Pharyngula

An inspirational poster

i-27161f8e3399375cc91fc21d4029b80f-atheism_good_enough.gif

I must confess to a cruel game with this post. I saw this poster and thought, “What? But most of these people weren’t atheists!” Surely someone could do a far better job with this idea than that, and everyone would see the problem here (at least John Wilkins did, as did many of the commenters). You were supposed to be inspired to make a better version. At least one person was, but they took it in a completely different direction than I expected.

i-5e360face5561efe88fc0e4734653ff0-goodenoughforgeenuses.jpg

Anyone care to try and do something better, with a positive message?

Comments

  1. #2 PZ Myers
    July 31, 2008

    Of course, it should be more like “Deism: Good enough for these idiots”.

  2. #3 Wowbagger
    July 31, 2008

    How about:

    Interventionist God?
    These guys didn’t think so.

  3. #4 Janine ID
    July 31, 2008

    Rob, I would say at the most, religion is no guaranty that a person will be moral.

  4. #5 DCB
    July 31, 2008

    Longtime reader, first-time poster…while sympathetic to the thrust of the cracker issue, scientifically, you could do better.

    First, in terms of hypothesis testing, your null should have been that nothing will happen to you if you desecrate the cracker (especially since there is no historical evidence that (a) god has ever killed someone for blasphemy). That you were not struck down does not reject the null, it merely fails to reject the null, a result that is statistically uninteresting.

    Second, if you really want to prove that it’s a cracker, perform a DNA test on one of the blessed things. The Nicene creed says that “he came down from heaven and became man.” If this is true, then Jesus had DNA. If the cracker is really Jesus after the blessing, it should have DNA. It would even be better to get a priest (or better yet, the Pope) to wager their faith on the result. PZ will become Catholic if a blessed cracker has human DNA; the Pope will renounce the Church and close it down if it does not.

  5. #6 rmp
    July 31, 2008

    OK, I know that this is a bit of a cop out but I think we should abandon the atheism label and just call ourselves Unitarians. A little heavy on the ‘woo’ and wishful thinking but still, people seem to accept you as long as you belong to ‘some religion’. Of coarse with the tragedy at the Unitarian Church the other day, there does seem to be a flaw in my logic.

  6. #7 Nick
    July 31, 2008

    I know I should know this, but who is upper left and upper right?

  7. #8 rmp
    July 31, 2008

    Hemingway and Carl Sagan.

  8. #9 Nerd of Redhead
    July 31, 2008

    Upper right is Carl Sagan. Upper left reminds my of Ernest Hemmingway. I would love to have a long conversation with any person in that group. It would be most enlightening.

  9. #10 Dixie Myers
    July 31, 2008

    Ernest Hemingway and Carl Sagan, respectively. Where can I get the poster?

  10. #11 Wowbagger
    July 31, 2008

    DCB,

    Probably best if you start from the start – but, to save you a lot of time, you should know that the catholics have argued that the cracker does not become actual flesh in a testable sense.

    It appeared in more than one of the relevant cracker threads.

  11. #12 notthedroids
    July 31, 2008

    I think my grandma is better at photoshop than that.

  12. #13 Nick
    July 31, 2008

    Of course, Sagan! *smacks self* I knew I recognized him. Hemingway was not one I recognized at all though. Thanks!

  13. #14 Adrienne
    July 31, 2008

    Ugh, I don’t think Hemingway is a good advertisement for atheism due to his alcoholism and suicide. Surely we could find people with lives that ended happier than his for this poster? Like George Carlin, maybe? Steve Allen?

  14. #15 Wowbagger
    July 31, 2008

    For the ignorant amongst us (I speak mostly for myself) can someone list who they all are?

  15. #16 SC
    July 31, 2008

    Rather testosterone-heavy.

  16. #17 Adrienne
    July 31, 2008

    Testosterone-heavy and melanin-impaired.

  17. #18 Carlie
    July 31, 2008

    What Adrienne and SC said.

  18. #19 BaldApe
    July 31, 2008

    But Vox Day said that atheists are all like Stalin and Mao. He wouldn’t lie, would he?

  19. #20 samu
    July 31, 2008

    For the ignorant amongst us (I speak mostly for myself) can someone list who they all are?

    top left: Ernest Hemingway
    down from him: Mark Twain
    down: Einstein
    top middle: Abe lincoln
    down: thomas jefferson
    down: Darwin of course
    top right: Carl Sagan
    down:Benjamin Franklin

  20. #21 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    July 31, 2008

    But Vox Day said that atheists are all like Stalin and Mao. He wouldn’t lie, would he?

    Does the Pope shove mystic man meat into the mouths of…

    um nevermind.

  21. #22 Steve_C
    July 31, 2008

    I think it’s Mark Twain and Jefferson in the center.

  22. #23 JoJo
    July 31, 2008

    For the ignorant amongst us (I speak mostly for myself) can someone list who they all are?

    Top three, from left: Ernest Hemmingway, Abraham Lincoln, Carl Sagan

    Middle three, from left: Mark Twain, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin

    Bottom two, from left: Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin

  23. #24 Wowbagger
    July 31, 2008

    Thanks, Samu – most of them I knew, Jefferson was a guess – but it was Mark Twain I was stuck on; I’ve only seen pictures of him when he was older.

    Is there a site where you can generate these or is it a photoshop thing? I’ve got a ton of ideas.

  24. #25 Bob Vogel
    July 31, 2008

    Hell, PZ, I have a wide-format printer that can do a poster 24″ wide on inks that are touted to last 85 years. Is there a link to the large-format download?

  25. #26 DaveX
    July 31, 2008

    TOP ROW- Ernest Hemingway, Abraham Lincoln, Carl Sagan
    MIDDLE – Mark Twain, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin
    BOTTOM – Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin

    Pretty sure about this, correct me if I’m wrong. I’d be interested in atheist quotes from each that confirm this, though… I don’t know ones for folks like Lincoln or Hemingway, especially.

  26. #27 John S. Wilkins
    July 31, 2008

    Darwin was not an atheist, nor was Jefferson, Einstein, nor Franklin, who were all deists. Darwin was, for much of his life, also a deist, but ended up an agnostic. They are only atheists if you use the “american definition” of “atheist”: someone who is not an orthodox Christian or Jew or Muslim. Elsewhere in the world, “atheist” means “lack of belief in any god, including the deist or possibly existing one”.

  27. #28 S.Scott
    July 31, 2008

    Love it!

  28. #29 A RIce
    July 31, 2008

    >> Upper left = Ernest Hemingway

    I kind of thought I it looks like PZ…
    Perhaps in 15-20 years.

  29. #30 Benjamin Franklin
    July 31, 2008

    PZ-

    Thank you for your clarification in post #2.

    I am quite positive that Mark Twain, Einstein, Lincoln,
    Jefferson, Darwin, Sagan, and especially Benjamin Franklin were not atheists at all.

    Hemingway did profess himself to be an athiest, but aside from him, that poster is bullshit. Atheism certainly wasn’t good enough for the rest of those pictured.

  30. #31 Stu
    July 31, 2008

    Hate to be a spoiler, but I don’t really think it could reasonably be considered accurate to call Jefferson, Franklin, Lincoln, Darwin, or Einstein atheists. I suspect that some of them might have been so internally but never left any cues that they unambiguously were. Suggested reading:

    –Autobiography of Charles Darwin
    –Freethinkers (Susan Jacoby, especially chapters on Jefferson and Lincoln)
    –Einstein: His Life and Universe (Walter Isaacson, chapter “Einstein’s God”)

  31. #32 Susan
    July 31, 2008

    What Carlie said. Someone with no imagination made this one.

  32. #33 Wowbagger
    July 31, 2008

    Like I said, a good alternate title would be:

    Interventionist God?
    These guys didn’t think so.

  33. #34 joy
    July 31, 2008

    Now, if only I could have that on a t-shirt… Though Deism is more appropriate.

  34. #35 Hank Fox
    July 31, 2008

    Why the self-deprecation? I’d rather it said, loud and proud

    “Good enough for these great minds.”

  35. #36 Allytude
    July 31, 2008

    Where can I get a poster?

  36. #37 N.K.
    July 31, 2008

    Lincoln was an atheist?

    I have a quote from him that says:

    “I can see how it might be possible for a man to look down upon the earth and be an atheist, but I cannot conceive how a man could look up into the heavens and say there is no God.”

    …?

  37. #38 The Chemist
    July 31, 2008

    Ah yes, the Great Debate- Now just a pissing contest.

  38. #39 hf
    July 31, 2008

    I thought Clemens was an atheist. But I’m clearly not an expert, since I didn’t recognize him with dark hair. I was going to ask about the guy with the Moustache of Rassilon.

  39. #40 Benjamin Franklin
    July 31, 2008

    Carl Sagan-

    “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.”

  40. #41 Doug Little
    July 31, 2008

    Interventionist God?
    These guys didn’t think so.

    How about
    Personal God
    These guys don’t think so

  41. #42 386sx
    July 31, 2008

    Now, if only I could have that on a t-shirt… Though Deism is more appropriate.

    Thanks for the understatement! Whoever made that poster is the victim of myths and quote mines. Just like yer average creationist, or even your typical Ann Coulter fan.

  42. #43 BobC
    July 31, 2008

    I am quite positive that Mark Twain, Einstein, Lincoln, Jefferson, Darwin, Sagan, and especially Benjamin Franklin were not atheists at all.

    You’re positive? You can read the minds of dead people?

    I thought Einstein’s god was nature. That’s sounds like an atheist to me.

    I thought Sagan was an atheist. I can’t imagine him being anything else.

    Mark Twain enjoyed ridiculing Christians. I’d be very surprised if he wasn’t an atheist.

    Darwin not an atheist? That’s what I would expect a liar for Jesus to say. I think he was a very strong atheist. He probably didn’t talk about it because he had a very religious wife.

  43. #44 MikeM
    July 31, 2008

    I’ve decided to settle on “Atheist Christian.”

    While talking with an Atheist Jew friend at work, it occurred to me, why not?

    I pretty much celebrate the Christian holidays;

    I pretty much accept the message of being the best person you can be;

    I pretty much wish there WAS a bad place we could torment Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Reagan;

    I really wish that 3 year old who was swept away in a tsunami, but never got within 1,000 miles of a Bible, DID have a nice, sunny place to spend eternity (or not; it’d be her choice — Heaven sounds boring to me. Maybe I could hang for 30 years, then beg for freedom from the monotony);

    But I reject, thoroughly, the spirit world.

    Thus, when I read/consult the Bible, I definitely go to SAB first, so I can see the absurdities of much of it, all the while understanding that there is a little good stuff in it. For the most part, when an invisible deity no one has ever met demands that we love his son or face the consequences (and reject all forms of scientific thought), wow, that’s controlling and petty… On the other hand, going through life without stealing, murdering, kidnapping, raping, ruining the environment, etc, well, that’s desirable. So I accept that part.

    It’s the ultimate smorgasboard.

  44. #45 Amplexus
    July 31, 2008

    Meh, this stinks of argument from authority and it doesn’t help dispel stereotypes of atheists.

  45. #46 386sx
    July 31, 2008

    Now, if only I could have that on a t-shirt… Though Deism is more appropriate.

    Why would anybody want a t-shirt or a poster of that? It’s flat out wrong! I’m surprised they don’t have Voltaire in there.

  46. #47 Escuerd
    July 31, 2008

    Of course, I’d like to see some folks like Dirac or Feynman up there instead of Einstein, since they are both less clich, and more clearly atheists. The downside is that the kind of people who think atheism is a foolish position would not be likely to recognize them.

    Rob @ #1:

    Anthony Hopkins, eh? Interesting. The killer shares a name with the actor who portrayed Hannibal Lecter. I suppose if he shared a name with the character it just would have been too obvious. Who would trust the Reverend Lecter, after all?

  47. #48 llewelly
    July 31, 2008

    PZ:

    Of course, it should be more like “Deism: Good enough for these idiots”

    Unfortunately that’s below the fold. And more, some of them were only called deists by their enemies. Yes, they were deists by today’s standards, but not by the standards of their times. So you’re going to upset the nitpickers, the people who don’t read your comment, and the people who didn’t realize that while TGD briefly discusses the Hitchens argument that Jefferson was a closet atheist, Dawkins at least admits the evidence is against it. So, the poster needs a lot of re-thinking.

  48. #49 rif
    July 31, 2008

    All white dudes.

  49. #50 Paul
    July 31, 2008

    Is that Obi-Wan Kenobi at the top?

  50. #51 Benjamin Franklin
    July 31, 2008

    BobC-

    No, I can’t read the minds of dead people, but I sure as shit can, and have read what they wrote, as can you.

    I just gave a rather specific quote from Sagan. Read his books, and you will see. I will present further documentation as I choose to, but unquestionably, Jefferson & Franklin were Deists, and Einstein believed in the god of Spinoza.

    The closest thing that this subset includes is a general abandonment of theistic religions espousing a personal, judging deity. That much is clear. If any of them went for the old “Sin & Salvation Show”, I will have to do mpre research, but I doubt it. Einstein most assuredly did not.

  51. #52 Spinoza
    July 31, 2008

    “Non-theists” is probably a better word, for sure.

    If you sat down and really talked with those guys, I’m sure they’d all admit to “atheism” in restricted senses of the word though…

  52. #53 Chris
    July 31, 2008

    re: “Testosterone-heavy”

    Most of the famous thinkers (and artists and scientists and writers) of history were men.

  53. #54 Spinoza
    July 31, 2008

    “Einstein believed in the god of Spinoza.”

    Yes, and to most people, for the past 350 years, that’s been tantamount to atheism (according to F.H. Jacobi, “Nihilism, Fatalism, and Atheism”.)

    People need to read more Spinoza, and commentary on Spinoza, before mentioning “the god of Spinoza”… because they obviously have no idea what that means.

    The “God” of Spinoza is the “God” of Steven Hawking.

  54. #55 Benjamin Franklin
    July 31, 2008

    Albert Einstein

    “In view of such harmony in the cosmos which I, with my limited human mind, am able to recognize, there are yet people who say there is no God. But what really makes me angry is that they quote me for the support of such views.”

  55. #56 inkadu
    July 31, 2008

    This poster is a sign of atheism’s growth beyond the population of pedants like myself and wowbagger.

  56. #57 rmp
    July 31, 2008

    Oh goody, we haven’t had a thread for a while that centered on the definitions of athiest/agnoistic/deism/fsm. I’ll still think we’d save a lot of time and energy if we all just say we’re unitarians. Every Sunday we could have an argument about who was more confident that there is no God and then we could go for brunch (preferably a place that serves Bloody Mary’s).

  57. #58 Matt Hussein Platte
    July 31, 2008

    Everyone of them is looking right at me, except for weird Uncle Ernie.

  58. #59 Tim
    July 31, 2008

    They wouldn’t have all agreed with the label of
    ‘atheist” in their lifetime, but none would’ve been considered properly religious by their contemporaries, cool poster, needs Heinlein.

  59. #60 lago
    July 31, 2008

    Yeah…they were far from all atheists. Did they all question dogma? Sure…but atheists? sorry..nope..

  60. #61 Russell Stewart
    July 31, 2008

    I didn’t know Tom Selleck was an atheist.

    But why is he made up to look like Mark Twain?

  61. #62 iamthebrillo
    July 31, 2008

    “There is no god. I am an atheist.” -Albert Einstein

    “Einstein’s right. There is no god.” -Thomas Jefferson

    “Additional unsourced quote likely taken out of context.” -Carl Sagan

  62. #63 Wowbagger
    July 31, 2008

    Tim, #59:

    If you’re gonna have Heinlein you gotta have Asimov – and probably Vonnegut as well. Apart from anything else seeing pictures of him always makes me smile.

  63. #64 Julian
    July 31, 2008

    I’ve read rather significantly on Twain and, from the opinion he’s expressed in his writing, I can say that he wasn’t a believer in the currently accepted sense, but neither was he an atheist. He really didn’t care one way or another about the issue of deities; what was important to him was that people stop being such assholes to one another, and at the very least stop blaming their asshollery on people and things other than themselves. He very well may have been a self-declared atheist, its difficult to know given his family having tampered with so of his posthumous work, but from his writings the message seems to be that he cared not a wit for rhetoric and would prefer to see action instead.

    As to Darwin; the man was the son of a minister, and even one himself for awhile, iirc. He wasn’t an atheist. Then again, neither was Demosthenes, Pasteur or Newton; does that fact detract from their accomplishments? Of course not!

  64. #65 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    July 31, 2008

    A better version of that poster

  65. #66 DLC
    July 31, 2008

    Having read some Sagan, and seen Cosmos, I would tend to think of him as an atheist, or at least a negative agnostic.
    Franklin donated to every church, and even helped start the first Synagogue in Philadelphia, but doubted the divinity of Christ, and seems to have been more interested in Churches as social institutions.

    A nice poster though.

  66. #67 Benjamin Franklin
    July 31, 2008

    I’ve been wracking my noodle for weeks (months?) now to try and come up with a good name for the movement that the great men pictured in the poster really stood for.

    Atheist has such demonic connotations that an atheist couldn’t get elected as dogcatcher.

    Anti-thiest, and anti-religionist fall into the anti-abortion trap. Too much of a negative connotation.

    Deist is too old fogey, like Puritan

    Free-thinker? Feh

    Brights? Too british (sorry brits, but I am more concerned with the ultra religious in the USA)

    Agnostic? nah, in Latin it means no knowledge.

    Materialist? too consumery, makes us out to all be A&F patrons.

    Modernist? Good, but it’s already been used & discarded.

    Post-Modernist? see Modernist above.

    I’m thinking Rationalists
    It’s the best I’ve come up with so far, but maybe some of the solid thinkers out there can help me out and come up with something better.

  67. #68 Oz Atheist
    July 31, 2008

    WHAT! No PZ in that picture?

    someone. please photoshop hemmingway out and replace him with PZ – now that’s a T-shirt I’d wear!

  68. #69 Timothy Wood
    July 31, 2008

    Man… Sagan is happy as shit. everybody else is just… “eh, posing for a poster. Let’s get it over with so I can go have a beer.”

  69. #70 Benjamin Franklin
    July 31, 2008

    #63

    Asimov – athiest

    Heinlein – not an atheist

    Although both are heros of mine.

  70. #71 Observer
    July 31, 2008

    Timothy Wood,

    I’m sure Hemmingway would prefer a scotch.

  71. #72 Julian
    July 31, 2008

    Franklin: The Sagan quote is an issue of semantics. Sagan’s point was that, given the lack of any evidence, he does not hold to any belief in the existence of a god or, for that matter, anything else lacking evidence(Extra-terrestrial visitation, for instance). This is the same view of practically every atheist. If there were verifiable, irrefutable, testable, experiential evidence of a deity, then Dr. Sagan would have been as devoted a supplicant as can be, and I’m sure Dr. Myers would follow suite. If there were a god and it performed daily miracles (subverting the laws of reality to commit good deeds) and interacted with everyone on a personal level as the religious claim it would do, then there’d be no such thing as atheists; to deny such a god would be the same as denying air exists or that green is a color.

    My point is this; regardless of what he called it, Sagan was saying that his view of the world includes what can be experienced and tested and really known, not taken on faith, and that’s about as atheistic a statement as can be made.

  72. #73 I am me
    July 31, 2008

    Anyone else ever thought that Darwin looks like a right ‘ard bastard? He is not someone I’d ever disagree with, face to face. He looks like he could break both your arms without breaking a sweat.

    Mark Twain looks kinda like Billy Connelly in that picture, too. Which is awesome.

  73. #74 Jeremy
    July 31, 2008

    There’s no way I’m identifying myself with the woo of Unitarianism.

    I agree with Amplexus’ “argument from authority” point. When talking to people about atheism, I never feel compelled to say “so-and-so was an atheist”. It’s not much of an argument, which is why I readily dismiss such points from religious people.

    And as others have said, it would be difficult to argue that even half these people were really atheists. To me, deism and pantheism, although closer to atheism than traditional religions, are definitely *not* atheism. If the word “atheism” in the title was replaced with something like “religious criticism”, it would be accurate.

    So while this poster is initially humorous, it doesn’t take much analysis to show its flaws.

  74. #75 PZ Myers
    July 31, 2008

    Darwin was most definitely NOT an atheist. We have his short autobiography and many letters — he was an agnostic.

  75. #76 labert
    July 31, 2008

    “#63
    Asimov – athiest
    Heinlein – not an atheist
    Although both are heros of mine.”

    As a fairly accomplished reader and student of Heinlein’s work, I can say that no *definitive* statement about his beliefs can be made. He might have been an atheist, perhaps an agnostic, perhaps a deist of some loose sort. Almost certainly not Christian.

  76. #77 LisaJ
    July 31, 2008

    Love it! I want it… where can I get one?

  77. #78 Spinoza
    July 31, 2008

    “Rationalists” is a bad label for “us”, because it is already used to refer to Descartes, Leibniz, and Spinoza (“The Rationalists”), two of which were explicitly Christian, and the third … well, like Einstein, he’d deny the “atheist” label vehemently… and he was called “The God intoxicated man” by Novalis… but he was a Naturalist of the highest order, a determinist of the highest order, a rationalist, a dogmatist… and he definitely did not believe in the gods of traditional religions…

    But yeah, as a label for “non-believers”, “Rationalist” doesn’t work.

  78. #79 SC
    August 1, 2008

    Quick Google search – women ahteists/freethinkers:

    Marie Curie
    Hypatia
    Elizabeth Cady Stanton
    Susan B. Anthony
    Gloria Steinem
    Helen Keller
    Ayn Rand
    Madalyn Murray O’Hair
    Ursula LeGuin
    Virginia Woolf
    Nadine Gordimer
    Simone de Beauvoir
    Barbara Ehrenreich
    Maragaret Sanger
    Ayaan Hirsi Ali
    Saraswathi Gora

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fXaYWottYtY&feature=PlayList&p=614BEDCFECE8B22C&index=4

  79. #80 John Marley
    August 1, 2008

    benjamin franklin:

    Heinlein – not an atheist

    Do you have any evidence of this. I can only find circumstantial evidence that he was an atheist, ie: the anti-religious sentiments in his books (more specifically anti-xian in his later ones, I admit) and these quotes:

    Men rarely (if ever) managed to dream up a god superior to themselves. Most gods have the manners and morals of a spoiled child.

    Robert A. Heinlein, quoted in McWilliams, Ain’t Nobody’s Business If You Do, p. 375, quoted from James A. Haught, ed., 2000 Years of Disbelief

    The faith in which I was brought up assured me that I was better than other people; I was saved, they were damned…. Our hymns were loaded with arrogance — self-congratulation on how cozy we were with the Almighty and what a high opinion he had of us, what hell everybody else would catch come Judgment Day.

    Robert A. Heinlein, from Laurence J. Peter, Peter’s Quotations: Ideas for Our Time, quoted from James A. Haught, ed., 2000 Years of Disbelief, quoted from James A. Haught, ed., 2000 Years of Disbelief

    He seems to lean strongly towards atheism, as far as I can tell.

  80. #81 Azdak
    August 1, 2008

    @Julian
    If there were verifiable, irrefutable, testable, experiential evidence of a deity, then Dr. Sagan would have been as devoted a supplicant as can be, and I’m sure Dr. Myers would follow suite. If there were a god and it performed daily miracles (subverting the laws of reality to commit good deeds) and interacted with everyone on a personal level as the religious claim it would do, then there’d be no such thing as atheists; to deny such a god would be the same as denying air exists or that green is a color.

    …err… what? There’s a big leap between accepting that such a being exists and falling all over oneself to serve that being. If a god of an Abrahamic persuasion suddenly comes out of hiding to announce himself, I’m reverting to misotheism. Anyone who expects or demands worship is automatically unworthy of it.

  81. #82 Tom
    August 1, 2008

    Jefferson’s enemies called him an atheist. It was used against him in the presidential election of 1800. But he was a sometimes Deist, sometimes Unitarian, sometimes other. But not an atheist.

  82. #83 John Vreeland
    August 1, 2008

    They were all atheists in the sense that “religious” people would have considered them atheists. Most of them were called atheists in their lifetimes. Jefferson and Lincoln both were labeled as atheists during their presidential campaigns, though they were probably less atheistic than Einstein, who was some sort of pantheist. Franklyn was almost certainly a deist, but to many people deism amounts to atheism. What good is a deist god? Might as well be an atheist.

  83. #84 Pygmy Loris
    August 1, 2008

    If there were a god and it performed daily miracles (subverting the laws of reality to commit good deeds)

    Hell, I’d worship the SOB even if s/he were performing bad deeds daily. Wouldn’t want to get on god’s bad side :)

  84. #85 writzer
    August 1, 2008

    RE: Religion = Source of all morality. This from a book called The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality (kind of a Golden Book title) I just picked up by the French philosopher Andre Comte-Sponville:

    “Where morals are concerned, the loss of faith changes nothing … That you have lost your faith does not mean that you will suddenly decide to betray your friends or indulge in robbery, rape, assassination and torture. ‘If god does not exist,’ says Dostoyevsky’s Ivan Karamazov, ‘everything is allowed.’ Not at all, for the simple reason that I will not allow myself everything! As Kant demonstrated, either morals are autonomous or they do not exist at all. If a perosn refrains from murdering his neighbor only out of fear of divine retribution, his behavior is dictated not by moral values by by caution, fear of the holy policeman, egoism. And if a person does good only with an eye to salvation, she is not doing good (since her behavior is dictated by self-interest, rather than by duty or by love) and will thus not be saved. This is Kant, the Enlightenment and humanity at their best: A good deed is not good because God commanded me to do it (in which case it would have been good for Abraham to slit his son’s throat); on the contrary, it is because an action is good that is is possible to believe God commanded it. Rather than religion being the basis for morals, morals are now the basis for religion … To have a religion, the Critique of Practical Reason points out, is to ‘acknowledge all one’s duties as sacred commandments.’ For those who no longer have faith, commandments vanish (or rather, lose their sacred quality), and all that remains are duties … that is, the commandments we impose on ourselves.”

  85. #86 Pygmy Loris
    August 1, 2008

    SC,

    You win the internets! Would you like one of my delicious, feminist cookies?

  86. #87 SC
    August 1, 2008

    From EMMA GOLDMAN, “The Philosophy of Atheism,” 1916:

    http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/ANARCHIST_ARCHIVES/goldman/philosophyatheism.html

    Already there are indications that theism, which is the theory of speculation, is being replaced by Atheism, the science of demonstration; the one hangs in the metaphysical clouds of the Beyond, while the other has its roots firmly in the soil. It is the earth, not heaven, which man must rescue if he is truly to be saved.

    The decline of theism is a most interesting spectacle, especially as manifested in the anxiety of the theists, whatever their particular brand. They realize, much to their distress, that the masses are growing daily more atheistic, more anti-religious; that they are quite willing to leave the Great Beyond and its heavenly domain to the angels and sparrows; because more and more the masses are becoming engrossed in the problems of their immediate existence.

    How to bring the masses back to the God idea, the spirit, the First Cause, etc. – that is the most pressing question to all theists. Metaphysical as all these questions seem to be, they yet have a very marked physical background. Inasmuch as religion, “Divine Truth,” rewards and punishments are the trade-marks of the largest, the most corrupt and pernicious, the most powerful and lucrative industry in the world, not excepting the industry of manufacturing guns and munitions. It is the industry of befogging the human mind and stifling the human heart. Necessity knows no law; hence the majority of theists are compelled to take up every subject, even if it has no bearing upon a deity or revelation or the Great Beyond. Perhaps they sense the fact that humanity is growing weary of the hundred and one brands of God…

  87. #88 Wowbagger
    August 1, 2008

    Azdak, #81:

    Bingo.

    As far as I’m concerned, for me to become a christian (for example) there are three steps involved:

    1) convince me there’s a god
    2) convince me he’s the god as defined by christians
    3) convince me he should be worshipped

    Heck, to be honest, if all anyone could do was 1) then my life wouldn’t change at all. Even they got as far as 2) I’d probably go for Judaism anyway, just ’cause I like being difficult.

    I had to look up misotheism; I was wondering at first if you were going to start worshipping soup…

  88. #89 rmp
    August 1, 2008

    Jeremy, “There’s no way I’m identifying myself with the woo of Unitarianism. ”

    Resistance if futile.

  89. #90 Pygmy Loris
    August 1, 2008

    This is totally OT, but I just had a discussion about evolution with my Wal-mart cashier and I totally blanked on books/websites that combat creationist claims except for talk origins. I’m thinking that I might print up some business cards (just a few) that just list good evolution resources. Then I could give them to someone who seems sincerely interested. Any suggestions on what would be good?

  90. #91 Chris Crawford
    August 1, 2008

    I think it important to factor in the social context in which these people lived. Until quite recently, being called an atheist was almost as bad as being called a ‘sodomite’. We readily acknowledge that many historical figures who were publicly straight were privately gay. I think a similar consideration should be applied to anybody from before 1950 who might have been secretly atheist but publicly deist.

    The labels of today often don’t fit the people of history. Was Jefferson a racist because he owned slaves? Was Socrates an atheist? Was Washington a ‘liberal’ or a ‘conservative’? These modern labels just don’t work in those contexts.

  91. #92 Mike Wilhelm
    August 1, 2008

    If this is true, then Jesus had DNA. If the cracker is really Jesus after the blessing, it should have DNA

    speaking of which, if Adam was a human man, he had DNA, and if Eve was made from his rib, then she would have identical DNA, in which case they would be twins….and then they did the nasty…..gross, lol

    silly religious people

  92. #93 SC
    August 1, 2008

    …which is not even to mention the wonderful Voltairine de Cleyre, as well as practically every single anarchist woman, or man – Bakunin, Kropotkin, Chomsky,…, who really were and are atheists.

    Or non-Westerners – e.g., Nehru, Tariq Ali, Salvador Allende, Slavoj Zizek,…

    It seems to me it would be far more interesting to explore the rich global history of atheism and freethought rather than to try to jam some of the standard acclaimed figures into the atheist mold.

  93. #94 phentari
    August 1, 2008

    Twain may not have been, in the strictest sense, an atheist, but he was virulently anti-religion (certainly towards the end of his life.)

    For those who haven’t, I recommend reading “The War Prayer.” It says a lot about the man’s viewpoints on religion and jingoistic nationalism.

  94. #95 Wowbagger
    August 1, 2008

    Mike Wilhelm, #92,

    DNA doesn’t come into it. Catholics argue that while it turns into Jesus, it isn’t in a way testable by physical means.

    Convenient, isn’t it?

  95. #96 Jeremy
    August 1, 2008

    Loris@90:

    I think “Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters” by Don Prothero is great in that regard. Since he’s a paleontologist, most of the evidence he uses involves transitional fossils, but he talks about molecular evidence a bit. He goes into plenty of detail on many of the known transitional fossils and cladistic relationships, debunking arguments that there’s no evidence for “macroevolution”. He augments that with constant criticism of creationists.

  96. #97 Pygmy Loris
    August 1, 2008

    phentari,

    I just read “The War Prayer” and now I think it should be required reading for everyone who sounds the drumbeats of war. Thanks for pointing it out.

  97. #98 plum grenville
    August 1, 2008

    “As to Darwin; the man was the son of a minister, and even one himself for awhile, iirc. He wasn’t an atheist.”

    Where on earth did you get this idea? Darwin’s father, Robert Darwin, was a physician (that’s no doubt why Charles initially studied medicine at university). After flunking out of medicine, Charles was sent to Cambridge with the plan that he would become a clergyman – not because he had any inclination toward religion but because it was a respectable occupation for a gentleman and, furthermore, it allowed for a a secure income, a country life, and plenty of spare time for naturalizing. However, Charles never became a clergyman. His father’s death left him sufficient income to live on without any paid employment.

  98. #99 Pygmy Loris
    August 1, 2008

    Thanks Jeremy! I don’t know why I don’t have a list somewhere, but I’ve been so into reading for my dissertation that I think I’ve developed tunnel vision wrt scientific reading material.

  99. #100 Geoffi
    August 1, 2008

    I agree it probably should say ‘Deism’ but the biggest problem is that it’s in gif format. It should be a jpeg. Other than that, it’s well done.

  100. #101 BMcP
    August 1, 2008

    I believe Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were deists or some sort of generally non-religious vague theists. Einstein some rather deist also.

  101. #102 SC
    August 1, 2008

    Pygmy Loris,

    Thanks – I would love a femicookie! (hope no one reads anything suggestive into that)

    There was an earlier post here on Pharyngula with a good beginning reading list on evolution, but I guess I didn’t bookmark it and I can’t remember the name. Maybe someone else does.

  102. #103 Pygmy Loris
    August 1, 2008

    *hands over plate of femicookies*

    I remember the post you’re refering to, but I also failed to bookmark. Ugh. It’s just frustrating when I blank.. Besides, who thinks their Wal-mart cashier is going to bring evolution up during check out?

  103. #104 BlueIndependent
    August 1, 2008

    I nearly laughed aloud when I saw that.

  104. #105 SC
    August 1, 2008

    NOM NOM NOM.

    Besides, who thinks their Wal-mart cashier is going to bring evolution up during check out?

    Wouldn’t know. The only time I can imagine myself setting foot in a Wal-Mart would be as an undercover union organizer. ;)

    Rev. BDC @ #65 – Well done.

  105. #106 sconnor
    August 1, 2008

    Helen Keller was not an atheists.

    She thought the bible made, absolutely, no sense, but she turned to swedenborgianism, which is in her book My Religion, later called, Light In My Darkness.

  106. #107 The Adamant Atheist
    August 1, 2008

    Well, while not all of the people on that poster were technically atheists, they were close enough. They certainly couldn’t be described as faith advocates or traditionally religious people.

  107. #108 Spinoza
    August 1, 2008

    “Einstein, who was some sort of pantheist.”

    I really hate when that term gets bandied about like that…
    I understand the temptation to use it for Einstein as it is used with Spinoza… but in both cases it’s unequivocally wrong.

    Neither is a pantheist in any meaningful sense because the identification is not of the universe WITH God, but the reverse, of God with nature.

    Every time I say this, people say “What the hell’s the difference.”

    Well, THINK HARDER, there’s a shitload of difference.

    If you identify the universe with “God”, you’re committing a kind of anthropomorphism, since you’re at the very least, imbuing the universe with some personification.

    Schopenhauer (a great Atheist) once said:

    “…the word God, honestly used, expresses … a cause of the world with the addition of personality. On the other hand, an impersonal God is a contradictio in adjecto.”

    And that’s to say that properly construed, pantheism is EITHER atheism proper, or it’s an anthropomorphic bunch of baloney.

    Neither Einstein nor Spinoza anthropomorphized God in the slightest, which is why I stressed that the identification was the reverse, of God WITH Nature (“Deus sive Natura”), and this has the OPPOSITE effect, of a de-humanizing effect, a naturalizing effect on the REFERENT of the word “God”… it is, essentially, a usurping of the term for the forces of rationality, reality, and logic.

    Einstein, Spinoza, Hawking… they use that blasphemous three letter word “G-o-d”, but they’ve stolen it away from the Theists and used it to mean something wholly alien to most people’s understanding of that word.

    As Schopenhauer cleverly noted, it’s really an improper use of the word, and that’s why people object to it so strongly, and call(ed) such men atheists.

  108. #109 SC
    August 1, 2008

    She thought the bible made, absolutely, no sense, but she turned to swedenborgianism, which is in her book My Religion, later called, Light In My Darkness.

    Ew. Off the list she goes.

    (By the way, I did say it was a hastily-complied list of “atheists/freethinkers.” I’m not absolutely certain of all of their atheist credentials, except for the anarchists, and then we would of course have to exclude Tolstoy and the like…)

  109. #110 Pygmy Loris
    August 1, 2008

    SC,

    I’d love go into Wal-mart as a union organizer! Especially after I worked there and got to see the “unions are evil and want to take your money” video. Alas, I am very broke right now since gasoline is pricey and the university doesn’t seem to want to give us lowly GAs a raise. So, less money for food means I haven’t much of a choice in the matter. At least I have a garden this year :) It’s a great source of organic veggies.

  110. #111 llewelly
    August 1, 2008

    This off-topic, but Mike Leavitt, sec of the department of health and human services, is attempting to cripple access to many kinds of contraception:
    http://scienceblogs.com/afarensis/2008/07/31/hhs_abortion_and_birth_control/
    Some women – I would guess about 1/3 of us here know at least one – have conditions that would make pregnancies life-threatening (more so than usual) and require one of the affected kinds of contraceptives. This is an act which puts people’s lives at risk.
    PZ Myers, I’m shocked that you haven’t posted on this yet.

  111. #112 llewelly
    August 1, 2008

    Wowbagger, #95:

    DNA doesn’t come into it. Catholics argue that while it turns into Jesus, it isn’t in a way testable by physical means.

    Recall the woodcuts PZ mentioned in his desecration post. Several of them show Jews stabbing a Eucharist with sharp instruments (thus the rusty nail) and making it bleed. Your words reference only the most recent round of Catholic goal-post moving. It’s a Eucharist of the gaps sort of thing.

  112. #113 Justin
    August 1, 2008

    Good enough until judgement day, that is.

  113. #114 SC
    August 1, 2008

    Pygmy Loris,

    I hope that didn’t come across as at all judgmental – I really didn’t mean it like that. I’ve been helped in my avoidance of the Evil Empire by the fact that I’ve lived in cities or outside the US for the past decade+ and also been without a car. I can’t believe you saw that video! I remember reading about it in Nickel and Dimed (assigned that chapter to my classes, in fact), but I’ve never met anyone who had actually seen it. (I worked in retail for several years when I was younger, but never anywhere that bad.) I feel for you. Hang in there, and good luck with the dissertation (and the garden)!

  114. #115 Thanny
    August 1, 2008

    For those who don’t understand simple word roots:

    If you are not a theist, and you are capable in principle of being one (i.e. you’re not a rock, or any other object without a brain capable of formulating such ideas), you are an atheist. That there may be other words that more precisely define your point of view doesn’t change that fact.

  115. #116 Atanu Dey
    August 1, 2008

    Sidhhartha Gautama, the historical Buddha, was an atheist. He is perhaps the most famous atheist in the whole universe.

  116. #117 llewelly
    August 1, 2008

    Pygmy Loris:

    This is totally OT, but I just had a discussion about evolution with my Wal-mart cashier and I totally blanked on books/websites that combat creationist claims except for talk origins.

    Not a website, but the book Only A Theory which PZ recently reviewed would be a good suggestion, if you can get the person to read a book.

    By the way, Loris, and anyone else who is into female freethinkers, I strongly recommend Susan Jacoby’s book Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism .

  117. #118 Logan
    August 1, 2008

    Best poster ever

  118. #119 Neil
    August 1, 2008

    Instead of quoting one of these great dead men out of context, or citing excerpts from grandiose speeches that had to appeal to superstitious audiences, I offer a simple statement from a living author.

    “Sticking feathers up your butt does not make you a chicken.”

    These men were atheists. I hate to disagree with the comments of my Tentacled Overlord, but I must. I know that most of the men on the poster are conveniently labeled as deists. Yet it seems to me that only the most superficial reading of their works could lead one to believe that any of them had any belief in the supernatural. It was only the political correctness of their times that kept their tongues in check.

    If anyone disagrees, please feel free to enlighten me by naming any god in which these men believed. If “Spinoza’s God” is the only name you can come up with, you lose. I’ve never personally met Spinoza’s god, but I’ve read and lived enough to know that it’s pretty much the same as no god at all.

  119. #120 BobC
    August 1, 2008

    Carl Sagan- “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.”

    I think that’s a good description of an atheist. Certainly Sagan knew there could never be any evidence for a god. I still say Sagan was an atheist, even though he preferred to use the word agnostic.

    Darwin was most definitely NOT an atheist. We have his short autobiography and many letters — he was an agnostic.

    I’m a bit disappointed. I bet if Darwin lived today he would have been an atheist.

    Some day there will be no theists (except in insane asylums). Then the word atheist will be obsolete.

  120. #121 Damian with an a
    August 1, 2008

    Benjamin Franklin #67:

    Naturalists?

    As defined by philosopher Paul Draper, naturalism is “the hypothesis that the physical world is a ‘closed system’ in the sense that nothing that is neither a part nor a product of it can affect it.”

    I’m sure that they’d all be delighted to join me, oh yes. :)

    I’m not going to get in to the distinction between atheist and agnostic again, except to say that I don’t believe that you can be one and not the other.

    If anyone claims to merely deny the existence of Monkeybutt, I give up.

    Oh, and the poster is crap, by the way, for all of the reasons that have already been outlined.

  121. #122 Pygmy Loris
    August 1, 2008

    SC,

    Don’t worry, no judgement perceived. I have a few friends who refuse to shop there at all costs and they’re having a very rough time right now.

    As for the video, it was absolutely appalling. Tiny little woman is hanging up clothes (they might’ve even been baby clothes) and a huge 6 foot something man comes in and says, in a deep, growly voice, “Do yo wanna join a union?” and tries to give her a card to organize. It’s absolutely insane. I’m all about unions, so I had to work very hard to keep my mouth shut during all of this. It would be so awesome to organize a Wal-mart union, but they will crack down on the employees hard.

    I talked to my students about working at Wal-mart and we discussed their various low-wage jobs during a unit on social class and economy. If there was extra time in the class I would have loved to use “Nickel and Dimed.” I really wish I could get a copy of the anti-union movie to put next to “Reefer Madness” on my propoganda shelf :)

  122. #123 BobC
    August 1, 2008

    I agree with and applaud Neil’s comments in #119.

  123. #124 Rieux
    August 1, 2008

    Spinoza (appropriate handle!) @ #108:

    Neither Einstein nor Spinoza anthropomorphized God in the slightest, [...] and this has the OPPOSITE effect, of a de-humanizing effect, a naturalizing effect on the REFERENT of the word “God”… it is, essentially, a usurping of the term for the forces of rationality, reality, and logic.

    Not really. It may have been an attempt to “usurp the term,” but in both cases it seems to me unquestionable that it abjectly failed.

    I’m surprised that this quotation hasn’t shown up in this thread yet (especially in light of #55), and I’m happy to be able to throw it in in a context other than the usual “Stop lying for Christ” bit:

    It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.

    (Letter to an atheist (1954) as quoted in Albert Einstein: The Human Side (1981) edited by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman)

    The whole reason Einstein was forced to make adamant declarations like that one is that his attempts to “usurp” the word “God” and give it some kind of naturalistic meaning failed. If he’d made any real headway, the people confronted with the above-cited lie would have responded “Oh, but you don’t know if he meant a personal God. Maybe he’s talking Spinoza and such.”

    Sadly, no. Theistic religions have spent too many centuries packing baggage onto the term “God” for a few miscreant infidels to be able to pervert it in their (our) favor. That thing that’s been “stolen away from the Theists” is in fact a stinkbomb that consistently blows up in rational folks’ faces–just as it did Einstein’s. (And, a few decades later, Hawking’s.) Mainstream religion has kept “God.”

    Seeing as how Unitarianism (note that in North America, the relevant term is “Unitarian Universalism,” or “UUism” in the in-group lingo) has come up in this thread, I think it’s worth adding that this semantic tactic is a big reason I’m now a plain old atheist after several years of being a UU atheist. The belief that it makes sense to (a) take a common, traditionally religious word, (b) radically redefine it, and then (c) go blithely throwing it around is widespread within UUism. And carnage inevitably ensues: just as Einstein was misunderstood (as it was obvious he would be–duh, Al!) when he used “God” in his private sense, UUs go flinging around “God,” “faith,’ “religion,” “prayer,” “spirit,” “holy,” and so on. In every case, UUs mean something different (sometimes multiple different things) than do the vast majority of speakers of English, and this leads to tremendous confusion–it alienates ordinary atheists, fools traditionally religious folk into thinking they’re more UU than they thought, and/or offends traditionally religious folk when they learn or realize that UUs are not as religious (or godly, spirit-believing, etc.) as they make themselves out to be.

    “Hey, I’ve got this new way of thinking about Religious Term X, and it’s SO COOL!” is, I assert, not actually a good enough reason to go flinging words around that you’ve radically redefined–especially when you do a lousy job of explaining (1) that you’ve redefined it and (2) radically. Einstein got burned by that, and within UUism I grew sick and tired of it.

  124. #125 Pygmy Loris
    August 1, 2008

    llewelly,

    I haven’t read Only a Theory yet, but I saw PZ’s review. It probably would be a good one since Ken Miller is non-threatening to Xians.

    Thanks for the heads up on the freethinkers book. I’m going on a trip soon and I need reading material.

  125. #126 Justin
    August 1, 2008

    Wowbagger – #95

    Speaking of testable, here is something you should be familiar with. No doubt any athiest will poke a hole in it somehow, but there lies the importance of faith. (see: doubting Thomas)

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

    Just because some of these happened many years ago doesn’t make it any less real or true. The real presence of Christ in the Eucharist is a hard thing for people to wrap their heads around. Yes, it’s a matter of faith – what we read in the bible (John 6:53 – Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.) But on particular occasions, He (Christ) allows Himself to be seen by those who doubt (wiki article). “This is my body….this is my blood” The bible even states how many of his disciples cannot understand this concept, and many leave him. As a recent convert to the Catholic Church, I struggled with this concept too. I also realized how many lies I was told about Catholics (worship of Mary, statues, etc. – not true)

    Anyway – my point is, unbelief in the Eucharist is common among athiests and believers alike – it is faith that gets us through that. It greatly hurt me what this professor chose to do – quite ironic that he used the host (aka “cracker”) of the Catholic Church instead of one belonging to the Protestant faith – which says that the body and blood do not exist outside communion. Desecration of a host can only be done through the Catholic Church. Do you know why devil worshippers break into Catholic Churches and not Protestant ones to steal the hosts? They believe in the Eucharist! Ironic, isn’t it? They know the Catholic Church is the only place to find a consecrated host, which is what it is no matter where it is taken – in this case, a garbage can.

  126. #127 Pygmy Loris
    August 1, 2008

    Do we have to continue the cracker-talk. Can there possibly be an argument from some Catholic believer that hasn’t been given?

    Justin, you are just rehashing the same old argument. You’re deluded; it’s just a piece of unleavened bread. Nothing you say will change the mind of anyone here, so please take your nonsense somewhere else. Bill Donohue is probably lonely. Go talk to him.

  127. #128 BobC
    August 1, 2008

    Justin wrote:

    Anyway – my point is, unbelief in the Eucharist is common among athiests and believers alike – it is faith that gets us through that.

    You need to understand, Justin, that faith is a mental illness. Religious people have been brainwashed to believe faith is a good thing, but there’s nothing good about it. Having faith is an excuse to be stupid enough to believe any bullshit, no matter how idiotic it is.

  128. #129 The Adamant Atheist
    August 1, 2008

    Justin,

    Do you actually believe Jesus exists in the cracker, or do you just feel comforted by that proposition?

    I sometimes wonder if Christians are really being honest when they express their religious beliefs. Like, are you as convinced about the transubstantiation as you are about the existence of the planet Venus? If so, how on earth can you say that without lying?

  129. #130 Spinoza
    August 1, 2008

    @#124, in one sense you’re right when you say: “Not really. It may have been an attempt to “usurp the term,” but in both cases it seems to me unquestionable that it abjectly failed.”

    But what I meant when I said they “usurped the term ‘God’” is that they used it in a way most people don’t use it. I did not by any means mean to imply that they succeeded in getting others to use the word their way.

    That’s exactly why I quoted Schopenhauer the way I did… so we don’t disagree… I think you just misunderstood my use of the word ‘usurp’.

  130. #131 Jeremy
    August 1, 2008

    Justin@126:

    “but there lies the importance of faith”

    I still don’t understand how faith has any importance, except to reinforce childish beliefs in fairy tales that make people feel warm and fuzzy. That doesn’t seem noble, it seems idiotic.

    “Just because some of these happened many years ago doesn’t make it any less real or true.”

    Anecdotes and testimonials are not evidence. On top of that, the passage of time and the distortion of records through misinterpretation, mistranslation, misunderstanding, and malevolence makes ancient stories unreliable at best.

    “what we read in the bible (John 6:53 -”

    Didn’t anyone tell you that quoting the bible to a bunch of atheists is a waste of time? I don’t think many atheists hold any regard for it, except as a piece of historical literature. It’s in no way any kind of evidence for anything, except that ancient people had the same knack for fiction that modern writers still have today.

    “Anyway – my point is, unbelief in the Eucharist is common among athiests and believers alike – it is faith that gets us through that.”

    Unbelief in invisible pink unicorns is also common among atheists and believers alike. Why don’t you take that on faith and believe in her, or any other magical sky fairy that can be imagined?

    “quite ironic that he used the host (aka “cracker”) of the Catholic Church instead of one belonging to the Protestant faith”

    To their credit, Protestants aren’t quite as insane as Catholics. Still pretty nutty though.

    “Do you know why devil worshippers break into Catholic Churches and not Protestant ones to steal the hosts? They believe in the Eucharist!”

    Good for them. Are you equating atheists with satanists? Fail.

    “They know the Catholic Church is the only place to find a consecrated host, which is what it is no matter where it is taken – in this case, a garbage can.”

    I know that Chicago is the only place to find a really good deep-dish pizza, which is what it is no matter where it is taken. And after I eat it, it ends up as a mass of feces in a toilet, just like a cracker. Weird huh?

    As Loris said at #127, we’ve seen your tired “arguments” before, and they have no merit.

  131. #132 Spinoza
    August 1, 2008

    @Justin,

    You say: “As a recent convert to the Catholic Church, I struggled with this concept too.”

    And all I can do is ask you to read Spinoza’s letter to his former friend who was a recent convert to the Catholic Church as well.

    Your post here evokes Albert Burgh’s zealous overtures, and I can only have you read Spinoza’s words, written 350 or so years ago, with the logic of them still intact:

    http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2008/06/famous-burgh-spinoza-exchange-almost-as.html

    Justin, please read both letters.

    These absurdities might still be tolerated if you worshipped a God infinite and eternal, and not one whom Chastillon in the town of Tienen gave with impunity to the horses to eat.

  132. #133 Wowbagger
    August 1, 2008

    Justin,

    There are miracles in the stories of every religion. I am no more impressed by theirs than I am by yours.

    PZ ‘chose’ a catholic eucharist because it was catholics who assaulted, called for the secular punishment of, and made death threats against a student. The context is vital; go to PZ’s post here and read:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/07/its_a_goddamned_cracker.php

    Doubting Thomas has to be the worst thing you can use to demonstrate the actions of one lacking in faith. Didn’t Thomas know Jesus? Hadn’t he seen him perform his works? he was just in doubt he rose from the dead.

    There’s nothing about a cracker that inspires me to believe it’s anything but a cracker. If I’d seen it change to flesh while in someone else’s mouth but doubted it’d do the same for me then you might have an analogy. But I haven’t, so you don’t.

    I don’t believe in the devil, so I think those who break into a church – catholic or otherwise – are just as foolish and irrational as those who go there at any other time; there’s nothing ironic about it.

  133. #134 Brandonazz
    August 1, 2008

    Know at ese people are not all wiout God, but wiout religion.

  134. #135 Ron Sullivan
    August 1, 2008

    Or non-Westerners – e.g., Nehru, Tariq Ali, Salvador Allende, Slavoj Zizek,…

    I’ll give you a thankscookie too, SC, for that list done that fast, but how does Allende get to be a “non-Westerner”?

  135. #136 Jeremy
    August 1, 2008

    Wowbagger@133:

    “If I’d seen it change to flesh while in someone else’s mouth”

    I get your point, but allow me to go off on a tangent. If I had seen a cracker change into flesh in someone’s mouth, it would still be far more likely that I was hallucinating or insane than there was some kind of woowoo magic going on. Psychiatric disorders have a lot of empirical evidence, magic does not. This is why all of these allegedly great anecdotes and testimonials about miracles are so ridiculous.

    I love it when someone tells me something like “In the year 162, Boner of Stupidland SAW the UNDENIABLE APPEARANCE of a MAGIC SKY FAIRY who told him GOD WAS AWESOME! Can’t you see the proof? Why can’t you atheists listen to reason! God is like soooo real!”

  136. #137 Gerry
    August 1, 2008

    Are you people not aware that “Agnostic” and “Atheist” are not mutually exclusive terms?
    Just look at the etymology of the words.

    Agnostic – Refers to what you know, or claim to know
    Atheist – Refers to what you believe

    I would say most Atheists I’ve heard of would also fit into the category of Agnostic.

    And I have to agree with #119. When Einstein said he believed in Spinoza’s God, he seemed to be saying he was an Atheist.
    When you start re-defining a word to the point that it has no relation to what everyone else understands that word to mean, what’s the point? Aside from possibly placating them.

    I never heard anything about Darwin denying a belief in god. Maybe I need to read up on that one. I know I heard of Ben Franklin calling for a prayer before meetings as he became an old man.

    The only ones in the picture I know for sure are atheists are Sagan, Einstein, Twain.
    I don’t know enough about Hemmingway or Lincoln to say one way or the other

  137. #138 Azdak
    August 1, 2008

    With regard to atheism vs. agnosticism, I always thought Asimov put it rather nicely:

    I am an atheist, out and out. It took me a long time to say it. I’ve been an atheist for years and years, but somehow I felt it was intellectually unrespectable to say one was an atheist, because it assumed knowledge that one didn’t have. Somehow, it was better to say one was a humanist or an agnostic. I finally decided that I’m a creature of emotion as well as of reason. Emotionally, I am an atheist. I don’t have the evidence to prove that God doesn’t exist, but I so strongly suspect he doesn’t that I don’t want to waste my time.

  138. #139 SC
    August 1, 2008

    I’ll give you a thankscookie too, SC, for that list done that fast, but how does Allende get to be a “non-Westerner”?

    Thanks! In the sense of the Global North vs. Global South divide. (Typically, for example, scholarships and fellowships in my field(s) awarded to those who study “non-Western” societies include South and Central America.) For what it’s worth, I’d also like to see a lot more consideration of Mediterranean / Southern European atheists. And I’m sure I’m forgetting about or unaware of a lot of cool people in Asia and Africa. There are just so many fascinating individuals and movements out there that would be exciting and useful to explore – I never understand why there’s such a focus on a handful of individuals.

  139. #140 Wowbagger
    August 1, 2008

    Jeremy, #136

    Some time back someone pulled ‘Doubting Thomas’ on me and I thought about it afterwards and realised what a stupid thing it is to call an rational atheist – because it’s not about there being no evidence; it’s about failing to be consistent with the evidence at hand.

    Thomas was one of the apostles; he knew Jesus personally and had seen him perform his miracles. Therefore he had some reason to believe in JC’s supernatural powers, and therefore him doubting his resurrection wasn’t an especially logical conclusion.

    If said Thomas had never met Jesus and was just ‘some guy’ then it’d be valid. I’ve never met Jesus; ergo, I can’t be a Doubting Thomas.

  140. #141 Jrme ^
    August 1, 2008

    #1: how can the fundies say both “religion, the source of morality” and (in the case of Protestant fundies, at least) “salvation through faith, not through works”?

  141. #142 scooter
    August 1, 2008

    Shameless OT self promotion ALERT


    New Atheists for Dummies Pt7: former iconoclast, Christopher Hitchens on Religion and Atheism

    From KPFT Houston, Pacifica Radio

  142. #143 SEF
    August 1, 2008

    @#16 + #17:

    Anyone from these lists who you’d pick for a poster?

    It seems to be easier to find women than much variety in colour. Then again, that’s likely to reflect the proportions permitted to be famous at all.

  143. #144 J
    August 1, 2008

    People are incredibly naive with respect to Einstein. It’s quite plausible that his talk about “Spinoza’s God” was little more than a convenient dodge to escape hounding by the public (both in Germany and the United States).

  144. #145 f. scott fitzgerald
    August 1, 2008

    I wonder if that’s why Ernest killed himself.

  145. #146 casey
    August 1, 2008

    re: “Testosterone-heavy”

    Most of the famous thinkers (and artists and scientists and writers) of history were men.

    Bullshit.

  146. #147 scooter
    August 1, 2008

    #140

    It has been proven by scriptures and scrolls of the day that Doubting Thomas was in competition with Jesus.

    Doubting T was actually the inventor of the Loaves and Fish illusion, which was a simple hole in platform cheap trick.

    Jesus ripped him off and as a result was able to score gigs from Syria to Palestine.

    After pointing out that Jesus was a thief and a fraud, Doubting Thomas had his nuts ripped off by early Christians, and his children became slaves of the Nazarene.

    It is written in the scrolls, well documented.

  147. #148 casey
    August 1, 2008

    Mike @ 44 –
    I am an atheist Jew… I’ve never heard of an atheist Christian, though. probably christians would give you shit that you’re not a “real christian” (i’ve seen catholics and mormons called “not real christians”!). Jewish people have never told me i’m not a real Jew because i’m an atheist.

  148. #149 Ramases
    August 1, 2008

    Bit of a boy’s club isn’t it?

    Surely they could have found a few prominent women atheists?

    How about Emily Dickinson or Sylvia Plath?

  149. #150 J
    August 1, 2008

    It’s complete pointless to speculate over whether Darwin could call himself an “atheist” if he were alive today. Rational people reject all religion. Going further and rejecting the notion of an “intelligent designer god” is only of cosmological or philosophical interest. This obsession among “atheists” with a purely philosophical/cosmological question is perverse.

  150. #151 scooter
    August 1, 2008

    Jewish people have never told me i’m not a real Jew because i’m an atheist.

    Remember that the Christians will not let you off the hook for being a Jew either, no matter how loudly you scream Atheist.

    Interesting, huh?

  151. #152 Wowbagger
    August 1, 2008

    F Scott Fitzgerald,

    I believe it was because he hated that he’d grown old and impotent.

    J? Is that the J?

  152. #153 scooter
    August 1, 2008

    Surely they could have found a few prominent women atheists?

    How about Emily Dickinson or Sylvia Plath?

    Hear Hear

    Quite the Sausage fest ain’t it ?

    They left out Ann Rand, and she has an institute named after her. That’s what I heard from Daniel Ellsburg

  153. #154 scooter
    August 1, 2008

    If you arranged all those guys around a table, people would think Atheists were as Gay as Christions.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    All those flappers and many of the the suffragettes were known God-scoffers, where the hell is Gertrude Stein?

  154. #155 truth machine, OM
    August 1, 2008

    Darwin was not an atheist, nor was Jefferson, Einstein, nor Franklin, who were all deists. Darwin was, for much of his life, also a deist, but ended up an agnostic.

    Einstein was most certainly not a deist — nor was Spinoza. And Darwin was never a deist; he was a Christian for most of his life.

    Lincoln doesn’t belong on the post at all; see, .e.g., http://www.slate.com/id/2134450/

  155. #156 SEF
    August 1, 2008

    @ casey #148:

    Jewish people have never told me i’m not a real Jew because i’m an atheist.

    That’s because Jewishness is not merely a religion but also a culture and also tribal/racial membership (albeit of more than one tribe because of the following …). Jews themselves habitually conflate the three things and even find it convenient to do so, eg when falsely accusing people of racism when the issue is actually one of religion or of a cultural practice being criticised. Conflating the issue in the past will have led to more than one single lineage of Jews – especially since there was disagreement over whether to be matrilineal (expedient for the African contingent), patrilineal (insisted upon by the most misogynistic subsets), either being sufficient or requiring both in order to count.

  156. #157 truth machine, OM
    August 1, 2008

    People are incredibly naive with respect to Einstein. It’s quite plausible that his talk about “Spinoza’s God” was little more than a convenient dodge to escape hounding by the public (both in Germany and the United States).

    Or perhaps “people” actually know things about Einstein’s views, rather than blathering about what’s “plausible”.

  157. #158 Wowbagger
    August 1, 2008

    Considering that class-A lying fucktard Ray Comfort has a religion-supporting Einstein quote (out of context, of course) on his homepage, I don’t think knowing what Einstein’s views were makes much difference at all.

    Not, at least, to the disingenuous.

  158. #159 Nick Gotts
    August 1, 2008

    Was Jefferson a racist because he owned slaves? Chris Crawford

    Yes. And a hypocrite. Oh, and a rapist.

  159. #160 J
    August 1, 2008

    Or perhaps “people” actually know things about Einstein’s views, rather than blathering about what’s “plausible”.
    Yeah, I know about Einstein’s views too. I’ve read lots of what he wrote on religion, several biographies of him, and many of his scientific papers. I still find it plausible that his supposed philosophy on religion was a kind of clever, socially expedient dodge, designed so that he could be essentially truthful without explicitly admitting he doesn’t believe in God.

    Leave out your arrogant, unfounded allegations of ignorance. It’s just annoying.

  160. #161 Notkieran
    August 1, 2008

    I hereby declare myself a Idontgiveaflyingfornicationuntilyouannoymeist.

  161. #162 rudi
    August 1, 2008

    Yeah, but you could just as easily do one of those for Christianity.

    Couldn’t you?

  162. #163 J
    August 1, 2008

    Einstein did feel an almost spiritual, quasi-religious reverence of the laws of physics. That was foundational to his personality. However, this still doesn’t account for his often misleading equivocation about God, which Dawkins equates to “intellectual high treason”.

  163. #164 Anton Mates
    August 1, 2008

    Surely they could have found a few prominent women atheists?

    How about Emily Dickinson or Sylvia Plath?

    Sylvia Plath is probably not the ideal role model to feature on an inspirational public poster. “Atheism: It’s not always associated with suicide attempts!”

    Dickinson was uninterested in traditional Christianity, but was she an outright atheist?

  164. #165 Anton Mates
    August 1, 2008

    Jewish people have never told me i’m not a real Jew because i’m an atheist.

    It happens occasionally, even on the Reform end.

    http://tinyurl.com/5szkd6

    But yeah, the ethnic factor makes belief less important as an identifier.

    I’ve met a few self-labeled “atheist/agnostic Christians,” people who basically consider Jesus an inspirational figure, and don’t care whether he actually existed even as a mortal preacher. I think someone like John Shelby Spong would probably also qualify, though he might actually be deist.

  165. #166 truth machine, OM
    August 1, 2008

    I still find it plausible

    Bully for you, but that’s no basis for asserting that “people” are “incredibly naive”.

    Leave out your arrogant, unfounded allegations of ignorance. It’s just annoying.

    What a fucking hypocritical asshole.

  166. #167 negentropyeater
    August 1, 2008

    I always find strange that when someone makes a poster like this and puts 8 famous thinkers representative of various forms of non religious rational thought, chances are they are going to focus on only one language, in this case English.
    Apart from Einstein, who was native German speaker, but professed a lot in english, all are english speakers.

    What about Spinoza, Voltaire, Kant ? Weren’t they at least as influential as any of these thinkers ?

    I don’t know if I am being picky, but I always notice these things, Americans tend to be so Anglo-saxon centric and it seems the rest doesn’t seem to matter…

  167. #168 Nick Gotts
    August 1, 2008

    Darwin was never a deist; he was a Christian for most of his life. truth machine

    The following is from from Darwin, Francis ed. 1887. The life and letters of Charles Darwin, including an autobiographical chapter. I don’t think it supports your contention – rather, he moved gradually from orthodox Christianity through non-Christian theism to agnosticism.

    “Whilst on board the Beagle I was quite orthodox, and I remember being heartily laughed at by several of the officers (though themselves orthodox) for quoting the Bible as an unanswerable authority on some point of morality. I suppose it was the novelty of the argument that amused them. But I had gradually come by this time, i.e. 1836 to 1839, to see that the Old Testament was no more to be trusted than the sacred books of the Hindoos. The question then continually rose before my mind and would not be banished,–is it credible that if God were now to make a revelation to the Hindoos, he would permit it to be connected with the belief in Vishnu, Siva, &c., as Christianity is connected with the Old Testament? This appeared to me utterly incredible.

    By further reflecting that the clearest evidence would be requisite to make any sane man believe in the miracles by which Christianity is supported,–and that the more we know of the fixed laws of nature the more incredible do miracles become,–that the men at that time were ignorant and credulous to a degree almost incomprehensible by us,–that the Gospels cannot be proved to have been written simultaneously with the events,–that they differ in many important details, far too important, as it seemed to me, to be admitted as the usual inaccuracies of eye-witnesses;– by such reflections as these, which I give not as having the least novelty or value, but as they influenced me, I gradually came to disbelieve in Christianity as a divine revelation. The fact that many false religions have spread over large portions of the earth like wild-fire had some weight with me.

    But I was very unwilling to give up my belief; I feel sure of this, for I can well remember often and often inventing day-dreams of old letters between distinguished Romans, and manuscripts being discovered at Pompeii or elsewhere, which confirmed in the most striking manner all that was written in the Gospels. But I found it more and more difficult, with free scope given to my imagination, to invent evidence which would suffice to convince me. Thus disbelief crept over me at a very slow rate, but was at last complete. The rate was so slow that I felt no distress.

    Although I did not think much about the existence of a personal God until a considerably later period of my life, I will here give the vague conclusions to which I have been driven…

    [Various arguments for God are considered and rejected.]

    Another source of conviction in the existence of God, connected with the reason, and not with the feelings, impresses me as having much more weight. This follows from the extreme difficulty or rather impossibility of conceiving this immense and wonderful universe, including man with his capacity of looking far backwards and far into futurity, as the result of blind chance or necessity. When thus reflecting I feel compelled to look to a First Cause having an intelligent mind in some degree analogous to that of man; and I deserve to be called a Theist. This conclusion was strong in my mind about the time, as far as I can remember, when I wrote the ‘Origin of Species;’ and it is since that time that it has very gradually, with many fluctuations, become weaker. But then arises the doubt, can the mind of man, which has, as I fully believe, been developed from a mind as low as that possessed by the lowest animals, be trusted when it draws such grand conclusions?

    I cannot pretend to throw the least light on such abstruse problems. The mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluble by us; and I for one must be content to remain an Agnostic”

  168. #169 truth machine, OM
    August 1, 2008

    I don’t know if I am being picky

    The maker of such a poster has an intended audience, which is probably typically ignorant Americans, and thus would choose those persons he (probably) thought would most likely be recognizable to them.

  169. #170 PatrickHenry
    August 1, 2008

    According to Lady Hope, they all repented on their deathbeds.

  170. #171 truth machine, OM
    August 1, 2008

    I don’t think it supports your contention – rather, he moved gradually from orthodox Christianity through non-Christian theism to agnosticism.

    None of those is deism. The only remaining issue is whether the moment that he abandoned Christianity was before or after 1845. I think it was after, but that wasn’t the main point, at all.

  171. #172 Nick Gotts
    August 1, 2008

    truth machine@171,
    Yes, I should have been clearer that it was “Christian for most of his life”, not “never a deist” I was querying.

  172. #173 truth machine, OM
    August 1, 2008

    According to Lady Hope, they all repented on their deathbeds.

    a) The “Lady Hope” claim only pertains to Darwin, not “they all”.

    b) The “Lady Hope” claim about Darwin was false.

    c) Lady Hope (Elizabeth Hope) never actually made that claim.

  173. #174 truth machine, OM
    August 1, 2008

    Yes, I should have been clearer that it was “Christian for most of his life”, not “never a deist” I was querying.

    The original claim was that Darwin was a deist for “much of his life”. I think that we can agree that he was never a deist, and was a Christian for “much of his life”.

  174. #175 Eliza
    August 1, 2008

    David should be on there! he rocks : )

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6Y-5CR-_hw

  175. #176 Matt Heath
    August 1, 2008

    Hmm it’s fairly clear “Deism” would be just as false. Would a true version of this be “Irreligion: good enough for these idiots”? They all lacked or rejected membership of any religion. Or “Freethought”?

  176. #177 truth machine, OM
    August 1, 2008

    Freethought maybe, but some of them were avowedly religious, regardless of “membership”. The lists that have been posted here make it clear that there are plenty of recognizable folks who are unambiguously atheist; had they been illustrated, rather than this rather sadly ignorant poster based on legends and propaganda common in atheist circles, this debate would have been unnecessary.

  177. #178 Ross
    August 1, 2008

    Is it just me or does Mark Twain look kinda like Frank Zappa in that pic? Is there any mileage in thinking of Twain as a prototype Zappa?

  178. #179 John Morales
    August 1, 2008

    Matt @176:

    Hmm it’s fairly clear “Deism” would be just as false.

    False is false.

    But I’d rather interact with the average deist than the average theist.

  179. #180 J
    August 1, 2008

    The original claim was that Darwin was a deist for “much of his life”. I think that we can agree that he was never a deist, and was a Christian for “much of his life”.
    He seems to have been a deist around the time he wrote Origin:

    “When thus reflecting I feel compelled to look to a First Cause having an intelligent mind in some degree analogous to that of man; and I deserve to be called a Theist. This conclusion was strong in my mind about the time, as far as I can remember, when I wrote the ‘Origin of Species;’ and it is since that time that it has very gradually, with many fluctuations, become weaker.”

    He calls that theism, but it looks like ordinary deism to me.

  180. #181 J
    August 1, 2008

    There are the additional facts that he stopped going to church after 1851, when his ten-year-old daughter Annie died. I find it very unlikely he was then anything like a proper Christian. However, he still referred to a “Creator” (e.g. in later editions of Origin), which set the laws of physics in place. It therefore seems fair to say that he was for some length of time a deist.

  181. #182 Coel
    August 1, 2008

    “Benjamin Franklin” quoted Einstein saying: “In view of such harmony in the cosmos which I, with my limited human mind, am able to recognize, there are yet people who say there is no God. But what really makes me angry is that they quote me for the support of such views.”

    Can you produce adequate documentation for this quote? As far as I’m aware it was a hearsay quote, claimed to have been heard by a third party. That makes it highly suspect.

  182. #183 Cheezits
    August 1, 2008

    Why is it that pictures of Einstein always show him as an old guy? He was good-looking when he was younger. And that is when he did all his best work. I didn’t recognize Mark Twain because he is also usually depicted with white hair.

  183. #184 J. D. Mack
    August 1, 2008

    OK, I skimmed these comments, but I have to get ready for work and I don’t have time to read them all, so this may have been cited already.

    In the excellent biography of Ben Franklin “Stealing God’s Thunder,” the author gives evidence that Franklin was a Deist. He believed in a God that for the most part had nothing to do with the affairs of man, but would occasionally step in when necessary. Franklin thought that the victory of the Americans over the British was so improbable, that there must have been divine intervention.

    J. D.

  184. #185 Coel
    August 1, 2008

    PZ writes: Darwin was most definitely NOT an atheist. We have his short autobiography and many letters — he was an agnostic.

    Sure, he was an agnostic. But the evidence suggests that any residual faith he had gradually evaporated, and by the end of his life he was also an atheist, or very close to it, lacking any belief in anything that could reasonably be called “God”.

  185. #186 Atheist Resistance Front
    August 1, 2008

    Hey, the poster left out the real stars!

    Marx, Nietzsche, Lenin, Trotsky, and Sanger!

    (I include Sanger because the poster needs a woman, and she encouraged eugenics and eliminating all those human weeds.)

  186. #187 BobbyEarle
    August 1, 2008

    truth machine @173…

    I think PatrickHenry was joking here. The key phrase was “…they all recanted…” Plus a quick look at his blog might have given you a clue.

    I am sure you are a good guy, but not so much fun at parties I would bet.

  187. #188 Rev. BigDumbChimpb
    August 1, 2008

    Hi Legion! *wave

    You’re a one trick pony. Unfortunately for you, your trick is tired and full of shit.

  188. #189 SC
    August 1, 2008

    My word. Does anyone read the previous comments before posting anymore? Harumph. [/AM irritability]

  189. #190 Cheezits
    August 1, 2008

    Hey, the poster left out the real stars!

    Yeah, where the hell is PZ? :-D And yours truly. I’m cuter than those moldy old men.

  190. #191 SC
    August 1, 2008

    Marx, Nietzsche, Lenin, Trotsky, and Sanger!

    Are you suggesting those people were idiots, you ignorant fleabrain?

  191. #192 Rev. BigDumbChimpb
    August 1, 2008

    SC, that’s Legion or the Kansas troll or Dumbass

    It is of a lesser intelligence than most trolls and tends to repeat the same lame weak ass shit.

    It’s easy to pick it out when it comments.

    You can smell the musty odor of a parents basement.

  192. #193 SC
    August 1, 2008

    Ah – I hereby exclude tm from my blanket condemnation @ #189. Didn’t read his #177 closely enough. I’m so not a morning person.

  193. #194 SLC
    August 1, 2008

    Re Thomas Jefferson

    As Ed Brayton, himself a Deist, has pointed out, Jefferson was not a Deist as we understand the term as he believed in an intervening god in the universe. Deists believe in a non-intervening god who sets the universe in motion through creation of the laws of physics and then is heard from no more (i.e. the clockwork god). On the other hand, Jefferson was certainly not a Christian as he rejected the divinity of Joshua of Nazareth, the virgin birth, the trinity, and the resurrection.

    Re Einstein

    Einstein actually denied being an atheist and objected to the attempts of atheists to place him in their camp. His views on religion appear to oscillate between Deism and agnosticism and are not entirely internally consistent.

  194. #195 Jason Failes
    August 1, 2008

    rmp@6: “OK, I know that this is a bit of a cop out but I think we should abandon the atheism label and just call ourselves Unitarians.”

    Personally, I like “The Reality-Based Community”.

    It lets everybody know where you stand, but doesn’t immediately step on anyone’s religious sensibilities.

    (They will only get stepped on if they get underfoot, ie if the individual begins to “witness”, then you can become more clear about the particulars of your beliefs in regards to the deity they are trying to sell and/or deities in general.)

  195. #196 J
    August 1, 2008

    It’s obscene that I actually know you people are atheists. Why do you feel the need to attach so much importance to a purely abstract question of cosmological philosophy?

    You do realize, don’t you, that if your goal is to defeat religion you’re approaching it the wrong way. By labelling yourselves around your cosmological stance, you’re losing the support of thousands of people who reject religion but simply don’t give a damn about cosmology. If you’re going to band together into a tribe, focus it on anti-religion rather than pointless cosmology.

  196. #197 John Morales
    August 1, 2008

    J, it’s not all that important.
    And our goal is not to defeat religion, but to cease being bothered by it.
    Furthermore, if you perceive the acrimony here as tribal banding, you’re strange.

  197. #198 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    August 1, 2008

    ugh.

    J no one cares. You seem to think that it is merely a cosmological argument and last time you floated this I don’t think you had much support. It is only one descriptor that I use to describe one portion of my persona. One of many.

    get over it.

  198. #199 Endor
    August 1, 2008

    Hmm. All white and all male. Color me completely unsurprised.

  199. #200 Benjamin Franklin
    August 1, 2008

    Pygmy Loris @ # 90

    Any suggestions on what would be good?

    Two references I have found to be effective are “Finding Darwin’s God”, by Ken Miller, and the evolution site at UC Berkeley.

    http://evolution.berkeley.edu/

    Aslo refer them to NCSE.com for good info

  200. #201 bunnycatch3r
    August 1, 2008

    I’m pretty sure the one with the pipe is supposed to be Gabe Kaplan.

  201. #202 SC
    August 1, 2008

    Hmm. All white and all male. Color me completely unsurprised.

    I give up.

  202. #203 J
    August 1, 2008

    J no one cares. You seem to think that it is merely a cosmological argument and last time you floated this I don’t think you had much support. It is only one descriptor that I use to describe one portion of my persona. One of many.
    It oughtn’t say anything about your persona, any more than than “believer in the eternalism of the space-time manifold” describes my persona. If our universe was “designed” by a giant Turing machine which is in some sense “intelligent”, there wouldn’t be any noticeable difference. It wouldn’t affect our lives in the slightest. Discussing it is abstract and philosophical.

  203. #204 Lago
    August 1, 2008

    PZ writes: Darwin was most definitely NOT an atheist. We have his short autobiography and many letters — he was an agnostic.

    Coel writes: Sure, he was an agnostic. But the evidence suggests that any residual faith he had gradually evaporated, and by the end of his life he was also an atheist, or very close to it, lacking any belief in anything that could reasonably be called “God”.

    You do not lose your agonistic standing by losing the last of your faith. Being agnostic does not mean, “low on faith,”… it means you simply cannot see evidence either way.

    In other words, realizing a particular faith is BS does not make you closer to atheism as it is not a degree of lacking a particular faith.

    Any belief you may have that Darwin ended up, or should have ended up by logical extrapolation, “An Atheist,” is pure speculation on your part, and not shown by any evidence.

  204. #205 John Morales
    August 1, 2008

    J @203, you think you appear profound, don’t you?

    <snicker>

  205. #206 SC
    August 1, 2008

    Most of the famous thinkers (and artists and scientists and writers) of history were men.

    Bullshit.

    Well, I don’t see how that can be denied (though things have been improving). The key is to understand why. Here’s a classic piece by Linda Nochlin (1988) – “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?”:

    http://www.miracosta.edu/home/gfloren/nochlin.htm

    (That said, the “Most of the…” explanation was dumb.)

  206. #207 J
    August 1, 2008

    Are you suggesting those people [Marx, Nietzsche, Lenin, Trotsky, and Sanger] were idiots, you ignorant fleabrain?
    Marx was a dogmatic pseudo-scientist whose philosophies were fundamentally faith-based. Nietzsche was a proto-fascistic obscurantist who advocated cruelty. Lenin was a ruthless dictator doctrinaire.

    I’ll reserve judgment on Trotsky and Sanger.

  207. #208 GunOfSod
    August 1, 2008

    ATHEISTS: alot of us have facial hair!

  208. #209 John Morales
    August 1, 2008

    J, way totally avoid the question.

  209. #210 TLP
    August 1, 2008

    this reminds me of a Sam Harris flea “The Return of the Village Atheist”.

  210. #211 merlinnj
    August 1, 2008

    Carl Sagan??? Please, he doesn’t belong in the same company as these other men. How about Mark Twain?

  211. #212 Syl in MO
    August 1, 2008

    Long, long time lurker, first time poster. Slightly OT, I would love to see a tee shirt with a picture of a single pea, followed by the letter z, with the word “minion” underneath.

    But I suspect some would fail to see the sarcasm.

    (I hope I spelled “minion” correctly – not enough coffee.)

  212. #213 mattmc
    August 1, 2008

    #211

    You got a problem with Sagan you little punkass????!!!11!!What about Mark Twain, if you had looked you would see he is there. You dont belong in the company of the other posters on this site.

  213. #214 TLP
    August 1, 2008

    this reminds me of a Sam Harris flea “The Return of the Village Atheist”.

  214. #215 John Morales
    August 1, 2008

    Syl in MO @212, you mean for you to wear or for others to wear?
    You know you can get custom T-shirts made…

  215. #216 SC
    August 1, 2008

    J, since Legion appears to have been a drive-by (or banned), my comment @ #191 can apply to you. And I’ll add that you are a hypocronical (thanks, PZ), intellectually-dishonest, boring, arrogant, racist, essentializing, islamophobic, imperialist, Sam Harris-panting, scientist-wannabe yahoo.

  216. #217 SteveM
    August 1, 2008

    You do not lose your [agnostic] standing by losing the last of your faith. Being agnostic does not mean, “low on faith,”… it means you simply cannot see evidence either way.

    Actually, agnostic means that you believe that there cannot be any evidence either way. It is not simply that one does not see any evidence. That is, “agnostic” does not mean “doubt” or “undecided”, it means “cannot know” (or “cannot be known”).

    By your definition, then most every atheist here would be agnostic in that their atheism comes from not seeing any reason to reject the “no god” hypothesis. But agnosticism goes further than that by saying that even if God existed, evidence for Him is impossible. That is, it is inherently impossible to reject the null hypothesis even if He really did exist. But atheists do not go that far, and expect that if there is no evidence then there is no existence. The null hypothesis stands until it can be rejected.

    [I do not mean to speak for all atheists, but I think that most of the atheists here seem to fit the description above.]

  217. #218 John Morales
    August 1, 2008

    SteveM, you’re probably right – but godless is godless, let us not forget the point.

  218. #219 Jams
    August 1, 2008

    I can only think of one atheist who is iconicly associated with their intelligence: David Susuki (and he probably only makes sense in Canada).

    With all due respect to the many commentators who have implied that this poster lacks racial or gender diversity: you’re missing the mark. There aren’t any infants in the poster either, and it’s not because the poster’s author is prejudiced against infants (who are all atheists btw).

    You can argue that prejudice historically provided extra opportunities to white men in the west, and that this subsequently created an iconography weighted in their favour, but that’s not the fault of the poster’s author. The author has no choice but to communicate in an environment where the iconic face of intelligence is predominately white and male. Maybe in a hundred years this poster will look different, but not today.

  219. #220 SC
    August 1, 2008

    Jams,

    Please. I don’t drink coffee, and therefore have to ease slowly into the morning. That’s too much stupid this early in the day.

  220. #221 PatrickHenry
    August 1, 2008

    Re #187 Posted by: BobbyEarle

    truth machine @173…

    I think PatrickHenry was joking here. The key phrase was “…they all recanted…” Plus a quick look at his blog might have given you a clue.

    I am sure you are a good guy, but not so much fun at parties I would bet.

    Joking? Never! In fact, I also expect to recant. I call my bedroom the “recantation chamber.”

  221. #222 Reginald Selkirk
    August 1, 2008

    My word. Does anyone read the previous comments before posting anymore? Harumph. [/AM irritability]

    No. Next question.

  222. #223 Jams
    August 1, 2008

    Ah SC, my friend who believes laws are not premised on ethics. As usual, you cry “stupid” but are incapable of articulating a reason for that assessment.

    Do you have an argument, or do you just like to see your initials in print?

  223. #224 SC
    August 1, 2008

    No. Next question.

    :(

  224. #225 Lago
    August 1, 2008

    “Actually, agnostic means that you believe that there cannot be any evidence either way.”

    Can you show me where Huxley said this? Huxley said he coined the term because people kept asking him what his position was, and that he must have one, so he gave his position as one who knows he does not know, and used the term in referring to the Gnostics.

    Please show me where he said there cannot be evidence either way?

  225. #226 Coel
    August 1, 2008

    Lago writes in reply to me:

    You do not lose your agonistic standing by losing the last of your faith.

    Sure, which is why I think Darwin was, at the end of his life, both an atheist and agnostic. He was an atheist because he lacked any faith in any gods and he was an agnostic because he lacked certainty on whether any god existed.

    Any belief you may have that Darwin ended up, or should have ended up by logical extrapolation, “An Atheist,” is pure speculation on your part, and not shown by any evidence.

    I claimed he ended up an atheist, not “An Atheist”, and this is supported by his own writings which show that any residual belief in any role for a god was evaporating to vanishing point in his later life.

  226. #227 SC
    August 1, 2008

    Jams,

    Your blather is not worth my time or energy, quite frankly. If you want to declare victory because I can’t be bothered to tear it apart point by point, be my guest.

  227. #228 Coel
    August 1, 2008

    SLC writes:

    Einstein actually denied being an atheist . . .

    Can you give a cite for him saying that in his own words? (Not words attributed to him?)

  228. #229 Jams
    August 1, 2008

    @SC

    I thought not. Return to your cave troll.

  229. #230 Lago
    August 1, 2008

    “I claimed he ended up an atheist, not “An Atheist”, and this is supported by his own writings which show that any residual belief in any role for a god was evaporating to vanishing point in his later life.”

    This is like claiming there are more gays in society than there actually are by asking what went on in camp when they were 11.

    You are using semantics. You are simply stating that atheism means no role for God or a god in his life when this is not how Darwin used the term. Darwin used the term to represent the reality of. Either the reality is there is a god, or there is not one.

    Semantics is not an argument.

  230. #231 Benjamin Franklin
    August 1, 2008

    Re # 182

    “In view of such harmony in the cosmos which I, with my limited human understanding, am able to recognize, there are yet people who say there is no God. But what really makes me angry is that they quote me for the support of such views.”
    -Towards the Further Shore (Victor Gollancz, London, 1968), p. 156; quoted in Jammer, p. 97

  231. #232 Obeah
    August 1, 2008

    Turns out you are all wrong, “Atheists Don’t Even Exist”.
    If you really want stupid, watch this:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-aGKPitYbEY&watch_response

  232. #233 Coel
    August 1, 2008

    Lago writes:

    Huxley said he coined the term because people kept asking him what his position was, and that he must have one, so he gave his position as one who knows he does not know, and used the term in referring to the Gnostics.

    Not quite. In Huxley’s original sense “agnostic” meant someone who had not had a personal revelation of God’s existence (as others claimed they had), and who thus had to decide to question of God’s existence on the evidence available by studying nature.

    Thus “agnosticism” was a process, not a conclusion (“agnosticism” meant “without revealed knowledge”) and Huxley was both an agnostic and an atheist.

    However, hardly anyone these days uses “agnostic” in Huxley’s exact original sense. Nowadays it really means anyone who lacks certainty and secure knowledge about the existence of a god; most atheists are agnostics in that sense.

  233. #234 SC
    August 1, 2008

    I thought not. Return to your cave troll.

    *snort*

    Are you suggesting I live in a “cave troll”? How odd.

  234. #235 Mike
    August 1, 2008

    This is actually bullshit isn’t it?
    What definition of “atheist” are you using?

    If you would have picked a group of intellectual celebrities completely *at random* you probably would have got a larger number of atheists.

    BTW Hemingway was a Catholic. He was baptised after WWI and made confession and took communion at least once a year til he died.

    Why did you pick these people when there are in fact many well-known and learned atheists out there?

  235. #236 Lago
    August 1, 2008

    Coel said:
    “Thus “agnosticism” was a process, not a conclusion (“agnosticism” meant “without revealed knowledge”) and Huxley was both an agnostic and an atheist.”

    Huxley said:
    “When I reached intellectual maturity, and began to ask myself whether I was an “atheist”, a theist, or a pantheist; a materialist or an idealist; a Christian or a freethinker, I found that the more I learned and reflected, the less ready was the answer; until at last I came to the conclusion that …”I had neither art nor part with any of these denominations,”… except the last.

    You are trying to rewrite history…

    Don’t do that…

  236. #237 Jams
    August 1, 2008

    @SC

    I’m suggesting you don’t even know the difference between “an argument” and tearing my argument “apart point by point”. You predictably argue against the person/argument you fabricate rather than the actual text.

    Oh, and typos. You have a keen eye for typos. Bravo.

  237. #238 Benjamin Franklin
    August 1, 2008

    Patrick Henry @ #221

    I call my bedroom the “recantation chamber.”

    I call mine the “incantation chamber of pleasure, pain, delights, and the occasional French maid”.

  238. #239 Coel
    August 1, 2008

    “Benjamin Franklin” replies to me quoting:

    “In view of such harmony in the cosmos which I, with my limited human understanding, am able to recognize, there are yet people who say there is no God. But what really makes me angry is that they quote me for the support of such views.”
    -Towards the Further Shore (Victor Gollancz, London, 1968), p. 156; quoted in Jammer, p. 97

    I’m aware of that quote, thanks, but if you follow all the “quoted by”s back you end up with a claim by Prince Hubertus zu Lowenstein that Einstein had said this to him. It is not secure as Einstein’s words or thoughts. If that is the best evidence that Einstein rejected the attribution of being an atheist then it is fairly feeble.

  239. #240 SC
    August 1, 2008

    Jams,

    Your gratuitous displays of mediocrity are unseemly.

  240. #241 Coel
    August 1, 2008

    Lago replies to me:

    You are using semantics. You are simply stating that atheism means no role for God or a god in his life when this is not how Darwin used the term.

    I’m simply using the definition of “atheist” as lacking any actual belief in any gods, and then asking whether Darwin (towards the end of his life) fitted that definition.

    Again, Darwin’s late writings suggest that any residual belief in any role for any god had evaporated to vanishing.

  241. #242 Jams
    August 1, 2008

    @SC

    I’m afraid your efforts don’t merit a response that exceeds mediocrity.

  242. #243 Coel
    August 1, 2008

    Lago says:

    You are trying to rewrite history… Don’t do that…

    The evidence is that Huxley lacked any belief in any gods. (If you disagree, please tell us which god Huxley believed in and present the evidence.) Thus Huxley appears to have been an atheist as today’s atheists define the term “atheist”.

    That is not the same as saying he described himself as such under whatever connotations he himself would have put on the word.

  243. #244 Adrienne
    August 1, 2008

    llewelly@112 wrote:

    Recall the woodcuts PZ mentioned in his desecration post. Several of them show Jews stabbing a Eucharist with sharp instruments (thus the rusty nail) and making it bleed. Your words reference only the most recent round of Catholic goal-post moving. It’s a Eucharist of the gaps sort of thing.

    No, this isn’t a case of moving goalposts, sorry. Those woodcuts were depicting supposedly miraculous occurrences. The Cath belief in transubstantiation has never claimed that the wafers taken on the physical characteristics of flesh except in super rare exceptionally miraculous circumstances, so testing them for DNA and not finding any certainly won’t “prove” anything to believing Catholics, sorry.

  244. #245 Lago
    August 1, 2008

    “I’m simply using the definition of “atheist” as lacking any actual belief in any gods, and then asking whether Darwin (towards the end of his life) fitted that definition.
    Again, Darwin’s late writings suggest that any residual belief in any role for any god had evaporated to vanishing.”

    And this is NOT the definition Darwin and Huxley used. Neither considered themselves atheists. Huxley, who coined the term, separated atheism from free thinking. Again here:

    “”When I reached intellectual maturity, and began to ask myself whether I was an “atheist”, a theist, or a pantheist; a materialist or an idealist; a Christian or a freethinker, I found that the more I learned and reflected, the less ready was the answer; until at last I came to the conclusion that …”I had neither art nor part with any of these denominations,”… except the last”

    Notice how he does not separate himself from “free thinker” but separates himself from the “denominations” which he clearly thinks is a point-of-view, as in a belief system? Atheism is not defined as merely not having a god in your life, but is placed in the groupings of those with a set position. Agnosticism is not…

  245. #246 John Morales
    August 1, 2008

    Jams, your argument @219 seems to be that the “commentators who have implied that this poster lacks racial or gender diversity [are] missing the mark” because it’s an unremarkable cultural norm.

    But, since it was in fact remarked upon, it’s evidently not unremarkable.

    So, most excellent though your argument may be, its conclusion contradicts the evidence; there is no need to address the argument per se.

  246. #247 J
    August 1, 2008

    And I’ll add that you are a hypocronical (thanks, PZ), intellectually-dishonest, boring, arrogant, racist, essentializing, islamophobic, imperialist, Sam Harris-panting, scientist-wannabe yahoo.
    Imperialistic? On this blog I’ve never spoken once in favour of any war or act of imperialism. You’re telling lies, you worthless little sheep-minded guttersnipe. The truth doesn’t matter, does it, as long as your stupid buddies are egging you on.

    Islamophobic, yes. To an intellectually shallow, relentlessly dishonest, leftist fundamentalist tribalist and habitual liar, yes, maybe to such a person Islamophobia is indeed a mark of racism.

    As for “scientist-wannabe”: that’s particularly amusing coming from someone who has all the features of a scientifically illiterate poltical science major. You’re not interested in science or cosmological philosophy. You promote yourself as an atheist mainly in order to enrich your intellectually vapid life.

  247. #248 Coel
    August 1, 2008

    Lago says to me:

    And this is NOT the definition Darwin and Huxley used. Neither considered themselves atheists.

    OK, but that doesn’t refute my point. I was not addressing whether they considered themselves “atheists” under their definition of the term, I was addressing whether they can fairly be considered “atheists” under the definition of the term that is widespread and accepted by most atheists today.

  248. #249 SC
    August 1, 2008

    Your mediocrity was evident well before I engaged with you, as anyone who cares to investigate will readily discover. I’ll allow, of course, for the possibility that your posts here have been merely the accidentally-altered expression of your intellect, while its true essence and substance remain invisible to the rest of us. It’s a mystery.

  249. #250 John Morales
    August 1, 2008

    J:

    You promote yourself as an atheist mainly in order to enrich your intellectually vapid life.

    You say that like it’s a bad thing.

    What exactly is wrong with enriching one’s intellectual life?

  250. #251 Lago
    August 1, 2008

    “The evidence is that Huxley lacked any belief in any gods. (If you disagree, please tell us which god Huxley believed in and present the evidence.) Thus Huxley appears to have been an atheist as today’s atheists define the term “atheist”.”

    You are using a rewritten definition of the term that was not defined in that way by the people being discussed. That is disingenuous at best.

    Claiming I suggested Huxley believed in a particular god or not is false, stupid, and irrelevant, as he also did not believe anyone had shown that there was no god, just as much as he believed no one showed there was.

    You are trying to use a black and white argument in a debate that Huxley, the man that defined the term agnostic, did not see as being able to be debated as such.

    This is the whole reason the term was coined.

    Again…do not rewrite history.

  251. #252 Jams
    August 1, 2008

    “But, since it was in fact remarked upon, it’s evidently not unremarkable. So, most excellent though your argument may be, its conclusion contradicts the evidence; there is no need to address the argument per se.” – John Morales

    See? See how easy it is to make an actual argument? It makes everything so much more “seemly”.

    I didn’t argue that it was unremarkable (I’m not sure if cultural norm really fits either), but that an expectation that the author could manufacture recognizable faces that fit the criteria iconic-atheist-known-for-their-intelligence is an unreasonable expectation.

  252. #253 SC
    August 1, 2008

    For anyone interested in J’s views (and at this point I highly doubt that anyone is), I put together a small selection of his writings here:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/07/looking_for_a_journalist_willi.php#comment-1002831

    To complete the image, please see J’s comments to brokenSoldier on that thread.

  253. #254 SEF
    August 1, 2008

    Are you suggesting I live in a “cave troll”?

    It could be that you live with a cave troll or are the property of or owner of a cave troll. ;-)

  254. #255 Coel
    August 1, 2008

    Lago writes:

    You are using a rewritten definition of the term that was not defined in that way by the people being discussed. That is disingenuous at best.

    Not at all: I am merely asking whether those people fit the definition “atheist” as that term is generally understood nowadays.

    Claiming I suggested Huxley believed in a particular god or not is false, stupid, and irrelevant,

    . . . however I did not claim that you had suggested that . . .

    . . . as he also did not believe anyone had shown that there was no god,

    Sure. And most atheists today say that also! You do not have to prove something’s non-existence in order to lack belief in it! All you need is to lack belief in it, owing to never having encountered decent evidence for it. That fits T.H Huxley, just as it fits today’s atheists such as Dawkins.

  255. #256 SC
    August 1, 2008

    It could be that you live with a cave troll or are the property of or owner of a cave troll. ;-)

    Indeed. I’ll remain silent on those questions. Thanks for the chuckle. :)

  256. #257 Benzion Chinn
    August 1, 2008

    This sort of intellectual gerrymandering seems to be a habit amongst atheists. I actually did a post in this issue a while ago. (http://izgad.blogspot.com/2007/01/mr-enlightenment-meet-meom-loez.html)How can one claim the intellectual high ground when one is being so intellectually dishonest? This is not to say that theists, as a group, are any better, but I am sure you would agree that to be only slightly less intellectually dishonest than your run of the mill radical theist is not something to hold your head up about.

  257. #258 Lago
    August 1, 2008

    “OK, but that doesn’t refute my point. I was not addressing whether they considered themselves “atheists” under their definition of the term, I was addressing whether they can fairly be considered “atheists” under the definition of the term that is widespread and accepted by most atheists today.”

    No you cannot use it as how it is defined today, because meaning must be known to both sides of the debate, and neither must pull a bait and switch.

    The average person on the street goes by the original definition of both terms. The version you are going by are rewritten versions used by people trying to make a wider case for atheism in the general public. Unless you make sure to define the term anew with each and everytime you discuss the term…you are being disingenuous. It is like defining evolution merely as a change in the frequency of alleles in a population over time, then debating a person who is referring to changes that reveal novel traits that we can then use to define the new group as a distinct clade. Get on the same page…or do not debate the issue. Otherwise you are running around in random semantical interplay.

    Finally, atheists and theist alike tend to, “Bait and switch.” Theists often claim they use science in defining their beliefs, but when asked in front of a religious crowd why they believe as they do, scientific evidence is never given. On the other hand, atheists often redefine anyone that did not have a particular faith as being atheists as well, when in reality they are agnostics, or ever worse, theists that just do not think too deeply about their personal beliefs, or questions the common consensus. Many atheists will openly say, “This famous person did not believe in God either!”..but when hard pressed, the atheists goes..well he did not actively think about a god or a religion, but in reality he said he was unsure if there was actually a god or not. This is disingenuous just as much as the theist was…

  258. #259 Rieux
    August 1, 2008

    Adrienne @ #244:

    No, this isn’t a case of moving goalposts, sorry. Those woodcuts were depicting supposedly miraculous occurrences. The Cath belief in transubstantiation has never claimed that the wafers taken on the physical characteristics of flesh except in super rare exceptionally miraculous circumstances….

    And “super rare exceptionally miraculous circumstances” is different from “moving the goalposts” how?

  259. #260 Nephi
    August 1, 2008

    Don’t forget to add Bertrand Russell to the poster.

  260. #261 John Morales
    August 1, 2008

    Jams @252, I still think you did argue that it was unremarkable, even after your comment.

    Nonetheless, the omphalos of your argument is

    The author has no choice but to communicate in an environment where the iconic face of intelligence is predominately white and male.

    Which, carelessly read, might seem to say the author could not choose other than “predominately white and male”.

    It’s clear from your qualifier (predominantely) that you consider that there are, in fact, other possible choices.

    So how do you claim this sustains your contention that “they”‘re missing the point?

    PS I kindly refrain from addressing your last sentence in that comment.

  261. #262 J
    August 1, 2008

    What exactly is wrong with enriching one’s intellectual life?
    Well, suppose you’re a political science graduate who has no technical knowledge or valuable skills beyond a flair for writing, and can’t get a real job or put those hundreds of hours of masturbatory political pontification to any practical use. Suppose you’re such a person. Here’s a good strategy: join a smug cult. Revel in the tribalism, the gleeful, savage mockery of outsiders, and the collective delusions of grandeur. It’s just so easy!

  262. #263 Jams
    August 1, 2008

    @SC

    I just had a fabulous idea. Why don’t you present an argument and we can all witness first hand how one rises above mediocrity? Or, are you going to continue to bow out on the grounds that you don’t have the time? Clearly, you have the time.

  263. #264 John Morales
    August 1, 2008

    J @262, thanks for the clarification.

    Enriching one’s intellectual life is bad because, supposing one is “a political science graduate who has no technical knowledge or valuable skills beyond a flair for writing, and can’t get a real job or put those hundreds of hours of masturbatory political pontification to any practical use.”, a good idea is to join a smug cult.

    Um – I wasn’t talking about you in specific, but thanks for the insight into your mindset.

  264. #265 Coel
    August 1, 2008

    Lago writes:

    No you cannot use it as how it is defined today, because meaning must be known to both sides of the debate, and neither must pull a bait and switch.

    Taking the word as “how it is defined today” seems a resonable default. But apologies if I was unclear in my meaning.

    Many atheists will openly say, “This famous person did not believe in God either!”..but when hard pressed, the atheists goes..well he did not actively think about a god or a religion, but in reality he said he was unsure if there was actually a god or not.

    “Being unsure” is a different issue from whether one does have a belief. Most of today’s atheist accept that their knowledge is imperfect and that they there may exist things (including gods) of which they are currently utterly unaware. But so? It doesn’t change the fact that they lack belief and thus are atheists.

    If someone lives their life without a belief in god influencing their thoughts and behaviour then they are, de facto, atheists. You do not have to make a claim to omnipotent certainity to be an atheist!

    This is why your “original definition” of “atheist” is a strawman, and why it is perfectly reasonable to use a modern definition and simply ask whether people had or have an actual belief in a god playing a role in the universe or its creation.

  265. #266 Nick Gotts
    August 1, 2008

    It’s obscene that I actually know you people are atheists. – J

    Obscene? Obscene??? I’m flabbergasted. Seldom, indeed, has my flabber been so completely gasted.

    However, on second thoughts I’m also rather cheered. If J finds this blog so indecent and offensive, perhaps he’ll go away soon?

  266. #267 Jams
    August 1, 2008

    @John Morales

    Clearly, there’s a miscommunication. I blame my limited ability. I used “predominantely” as hedging. There may be a recognizable face that fits the criteria… though I doubt it. Regardless, the set of available faces to choose from do es not represent racial and gender diversity. Let’s try it this way:

    This poster is a message. That message has readers and an author. The author presents a number of recognizable atheists who’s faces are synonymous with intelligence, so that these images juxtaposed the word “idiots” will create a resonance in the mind of the readers.

    Given this task, the author is challenged to find iconic images that can create the desired resonance in the mind of the reader. Those choices, by no fault of the author’s, are predominantly, if not exclusively, white and male.

    Name the iconic person who is iconic for their intelligence, and who happens to be an atheist. The only one I can even think of, as I mentioned before, is David Suzuki, and I don’t think he’s iconic enough to qualify except in Canada.

  267. #268 SC
    August 1, 2008

    Clearly, you have the time.

    Not for you, I don’t.

    John Morales – You are a kind and charitable human being, with a real flair for writing *gasp*.

    Nick Gotts – I adore you.

  268. #269 Lago
    August 1, 2008

    “Taking the word as “how it is defined today” seems a resonable default. But apologies if I was unclear in my meaning.”

    How it is defined today was in reference to your usage, not the general publics. The general public is obviously much larger than those atheists who are held within it, and most of the general public still today define atheism as believing there is no god, just as how Darwin and Huxley did.

    Next, if I am shown 2 doors and told one has a loin behind it, and the other does not, and I am asked to pick the door without the lion, and there is no way to perceive what is behind the doors, I cannot know either way if the door I pick is safe or not. In other words, this lack of knowing is NOT THE SAME AS A LACK OF BELIEF.

    When Huxley and Darwin said they were agnostics, it is not that they did not believe it was possible. They had a belief and the belief was it “Was possible.” The fact was they also had a belief that they could not “know” as in confirm this belief as being true.

    The above is simply NOT what atheists general claim what they mean when they say so and s was also an atheist. Most of the time they openly admit that they are claiming the person does or did not believe in a god, when that was not the case…

  269. #270 Jams
    August 1, 2008

    “Not for you, I don’t.” – SC

    You have time to abuse me, but not the time to form a coherant argument. Typical.

    Look SC, this is basic internet etiquette, and no, I’m not a Nazi about internet etiquette. When you comment on something someone has said, you should include in that comment, at the very least, an argument. Hurl insults and abuse if you like, but the bare minimum is some content beyond simple abuse framed in a self-satisfied contempt for the target of your attack. It’s petty, it’s beneath mediocre, and worst of all, it’s useless.

  270. #271 Coel
    August 1, 2008

    Lago writes:

    In other words, this lack of knowing is NOT THE SAME AS A LACK OF BELIEF.

    Agreed. Knowing and believing are different things. Theism/atheism is a statement about the presence/absence of belief, whereas agnosticism is a statement about knowledge.

    When Huxley and Darwin said they were agnostics, it is not that they did not believe it was possible. They had a belief and the belief was it “Was possible.” The fact was they also had a belief that they could not “know” as in confirm this belief as being true.

    Sure, they considered it possible that a god exists. So do most of today’s atheists. They also considered themselves lacking in total knowledge on the issue. So do most of today’s atheists. They were agnostics. So are most of today’s atheists. And also like today’s atheists, Huxley and Darwin (at the end of his life) lacked belief in any gods or any role for gods in the universe.

    The above is simply NOT what atheists general claim what they mean when they say so and s was also an atheist. Most of the time they openly admit that they are claiming the person does or did not believe in a god, when that was not the case…

    Correct, that is exactly what they’re claiming. And the claim is often correct! People like Einstein, Huxley, later-Darwin did indeed lack belief in any gods or any role for gods.

  271. #272 SC
    August 1, 2008

    Name the iconic person who is iconic for their intelligence, and who happens to be an atheist.

    Look, you twit, see my posts at #79, #87, and #93. Are Marie Curie and Simone de Beauvoir not iconic for their intelligence? If you mean “iconic” in the sense that someone can be recognized immediately from an image, then you are using a strange criterion, since several people here didn’t recognize some of the people in the poster. It would be a simple feat to put a person’s name below his or her picture.

  272. #273 Lago
    August 1, 2008

    “If someone lives their life without a belief in god influencing their thoughts and behaviour then they are, de facto, atheists. You do not have to make a claim to omnipotent certainity to be an atheist!”

    Huxley believed in Religious education for the young, and believed it would help society. He helped design some of the more modern aspects of the English educational system, and argued for the usage of Biblical Text. So yes, Huxley believed in having religion influence your life. At the same time he believed a God was possible, just as much as it was possible there was no God. So, in affect, Huxley has influenced by a possible belief in a God and it did influence his actions.

    This is why the bait and switch simply does not work here. I know you do not seem to realize you are bait and switching, but you are. We are dealing with a definition that the general public defines as a belief that “God does not exist.” This is how the general public today defines atheism, as well as how Huxley defined it. Huxley says clearly that this was not his position, so when you say to the general public, “Huxley was an atheist,” you are telling them a falsehood.

    You are simply using redefined terms in a debate that has not redefined those same said terms. This is disingenuous, and when used as such, rewrites history…

    Don’t do that

  273. #274 SC
    August 1, 2008

    You have time to abuse me, but not the time to form a coherant argument. Typical.

    Look SC, this is basic internet etiquette, and no, I’m not a Nazi about internet etiquette.

    Oh? Does basic internet etiquette also include reading the comments prior to yours so that when you start writing at least you know what the hell you’re talking about and you don’t say ridiculous things like “[t]here aren’t any infants in the poster either, and it’s not because the poster’s author is prejudiced against infants” in response to people who are making serious points?

    Your “argument” was dumb from start to finish, and it was an insult to those of us who were discussing the subject rationally.

  274. #275 Murky
    August 1, 2008

    If you’re going to make an atheist poster, at least put some real atheist on it. Why not just use Dawkins, PZ, Hitchens and a few other other notable atheists.

  275. #276 SC
    August 1, 2008

    I’m still laughing at the “who has no technical knowledge or valuable skills beyond a flair for writing” jab. Since when is a flair for writing a negligible skill? I think a couple of the people on that poster would beg to differ.

    By the way, J, I’ve mentioned the discipline in which I have a doctorate several times on this blog, and it isn’t political science.

  276. #277 Gray Lensman
    August 1, 2008

    Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) was certainly anti-religious to judge by his writings, but his best friend for 40 years and who conducted Clemens’ wedding and funeral, was Joseph Hopkins Twichell, the pastor of Asylum Hill Congregational Church in Hartford for 50 years. Their conversations must have been fascinating and hilarious!

  277. #278 Adrienne
    August 1, 2008

    Rieux @259:

    And “super rare exceptionally miraculous circumstances” is different from “moving the goalposts” how?

    Different in that Catholics who truly believe in Transubstantiation won’t be expecting a host to 1) bleed, 2) have DNA, 3) have physical properties of flesh, 4) etc. They might *hope* it does, and indeed many expressed hope that PZ’s wafer would bleed, but the absence of such miraculous happenings won’t convince them that Transubstantiation is hooey. Got it?

  278. #279 Jams
    August 1, 2008

    “If you mean “iconic” in the sense that someone can be recognized immediately from an image, then you are using a strange criterion, since several people here didn’t recognize some of the people in the poster.” – SC

    That’s exactly what I mean. “Marie Curie and Simone de Beauvoir” are not visually recognizable, and not necessarily strongly associated with intelligence (which is sad because they most certainly were very intelligent). I’m sorry if that wasn’t clear. I agree that a problem with the poster is that even the people who were chosen, aren’t really recognizable enough. But still, even the least recognizable people in this poster are more recognizable than Marie Curie.

    Consider that while it’s difficult finding faces that are recognizable, it’s even harder to find faces that are recognized primarily for their intelligence (smarts is almost as unpopular as atheism). While the white-maleness of potential candidates is unfortunate, certainly not representative of reality, and certainly a result of prejudices past and present, that doesn’t change the reality that the faces that have been made famous for smarts are exclusively (can noone think of at least one exception?) white and male.

  279. #280 Coel
    August 1, 2008

    Lago writes:

    Huxley … argued for the usage of Biblical Text. So yes, Huxley believed in having religion influence your life.

    Dawkins has also advocated using the Bible as a literary text in schools and in educating about religion. That is not the same as saying they either is influenced by a personal belief in God.

    At the same time he believed a God was possible, just as much as it was possible there was no God. So, in affect, Huxley has influenced by a possible belief in a God and it did influence his actions.

    That seems quite a stretch. If Huxley did indeed modify his actions as a precaution against the possibility of a God, then, yes, he was not really an atheist. From my knowledge of Huxley he did not really do that, but I’m not an expert on him so could be wrong.

    I know you do not seem to realize you are bait and switching, but you are. We are dealing with a definition that the general public defines as a belief that “God does not exist.”

    OK, but the point of that poster is to argue that the beliefs of the “new atheists” such as Dawkins etal are in line with those of notable past thinkers. On that point it makes more sense to compare their actual opinions, rather than worry about whether the word “atheism” meant different things to different people and in different times.

    Huxley says clearly that this was not his position, so when you say to the general public, “Huxley was an atheist,” you are telling them a falsehood.

    If by “Huxley was an atheist” I mean that Huxley’s opinions and stance was in line with those such as Dawkins — which is what the word “atheist” means to Joe Public today — then I am telling them the truth.

    You are simply using redefined terms in a debate that has not redefined those same said terms.

    And if in the process I help to educate the public into a less strawman description of “atheism” and towards some semblence of understanding of it, then that is also good.

  280. #281 Adrienne
    August 1, 2008

    Basically, what I’m trying to say is that all of these repeated arguments for “prove the wafer doesn’t have the properties of human flesh” are pointless, because Catholics don’t expect consecrated Hosts to have those properties anyway, unless God decides to perform a miracle. But the truly faithful (and I used to be one of ‘em) take it for granted that you can’t count on God to perform miracles for you. You can hope for it, pray for it, but you can’t count on God to manifest His supernatural powers in any obvious way, basically.

  281. #282 Feynmaniac
    August 1, 2008

    Jams
    #219
    “I can only think of one atheist who is iconicly associated with their intelligence: David Susuki (and he probably only makes sense in Canada).”

    #267
    “Name the iconic person who is iconic for their intelligence, and who happens to be an atheist.”

    Noam Chomsky
    Richard Feynmann
    Isaac Asimov
    Neil deGrasse Tyson
    Richard Dawkins
    George Orwell
    Stephen Jay Gould
    James Watson
    Carl Sagan
    Margaret Sanger
    Arthur C. Clarke
    Fredrich Nietzschhe
    Simone de Beauvoir

    I could keep going, but I think you get the point.

  282. #283 SEF
    August 1, 2008

    I’m not convinced Richard Dawkins is iconic for his intelligence but for his atheism. That doesn’t mean he isn’t intelligent of course but that it isn’t the attribute for which he is most known and recognised. Stephen Hawking is probably closer to being iconic for his intelligence (but tries to be a lot more coy about his views of religion).

  283. #284 Jams
    August 1, 2008

    “Your “argument” was dumb from start to finish, and it was an insult to those of us who were discussing the subject rationally.” – SC

    I did read the comments that preceded my post, as demonstrated by the the soundness of my argument. You may believe that saying “strange criteria” ends the matter. You’re mistaken.

    You can consider this the third debate you have lost with me.

    1) The “Can laws be seen as a codification of ethics?” argument (in a previous thread – for those who need to know). I argued they can be, you argued they can’t be. You were wrong.

    2) The “Does an insult qualify as sufficient content for criticism?” argument. You argued yes, I argued no. You conceded the point by finally making a substantive argument. If only it were a good one.

    3) The “your point is dumb?” debate. Perhaps ongoing, but trust me, you don’t have a left to stand on. You haven’t demonstrated that my point was “stupid”, but rather, that you have a thin grasp on the meaning of the word “icon”. Well done. Twit.

  284. #285 Adrienne
    August 1, 2008

    Did anyone mention Albert Schweitzer or Felix Adler yet?

  285. #286 SC
    August 1, 2008

    That’s exactly what I mean. “Marie Curie and Simone de Beauvoir” are not visually recognizable, and not necessarily strongly associated with intelligence (which is sad because they most certainly were very intelligent). I’m sorry if that wasn’t clear. I agree that a problem with the poster is that even the people who were chosen, aren’t really recognizable enough. But still, even the least recognizable people in this poster are more recognizable than Marie Curie.

    That’s some serious grasping. If Marie Curie wasn’t “necessarily strongly associated with intelligence,” then who is? She’s certainly more strongly associated with intelligence than Hemingway. What’s more, they were atheists, which should be a primary factor in choosing people for the poster. And you completely sidestepped my suggestion for putting names with the images (the poster’s an aesthetic disaster as it is, so it couldn’t hurt; not that it would anyway).

    And, as I suggested above, including some non-standard faces (of actual atheists) might lead people to some interesting and fruitful investigations and a better understanding of the history of atheism. As it stands, the poster is worthless.

  286. #287 Matt Penfold
    August 1, 2008

    How can someone who won two Nobel prizes not be associated with intelligence ?

    Very few people have ever won two Nobels, and only one woman.

  287. #288 SC
    August 1, 2008

    1) The “Can laws be seen as a codification of ethics?” argument (in a previous thread – for those who need to know). I argued they can be, you argued they can’t be. You were wrong.

    For those who need to know, Jams is referring to the “Hitchens under Torture” thread. That was most definitely not the argument that we were having. Please feel free to read that thread. In the real argument, Jams was wrong, was shown to be wrong, and disappeared from the thread when he was proven wrong.

    2) The “Does an insult qualify as sufficient content for criticism?” argument. You argued yes, I argued no. You conceded the point by finally making a substantive argument. If only it were a good one.

    I never argued that. I dismissed your argument as too stupid to engage with, and I stand by that assessment fully. In the end, I did so to a limited extent, because 1) I’m a compulsive debater, and 2) I wanted anyone who hadn’t read through the earlier comments here to see what was actually said. I don’t care in the slightest if you get it, which you likely never will.

    3) The “your point is dumb?” debate. Perhaps ongoing, but trust me, you don’t have a left to stand on. You haven’t demonstrated that my point was “stupid”, but rather, that you have a thin grasp on the meaning of the word “icon”. Well done. Twit.

    Again, I’ll leave it to the readers of this thread to come to their own conclusions. (And in case you’re unaware, “icon” has a number of meanings.)

  288. #289 Jams
    August 1, 2008

    “If Marie Curie wasn’t “necessarily strongly associated with intelligence” then who is?” – SC

    I thinking more of “Simone de Beauvoir”. And frankly, I don’t understand it either. I think they’re both brilliant. It doesn’t really matter anyway because they aren’t iconic.

    “She’s certainly more strongly associated with intelligence than Hemingway.” – SC

    But not more recognizable (not that he’s so recognizable himself, but still).

    “What’s more, they were atheists, which should be a primary factor in choosing people for the poster.” – SC

    The poster is useless if the faces aren’t recognizable. Billions of examples of unrecognizable atheist faces wouldn’t change that.

    “And you completely sidestepped my suggestion for putting names with the images.” – SC

    Solving the problems of the posture is irrelevent to determining whether the current posture, and it’s author, is racist or sexist. That said, I think it’s a good suggestions The field of possibilities would open up were names included.

    “And, as I suggested above, including some non-standard faces (of actual atheists) might lead people to some interesting and fruitful investigations and a better understanding of the history of atheism” – SC

    It might, but the “idiots” tag would make sense. It would look like you were calling them idiots.

    “As it stands, the poster is worthless.” – SC

    I agree, but primarily for different reasons (though you made good points).

    The problem I have with the poster is that it’s the same argument Christians make. “Look at all the smart Christians… there MUST be a god!” It’s a bullshit premise.

    You know, I have a sneaking suspicion that you thought my initial comment was somehow directed at you. I thought your preceding points were good ones. I was primarily commenting on the racist one-liners. Well, I consider them racist. You may not. Regardless, my initial comment wasn’t addressed to you in the least.

  289. #290 Nick Gotts
    August 1, 2008

    SC@268
    *blushes, shuffles feet*
    If I weren’t (very happily) married, I’d be wishing I were 15 years younger and living on a different continent!

  290. #291 Matt Penfold
    August 1, 2008

    Marie Curie is not iconic ?

    She has a charity named after her in the UK that looks after people with terminal cancer.

    She has an SI unit named after her.

    She was the first woman to win a Nobel, and the only one to win two.

    She is overcame incredible obstacles in both Poland and France to pursue a career in science.

    This is the very stuff that icons are made of. Read any book on the history of nuclear physics and Curie leads the way.

    Anyone who is not aware of Curie is deficient in their education.

  291. #292 kestrien
    August 1, 2008

    Umm, is that Magnum, PI, with the pipe?

  292. #293 SC
    August 1, 2008

    You know, I have a sneaking suspicion that you thought my initial comment was somehow directed at you. I thought your preceding points were good ones. I was primarily commenting on the racist one-liners. Well, I consider them racist. You may not. Regardless, my initial comment wasn’t addressed to you in the least.

    I didn’t think that. What I thought was that you failed to address the points I had made earlier, and that your argument was crap.

    The problem I have with the poster is that it’s the same argument Christians make. “Look at all the smart Christians… there MUST be a god!” It’s a bullshit premise.

    Duh. That wasn’t your argument (and if it had been, it would’ve been entirely unoriginal).

    It might, but the “idiots” tag would make sense. It would look like you were calling them idiots.

    Really? Marie Curie? The others who have been listed here?

    And frankly, I don’t understand it either.

    Don’t understand what? You’re the only one making this silly assertion.

    Solving the problems of the posture is irrelevent to determining whether the current posture, and it’s author, is racist or sexist.

    Nice nonsensical strawman.

  293. #294 tcb
    August 1, 2008

    Well, we could include Mother Teresa as a recognizable female atheist. [/Hitchens]

    Seriously, who is the audience for this type of poster? The goobers in my home state of Arkansas might just about recognize Einstein and Franklin, and perhaps Clemens. That’s my definition of “iconic” – those whom goobers recognize. This is clearly a personal bias.

    (Of course, the claims of atheism WRT the poster’s “icons” are highly dubious, but that’s a different discussion. The aforementioned goobers would regard “deism” as “militant atheism.”)

  294. #295 tcb
    August 1, 2008

    Oh, and Lincoln, of course.

  295. #296 Sloan
    August 1, 2008

    I’m glad to see at least one person has pointed out that this is an Argument from Authority and therefore logically fallacious.

  296. #297 casey
    August 1, 2008

    . The author has no choice but to communicate in an environment where the iconic face of intelligence is predominately white and male. Maybe in a hundred years this poster will look different, but not today.

    This is simply not true! Even in this post you will see many women listed that could have made this poster more diverse!

    it’s people like you who are only going to make equality possible “in a hundred years”.

  297. #298 Jams
    August 1, 2008

    “For those who need to know, Jams is referring to the “Hitchens under Torture” thread. That was most definitely not the argument that we were having. Please feel free to read that thread. In the real argument, Jams was wrong, was shown to be wrong, and disappeared from the thread when he was proven wrong.” – SC

    I left the thread because there wasn’t anything even approaching an honest debate. I proved you wrong repeatedly, and you just kept going. I finally abandoned you to your delusion. But, if you need a second trouncing, I’m more than willing to hear your argument again. Tell me SC, what did you think we were debating?

    “I never argued that. I dismissed your argument as too stupid to engage with, and I stand by that assessment fully. ” – SC

    That’s just embarrassing. You know, there’s really just a point where it’s better to concede. You’re a regular and I’d say, valued contributor to this site. Nobody is going to think less of you because you were mistaken.

    Wait a sec, are you actually arguing that dismissal is an adequate argument? Well, we’ll let that one slide. You’ve suffered enough for today.

    “Again, I’ll leave it to the readers of this thread to come to their own conclusions. ” – SC

    That’s probably best.

    ‘(And in case you’re unaware, “icon” has a number of meanings.)’ – SC

    As do most English words. You see – and you should pay attention because this is really important – in English, the meaning of a specific word is disambiguated from its many potential meanings by the context in which the word was used. What that means is that when one is discussing, for example, a poster, and one invokes the word “iconic” in reference to the subject matter of that poster, one is reasonably expected to associate that word with the appropriate definition. In this case, the strongest association happens to be the most common one.

    icon
    1. a picture, image, or other representation.

    …imagine that? Regardless, your mis-interpretation (even if it’s an understandable mis-interpretation) of a word I used appropriately, is hardly evidence of my “stupidity”, as you so elegantly intoned.

    Come on SC, you’re better than this. How about this. Concede that it was unfair to call me stupid without presenting an argument to back it up. I will concede to being an aggressive asshole who probably shouldn’t expect more, and we can drop the rest. A clean slate if you will. How about that?

  298. #299 SC
    August 1, 2008

    If I weren’t (very happily) married, I’d be wishing I were 15 years younger and living on a different continent!

    I’m flattered! (And your age wouldn’t be an issue.:)) As I tend to be cynical about men, I’m always touched to hear someone say that he’s (very) happily married or speak lovingly of his wife. She’s lucky.

  299. #300 mk
    August 1, 2008

    Hey! What’s Tom Seleck doing in there?

  300. #301 Patricia
    August 1, 2008

    #266 – Nick Gotts – Dammit Nick, I have my lovely Lammas bread & coffee all over the keyboard now. Thanks a lot! Next time your gonna get your flabber in an uproar, post a warning. Sheesh.

  301. #302 mk
    August 1, 2008

    Damn! Somebody beat me to it… ah well. Still funny. ;^}

  302. #303 SC
    August 1, 2008

    Oh, Jams, bite me. Your post at #298 shows just the sort of intellectual dishonesty and disordered thinking that led me originally to avoid you. Other people have pointed out flaws in your argument as well, and you have ignored them, foolishly believing yourself the victor.

    I’m incapable of carrying a grudge, and will be more than happy to engage with your concrete arguments in the future if and when you choose to present any.

  303. #304 bunnycatch3r
    August 1, 2008

    Oh, so Einstein didn’t believe in God!?
    Why does the picture show him praying?

  304. #305 Patricia
    August 1, 2008

    SC – You may need to borrow my old ten tined manure fork to clean up all that poo being flung your way. ;)

  305. #306 SC
    August 1, 2008

    SC – You may need to borrow my old ten tined manure fork to clean up all that poo being flung your way. ;)

    Thanks! If nothing else, this exchange will be of use in my metaphorical garden (though I did, admittedly, start it – but then, I’m a thug).

  306. #307 Joe Bob
    August 1, 2008

    Marx was a dogmatic pseudo-scientist whose philosophies were fundamentally faith-based.

    WTF? Are you talking about the same guy who said,

    Religion is the impotence of the human mind to deal with occurrences it cannot understand.

    or what?

  307. #308 Obeah
    August 1, 2008

    “Oh, so Einstein didn’t believe in God!?
    Why does the picture show him praying?”

    Yeah! And Franklin is into Gangsta Rap!

  308. #309 Jams
    August 1, 2008

    It’s door number two then is it? Do you have any dignity? Anyway, here we go. First, a quick response to Matt…

    “Marie Curie is not iconic ?” – Matt Penfold

    Read the other posts and it’ll become clearer. We’re talking about visually iconic. Iconic in the literal sense.

    “What I thought was that you failed to address the points I had made earlier, and that your argument was crap.” – SC

    The argument is flawless. Your points were irrelevant. If you have a reason for thinking your points were somehow relevant, please present them. Until then, well, you know how it works.

    “‘The problem I have with the poster is that it’s the same argument Christians make. “Look at all the smart Christians… there MUST be a god!” It’s a bullshit premise.’ -Jams

    Duh. That wasn’t your argument (and if it had been, it would’ve been entirely unoriginal).” – SC

    I didn’t say it was my argument. I said that was the problem I had with the poster. My initial comment (the one you took issue with) was a problem I had with criticisms of the poster. Very different things.

    “Really? Marie Curie? The others who have been listed here?” – SC

    Yes. When a viewer sees a picture of Marie Curie, and they don’t recognize her, they might just think it’s a random picture of an “idiot”. Do you have a problem with that? List someone who is iconic because of their intellect, an atheist, not white, and not male. Noone has yet. VISUALLY ICONIC people. Pay attention.

    “Nice nonsensical strawman.” – SC

    You don’t understand what strawman even means. Demonstrated by your inability to articulate why the target of your criticism is a strawman. Is this what they gave you a doctorate for?

    And, of course, casey…

    “Even in this post you will see many women listed that could have made this poster more diverse!” – casey

    Read through the posts above. We’re talking about visually iconic.

    “it’s people like you who are only going to make equality possible ‘in a hundred years’.” – casey

    Oh really? How would that be? Wait, let me guess, more fatuous beeking off. You’re a friend of SC’s aren’t you?

    “Your post at #298 shows just the sort of intellectual dishonesty and disordered thinking that led me originally to avoid you” – SC

    And let me guess, you feel it in your gutty-wuts? You know SC, things don’t miraculously become true because you intone them. You need to reason. You could demonstrate an example of “intellectual dishonesty”. For example, the claim that you’re avoiding me is intellectually dishonest, as demonstrated by a simple count of the number of posts you’ve written to me, and doubly because it was you who first addressed me in this thread.

    You see how simple it is? Do you see the difference reason makes?

    “Other people have pointed out flaws in your argument as well, and you have ignored them, foolishly believing yourself the victor.” – SC

    I have addressed every other commenter who has addressed me. Not a one of them has pointed out flaw. If you can demonstrate an example, I’m more than happy to listen.

    “I’m incapable of carrying a grudge, and will be more than happy to engage with your concrete arguments in the future if and when you choose to present any.” – SC

    How wonderfully disingenuous of you.

    You’ve demonstrated nothing but pride and arrogance. At this point, you might as well believe in god. You’ve already abandoned reason entirely, and thoroughly discredited yourself.

  309. #310 Jams
    August 1, 2008

    “SC – You may need to borrow my old ten tined manure fork to clean up all that poo being flung your way. ;)” – Patricia

    You might want to read the exchange before rush to your friend’s defense.

    “Thanks! If nothing else, this exchange will be of use in my metaphorical garden (though I did, admittedly, start it – but then, I’m a thug).” – SC

    At least you have the dignity to admit you started it. That’s the first step SC.

  310. #311 SEF
    August 1, 2008

    Marx was a dogmatic pseudo-scientist

    Groucho Marx would be quite easily recognisable (ie visually iconic) to a lot of people though. ;-)

  311. #312 Benjamin Franklin
    August 1, 2008

    My bottom line on this is that I, in no way, found the poster to be “Inspirational”

  312. #313 Benjamin Franklin
    August 1, 2008

    Maybe the tag line on the bottom of the poster should have read:

    Religion? Feh!

  313. #314 Patricia
    August 1, 2008

    Where’s MAJeff? This thread needs some serious blah, blah, blah.

  314. #315 SC
    August 1, 2008

    If anyone who was reading earlier thought I was being inordinately hard on Jams or dodging his so-called arguments out of fear, I assume #309 has put those concerns to rest.

  315. #316 Jams
    August 1, 2008

    Fishing for support from your fans? Pathetic.

  316. #317 Matt Penfold
    August 1, 2008

    Jams,

    I would recognise Curie.

    The fact you admit you would not reflects on your lack of education. Do not blame the rest of us for your ignorance.

  317. #318 Patricia
    August 1, 2008

    SC – Happy Lammas day!

  318. #319 Jams
    August 1, 2008

    “The fact you admit you would not reflects on your lack of education. Do not blame the rest of us for your ignorance.” – Matt Penfold

    It’s ridiculous to suggest that every educated person in the world should recognize Marie Curie on sight. I never said I didn’t recognize Marie Currie – I said most people wouldn’t recognize her on sight. Don’t blame me for your comprehension problems.

    Anything else you want to say?

  319. #320 SC
    August 1, 2008

    Fishing for support from your fans? Pathetic.

    It’s Opera buffa at this point, I’m afraid.

    And I’ll leave the thread noting that if the poster-creator is reasonably intelligent and had cared in the least about speaking to an audience more diverse than white, Anglo males by including other well-known figures, (s)he would have thought to use names about as quickly as I did (and should have thought of it even with these people).

  320. #321 Matt Penfold
    August 1, 2008

    I never said I didn’t recognize Marie Currie – I said most people wouldn’t recognize her on sight

    Most people would not recognise anyone from the poster either. The whole thing has a rather American bias, and a male Western Culture bias a well. Curie would probably be more recognisable in Europe than say Jefferson or Franklin.

  321. #322 SC
    August 1, 2008

    Most people would not recognise anyone from the poster either.

    Heck, several commenters on this thread didn’t recognize some of them, myself among them in one case.

  322. #323 StuV
    August 1, 2008

    Jams,

    You’ve demonstrated nothing but pride and arrogance

    Project much?

    ProTip: Shush, you’re embarrassing yourself.

  323. #324 Matt Penfold
    August 1, 2008

    Heck, several commenters on this thread didn’t recognize some of them, myself among them in one case.

    I got them all, but for some it was pretty much guess work. I did find it odd that apart from Darwin all were US citizens, albeit in some cases not for all of their lives.

  324. #325 Obeah
    August 1, 2008

    “The fact you admit you would not reflects on your lack of education.”

    That’s a wee bit unfair, ain’t it. I mean, I wouldn’t recognise Curie even though I know who she was.
    I am fairly certain few would recognise George Eliot (some wouldn’t know she was a woman). Gertrude Stein (and Alice)are iconic to me, but to others?

  325. #326 SC
    August 1, 2008

    I got them all, but for some it was pretty much guess work. I did find it odd that apart from Darwin all were US citizens, albeit in some cases not for all of their lives.

    The one I about whom I was unsure was Jefferson. I’m a descendant of one of the “founding fathers,” and I’m not sure I could pick him out of a line-up. I’m not very good with faces in general.

  326. Makes me proud to be a Diest. Maybe some of you atheists should switch sides.

  327. #328 Matt Penfold
    August 1, 2008

    Obeah,

    Yes it probably was a bit unfair. However I still maintain Curie is at least as recognisable as many in that poster. In fact I would put her ahead of all but Darwin and Einstein, but that is probably just me, and the fact I am British and not American. Of course were born elsewhere I might not recognise any of them.

  328. #329 Sven DiMilo
    August 1, 2008

    Comment by Randy Stimpson aka Intelligent Designer blocked

    Thanks again, killfile author!!

  329. #330 Jams
    August 1, 2008

    @SC
    Is that a reasonable expectation? Is the author reasonably intelligent? I think the entire premise of the poster is flawed. I’m not exactly going to expect a lot of deep problem solving.

    The author’s ability to think of alternate design options is hardly evidence of bias when one considers that a search for qualifying iconic figures leads to a list of white men. I am not convinced that there are obvious good alternatives, nor that I should reasonably expect that the author would have come to those answers him/herself.

    In the end, it’s ethically questionable to use this poster as an example of endemic racism and/or sexism. Of course, you didn’t say that, but others did, and it’s to them that I addressed my comment.

  330. #331 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    August 1, 2008

    Actually Sven for once, Randy’s comment wasn’t just troll spewings. Though I’m not sure why he’d be cheering for Darwin and Sagan.

  331. #332 Sven DiMilo
    August 1, 2008

    bah, you made me look!
    But wait–how can you be a “deist” and still think there’s something to “intelligent design”? I think he’s lying.
    Oh, no, wait–he claimed to be a “Diest.” I don’t even know what that is.

  332. #333 SEF
    August 1, 2008

    I’m from the UK too and additionally have some sort of partial face-blindness (prosopagnosia). So I’m not good at recognising even people I know by face rather than 3D body language. After that, my chronic inability to recall names cuts in. So I’m fairly hopeless at this sort of thing all round!

    Anyhow, the poster set does seem very US-biased to me. I’d know Darwin’s beard and Einstein’s bad hair days. I was also sure I recognised the bearded bloke top-centre – and Lincoln was my guess as to a name. Top-left was making me think of StarTrek – which didn’t seem very helpful. Top right turns out to be someone I should have known but, even now people have mentioned the names, it still just doesn’t look like Sagan to me (and he doesn’t carry the right associations). I’d have been more inclined to guess it was an uncharacteristic picture of Dawkins. I’d have had easily as much chance of guessing Marie Curie from her picture had she been in that context.

  333. #334 SC
    August 1, 2008

    I am not convinced that there are obvious good alternatives, nor that I should reasonably expect that the author would have come to those answers him/herself.

    I don’t care if you’re convinced or not. You’re not convinced that Marie Curie and Simone de Beauvoir are “necessarily strongly associated with intelligence,” for pity’s sake. There are, and we should reasonably expect it.

    In the end, it’s ethically questionable to use this poster as an example of endemic racism and/or sexism.

    Of course, you didn’t say that, but others did, and it’s to them that I addressed my comment.

    Your comment was addressed to “the many commentators who have implied that this poster lacks racial or gender diversity.” [I'll note that the use of "implied" here is strange. People stated explicitly that it does, and it in fact does.] You need to point to the specific comments you’re addressing.

  334. #335 SEF
    August 1, 2008

    @#327

    Makes me proud to be a Diest.

    Very Freudian.

  335. #336 truth machine, OM
    August 1, 2008

    I think PatrickHenry was joking here. The key phrase was “…they all recanted…” Plus a quick look at his blog might have given you a clue.

    I intentionally took his absurd comment at face value.

    I am sure you are a good guy, but not so much fun at parties I would bet.

    I would bet that you’re an idiot who leaps to ridiculous conclusions from insufficient evidence. People who only know me from parties would not recognize my online persona.

  336. #337 Obeah
    August 1, 2008

    @328
    Matt,
    That’s really interesting. I’m Canadian and I recognised everyone, although I could have been wrong about Tommy and Benny. Guess it shows the influence of Amerka on us. It’s obviously biased.
    However, Curie over Einstein?
    There are mugs and T-shirts and even soap with his visage. THE most iconic image would be Mona Lisa, but I can’t think of a better runner up than Einstein; never realised that that would be ‘Americentric’.

  337. #338 J
    August 1, 2008

    Curie was just a fairly good scientist, really. Certainly not a great one. An experimentalist plodder, not an ideas person. Let’s not exaggerate her achievements just because she was a she.

    (And no, this post does not make me a misogynist. I think there are thousands of women in the modern world who are far better scientists than Curie was.)

  338. #339 SEF
    August 1, 2008

    An experimentalist plodder, not an ideas person.

    Don’t go dissing experimentalists. Darwin was something of an experimental plodder himself. It’s called being methodical, persistent and careful not to leap to conclusions without checking possible falsifications. It’s a valuable trait in a scientist and hence hardly surprising that it brought good results.

  339. #340 Dev
    August 1, 2008

    Darwin, Twain, Einstein, and Sagan were definitely nonbelievers. _The Portable Atheist_ (ed. Christopher Hitchens) has articles by all four of them that make this pretty clear.

    Einstein is the one people debate the most–you could argue that he was a “naturalistic pantheist”, but naturalistic pantheists are essentially atheists because what they refer to as “God” are simply the laws of nature that all atheists believe in. This is a semantic differentiation, not a differentiation based on actual belief. A lot of people confuse pantheism and deism, which is a huge mistake–deists believe in a “God” that atheists don’t believe in, whereas naturalistic pantheists like Spinoza just describe atheism in the language of theism. Einstein’s recent letter where he calls belief in God “childish” seems to make even the pantheistic label almost inappropriate.

    Lincoln was definitely not a Christian, definitely a “doubter” (and an admirer of Thomas Paine), but it’s hard to say for sure that he was an “atheist” (Susan Jacoby’s _Freethinkers_ has a good chapter on this subject).

    Jefferson is complicated. He said to “question boldly even the existence of a God” but seemed to be a deist in most of his writings. He called himself a “Christian” as well, but this is not to be confused with theistic Christianity as he took a razor to the Bible and cut out the supernatural stuff to compile the “Jefferson Bible”–he simply thought of Jesus as a great moral teacher and didn’t buy into His divinity.

    Franklin was a deist, although he certainly didn’t care for the Christian church.

    Hemingway, I’m not too sure about other than that he’s quoted as saying all thinking men are atheists.

  340. #341 spencer
    August 1, 2008

    Jams,

    Please. I don’t drink coffee, and therefore have to ease slowly into the morning. That’s too much stupid this early in the day.

    Posted by: SC | August 1, 2008 9:46 AM

    Actually, Jams makes perfect sense to me.

    In complaining about the poster designer’s choices, people seem to be forgetting that the goal of the poster is to communicate the fact that many well-known brilliant people have been atheists. In order to do that most effectively – in other words, to the largest audience possible in the least amount of time possible – he or she had to pick the most iconic, recognizable faces available. As it happens, given our history, those faces are far more likely to be white and male than anything else. How many people do you know who would recognize, for example, Sylvia Plath on sight – and how many of them do not teach English? I’m pretty educated, and I wouldn’t recognize her.

    Yeah, the poster is flawed, but it’s trying to communicate a big idea quickly to as large an audience as possible. You can’t do that if you have to explain the identity of everyone in the poster. Sorry if Ursula Leguin doesn’t have as famous a face as Carl Sagan, but that’s just how it is. Deal.

  341. #342 Jams
    August 1, 2008

    “I don’t care if you’re convinced or not.” – SC

    I don’t care that you don’t care. You drastically overestimate the esteem of your argument. You think it’s reasonable to expect that the author should come up with the same idea you did. Why is that a reasonable expectation? Because you say that anyone “reasonably intelligent” should come up with the same solutions as you? Can someone actually be unreasonably intelligent? How exactly does that work?

    Your rebuttal is completely fatuous.

    “You’re not convinced that Marie Curie and Simone de Beauvoir are ‘necessarily strongly associated with intelligence,’ for pity’s sake. There are, and we should reasonably expect it.” – SC

    Sure, I think it’s reasonable to expect that people SHOULD associate them with intelligence. That doesn’t mean it’s reasonable to expect that they do. But frankly, this is a tangential thread and you know it. Should I assume by your focus on it that you are conceding the initial point? Why do I suspect you just want to change the subject and hope it all goes away?

    “Your comment was addressed to ‘the many commentators who have implied that this poster lacks racial or gender diversity.’ [I'll note that the use of "implied" here is strange. People stated explicitly that it does, and it in fact does.] You need to point to the specific comments you’re addressing.” – SC

    Let’s quote that accurately.

    “With all due respect to the many commentators who have implied that this poster lacks racial or gender diversity: you’re missing the mark.” – me

    First of all. The racial and gender diversity among the set of iconic (for being intelligent) atheists ranges from white to white and male to male. This poster DOES represent the racial and gender diversity of that set. The problem isn’t that the poster lacks racial and gender diversity, or that the author maliciously didn’t expand the set of reasonable choices, but that the diversity of icons doesn’t reflect the diversity in non-iconic humans. That, is no fault of the author, or the poster. Let me say it more directly…

    The set of available icons lacks diversity, not the poster.

    So, no, the poster DOESN’T lack racial and gender diversity. It would be like claiming that a poster about pregnancy lacks diversity because there are no men in it.

    I used “imply” because most of the comments were thinly veiled charges. Things like “All white dudes.” You know, the predictable racist garbage I’ve grown to expect from half-wits.

  342. #343 scooter
    August 1, 2008

    # 342

    so what color and gender do you think the poster artist was?

    of course that would just be coincident,

    just wonderin’

  343. #344 AgnosticTheocrat
    August 1, 2008

    Atheism is a nebulous word with varying definitions. Anyone who claims that they are SURE there is no Zeus is lying or deluded, because we can’t be SURE of anything. Any honest Atheist is really an Agnostic that is functionally an Atheist. In that sense, being an Atheist means knowing that in all probability there is no God, and acting during one’s daily life as if it’s a certainty.

    I’d say many of these men fit that description.

  344. #346 J
    August 1, 2008

    SC is suggesting that people other than white males should have been included in the poster just for the sake of their not being white males. Not only does that discriminate against white males — it’s horribly patronizing too. I would find that deeply offensive if I belonged to one of the groups SC thinks deserves “special treatment”.

  345. #347 scooter
    August 1, 2008

    we can’t be SURE of anything.

    I’m sure there’s no water on the sun.
    Does that make me religious, solipsist, deluded, psychotic or what?

    I’ve been wondering what to call myself all day, help me out on this one.

  346. #348 scooter
    August 1, 2008

    I would find that deeply offensive if I belonged to one of the groups SC thinks deserves “special treatment”.

    I’m sure the women and non-pinkBoys of the world are proud to have you as their spokesperson.

    I know I am

  347. #349 SC
    August 1, 2008

    In complaining about the poster designer’s choices, people seem to be forgetting that the goal of the poster is to communicate the fact that many well-known brilliant people have been atheists. In order to do that most effectively – in other words, to the largest audience possible in the least amount of time possible – he or she had to pick the most iconic, recognizable faces available. As it happens, given our history, those faces are far more likely to be white and male than anything else.

    This may surprise you, but more than half of the “broadest audience possible” consists of females and non-whites. As a female, I can tell you that if the goal is to “inspire” me (and we’ve all dealt with the fact that it’s a stupid means of going about this), it fails and fails miserably. People in minority groups are not particularly apt to be inspired by the atheist beliefs of a bunch of white men, especially when some of them were involved in our oppression. I speak only for myself, but I’m teling you that I tend to be inspired by the examples of others who are more like me. The fact that these men are so “recognizable” does not make them effectively inspiring, and their exclusive homogeneity puts me off.

    How many people do you know who would recognize, for example, Sylvia Plath on sight – and how many of them do not teach English? I’m pretty educated, and I wouldn’t recognize her.

    Why don’t you address some of the examples we’ve been talking about?

    Yeah, the poster is flawed, but it’s trying to communicate a big idea quickly to as large an audience as possible. You can’t do that if you have to explain the identity of everyone in the poster.

    Easy – include their names.

    Sorry if Ursula Leguin doesn’t have as famous a face as Carl Sagan, but that’s just how it is. Deal.

    Sorry you’re a complete tool. Deal.

  348. #350 Dustin
    August 1, 2008

    because we can’t be SURE of anything.

    Self-refuting statement is self-refuting.

  349. #351 SC
    August 1, 2008

    I’m sure the women and non-pinkBoys of the world are proud to have you as their spokesperson.

    Yes, as a woman I’m just tickled pink. I’m sure if I were an Islamic woman I’d be even happier.

  350. #352 Jams
    August 1, 2008

    “so what color and gender do you think the poster artist was?” – scooter

    American.

    Honestly, could be any gender or race. Obviously American though.

  351. #353 Dustin
    August 1, 2008

    As a female, I can tell you that if the goal is to “inspire” me (and we’ve all dealt with the fact that it’s a stupid means of going about this), it fails and fails miserably. The fact that these men are so “recognizable” does not make them effectively inspiring, and their exclusive homogeneity puts me off.

    I’m very sorry that you’re so deficient in imagination and intellect that you feel you must share a gender with someone to admire their accomplishments. I’m even more sorry that you evidently judge something to be worthy of entertaining or accepting based on whether its proponents show any kind of “exclusive homogeneity”.

  352. #354 Obeah
    August 1, 2008

    “Atheism is a nebulous word with varying definitions.”

    Believe me, I do understand what you’re saying but I don’t like being called agnostic. I’m certain there is no god (are no gods).
    I am sure my brother died. I am sure the paper weight on my desk is not a sencient being. Now it may be that my brother will one day knock at my door, or my paper weight will greet me with a heartfelt, “Hello there”. Does this mean that, if I’m “honest”, I have to leave room for his eventual salutation?

  353. #355 truth machine, OM
    August 1, 2008

    Not only does that discriminate against white males

    BWAHAHAHA! Yes, of course, diversity discriminates against white males, poor things.

  354. #356 BobbyEarle
    August 1, 2008

    truth machine @336…

    I intentionally took his absurd comment at face value.

    I don’t really know what this means. The “absurd comment” was a joke, which PatrickHenry pretty much confirmed later in the thread @221. Taking a joke at face value means that you didn’t get the joke, which is not a big deal at all; it’s the “intentional” part that has me confused.

    I was only teasing a bit when I said that you might not be fun at parties, cuz, you know…you didn’t get the joke and all. I really had no intention of ruffling your feathers.

    I would bet that you’re an idiot who leaps to ridiculous conclusions from insufficient evidence.

    The conclusion I jumped to was that you just didn’t get the joke, and that conclusion was based on your response to PatrickHenry’s comment. Would ridiculously concluding that I am an idiot based on insufficient evidence be considered ironic?

  355. #357 truth machine, OM
    August 1, 2008

    Anyone who claims that they are SURE there is no Zeus is lying or deluded, because we can’t be SURE of anything.

    You seem pretty sure of that.

    I’m quite sure that your view of epistemology is grossly naive and uninformed. Here’s a little help from the dictionary:

    free from doubt as to the reliability, character, action, etc., of something: to be sure of one’s data.

    confident, as of something expected: sure of success.

    convinced, fully persuaded, or positive: to be sure of a person’s guilt.

    assured or certain beyond question: a sure victory.

    Being certain is a state of mind, and does not require either dishonesty or delusion.

  356. #358 anonymouse
    August 1, 2008

    #344 – simply the only useful comment here:

    Atheism is a nebulous word with varying definitions. Anyone who claims that they are SURE there is no Zeus is lying or deluded, because we can’t be SURE of anything. Any honest Atheist is really an Agnostic that is functionally an Atheist. In that sense, being an Atheist means knowing that in all probability there is no God, and acting during one’s daily life as if it’s a certainty.
    I’d say many of these men fit that description.

    “I’m sure there’s no water on the sun.
    Does that make me religious, solipsist, deluded, psychotic or what?”

    That would make you deluded. You really have no way of knowing that your brain isn’t sitting in a tank being fed information that makes it seem there is such a thing as the sun. Oh sure, you’re fairly certain of it, as am I – but you don’t really know. Try a potent entheogen sometime, you’ll see what I mean – you are placing much too much trust in your senses.

  357. #359 MB
    August 1, 2008

    Actually, the poster only says atheism was good enough for these idiots. It doesn’t claim that they were all atheists. Which of these idiots would have agreed an atheist shouldn’t be permitted to hold public office?

  358. #360 truth machine, OM
    August 1, 2008

    I don’t really know what this means.

    Helping to confirm that you’re an idiot.

    Taking a joke at face value means that you didn’t get the joke

    Wrong, further confirming that you’re an idiot.

    you didn’t get the joke and all

    Wrong, further confirming that you’re an idiot.

    Would ridiculously concluding that I am an idiot based on insufficient evidence be considered ironic?

    No, it’s called a parallel construction, moron. Sorry that you didn’t get the “I bet” joke.

  359. #361 SC
    August 1, 2008

    You think it’s reasonable to expect that the author should come up with the same idea you did. Why is that a reasonable expectation?

    I said it was a reasonable expectation of a reasonably intelligent person who cared about speaking to a broader group than white, Anglo males. Of course, you don’t consider that important, but many of us do, and if the poster’s creator really wants to inspire a broad audience, then our perspective should reasonably be taken into account, and the means of accomplishing this goal are easily found.

    Sure, I think it’s reasonable to expect that people SHOULD associate them with intelligence. That doesn’t mean it’s reasonable to expect that they do.

    You have offered no evidence that people do not. It’s a ridiculous assertion, and flatly contradicted by the evidence.

    Let’s quote that accurately.

    Yeah. The fuller context made a huge difference there.

    First of all. The racial and gender diversity among the set of iconic (for being intelligent) atheists ranges from white to white and male to male.

    Says you. And you’ve been proven wrong.

    This poster DOES represent the racial and gender diversity of that set.

    A set you’ve defined. The set should be well-known atheists admired for their intelligence. Since you’ve defined the set so stupidly, the rest of your analysis is flawed.

    And it’s been pointed out to you repeatedly that your idea of who is iconic does not apply to others in the way you think it does.

    I used “imply” because most of the comments were thinly veiled charges. Things like “All white dudes.” You know, the predictable racist garbage I’ve grown to expect from half-wits.

    Racist? You’re insane. They are all white dudes, jackass. To us non-whites/dudes, that someone would make such a poster and that other white dudes wouldn’t notice or remark upon its whiteness and dudeness is unsurprising, but it is still annoying and disappointing, and we have both the right and the obligaion to speak up about it.

  360. #362 William
    August 1, 2008

    I made one of those a while back (hit the URL for an image). The text is a gaming joke, and Darwin is in it, but hey, we’ve got a gal — Janeane Garofalo! :^)

  361. #363 Matt Penfold
    August 1, 2008

    Obeah,

    I think you might have misunderstood me, or I was not as clear as I might have been.

    In terms of recognisability (if that is a word) I would Einstein and Darwin (in that order) before Curie. However I would find Curie more recognisable than the others, with perhaps the exception of Lincoln but I probably only recognise him because I have an interest in military history.

  362. #364 Matt Penfold
    August 1, 2008

    I cannot be sure, but I would bet that the person who designed that poster is a white male American.

    Just a guess, based on the lack of non-whites, no females and all bar one being Americans as some stage.

  363. #365 leki
    August 1, 2008

    #349
    “As a female, I can tell you that if the goal is to “inspire” me (and we’ve all dealt with the fact that it’s a stupid means of going about this), it fails and fails miserably

    As a female, I couldn’t give a shit if the poster had 8 women, two men and a monkey. Or 13 men, 4 chickens and a toothbrush.

  364. #366 SC
    August 1, 2008

    I’m very sorry that you’re so deficient in imagination and intellect that you feel you must share a gender with someone to admire their accomplishments.

    That is an absurdly exaggerated version of what I said.

    I’m even more sorry that you evidently judge something to be worthy of entertaining or accepting based on whether its proponents show any kind of “exclusive homogeneity”.

    So if you’re designing materials for young women to inspire them to go into science, you shouldn’t worry if all of the voices, images, and examples of scientists provided are men? No one should bother to show Black or Hispanic kids Black or Hispanic role models in the sciences? Do you not think that Neil deGrasse Tyson is someone black kids can relate to more than Carl Sagan?

  365. #367 truth machine, OM
    August 1, 2008

    Actually, the poster only says atheism was good enough for these idiots. It doesn’t claim that they were all atheists.

    That’s frankly disingenuous.

    Which of these idiots would have agreed an atheist shouldn’t be permitted to hold public office?

    Lincoln, who said “Without the assistance of the Divine Being who ever attended him, I cannot succeed.” I believe he made a more explicit statement about belief being a requirement, but I can’t find it at the moment.

    Also, Franklin said that faith was good for the public order.

  366. #368 BobbyEarle
    August 1, 2008

    Well, being an idiot is just my online persona.

    Honestly, I always enjoy, and appreciate your comments here…such as your #357…always well thought out. So in the interest of civility, I will concede your point that I am an idiot, and I will withdraw my statement that you might not be any fun at parties.

  367. #369 SC
    August 1, 2008

    As a female, I couldn’t give a shit if the poster had 8 women, two men and a monkey. Or 13 men, 4 chickens and a toothbrush.

    Thanks for sharing. Good luck with that.

  368. #370 truth machine, OM
    August 1, 2008

    Oh sure, you’re fairly certain of it, as am I – but you don’t really know.

    Wrong. Knowledge is true justified belief (with the caveat that the justification must actually be dependent on the truth of the matter, to avoid Gettier cases). If that which we are certain of actually is true then it is in fact knowledge. The only things that one justifiably believes but doesn’t really know are those things that are false. The phrase “don’t really know” as you use it is semantically incoherent, based on some sort of mystical concept of knowledge that is divorced from what the word actually means.

  369. #371 SC
    August 1, 2008

    That is an absurdly exaggerated version of what I said.

    Which I may have overstated in the first place, as I was writing in haste. Look, I started to become an atheist after reading Cosmos as a kid. I’ve quoted Sagan here as much as anyone (though probably not as much as I’ve quoted Kropotkin), and consider him a personal hero. I also referred in my posts above to a number of other male atheists whom I admire. That doesn’t mean I want to see the image of intelligent atheism being presented as a one of white males. It’s inaccurate, and it excludes other people and movements that inspire me and that are worth studying. Is that so hard to understand?

  370. #372 J
    August 1, 2008

    It’s quite simple. The vast majority of historically famous Western figures are both white and male. In a typical selection of several historically significant Western people, you’re only likely to get someone who’s not a white male if you deliberately look for such a person. So basically, you would probably have to select on the basis of skin colour or gender to not get a bunch of white males in a poster like the one above.

  371. #373 leki
    August 1, 2008

    SC:

    I was merely being sarcastic. I don’t feel that I have suffered because of a lack of female role models. I chose my path based on what I wanted, and I didn’t feel that I couldn’t enter the sciences because the posters always showed men.

  372. #374 truth machine, OM
    August 1, 2008

    Well, being an idiot is just my online persona.

    Then consider my comments directed only at your online persona, and not you. :-)

    Just FYI: although I didn’t check his URL link, I was pretty sure that PatrickHenry’s “Lady Hope” comment was a joke — the “they all” was particularly a clue — but I decided to play it straight for the sake of any lurkers. That’s what “I intentionally took his absurd comment at face value” means.

  373. #375 truth machine, OM
    August 1, 2008

    It’s quite simple.

    Sure, if you ignore everything that has been written here that undermines your claim, and then simply repeat your claim, as you are wont to do.

    you’re only likely to get someone who’s not a white male if you deliberately look for such a person

    And you’re only likely to get a bunch of atheists if you deliberately look for them. But I can understand why you would poo poo being deliberative. The fact is that this poster does a lousy job of depicting atheists, even of the white male variety, so a bit more deliberation of any sort would have been a good thing.

  374. #376 BobbyEarle
    August 1, 2008

    truth machine @374…

    Then consider my comments directed only at your online persona, and not you. :-)

    That explains why my online persona is sitting the corner, pouting… ;)

    Hey, no sweat. Actually, you might want to find some time to wander over to his site, there are some good things there.

    And thanks for the Gettier reference, it prodded me to go and read up on him a bit.

  375. #377 SC
    August 1, 2008

    I was merely being sarcastic. I don’t feel that I have suffered because of a lack of female role models. I chose my path based on what I wanted, and I didn’t feel that I couldn’t enter the sciences because the posters always showed men.

    Perhaps you haven’t, but others have. And you may have chosen your path based on what you wanted, but there are a lot of women and girls who know what they want but don’t see other women accomplishing it – not because they haven’t or aren’t, but because they’re not given public attention – and believe that it’s not realistic for them to pursue that path.

    In any event, there are famous female and non-white atheist scientists/intellectuals who would have been perfectly suited to that poster who weren’t included, while it features some white men whose atheism is at the least arguable.

  376. #378 truth machine, OM
    August 1, 2008

    You really have no way of knowing that your brain isn’t sitting in a tank being fed information that makes it seem there is such a thing as the sun.

    David Chalmers argues in http://consc.net/papers/matrix.html that you would in fact be correct that there’s such a thing as the sun.

  377. #379 Matt Penfold
    August 1, 2008

    As an example of a non-white Atheist, how about Salman Rushdie ? You would have to be pretty ignorant of the world not to know who he is.

  378. #380 SC
    August 1, 2008

    By the way, while we’re (or at least I’m) roughly on the subject:

    http://www.broad.mit.edu/diversity/mites.html

  379. #381 Pygmy Loris
    August 1, 2008

    My $.02 is that the only face on the poster that would be recognizable to the vast majority of Americans is Lincoln. That’s based on me briefly showing this to my boyfriend and his friends (all of whom have at most a high school diploma).

    However, many of the faces are recognizable to the educated, and I would argue that there are tons of educated theists who might think a little bit more if they knew Marie Curie (or some of the other “real” atheists mentioned on this thread) was an atheist. Too many people assume that having an education makes you more receptive (I’m not sure if this is the word I’m looking for) to atheism, but I know quite a few PhDs who are theists, but none who are YECs. In the past I have been shocked by friends with MAs spouting the Catholic transubstantiation non-sense.

    I will say that two women I strongly associate with intelligence, Marie Curie and Rosalind Franklin, would both be recognizable to me in a poster.

  380. #382 Pygmy Loris
    August 1, 2008

    That would make you deluded. You really have no way of knowing that your brain isn’t sitting in a tank being fed information that makes it seem there is such a thing as the sun. Oh sure, you’re fairly certain of it, as am I – but you don’t really know. Try a potent entheogen sometime, you’ll see what I mean – you are placing much too much trust in your senses.

    Posted by: anonymouse | August 1, 2008 4:48 PM

    Run for the hills! Post-Modernism has entered the arena!

    Gack! This is stupid. It’s like Shanks and Tilley going on and on about how there is no knowable past and then talking about the archaeology they do. If the past is inherently unknowable then why bother digging square holes. It’s hard work and apparently has no purpose. Plus, if they stop there will be more cash for the rest of us to use. :)

  381. #383 leki
    August 1, 2008

    SC:

    Yes, there are certainly worthy female atheists that could have been included on the poster, but I am pretty sure that this is one of those ‘inspirational’ posters making the email chain-letter rounds and the creator was just joining in on the fun. It’s being taken very seriously on here (which is great for encouraging a rather interesting discussion).

    In terms of actual recruitment posters/inspirational posters, I think the tide is turning away from all white male representation. For instance, in my hometown there is a huge recruitment drive underway to encourage Aboriginals to enter the health field. There are posters on all the trains and buses showing various Aboriginals as doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, etc. I think it’s a good thing.

    But I don’t know if we need to push the female representation as hard as we might have in the past. Currently, women outnumber men in universities in Canada. 59% of medical school graduates were female in 2006; 53% of law graduates were women.

    I wonder, then, if the reason I didn’t feel limited in my choice of available careers because the gender bias is in my favour up here.

  382. #384 Pygmy Loris
    August 1, 2008

    leki,

    I wonder what the statistics are here in the States. I know African-American women have higher rates of college attendance and graduation than African-American males, but I’m not sure about other ethnic groups. I do know that one university I have attended is concerned that there are not enough men in general attending. The question came up as to how to attract more men to the university. I really couldn’t believe they were having that discussion in the 21st century.

  383. #385 leki
    August 1, 2008

    Pygmy Loris

    I found this:

    http://www.prb.org/Articles/2007/CrossoverinFemaleMaleCollegeEnrollmentRates.aspx?p=1

    Women might outnumber men in post-secondary institutions, but there is still a significant disparity within the workforce. I wonder if the same tactics used to increase the numbers of women in universities could be used to even out the imbalance in salaries and promotions for men and women once they’re in their field of choice.

  384. #386 Andre
    August 1, 2008

    I sincerally did not understand this poster. Only Mark Twain and Ernest Hemingway were atheists. Einstein was a jew and became deist. Lincoln, Ben Franklin and Jefferson were christians. Carl Sagan and Charles Darwin were agnostics.

    This poster is not true. Some atheists that wold be nice in there wold be: Dawkins, Thomas Edison, Marie Curie, Karl Marx, Isaac Asimov, Richard Feynaman and many others.

    A list of famous people who are atheist can be found here: http://www.celebatheists.com/?title=Category:Atheist

    Best regards form Brazil.

  385. #387 truth machine, OM
    August 1, 2008

    Actually, agnostic means that you believe that there cannot be any evidence either way. It is not simply that one does not see any evidence. That is, “agnostic” does not mean “doubt” or “undecided”, it means “cannot know” (or “cannot be known”).

    So much error and confusion in this thread. Indeed “agnostic” means “without knowledge”, but that’s not at all the same as “cannot be any evidence”. Not even Sagan got it right, with his erroneous “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”. Evidence is simply an observation that lends credence to a belief, and the failure to find something lends credence to the belief that it doesn’t exist. I think underlying the confusion is the mistaken notion that there can’t be evidence for false claims.

    In the case of God, that the world seems to be as it would be if there were no God, and that the empirical claims by the religious have over and over again been shown to be false, are evidence that there is no God. The question is then whether that evidence is sufficient justification to claim that one can know that there is no God. I hold that it is, as someone who understands that knowledge is justified true belief, not some sort of impossible mystical direct access to truth that we can’t obtain unless we can guarantee that our beliefs are correct. For justified beliefs to be knowledge, they only have to be true, not guaranteed to be true. “I know there is no God” is true iff there is no God, just as “I know Booth shot Lincoln” is true iff Booth shot Lincoln. If we insist that one must be agnostic about the latter, then the words “agnostic” and “know” are useless.

  386. #388 Tony Sidaway
    August 1, 2008

    The first thing I did on looking at that great poster was to look for Richard Feynman (I assumed he was an atheist, and checking now I see that Wikipedia quotes him as saying in a letter that he was “as strong an atheist as [his interlocutor] was likely to find”).

    So yes, he’s missing. And I’m not even a merkin.

  387. #389 SC
    August 1, 2008

    It’s being taken very seriously on here

    Well, that’s what we do here. :)

    In terms of actual recruitment posters/inspirational posters, I think the tide is turning away from all white male representation. For instance, in my hometown there is a huge recruitment drive underway to encourage Aboriginals to enter the health field. There are posters on all the trains and buses showing various Aboriginals as doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, etc. I think it’s a good thing.

    It’s a great thing! But that’s part of my point. If no one had thought about it and intentionally selected those images, aboriginal people would probably almost never see them. Instead, it would be all non-aboriginals, all the time. It can have a very negative and discouraging effect.

    But I don’t know if we need to push the female representation as hard as we might have in the past. Currently, women outnumber men in universities in Canada. 59% of medical school graduates were female in 2006; 53% of law graduates were women.

    We should never rest – it takes little time for things to regress. Here in the US, according to the last report I saw from the NSF, women have comprised steadily about 42% of the doctoral recipients in the sciences and engineering,* and they tend to be clustered in certain fields (as probably the female medical school grads in Canada tend to be in certain specialties). The picture for other minorities is pretty grim. A very good study that came out a few years ago looked at graduate students (I can’t remember which disciplines were represented), seeking to understand why some people finished and others didn’t. They found that having a mentor was the most important factor, and that women and black/hispanic people were often at a disadvantage here, especially in terms of finding mentors who were women or black or hispanic. It’s not that I can only relate to or be inspired by others exactly like me. My entire committee was (very accomplished) white men, as were the outside readers at my defense. They’ve been great mentors, but I would have loved to have had women in that role.

    Incidentally, I emailed Penguin Academic after the AAAS meeting to complain that their ad in the meeting guide contained only 9% books by women. They responded immediately and were super attentive (which makes me think very highly of them), but they said that this was an accurate reflection of the percentage of female science writers they publish. I suggested that they think about some programs to encourage female science writers. I would love to see more efforts in this area.

    *The analysis of this data provided by the NSF was one of the stupidest things I’ve ever read. I actually wrote a fairly lengthy piece about it.

  388. #390 scooter
    August 1, 2008

    Wow, come to think of it, what a wonderful opportunity to put Ayn Rand and Karl Marx on the same poster.

    IS NOTHING SACRED!!!!

  389. #391 Tony Sidaway
    August 1, 2008

    I’d knock out Lincoln and put in Tom Paine, if you’re scouting for deists.

    There are no women there. Marie Curie became an agnostic at an earlier, just after Huxley invented the word, according to Robert William Reid’s biography. Ayn Rand, of course, though I confess that objectivists generally make me feel queasy. There are probably dozens of others.

  390. #392 truth machine, OM
    August 1, 2008

    “Try a potent entheogen sometime, you’ll see what I mean – you are placing much too much trust in your senses.”

    This is stupid.

    Indeed. Perhaps anonymouse can explain just how we would “see” what s/he means.

    Hint: If our senses are demonstrably unreliable under the effect of strong drugs, that tells us something about their reliability when not under the effect of strong drugs. And if we can’t even be aware of whether we are under the effect of strong drugs, then it’s absurd to offer up the evident (“you’ll see”) difference in support of one’s argument.

    Chalmers’ “The Matrix as Metaphysics” that I cited above is a pretty good way out of the radical epistemological skepticism. Also, Daniel Dennett provided a good escape in the opening pages of “Consciousness Explained”, noting that the creating a consistent envatted experience is computationally intractible. Even though we can’t formally prove that we aren’t envatted, we can show that the odds are minuscule, and thus our belief that we aren’t is well-justified.

  391. #393 truth machine, OM
    August 1, 2008

    Einstein was a jew and became deist.

    Einstein was Jewish by ethnicity but was never observant; nor was he a deist, as he didn’t believe in any sort of entity that deserved the name “God”.

    Lincoln, Ben Franklin and Jefferson were christians.

    Neither Franklin or Jefferson believed in the divinity of Christ.

  392. #394 Tony Sidaway
    August 1, 2008

    I’d add John Stuart Mill.

    And possibly J M Keynes, of whom Lytton Strachey (who should have known) apparently wrote “A liberal and a sodomite, an atheist and a statistician.” It’s hard to know which attribute the salivating right-wing blogs that like to repeat this phrase regard as the more revolting: liberal or statistician.

  393. #395 SC
    August 1, 2008

    There are probably dozens of others.

    Allow me to make the introductions: Tony, meet the thread. Thread, this is Tony. :)

  394. #396 Kseniya
    August 1, 2008

    Lincoln was no Christian either.

  395. #397 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    August 1, 2008

    The more I look at that poster, the more convinced I am Ben Franklin is gonna come out of it and kick all our asses.

    He could do it, too. He’s Benjamin Fucking Franklin.

  396. #398 truth machine, OM
    August 1, 2008

    Lincoln was no Christian either.

    Apparently not; here is his contemporary, Robert Ingersoll, on the matter: http://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/ingerlinc.htm

  397. #399 NanuNanu
    August 1, 2008

    Andre #386:
    I was almost positive Sagan was an out and out atheist.
    Anyone care to enlighten me with some links?

  398. #400 truth machine, OM
    August 1, 2008

    I’d knock out Lincoln and put in Tom Paine, if you’re scouting for deists.

    According to Ingersoll, “Lincoln, so far as his religious opinions were concerned, substantially agreed with Franklin, Jefferson, Paine and Voltaire”.

  399. #401 truth machine, OM
    August 1, 2008

    Anyone care to enlighten me with some links?

    Why are people so fucking intellectually lazy? It might help to read, or at least search the thread. See #40; google yields http://www.celebatheists.com/index.php?title=Carl_Sagan

    Carl Edward Sagan (1934-1997) was an astronomer and science popularizer.

    In a March 1996 profile by Jim Dawson in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Sagan talked about his then-new book The Demon Haunted World and was asked about his personal spiritual views: “My view is that if there is no evidence for it, then forget about it,” he said. “An agnostic is somebody who doesn’t believe in something until there is evidence for it, so I’m agnostic.”

    Update from Tom Head, editor of Conversations with Carl Sagan (University Press of Mississippi, 2006):

    Sagan resisted the atheism label and self-described as an agnostic.

    In a 1981 interview with U.S. Catholic, Sagan said: “I have some discomfort with both believers and with nonbelievers when their opinions are not based on facts … If we don’t know the answer, why are we under so much pressure to make up our minds, to declare our allegiance to one hypothesis or the other?”

    In a 1996 interview with NPR’s Talk of the Nation, Sagan said (when asked about religious beliefs): “Where’s the evidence? Now, the word God is used to cover a wide variety of very different ideas, ranging maybe from the idea of an outsized light-skinned male with a long white beard who sits in a throne in the sky and tallies the fall of every sparrow–for which there is no evidence, none at all–to the view of Einstein, of Spinoza, which is essentially that God is the sum total of the laws of nature. And since there are laws of nature … if that’s what you mean by God, then of course there’s a God. So everything depends on the definition of God.”

    In a 1996 interview with NPR’s Fresh Air, Sagan said: “I find that you learn absolutely nothing about someone’s belief if yu ask them ‘Do you believe in God?’ and they say yes or no. You have to specify which of the countless kinds of God you have in mind.”

    In another 1996 interview, Sagan told Joel Achenbach: “An atheist has to know more than I know. An atheist is someone who knows there is no God.”

    In an interview with The Humanist magazine conducted after Sagan’s death, his wife, Ann Druyan, said that neither she nor Sagan believed in a traditional God or an afterlife.

  400. #402 NanuNanu
    August 1, 2008

    “I was almost positive Sagan was an out and out atheist.
    Anyone care to enlighten me with some links?”

    =physically lazy, not intellectually.

  401. #403 E.V.
    August 1, 2008

    Tony S: ” And I’m not even a merkin.”
    You do get Brownie points, but next time please use the ‘Merken colloquial dialect spelling with an apostrophe, please. I only refer to people I don’t like as pubic wigs.

  402. #404 NanuNanu
    August 1, 2008

    Also, not good with finding shit and I somehow skipped comment #40.

  403. #405 John Morales
    August 1, 2008

    Jams @267:

    Clearly, there’s a miscommunication. [...]
    Name the iconic person who is iconic for their intelligence, and who happens to be an atheist.

    Yes, there was. I stand corrected, your point was the commenters were missing the point because the poster’s author had no real choice in order to convey his message.

    To that I say, the author had choices. For example, even if not immediately recognisable, featuring a woman would make it clear that the woman belongs in the depicted group.

    Regarding iconic: you’re misusing the term after the manner of the popular media – the word you want is “renowned”.

    Regarding provision of names that meet your criteria, I’m sure there’s more than one in this list.

  404. #406 truth machine, OM
    August 1, 2008

    physically lazy, not intellectually.

    No, you’re both. You wrote “I was almost positive Sagan was an out and out atheist”, but that was based on preconception, not evidence, as the quoted material makes clear.

    not good with finding shit

    A lame excuse and a limiting self-description. If it’s really true, then practice.

  405. #407 truth machine, OM
    August 1, 2008

    To that I say, the author had choices. For example, even if not immediately recognisable, featuring a woman would make it clear that the woman belongs in the depicted group.

    Jodie Foster is renowned, iconic, and immediately recognizable (and probably even immediately recognisable).

  406. #408 NanuNanu
    August 1, 2008

    Listen you little, juvenile fucktard: not everything everyone else says needs to be met with an insult. Grow the fuck up.

    Comment by truth machine, OM blocked. [unkill]?[show comment]

  407. #409 John Morales
    August 1, 2008

    NanuNanu @408 – baby, bathwater.

  408. #410 SC
    August 1, 2008

    To that I say, the author had choices.

    And I, unlike Jams, am quite aware of and attuned to how these choices are made, as my real undergraduate major was art history, not political science. :)

  409. #411 SC
    August 1, 2008

    and immediately recognizable (and probably even immediately recognisable).

    That was good. Took me a second.

  410. #412 Jams
    August 1, 2008

    “As an example of a non-white Atheist, how about Salman Rushdie ? You would have to be pretty ignorant of the world not to know who he is.” – Matt Penfold

    Finally! Matt, you are officially my hero. We officially have one non-male, non-white alternative who is visually identifiable to a broad English speaking audience. How could the author not have reasonably thought of what only took us mostly mindless mortals 300 comments to discover. It’s an outrage!

    Anyway, the accusations of racism and sexism, have been soundly dispelled for all but the extremely wishful.

    Seriously though, the problem is that there aren’t many iconic faces that are known for their intelligence – period. The poster’s author set a near-impossible task for herself. It’s hard to find broadly recognizable faces of any gender or race that are known for their intelligence, much less who happen to have been publicly atheist.

    @ John Morales
    Iconic is exactly the word I was looking for. Check your dictionary. You’ll find the answers to your other questions in the comments above.

    @ SC
    You’re just flailing now. Trust me, you’ll not soon get back the dignity you’ve lost. Enjoy your weekend.

  411. #413 Balaji
    August 1, 2008

    Einstein, an atheist?! What a joke? He was one of the worst creationists to have ever lived on the planet. Really how can you be a physicist and still believe in a Spinoza’s ‘God’?

    The worst atheist argument I have ever heard is that belief in a transcendent God is ok but not an immanent one. For all I know, believing in an immanent god (as some kind of therapy) makes lot more sense than believing in a transcendent God. Ofcourse I don’t believe in either of them.

  412. #414 John Morales
    August 1, 2008

    Jams, I am aware of polysemy and that dictionaries incorporate additional meanings once they reach a certain threshold of acceptance. That you choose to use a popular term rather than existing appropriate terminology (e.g. famous, exemplary, epitome, paradigm etc.) indicates you’re careless with language. And no, I need no recourse to a thesaurus to come up with multiple, more apposite terms than that which you used.

    You’ll find the answers to your other questions in the comments above.

    What questions are these? I’ve just rechecked the comment to which you are responding, and I find none.

    If you wish to try to be dismissive, be aware it’s most efficacious to dismiss something not made up by you.

    We officially have one non-male, non-white alternative who is visually identifiable to a broad English speaking audience.

    Um, first, Salman Rushdie is not non-male so far as I know. Second, did you miss this? Jodie Foster is renowned, iconic, and immediately recognizable…. Third, you certainly appear to have missed my linked list.

    Sheesh.

  413. #415 NanuNanu
    August 1, 2008

    I would like to rescind my previous comment, it was stupid and immature. I’m just going to say I’m having a tough time, leave at that and apologize.

  414. #416 NanuNanu
    August 1, 2008

    I would also like to apologize personally to truth machine, you did not deserve to be called a fucktard and the phrase itself is inappropriate considering the circumstances. I grossly overreacted.

  415. #417 John Morales
    August 1, 2008

    NanuNanu, good on ya.

  416. #418 SC
    August 1, 2008

    You’re just flailing now. Trust me, you’ll not soon get back the dignity you’ve lost.

    Oh? Care to elaborate?

  417. #419 NanuNanu
    August 1, 2008

    Wait Jodie “Clarice Starling” Foster is atheist?
    I dare say the average person I know is more familiar with an actress than Mark Twain.

    And now that she’s being mentioned didn’t we also have a murderer named Anthony Hopkins in the other thread?

    It’s like a Silence of The Lambs party.

    …this party sucks.

  418. #420 truth machine, OM
    August 1, 2008

    Comment by truth machine, OM blocked.

    Your loss.

    I’m having a tough time

    I understand such things, and you have my genuine sympathy.

    I would also like to apologize personally to truth machine, you did not deserve to be called a fucktard

    I don’t care much one way or the other what you call me, but the apology speaks well of you.

  419. #421 John Morales
    August 1, 2008

    @418: Jams alacritously took the opportunity to vindicate #220 once the opportunity presented itself.

    I opine that Jams apparently believes resiling from unsupportable claims or acknowledging valid objections is a form of weakness, and that this is compounded by an inability for clear expression and incoherent thinking.

  420. #422 truth machine, OM
    August 1, 2008

    That was good.

    Thank you. Do you really not care about age differences, dear? :-)

  421. #423 truth machine, OM
    August 1, 2008

    Wait Jodie “Clarice Starling” Foster is atheist?

    Still having trouble with that “finding shit” stuff, eh? :-) Yes, Jodie “Contact” Foster is an unabashed atheist: http://www.celebatheists.com/index.php?title=Jodie_Foster

  422. #424 SC
    August 1, 2008

    Do you really not care about age differences, dear? :-)

    No, I really don’t.

    By the way, if you follow my link here

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/07/looking_for_a_host_and_its_mol.php#comment-1027246

    you might find a reference to yourself. ;)

  423. #425 truth machine, OM
    August 1, 2008

    I would gladly be prone to your possibilities, love.

  424. #426 John Morales
    August 2, 2008

    tm: prone, not supine? Odd.

  425. #427 anonymouse
    August 2, 2008

    allright, truth machine… i’m reading the chalmer’s paper…. but you’re still an insufferable asshat. this I know.

  426. #428 SC
    August 2, 2008

    I would gladly be prone to your possibilities, love.

    Mmm.

    And I think you’re the inspirational poster. :)

  427. #429 truth machine, OM
    August 2, 2008

    Odd.

    Only if you didn’t follow the links.

    And I think you’re the inspirational poster. :)

    I wish I could take any credit for your artistry.

  428. #430 truth machine, OM
    August 2, 2008

    but you’re still an insufferable asshat. this I know.

    Really? You seem to be holding up fairly well.

  429. #431 truth machine, OM
    August 2, 2008

    Einstein, an atheist?! What a joke? He was one of the worst creationists to have ever lived on the planet. Really how can you be a physicist and still believe in a Spinoza’s ‘God’?

    That strikes me as rather confused, and certainly ignorant about the beliefs of physicists. Some insight (although perhaps not for you) into Einstein’s thinking may be had from his statement that, because the theory of relativity was so elegant, if it turned out to be wrong God had missed a great opportunity.

  430. #432 AgnosticTheocrat
    August 2, 2008

    Wrong. Knowledge is true justified belief (with the caveat that the justification must actually be dependent on the truth of the matter, to avoid Gettier cases). If that which we are certain of actually is true then it is in fact knowledge. The only things that one justifiably believes but doesn’t really know are those things that are false. The phrase “don’t really know” as you use it is semantically incoherent, based on some sort of mystical concept of knowledge that is divorced from what the word actually means.

    Well i suppose this depends on your definition of Justified and True. With the instruments of the time Newton could be Justified in thinking his model of the Universe was True, there was no indication he was wrong. Once Einstein formulated the special theory of relativity, however, it was no longer so.

    I would hardly consider skepticism a “mystical concept of knowledge”. Rather, it’s the realization that our senses are finite and limited, and that any knowledge is tempered with the understanding that future “truths” may prove it false.

    I’d guess you misunderstood my post, not wanting to sling insults like some other people did. I’d also imagine you’ve taken an epistemology class based on your using philosophical terms. So I’ll try to rephrase. My point is that, barring complete faith in both your senses and the prevailing knowledge of the day, one HAS to admit that they NEVER have True Justifiable Belief. In that sense, I would argue that most Atheists here acknowledge that were they to see evidence for God, they would become Theists. In that sense, all Atheists, unless deluded or lying, are in fact Agnostic.

    Now, that means we’re Agnostic about EVERYTHING: unicorns, UFOs, Holistic Medicine, and woo you can think of. However, we must also acknowledge that as evidence against them piles up and evidence for them remains illusory, the probability of ANY of these existing approaches zero. The same is true of God or Zeus or the “Aether”. In that sense, an Atheist can be considered an Agnostic that is Functionally an Atheist. For all intents and purposes, just as it’s highly improbable that there is “water on the sun”, it’s highly improbable that there is a God.

    So, i’ll take the insults in stride, and simply say that Skepticism isn’t “postmodernism” at all.

  431. #433 truth machine, OM
    August 2, 2008

    My point is that, barring complete faith in both your senses and the prevailing knowledge of the day, one HAS to admit that they NEVER have True Justifiable Belief.

    Is it because you capitalize them that you don’t understand the meanings of those words? To repeat, one’s justified (not justifiable) beliefs are knowledge if they are true. Since surely some of our justified beliefs are true, we have some knowledge. However, I doubt that you will understand that, given how many misunderstandings there are in your post.

    I would hardly consider skepticism a “mystical concept of knowledge”.

    Perhaps a couple of years of intense study of the English language and of philosophy would make you capable of understanding that I didn’t claim anything like that skepticism is a mystical concept of knowledge, but I wouldn’t put money on it. In any case, I don’t have the patience to be your instructor, and I have a busy weekend coming up.

  432. #434 AgnosticTheocrat
    August 2, 2008

    Well, pleasant individual that you clearly are, I’ll take it as a positive that I won’t be receiving your “instruction”. I generally prefer NOT being insulted by an ass without provocation or justification. In any case, “surely some of our justified beliefs are true” is not inherently true, and I fail to see how you’ve made ANY point whatsoever.

    And maybe you can explain how my use of “justifiable” is so very different from “justified” that it requires you to not only mock my post, but also my intellect? Justifiability is in a fact an easier logical test than justified; it was a charitable reading of your post. Insulting me doesn’t make your knowledge true, nor justified. Of course you won’t, because not only is your “time” so very important that it can only be used for TWO responses on a blog post, but I’m apparently so stupid that I would be unable to understand any arguments you make.

  433. #435 Brian Macker
    August 2, 2008

    Ha, ha. Wilkins thinks your name is P Z Mackers.

    “Every so often we start a discussion somewhere about who is and who isn’t an atheist. PZ Mackers has the poster shown below up on his blog:”< \blockquote>

    My work is done here.

  434. #436 Jams
    August 2, 2008

    “Jams, I am aware of polysemy and that dictionaries incorporate additional meanings once they reach a certain threshold of acceptance. That you choose to use a popular term rather than existing appropriate terminology (e.g. famous, exemplary, epitome, paradigm etc.) indicates you’re careless with language.” – John Morales

    You are so stupid it hurts.

    Iconic
    1. of, pertaining to, or characteristic of an icon.

    Icon
    1. a picture, image, or other representation.

    That’s exactly how I meant to use it. I await your apology. The rest of your comment is equally as out of touch.

    “I opine that Jams apparently believes resiling from unsupportable claims or acknowledging valid objections is a form of weakness, and that this is compounded by an inability for clear expression and incoherent thinking.” – John Morales

    You opine from your ass. I proved my point, and substantiated it. You have demonstrated you neither understand the point nor the evidence. Heck, you don’t even understanding how the word “iconic” relates to a poster of images. Take heart though, you aren’t the dumbest poster to ever darken the shores of Pharyngula. Good luck with your future confusions.

  435. #437 SEF
    August 2, 2008

    The new reverse poster is even worse than the original in terms of icons (ie people immediately recognisable, ideally world-wide, by their faces for something or other, eg stupidity and Christianity in this instance). I think the hunchback is George W.Bush but I’m lost over the identities of the rest.

  436. #438 Brian Macker
    August 2, 2008

    “For the ignorant amongst us (I speak mostly for myself) can someone list who they all are?”

    I guess my work isn’t done. Those other posters were misleading you.

    top left: Robert Shaw
    down from him: Daniel Day Lewis portraying Bill “the Butcher” Cutting
    down: Marylin Monroe
    top middle: Buddy Ebsen
    down: Martha Stewart
    down: Aubrey de Grey of course
    top right: Alan Alda
    down:The Quaker Oats guy

  437. #439 SoMG
    August 2, 2008

    Karl Rove should be on the athiest poster. He is an athiest, you know.

  438. #440 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    August 2, 2008

    I hate to do this but

    top left to right
    1. country singer name escaping me
    2. Mel Gibson
    3. pat robertson
    4. ted haggard
    next row
    5. jerry falwell
    6. GW Bush
    7. Jessica simpson

  439. #441 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    August 2, 2008

    Karl Rove should be on the athiest poster. He is an athiest, you know.

    i think the point was having people who actually benefited humanity.

  440. #442 NanuNanu
    August 2, 2008

    Karl Rove is not athiest. The commenters here are way athier than him. And PZ is much much athier than him.

    Also I think that singer is Toby Keith.

  441. #443 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    August 2, 2008

    Also I think that singer is Toby Keith.

    bingo

  442. #444 SC
    August 2, 2008

    Of course, the poster could never have had a list of, say, 15 names, with or without a few images as illustration; it could never have taken the form of 8 or 10 names in blocks with photos above or below them;…

    Inconceivable!

    John Morales:

    I need no recourse to a thesaurus

    That’s for sure. I’m beginning to think you are one.

  443. #445 Brian Macker
    August 2, 2008

    “#344 – simply the only useful comment here”
    Errrr… Not. Here I’ll do a anal-ysis for you.

    “Atheism is a nebulous word with varying definitions.”

    The word ‘Sure’ is a nebulous word with varying definitions.

    “Anyone who claims that they are SURE there is no Zeus is lying or deluded, because we can’t be SURE of anything.”

    Are you sure?

    “Any honest Atheist is really an Agnostic that is functionally an Atheist. “

    Any honest Agnostic is really an Atheist that is functionally an Atheist.

    “In that sense, being an Atheist means knowing that in all probability there is no God, and acting during one’s daily life as if it’s a certainty.”

    In that sense, being an Agnostic means knowing that in all certainty there is no God, and acting during one’s daily life as if it’s a probability.

    “I’d say many of these men fit that description.”

    If you allow enough nebulism in your definitions.

    Besides the most useful comment was not #344 but the message following it.
    #345“Dawkins is HOT”

    Of course the photo on the right is a tampered version of this one.

    “Skepticism”, “hot”, “tampering”, hmmm sounds like the topic is heading towards global warming again.

  444. #446 Brian Macker
    August 2, 2008

    John Morales,

    “I opine that Jams apparently believes resiling from unsupportable claims or acknowledging valid objections is a form of weakness, and that this is compounded by an inability for clear expression and incoherent thinking.”

    Ironically, I don’t understand what you mean, and it’s not just because I have no clue what “resiling” means or even if it’s a word.

    Note: This is a perfect opportunity for you to pontificate on the word “ironic” and my misuse of it, or did I?

    BTW, Jams owned his opponents throughout his debate with them. Made them look quite irrational. Which isn’t hard to do to any hardcore feminist. Especially with their insistence on selecting a meaning of the word iconic other than that intended by the writer. In communication intent matters. It’s irrational to insist on an alternate meaning when the original author is here to tell you which version he was using.

    Furthermore, you might have an easier time understanding people if you took a charitable interpretation of what they were trying to communicate. I certainly see Jams point. I certainly is hard to communicate the message this poster is trying to convey and be all politically correct at the same time.

    There are very few, if any, iconic female atheists who are well know as being smart. No, Jodie Foster doesn’t count. Most people don’t consider weirdo actresses who self impregnate to become single moms to be icons of wisdom, despite how rich they might be. Most people aren’t familiar with her IQ, and frankly some people with very high IQs have some very unintelligent beliefs.

    All in all there is about zero evidence the guy who designed this poster is a racist, male chavanist pig, or whatever. Womyn’s and Black studies to the contrary not every outcome is motivated by sexism and racism.

  445. #447 Brian Macker
    August 2, 2008

    “Was Jefferson a racist because he owned slaves? Chris Crawford”

    “Yes. And a hypocrite. Oh, and a rapist.” – Nick Gotts

    Well, actually no he wasn’t a racist because he owned slaves. He was a racist because he believed blacks were inferior directly. If owning slaves were the only criteria then many contemporaneous black slaveholders in Africa were also racists, not to mention all the Muslim slavers holding whites in captivity at the time.

    I don’t think as simply as you do on any number of issues. Things aren’t black and white as you seem to think. Was he a “hypocrite”. I don’t think so.
    Considering that he though that blacks were inferior and the fact that he was deeply in debt with his slaves being collateral I see no certain hypocrisy in him keeping his slaves. They just would have been bonded by someone else.

    With regard to your charges of rape, I think you’d have to ask Sally Hemings if he was a rapist. We don’t personally know it was him. I could have been his brother. Secondly we don’t know of any arrangements Sally and whoever got her pregnant. Perhaps they were in love, in which case the only kind of rape you could charge him with would be some kind of statutory rape. I don’t think having sex with ones slave on a loving basis was statutorily rape at the time.

    Of course, I’m excluding ridiculous feminist definitions of rape here. Definitions which define all sex between people with power differentials as rape, sometimes every act of sex even in marriage. Usually this criteria is only applied when the female is of lesser power and not the man.

    Sorry but if the secretary decides she might get ahead by screwing the boss that’s not rape. More like prostitution. The only actual victims being the companies stockholders who have to foot the higher salary the secretary secures without getting any actual benefit themselves.

    I am of course speaking of one possibility here. It is entirely possible for a secretary to be coerced, as with a slave. Still in that case it would be of little benefit to the shareholders so I’m not quite sure why feminists feel they should end up holding the bag in any other case. I can see punishing executives directly however. I guess it’s just a matter of deep pockets, but that doesn’t seem like a just criteria to me.

    Frankly, we don’t have enough info in Jefferson’s case to know what happened. So slinging around claims of rape is with this level of uncertainty is pretty careless. As is making irresponsible decisions based on claims about global warming given the levels of uncertainty there.

    I do see that you are up on your political correctness lessons however, seeing as how you are in tune with the need to take Jefferson down, not merely a notch, but to his knees. Sorry to tell you this but he was still a great man, especially given his environment. He recognized many things that his peers didn’t and was brave enough to be outspoken about it. Your opinions are with 20/20 hindsight.

  446. #448 SC
    August 2, 2008

    Ironically, I don’t understand what you mean,

    Nothing ironic about that. You’re as much of an ignoramus as Jams is.

    and it’s not just because I have no clue what “resiling” means or even if it’s a word.

    And you’re too lazy to look it up, which doesn’t speak highly of your intellectual curiosity.

    BTW, Jams owned his opponents throughout his debate with them.

    Yeah, right.

    Made them look quite irrational. Which isn’t hard to do to any hardcore feminist.

    Wrong. Asshole.

    Especially with their insistence on selecting a meaning of the word iconic other than that intended by the writer. In communication intent matters. It’s irrational to insist on an alternate meaning when the original author is here to tell you which version he was using.

    The meaning he was using was idiotic here, given that, as several people have shown: a) the figures in the poster are not iconic in the sense that he’s using the word; b) other figures may well be more iconic in this sense to people who aren’t exactly like Jams, but form part of the “broadest possible audience” the poster’s creator was supposedly trying to reach; and c) the poster’s creator by no means had to use only images, and could well have used names or a combination of the two.

    Furthermore, you might have an easier time understanding people if you took a charitable interpretation of what they were trying to communicate. I certainly see Jams point. I certainly is hard to communicate the message this poster is trying to convey and be all politically correct at the same time.

    Including people who are well-known, intelligent atheists who don’t happen to be white men is politically correct. Sticking to white males even when their atheism is questionable is perfectly sound. How very charitable of you.

    There are very few, if any, iconic female atheists who are well know as being smart.

    Dealt with above.

    All in all there is about zero evidence the guy who designed this poster is a racist, male chavanist pig, or whatever. Womyn’s and Black studies to the contrary not every outcome is motivated by sexism and racism.

    Well, then it’s a good thing no one has claimed that, you toad. Jams has asserted several times that just because people hear have pointed out the obvious – that it is a picture of a bunch of white guys – that they were saying that the poster’s maker is racist or sexist, rather than simply having made no effort to recognize that the historical and contemporary “face” of atheism includes a diverse group of people.

  447. #449 SC
    August 2, 2008

    people here

  448. #450 truth machine, OM
    August 2, 2008

    Jams owned his opponents throughout his debate with them….

    …making irresponsible decisions based on claims about global warming given the levels of uncertainty there.

    How ironic after Jams named David Suzuki as an icon of intelligence.

  449. #451 truth machine, OM
    August 2, 2008

    As for an — or rather the — icon of atheism, try
    http://www.austinchronicle.com/binary/2827/screens_string9.jpg

  450. #452 truth machine, OM
    August 2, 2008

    And how’s this for iconic — a godless “goddess”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-83usHWQuTc (http://www.celebatheists.com/?title=Asia_Carrera)

  451. #453 Jams
    August 2, 2008

    “[...] other figures may well be more iconic in this sense to people who aren’t exactly like Jams” – SC

    I’m latino, and if you asked instead of spouting off more racist shit you’d know that. You are dismissed.

  452. #454 SEF
    August 2, 2008

    I think it’s just going to be fundamentally difficult to find a significant number of faces that are easily distinguishable and well-known to people all round the world in the first place. Harder still to find a subset who are notable for their intelligence even to a largely anti-intellectual public (somewhat easier to do that by name than face!). Add to that the vanishingly small number who are known for atheism (of inarguable type) while looking back into a history when it was typically fatal to be known to be an atheist. Then the problems of past misogyny and racism merely confound the issue further in removing so much potential from even being in contention.

  453. #455 Pygmy Loris
    August 2, 2008

    Of course, I’m excluding ridiculous feminist definitions of rape here. Definitions which define all sex between people with power differentials as rape, sometimes every act of sex even in marriage. emphasis added

    Exactly what does marriage have to do with rape? There is nothing about marriage that makes a sex act any more or less consensual. The phrasing you chose here is very odd. Apparently you believe that marriage automatically means every sex act is consensual (for whatever reason) or perhaps that marriage makes rape less likely (that may be true). I really don’t understand why you added this little phrase. It makes no sense and in no way adds to your argument. Many women are raped by their husbands. For all I know many men are raped by their wives, but whether a sex act occurs within the confines of a marriage or not has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not it’s rape. The only thing that has any bearing on whether a particular sex act is rape is consent. If both partners consent, it’s not rape. If one partner does not consent, it’s rape. Period.

  454. #456 SC
    August 2, 2008

    I’m latino, and if you asked instead of spouting off more racist shit you’d know that. You are dismissed.

    “Racist shit”? Again, you are insane.

    So now “people who aren’t exactly like Jams” is about your “race”? Did it occur to you that I meant people who see the world with your narrow vision? And I’ll note that I listed Salvador Allende above with no response from you, while Salman Rushdie really blew your skirt up. Do you honestly believe that Rushdie is more “iconic” among latinos than Allende?

  455. #457 Sven DIMilo
    August 2, 2008

    That’s a pretty creepy clip there, machine (#452). The slow zooms in at her fake breasts, paired with the sappy soundtrack, in particular.

  456. #458 SC
    August 2, 2008

    While it is likely that the poster was produced by a white, US male, it is certainly possible that it was not. It could, theoretically, have been produced by a Haitian woman. Its content would still be lacking in diversity, and we could still say that the poster’s creator made no effort to display the real diversity among intelligent (real atheists and that doing so would have been an easy task. Instead, the poster-maker focused on a handful of white (almost entirely US) males, some of whose atheist credentials are dubious. Thus it would still be correct to say that there was evident bias in the choices made, for whatever reason, intentional or unintentional. I don’t know how many times or ways I have to say this to make you understand.

  457. #459 forti
    August 2, 2008

    This a failed idea. The first image is an appeal to authority and looks weird if you compare it to a certain other example a few posts earlier. Let me remind you, nothing is is sacred.

    You can find a good number of motivational posters at Atheist Nexus.

    PS. PZ, are you testing us?…

  458. #460 SC
    August 2, 2008

    If someone had asked me prior to this little exercise to list well-known, intelligent atheists, I would have been likely to come up with a list skewed in favor of white, US males (though with a tilt toward international anarchist men and women). After several minutes online, looking through lists, it was evident that there are a lot of well-known, smart, and interesting people who are or were atheists of whom I personally had been unaware (not of them, but of the fact that they were atheists). Were I making a poster about atheists, I would be sure to do further research on their religious beliefs prior to including them. It is reasonable to expect at least this level of diligence from any artist who is creating such a work, even if it’s not the most serious piece in the world.

  459. #461 SLC
    August 2, 2008

    Re Coel

    Attached is a link to a Wikipedia article on the subject. Admittedly, Wikipedia is not the most authoritive source but I have read elsewhere that Einstein specifically said that he did not identify himself with atheists. His religious views, which were probably not consistent during his lifetime, seem to veer between agnosticism, pantheism, and Deism. However, he certainly was not an any way, shape, form, or regard a theist.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Einstein#Religious_views

  460. #462 SEF
    August 2, 2008

    I’ve also read (not on wikipedia!) that Einstein explicitly rejected the label atheist. However, from the rest of his words surrounding that rejection, I think he did so through revulsion and quite reasonable fear of persecution, having himself fallen for the prevailing lies about atheists and the deliberate demonisation of the label by theists.

    How he actually described his beliefs or lack of them (ie in detail and ignoring the not necessarily correct labels) would definitely put him in the category of modern atheist as well as ancient atheist (not believing in some specific person’s god). He doesn’t appear to be any sort of honest agnostic still desperately searching to work out which god is the right one. He acts like a functional atheist.

    He also doesn’t quite cut it as a serious believer of the single deist kind (god outside merely setting things off), since at one point he backs off from it being an intentional being, let alone the multi-deist kind like traditional Buddhists (there being many gods really existing but having their own affairs and no meaningful connection to human ones).

  461. #463 SC
    August 2, 2008

    That’s a pretty creepy clip there, machine (#452). The slow zooms in at her fake breasts, paired with the sappy soundtrack, in particular.

    I have to say I agree with this (not that I watched the whole thing). WTF?

  462. #464 Benjamin Franklin
    August 2, 2008

    Truth Machine @ # 393

    Einstein was Jewish by ethnicity but was never observant

    That is not correct. For a brief time, starting at approx age 9, Einstein was very observant in Judaism.

    His sister recalled that he “was so fervent in his feelings that, on his own, he observed Jewish religious strictures in every detail.” He ate no pork, kept kosher dietary laws, and obeyed all the strictures of the sabbath, all rather difficult to do whem the rest of his family had a lack of interest bordering on disdain for such displays. He even composed his own hymns for the glorification of God, which he sang to himself as he walked home from school.
    From Einstein, by Walter Isaacson.

  463. #465 Benjamin Franklin
    August 2, 2008

    Truth Machine @ # 393

    Einstein was Jewish by ethnicity but was never observant

    That is not correct. For a brief time, starting at approx age 9, Einstein was very observant in Judaism.

    His sister recalled that he “was so fervent in his feelings that, on his own, he observed Jewish religious strictures in every detail.” He ate no pork, kept kosher dietary laws, and obeyed all the strictures of the sabbath, all rather difficult to do whem the rest of his family had a lack of interest bordering on disdain for such displays. He even composed his own hymns for the glorification of God, which he sang to himself as he walked home from school.
    From Einstein, by Walter Isaacson.

  464. #466 SC
    August 2, 2008

    And at age twelve, Isaacson notes (p. 20), Einstein’s exposure to science “produced a sudden reaction against religion”:

    As a result, Einstein avoided religious rituals for the rest of his life. ‘There arose in Einstein an aversion to the orthodox practice of the Jewish or any traditional religion, as well as to attendance at religious services, and this he never lost’, his friend Philipp Frank later noted. He did, however, retain from his childhood religious phase a profound reverence for the harmony and beauty of what he called the mind of God as it was expressed in the creation of the universe and its laws.

    So it was a pretty short phase, not that I’m arguing with what you’re saying. (I haven’t yet read the book. I’m looking forward to it, but have to finish Justinian’s Flea first, and that for some reason has been very slow going.)

  465. #467 SC
    August 2, 2008

    (And it seems like more of a mini-rebellion against his secular parents, which would fit with his personality and which Isaacson alludes to, than anything else.)

  466. #468 JoJo
    August 2, 2008

    Of the people in the second poster I only recognize Falwell, Roberts and Bush. Who are the rest, particularly that woman with the demented stare?

  467. #469 Benjamin Franklin
    August 2, 2008

    OK, PZ-

    I don’t have a blog, so I don’t have the capacity to show you and image, but I will describe it for you and the Pharyngulites.

    Top image, as shown, but with addition of M. Curie and Neil DeGrasse Tyson, so as not to disenfranchise the testicularly lacking, nor the melanin-different.

    Under the picture- the caption-

    The New Believers

    We Believe that all religions are man-made constructs.
    We Believe that morality can be based on rational thought.
    We Believe in the future, and should learn from the past.

  468. #470 Benjamin Franklin
    August 2, 2008

    an addition to the above-

    We Believe in education, and we believe in science.

    Come on Pharyngulites, What else do you believe in?

    BF

  469. #471 Benjamin Franklin
    August 2, 2008

    Oh, and include Michio Kaku, because he is the most brilliant man I have ever met.

  470. #472 SC
    August 2, 2008

    Oh, and include Michio Kaku, because he is the most brilliant man I have ever met.

    You do have a thing about Kaku, BF, don’t you? :) He was cool in The Universe (as were most of the, fairly and refreshingly diverse, group of scientists participating). Aside from that, I don’t know much about him, but he is intriguing. It doesn’t seem James Gates is an atheist, which is too bad.

  471. #473 GuyIncognito
    August 2, 2008

    For a second there, I thought Carl Sagan was William Lane Craig…

  472. #474 Benjamin Franklin
    August 2, 2008

    SC

    I don’t bandy about phrases such as brilliant lightly.

    Kakus paper on string field theory and his current work on M theory have not only far-reaching explanatory and Nobel potential, but he has an amazing talent for humanizing the most esoteric of theories and concepts.

    Watch this interview and tell me what you think.

    http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=481235

  473. #475 John Morales
    August 3, 2008

    Jams @#436, Brian Macker @446: You addressed comments to me but they’ve already been addressed above by others.

    I stand by what I wrote and feel no need to clarify even further.

  474. #476 truth machine, OM
    August 3, 2008

    That is not correct. For a brief time, starting at approx age 9, Einstein was very observant in Judaism.

    Ok, thanks for that nit; just add “(post-puberty)” to my original statement.

  475. #477 John Morales
    August 3, 2008

    Sorry, Jams, there is one unaddressed issue remaining:

    That’s exactly how I meant to use it. I await your apology. The rest of your comment is equally as out of touch.

    Jams, whatever for should I apologise?

    All you’ve done is written down an unsourced definition. I, on the other hand, provided a link.

    I was not arguing from how I define it, but from how Google defines it. Way I see it, my link @405 trumps your unsourced yet valid definition.

  476. #478 John Morales
    August 3, 2008

    @446 Brian , another fag end:

    Note: This is a perfect opportunity for you to pontificate on the word “ironic” and my misuse of it, or did I?

    For an epitome of irony, refer to the last two paragraphs of #436.

  477. #479 John Morales
    August 3, 2008

    PS Jams: It is bleedingly obvious that I and others (ahem, #288) have been all along aware of your intended usage.

    Note how it differs from:

    icon
    1. a picture, image, or other representation.

    Guess what we were getting at.

  478. #480 Coel
    August 3, 2008

    SLC writes:

    Admittedly, Wikipedia is not the most authoritive source but I have read elsewhere that Einstein specifically said that he did not identify himself with atheists.

    And the quote usually given to support this is not his direct words, but is a claim that he had said such a thing at a dinner party, this claim being recounted many years after the event. On the other hand there exist undisputedly genuine letters where he uses the word “atheist” about himself.

    If one reads the totality of Einstein’s writings on the subject it is clear that he was an atheist (under any sensible definition of the word).

  479. #481 Bloix
    August 3, 2008

    Lincoln may not have been a Christian, but he did say these words before he died and I see no reason to think that he didn’t believe them, as they are the most heartfelt and terrible words ever uttered by an American:

    Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

  480. #482 Benjamin Franklin
    August 3, 2008

    Coel @ #481

    If one reads the totality of Einstein’s writings on the subject it is clear that he was an atheist (under any sensible definition of the word).

    I have not read the totality of Einstein’s writings on the subject, but I have read a great deal. So much so, that I feel qualified to make some conclusions.

    Here are the definitions I use-

    Atheism-
    The disbelief or denial of the existence of a God, or supreme intelligent Being.

    Pantheism-
    1. the doctrine that God is the transcendent reality of which the material universe and human beings are only manifestations: it involves a denial of God’s personality and expresses a tendency to identify God and nature.
    2. any religious belief or philosophical doctrine that identifies God with the universe.

    Admittedly, Einstein did not believe in a personal God, nor the superstitions of religions, but his spirituality and sense of order in the universe obviously aligned him much more closely with pantheism than atheism. He never said he didn’t believe in God as Nature, just a personal, judgemental Abrahamic-type god.

    If you have evidence to the contrary, I would be eager to see it.

    BF

  481. #483 Osame Kinouchi
    August 3, 2008

    Let me change a bit the subject, from a modest point of view of a physicist. You have not discussed about what kind of God or gods you are talking.
    It seems that a central issue is the role of chance in the Universe history and our personal lives. “Religious” people (even non personal God believers like some New Age and Buddhist) believe that some chance events (fine tuning in physical constants favorable to emergence of complex systems, and for the lay person, coincidences in personal life like cancer regression, finding a love partner or escaping from an accident) are manifestations of a god or (non personal) spiritual force.
    It is interesting that the concept of Chance has a lot of common with the concept of a non personal, non benevolent but powerfull “god”, that is, an onipresent force that has strong influence on human live (most of our lives are fruit of chance events) and the Universe, be it emergence of life, darwinian evolution through chance mutations and selection, emergence of humans etc. Remember that most of non-monotheist religions do not describe their god as benevolent to humans, so the “evil problem” is not a problem for these religions. It is not even clear in the Bible if YWVH is benevolent to Israel.
    So, I conjecture that, historically, the concept of God or (fortune) gods emerged from the question of how to think, react emotionally to, manipulate and (reverentially) recognize that Chance is a so powerfull force in human affairs, like earthquakes, tempests, droughts, vulcanos, famines, pests, wars etc. (by the way, all these events follow Pareto power laws instead of Gaussian laws. Perhaps if all physical and human events where Gaussian (normal) the concept of God could not emerge.
    It is also interesting that (quantum) random events, if really nondeterministic, are outside physical causation, they are like small miracles occurring everywhere and everytime (some kind of imanence but also transcendence here?). It is also interesting that the laws of probability are mathematical superlaws, valid in any universe, in contrast to physical laws that depend on the specific universe of the Multiverse that you live. So, chance not only create universes but also is the same on all universes, so that it is Supernatural (that is, mathematical and in this sense superphysical).
    These parallels are interesting, so I propose to change a bit the philosophical taxonomy:
    Atheists: those that believe that Chance is indifferent and mainly detrimental to human lives.
    Pantheists: those that believe that Chance has a strong positive role in the emergence of order in the universe life and human life, although the “dark side” (entropy increase) of Chance is also present.
    Theists: those that believe in some kind of intentionality associated to chance, but not necessarily some kind of mind.
    Personal Theists: those that believe that chance is a manifestation of some kind of universal Mind or Conscience.
    Religious people: those that believe that this Mind has some characters described by specific religious tradictions, like love or compassion.
    Of course, all are positive believers (about the positive features of chance).
    And all are agnostic, because all recognize that true certaint is impossible. Remember, faith = confidence or hope, not absolute knowledgement.
    So, the question is if empirical evidence refutes some of these positions.
    It seems that I am a Pantheist, although I also doubt that humans have “essential” minds (it seems that mind is a emergent neuronal process, without essential substance). So, the question is: do your neurons believe that You exists or they are atheists? How could individual neurons gain empirical evidence that You exist?

  482. #484 truth machine, OM
    August 4, 2008

    the doctrine that God is the transcendent reality of which the material universe and human beings are only manifestations

    Einstein saw intelligence behind the laws of physics, but he never said that God is in all things, which is what “pantheism” means. I know pantheists, and they say that God is in the rocks and the trees and in us etc. or the rocks and the trees and we are all part of God. If that was Einstein’s view, he never said it as such — other than to say that his God was Spinoza’s God, but even calling Spinoza a pantheist is debatable (see, e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pantheism_controversy).

  483. #485 Coel
    August 4, 2008

    Benjamin Franklin writes:

    Admittedly, Einstein did not believe in a personal God, nor the superstitions of religions, but his spirituality and sense of order in the universe obviously aligned him much more closely with pantheism than atheism.

    OK, but you’ve just given a definition of “pantheism” that amounts to relabelling the universe as “God”. Einstein did indeed believe there was a universe, so if you want to call him a pantheist go ahead (do the same with Dawkins and all the other atheist if you wish!).

    He never said he didn’t believe in God as Nature, just a personal, judgemental Abrahamic-type god.

    I haven’t met a single atheist who didn’t believe that nature and the universe existed! An atheist is a person who lacks any belief in a conscious, intelligent, purposive-type god. Einstein seems to have been in that category.

    But if people have such an aversion to calling themselves “atheists” that they resort to re-labelling the universe as “god”, well, that’s up to them I guess, but it doesn’t change the fact that they are actually atheists in the only senses of these words worth arguing about.

  484. #486 Osame Kinouchi
    August 4, 2008

    OK, my God is Chance, not the Universe. So I am not a pantheist, so I do not know what I am. Perhaps atheists have a nonpersonal god, a superphysical onipresent power that affects universe evolution, biological evolution and human affairs, and this goddess is Fortuna
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fortuna

    By the way, it is not obvious that there is no superhuman inteligences (limited gods). Collective inteligence, vastly superior than humans in calculating power is by now well accepted by sociologists: one example is the Free Market, a collective inteligence and information processing system (a non personal mind) with huge computational power. Perhaps any religious community, due to the strong interactions between its members, permits the emergence of collective inteligences inside the community (say, the Holy Spirity). Of course, all these are limited gods. So, perhaps I am a (computational) pagan…

  485. #487 truth machine, OM
    August 4, 2008

    one example is the Free Market, a collective inteligence and information processing system (a non personal mind) with huge computational power

    The free market does not have any intelligence and does not compute, any more than a glass computes how it should shatter upon hitting the floor, or the atmosphere computes when and where to have a hurricane.

  486. #488 Osame Kinouchi
    August 4, 2008

    Sorry but I am a statistical physicist and I known the difference between collective intelligence (swarm inteligence) as emergent phenomenon in social systems and simple physical systems. Indeed I work and publish in this topic! The key point is that you can define information fluxes in these systems. Turbulence is an intermediary phenomenon, more complex than falling bodies but less complex than societies…
    See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wisdom_of_Crowds

  487. #489 John Morales
    August 4, 2008

    Osame @486, if “atheists” have a god, they’re not atheists.

    That’s definitional.

    You don’t need to be anyone special to get that.

    We don’t.

  488. #490 Osame Kinouchi
    August 4, 2008

    Morales,
    What I am saying is that atheists are philosophically very near panentheists (not counfound with pantheists), where the non personal supernatural onipresent force driving the creation of universe, emergence and evolution of live and humam affairs is the random quantum events (of course amplified by classical chaos).
    I think that “supernatural” (or superphysical) is a good adjective because the individual quantum event is not determined by physical laws, only the statistics of quantum events are determined by quantum laws. And, by the current knowledgement, such chance events will occur in any universe of the Multiverse of modern cosmology, even with different physical laws and particles.
    In other words, for atheists the “creative force” is Chance (in conjunction with necessity, see Jacques Monod book). Do not recognize that this concept is akin to the non personal gods of some religions and philosophies is a defensive move that, outside America and its political problems, need not to be taken.

  489. #491 SEF
    August 4, 2008

    Atheists don’t believe it has supernatural powers, just natural ones, nor intelligence nor that it is in any way worth worshipping, let alone doing that in a specific ritual way! It fails to make the grade as a prospective god.

  490. #492 John Morales
    August 5, 2008

    Osame:

    What I am saying is that atheists are philosophically very near panentheists

    Um, you’re not an atheist, are you? ;)

    From Wikipedia:

    Panentheism (from Greek ??? (pn) “all”; ?? (en) “in”; and ???? (Thes) “God”; “all-in-God”) is a belief system which posits that God exists and interpenetrates every part of nature, and timelessly extends beyond as well.

    See, as an atheist I’m Godless. I reckon God is a human conceit.

    And why would I even want to postulate that “something” exists and interpenetrates every part of nature, and timelessly extends beyond as well? I don’t see the point.

    Nature is nature and time is time, and when and if a need for further explanatory concepts arises, I’ll examine them. But this is stuff I’ve pondered previously, and my conclusions would be the same – I’d want new evidence of necessity before re-examining the matter of unperceived substances.

    Certainly, I’d at least want evidence of a supernatural realm before crediting the existence of denizens thereof, like gods and such.

  491. #493 Osame Kinouchi
    August 5, 2008

    I supose I am an atheist in your sense. What I am observing is that when some atheist say “I dont believe the possibility of inteligences superior to humans” they are forgueting the possibility of collective inteligence in societes, artificial inteligence, etc. And I also observed that Chance for the atheist plays the creative onipresent role of (non personal God) for the panentheists… So, it coulb be interesting to view one of roots of religion as humans strugling to understand and manipulate Chance…

  492. #494 Osame Kinouchi
    August 5, 2008

    Morales, I supose I am an atheist in your sense. What I am observing is that when some atheist say “I dont believe the possibility of inteligences superior to humans” they are forgueting the possibility of collective inteligence in societes, artificial inteligence, etc. And I also observed that Chance for the atheist plays the creative onipresent role of (non personal God) for the panentheists… So, it could be interesting to view one of roots of religion as humans strugling to understand and manipulate Chance… We see that magical tinking is widespread in sports, cassinos, and any situation out of human control and subject to chance. What I am stressing is that this relation between religion and chance is interesting, perhaps worth of exploring, and that scientific chance and probability plays the role, for atheists, of God or gods in their account of the universe functioning.
    Using your example: Panentheism (from Greek ??? (pn) “all”; ?? (en) “in”; and ???? (Thes) “God= Chance”) is a belief system which posits that CHANCE exists and interpenetrates every part of nature, and timelessly extends beyond as well.
    It seems to me that this phrase makes sense to atheists. Like atheists, panentheists do not believe in a personal or intentional God (so, in this sense, Einstein was a panentheist and his “God” was the tendency of Universe to have mathematical – it is not obvious that it shoud have it).

  493. #495 John Morales
    August 5, 2008

    Osame, without trying to be contrarian, I don’t follow Chance for the atheist plays the creative onipresent role of (non personal God) for the panentheists.
    First, I don’t know what role it played for the panentheists.

    Second, I don’t know what particular role it plays for me other than allowing evaluation of odds or making it necessary to allow for contingencies during planning – is that the sort of thing you mean?

    Besides, so far as I know the concept, if you can manipulate it, it ain’t Chance.

  494. #496 John Morales
    August 5, 2008

    Osame,

    It seems to me that this phrase makes sense to atheists.

    I’m sure you’re sincere.

    I suppose it makes syntactic sense to me, but it conveys no meaningful information.

    I am a counterexample to your conclusion.

  495. #497 John Morales
    August 5, 2008

    Osame, I think I get you, after trying to think on how what you said made any sense. You think Chance is “interpenetrates” nature, rather than it being part of nature.

    I didn’t get that, because for me, that chance exists is just the way our spacetime works – there’s nothing more or less special about it than any other part of nature (like the various forces, fundamental constants etc).

    For sure I don’t capitalise it or even pay it any special attention.

  496. #498 John Morales
    August 5, 2008

    Osame,

    What I am observing is that when some atheist say “I dont believe the possibility of inteligences superior to humans” they are forgueting the possibility of collective inteligence in societes, artificial inteligence, etc

    As an avid SF reader for decades, I kind of resent that.

    My point is that I don’t care how superhuman it is: if it’s natural, it ain’t what I call a God – it’s bound by “natural laws”.

    Naturally, should such an entity turn up and perform indistinguishably from a “real” God, I’ll reconsider the above. At the very least, this entity should be able to violate natural law at will.

    I’m not holding my breath.

  497. #499 John Morales
    August 5, 2008

    Osame:

    We see that magical tinking is widespread in sports, cassinos, and any situation out of human control and subject to chance. What I am stressing is that this relation between religion and chance is interesting, perhaps worth of exploring, and that scientific chance and probability plays the role, for atheists, of God or gods in their account of the universe functioning.

    So, you seem to be saying that magical thinking is widespread in any situation where chance outcomes are of significance, and therefore this relation between religion and chance [something].

    Magical thinking and religion is well-trodden territory, but theism is only a portion of it.

    Isn’t it clear to you that, whatever it is gods provide believers with, atheists don’t need that something?
    I suppose I must at times engage in magical thinking, but I’m pretty brutal with myself in regards to that issue, so it’s not often.

    I am a statistical physicist

    Well, I’m sure you’re most intimately acquainted with Chance, but perhaps you’ve gotten to the point you’re reifying it?

  498. #500 truth machine, OM
    August 9, 2008

    Sorry but I am a statistical physicist and I known the difference between collective intelligence (swarm inteligence) as emergent phenomenon in social systems and simple physical systems.

    Argument from authority; statistical physics is not cognitive science.

    See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wisdom_of_Crowds

    This has no bearing on free markets, where individuals are acting for their own interests. The notion of “wisdom” only applies to a goal-oriented agent (see Daniel Dennett’s work on the Intentional Stance).

  499. #501 truth machine, OM
    August 9, 2008

    What I am observing is that when some atheist say “I dont believe the possibility of inteligences superior to humans”

    You’re clueless; atheists don’t say that.

    they are forgueting the possibility of collective inteligence in societes, artificial inteligence, etc.

    What makes you think anyone is forgetting that? Collective intelligences, artificial intelligences, etc. aren’t gods.

    Being a statistical physicist doesn’t give you any advantage in re the subjects you’re discussing, and frankly what you have written here is quite stupid and ignorant.

  500. #502 truth machine, OM
    August 9, 2008

    chance exists is just the way our spacetime works

    Chance is a function of ignorance; see “Bayesian” (e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayesian_probability).

  501. #503 truth machine, OM
    August 9, 2008

    Einstein was a panentheist

    Good grief but that is stupid. Einstein was an anti-panentheist: “Gott wrfelt nicht”.

  502. #504 John Morales
    August 10, 2008

    truth machine @502, I guess I both accepted and used sloppy language (and maybe sloppy categorisation). I was referring more to randomness than to probability, not that it matters.

    BTW you got a couple of extraneous characters in the URL ref. Not that that matters, of course.

  503. #505 Marcelo
    October 6, 2008

    “I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a childlike one. You may call me an agnostic, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth.” – Albert Einstein

    This is part of the reason there lacks any serious subject on the matter because of people’s misinformed opinions of the subject. I’m agnostic but lets understand where eveyrone stands 1st..

  504. #506 Lee
    April 11, 2009

    I do not know if this has been said, but Lincoln, Einstein and Jefferson were not Atheists. the others I am not certain. For Lincoln, just read his second inaugural address. Jefferson was a Deist, not a Atheist.
    How about Theists given the same Historic photo op, instead a slam. Washington, Newton, JRR Tolkien, Thomas Nelson, Patrick Henry, Mother Teresa, Decartes, Guttenburg, etc.

The site is undergoing maintenance presently. Commenting has been disabled. Please check back later!