Pharyngula

Richard Dawkins defends the Out Campaign. I really have to stress to everyone who complains that they don’t like the design, that it’s too bold, that it’s too timid, that they don’t believe in joining anything, etc., that this is not about conformity — you don’t have to wear the big red “A” t-shirt, and no one is going to draft you into the Atheist Army. This is a plea for everyone to get loud and make your beliefs known. Atheists generally are not joiners or conformists or big fans public displays of unity, but we have to start forming some kind of loose interessengemeinschaft — a fellowship of interests — if we want to stop being marginalized. This is nothing but a start.

It’s not as if you’re being asked to join the Atheist Alliance or American Atheists, although those are good organizations — the only thing you have to do to join this particular movement is to be vigorous in asserting your godlessness, in whatever way you choose. Here in the US, we must make it clear that there is a significant slice of the electorate that wants our government kept entirely secular.

And if you don’t like the scarlet letter, Dawkins points to the CafePress site where you can pick from 9,430 atheist designs. Pick one or design your own. It’s not dogmatic adherence the campaign is looking for, it’s independence and some slight measure of dedication to increasing secularism.

Comments

  1. #1 Salt
    July 31, 2007

    It’s most amusing that some seek to identify with a group espousing an ideology based vehemently upon that which does not exist.

  2. #2 MAJeff
    July 31, 2007

    salt, you’ve just described religion.

  3. #3 Jim Royal
    July 31, 2007

    It’s not dogmatic adherence the campaign is looking for, it’s independence and some slight measure of dedication to increasing secularism.

    The problem is that adopting a uniform symbol for an idea is a step away from independence.

    A while back I was watching one of Dawkins lecture from his web site. During it, he rattled off the usual list of gods that most people don’t believe in, including the Flying Spaghetti Monster. This got a laugh from the audience, as it always does.

    The camera operator also laughed audibly and started hollering “Arrrr!” — the pirate-inspired cry of the Pastafarian. He continued to cry “Arrrr!” periodically throughout the talk, including over the applause given to Dawkins at the end of his speech, and into the quiet moment that followed before the video ended.

    This was not a person thinking for himself. This was a member of a club, doing his best to prove that his club was better than anyone else’s club.

    I’m quite sure that this guy is already wearing the scarlet A shirt.

  4. #4 PZ Myers
    July 31, 2007

    I really get peeved with morons who claim atheism is based on that which does not exist. That’s wrong. It’s completely backwards. Atheism is about the entire freaking universe, all the matter and energy and information within it, leaving religion with nothing but the vacuous maunderings of old dogmatists about nothing at all.

  5. #5 K
    July 31, 2007

    I get your point, I do, but I don’t want to be hassled everytime I wear an Atheist shirt. I really enjoy being left the hell alone. I’m not a people person. I don’t like strangers coming up and starting conversation. I can’t very well say, “Mind your own business,” when I’m wearing a shirt meant to antagonize and start up a dialog. That would be hypocritical and I save that bad behavior for christians who really really excel at it.

  6. #6 Brian F
    July 31, 2007

    This whole thing reminds me of the South Park episode where Cartman freezes himself and wakes up in the future to find three warring atheist factions fighting over “The Great Question,” which, it turns out, is “What should we call ourselves?”

  7. #7 polyglot
    July 31, 2007

    So Jim I assume you’ll stop posting in English soon? After all, that’s the same set of communicative symbols that everyone else here uses. It really keeps you from thinking for yourself and expressing yourself individually. Be sure not to post in any other language already shared by other social primates, you’ll have to create your own.

    Unless of course it is sometimes useful to have common shared symbols for efficient communication. And unless you think you can share common sign sets with people around you and still develop your own thoughts then articulate and elaborate them with those sign sets.

  8. #8 LM
    July 31, 2007

    This is going to sound really bad, and I’m surely going to take a lot of heat for it, but… frankly, I’m a little afraid to “come out.” Though I live in a blue state, it is surprisingly conservative; I am nervous at the thought of announcing my atheism in, say, my neighborhood, because I imagine I would be an instant target for vandalism (I’ve already experienced this once, during the last election when I had a Kerry/Edwards sign on my lawn – and people tend to take their religion a lot more seriously than their politics).

    I realize that this is exactly the sort of thing you all are trying to combat, but for some of us it’s just a little to risky. I fully admit I’m a spineless coward. :(

  9. #9 Blake Stacey
    July 31, 2007

    I rather like that “Smile: There Is No Hell!” T-shirt.

  10. #10 MAJeff
    July 31, 2007

    I realize that this is exactly the sort of thing you all are trying to combat, but for some of us it’s just a little to risky. I fully admit I’m a spineless coward. :(

    We more radical queers woulda called you a “closet case.”

  11. #11 Loc
    July 31, 2007

    LM,

    I totally agree. I am in the bluest of blue states right now but my family is centered in the Bible Belt (where I’ll eventually end up). There’s no way I can “come clean.”

  12. #12 Salt
    July 31, 2007

    I really get peeved with morons who claim atheism is based on that which does not exist.
    Posted by: PZ Myers | July 31, 2007 09:37 AM

    Then why such energy expended concerning God’s non existence?

    Go a few posts down and look at all the the Atheist books you tout referring to God;

    The God Delusion
    god is not GREAT
    The End of Faith

    PZ, you’d do well to wear a tee shirt proclaiming I’M AN IRRATIONAL ATHEIST.

  13. #13 Bruce
    July 31, 2007

    LM, (if that’s your real name), I understand your hesitation. There are days I just want to move unimpeded through the world and other days when I wear my black commie t-shirt with the big red star and my CIA ballcap.
    I enjoy injecting contrariness into conversations, especially when I hear self satisfied gaggles of folx who are all muttering about libruls (and gays and blacks and so on). They need to know that real people hold contrary values and that we’re not just evil doers hiding behind the constitution.
    But I do understand not wanting to play with these people; I mean, really, ewww.

  14. #14 heliobates
    July 31, 2007

    Then why such energy expended concerning God’s non existence?

    “In business news, straw prices are reaching an all time high. Economists blame increased demand caused by the religious backlash against the so-called “New Atheism”. Prices may rise as high as $80/bale before the end of the year…”

  15. #15 MAJeff
    July 31, 2007

    Brian F.,

    believe my I know. I’ve often mentioned that, for me, being an out atheist would get me more strange looks and comments than being an out queer when I lived in Mankato, MN.

    But, I also know that the fear is more often greater than the actual threat. That’s one of the reasons that LGBT movements adopted coming out as a political strategy. The more who do it, the safer it becomes for others. But, at some point, you just gotta fucking do it.

    Some recent polling had around (or over) 90% of self-identified gay and lesbian people (these pollsters can never quite figure out what to do with bisexuals or transfolk) declaring that they were out in most aspects of their daily lives; over 40% of Americans now have someone who is openly gay or lesbian among their close friends or relatives. At the time of the Stonewall uprising in 1969, there were fewer than 50 openly gay organizations in the nation.

    Quite a bit of change in less than 40 years. (heck, we may be even entering a post-closet world in some parts of the country…a LOT of change) And coming out, collectively and individually, has always been a step in that change.

  16. #16 Bill
    July 31, 2007

    As PZ says, bang your own drum. A t-shirt isn’t going to fit everyone, if you’ll pardon the expression. Personally, I use a ‘fortune cookie’ email extension that adds a random quote from a text file to the end of all my emails (by default, though I can remove it with a single click). I created the text file by browsing the Internet for quotes, and I’m always adding more to it – atheist quotes, pro-science and anti-pseudoscience quotes, quotes defending the Constitution, Bill of Rights, the rule of law, and the separation of church and state, etc.

    After the past six years, I really felt that I needed to take a public stand. I don’t post inappropriate statements in email groups, and I don’t argue politics and religion with everyone I contact, but that fortune cookie quote at the end of each email makes my basic stance quite clear. Admittedly, it’s only my personal, not business, email, but I’m definitely out of the atheist closet. And I get a lot of comments from strangers who approve of the quotes (and from a few who don’t, though they’ve been polite enough).

  17. #17 LM
    July 31, 2007

    If it was just me, I’d be a lot less hesitant (I’m a pretty combative, outspoken individual). However, I do worry about my family, especially the unborn child whom I’ll be welcoming into the world this December. :/

  18. #18 Russell Blackford
    July 31, 2007

    It’s not like someone is making this compulsory. It’s being offered to people who might like to buy it. Those who like the look of it, and the message it conveys, can buy and wear one … while the rest do whatever they want.

    As far as I know, this is still Liberty Hall – you can spit on the mat and call the cat a bastard. I’m sure PZ will correct me if I’m wrong.

  19. #19 LM
    July 31, 2007

    DaveX: That’s precisely the reason I refuse to put bumper stickers on my car (well, that and the fact that the glue on those things will NEVER come off). I don’t feel the need to advertise my personal beliefs (religious, political, or whatever) to anyone else. It’s my business… if someone wants to know, I’ll tell them, but I’m not painting a big ol’ target on my ass. I’m highly annoyed by jesus fish and yellow (or camo!) magnetized “ribbons,” and I just can’t see myself turning around and doing the same thing. It isn’t that I don’t care… it just doesn’t feel right to me.

  20. #20 Mike P
    July 31, 2007

    k

    I’d definitely be tossed out of Disney because the shirt would be considered offensive.

    I highly doubt that. I wore a “Viva Evolucion” shirt to Disneyland last year and received absolutely no hassle. A few fellow visitors even told me they liked the shirt. Something like “F*ck Religion”, sure, that might galvanize the mousketeer gestapo into action, but a tasteful t-shirt? Been there, done that–no problems.

  21. #21 Kseniya
    July 31, 2007

    I am in the bluest of blue states right now but my family is centered in the Bible Belt (where I’ll eventually end up). Posted by: Loc | July 31, 2007 10:02 AM

    Stay blue, Ponyboy. Stay blue.

    Here in the US, we must make it clear that there is a significant slice of the electorate that wants our government kept entirely secular.

    I agree, and must point out that this has nothing to do with atheism. Those who fight against secular public institutions do not believe in the principles upon which this country was founded, and are radicals who would rewrite the Constitution if they could. My wish? That Christians of every stripe, those who accept the claim that America is a Christian Nation without question or complaint, would realize this.

    Or admitting that an Atheist can be thrown out of the mall or Disney just for admitting to being an Atheist? Afterall, we can’t use the freedom of religion argument.

    Oh? Are you sure? This about freedom of, and from, religion. Freedom from. From. FROM.

    What would any of you people do? Nothing, and you know it.

    “I find your lack of faith disturbing.”

  22. #22 DamnRight
    July 31, 2007

    I do find it interesting that there is some assumption that all atheists are democrats/liberals (or should be)…

    … I happen to be quite conservative in my views… I am one of many conservative atheists (just in my small circle of friends & family)…

    … even within my family there is a wide range of evangelical christians / athesists from liberal democrats through right wing conservative republicans…

    … it should also be noted that within even the political party lines there are disagreements on issues such as abortion… for example, all the liberal democrats are staunchly against abortion due to their religious leanings… on the other hand, some on the conservative side support the right to abortion…

    … if we ever hope to separate church & state, we might have to start by not assuming all theists/atheists can be lumped into one political party or the other…

    … don’t forget, we are not all democrat or republican… some are libertarian, or independant or ??… possibly, like me, not even U.S. citizens & so, the division is meaningless…

  23. #23 Fox1
    July 31, 2007

    I’m highly annoyed by jesus fish and yellow (or camo!) magnetized “ribbons,” and I just can’t see myself turning around and doing the same thing.

    I’m very much the same way, except for a clever t-shirt or two, but I did print out the yellow ribbon with “Empty Gesture” on it and put it up in my cube at work. Plus, it’s right next to a picture of my wife and me where I’m wearing my Marine dress blues, so I love watching the triple and quadruple-takes that combination of messages and symbols causes.

  24. #24 Alison
    July 31, 2007

    I wouldn’t mind the A as a bumper sticker, and I’m always looking for something clever to stick on the van. One of these days I’ll just start painting my own stuff all over it. (BTW, you can indeed get bumper stickers off. Use a hair dryer to warm up the goo. Peel it off. Goo that is still left can be removed with an application of petroleum jelly, or rubbed off with goo gone or rubbing alcohol, depending on the type of goo.) I peruse the atheist cafepress offerings regularly, but rarely find things I’d want on my car. I am in New Jersey, after all, where cars are regularly used as weapons. My bumper stickers need to promote thought and conversation, without being accusatory or confrontational. Passionate provocation belongs on the internet or in a safe personal setting, not on the Garden State Parkway.

  25. #25 Josh
    July 31, 2007

    Fox1: you should see the looks my ‘Paratrooper against Bush’ sign inspires… Empty Gesture ribbon–brilliant. A bunch of people slapping little stickers on their pick-ups always makes ME feel ‘supported’ I tell ya.

  26. #26 Mike P
    July 31, 2007

    My main complaint over the t-shirts is the pimping of richarddawkins.net as if Dawkins was some kind of official atheist spokesperson. “I’m an atheist!!!…and also visit this website.”

  27. #27 Salt
    July 31, 2007

    the only thing you have to do to join this particular movement is to be vigorous in asserting your godlessness

    I really get peeved with morons who claim atheism is based on that which does not exist.
    Posted by: PZ Myers | July 31, 2007 09:37 AM

    Most amusing. A true popcorn moment.

  28. #28 Steve_C
    July 31, 2007

    I like the yellow ribbon magnet that says “I support the yellow magnet ribbon industry.”

  29. #29 Jim Royal
    July 31, 2007

    Because the only requirement for evil to flourish is for good people to do nothing?

    And the other shoe drops.

    Evil? An entire population of people declared evil? For holding an incorrect belief?

    Wrong-headed, certainly. Pernicious, perhaps. Dangerous, arguably. But evil?

    So… we have a reluctant leader, a rallying symbol, and a declaration that those who disagree with us are evil.

    Interesting.

  30. #30 Glenn
    July 31, 2007

    I’m not coming out. Not yet, anyway. I value my parents’ peace of mind and my job too much.

    My elderly parents keep their religion to themselves, but they are devout. I put them through a lot of pain when I was younger, and although they know I don’t subscribe to their brand of religion, they would be pained to learn I’m an atheist. They won’t live much longer, and these days I focus a lot of energy on communicating my love for them. It’s much more effective to communcate love in a way that the recipient perceives as loving. So I avoid religious topics and show my love and gratitude in thoroughly secular ways.

    My job is precarious. Many of my colleagues have lost their jobs already. My boss has expressed how much he admires our CEO’s leadership and clarity of purpose. He attributes this to the CEO’s outspoken born-again Christainity.

    I have my priorities. I value my parents’ serenity and my ability to support my family more than I value my potential usefulness as a revolutionary digit in the atheist movement. So I’m “out” to my friends who have no contact with my parents or job, but mostly I keep it to myself.

  31. #31 Mike P
    July 31, 2007

    Most amusing. A true popcorn moment.

    Posted by: Salt | July 31, 2007 10:41 AM

    Clever, but you missed the subtleties. You’re confusing assertion with basis in this instance. Assert your godlessness, but godlessness doesn’t define your beliefs. Do you catch that difference? You’ve got a worldview that excludes the existence of a god based on a rational appraisal of the universe. So atheism is not based upon that which does not exist… it’s just a consequence of the rational mind. On the other hand, asserting that godlessness is important for political reasons, civil rights reasons, personal reasons, etc. The asserting of belief is far removed from the basis of that belief in the first place.

  32. #32 Bob
    July 31, 2007

    Mr Royal, do you intentionally distort what you read or is your reading comprehension that poor?

  33. #33 negentropyeater
    July 31, 2007

    PZ,

    you say :
    “Here in the US, we must make it clear that there is a significant slice of the electorate that wants our government kept entirely secular.”

    I really doubt that the Out Campaign is the best way to achieve that honourable goal, quite the contrary. This is just going to polarize people even more.

    Wake up !

  34. #34 jeffw
    July 31, 2007

    I do like that someone is making a concerted effort to make a group movement out of atheism, but “coming out” in all aspects of life is not feasible for some. My family would disown me.

    My family practically already has. Be careful what you say. I informed my family of my disbelief years ago, and although I wouldn’t change that decision, it has caused me no end of grief and continues to do so. I’m an outcast, and becoming more so, as they drift further and further into the wacky right (now they’re into all this Israel and armageddon crap). It’s scary. Like invasion of the body snatchers, or something.

  35. #35 Forthekids
    July 31, 2007

    Come on, PZ, just start your own church. You’ve got the choir boys, the symbols, the organizations. Dawkins is certainly the atheist equivalent to Billy Graham and you can be Pat Robertson or someone like that. He’s not quite as loud and nasty as you, but he’s certainly in the running.

    So, there you go! You’re officially a “congregation” of atheists.

    ps…I like the big A. At least I’ll know who I’m talking to and understand why they seem so illogical.

  36. #36 Jim Royal
    July 31, 2007

    Mr Royal, do you intentionally distort what you read or is your reading comprehension that poor?

    Not at all:

    – Dawkins said in an interview on the BBC just in the last week that he’s aware that this is a social movement in search of a leader, that he is seen as such, but that he doesn’t want to take that role.

    – The scarlet A is not a corporate symbol or an organizational symbol such as the logo of the Council for Secular Humanism. It is a rallying point intended to embolden people to become proselytizing.

    – This is hardly the first time I’ve heard religious people in general referred to as evil in forums such as this one.

    Negentropyeater is correct: Polarization is the only outcome of this movement.

  37. #37 Mrs Tilton
    July 31, 2007

    we must make it clear that there is a significant slice of the electorate that wants our government kept entirely secular.

    … not all of which slice is entirely godless, you know. (I hope you know; Kseniya does!)

    Negentropyeater: PZ doesn’t polarise me. And I hope there are a lot of others like me. Though I sometimes wish I were, I’m simply not an atheist. So I won’t be wearing a scarlet letter t-shirt. But good on PZ if he does; nobody should let himself be intimidated by a crowd of rabid sheep.

    And remember: religion has no place in government, regardless of what you do (or don’t) believe. Écrasez l’infame!

  38. #38 Graculus
    July 31, 2007

    Nor do individual words count as symbols.

    Introductory course in semiotics, STAT!

    Of course words are symbols. They certainly aren’t the thing, are they?

  39. #39 Blake Stacey, OM
    July 31, 2007

    negentropyeater:

    I really doubt that the Out Campaign is the best way to achieve that honourable goal, quite the contrary. This is just going to polarize people even more.

    So, people are going to see these shirts and start going to church again? Infidels will queue for public baptism, and biologists will join the Discovery Institute?

    Or will some people buy a shirt and others not, while some stick a logo on their website and others not. This is hardly the stuff of a Sunni/Shi’ite schism.

    Hey, we all like to argue. Sometimes, that argument can move towards a productive choice of action; if not, there’ll always be a new argument tomorrow.

    To quote Dawkins’ latest essay on this campaign, “Chill OUT.”

  40. #40 Randall
    July 31, 2007

    Responding to the suggestion to “design your own” t-shirt, here’s what I think is a much better: WWRTD? To be fair, it’s a much more esoteric reference (Russell’s Teapot, to answer the question), but it’s not like people are going to recognize the appropriately-fonted A without help.

  41. #41 Salt
    July 31, 2007

    Atheism is but a counterpoise to belief in god(s). Atheism and god are inexorably linked. Should there be, worldwide, absolutely no belief in god(s) in any form whatsoever what would the term ‘atheism’ point to but to that which does not exist? To be otherwise the non-scientific term ‘atheism’ would have no meaning and should not appear in any lexicon.

  42. #42 MAJeff
    July 31, 2007

    Of course words are symbols. They certainly aren’t the thing, are they

    But the phonemes have no inherent meaning outside a broader system and particular instance of use.

  43. #43 zeekster
    July 31, 2007

    @ k #23
    What would any of you people do? Nothing, and you know it.

    Although many atheists are the furthest thing from activists, many of us are willing to stand up and be heard. I for one, would be there.

    If you feel alone in Orlando, check out the Orlando Atheist & Freethinkers group social this Sunday. I’ll be there.

  44. #44 Calladus
    July 31, 2007

    Negentropyeater is correct: Polarization is the only outcome of this movement.

    One side of this equation is already polarized, and has been setting up groups as ‘evil’ for many years now. In doing so, these people have attacked basic human rights, attempted to quash education, and marginalize those who don’t believe as they do.

    What would you suggest we do about that?

  45. #45 CalGeorge
    July 31, 2007

    Atheism: there is no god.
    Science: we can explain the universe.
    Religion: poopie for morons.

  46. #46 rob
    July 31, 2007

    I really get peeved with morons who claim atheism is based on that which does not exist.

    Posted by: PZ Myers | July 31, 2007 09:37 AM

    Little touchy today, PZ? Geez…

    I’m another one of those “morons” who knows the difference between atheism and science. Atheism by definition is about the non-belief in god, the word would have no meaning if no one ever beleived in god. I think you are just wrong on this one.

  47. #47 Dawn
    July 31, 2007

    FTK…I am amused that you consider US illogical…we aren’t the ones who worship the figment of someone’s imagination.

    I don’t like the Dawkins shirt, not because of the A but because of the internet address below it. I’d happily wear the Scarlet Letter without the advertising. But I plan on checking on the site PZ referred to for other atheist shirts. I just don’t like shirts with what I consider advertising. (I won’t wear Izod, Donna Karan, anyone who puts logos on their clothing.) I’d wear one anywhere.

    I rarely put stuff on my car since I grew up in Detroit with leased cars and you didn’t DARE put anything on them; old habits are hard to break. So no bumperstickers, even though I think Darwin’s fish is cool. (I have weakened enough to put the logo for my daughter’s college on my car, though.)

  48. #48 Warren
    July 31, 2007

    In the queer community you see three prevalent symbols: A lambda, a rainbow flag and a pink triangle. Of the tree the triangle has the most interesting history; it was originally a symbol used by he Nazis to designate homosexuals in concentration camps.

    However, the symbols are instantly recognizable to anyone in the “in-group” circle, and to quite a few outside of it, and they serve to show commonality of idea and cause at least in one area of life. They are — or can be — profoundly intimidating to those outside the group.

    I submit that those atheists who argue against proclaiming their atheism might be more than a little like closeted gays or lesbians. Maybe they’d be better off looking at themselves instead of criticizing others.

  49. #49 Steve_C
    July 31, 2007

    Twist again and you just might get there.

    Non belief in a god is not a belief. Not any more than not stamp collecting is a hobby.

  50. #50 negentropyeater
    July 31, 2007

    Kseniya,

    totally agree with you.

    But look at PZ’s post about the Out Campaign:
    “Here in the US, we must make it clear that there is a significant slice of the electorate that wants our government kept entirely secular.”

    So, is the Out Campaign going to promote secularism or atheism ?

    I like PZ and I like his blog, but this time he got it wrong.

  51. #51 Rey Fox
    July 31, 2007

    Sheesh. Reading all the folks coming out of the woodwork and shitting their pants* over the very idea of having an atheist T-shirt just makes me want to wear one more.

    “This is just going to polarize people even more.”

    Oh boo hoo. Better than having a unipolar society. Read MAJeff’s comment #24. The best that we can do is show people that atheists are real people, and that they’re your friends and neighbors. That they don’t skulk around in the dark underbelly of society (well, not all of them anyway), and they can be generous, law-abiding, and other-good-adjective people.

    The way I see it, people who advocate for getting religion out of government are going to have their religious identity impugned by the theocrats anyway. You might as well come clean as an atheist, because if they think they can hurt you by tarring you with that label, they won’t hesitate.

    And to those who think we’re being such vile hypocrites, remember: we don’t have any official credo that says we should be humble. Guess who does?

    Maybe I’ll make my own shirt some day, and adapt one of my favorite quotes from Tim Kreider’s “The Pain”: “I’m a secular humanist. It rocks.”

    * To be clear, I’m not referring to the ones who are honestly afraid of retaliation from the mouth-breathers.

  52. #52 SEF
    July 31, 2007

    T-shirts and such are all very well but shouldn’t there be a brand of FSM spaghetti and meatballs (or “genuine” IPU burgers or picture ham) on the market by now? It didn’t take long for there to be merchandise based on other fictional beings, such as all the fake religious relics and special Communion wine and wafers as well as product spin-offs from more modern icons, eg the Teletubbies, Barney etc.

  53. #53 Kseniya
    July 31, 2007

    Ah, Oran Kelly (#74) beat me to the punch while I was (slowly) typing…

    But, anyhow, personally I feel tribalism is the enemy, religion is one of its many manifestations.

    Hmmm, interesting, last week I was involved in a discussion about this on another blog. Tribalism and associated phenomena (xenophobia, etc.) correlates with and causes many social ills, but what is it that promotes tribalism (aside from the inherent limits of human brain physiology, which are hardly trivial)? Religion? Nationalism? Or are they simply manifestations of tribalism? Gah… I’m looping. Help. I cry out to the great god Tylenol to relieve me of my burder!

  54. #54 LM
    July 31, 2007

    Hey Salt? Outside of this board (where the topic IS atheism/religion) I generally don’t discuss either. I bet a lot of others don’t. There is no “clamoring.” I am what I am, a non-believer… that incidentally makes me an atheist.

  55. #55 Jim Royal
    July 31, 2007

    If only I had a group of like-minded people that I could work with, who had similar goals and stances on these issues, we could get so much more done together.

    Now where am I going to find such a group?

    Such a group would have a broader constituency than atheists. Such a group must be broader than atheists. Places to start:

    – ScienceBlogs
    – University faculty and students
    – Humanist groups
    – Your local United church (do you have United churches in the USA?)

    Start a campaign in your home town on a science-related issue that affects your locality. Tell the press that it comprises church-goers, scientists, lay people, and atheists. That will make eyes pop. You’ll get press just for being inclusive.

  56. #56 NYCatheist
    July 31, 2007

    Hear hear! Excellent post PZ.

    Also if those organizations are not to your taste I highly recommend The Freedom From Religion Foundation. They are very active, have an excellent newsletter and podcast and do a lot of work promoting separation of church and state and other atheist issues.

    They have some great T-shirts too:
    http://ffrf.org/shop/products/#tshirts

    My favorite is the “Friendly Neighborhood Atheist”

  57. #57 MAJeff
    July 31, 2007

    - Your local United church (do you have United churches in the USA?)

    Is that the same as Unitarian Universalists?

    I thought if a troll was expossed to the sun, they turned to stone. Apparently they turn into salt.

    It’s more biblical that way, Lot’s wife and all. Pity Salt’s daughters.

  58. #58 writerdd
    July 31, 2007

    >My family would disown me.

    So what? If they’re so petty or closed-minded that you can’t be yourself around them, then you should disown them. The whole “blood is thicker than water” thing is so tired.

    So is all the bullshit about people who don’t want to “join” anything. Whine, whine, whine. You sound like a bunch of frakking babies. You complain because you’re discriminated against, but whenever anyone has a suggestion about how to improve things, you whine and complain about that too. Shut up or put up already.

    Donna

  59. #59 Salt
    July 31, 2007

    Outside of this board … There is no “clamoring.”
    Posted by: LM | July 31, 2007 12:01 PM

    Outside of this board. Oh, ok.

    But PZ is asking for clamoring –

    be vigorous in asserting your godlessness

    and I take exception to being called a moron for pointing out that PZ asserted exactly what he called me ‘moron’ for pointing out.

    PZ really blew this one.

  60. #60 Calladus
    July 31, 2007

    I’m sorry Jim Royal, but it really sounds as if you’re arguing on “our” side of the fence without even realizing it. Pharyngula does have church-goers who are willing to align with us non-believers in order to combat fundamentalism here in the USA.

    There are many groups forming in the US around a core skeptical non-belief in the supernatural that have attracted liberal and moderate believers who are tired of watching attacks on basic human rights, or the espousing of ignorance as science.

    But these groups are finding out that whenever they identify an issue based upon science and basic human rights, we’re immediately branded as “secular”, “Atheist” and other “evil” terms. The makeup of our membership is ignored for a quick sound byte by Bill O’Reilly and friends.

    There are many groups here in the USA with a broad affiliation – but they are all called “Evil Secularists” in dismissal.

    It’s easy to de-humanize people when you don’t know anyone with the trait you’re attacking. Maybe we should “come out” to try to change that.

  61. #61 Janine
    July 31, 2007

    At the risk of further encouraging Salt to post more on this topic, I feel the need to point that Salt is mistaken on a very important point. Atheist do not clamor about there not being a god. Atheists clamor about the foolishness of the various believers and about how the godly expects the unbelievers (atheists and otherwise) to respect and live by their beliefs. Big difference.

    Religion and the rejection thereof remains a huge issue with many of us atheists for the simple reason, we have to deal with it all of the time. No religion, there would be so many other things to talk about. In fact, most of us would rather talk about other issues, they are more interesting.

    For example, learning more about how evolution works is much more interesting than creationism. There are so many things to learn and figure out. With ID, it is just a ‘just so’ story. The answer is already there, just accept it.

  62. #62 negentropyeater
    July 31, 2007

    LM,

    you’re right, Atheists should be as proud of their convictions as Theists.
    But its not by promoting atheism that you’ll promote secularism.
    If you want to promote secularism, promote secularism.
    Or did I get it wrong withall these ism-words.

  63. #63 Mike P
    July 31, 2007

    Salt, you’re an idiot. There is no other explanation. You’re just run-of-the-mill plain stupid. You’re asking why we discuss religion if we don’t believe in it? Because it affects us.

    You’ve continually ignored that facet of the discussion. Phlogiston turned out not to be the explanation for combustion, but we still discuss it in the history of science because it represents an important piece of the puzzle. You can’t just ignore something because you don’t believe in it; the gods, the myths, the traditions, they’re all hooey, but the followers are flesh and blood. And when they come a-persecutin’, somebody damn well better clamor. Of course, it’s far more subtle than that, but you get the drift (or perhaps you don’t… you’re stupid, after all). What you call clamoring is speaking up for ourselves.

    Honestly, that’s within the cognitive grasp of a five-year-old. I think you can manage that one. Try it. I don’t care if you do take exception to someone calling you a moron; LM hit the nail on the head. If your best arguments consist of selective quoting, sticking your fingers in your ears and shouting “La La La,” then the “moron” label suits you.

  64. #64 Kseniya
    July 31, 2007

    I like PZ and I like his blog, but this time he got it wrong. Posted by: negentropyeater | July 31, 2007 11:50 AM

    Hey Neg, obviously we’re on the same page here, but at the risk of nit-picking, I wouldn’t say PZ got it wrong – I’d say his statements up top werfe at worst incomplete. The mere mention of secularism raises the level of discussion beyond Mere Atheism. That’s worthwhile in and of itself, and has sparked a discussion of the relationship between atheism and secularism.

    Promoting acceptance of atheism is a part of the larger campaign to promote and protect secularism, though I believe it’s important to note that the success of the former ultimately proceeds from the success of the latter, not the other way around. This is particularly noteworthy in light of the many aforementioned attempts to dishonestly synonymize the two terms.

    Re: “Clamoring.” I once again refer all y’all back to Glenn’s post. His story is hardly new or unique. Clearly there are discrimination issues that need to be addressed, and the “sit down and shut up” approach ain’t working.

    Those who feel the need to stay in the closet for personal reasons have the right to do so. Others will be willing to take up the cause on behalf of those who are unready or unable to do so themselves. “Rough men,” and all. Is that a problem? I don’t think so.

    It’s not ideal, but hey. Blame the freakin’ Designer. :-p

  65. #65 LM
    July 31, 2007

    “Nor do I see atheists as being persecuted or threatened. None of the atheists I know personally are persecuted or threatened.”

    Oh, I see. So because you haven’t witnessed it personally, it doesn’t happen? Salt, I am a very nice, very fair, very even tempered person, but that is really very insulting. I HAVE been persecuted and threatened. And it SUCKS.

  66. #66 Janine
    July 31, 2007

    I thought if a troll was expossed to the sun, they turned to stone. Apparently they turn into salt.

    Posted by: Bob | July 31, 2007 12:03 PM

    Does this make Salt Lot’s wife?

    If that is the case, Salt did not follow Big Sky Daddy’s orders to not look back.

    Yeah, I know I am using bad logic here. But I hope it is funnier than Salt’s use of bad logic.

  67. #67 PZ Myers
    July 31, 2007

    So much confusion…

    — a vocal fellowship of atheist interests represents a distinct force for advocating secularism. It does not mean that religious people cannot also be advocates for secularism. If I could draw a Venn diagram here, you’d see atheists as a region contained almost entirely within the region of secularists.

    — an atheist community could have a fair amount of influence in specific ways even if our numbers aren’t huge. We are going to be greatly over-represented in the scientific and engineering communities. Right now, we don’t have much leverage, though, because we don’t have a focus.

    — apparently, communists are all people who live on communes, christians are just people who believe jesus existed, and unionists are just people who like to stick stuff together. This naive view that one word literally encapsulates the whole of an idea is ridiculous — the label is a handle to a whole complex and diverse set of beliefs, cultural implications, conventions, and attitudes. People who say “atheism” just means no belief in god and nothing more are willfully ignoring the historical and social correlates of the word as well as the broader ideas within the concept. People do not just drop a belief in god like an excised wart — we have reasons founded in a naturalistic/materialistic/scientific worldview. Pretend that doesn’t exist, and you’ll get deservedly labeled as a moron.

  68. #68 Janine
    July 31, 2007

    Atheist do not clamor about there not being a god.
    Posted by: Janine | July 31, 2007 12:21 PM

    the only thing you have to do to join this particular movement is to be vigorous in asserting your godlessness – PZ Myers

    Such fine sport here.

    Posted by: Salt | July 31, 2007 12:34 PM

    What is that buzzing noise.
    Oh. It is just a mite.
    Nothing serious here.

    Wait! Was that an attempted smackdown by Salt?
    Nice try.
    Wait. That was rather sad.

  69. #69 Steve_C
    July 31, 2007

    Salt is quickly nominating himself…

  70. #70 windy
    July 31, 2007

    Atheist do not clamor about there not being a god.
    Posted by: Janine | July 31, 2007 12:21 PM

    the only thing you have to do to join this particular movement is to be vigorous in asserting your godlessness – PZ Myers

    Such fine sport here. – Salt

    Quote mining noted. Go mine some salt instead.

  71. #71 DrFrank
    July 31, 2007

    To Salt, who appears to be our new troll…

    Although atheism is principally defined by a lack of belief in God(s), atheists are invariably strong proponents of the use of reason and evidence. In all cases that I know of, atheism is just a natural offshoot of the rational outlook on life that a person has chosen to adopt, and it is generally this rational viewpoint that people are promoting when they advertise “atheism”, rather than merely a lack of belief in God(s). It’s promoting the fact that there are other ways of thinking that do not involve the mindless acceptance of dogma.

    However, as religion is by far the most popularly held irrational belief, it is the most obvious target. Most atheists could just as easily label themselves ateapotists (cf. Bertrand Russell), but no one seriously believes in orbiting teapots so there’s not really much point.

    Also, since there is a lot of prejudice against those who lack a belief in God (at least, in America), it makes sense for rational people to make a common stand on that ground.

    [When I speak of rational I mean somewhere between the rationalist/empiricist schools of thought]

  72. #72 Janine
    July 31, 2007

    You cannot mean that windy. Salt would be doing something usefull than.

  73. #73 Janine
    July 31, 2007

    That is fine DrFrank. Salt has made himself such an inviting target. All of us has been firing away.

    It does you any good, I though you had a fine post.

  74. #74 PZ Myers
    July 31, 2007

    You mean if all people had been and were believers in the sufficiency and power of the natural world? No. But then in your fevered fantasy, there wouldn’t be any word or concept “theist” either.

  75. #75 DrFrank
    July 31, 2007

    @mijnheer
    Agnostics are non-believers. Atheists are believers: they believe there is no god.
    I’m pretty sure most agnostics aren’t genuinely agnostic about Bertrand’s teapot or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, so I would suggest that they make an unwarranted special case out of God ;)

  76. #76 Steve_C
    July 31, 2007

    Ummm. Mij. That’s wrong.

    Atheists do not believe in gods. Agnostics claims neither faith nor disbeief in god.

  77. #77 LM
    July 31, 2007

    I always thought agnostics were just too chicken to admit that they are atheists!

    /I keeeeed, I keeeed! :)

  78. #78 Steve_C
    July 31, 2007

    Salt.

    Do you believe there is a Satan? Demons? Angels?

  79. #79 Janine
    July 31, 2007

    Agnostics are non-believers. Atheists are believers: they believe there is no god.

    Posted by: mijnheer

    Wrong. Yet an other variation of ‘atheism is a religion’. Are ther atheist who are sure there is no god? Yes. But there are many other who do not see enough prove and are unwilling or unable to make that leap of faith to belive in a deity.

  80. #80 Kseniya
    July 31, 2007

    The Million-Person Pile-On! Everyone, meet up on the Mall at the The Reflecting Pool afterwards! We’ll all hang together!

    It’s not fair to underestimate Salt, or his capacity for usefulness. He did a good job rooting for The Physicist over on Topical Octagon.

  81. #81 LM
    July 31, 2007

    Salt, you’ve just admitted that you are only here to stir things up and be offensive to decent people. I think it’s time for you to move on, unless you plan on contributing something productive to this discussion.

  82. #82 Salt
    July 31, 2007

    Salt.

    Do you believe there is a Satan? Demons? Angels?
    Posted by: Steve_C | July 31, 2007 01:12 PM

    Yes.

  83. #83 Steve_C
    July 31, 2007

    Maybe the go to the same bible study meetings.

  84. #84 Steve_C
    July 31, 2007

    hehe.

    Now we can really laugh our asses off.

  85. #85 DrFrank
    July 31, 2007

    I have shown repeatedly many here whose own statements support my contention.

    You’re no different from a Creationist that quotes the first part of Darwin’s sentence about how unlikely the eye appears ;)

  86. #86 Steve_C
    July 31, 2007

    Mij. That was pretty convoluted.

    I was pretty clear. Atheist see no evidence for any gods whatsoever and there forhold a disbelief in all gods.

    Agnostics are fence sitters.

  87. #87 DrFrank
    July 31, 2007

    mijnheer,
    They simply don’t believe in a Creator, because they have no good reasons to believe in one. Atheists, on the other hand, think they have good reasons to disbelieve in a Creator. (That’s a different kettle of fish.)
    Interesting comment :) I think the practical difference between the kind of agnosticism you describe and most atheism is barely a different fish in the same kettle, never mind a whole different kettle ;D

    As you seem to imply, an agnostic should really be agnostic about the existence of any possible God out of the infinite possible number of Gods, which has always seemed to make it an untenable position for me. Anything else and you’re making a statement about the non-existence of God(s) X that is equivalent to the claims of atheism.

  88. #88 Salt
    July 31, 2007

    Then you sit there and say that this blog is full of “targets,” and that this is “good sport.”
    Posted by: LM | July 31, 2007 01:32 PM

    Massive contradictions make for quite a target; good sport.

    As to “You … said that atheists are not persecuted or threatened”, I said “Nor do I see atheists as being persecuted or threatened”; I see no evidence but your claim as to yourself.

    your personal experience, it is but an unsupported assertion.

  89. #89 Calladus
    July 31, 2007

    mijnheer, sure there are Atheists who disbelieve in Gods, there are also Atheists who merely lack a belief in Gods. The two positions are not the same, and the definition of Atheist suggests the latter.

    Personally, I lack a belief in gods in general, and I find it easy to disbelieve in any god or gods that people have described to me. (Generally those descriptions are contradictory or fallacious.)

    Practically, I’m ignostic. I think the question of whether or not god(s) exist is a fundamentally meaningless question that should be “unasked”.

    Asking if gods exist, in my opinion, applies to the real world as much as asking who is stronger, Superman or The Hulk. It’s entertaining and interesting for those of us who enjoy fiction and mythology, but ultimately useless in understanding the world around us.

  90. #90 Calladus
    July 31, 2007

    Odonata, try the Positive Atheism web site. Lots of good Atheistic quotes there.

  91. #91 Rey Fox
    July 31, 2007

    Sport hunting? You’re a mosquito that feeds on trifling inconsistencies and semantic arguments. Whoop de doo. Have a nice day, and watch out for demons.

  92. #92 mijnheer
    July 31, 2007

    DrFrank and Calladus: Thanks for the comments.

  93. #93 tony
    July 31, 2007

    RE: atheist/theist in a fantasy land where no gods have ever been posited….

    The concept would not exist, so of course the words would not exist…. However, the point is that atheist means so much more than simply “don’t believe in god” –

    it implies a rational approach to understanding the world (evidence is necessary)
    it implies a willingness to change ones mind (openness and flexibility)
    it implies a lack of ‘respect’ for ‘silliness’ (such as belief in woo)

    So — all of these things are indeed synonymous with atheism – at least for me and for many folks who hear the word atheist….

    Or are you (Rob, Salt) saying that theist *simply* means a believer in god and nothing else???

  94. #94 negentropyeater
    July 31, 2007

    I am gay and I live in Spain. We didn’t get equal rights by :
    – being vigourous about the atheist convictions of many of us
    – calling religion foolish (although many religious fundamentalists kept saying we were mentally deranged)

    We got our rights by fighting on the basic principle that a governement should not grant rights based on any beleef system.

  95. #95 kmarissa
    July 31, 2007

    Salt, are you claiming that LM was not subject to discrimination unless he or she is/was willing to be physically abused and lose his or her job?

    Wow. I guess we can all tell that you’re not, for instance, an employment law attorney.

  96. #96 Salt
    July 31, 2007

    the point is that atheist means so much more than simply “don’t believe in god” –

    it implies a rational approach to understanding the world (evidence is necessary)

    This explains the physical world. It says nothing about God though.

    it implies a willingness to change ones mind (openness and flexibility)

    Disprove ~Christianity and you’ll change a lot of minds

    it implies a lack of ‘respect’ for ‘silliness’ (such as belief in woo)

    lack of…

    I agree.

    So — all of these things are indeed synonymous with atheism – at least for me and for many folks who hear the word atheist….

    Or are you (Rob, Salt) saying that theist *simply* means a believer in god and nothing else???

    Posted by: tony | July 31, 2007 02:03 PM

    I’d say that could be acceptable Tony. A believer in god(s).

  97. #97 Salt
    July 31, 2007

    Salt, are you claiming that LM was not subject to discrimination unless he or she is/was willing to be physically abused and lose his or her job?
    Posted by: kmarissa | July 31, 2007 02:16 PM

    Has LM said that such was job related? Or are you pulling a rabbit out of your hat?

  98. #98 Steve_C
    July 31, 2007

    Then you try to reason with him.

    If I do recall our nation fought yours for financial and religious reasons.

    Your country is the reason for our little thing called Secular Government.

    I like it that way too,

  99. #99 Josh
    July 31, 2007

    Actually Bunjo has a point…it appears there is a good bit of self-righteousness and name-calling on both sides. Probably *reasoning* with Salt won’t work (sorry Salt, but it isn’t as though there is no self-righteousness coming from *your* keyboard) but giving up and resorting to name-calling strikes me as going for lower-hanging fruit than we should be.

  100. #100 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    July 31, 2007

    Science is about the entire universe and all that is contained within it. Atheism is a human reaction to a human social construct: religion. Atheism is not equal to science.

    Before there was religious societies were was no religion, and when religious societies disappear, there will again be no religion. Yet the observable world will move on.

    But atheism isn’t simply identifying free thinking in a confused world or a reaction to a social construct. It is foremost a rejection of former world views and superstition that was inconsistent with observation at worst and descriptive at best.

    Atheism is embracing empirical methods where predictive theories have debunked descriptive fantasies. It is constructive where religion is destructive. And it is a valid world view.

    Btw, seeing Salt’s antics, it is appalling when people criticizes atheism from such simple minded perspectives as the impowerished philosophical description. :-P

    But really, agnosticism, neither belief nor disbelief in gods, is but one option. Atheists have no good reasons to not reject unnecessary belief in unobserved things or ideas in general or specially here, and often good reasons for disbelief. So the toothless philosophical gods concept is as inadequate to capture all of atheism as it is to capture all of theism.

    No wonder – we don’t live in a world of decoupled ideas, we live in a world of observable facts.

  101. #101 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    July 31, 2007

    Science is about the entire universe and all that is contained within it. Atheism is a human reaction to a human social construct: religion. Atheism is not equal to science.

    Before there was religious societies were was no religion, and when religious societies disappear, there will again be no religion. Yet the observable world will move on.

    But atheism isn’t simply identifying free thinking in a confused world or a reaction to a social construct. It is foremost a rejection of former world views and superstition that was inconsistent with observation at worst and descriptive at best.

    Atheism is embracing empirical methods where predictive theories have debunked descriptive fantasies. It is constructive where religion is destructive. And it is a valid world view.

    Btw, seeing Salt’s antics, it is appalling when people criticizes atheism from such simple minded perspectives as the impowerished philosophical description. :-P

    But really, agnosticism, neither belief nor disbelief in gods, is but one option. Atheists have no good reasons to not reject unnecessary belief in unobserved things or ideas in general or specially here, and often good reasons for disbelief. So the toothless philosophical gods concept is as inadequate to capture all of atheism as it is to capture all of theism.

    No wonder – we don’t live in a world of decoupled ideas, we live in a world of observable facts.

  102. #102 LM
    July 31, 2007

    So, I’ve been thinking. I’m an atheist because I don’t believe in a deity. But I also don’t believe in angels, or heaven or hell, or the devil, or psychics, or ghosts, or souls, or mind-over-matter, or a whole bunch of other fantastical ideas (and ironically, I am a huge sci-fi/fantasy fan! Go fig). So how do I let people know that I’m not *just* an atheist? That there is so much MORE that I don’t believe? I don’t think “skeptic” is strong enough a word…

  103. #103 LM
    July 31, 2007

    Yes salt, because the people who’ve treated me poorly for no reason other than that I am an atheist were close, personal friends of mine. Get real.

  104. #104 LM
    July 31, 2007

    Josh: Actually, the word I used initially WAS persecution.

  105. #105 Salt
    July 31, 2007

    Discrimination in the workplace (or government) is cognizable under law.

    Yes. What’s your point?

    Posted by: kmarissa | July 31, 2007 02:50 PM

    That any discrimination LM suffered that was not cognizable under law is but cheese and whine. If cognizable under law, stop whining and sue the bastard(s).

  106. #106 LM
    July 31, 2007

    So persecution is only persecution if some law is being broken. Your logic is crystalline like a pure mountain stream.

  107. #107 LM
    July 31, 2007

    “Get better friends.”

    They WEREN’T… oh, christ, NEVERMIND.

    I’ve had more productive conversations with the cement wall in my office!

  108. #108 Salt
    July 31, 2007

    So persecution is only persecution if some law is being broken.
    Posted by: LM | July 31, 2007 02:59 PM

    No, but if you have no recourse – deal with it.

  109. #109 kmarissa
    July 31, 2007

    No, but if you have no recourse – deal with it.

    Has it occured to you that much of what goes on on this website IS dealing with it, this post included?

  110. #110 LM
    July 31, 2007

    “No, but if you have no recourse – deal with it.”

    FINALLY. We are back to the point of this entire debacle! PZ et al. ARE DEALING WITH IT.

  111. #111 LM
    July 31, 2007

    Salt obviously does not understand sarcasm.

  112. #112 Jim Royal
    July 31, 2007

    Torbjörn, atheism is informed by science — in many ways it is informed primary by the theory of evolution by natural selection — but it is not identical to science. PZ is making an equivalence between the two that is simply incorrect, and surprising coming from a scientist and educator.

    The idea of a god creating the mechanism of evolution is probably wrong, but not provably wrong. Therefore, it should be tolerated as long as it does not interfere with day-to-day scientific investigation.

  113. #113 Salt
    July 31, 2007

    If we are fired, we have things like making the rent to worry about, much less than being able to afford an attorney or having the free time to devote to a lawsuit. And all of this is assuming that you can actually win the lawsuit. Most employers tend not to send around memos outlining why they have chosen to break the law by firing someone for his atheism.
    Posted by: kmarissa | July 31, 2007 03:01 PM

    I understand your position. I also understand the legal system and associated costs. It’s all one has. Sucks, but I can post court cases where people have won against such odds. Kinda like David versus Goliath.

    What we have had here is not discussion concerning the discrimination involved, or even how to handle it, but whining about it. Whining solves nothing.

    Your fight may be different than mine or others, but welcome to the fight anyhow, if you chose to fight that is.

    Salt, are you really that out of touch with reality?

    Not at all.

  114. #114 Steve_C
    July 31, 2007

    Salt,

    It’s GODS not just a god. non-belief in all of them. Not just your favorite and his winged dominions and their fallen brethren.

  115. #115 Bob
    July 31, 2007

    I used* to go by agnostic, because one can never actually know, right? Well, also because it’s more palatable to the general public and I’m a big wuss.

    HOWEVER, now I say atheist, because every god offered up is downright preposterous. There isn’t even a common definition for god, so discussion starts with confusion and only diverges from there.

    Is the universe a creation? No one knows, and it’s an irrelevant question. One thing I am positive is that there is no anthropomorphic judge god wating to slap down or raise up his creations, for doing what he arranged for them to do.

    No gods, no monsters.

    *looong time ago

  116. #116 tony
    July 31, 2007

    Salt: I have no trouble believing that you are a hard-core theist… because you have an incredible ability to miscomprehend normal english. From the fundie-posters I get the impresssion that is a requirement to actually believe what your book tells you!

    LM: I understood your many statements to indicate your position — personally I’m more ‘out-there’ (at least, now) but I understand because I’ve not always been ‘out-there’

    Steve_C: when a theist like Salt sees ‘GODS’ he assumes you’re talking about his trinity… he.just.doesn’t.get.it!

  117. #117 Salt
    July 31, 2007

    Who is whining?

    Me: Atheists have been/are being persecuted.
    Salt: No they are not. I haven’t witnessed it, therefore they are not.
    Me: Well, I have. It’s happened to me.
    Salt: You’re a whiner!

    Posted by: LM | July 31, 2007 03:19 PM

    If it happened to you at work – you have recourse.

    Why have you not availed yourself of it?

    I’ll take a lead from this –

    If we are fired, we have things like making the rent to worry about, much less than being able to afford an attorney or having the free time to devote to a lawsuit. And all of this is assuming that you can actually win the lawsuit. Most employers tend not to send around memos outlining why they have chosen to break the law by firing someone for his atheism.

    No one said it’s easy.

    Who is whining?

    You, that’s who.

  118. #118 Steve LaBonne
    July 31, 2007

    The idea of a god creating the mechanism of evolution is probably wrong, but not provably wrong.

    As is the idea that lightning is the work of Zeus. Your point?

  119. #119 Steve_C
    July 31, 2007

    I mean to be funny we could just say… “I’m not superstitious.”

    That’s a subtle or not so subtle way of saying you’re of the atheist persuasion.

    My myspace page shows that I’m an atheist.

    I don’t have a quote in my personal email sign off. Maybe I should.

    None of my friends are religious so it actually rarely comes up in day to day life for me.

    The advantage of living in the godless city of New York.

  120. #120 tony
    July 31, 2007

    Wrong boyo! There are many many gods.

    Ahhh.. we seem to be getting somewhere.

    So, Salt: Can you please tell us to which particular gods YOU subscribe? And why? And why byou don;t subscribe to any others?

  121. #121 LM
    July 31, 2007

    Dustin: That’s Aztec, isn’t it??? <3

    /studied axolotls

  122. #122 kmarissa
    July 31, 2007

    Social change, I agree. Personal injury, i.e. discrimination at the workplace being injurious, not quite unless one wishes to be a martyr.

    Litigation has its place.

    Salt, I officially give up. Your position changes about every 3 posts. My apologies to everyone for feeding the troll.

  123. #123 LM
    July 31, 2007

    Dustin: Xolotl is, as the god of the underworld, dead, resurrected, games, twins and monstrosities (AND brother of Quetzalcoatl) CLEARLY far superior to your Mictecacihuatl. I mean, the guy transformed into an axolotl, was killed, and used to nourish the sun and moon. Doesn’t get much better than that. My choice in deity is far better than yours.

    Prove me wrong! Just try!

  124. #124 Salt
    July 31, 2007

    So, Salt: Can you please tell us to which particular gods YOU subscribe? And why? And why byou don;t subscribe to any others?

    Posted by: tony | July 31, 2007 03:34 PM

    I believe in many many gods but I worship only one, the one to which Jesus referred when He spoke of “He who sent Me”, the Creator, the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob.

    The others? Meh!

  125. #125 Salt
    July 31, 2007

    Social change, I agree. Personal injury, i.e. discrimination at the workplace being injurious, not quite unless one wishes to be a martyr.

    Litigation has its place.

    Salt, I officially give up. Your position changes about every 3 posts. My apologies to everyone for feeding the troll.

    Posted by: kmarissa | July 31, 2007 03:44 PM

    Yes, and whining will get you your job back, feed and cloth you. LM was referring to direct discrimination at the workplace which LM suffered it appears.

    Please do try and keep up.

    Again, you’re not making any sense. Many acts of discrimination which are illegal are not challenged in court for a number of reasons, including those that I listed. This doesn’t mean that they aren’t discrimination. We recognize that often lawsuits are impossible, impractical, or ineffective. Therefore, we find non-legal ways of influencing society. Making ourselves visible, the subject this post being one example, is one of the best ways to do so. How is this such a hard concept for you to grasp?

    I do hope this discussion puts food on your table.

  126. #126 Tulse
    July 31, 2007

    I believe in many many gods but I worship only one

    So you’re a polytheist?

  127. #127 Kseniya
    July 31, 2007

    Perhaps the Law of Unintended Consequences is in action?

    Nope. I believe you may have made a correlation/causation error.

    What you describe is evidence in support of The Theory of Propogation and Subsequent Perpetuation of Marginally Literate and Profoundly Un-Enlightened Frontier Christianity, which is primarily a New World phenomenon.

  128. #128 Salt
    July 31, 2007

    I believe in many many gods but I worship only one

    So you’re a polytheist?

    Posted by: Tulse | July 31, 2007 04:08 PM

    Appears so.

  129. #129 Salt
    July 31, 2007

    No, LM wasn’t, which is why you’re not making any sense.
    Posted by: kmarissa | July 31, 2007 04:02 PM

    LM has not been specific so I have entertained other suggested possibilities (i.e.workplace), even LM’s sarcastic one.

  130. #130 Jsn
    July 31, 2007

    Guys leave Salt alon. Remember: Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes time and annoys the pig.
    Salt, it’s very easy. You’re stating something, a god or gods, exist. Prove it or at least show evidence beyond anecdote and circular reasoning.

  131. #131 Calladus
    July 31, 2007

    I used to put Darwin Fish on my truck bumper. I’ve since been cured of doing that.

    Now I only place Atheist identification in places that I can watch. I had Atheist buttons on my backpack in college, and sometimes I’ll wear a pin. I’m thinking of making or purchasing some Atheist T-shirts too.

    But I won’t put another thing on my car. Maybe I’ll do it someday if I get an old clunker that I don’t mind getting keyed.

  132. #132 Dustin
    July 31, 2007

    Thank you, Austin, for that useful suggestion. If only more people could be as useful as you, I’m sure we’d get much more self-serving pedandic bullshit accomplished.

  133. #133 Kseniya, OM
    July 31, 2007

    “Please do try and keep up.”

    Oh… HAHA….oh that’s rich. Fine sport, indeed! Salt arrogantly slapping down someone who DOES know what’s being discussed! That’s right up there with DaveScot banning InoculatedMind from UhDuh for a misspelling his handle.

    Dustin, man, whereya been? Your return makes me realize that I missed you, even if you do diss mah homeboy Cal with a little too much exuberance. Anyway, I love it when you speak of Teh Xochipilli… Ah do declare, it gives me the vapors, suh.

    (Hey, I paid a lot for these idioms and accents, and I’ve gotta use’em up before they get stale. “Too late,” you say? Aw, crumb.)

  134. #134 commissarjs
    July 31, 2007

    I, like Salt, have been a long-time believer in Mictecacihuatl, and that’s something that you amictecacihuatlists really need to stop whining about. Sissies.

    Fool! You and your pathetic barbarian deity will serve Cyric eventually. The Dark Sun, The Prince of Lies, Lord of the Supreme Throne will rule until the ending of the world.

  135. #135 stogoe
    July 31, 2007

    I just don’t see how ‘Reality-Based Community” is an insult. I mean, buh? Why is that a bad thing?

  136. #136 Dustin
    July 31, 2007

    Dustin, man, whereya been? Your return makes me realize that I missed you, even if you do diss mah homeboy Cal with a little too much exuberance.

    I’ve been graduating, moving, and looking for a new job (they said I couldn’t keep my teaching fellowship after I’d finished the degree — the nerve!). Actually, I’m not usually on the internet much during the summer months even in normal circumstances since I’m usually too busy doting over my cacti and my tomatoes.

  137. #137 Fastlane
    July 31, 2007

    The t-shirt I wear is here:

    http://www.ffrf.org/shop/products/details.php?cat=sweatshirts&ID=SS9

    I have both a t-shirt and a sweatshirt. :-)

    Cheers.

  138. #138 7zcata
    July 31, 2007

    I like the design, but it reminds of me of the University of Alabama. Coincidence?

    http://www.rolltide.com

    I’m hoping the out campaign works, because I live in a VERY red state and if my naturalist philosphy were known, I could lose my career.

  139. #139 LM
    July 31, 2007

    Actually, Austin, I consider myself an “atheistic pantheist” of sorts. That is, I believe that all creatures are equal (or “sacred,” if you will) because all creatures share a common ancestor, and all extant creatures have survived the same ups and downs to arrive at this precise point in time! Isn’t that a nice way to think about life? I think so.

    But I still don’t believe in a deity.

  140. #140 Brownian
    July 31, 2007

    Wow. Not for the first time am I glad I live in Canada. Oh sure, there’s always some jerk who’ll try to take a swing at you for an outright expression of atheism, but they’re usually the type who’ll do the same if you don’t support the conservative party. Fortunately, they’re usually hicks who fold like a tipped cow if you stand up to them.

    Here, atheism is mostly considered rude, which is why I don’t take the sit-down-and-shut-up approach. I’m happy to take advantage of my 6′, 200 lb stature and proclaim my athiesm loudly and forcefully if it helps those atheists and agnostics who have more to lose than I by coming out.

  141. #141 Greg Peterson
    July 31, 2007

    I experienced something closer to “cognizable” (what an asshole)discrimination in the workplace as an evangelical Christian. The people in my workplace are very accepting of my atheism–even my New Age and Lutheran coworkers. Fully a third of my colleagues are atheists (or strongly lean that direction), a fact I would not have learned by keeping quiet myself.

    Having said that, I do run into BIGOTRY in response to my atheism, when it is apparent (through something I say or write or wear). The most blatant example was when I was in a debate with a theist and the nice old church couple sitting behind my child talked about how much they wanted a gun to shoot me. That’s not persecution–but come on, it’s at least bigotry. I was a guest in their fucking church.

  142. #142 tony
    July 31, 2007

    One good thing about too much salt… it make me thirsty (for knowledge, and for alcohol to dull the pain of the excessive stupidity)

  143. #143 Calladus
    July 31, 2007

    I don’t get a lot of bigotry in response to my own Atheism – at least not in person. My line of work has people of many religions, and my friends are accepting. I get bigots in my blog, but they are usually easily dealt with.

    I do often get “The Courtier’s Reply” in response when people find out I’m a nonbeliever.

    “If you haven’t read (and refuted) CS Lewis, (or Josh McDowell, or Lee Strobel, or .. or..) then you simply can’t say you don’t believe!”

    Feh.

  144. #144 Dustin
    July 31, 2007

    I’d heard tell coming here is like being in the lions den. Well it is like being with some sort of cat, but lions?

    Hardly.

    Yeah, it’s only a flesh wound.

  145. #145 LM
    July 31, 2007

    Calladus: I’ve been at a large (big 10) university for the last five years, and haven’t had any problems, probably because the student body and faculty are so incredibly diverse. My undergraduate institution was considerably smaller, and I *did* have some troubles there, but nothing like what I experienced in high school (my home town is tiny, tiny, tiny).

    Still, I don’t live on campus. If I did, I might more eagerly grasp at the idea of making a statement on either myself or my vehicle, and while the university is pretty progressive, the surrounding city sure isn’t.

  146. #146 LM
    July 31, 2007

    “Heard tell…” Hmmm. Seems to me somebody came looking for a fight. Tsk, tsk.

  147. #147 Brownian
    July 31, 2007

    I’m grateful to both Salt and David, for the next time atheists get accused of pretension, I’ll happily point a few of Salt’s “the silly atheists amuse me” comments, or, well, pretty well anything David writes.

  148. #148 Salt
    July 31, 2007

    “Heard tell…” Hmmm. Seems to me somebody came looking for a fight. Tsk, tsk.
    Posted by: LM | July 31, 2007 05:52 PM

    Actually, no. But some of you demand the repertoires, such as Brownian above who improperly quotes. I never said “the silly atheists amuse me”. Perhaps the Topical Octagon is in your future.

  149. #149 Brownian
    July 31, 2007

    Paraphrasing is not improper quotation. It’s not quotation at all.

    On this blog, I usually use blockquotes to quote previous comments.

  150. #150 Kseniya
    July 31, 2007

    Dustin: Graduated? Congratulations, sir! And you have cacti? Awesome. We (ok, my brother) has two young geckos. This morning we noticed something new in the terrarium: a gecko egg! If your cacti get lonely for desert fauna, let me know. ;-)

    Brownian: You’re Canadian? Oh dear. Now I have to discount the value of all your excellent posts by five and one-half percent. (That comes out to nearly sixth sense on the dullard, for all of you keeping score at home.)

    Salt: You just can’t admit your error, can you? You prefer to be intransigent and obtuse in your interpretation of Stephen Wells’ gibe. This compounds the error. How much more graceful it would have been for you to say, “Ah, I see I have inadvertently confused or conflated Glenn’s story with LM’s – how foolish of me to have dismissed kmarissa’s point so rudely, when in fact she was correct and I was mistaken.”

    This statment: “LM has not been specific” from comment #240 is in direct conflict with this one, from post #172, in which you acknowledged LM’s very specific disclosure that he was in high school when he suffered the abuse to which he referred: “Many kids in high school are subject to abuse. I was too.” This was well before your dismissal of kmarissa in #230.

    (Oh, I see you’re a public school basher, too – how utterly predictable.)

    You are right about this, though: There are no lions here. Just people.

  151. #151 Brownian
    July 31, 2007

    Would you like mine, LM? I’m not currently using it for anything.

    Seriously though, they mostly just get in the way.

  152. #152 Calladus
    July 31, 2007

    LM, I went to Fresno State, and yes, they’re a bit bigoted against Atheists (and others) there.

    When I founded the Campus FreeThought Society there it was interesting setting up an information table in the public areas. The Campus Crusaders for Christ were, ah, not very Christian.

    And the local preacher, Mr. Munoz, who would preach in the free speech area was an equal opportunity bigot. From what I could tell, he dissed most Christians as equally as he dissed the nonbelievers.

    Still, the majority of the students were cool. The Freethought Society got help from (and made friends with) the United Student Pride group. Actually, they were the only other organization on campus willing to help us out.

    That was really “Christian” of them.

  153. #153 Salt
    July 31, 2007

    Kseniya re:Post 276-

    LM seemed to infer a bit beyond high school (post 172). If not, my mistake and my apology.

  154. #154 Joe Bob
    July 31, 2007

    Salt, please, I need to know — can I be sure that there’s a better life waiting for me after death if I believe in your gods and tote line? What is your line, by the way? Times a-waistin’.

  155. #155 Ken Cope
    July 31, 2007

    Echoing Joe Bob’s question in #284, Salt, what do you believe and why do you believe it? What reasons can you offer for believing as you do?

  156. #156 Joe Bob
    July 31, 2007

    What weak? This is very important to me. Should I just try to get along with everybody and have as good a life as possible, or can I count on living forever if I believe like you? Should I kill people who don’t believe in our stuff? What are the rules that will get me into heaven? Shit, I’d do anything to get there…

  157. #157 Ken Cope
    July 31, 2007

    Joe Bob and Ken, such weak taunts.

    How is what I wrote in any way a taunt? I thought mine was a very simple and straightforward question. You’ve made some confusing claims; you cite John 3:16 but also claim to believe in the existence of multiple gods.

    What do you believe, and why do you believe it? What reasons can you offer for believing as you do?

  158. #158 Matt Penfold
    July 31, 2007

    My understanding is that agnosticism is about the ability to know if god can exist or not, rather than being unsure on the issue. Here I disagree with Dawkins’ and PZ somewhat becuase I consider myself an agnostic, in that I cannot see how we can know if a god exists or not (or at least not the type of god that approaches that which Spinoza talks about. For some claims about god it is clear science refutes those claims). However since I do not think the question of god’s existence can be answered I see no point in believing such a god exists. I am also an atheist because such a god did exist it would seem to be silly to worship it.

    As I understand it this is much the position taken by Thomas Huxley.

  159. #159 Salt
    July 31, 2007

    You’ve made some confusing claims; you cite John 3:16 but also claim to believe in the existence of multiple gods. – Joe Bob

    Exodus 20:3

    Not confusing at all.

  160. #160 Salt
    July 31, 2007

    You’ve made some confusing claims; you cite John 3:16 but also claim to believe in the existence of multiple gods. – Joe Bob

    Sorry, Ken.

  161. #161 Kseniya
    July 31, 2007

    LM:

    …thank you for the support. But you should know that I don’t have a penis. ;)

    Gah! *facepalm* I shoulda known from the name…

    :-) … and LOL @ Brownian’s offer.

    Sorry about the assumption, I (of all people, who’s often been mistaken for a male, usually African) should know better. It must be cuz I know a guy named LJ and your prose styles have similar tone

    Speaking of tone, I love it when people can apologize without having to have their arms twisted. It can change the tone of a heated argument in an instant. And then there’s all the hugging and crying and stuff. It’s so cool. (Especially on Pharyngula. Heh.)

  162. #162 Dustin
    July 31, 2007

    I’m tired and my eyes hurt.

    No shit? It isn’t like you’ve been at this for 10 hours running.

    Now, some funny:
    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=UY-ZrwFwLQg

  163. #163 Rey Fox
    July 31, 2007

    I don’t think Salt is trashing people for not believing in God. He’s trashing people for, I think, having the temerity to organize under that banner and wear T-shirts. I don’t know, I lost track of his point about 200 comments ago.

  164. #164 Matt Penfold
    July 31, 2007

    Salt said:

    “I’m tired and my eyes hurt.”

    It is just your eyes that hurt ?

  165. #165 Kseniya
    July 31, 2007

    Will I be proficient at the harp?

    Are blues-harps allowed in Heaven? Or are all the good bluesmen, you know… down there?

  166. #166 brandon
    July 31, 2007

    I don’t really have a body for t-shirts anymore, though, I would put an “A” on my car. It would like really nice next to the Darwin-fish humping the Jesus-fish magnet. People might mistake me for a Hawthorne enthusiast, but I’ve been called worse things.

  167. #167 Ken Cope
    July 31, 2007

    Glad that got cleared up.

    Now me, I wouldn’t have gone for Exodus 20:3 being a claim that there are multiple gods that make the one from John 3:16 jealous. People are told not to make up representations of gods and worship them. There is actually an analogous idea in Buddhism, that it is a bad idea to worship the idea of what you imagine god to be, because that won’t be god, but an abstraction. Other people (the iconoclasts among them) took it to mean that any art was right out — big chunks of the Hagia Sophia was trashed due to this interpretation, among countless art treasures of the early Christian world.

    Since you appear to think that this stuff is pretty important, perhaps you’ll get back later on what you believe, and what reasons you have for believing.

  168. #168 Salt
    July 31, 2007

    Exodus 3:20 is not the only reference to other gods.

    Exodus 20:3. I am getting tired, but I have enjoyed myself.

  169. #169 Salt
    July 31, 2007

    Also, I might as well say that Salt has a point about atheism being about a belief in the non-existence of Gods (and his uberGod in particular). Of course, I don’t know why he cares so much unless he wants to use the old, heavily refuted argument about strident belief in non-existence implies existence.

    Posted by: JP | July 31, 2007 07:50 PM

    I only cared as so many deny the fact you simply put, in essence that the core of atheism is based on that which does not exist which PZ took issue with concerning my first post –

    I really get peeved with morons who claim atheism is based on that which does not exist.
    Posted by: PZ Myers | July 31, 2007 09:37 AM

    That’s all there was to it.

  170. #170 JP
    July 31, 2007

    @ Salt:

    PZ is taking issue with the idea that atheism is based on gods. I agree with him in this. Atheism is not *based* on gods, it is a denial of the existence of gods.

    Only in an extremely limited fashion can one say that atheism is in any way based on gods. Naturally, without the idea of gods, atheism needs not even a word, as everyone does not believe in gods. To even have the word atheism, the idea of gods must exist, although the gods themselves do not exist.

    So, we come to the important point: one could say that atheism is based on the *idea of gods*, but not based on *gods* in general. And that, I trust, clarifies the matter. (Corrections, anyone?)

  171. #171 Bob
    July 31, 2007

    And that is why I don’t like the word “atheism” or the word “atheist” as a noun. Atheist should be an adjective, emphasis on the first syllable. See, I am atheist, without a theology. Now it only describes me and is independent of anyone else’s belief.

  172. #172 philos
    July 31, 2007

    Yawn.

  173. #173 Steve_C
    July 31, 2007

    hehe. God believed in gods.

    WTF?

  174. #174 philos
    July 31, 2007

    Why do we have such ignorant fools that repeatedly call themselves atheists when it is an indefensible position (one cannot disprove the existence of anything); this is especially true and empty of the clods who have no evolutionary background. I suggest for those people to
    go away and read a book.

    Even Dawkins is not an atheist; atheism is an incredibly limp & weak position of argument.

    Religion, I welcome with open arms. In the general sense, it makes communities safer and more habitable. Sure, if I lived in the Middle East my opinion would be different, but besides taking my shoes off at the airport, I have no problem with it.

    I don’t care about other’s religious opinions unless there is a discussion and I don’t care to publish mine and get in stupid fights.

    Bertrand Russell tried it in the past and failed; take your so-called revolution and shove it.

    Dawkins and PZ don’t care. They’re just rowdying the crowd of dummies to buy more of their books and visit their websites and making millions; I won’t buy PZ’s though when it comes out, which by the way is tentatively titled, Natural Revelation – due out in stores soon!; his science is unimpressive, his writing is not poetry but bad, boring poetry at that and his personality? – quite the prick.

    Weaned too early.

    – A 6.8 Agnostic

  175. #175 Brownian
    July 31, 2007

    I’ve jotted all of those points down for handy reference.

    Thanks for coming out, philos.

  176. #176 Bob
    July 31, 2007

    “I don’t care about other’s religious opinions unless there is a discussion and I don’t care to publish mine and get in stupid fights.”

    Then why did you post?

  177. #177 plunge
    July 31, 2007

    “Why do we have such ignorant fools that repeatedly call themselves atheists when it is an indefensible position (one cannot disprove the existence of anything)”

    Congrats philos, you win the award for starting off by displaying your utter ignorance of what Dawkins, PZ, and most other atheists mean by atheism.

    It’s a pretty common misunderstanding you have, but no less inexcusable and silly.

  178. #178 Sean
    July 31, 2007

    The concept of burden of proof being on the positive has been well covered, so I will raise an eyebrow at the other line that really caught my eye.

    Religion, I welcome with open arms. In the general sense, it makes communities safer and more habitable.

    Say what? Is there any support for this claim? Perhaps massively higher crime rates in America outside the Bible Belt? Perhaps pervasive and out of control criminal violence throughout Europe? Maybe the utter lack of religious folk inside institutes of incarceration?

  179. #179 chips
    July 31, 2007

    Is athiesm becoming a religion? You act like atheists are persecuted, a considerable amount of people are atheist. But their shouldnt be some sort of anti-religious movement in the name of no proof. People are entitled to thier beliefs, so athiesm is not a problem. It never will be and people can believe in what they want its cool. Why shouldnt they, but do not act like athiests are persecuted and silenced and sent to a gulag when they do not believe in God.

  180. #180 Patrick Quigley
    July 31, 2007

    And if you don’t like the scarlet letter, Dawkins points to the CafePress site where you can pick from 9,430 atheist designs. Pick one or design your own.

    Very cool. I followed the link and discovered that one of my own designs shows up on the second page. I hadn’t even realized that I had activated that store, and it is in the top 40 for popularity.

    And I don’t know who designed this ‘GODBLESS AMERICAN shirt, but I want it on a bumper sticker. Actually I’m okay with the scarlet ‘A’ design as well.

  181. #181 Kent Kauffman
    July 31, 2007

    A good troll livens things up every now and then. If nothing else, it helps one sharpen and expand on one’s own arguments. Anyways, I like the post. Perfect atheism thought process: 1)Here’s a symbol for atheism, 2)You can use this one or these 9000 others or create your own, 3)But please, it’s bullshit to be thought of as a second class citizen, also, religion motivates people to do dumb things, and if you want to help change this, do/say something about it, it doesn’t have to be a lot, just something.

    What’s to get upset about? Anyways, atheism is a scientific hypothesis, or least a result of scientific inquiry.

  182. #182 Luna
    August 1, 2007

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while now but never really had anything to post before today. I checked out those shirts on Cafepress and to be honest I wasn’t very impressed with many of the designs for various reasons, so I decided to make my own. I totally understand the desire expressed here for a non-confrontational design because well, there are some nutty people out there who will do strange things in the name of religion, and I kept that in mind when I made it. Anyway, if anyone would like to check out my shirts, they can be found here. Many thanks for being an interesting daily read.

  183. #183 Brownian
    August 1, 2007

    @#326

    Mike, very well said.

  184. #184 Caliban
    August 1, 2007

    It’s always amusing when the token crazy guy (salt) tries to impress people with a bunch of sanctimonious, pathetic garbage.

    Don’t these people have a life somewhere? How ridiculous. I almost feel sorry for him/her.

  185. #185 AGNOSTIC
    August 1, 2007

    I don’t know if someone has already said this (because I’m not going to read all 336 posts), so I’ll say it again here: I’m commenting on this quote:
    “Here in the US, we must make it clear that there is a significant slice of the electorate that wants our government kept entirely secular.”
    IT’S NOT JUST THE ATHIESTS WHO ARE UP IN ARMS ABOUT THIS! If this is the main issue, then I suggest getting more people involved than just the athiests – you don’t have to be scared of believers – they aren’t all bad.
    So many atheists think they’re better than believers. As if there aren’t any atheist nuts who do terrible things in the name of science… Some atheists really are just as bad as the fundamentalists on the other side. I know Dawkins has some great retort to that argument, but when it comes down to it you’ve got to BELIEVE that the universe just happened, because if it did just happen, there’s no way to prove it – it’s still turtles all the way down no matter how you look at it.

  186. #186 Agnostic
    August 1, 2007

    What DaveX said (#26) is exactly how I feel: the religious and athiest nuts should just keep it to themselves. People should focus on issues, such as should we be forced to pray in school? no. should we allow it? yes. should the 10 commandments be in a public courthouse? probably not, but on the other hand, why not? Especially if they’ve been there for 100 years… you can have the code of hammurabi there too for all I care, as long as it’s made clear that it’s just a symbol for the rule of law. you can’t stop judges from being influenced by their own beliefs anyway (philosophical or religious).
    I hate this whole “us against them” stance. I’m tired of being harrassed by the athiests and the religious nuts. Religion should stay out of politics. Religion should stay out of our children’s science textbooks. But other than that, just live and let live. Don’t come to my house to tell me I’m an idiot for believing in something or tell me about the gospel according to John or John Smith – I’m not interested.

  187. #187 Rey Fox
    August 1, 2007

    “Don’t come to my house to tell me I’m an idiot for believing in something or tell me about the gospel according to John or John Smith – I’m not interested.”

    Is our rhetoric really so firey that people actually think we’re physically coming into their homes?! Is challenging the idea of gods really that shocking still?

    I think you’ll find, Agnostic, that our views are pretty much the same as yours. Religion in its place. The only difference is that the so-called New Atheists are actually out talking about it. It’s not really that radical, nor should it be.

  188. #188 Susan
    August 1, 2007

    I don’t have a problem wearing a shirt in public that declares my atheism I just don’t particulary like the design of this one. Aren’t there any atheist graphic designers out there? When the gay community adopted the pink triangle, it was an interesting symbol and had some historical signifigance. Who came up with this symbol? I’m sure the gay community didn’t sit around and think, “yeah pink triangle…That’s it!” It was a grass roots thing that got spread by word of mouth. The scarlet “A” idea smacks of branding, it’s not even a cool brand at that. You’ll have to come up with something better before I’ll wear it on my chest. (Preferably an actual symbol not a letter A, not very imaginative) Also, as much as I like Dawkins, I refuse to call myself a “Bright”. Someone needs to work on that label as well. (I like the “Darwin Fish” symbol…Not really an atheist symbol per-se but it’s cute)

  189. #189 agnostic
    August 1, 2007

    I love how atheists such as lunacrous and rey fox can get so bent out of shape when they feel attacked by someone who has moderate views. Yes, it’s the New Athiests brandishing their view that “the faithful” are out to get us.

    It’s not about atheism against belief – it’s about retaining a secular government and keeping religious influences out of the government, science, and schools.

    I take the line in the constituion about “Freedom of Religion” to also mean “Freedom FROM Religion” and I think I’m not the only one who interprets it this way. I believe athiests should be respected for there lack of belief in the supernatural. I just hope the New Athiest Movement doesn’t turn into a sort of church of radicals who hate religious people.

  190. #190 John C. Randolph
    August 1, 2007

    Susan,

    The pink triangle was what the Nazis forced homosexuals to wear in concentration camps.

    -jcr

  191. #191 Bob
    August 1, 2007

    Susan, the pink triangle is a symbol the gays coopted from Nazi Germany. The Nazis used it point down to identify gays in their prison camps.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazi_concentration_camp_badges

    I suppose atheist would fall under enemy of the state or asocial, but I haven’t seen any evidence of mistreatment of atheists by the Nazis.

  192. #192 Tulse
    August 1, 2007

    Isn’t it better to just BE an atheist, and lead by quiet example?

    I share the expressed misgivings about the rather unreflective and juvenile nature of the specific acts mentioned in our genial host’s recent postings. but the whole “quiet example” approach has been an utter failure. It is only because people like Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens, Harris, and our own PZ haven’t been quiet that atheism is even on the public agenda. When atheists were “quiet examples”, they weren’t asked on to talk shows, or appeared on bestseller lists, or had their own section in bookstores. I may disagree with the specific tactics suggested by PZ, but the overall strategy of uppity atheism is working.

  193. #193 ??????
    August 1, 2007

    Feh! You Dungian infidels soon will again suffer the wrath of the mighty and unknowable ???????!

  194. #194 ??????
    August 1, 2007

    Feh! You Dungian infidels soon will again suffer the wrath of the mighty and unknowable ???????!

  195. #195 Tulse
    August 1, 2007

    If reshelving books in a bookstore isn’t vandalism, I presume you’d allow a stranger to come into your business and randomly refile your business documents?

  196. #196 commissarjs
    August 1, 2007

    If reshelving books in a bookstore isn’t vandalism, I presume you’d allow a stranger to come into your business and randomly refile your business documents?

    That isn’t even remotely the same thing. Notice that noone is going into the store managers office and rearranging their business documents.

    Their inventory of books are entirely seperate from their business documents.

  197. #197 Tulse
    August 1, 2007

    You probably also wouldn’t offer strangers Simpsons calendars or sell them magazines, but that doesn’t mean the original analogy doesn’t hold. The books aren’t yours, and they have been organized in a particular way by their owners. If you want them organized in a different way, ask the owners (nicely) to do so, and provide arguments as to why. Otherwise, yes, it is vandalism, admittedly minor, but vandalism nonetheless.

  198. #198 kmarissa
    August 1, 2007

    No, the analogy doesn’t hold at all.

    Customers rearrange items in stores all the time (and not just bookstores), usually out of laziness. This may be inconsiderate, but it certainly isn’t vandalism. Vandalism is destruction or damage of the item. Leaving a book on the wrong shelf, because you can’t find where it actually goes, or because you feel that it was in the wrong place originally, is not vandalism.

  199. #199 True Bob
    August 1, 2007

    Tulse, I do not think that word means what you seem to think it means:

    van·dal·ism
    Pronunciation[van-dl-iz-uhm]
    -noun
    1. deliberately mischievous or malicious destruction or damage of property: vandalism of public buildings.
    2. the conduct or spirit characteristic of the Vandals.
    3. willful or ignorant destruction of artistic or literary treasures.
    4. a vandalic act.

    I don’t see “rearranging” in that definition. Find a different word, because it IS NOT vandalism. It may seem petty and mischievious, probably annoying, but that’s about it.

  200. #200 Kseniya
    August 1, 2007

    Bob is correct. Reshelving books is not valdalism. There is no destruction of defacement of property. Depending upon ones point of view, it could be called “sabotage”, “mischief”, or “a public service”. But “vandalism”? Naaah.

  201. #201 Tulse
    August 1, 2007

    The act is certainly damaging to the business, as it costs employees’ time to undo the reshelving, and may mean that they can’t find books that customers request (and it also may throw off their inventory tracking). In other words, there is a financial impact on the bookstore, and there is certainly an inconvenience. If you don’t want to call that “vandalism”, that’s fine with me, but I think that’s mere semantics — don’t pretend that it is an act without negative consequences to the bookstore.

  202. #202 Brownian
    August 1, 2007

    So what was it when that mean kid threatened to ‘rearrange’ my face back in grade school?

  203. #203 True Bob
    August 1, 2007

    Brownian, I believe that is called “assault”. If they follow through, it is “battery”. ;)

  204. #204 Tulse
    August 1, 2007

    kmarissa, it is semantics in the sense that, whatever you want to label it, it is a willful act that intentionally disrupts the business. If you choose not to call that vandalism, that’s fine — I’m not arguing whether that specific word applies, but whether the act is in fact damaging. Just for context, the original quote I was responding to was commissarjs‘s “If you consider that vandalism and damaging in any way whatsoever you have lived quite a sheltered life”. I think it is clear that the act is (at least potentially) damaging to the business. That’s my only point. If the use of the word “vandalism” in response to the original quote has been confusing, I apologize, but that doesn’t change the broader point.

  205. #205 tony
    August 1, 2007

    FYI: the term for “stuff that [book]stores don’t like” is “browsing”

  206. #206 True Bob
    August 1, 2007

    Probably more effective to campaign in our multitudes against the chain stores. Otherwise the only one getting the point is the staff who reshelves.

  207. #207 Kseniya
    August 1, 2007

    don’t pretend that it is an act without negative consequences to the bookstore.

    Good point, T, but speaking for myself, I don’t pretend any such thing. I’d still call it “sabotage” before I’d call it “vandalism”. There is probably a better word than either, though. Subversion?

    Windy, the mighty and unknowable Belichik PWNS all those other diacritically-ostentatious godz you listed.

  208. #208 Tulse
    August 1, 2007

    Tulse, OCD much??

    Nah, but unnecessary rudeness annoys me, and reshelving books is unnecessarily rude — not a High Crime, of course, but still rude (and silly, and ineffectual, and inconveniences innocent third parties). If folks feel otherwise, that’s their prerogative.

  209. #209 DaveX
    August 1, 2007

    I know some folks don’t believe me about the progression of all these ideas towards something truly negative, but re-read the comments and see if you can’t discern this easily turning into a “one-true-atheist” discussion.

    I mean, LM and I raise valid points about not “coming out” or being excessively vocal with out atheist views, and its being treated like some sort of heresy. Won’t be long before the first doubtful comment: “I don’t think you’re even atheists,” or some such nonsense. This is giving me little hope for the so-called “new” atheism.

  210. #210 DaveX
    August 1, 2007

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m hardly in the closet. I’m frequently asked to go to someone or other’s church, and my reply is always something to the effect that I won’t because I’m an atheist. I let them know that I don’t believe in god, or attend church. I do the same for missionaries visiting my doorstep, or for the casual person who happens to inquire.

    This is being an atheist, and hardly some sort of armchair fooling around.

    What I am NOT doing is being obnoxious about it, getting in anyone’s face, or promoting a polarized environment by waving a sign, wearing a provocative shirt, or hassling poor bookstore employees.

  211. #211 MAJeff
    August 1, 2007

    But when it does come up, I won’t lie evade the fact that I am an atheist; far from being loud, or in-your-face, it’s simply being honest.

    We may be close to breaking the analogy of the closet as lived and theorized by queers (I’m not sure if the atheist closet is as total as the queer one, but i’m willing to be proved wrong), but that is the very essence of what the closet is–life lived dishonestly. The closet is a double life, and the entire basis for one of the lives is lying. It is the routinization of social practices that force those who live in the closet to live that double life, to have entire relationships based in lies. It may seem to provide protection, but that protection is tenuous and can be stripped away at any moment by the very people who insist on keeping you closeted. As we said in the early 90s, the closet isn’t a right, it’s a tool of oppression.

  212. #212 MAJeff
    August 1, 2007

    As we said in the early 90s, the closet isn’t a right, it’s a tool of oppression.

    Hell, as we’ve been saying since the days of the Gay Liberation movement.

  213. #213 kmarissa
    August 1, 2007

    DaveX, we really don’t sound that far apart in how we treat our atheism, except that I don’t see how wearing a shirt that states or indicates that one is an atheist is provocative or noisy. It’s like wearing a shirt for a club or a band. Or a church group, for that matter. The idea that an “atheist” t-shirt is in-your-face and noisy, while a “young life” or “intervarsity christian fellowship” t-shirt is just a t-shirt, well I think that’s a prime example of prejudice that many people don’t even recognize, and which can only be overcome by more visibility–primarily NOT visibility of people like PZ or Dawkins, or books in the Barnes and Noble endcap (although it helps), but friends, neighbors, co-workers, and other normal, everyday people. That is, the kind of people that friends, neighbors, and coworkers wouldn’t guess are atheists; they’re too nice.

    I’ll leave the other two examples out because I think they’re much different situations than the t-shirt thing.

  214. #214 MikeM
    August 1, 2007

    Who has time to wade through 389 comments?

    I’m sorry if this post is redundant.

    As a card-carrying, secret-handshake-using atheist and rationalist, I will not be doing as Dawkins suggests. I needed to personalize this for myself first. My family is good friends with a highly educated family whose friendship I would likely lose by branding myself.

    They are as unwavering in their belief system (as wacky as I believe Christianity is) as I am unwaveringly rational. To me, there is a physical universe; the end.

    The deal is, though, that we don’t spend hours and hours talking salvation. Religion hardly ever comes up. If we ever had it out on that subject, I think that would be the end of our friendship.

    It’s just not worth it. I don’t see the point.

    Note that I won’t hold back when someone rams their religion down my throat. And my wife and kids do attend a Buddhist church, much to the chagrin from my Christian friends.

    We have this one Fred Phelps-type in Sacramento who drives around in a red Toyota pickup, ramming his wacky ideas down anyone’s throat who will listen. For him, I would gladly brand myself with the Red A. But for my friends, no, I won’t do it, unless they want to beat me up with it. I will fight back.

    As an aside (I think related), in June, when my mother-in-law was CVS in the hospital on her way to dying, Christian friends kept telling us we were in their prayers. I really, really wanted to ask them why. What good was it going to do? There was no miracle to be had; mother-in-law’s brain had swelled. I wanted to ask if they prayed for Terri Schiavo, too.

    Nothing that happened in the three weeks between the stroke and her death that was LESS comforting to me than knowing people were appealing to a non-existent higher-power. I would have felt way better if I heard that this story had motivated them to donate to the American Diabetes Association.

    Anyway, that’s why I won’t be following this advice. Hope it makes sense.

  215. #215 Keith Douglas
    August 1, 2007

    “mighty and unknowable ???????!” Crap, and I can’t even identify enough Cyrillic letters to attempt to even pronounce that!

  216. #216 agnostic
    August 2, 2007

    Dr Frank,
    Good point. Should I believe in the invisible pink unicorn or the celestial teapot or not? Actually I kinda like the idea of a teapot floating around out near Mars…
    But seriously, this isn’t about whether or not agnostics believe in Santa or Jesus – it’s about whether they believe there may be something more than just what we can sense or measure and whether or not there is a “higher power” which for me could mean a number of things, not just a monotheistic version of God.
    Even atheists have to conclude that it’s just turtles all the way down. For example, what came before the Big Bang?
    There’s no reason to believe there was anything at all, but most people believe something caused it. Maybe you think it was two or more higher-dimensional spaces crashing into each other? Or maybe you have some other simpler explanation?
    I can’t say, “There is no God.” or “There is nothing out there that we can’t sense or measure.” There’s not any evidence for or against it.

    “My view is that if there is no evidence for it, then forget about it. An agnostic is somebody who doesn’t believe in something until there is evidence for it, so I’m agnostic.” – Carl Sagan

  217. #217 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    August 2, 2007

    Salt:

    Atheism explicitly encompasses a world view sans god.

    Atheism encompasses a world view based on empirical data – without superstition and fairy tales. Stop make special pleadings for religions, religion isn’t the only world view it rejects.

    Jim Royal:

    PZ is making an equivalence between the two that is simply incorrect,

    Where, exactly?

    There is a difference between noting that atheism based on empiricism is stronger than philosophy, because induction from observational probabilities or even abduction to the best explanation is more powerful than philosophical indifference, and claiming that science is equivalent to atheism.

    For an example in this thread, basing atheism in empiricism as “about the entire freaking universe” and describing theology to “the vacuous maunderings of old dogmatists about nothing at all” seems to me to capture the former view better than the later. It would be different if PZ had said “faulty maunderings” than noted emptiness.

  218. #218 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    August 4, 2007

    Jim Royal:

    PZ did not say that atheism is based on empiricism… he said that atheism is empiricism.

    I think what you are trying to say is that PZ claimed his atheism is based on empiricism. I can agree with that.

    And he called anyone who disagreed a moron.

    No, he called everyone “who claim atheism is based on that which does not exist” a moron. Wouldn’t you, seeing that his atheism is based on empiricism instead?

    Actually I think you are accusing PZ for what he complained in others, making a sweeping and faulty description.

    agnostic:

    Even atheists have to conclude that it’s just turtles all the way down. For example, what came before the Big Bang? There’s no reason to believe there was anything at all, but most people believe something caused it.

    Besides the fact that you answered your own question, there is also the very real possibility of the eternal multiverse which follows naturally from inflation. And that can be infinitely old.

    And QM and Planck length at one end of the scale and the Hubble volume on the other means that we have a finite supply of turtles. :-P

  219. #219 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    August 4, 2007

    Jim Royal:

    PZ did not say that atheism is based on empiricism… he said that atheism is empiricism.

    I think what you are trying to say is that PZ claimed his atheism is based on empiricism. I can agree with that.

    And he called anyone who disagreed a moron.

    No, he called everyone “who claim atheism is based on that which does not exist” a moron. Wouldn’t you, seeing that his atheism is based on empiricism instead?

    Actually I think you are accusing PZ for what he complained in others, making a sweeping and faulty description.

    agnostic:

    Even atheists have to conclude that it’s just turtles all the way down. For example, what came before the Big Bang? There’s no reason to believe there was anything at all, but most people believe something caused it.

    Besides the fact that you answered your own question, there is also the very real possibility of the eternal multiverse which follows naturally from inflation. And that can be infinitely old.

    And QM and Planck length at one end of the scale and the Hubble volume on the other means that we have a finite supply of turtles. :-P

  220. #220 agnostic
    August 6, 2007

    Torbjörn Larsson,

    Those are interesting beliefs. That’s one of the things I’m trying to point out: some people seem to “believe” in the current scientific constructs. Suggesting that there are a limited number of turtles based on the limited understanding we have of the universe is just as closed minded as any other dogmatic approach, i.e there could very well be things beyond those scales which we have yet to discover. And when I said most people believe something caused the big bang, I meant most athiests, believers and scientists. Most people believe in cause and effect. So, actually I was wrong, there is reason to believe that there was something before the big bang, unless matter can be created.

    So maybe I worded it wrong. Atheists for the most part, except for the most dogmatic, have to admit it’s still just turtles all the way down. Claiming that everything could be an multiverse without beginning or end doesn’t change that – it’s still the dog biting his tail. Do the words “infinite” or “eternal” make for less turtles? Just a few running around on a moebius strip?

    Science is hard pressed to answer the question of why the universe exists. That’s what atheisim and religion are for. Atheism at it’s best says, “I don’t care why, let’s make the best of it” and at worst claims there is definately no reason for our existence.

    To claim that there is definately no God, or reason for our existence other than the one we come up with is a great philosophy that works for many, but it also smacks a little of fundamentalism. I would rather say that it doesn’t matter one way or the other. Whether we believe the same thing or not, we should work together towards common humanistic goals.

  221. #221 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    August 11, 2007

    agnostic:

    Sorry for late reply.

    some people seem to “believe” in the current scientific constructs. Suggesting that there are a limited number of turtles based on the limited understanding we have of the universe is just as closed minded as any other dogmatic approach,

    Of course it is a provisional view. It is also current possibilities, so it has undergone a validation. (In the form of being a working theory.) “Validated belief” is knowledge in my book, here in the form of informing of a scientific possibility.

    Atheists for the most part, except for the most dogmatic, have to admit it’s still just turtles all the way down.

    Okay, this is so wrong and wrong again. You must have strong preconceptions to overlook that these are tentative, albeit strongly indicated, possibilities. And that anyone who looks into the science are free to see and acknowledge this.

    at worst claims there is definately no reason for our existence.

    What would “reason” mean in this context? But FWIW, making the best of it means noting that anything else than natural mechanisms (whatever that means) are improbable – we see plenty of them.

  222. #222 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    August 11, 2007

    agnostic:

    Sorry for late reply.

    some people seem to “believe” in the current scientific constructs. Suggesting that there are a limited number of turtles based on the limited understanding we have of the universe is just as closed minded as any other dogmatic approach,

    Of course it is a provisional view. It is also current possibilities, so it has undergone a validation. (In the form of being a working theory.) “Validated belief” is knowledge in my book, here in the form of informing of a scientific possibility.

    Atheists for the most part, except for the most dogmatic, have to admit it’s still just turtles all the way down.

    Okay, this is so wrong and wrong again. You must have strong preconceptions to overlook that these are tentative, albeit strongly indicated, possibilities. And that anyone who looks into the science are free to see and acknowledge this.

    at worst claims there is definately no reason for our existence.

    What would “reason” mean in this context? But FWIW, making the best of it means noting that anything else than natural mechanisms (whatever that means) are improbable – we see plenty of them.

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