Effect Measure

America is starting to reawaken from one of its periodic religious revivals. They happen with tiresome regularity, every three or four decades, but it’s a damped oscillation. Each time the amplitude of the wave is lower and the DC signal between blips more secular. Freethinker books are appearing on the bestseller lists, occupying more prominent space in bookstores (even if some of that space is bought by publishers, it is a reflection of the market, just as the pile of Christian books has been). In the last couple of weeks atheism has appeared in prime slots of cable TV. Joe Scarborough, the quirkily conservative altar-boy of MSNBC’s Scarborough Country (follows the quirkily progressive Keith Olberman of Countdown) had a colloquy of sorts with Politically Incorrect’s Bill Maher, regarding Maher’s freethinker views and condemnation of religion. The disagreement was pointed but civil and Maher’s views treated with respect and given some prime air time on two different nights.

Some atheists have become effective proselytizers, probably non more so than Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins. He is packing them in in ways reminiscent of the great nineteenth century freethinker, Robert Green Ingersoll. On a speaking tour, he is not confining himself to “safe” venues on the coasts, either. Here is a report of a recent appearance in Little Rock, Arkansas, “buckle of the Bible Belt,” where he broke the attendance record for the Clinton School of Public Service lecture series (previous record held by Madeleine Albright):

Everyone seemed friendly, ranging from those giving extended applause to those asking only the most polite of challenging questions.

[snip]

Someone had called [the organizer, Skip Rutherford] to explain that the state Constitution prohibits atheists from holding office, which, while true, is long superseded by federal rights. But Dawkins was not seeking office, Rutherford replied. But you’re advancing atheism, the caller countered. “No, I’m advancing ideas,” Rutherford concluded. (John Brummett, The Morning News)

Advancing ideas. A good thing. But not everyone thinks that’s what it’s all about:

Comments

  1. #1 mollishka
    April 29, 2007

    So now they’re going to start going to church every week? Uhm, not to be nitpicky or anything, but if she’s so solid in her religion, then how come she doesn’t, uhm, practice it?

  2. #2 M. Randolph Kruger
    April 29, 2007

    Uh, I think we need the number for Dr. Phil so he can do an intervention. This chick needs a reality check. We also need a Gastro guy to remove the “religion” that has obviously been rammed up this kids butt. If he wants it later, he can go get it on his own.

    As someone who respects the rights of others to believe or not and as someone who does believe, this is clearly wrong. This kid will end up abusing animals, or children, be introverted and scared to take his mom on until he is 18. Then when he becomes a man, he will hate but still love her. They will be separated by a gulf of belief or non belief if you ascribe to Revere. Its okay not to believe and it is a choice. Mommy here needs a full blown retreat with a priest or bishop so they can explain that God is a choice not a family decision or that made by someone on behalf of another. She is out of line and moving to the violent end of the spectrum because she believes….HE HAS TO BELIEVE!!!!!

    The Inquisition had lots of folks like this. Torquemada was one of them and it rides even to this day. You shall believe or I shall do things to you. Once you confess your sins, I will do them anyway because I am appointed by GOD to ensure you do believe and that your soul is pure when it goes to heaven after I, garrot, rack, disembowel, break, burn you. You will also confess to the Kennedy kiling somewhere along the way.

    Not much difference between Torquemada and Mommy here. She clearly wants to harm this kid but either the law or the fact that daddy is sitting there is preventing it. I am sure she has slapped him around more than once and he looks it. She pushes him too far for expressing his views and this kid will take her out. We all have seen this kind of face before and when a kid gets quiet, its dangerous. He also clearly wants to fight back but out of respect or fear isnt. This is a one sided conversation in her book.

    Its also child abuse under the current Alec Baldwin scenario. At least he didnt get called a “thoughtless little pig. ” I am sure its been used somewhere along the way.

  3. #3 Lea
    April 29, 2007

    Red flag warning in momma’s eyes that she has failed to raise a God fearing son. Fear has and will remain a motivating factor.
    This most likely happens quite often in many families as the parent(s) have to reflect their own inadequacy upon their children.

    She said Bishop and go to church every Sunday. Are they Mormon or Catholic? And they haven’t been going to church every Sunday, so guilt starts to rear it ugly head.

    The Mormons of the strictest type abandon their young men to the streets if they don’t follow the teachings, they’re called The Lost Boys here in Utah. Keep in mind again, these are the radical Mormons, usually called Fundamentalists.

    And too, we know how challenging it can be to raise a teenager, especially when they turn 16. He did shout back O.K.! Kind of like a shut-up mom o.k., in my eyes.

    Oh, by the way revere, glad you’re pleased with your atheist movement. Like you said in the beginning paragraph though, everything oscillates.
    Here comes a wave, there goes a wave … .

    And give the radical Muslim’s credit, if it wasn’t for their hideous actions I bet atheists wouldn’t be getting as much attention.

  4. #4 Darin
    April 29, 2007

    Those crazy teenagers! They think they know it all! That mother sure is going to teach Michael a lesson or two by not giving him presents at Christmas. I wonder if Michael believes that a person with the first name Jesus and the last name Christ who had a father named Joseph and a mother named Mary existed roughly 2000 years ago, could mom and son compromise on some lesser gifts? =)

  5. #5 Gindy
    April 29, 2007

    Man that video is exactly what I went through at aged 16, after 7 years of towing a line I could no longer drag behind me.
    I stopped believing in God at the tender age of 9, something about being told to shut up when asking a relevant question did that to me. I thought that the teachers (nuns) had something to hide. They did. I headed over to my town’s library and read all I could about other faiths and atheism. It stuck with me.
    I finally told my parents I couldn’t go to church anymore and the scene you watched on that video got played out in my kitchen. It was worse since my dad joined in the fray. Thing is you just can’t make some one truly believe in anything. They have to come to it on their own or else it is false.
    Lea, I feel for those young men in Utah, we lived there as well and it was HELL on earth for nonmormons, especially young kids who do not understand why they don’t have any pals to hang with.
    As for his OK, after her rude language to someone she supposedly loves, he should have told her to go pack sand. And they give Alec Baldwin a bad time…

  6. #6 Melanie
    April 29, 2007

    This isn’t about religion, it’s about abuse. I got the same crap from my atheist parents when I said I wanted to go to church.

  7. #7 Victoria
    April 29, 2007

    Love the video. Christianity in action.

  8. #8 kemibe
    April 30, 2007

    Little Rock, Arkansas [is the] “buckle of the Bible Belt”

    This, if true, would make Mississippi the “chancre on the bible pecker,” with said pecker perhaps urinating or excreting some sort of foul purulent matter on either Alabama or Texas, both of which could easily be labeled the “chamberpot of the Bible suite.”

  9. #9 dveej
    May 1, 2007

    Uh-oh…if, as kemibe posted,

    ‘…Mississippi [is] the “chancre on the bible pecker,” with said pecker perhaps urinating or excreting some sort of foul purulent matter on either Alabama or Texas, both of which could easily be labeled the “chamberpot of the Bible suite.” ‘,

    then what does that make Louisiana?

  10. #10 Victoria
    May 3, 2007

    Revere,

    I find it interesting that the number of bloggers commenting on this weeks Surmonette can be counted in single digits.

    As a general rule your Surmonettes seem to have a bigger audience turnout.

    Are you loosing your touch?

  11. #11 revere
    May 3, 2007

    Victoria: Touch? I have touch to lose? No, I think I have just convinced everyone that atheism is the only thing that makes sense. It’s not controversial anymore.

  12. #12 Lea
    May 3, 2007

    revere honey, you haven’t convinced me that atheism is the only thing that makes sense, so please leave me out of the everyone word.
    What is important in my eye is just accepting your choices. I’m growing past the convincing people to think “my way”. While voicing an opinion is alright, it is still just that, an opinion.

    We are all impacted deeper than we care to realize by certain events in our lives. Each person has an interesting story to tell and it’s their choice in what way they choose to embrace God or Not.
    And too, maybe commenter’s are just plain tired of arguing/discussing the subject.

    Still think highly of you revere regardless of your atheism choice. Maybe I’m deluded on this one however, from what little I do know of you, I think quite possibly that in your heart you have a certain level of respect for me even though I believe God is real.

  13. #13 M. Randolph Kruger
    May 3, 2007

    It is like I say about Revere, he is much more Christian than I am in my actions. So who the Hell decides who gets into heaven? Certainly not me and thats my story and I’m sticking to it.

  14. #14 Lea
    May 3, 2007

    Nicely put MRK. At least you have the balls to admit it (“he is much more Christina than I am in my actions”).
    Many people don’t have the courage to reveal their true feelings. And there’s time when it’s not appropriate.

    Knowing when to, when not to, and when to know the difference. Now there’s talent.

    Victoria, are you atheist?

  15. #15 revere
    May 3, 2007

    Lea: It was a joke. I’m quite aware I haven’t swayed many people who didn’t agree with me to start with. I’m not that persuasive or that powerful. I’m mainly trying to give space to a position that doesn’t get much space in the conventional media. It’s a small thing but it gives me some satisfaction and I know from comments here that there are lots of people like me who appreciate knowing there are people like them. I’m glad Randy believes me to be a good person (much better than have someone believe the opposite) but in fact I’m quite ordinary in that regard. Like most people I try to do my best and I don’t always succeed and not infrequently I’m sorry I didn’t do better or do more. Like most people.

  16. #16 Melanie
    May 3, 2007

    For the first and probably only time in this life, I agree with Randy. The reveres are among the finest people I know. Oddly, all of them are atheists.

  17. #17 Lea
    May 3, 2007

    oh revere, you big sweetpea you. Gush-gush.

    Say, on Lou Dobbs tonight, and I didn’t get to catch it all because my mother called, anyway … The discussion was on a book he wrote.

    Author Christopher Hitchens
    “God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything”

    Thought you and others may be intersted.

  18. #18 Victoria
    May 3, 2007

    Lea,

    I am a card carrying member of the Athiest Society.

  19. #19 M. Randolph Kruger
    May 3, 2007

    Yep Victoria and you know if you take it all things being equal, if therer were no religion in the world we wouldnt have had the Crusades, the Muslim takeover in the 1300’s. No problem with gays in the military, no gays as priests, no acrimony about so many things.

    My Bishop who was my priest told me that when he was a member of the junior varsity in church. He always took issue with the threats offered in the name of God by those who said they were of God. No where he would say is the demand of God for worship of him. He always left it up to the eyes of the beholder. He always he said found man wanting, but that he was in his image. So did that he would say mean that God was fallible? So many things to discuss that never came to a conclusion which is likely the reason the Reveres and others are atheists, agnostics etc. Just not enough proof… But alas he would say, that is where the faith would come in. I even once asked him if people like Revere who dont believe would get into heaven. He said if you took faith only as the criteria then no, they wouldnt. If you took acts as a member of humanity and the faith together then possibly. But he said you couldnt separate one without the other in all likelyhood because faithless people commit acts that are not of humanity (no specification of that) and if they had faith they would not commit them. I asked if that meant the ten commandments. He said likely most of those and possibly some that were implied…. Moses being clumsy and all there may have been more laws that he dropped.

    But he also said that this was news from the Old Testament and not the New. Jesus said, “Love thy neighbor as thyself”, the second was “Do onto others as you would have them do onto you” and Jesus left it at that. So where does it leave us?

    Back at square one without proof for Revere and those of us who believe doing just that…Believing.

  20. #20 Victoria
    May 3, 2007

    Randy,

    Yes, we are back to square one. I absolutely agree with your teachers news from the Old Testament. But this is what makes life so interesting. If we were all the same it would be so boring. I still think your wonderful – even though we have an opposing view point sometimes.

    Actually, when we go to Atheist Society meetings it is more about tasting fine wines and cheeses from around the world, international politics, economics, current affairs, science, literature, and the like. These evenings are very stimulating. We never discuss world religions.

  21. #21 Lea
    May 3, 2007

    You did manage to revive this Freethinker Sermonette Victoria.
    Interesting world. No God, Yes God, Don’t Know God, Maybe God.

  22. #22 Victoria
    May 3, 2007

    Dear Lea,

    Yes, it appears that I did manage it. I love my regular dose of Sunday Surmonette. It is an interesting world.

    Have a lovely weekend.

  23. #23 M. Randolph Kruger
    May 4, 2007

    This is off of Fox News today…. I dont know many atheists but howzit sit with you guys Revere and Victoria about Scientology. Is it a cult or what? I dunno if its a religion or a round about way to liberate money from people in a Ponzi.

    Or is it that Tom Cruise is nuts and thinks he knows more about psychiatry than a doctor?

    MomKat Rumors

    If you believe the tabloids, things may be not be cruising along so well for Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, with the “Top Gun” star reportedly telling Holmes to take parenting classes at his Scientology church.

    “Katie was offended,” a source told Australia’s OK! Magazine. “You can only imagine how much it would hurt to be told you need to go to church to become a better mother.”

    But according to a former staff member in the Cruise-Holmes household, Katie is a great mom.

    “Katie is absolutely amazing with Suri,” the source told FOXNews.com. “Suri is a really cheerful, happy baby as a result of Katie’s parenting.”

    Meanwhile, Tom reportedly has demanded that his mother, Mary Lee, make note of Holmes’ every move. OK! reported that at a recent lunch at Hollywood hotspot the Ivy, Mary Lee even commented on “what Katie put in her mouth.”

    Perhaps Tom is tormented by the fact that his brunette beauty may be influenced by the strength and independence of her “Mad Money” co-stars Diane Keaton and Queen Latifah.

    “He [Tom] doesn’t want ideas in her head,” an insider added. “Everyone’s urging Katie to divorce him and take Suri, but Scientology really frowns on it. If she left Suri with him, it could be difficult to ever see her daughter.”

    Holmes has also been “flirting” with her “Mad Money” co-star Adam Rothenberg, according to Life & Style.

    “They shot a scene in which Adam wrapped his arms around Katie’s waist, then the two of them had an intimate discussion,” a “set insider” told the magazine. “They lingered after the director said ‘cut,’ and it got everyone talking.”

    “There’s definitely been some off-camera flirting,” the insider added. “One day, Katie was touching Adam’s arm while they were talking, like girls do when they like somebody.”

    Okay atheists take it away and tell me what your read is….I for one dont get it at all. If you guys dont either then what is Scientology.?

  24. #24 Lea
    May 4, 2007

    The revere’s did a thing on Scientology awhile back MRK.

    Here’s food for thought on the normally dry Friday nights:

    There once was beautiful white swan that came from the great ocean to the North. After being in the South for the winter, it was ready for the return journey home. So it took off and with its big wing span and shining white feathers, it soared effortlessly through the blue sky. After a long while, and far along the journey, the swan began to tire and came down to land for a rest. It landed right on the edge of a water well and let out a deep sigh.
    In the bottom of this well there lived a frog. The frog said, “Well, who are you and where do you come from?”
    “I am a swan, and my home is on the water of the great northern ocean,” answered the swan.
    “Ocean? How big is this ocean?” asked the frog.
    “Very big,” said Swan.
    “Is it this big?” Frog asked, taking two hops backward.
    “No, much bigger,” said Swan.
    So the frog took five huge hops backward, saying, “Is the ocean this big?”
    Swan said, “No, it’s much bigger than that.”
    And so the frog went around the entire well–his whole reality, as he knew it–and asked the swan, “Now, is the ocean as big as this?” And the swan said, “No, it’s much, much bigger!”
    Thereupon the frog said, “Well, you’re a fool and a liar!” because he knew there could be nothing bigger than his world and his well.

    Science is based on the principle the we must act to know. The physical workings of our planet and the universe are uncovered through experimentation, not revelation, and we approach the secrets of soul in the same manner.

    Science, as well as the spiritual search, proceeds from a point of provisional faith. In science, researchers are continually willing to act, and if they find new levels of truth, to act again. Starting with a hunch, a feeling, or some evidence suggesting that something may be true, they design an experiment to test this hunch or hypothesis. If they find evidence that indicates their hypothesis may be true, they have new ground on which to form further hypotheses and experiments. This is provisional faith and experimentation rather than absolute faith and reliance on an outside source to provide truth with evidence. The “acting to know” asked of spiritual seekers is no more than provisional faith and experimentation. We are asked to accept nothing at face value, but rather to be willing to act, and provided we get results, to act again.

    If anyone responds to this, What might the frog have found, had he been willing to hop outside his well with the swan?

  25. #25 revere
    May 4, 2007

    Lea: I won’t even ask who is the frog and who is the swan — in your world. LOL.

  26. #26 Victoria
    May 4, 2007

    Revere,

    I don’t know if this is heresay or not – Ron L. Hubbard started scientology as a bet. Ron said that he could start a religion and make money. True or false?????

  27. #27 revere
    May 4, 2007

    Victoria: Dunno. Sort of a pecuniary Pascal’s wager, huh?

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