That 5 May debate …

Brian Flemming reveals that the godless debaters who will engage the two idiots on 5 May are Brian Sapient and Kelly of the Rational Response Squad. He also mentions that Ray Comfort is planning to bring a banana to the debate. Oh, man, I hope so.

If the debate rolls around to atheist morality (which it probably will) there’s one comment they could make that would discombobulate me, so I hope they stick to the banana. The troubling revelation would be the fact that Karl Rove may be an unbeliever.


I rather doubt that Comfort/Cameron will damn atheists with the litany of “Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and Rove”, but if they do, you know the Bush administration is toast. I was initially taken aback by this revelation from Hitchens, until I read a little further.

I know something which is known to few but is not a secret. Karl Rove is not a believer, and he doesn’t shout it from the rooftops, but when asked, he answers quite honestly. I think the way he puts it is, “I’m not fortunate enough to be a person of faith.”

Oh, so he’s one of those appeaser atheists. That’s all right then, and has nothing to do with me.


  1. #1 quork
    April 28, 2007

    I rather doubt that Comfort/Cameron will damn atheists with the litany of “Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and Rove”

    Except for Rove, pretty much all of those are Mormon. In fact, pretty much all the worst people who ever lived are baptised Mormons.

  2. #2 Ex-drone
    April 28, 2007

    Atheist Revolution writes:

    Bush’s own faith may be something less than sincere

    I suspect that, if Bush thought he had a divine mission and a one-to-one relationship with the Big Guy (i.e., God not Rove) at the beginning, then the disasterous results of his dictatorship must have turned him into an atheist by now.

  3. #3 aiabx
    April 28, 2007

    AAUGH. What will I do if Rove is purged for atheism? Will I be happy or outraged?

  4. #4 Your Name's Not Bruce?
    April 28, 2007

    Atheist Revolution wrote:

    “I suspect that, if Bush thought he had a divine mission and a one-to-one relationship with the Big Guy (i.e., God not Rove) at the beginning, then the disasterous results of his dictatorship must have turned him into an atheist by now.”

    Alternatively, he might be thinking this is a test of faith and conclude “I’ve got to try HARDER”. Nothing bad has happened to him. I don’t see W being big on doubt or changing his mind. Besides, we already knew Rove is a Tool of Satan TM. Hand tool or power tool? Take your pick.

  5. #5 Ian
    April 28, 2007

    If Rove is an athiest, he’s not an “appeaser.” He’s just a power-hungry sociopath. There is no doubt in my mind that if Hitchens’s quote is accurate, it’s a practiced, calculated quote to appease his evangelical power-base should his athiesm become public knowledge. Maybe King George really is enough of a simpleton to believe his own godly hype, and Rove has to help perpetuate the illusion that this administration actually cares about religiosity for reasons other than garnering votes. Whatever the case, I can’t say it suprises me that much that there’s an athiest in the upper levels of the administration. We aren’t THAT small a minority anymore.

  6. #6 Blake Stacey, OM
    April 28, 2007

    “Karl Rove atheist” may just have enough memetic punch to knock out the descriptor “Neville Chamberlain atheist”. Progress!

  7. #7 Allen
    April 28, 2007

    I don’t see any reason why these two wouldn’t use any ploy at all, including references to Hitler and the rest of them, to prove their particular god exists by default.

    In addition to their cherished banana, one of their favorite arguments goes something like this: atheists aren’t omniscient, so they can’t say for sure that god doesn’t exist; therefore, atheists don’t exist.


    However it turns out, I hope it leads to more mainstream, prime-time discussions and debates.

    slightly off-topic–I think atheists should adopt the banana as their symbol. After all, it does look a bit squid-like when peeled.

  8. #8 Monado
    April 28, 2007

    How about Karl Rove, traitor? (by his own definition of someone who would expose a CIA agent)

    I do hope that the rational side of the debate mention that the banana was domesticated more than 5,000 years ago by head-hunters in New Guinea.

  9. #9 Science Avenger
    April 28, 2007

    The atheists should bring a wild banana with them to illustrate the inaccuracies of the believers comments. Then refer back to it when they make a misstatement about evolution (“Well Mr. Host, Kirk’s comment is just another banana”). If they get into the argument that Christians are so much more giving than atheists, remind them that Gates, Buffet and Branson are atheists and probably combine for more charitable giving than everyone else in the world put together.
    They should also expect downright stupid arguments and be prepared for them. More than once I’ve seen an atheist in a public debate stunned into silence by the sheer stupidity of his opposition’s statement, and the audience invariably interprets that as a “gotcha” point for the believer. Have ready responses, such as:

    “If we evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?”

    “If we descended from Europeans/Africans, then why are there still Europeans/Africans?”

  10. #10 David Marjanovi?
    April 28, 2007

    Maybe King George really is enough of a simpleton to believe his own godly hype

    That’s a good question. He hasn’t been to church often… I get the impression he’s more into booze.

    “Well Mr. Host, Kirk’s comment is just another banana”

    LOL! 😀

  11. #11 David Marjanovi?
    April 28, 2007

    Maybe King George really is enough of a simpleton to believe his own godly hype

    That’s a good question. He hasn’t been to church often… I get the impression he’s more into booze.

    “Well Mr. Host, Kirk’s comment is just another banana”

    LOL! 😀

  12. #12 Tea
    April 28, 2007

    Bring a pineapple!

    Hm, unless that’ll just help those morons to demonstrate the existence of Satan …

  13. #13 Carlie
    April 28, 2007

    Or bring a cassava. Here’s just about the only crop that will grow in several places in the world, and it’s poisonous!

  14. #14 Hank Fox
    April 28, 2007

    I’ll chime in here about the likelihood of stunningly stupid arguments. I hope our team is ready for this, because those other guys are going to be preaching to their choir, and I wouldn’t put anything past them.

    In a way, though, I’m not too worried. This is one of those good news / bad news scenarios. The bad news is that it’s impossible to “win” against people like this, or to convince the people they represent.

    On the other hand, the really good news is that yet more atheists are getting on TV to talk about unbelief.

    Exposing the public to the idea, more and more, and getting people talking about the idea that RELIGION IS OPTIONAL … whoo! That’s good stuff, no matter how this “debate” goes.

  15. #15 arensb
    April 28, 2007

    He also mentions that Ray Comfort is planning to bring a banana to the debate. Oh, man, I hope so.

    Hopefully Brian and Kelly will bring a coconut.

  16. #16 eyelessgame
    April 28, 2007

    Seriously, don’t let it bother you. There is no cause so right one cannot find a fool that follows it — as evidenced by, e.g. Pat Buchanan’s consistent opposition to the Iraq War.

  17. #17 Mark
    April 28, 2007

    Did anyone else catch Brian and Kelly’s first interview on Nightline a few months back? Although I love what they did with their Blasphemy Challenge to bring attention to atheism, they weren’t exactly the most eloquent spokespeople when given the chance to explain why they had made the challenge. At least in the parts of the interview that made the editing cut for Nightline, they appeared sophmorish and more like pissed off college students than serious thinkers in command of the best arguments for atheism.

    I understand everyone can’t be as polished as Dawkins or Harris, but I am a little worried about how this debate will play out.

  18. #18 Stu
    April 28, 2007

    I agree with Mark (#16). I’d prefer to see a Dawkins/Harris tag team. But seriously, how well could Comfort/Cameron possibly go? Following this debate, the next big “event” will be the grand opening of Ken Ham’s Creation “Museum” on May 28. Have a look:

  19. #19 vjack
    April 28, 2007

    Thanks for the link, PZ. I wondered why my hits suddenly started going through the roof.

  20. #20 Paul Sunstone
    April 28, 2007

    Unless the atheist team really screws up by alienating everyone, they’ve already won the debate. They’ve got publicity for their cause. That’s a win. The theists don’t need publicity, but the atheists do.

  21. #21 Rey Fox
    April 28, 2007

    Dawkins and Harris shouldn’t lower themselves by giving Comfort and Camron the time of day. No, this is obviously going to be a carnival sideshow debate, so I was rooting for Penn Jillette to be doing the shoutdown. Or maybe George Carlin, but I doubt he’d deign to this sort of thing either. All you really need is someone quick on their feet and able to sound more rational than Camron and Comfort (slam dunk, really).

    “Tonight, instead of discussing the existence or non- existence of God, they have decided to fight for it.”

  22. #22 Ritchie Annand
    April 28, 2007

    If Rove’s steeped in neoconservative philosophy of the Kristol brand, then you can summarize it like this: religion is necessary for the masses or it will be headed for social breakdown, though the leaders are privy to knowing that religion is itself not true. It seems a weird sort of “un-communism” that it grew up into, and as practiced, with its heavy emphasis on unilateralism, it seems as devoid of realistic sensibilities as communism was.

    He’s not an appeaser so much as a hypocritical promoter.

    Comfort’s banana thing is just funny as all get-out. I’m attempting to grow a variety of Musa velutina, the fuzzy pink banana, and it is not edible, just like most bananas.

    On our trip through East Africa last year, we also experienced how Ugandans treat bananas. They grow like crazy over there, and we saw many a front yard with 6-12 banana plants growing. However, they do not eat them like our dessert bananas. These bananas are still green when they are used, and they are peeled and cooked into a starchy dish (I believe the bananas and the dish have the same name, matoke). It’s fairly bland, though the thin peanut sauce often provided does bring out a bit more banana flavor.

    “Curved towards the face” really does not help in this scenario 🙂 Heck, the bananas I remember in Thailand weren’t even curved – they were pretty much straight and just bigger than finger length.

    What would he say about watermelons? Do I want to hear the mammary gland resemblance argument? 🙂

  23. #23 hans
    April 28, 2007

    I’m rather more suspicious of Karl Rove’s “outing” as an atheist. It seems to me more like the religious right is about to drop Bush like a hot potato, and they’re setting Rove up as the stereotypical scapegoat for everything the Bush Administration did wrong. How could they distance themselves from an Administration that purports to draw its vision and guidance from the same source as the Evangelicals? They need an atheist in there to blame. “You see, Bush had his heart in the right Christian place, but that evil atheist Rove gave him all that bad advice…”

  24. #24 Norman Doering
    April 28, 2007

    AAUGH. What will I do if Rove is purged for atheism? Will I be happy or outraged?

    I think outrage will be my take. Rove is beginning to sound like Martin Bormann.

  25. #25 Kagehi
    April 28, 2007

    Actually, it would work a “lot” better if you could get your hands on an entire bunch of “undomesticated” bananas and offer everyone one of “God’s perfect foods”, then when they ask what the big seeds are in them, point out that this is why the claim made by these creationists is BS, and a perfect example of the sort of thing that makes “all” of their arguments BS. You can’t show evidence for, let alone ‘prove’ something, unless you first get your own facts straight.

  26. #26 Clayton
    April 28, 2007

    Let ’em bring their bananas. Bring a durian and demand an explanation of that.

  27. #27 kemibe
    April 28, 2007

    “According to Comfort, he and Cameron (an ex-atheist) are qualified to debate on the subject.”

    I hate that “ex-atheist” bullshit. It’s like referring to “ex-umbilical-cord attachees.” Show me the most far-gone freakbag o’ faith, and I’ll show you a person who was born not believing in any gods. What’s that saying? “We’re all born naked and atheists, and to get into Heaven we all need to be believers and clothed,” or something.

    If Cameron was an atheist at any point after he quit wearing diapers (and I shouldn’t make too many assumptions here), it’s probably because he was too damned dumb to understand the meanings of words like “believe,” “God,” and “in” until he was at least 25 years old. When Growing Pains was on, I realized that anyone playing as daft a character as Mike Weaver had to be either brilliant or as stupid as a bucket of rocks. Guess I can file that mystery under “solved.”

  28. #28 shoeguyster
    April 28, 2007

    Atheism is no guarantee of good behavior. There are any number of loud mouthed “objectivist” thugs wandering the streets who are proud atheists. State’s exhibit #1: Radio blabbermouth Tom Leikis. I wish all the ungodly could be humble, but unbowed and proud. Not taking crap is not the same thing as saying “the world is here for my pleasure.”.
    Muscular Movement Atheism is a new cultural phenomenon, and would be wise to feel out the political path. Call it framing if you must, I call it politick.
    I would hate to see the day when atheists were working one side of the street while JWs were working the other.

  29. #29 Dave Eaton
    April 28, 2007

    Are we really having a discussion about whether Karl Rove is a good atheist, or a bad atheist? We crack me up. We could excommunicate him back to being a bible-banger- who gets to be the atheist pope?

  30. #30 AL
    April 28, 2007

    I agree with #16. I’m worried Brian and Kelly will not be all that eloquent. I actually heard Brian on Laura Ingraham’s radio show. On the show, Ingraham criticized what Brian was doing with the Rational Response Squad by saying (I’m serious, she said this) that a 30+ year old like Brian who spends all his waking day on his own radio show mouthing off his opinions should go out and “get a real job.” As soon as she said that, I totally thought Brian would slam her. It could’ve been as simple as a very subtle “oh, I agree, Ms. Ingraham. People like that are losers.” But he totally didn’t even respond to that. It was a golden opportunity missed.

  31. #31 Dustin
    April 28, 2007

    Rove isn’t the only person in the neocon movement who stinks to non-existent Heaven of Rand Brand Atheism. But, this is just another way that atheism is different from religion. Inasmuch as a schism is possible, it’s not because of interpretations of sacred texts — it’s just because one side is evil.

  32. #32 JohnnieCanuck
    April 29, 2007

    My response to the “If we are descended from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?” question is, “If Protestants are the descendants of Catholics, why are there still Catholics?”

    I’ve not come across anyone else using this analogy, but given how obvious it seems, perhaps it isn’t original.

    My first concept involved the original Abrahamic religion and its two descendant religions. I really, really think it would be a bad argument to use, because of the baggage that goes along with it.

  33. #33 vjack
    April 30, 2007

    More evidence to support Rove’s atheism and my thoughts about the implications of this story here:

    I wonder if we’ll see the mainstream media give it any attention. Could be yet another scandal for this administration.

  34. #34 Garrett
    April 30, 2007

    Durian is the work of the devil. But they should bring one to the debate anyway so the two idiots will retch from the stench. And then they can club them over the head with it. Seriously. People die from those fruits.

  35. #35 Steve_C (Secular Elitist) FCD
    April 30, 2007

    “Most people equate atheism with intellectualism,” explained Comfort in a statement, “but it’s actually an intellectual embarrassment. I am amazed at how many people think that God’s existence is a matter of faith. It’s not, and I will prove it at the debate – once and for all. This is not a joke. I will present undeniable scientific proof that God exists.”

    Hehe. This oughta be good.

  36. #36 Keith Douglas
    April 30, 2007

    Remember the link with Strauss? Religion is the “noble lie” meant to keep the masses in line. So it wouldn’t surprise me that the powermongers are actually not believers.

    Ritchie Annand: Right. But it isn’t just that aspect of “reverse Marxism” – remember that their socioeconomic policies also are all about the richest of the rich and favouring them.

    JohnnieCanuck: There is, unfortunately, a fundilicious answer that can sidestep that question. I have heard it claimed by these ignorant sorts that the original Christianity was in fact Protestant, and the Catholics quickly coopted it and ruined it and it lost its way for 1000+ years until Luther. (I think Luther himself may have made the claim but I am not sure.)

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