to church every sunday
    – My brother is a agnostic
    – His wife is from a muslim family but not practicing
    – His wife’s brother and father go to mosque every Friday.
    – My aunt is atheist. Her husband is atheist
    – Their kids are agnostics
    – My mother believes in a general God, but doesn’t like priests and imams because she considers them as thieves since they do not do a real producing job.
    – I go back home once a year and stay for a 3-4 weeks. As typical, whenever we get together and talk, religion or personal beliefs are out for discussion same as economy, soccer, beautiful girls (a lot of them), nice weather, but other than that it’s nobody’s fucking business. All people, agnostics, atheists, christians (orthodox, catholics and recently few protestants), muslims get together and drink, let me repeat this one….drink alcohol.

    I came to Canada in 1999 and I am still shocked at these idiotic complains about religiosity or non religiosity in this part of the world. Stop bitching. If somebody wants to believe, let him or her believe. If somebody does not want to believe, let him or her not believe.
    Move on people. Get to do something productive please.

    1. The Crusaders

      Albania is an interesting case for sure. State power projects through religion itself, in other words, used as a tool in of itself. The fact remains that in ‘Murica so-called religious beliefs have a very large influence on society, both good and bad. Remind yourself, how the war of terror suddenly turned state apparatus to scrutinize ‘muslims’ as a convenient political scapegoat. ‘Live and let live’ where did that idiom originate?

      1. kris

        Thx for the comment.
        I was listening to an analysis on the radio few years ago. The speaker was saying that the intent of the split between State and Church was to protect religion from the state, not vice-versa.

    2. justanotherobserver

      the problem is not the fact that people believe in the celestial dictator, the problem is that they use that belief and a bunch of bullshit in 2000 year old mythological texts to try and force their beliefs on others.

      and if you don’t believe me, then you are not paying attention to what the fundamentalist nit-wits in the US are doing.

      Canada is much more secular than the US and will have less problems with that.

      why is that so hard to understand ?

      I don’t care if you believe in god as long as you’re not using it as an excuse to enforce your belief system on me.

      and by the way, I think that ALL churches should be taxed. what makes them so special ?

      1. kris

        I am a church goer and I can tell you I don’t understand why. In Albania religious communities like Orthodox Church, Catholic Church, Two different Muslim communities are registered business. They pay full taxes on everything.
        Here in Canada, US and Europe the state wants to control religion by using “tax breaks” and in Europe the state actually pays the priest’s salaries, like in Greece, Germany, Sweden etc. As far s I know, every german pays 3% income tax for the church, believe it or not.

      2. Jack

        My problem with churches is not that they do not pay taxes, but that they receive government funds at the same time (i.e. the office of faith-based initiatives), and are not subject to the same level of scrutiny as non-religious, tax-exempt charities, which creates incredible opportunities for individuals to commit fraud and embezzlement that are much harder to get away with if you’re a 501(c)(3).

        But the idea that churches should remain separate from the state, including taxation, is an important one, and it’s what’s allowed religious freedom in the US (including the freedom to believe nothing at all) to flourish over its history.

        Remember, if you tell these religious entities they have to give money to the government, as kris has hinted at, it’s only fair that you also give them the right to receive government money, and then when it comes to making a legal challenge when the government does send money to these entities, you will no longer have a leg to stand on. If you thought religious influence in the US was bad today, read about colonial Massachussetts.

        1. kris

          Solution: Abolish the concept of tax breaks. That’s why the tax code has trillions of pages. Abolish tax breaks of any kind, which basically are transferring of funds from one group of the society to another.
          Bottom line, in an hypothetical scenario that the members of the orthodox church I go to, do not want or are poor enough to not afford paying the expenses, the church has to go bankrupt and fold.

  33. Susan the other

    That rally was visibly joyful. I have long noticed that true nerds are happier in their own skin than other people. I say atheists are nerds because they are happy in their own skin. And they are saying honestly “no, I just really can’t understand religious dogma.” But, being an atheist myself, I know this lack of dogmatism does not make you evil. On the contrary. I could easily become a member of the Church of Richard Dawkins. I believe in what he says. And my conversion to this open mindedness happened to me when I was 10 years old. In 1956 as I lay on my grandmother’s bed unable to lift my head off the pillow because I was so damned carsick. My mother had driven us to see her for 5 hours and smoked all the way. And when a fly landed on the floral wallpaper I knew, by pure epiphany, that there was no god.

    1. Susan the other

      Also I’d like to share: my favorite Christmas card of all time is a picture of a crier running out of the manger with the star of Bethlehem shining above: (open the cover) “It’s a girl!”

    2. craazyman

      the joyful folly of the sinner leadeth to woe and lamentation, yet a righteous man who smileth not and laugheth not, yeah, he plungeth not into the fiery pit which consumeth the fool and his folly.

      Prevarications 10:39-42

  34. ScottS

    I think it’s impossible to sustain a movement on a negative — the “negative” in atheism being the absence of God.

    As silly as it is, the Church Of The Flying Spaghetti Monster has more appeal than Richard Dawkins’ “you’re a bunch of drooling simpletons for believing in the invisible sky daddy” approach.

    I think atheists need to drop the atheism mantle, and start their own “churches” that don’t rely on authoritarian hierarchies or received wisdom. They should be forums for debate — and not just debates judged on reason. Recognize that (wo)man is an emotional animal, and sometimes it’s okay for emotion to trump reason. AND DO GOOD WORKS! The thing I liked least about attending church was hearing Jesus curing the sick and helping the poor, then seeing most parishioners do absolutely nothing to help others. “God helps those who help themselves” — what a load!

    I meet great people when volunteering who don’t wear their religion on their sleeve if they even have a religion. They just need a “home” and some organization. When religious fundies see a bunch of secular humanists in the streets doing what Christians typically only talk about doing, that’ll impress bible thumpers.

      1. Nathanael

        For a contrary view, read the Principia Discordia, which counsels AGAINST organization, anr promotes “disorganized religion”.

        That is a holy book which I have deep respect for. Even if I don’t really *believe* it — but then it tells me not to. :-)

  35. John Merryman

    Atheists feel left out? What about polytheists!!!!! They invented democracy for one thing. If you have a religion where the Gods argue, a political system based on debate makes sense. Monotheism mostly just validated monarchy, prior to the separation of church and state. Having the Big Guy in charge gets reflected in politics. Just ask Bush.
    Personally I guess I’m a deist, or pantheist. The absolute is basis, not apex, so a spiritual absolute would be the essence from which we rise, not an ideal from which we fell. If biology is inherently aware, it’s one mystery, but if biology and awareness are distinct, it’s two mysteries. Odds favor the former.

  36. sadness

    well, why not belong to no group – no us against them – what about looking at what’s what day to day – imagine being at one with life – bliss –

    …..but unfortunately humans might just end up look stupid to you….which makes every momentary new beginning last a life time of fun and games

  37. Rotter

    Where does atheist morality come from? Im agnostic. Id much prefer to be a devout believer, but i just cant. However, this is a serious question..where do atheists suggest the authority for moral behavior should come from? one of the stupidist comments i ever heard came from the mouth of one Lisa Kudrow (anyone remember her?), on a David Letterman show appearance. She, “arguing” against the then still novel fundy resurgency said to letterman something along this line “if there was no bible what, would i, like, think that murder is OK”? my immediate thought was, well maybe Lisa, if you were raised to “think murder is OK” you prob ably would. There is no human biological imperative for not thinking murder is just dandy..or theft, or rape, or lying., etc., etc.,…American Atheism is too much like American Theism…long on aggreived, outraged feelings and short on, well on anything else..IMHO atheism is the Libertarianism of ontology

    1. Moneta

      So basically we need rules to live together in harmony.

      But there’s a hic… who gets to make the rules? Me of course. But I’m nobody… no one even believes me when I say there’s a real estate bubble up here in Canada… they all laugh at me.

      I have an great idea. I’ll make up my rules, call myself a prophet and tell everyone that God spoke to me. Then maybe in 30 years, one Canada’s real estate is crumbling, a few disciples who see the light will write gospels describing how I walked on water.


      1. Rotter

        AAhaha hahah aaaaaa….oh me….but seriously, from what authority is atheist morality derived?

        1. redleg

          The need and desire to live happily ever after. This is best accomplished by being generally nice and helpful to your neighbors and family.
          It’s really simple, unlike the added derivative-like complexity of invoking supreme, mysterious, omnipotent beings that command people to do things certain ways, even though they would probably do many of those things that way anyway without the aforementioned beings…

        2. Moneta

          All religions have some common rules… There’s the golden rule or kharma.

          I guess I’d have to say that my central rule is to look for win-win solutions and make decision that maximize the well-being of as many people as possible.

          IMO, religion is a means to govern people where the leader gains credibility by tapping people’s need to believe in the mystical and saying God spoke to him.

          IMO, religion offers a code of conduct that will help a group thrive but as this group prospers and gets larger, the rules make less and less sense for a growing number of individuals. That’s when you get dissent, a breakdown in society and a new charismatic prophet emerges to create a new religion.

          And these prophets use the God reference to make it look like they are selfless and humble. And it works because most people just want hope, stability and some sense of the mystical.

        3. ChrisPacific

          Social contracts and the Golden Rule. I suspect that humans living in social groups evolved a concept of morality very early on as a way to solve social problems like the Prisoner’s Dilemma. (For example, it’s the foundation of any legal system that tries to align the best interests of an individual with those of society). I’m willing to bet that laws against murder predate Christianity by a considerable period of time.

      2. Rotter

        Heres the rub – ahteists railing against God are the same phenomenon as retired Machinists railing against Social Security taxes….they may not want to have to pay, but they are already living on saved up money…it was one thing for Nietszche to proclaim to other ivory tower eggheads that God is dead and Man is god…he was a highly trained nut and his audience could read…When the semi -literate Ayn Rand goes on Donahue and proclaims the same thing to the semi-illiterate masses..then we begin to have a problem.

        1. redleg

          Atheists generally would like nothing better than to completely ignore the whole subject. If religious zealots would stop pushing their dogma into the limelight, every non-believer I know would never think of the subject again. God/faith/religion is literally a non-issue. So if you take offense to militant atheists and want them to go away, stop forcing us to stand up for ourselves by pushing your agenda down the throats of people who find it repulsive.

          1. JTFaraday

            From where I’m sitting, Rotter asked a reasonable question about human morality, and the person with both the agenda and the aggressive, repulsive attitude–not to mention the preconceived notions about who you’re talking to and the clear inability to read simple English– is YOU.

          2. Nathanael

            Well, your perspective is bullshit. Read the statements up above: the answer to where morality comes from is perfectly straightforward. Treat other people right, and they’ll treat you right, on the whole.

            There’s a developing literature in evolutionary biology showing that this behavior is actually something which can evolve, as it benefits the entire species.

    2. FRauncher

      I’m with you Rotter. I used to think I was a christian, but then I realized I had no faith. Pascal’s wager seems a logical way to beat the odds, but is repugnantly hypocritical.

      I sometimes say the agnostic’s prayer:

      O god, If you exist, give me a sign.

      Still waiting.

  38. ebear

    My eyes went up to Heaven
    You didn’t say I’d be blind
    Without them

    Icons feed the fires
    Icons falling from the spires

    Thine eyes rain down from Heaven
    You always said I’d be blind
    Without them

    Icons feed the fires
    Icons falling from the spires

    Those words hang like vicious spittle
    Dribbling from that tongue
    Close your eyes, to your lies
    Force feed more pious meat

    Those nebulous codes and disciplines
    Stick in that new born throat
    Instill a lie, an artificial eye
    To view a perfect land

    Icons feed the fires
    Icons falling from the spires

    Can I, stick skewers in my skin
    And whirl a dervish spin
    Can I, set myself on fire
    To prove some kind of desire

    Icons feed the fires
    Icons falling from the spires

    The guilt is golden
    The guilt is golden
    The ageless lies
    The shuttered eyes
    It’s the Nightpiece
    It’s the Icon

  39. Wendy

    Branding idea : the actual universality of atheism. Even if you are a theist, you do not believe in EVERY god, just your own religion’s god(s). Meaning you are atheistic about aaaaallllllllllllll the other gods out there that literally billions of people believe in. So, we are all atheists. I am just atheistic about 1 (or 3) more gods than you are.
    Universality. The shared doubt as uniter.

    1. Too Lazy For Theological Debate

      I hear ya.

      I tried evaluating most of them – Egyption, Greek, Roman and Norse gods.

      That got way worse than worshiping three gods.

      Thought I’d take the alternative – go pre-Pagan.

      Found out they have even more!

  40. Ignim Brites

    Actually atheism had a very dynamic and glamorous brand a generation ago. Wonder what happened to it?

    1. Rotter

      It HAS one now…it dosnet get any more glimmering, glowing or glamorous, in a queen of sheba kind of way, than global capitalism.

      1. Rotter

        @ ingim whatever happened

        and I DARE you to proclaim capitlalism to be anything but the most rationalistic and atheist of all possible economies

        1. Ignim Brites

          Good observation, Rotter.
          I think I’ll pass on your challenge although a pretty good case might be made for the Nazi economy. And the anarchic-narcotic anacivilization taking shape on our southern border looks pretty interesting.

          1. Rotter

            Those people all have their hoodoo idols…for atheism they cant touch our gleamining, sanitized and wholly “rationsal” rational actors in global finance… except if you step waaaaay back away from it, far enough to see the whole thing. Its a bloody mouthed, twelve armed,elecpahnt headed idol.

    1. kris

      Of course. Even Darwin himself plagiarized from Alfred Wallace. He just managed to get the funds to go to Galapagos. Nothing has changed. Scientists fight each other off for funds nowadays, but that’s not new. It’s an old war.

      1. F. Beard

        There were atheists before Wallace too. Apparently there have always been atheists – even when there was no plausible alternative to the Creator hypothesis.

          1. ebear

            >>No doubt. It’s called FREE WILL. Only humans are born with it.<<

            Nuh uh! Bears have it too. Mess with them and find out!

        1. Too Lazy For Theological Debate

          Ninkasi the Sumerian Beer Goddess existed more than 5000 years ago right at the beginning of recorded history. For all we know she chanted her beer recipe poem to Apes long before then, then Man evolved.

          Can’t find any pictures of her, but she might look like a big, black monolith.

          1. Too Lazy For Theological Debate

            Plus we can’t really rule out that the Tower of Babel was built as a monument, or really big graven image, of Ninkasi – The Monolithic Beer Goddess.

  41. Wahrheit

    As others have pointed out over the years, everyone is an atheist about other people’s gods.

  42. Kunst

    “To put none too fine a point on it, atheists are not well liked in America. The assumption seems to be that they are immoral and will corrupt the nation’s youth.”

    Well, it’s very convenient to paint your opponent as evil, but I don’t think that’s quite it. I had a very devout friend once say to me, “I can’t believe you’re not Christian.” That was meant to be a compliment in regard to my ethical/moral views/behavior. You don’t have to look too far to see some pretty bad morality among the religious, including some of the most vocally so. You don’t need religion to know that it is good to be kind to others and bad to hurt others.

    No, the vociferous attacks on non-believers is more like homophobia or racial bigotry. It’s about fear. Acknowledging the validity of this other person challeges such a vital emotional security that it arouses a virtually (sometimes actually) murderous reaction. Nothing rational about it. My guess is that non-believers bring out that little bit of doubt in the religious that they just can’t face. So they smash the mirror before it freezes them into stone.

    BTW, does anyone think that Jesus would approve of the churches that claim to speak for him? If he came back today, he wouldn’t last any longer than last time.

  43. wawawa

    Biggest success of Christianity has been to make existence of Jesus synonymous to existence of god.

    Sure, there was a guy called Jesus who tried to teach good deeds to his people and eventually his political enemies killed him. None of that means that god exists.

    Disclosure: I am a former Muslim and has been an atheist for that last 40 years.

  44. ebear

    Branding eh? OK, I’ll take a stab at it. How about….

    Atheism! It’s not your Father’s religion!

  45. Yancey Ward

    I am as nonreligious as you can get, but I have to admit that atheists are just as intolerant as any group of theists I have ever encountered in the US, the only difference is that they are outnumbered.

  46. you'll be the same size and density

    “I believe only in death, and precisely in death as impossible, for which reason I am obsessed with, curious about, and convinced of mortality.” – Jacques Derrida

    Derrida’s emphasis on radical aporia extends to “belief” in this manner: “belief” in its strongest affirmative sense requires that the thing one is believing in remain unbelievable. That is, “if one only believed in what was believable, the concept of belief itself would disappear.”

    (In Derrida’s reading, Heidegger never attempts to acknowledge sufficiently the act of belief that allows him to say “we” in the first place (Derrida, “Faith and Knowledge”).

    According to Derrida then, if anything would seem to require an act of true belief it would be atheism. Atheism is precisely the belief in death. Death, only ever knowable by the other, from the distance of the witness becomes, in a sense maybe, the new God.

  47. Nathanael

    “There’s probably no God. Now relax and enjoy your life.”

    This was one of the more successful and “cool” atheist ad campaigns. So there’s my marketing suggestion.

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