Pharyngula

Oh, no. I spent a long day traveling, getting my daughter to the airport in Minneapolis so she could fly off to Phoenix for 10 weeks of research (she has arrived, and seems a bit shocked to be in a desert), and then I drove all the way back. I sit down to see what has happened in the world, and discover that Charlotte Allen hates me. She doesn’t like you much, either. And she got her little tirade published in the LA Times. Let’s take a look and see what she doesn’t like about us.

Her opening is clear. She thinks we’re “crashing bores”. A hint for Ms. Allen: never start an essay by declaring your subject to be boring. Either your readers will stop at that point, or they’ll read on and discover that despite your claim, you seem to be concerned enough to write on at excessive length about something that is supposedly boring.

Second paragraph: she says something about Eagleton. I read Eagleton’s book, and didn’t recognize her summation (Dawkins and Hitchens indulged in “a philosophically primitive opposition of faith and reason that assumes that if science can’t prove something, it doesn’t exist”), either from the Eagleton book or from the statements of either Hitchens or Dawkins. This line of argument doesn’t last beyond one paragraph, however — perhaps because there is no way she can defend it — and she quickly drops any pretense of wanting to engage a substantive argument. Instead, she tells us more specifically why we’re boring.

My problem with atheists is their tiresome — and way old — insistence that they are being oppressed and their fixation with the fine points of Christianity. What — did their Sunday school teachers flog their behinds with a Bible when they were kids?

Well, personally, I don’t feel that I’m opressed. I’ve pointed out before that it’s awfully easy for an atheist to just keep his or her mouth shut and pass for a believer. My usual theme instead is to show what a botch theists have made of the country, and how hypocritical they are, and how absurd their beliefs are. But otherwise, yes, we do have de facto discrimination against the godless in America; we have some blatant examples, and of course there is the obvious fact that one must be a professing believer to get elected to office in most places in this country. All Allen musters against this evidence is the claim that atheists are a tiny minority (which makes it all right to discriminate, I guess?), and there are only six states with anti-atheist clauses in their constitutions. Logic…not her strong suit.

As for the claim that we’re fixated on the “fine points of Christianity”, I don’t think so. Atheists are more concerned with the basics: where is the evidence for a god, any god? Some of us are a bit fascinated with the Christian obsession with the details of ritual and dogma in the absence of any reason to accept their core beliefs, but that’s not our weird fixation, Ms. Allen — it’s yours.

Then there is an incoherent middle where she just flames on about how mean atheists are (I call them all horrible names, you see), never seeming to notice that all she is doing is spouting angry vitriol about atheists. Gripe, gripe, gripe. The only time she even tries to state what the position of theists might be is in her closing paragraph, and again, she’s oblivious to the problem with her position.

What atheists don’t seem to realize is that even for believers, faith is never easy in this world of injustice, pain and delusion. Even for believers, God exists just beyond the scrim of the senses. So, atheists, how about losing the tired sarcasm and boring self-pity and engaging believers seriously?

Yes? We know you work hard to maintain a belief in a loving, personal god in the absence of evidence and the existence of facts that contradict you. We agree with you that it is remarkably unlikely and difficult to understand. We also agree that the existence of god is something you can’t sense — we can’t sense it either. Whenever we engage you seriously this is the same stuff we get, over and over again: we’re just supposed to believe in the absence of your ability to explain why we should.

There simply isn’t anything to engage in Allen’s howl of outrage. I’m a little surprised that something so shallow and empty could get published in the LA Times at all, especially with Charlotte Allen’s track record. My only previous encounter with her was an astonishing rant in the Washington Post, in which she flatly claimed that women were dumber than men. Seriously. While claiming there was no difference in average intelligence.

It should be impossible to take this raving crazy loon seriously, but somehow she’s getting published in major newspapers. That’s the real mystery.

Comments

  1. #1 Hoosier X
    May 17, 2009

    You know, if I used my own eyes and ears instead of just repeating the talking points, I might be a little bit dubious about the idea that the media is liberal.

    Or maybe Allen’s inclusion in the L.A. Times proves liberal bias. I mean, they could have used a reasoned, intelligent response from a believer. Instead, they used Allen. Just like they use Jonah Goldberg instead of … uh … What about … no, she’s no good … er …

    I think I see what the problem is.

  2. #2 Rick R
    May 17, 2009

    “…she could fly off to Phoenix for 10 weeks of research (she has arrived, and seems a bit shocked to be in a desert)”

    No shit. It was 108 today. Fuck. And it’s only May.

    This summer’s gonna be bad….

  3. #3 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 17, 2009

    Interesting summation, her remarks were so vapid there was nothing of substance to refute. Sounds about right for a lot of gobots. They are angry, but can’t figure out why.

  4. #4 HenryS
    May 17, 2009

    . I’m a little surprised that something so shallow and empty could get published in the LA Times at all, especially with Charlotte Allen’s track record.
    ************
    And her rant in the WaPO and the NYT put Judy Miller above the fold and today Maureen Dowd was caught plagiarizing Josh Marshall…No wonder Newspapers are going out of business.

  5. #5 Emily
    May 17, 2009

    I was hoping you’d discuss this, particularly because she briefly mentioned your desecration of a communion wafer(sorry, a tasty chunk of Jesus flesh, hold the blood) in the midst of the incoherent ranty middle section.

  6. #6 Nick
    May 17, 2009

    Her reference to atheists “lobbing a few Gaza-style rockets” is a quite incongruous strawman.

  7. #7 Rick R
    May 17, 2009

    And please, PZ, remind her to bring a bottle of water with her at all times. You can’t really prepare yourself for how dry it is out here. And dehydration sneaks up on you. It’s common for locals to carry some water in the trunk, just in case…

  8. #8 Kobra
    May 17, 2009

    Hell, if this dumb bitch can get published, why can’t I?

  9. #9 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 17, 2009

    I’m going to write about complaining atheists by complaining about them.

  10. #10 Emily
    May 17, 2009

    Also, it seems that her “women are dumb” article was thought to be satire by many readers, although she hedges around the question and claims it was “funny with a serious point”. I just found it infuriating and, well, stupid. Let’s face it, stupidity knows no race, nationality, or gender.

  11. #11 Kobra
    May 17, 2009

    @10:

    Or rather, stupidity knows every race, nationality, and gender.

  12. #12 'Tis Himself
    May 17, 2009

    Now, now, now, you aren’t giving the goddists proper respect for their efforts. It’s hard work believing in a god when there’s no evidence the god exists. Atheists pointing out this lack of evidence makes the job even harder. How would you like it if a bunch of goddists kept saying “evolution is wrong, evolution has no support, evolutionists are abandoning evolution in droves”? Oh wait, that’s what a bunch of goddists are saying.

  13. #13 Azkyroth
    May 17, 2009

    My only previous encounter with her was an astonishing rant in the Washington Post, in which she flatly claimed that women were dumber than men.

    Someone has explained to her that drawing conclusions from a sample size of one is fallacious, right?

  14. #14 Meursault Lives!
    May 17, 2009

    Too bad there wasn’t an adjacent poll for us to crash. :(

  15. #15 mikeg
    May 17, 2009

    what the hell’s her name?… skadje? whatever… come on down to bisbee to the hotel… lots of freaky ghost hunters and shit… woo u can use

  16. #16 chuckgoecke
    May 17, 2009

    I think this article actually serves to further our cause. Most people who are reasonably open minded and non-deluded who read all the way through this vacous article will see she pretty much proves the opposite of her points. She almost reminds me of Colbert.

  17. #17 RamblinDude
    May 17, 2009

    Ican’t stand atheists — but it’s not because they don’t believe in God. It’s because they’re crashing bores.

    I don’t believe her opening statement at all: It is because we don’t believe in god.

    Disbelief terrifies people. It makes their brains go all sputtery with anxiety. It provokes a latent fear of disobeying the powers-that-be. No, not supernatural powers, the historical, very human powers that beat religion into us upon pain of death. Society still haven?t recovered.

  18. #18 CalGeorge
    May 17, 2009

    More of Charlotte whining:

    Harvard University President Lawrence Summers gave a speech in January speculating that innate differences between the sexes may have something to do with the fact that proportionately fewer women than men hold top positions in science.

    [...]

    The lesson that Larry Summers has taught us is that our academic and intellectual establishment is in the grip of a poisonous feminist ideology that will not tolerate open and rational discussion or genuine inquiry.

    http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/opinion/points/stories/040305dnediallen.35261.html

  19. #19 wheatdogg
    May 17, 2009

    Until today, I had no idea who Charlotte Allen is. I didn’t miss much.

    My first thought halfway through the column was how poorly she argues each of her points, avoiding deeper analysis of the issues. She writes like a freshman English comp student. Well, OK, maybe a little better, or she has good editors.

    RE: seeking public office. Allen fails to consider what would happen to a candidate’s campaign if the candidate admitted he/she was an atheist. Dead in the water. National (and local) politicians have to court the “God vote,” realistically speaking, or their campaigns would never gain any traction.

    She beats up atheists for accusing theists of being stupid, but avoids the clear fact that most rank-and-file theists just repeat what they learn in church and never analyze it critically. (A complaint of some ministers I know.)

    If atheists are obsessed with Christianity and the Bible, it might be because American Christians are obsessed with Christianity and the Bible. The woman should live in Kentucky for a while — and not be a Baptist, AoG or a fundie — to see what I mean.

    Allen is so wrong about evolution/creationism that my jaw dropped.

    She wants atheists to engage theists seriously. Many of us do, but can’t get past the “God exists” blockade in people’s brains. If Allen wants a serious debate, she needs to be a tad more self-analytical and a lot less defensive than she seems to be here.

  20. #20 rdeck17
    May 17, 2009

    The editorial reads like something written on the walls of a lunatic asylum. She sounds like she has some serious problems.

  21. #21 Azkyroth
    May 17, 2009

    She wants atheists to engage theists seriously.

    No she doesn’t. She wants atheists to engage theists and lose.

  22. #22 aratina cage
    May 17, 2009

    How rude of Charlotte! She didn’t bother creating a hyperlink to your blog (or any of the others she mentioned). Is it really that hard to do? Maybe she was waiting for God Google to do it for her.

    Funny, but the only one I can see boohooing is Charlotte, who, like so many Christians that come here, is convinced that the Jesus story is non-fiction and can’t for the life of her understand why big meanie atheists would call it for what it is prima facie–fiction.

  23. #23 Observer
    May 17, 2009

    Wow! At least a thousand words on something she thinks is a crashing bore. That’s funny!

    The accusation that atheists avoid the sophisticated arguments of theologians is common hogwash. Rather, the argument in the “Big Four” of atheist authors is that the theology she refers to is not sophisticated, but instead contorted, and those contortions themselves refute the theology. In the meantime, she blithely ridicules a blogger who, she says, complains that Adam and Eve were “set up.” Here she fails to recognize that the blogger is in fact addressing a “sophisticated” theological issue, and thanfully doing it without the pompous trappings of most theologians. “Sophisticated” theology would not be necessary if the the attributes of the literary character, God, were not self-contradictory.

  24. #24 Jadehawk
    May 17, 2009

    Allen is so wrong about evolution/creationism that my jaw dropped.

    I was thinking the same thing… she’s got it amazingly backwards and is apparently oblivious to the fact that creobots are the ones trying maniacally to disprove stuff, to the point of forcing their theology on school children.

  25. #25 charley
    May 17, 2009

    I tried to overlook the tone of the article to look for some valid criticism, maybe some uncomfortable truth or something I could work on. I failed.

  26. #26 RamblinDude
    May 17, 2009

    Seriously, she writes like an inarticulate teenager. I could almost hear her popping her gum.

  27. #27 CalGeorge
    May 17, 2009

    She boycotted the movie Superman Returns:

    Vote with your feet not to see the new, politically correct “Superman Returns.” Not just because Brandon Routh plays the Man of Steel as a smarmy metrosexual, and Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) is a slut who doesn’t know whether the father of her child is Superman or someone else.

    Here’s why (from the Hollywood Reporter) you must avoid “Superman Returns,” especially tomorrow, the Fourth of July:

    “[In the latest film incarnation, scribes Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris sought to downplay Superman’s long-standing patriot act. With one brief line uttered by actor Frank Langella, the caped superhero’s mission transformed from ‘truth, justice and the American way’ to ‘truth, justice and all that stuff.’

    “‘The world has changed. The world is a different place,’ Pennsylvania native Harris says. ‘The truth is he’s an alien. He was sent from another planet. He has landed on the planet Earth, and he is here for everybody. He’s an international superhero.’

    The New York Post’s Page Six adds this:

    “Mike Dougherty and Dan Harris wanted to avoid outdated jingoism. Dan: ‘I don’t think ‘the American way’ means what it meant in 1945.’ Mike: ‘He’s not just for Metropolis and not just for America.’ Dan: ‘He’s an alien, from Krypton; he has come to Earth to be kind of a savior for this world, not our country . . . And he has no papers.’ Mike: ‘What would happen with the immigration laws we have now?’ Dan: ‘I’d like to see someone kick him out!’”

    Yes, “Superman Returns” is actually about how we ought to quit enforcing our democratically enacted immigration statutes and protecting our borders. As Daily Pundit writes:

    “Hollywood knows exactly what the ‘American Way’ is–it is the way the America of the Founders is expressed in what is usually called ‘The American Dream.’ The only problem is, they hate it. This change in Superman isn’t ignorance. It’s malevolence. And it’s important.”

    http://www.iwf.org/inkwell/show/17383.html

  28. #28 Molly, NYC
    May 17, 2009

    Seriously, I can’t even tell what Allen thought the point of that article was. To complain that people she disagrees with are dull? To rant about atheists (hopefully noticed by her dear and fluffy Lord) and pretend that her problem with them is about their social skills? To represent the pro-religion side by acting like a pompous bitch?

  29. #29 Lisa KS
    May 17, 2009

    “Twit.”

    Moving on… :)

  30. #30 James F
    May 17, 2009

    their tiresome — and way old — insistence that they are being oppressed

    Like, totally.

  31. #31 Rick R
    May 17, 2009

    “Here’s why (from the Hollywood Reporter) you must avoid “Superman Returns,” especially tomorrow, the Fourth of July:”

    Holy crap, what a vacuous bint.

    You can stop now, Ms. Allen. Ann Coulter already got the job.

  32. #32 intepid
    May 17, 2009

    I can’t stand Charlotte Allen — but it’s not because she believes in God; It’s because she’s a disingenuous slag.

  33. #33 Paul Fidalgo
    May 17, 2009

    I cannot imagine what the LA Times editorial folks were thinking when they decided to run this. It’s not even well written – it’s juvenile and erratic.

  34. #34 DLC
    May 17, 2009

    Dear Sir/Madam: it’s difficult to not be sarcastic when confronted with continued willful ignorance on the part of believers. Try it sometime. Try convincing someone who believes in something you do not that the thing they believe in does not exist. It’s like pulling teeth, only worse, as these teeth are akin to the hydra’s head, and grow back every night. Now consider that few atheists care one whit about “The finer points” of your religion — be it Christian, Muslim, Zoroastrianism, Mitraism or whatever. Mostly, the point the Atheist community is trying to make is not that high stiff collars went out with Beau Brummel, but that, in fact, the Emperor has no clothes.

  35. #35 gillt
    May 17, 2009

    The dumber they are the harder they fall.

  36. #36 Mephistopheles
    May 17, 2009

    I found her article quite boring… She should stop whining so much and go away.

    /sarcasm

  37. #37 uncivil
    May 18, 2009

    OK…she’s a ” vacuous bint ”

    What’s next.?

    bimbo cunt ?…..fat ? …ugly?

  38. #38 Heather
    May 18, 2009

    The more this continues, the more I think this is an elaborate joke and that Charlotte Allen is truly the smartest of us all. The alternative (that she’s really that dumb) is less and less probable with each delightful story.

  39. #39 'Tis Himself
    May 18, 2009

    She’s a whiner. And a not very good writer.

  40. #40 Vern
    May 18, 2009

    Bah! It’s just a newspaper “publishing the controversy” in the hopes it will cause a brouhaha and increase circulation. I hope no one bites. They’re baiting you to fight on their turf.

  41. #41 Allytude
    May 18, 2009

    PZ how can you read bilge by that self-hating lady. She is a member of the IWF, another body of women who hate women and want a return to traditional roles. Plus that bilge she threw up was so unreadable.

  42. #42 littlejohn
    May 18, 2009

    Wow. I finally broke down and read (as much as I could stand) her column (not an editorial; trust me, I’m a journalist). She is mind-numbingly stupid.
    Does she not recognize that it is she, not us, who is whining? And I’m extremely suspicious of her statistics. Only 1.6% atheist? Half the people I know are atheists, although not necessarily outspoken about it. What a pile of shit.

  43. #43 Ron Beasley
    May 18, 2009

    I’m glad you were able to do a post on this nonsense. I just couldn’t be bothered.

  44. #44 CalGeorge
    May 18, 2009

    Charlotte in the National Review in March 2008:

    “My latest issue of Fine Cooking magazine arrived the other day, featuring what would have been known in former times as an Easter dinner: roast lamb, asparagus soup, angel food cake. Here, it?s identified as a ?spring? dinner, and the issue otherwise contains not a hint that some of its readers might wish to mark the spring by celebrating Jesus? triumph over death. Not even a recipe for dyed eggs or baby chick-shaped cookies graces the pages of the magazine.

    “Spring” dinner. Boo-fucking-hoo.

  45. #45 Joe G.
    May 18, 2009

    I read Allen’s WaPo article back in March for a paper I was writing, but the name didn’t click until you mentioned it. She’s one of the most vapid writers I’ve ever read, and I can’t believe she is published in reputable newspapers.

  46. #46 James F
    May 18, 2009

    littlejohn #142,

    That’s from the Pew Forum U. S. Religious Landscape Survey. Click “unaffiliated” and you’ll see the 1.6% figure.

  47. #47 ArchangelChuck
    May 18, 2009

    If I thought stooping to the level of the Christians wasn’t self-defeating, I would suggest we all band together and call for her immediate resignation, expressing how much it hurt our wittle feelings. ;p

  48. #48 Blak Thundar
    May 18, 2009

    Seems like she’s just trying to drum up controversy/people talking about her in order to sell more books. Her article sucked btw.

  49. #49 Ron Sullivan
    May 18, 2009

    “I believe in six impossible things before breakfast.”

  50. #50 MrFire
    May 18, 2009

    Not even a recipe for dyed eggs or baby chick-shaped cookies graces the pages of the magazine.

    These, of course, being part of the pagan traditions that have since been supplanted by Christianity.

    *eye roll*

  51. #51 bastion of sass
    May 18, 2009

    Vote with your feet not to see the new, politically correct “Superman Returns.” Not just because Brandon Routh plays the Man of Steel as a smarmy metrosexual, and Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) is a slut

    Well, of course, Superman is a metrosexual. He lives in Metropolis!

  52. #52 Menyambal
    May 18, 2009

    First she says:

    My problem with atheists is their … fixation with the fine points of Christianity.

    Then she says:

    The problem with atheists … is that few of them are interested in making serious metaphysical or epistemological arguments against God’s existence, or in taking on the serious arguments that theologians have made attempting to reconcile, say, God’s omniscience with free will or God’s goodness with human suffering.

    Aren’t those the fine points of Christianity that she says we are fixated on?

  53. #53 Citizen of the Cosmos
    May 18, 2009

    I find it unlikely that Dawkins and Hitchens would oppose faith and reason, especially at the same time. Also, people go to Sunday school? That sounds like something people did back in, like… the 1920′s, or something. A while ago, anyway. Sounds old, and stale for some reason.

  54. #54 Jadehawk
    May 18, 2009

    oh man… the more snippets of her writing I read, the more she looks like a standard Troll… I mean really… Superman was metrosexual before there was such a thing as metrosexual!

  55. #55 Amplexus
    May 18, 2009

    I’m a college student here in Minnesota and I can’t tell you that personally that I have suffered discrimination. A girl I was seeing for like 3 months left solely because her parents would not like that she was seeing a godless person. It was pretty surreal. Though I suppose I tried to hide it, like I usually do for as long as possible because it really doesn’t get me anywhere and just opens me up for stereotyping and other bullshit.

    the whole godless, atheist, agnostic is the only minority that you can open mock on the television and in newspapers and this is seen as a defensible . PZ made the point that talking down to atheists as being militant is like saying that blacks are uppity, etc

    I seriously hide it when meeting new people or talking to family. Like the only people that know are really close friends or people that are in the science majors in my classes that I see every day semester to semester. And I’ll only do it when relevant. It’s not a persecution fantasy, I really, really hate that I stick out in this way.

  56. #56 yoyo
    May 18, 2009

    amplexus, according to the moronic christian who wrote the article you are lying and might make baby jebus, the holy moroni , l ron hubbard krishna, allah and all the rest cry. On a serious note I’m sorry that it is so hard for atheists in America, I’m sooo lucky to live in a relatively secular australia. Even tho our leftish prime minister is a christian it isn’t allowed to taint his actions or infect the government. My boss, my husband all my friends bar one or two, my parents and my children are all pretty loud and out atheists it makes life a lot better.

  57. #57 Daverz
    May 18, 2009

    The LA Times also publishes Jonah Goldberg, so this is hardly surprising. Remember, this is the only stupidest thing they’ve published until the next Goldberg column.

  58. #58 nanahuatzin
    May 18, 2009

    “is that few of them are interested in making serious metaphysical or epistemological arguments against God’s existence,”

    Ok. let┤s put the record straigh.

    All the arguments put by metaphysic and espistemology, are based on aristotelic logic.

    Today aristotelic logic been replaced by modern Predicate logic which was designed as a form of mathematics, and as such is capable of all sorts of mathematical reasoning beyond the powers of aristotelic logic.

    Aristotelic logic es based en three axioms:

    1. the law of noncontradiction (A is not non-A).

    2. the law of identity (A is A).

    3. the law of excluded middle (either A or non-A).

    And none of them can be prooved. So Any conclusion based onf then.. can no be prooved.

    For example: The law of non-contradiction is neither verifiable nor falsifiable, because any proof or disproof must use the law itself prior to reaching the conclusion.

    The law of excluded middle gives you the so called “liar paradox”:

    “This sentence is false.”

    An analysis of the liar sentence shows that it cannot be true (for then, as it asserts, it is false), nor can it be false (for then, it is true)..

    So… if asked to get into any theologic argument.. you must proove fist, Aristotelic logic and resolve all the logical contradictions derived from it.

    Almost a hundred years ago Bertran Russell declared:
    “Aristotelic logic has nor provide any new knogledge in the last 150 years”…

    Predicate (modern)logic is also capable of many commonsense inferences that elude aristotelic logic. Aristotelic logic cannot, for example, explain the inference from “every car is a vehicle”, to “every owner of a car is an owner of a vehicle.”

    the syllogistic reasoning of the aristotelic logic, cannot explain inferences involving multiple generality. Relations and identity must be treated as subject-predicate relations, which make the identity statements of mathematics difficult to handle.

    Aristotelic logic contains no analog of the singular term and singular proposition, both essential features of predicate logic.

    Also, Aristotelian logic has problems when one or more of the terms involved is empty (has no members). For example, under Aristotelian logic, “all trespassers will be prosecuted” implies the existence of at least one trespasser.

    With the ascension of predicate logic, aristotelic and syllogistic logic hast felt into disuse except among students of ancient and medieval philosophy.

    Aristotelic logic or term logic has survived in traditional Roman Catholic education, especially in seminaries. Medieval Catholic theology, especially the writings of Thomas Aquinas, and thus aristotelic logic is a part of christian theological reasoning.. but is not of modern science.

  59. #59 BlueIndependent
    May 18, 2009

    “…A girl I was seeing for like 3 months left solely because her parents would not like that she was seeing a godless person. It was pretty surreal. Though I suppose I tried to hide it, like I usually do for as long as possible because it really doesn’t get me anywhere and just opens me up for stereotyping and other bullshit…”

    I know what you are talking about, though I was lucky enough to meet and marry a woman that is agnostic. Her parents already know her disdain for organized religion and don’t bother giving her crap about it (and thankfully haven’t shut her out of their lives because of it), and my parents came to know my atheism recently and don’t seem to bother with trying to reconvert me back either (I grew up in an entirely Roman Catholic extended family).

    In the wider world I prefer not to announce my atheism for the very reasons you state. If asked I won’t deny it. But it’s perhaps not wise to needlessly churn the waters, especially if you’re trying to join a social group for professional or recreational purposes, and even in some cases if you’re trying to just do some good. It can suck that you have to measure your words in certain scenarios, because there is a lot of supreme dumb out there put out by religious group and a lot of it is very hard to let slide by unchallenged.

    I’m heartened that atheists are finding less comfort in just hanging behind the curtain, and are coming out full force and hitting the accusations and name-calling in the gut. I’m also pleased with the spikes of godlessness in studies measuring the practice of faith. But there’s still a long way to go with 6 states explicitly refusing public office to anyone that isn’t a god-botherer in their foundational documents. For some reason the wider world doesn’t care to be troubled with, well, reason. And as the saying goes, “common sense ain’t so common.”

  60. #60 386sx
    May 18, 2009

    Even for believers, God exists just beyond the scrim of the senses.

    She seems to be ignoring a couple of Bible verses when she says that. Probably because she knows they’re a pack of hooey.

  61. #61 Mark
    May 18, 2009

    @Kobra
    That’s uncalled for. She may well be, but resorting to such vile name calling is out of line?and way too reminiscent of the dominant misogynistic patriarchal power structure.

  62. #62 MrFire
    May 18, 2009

    for indulging in a philosophically primitive straightforward opposition of faith and reason…

    My primitive attempt at a fix.

    …that assumes that if science can’t prove something, it doesn’t exist.

    Not the thrust of those books. Not what science is about, either (IMHO). I would be tempted to call the point a strawman, but I don’t even think it’s that.

    your eyes will glaze over as you peruse — again and again — the obsessively tiny range of topics around which atheists circle like water in a drain.

    (i) Not a tiny range of topics; (ii) certainly not the only topics I ever think about; (iii) any derision surrounding atheist ‘gripes’ should be directed at the pitifully blinkered, and limited, arguments presented to them by the other side; (iv) I would have gone with a ‘broken record’ metaphor rather than the ‘water in a drain’ one.

    You or I might attribute the low numbers to atheists’ failure to win converts to their unbelief,

    Unsubtle ‘ingroup/outgroup’ rhetoric. Plus, I didn’t realize we were in the business of converting people. I thought only teh gayz did that ;)

    P.Z. Myers…whose blog, Pharyngula, is supposedly about Myers’ field, evolutionary biology, but is actually about his fanatical propensity to label religious believers as “idiots,” “morons,” “loony” or “imbecilic” in nearly every post.

    “Evolution, development, and random biological ejaculations from a godless liberal

    From this loudly-blared fanfare every time you log on, you’d never realize P.Z. had a hidden liberal, godless agenda.

    A blogger on A Is for Atheist has been going through the Bible chapter by chapter and verse by verse in order to prove its “insanity” (he or she had gotten up to the Book of Joshua when I last looked).

    Well, you wouldn’t get very far if you were *headdesking* “chapter by chapter and verse by verse”, either.

    many religious people (including the late Pope John Paul II) don’t have a problem with evolution but, rather, regard it as God’s way of letting his living creation unfold?

    Goddidit-. Prefix (archaic). Used to dull and deny human intellect. Currently superfluous; will be obsolete by 2050.

    Furthermore, even if human nature as we know it is a matter of lucky adaptations, how exactly does that disprove the existence of God?

    It doesn’t. It suggests that God figures nowhere in the process. As such, he is running out of places in which to hide.

    If there is no God — and you’d be way beyond stupid to think differently — why does it matter whether he’s good or evil?

    Because his “petty, unjust, unforgiving control freak” dictates are taken seriously by many, many all-too-real people.

    and what makes them such excruciating snoozes

    For purely aesthetic reasons only: this is such an awkward, and frankly insipid, insult.
    —————————————————–

    That was my first time using HTML tags, I’m ashamed to say. What fun!

  63. #63 Aquaria
    May 18, 2009

    And as the saying goes, “common sense ain’t so common.”

    Whenever someone would talk about “common sense,” especially if it was along the lines of, “Common sense tells you God is real!”, my grandmother would reply with: “Common sense is rarely either.”

  64. #64 William McBrine
    May 18, 2009

    I wish I’d boycotted “Superman Returns”. What a piece of crap that turned out to be. But not for Allen’s reasons.

  65. #65 Mud
    May 18, 2009

    The amount of cognitive dissonance it took to right that article is astounding. I can almost hear the gears grinding while she tries to shift her brain without a clutch.

  66. #66 Whiskeyjack
    May 18, 2009

    “The problem with atheists… is that few of them are interested in making serious metaphysical or epistemological arguments against God’s existence, or in taking on the serious arguments that theologians have made attempting to reconcile, say, God’s omniscience with free will or God’s goodness with human suffering.”

    And the award for the most thoroughly-missed point goes to…

  67. #67 JPS
    May 18, 2009

    I am, in fact, an angry nontheist today: angry that PZ tricked me into reading that babbling, stream-of-consciousness diatribe lacking a coherent focus, thesis, development, or organization. The fact that she’s obviously an idiot is peripheral; she’s a poor writer.

  68. #68 gregd
    May 18, 2009

    who is charlotte allen? nevermind. i don’t really care.

  69. #69 Steven Carr
    May 18, 2009

    Charlotte Allen thinks atheists are crashing bores.

    We think theists are crashing planes.

  70. #70 Timothy
    May 18, 2009

    You shouldn’t knock her for claiming that women are dumber than men, PZ. That’s one argument she likely does have (anecdotal) evidence for since she is probably is dumber than most of the men she knows. Obviously she has some issues in her personal life that kept her from coming to the conclusion that women are dumber than women for the same reason, but I’m sure she’d get there if someone introduced her to the concept.

  71. #71 rumleech
    May 18, 2009

    Standard practice when the ignorant are losing an argument “You’re boring, go away, I’m not listening anymore Lah-lah-lah-lah”.

  72. #72 Beelzebub
    May 18, 2009

    Scrim?

  73. #73 strangebrew
    May 18, 2009

    Actually the fear that is now showing in the theists eyes is the brightest I have ever seen.

    They really are spooked are they not?

    They have always had a poke at atheists…or rather their ‘spiritual desecrater’ in the local jeebus shop has always had a pop.

    Usually as an after thought on a Sunday rant at the end just to send the sheeple home to lunch with a righteous feeling and togetherness against the devils & demons & atheists.

    But that gratuitous kicking of the loyal opposition has taken on new heights and virulence the last couple of years…even more so since ‘Barry’ got to be top doggy!…now seems every godbot has been issued with a verbal fatwa from the local woo woo man to rail against atheists and atheism.

    It must be very uncomfortable for the afflicted…being for the most part no higher endowed with IQ then missy…and actually being confronted with godlessness is some form every day.

    What makes even funnier, if that is an appropriate word,is the fact that a lot of theists are starting to despair because of the likes of banana man and idiots like Hovind and Ham are actually turning their delusion into a laughing stock.

    What is more being all brothers & sisters in jeebus they are expected to defend these morons against an uncaring and secular world.
    It is bringing the whole shebang down around their ears…the jig is up and all…they are circling the wagons, and finding some very disagreeable xians sharing their fear.

    Being scared is one thing…having to soil themselves in the company of fools idiots and conmen must really irritate!

    They are not used to the rational more the ‘rationale’ and that atheists dare to speak in public has left them extremely shell shocked…and some of them get angry and rather incoherent…ahh didddums!

  74. #74 strangebrew
    May 18, 2009

    72#

    ‘Scrim?’

    Camouflage netting!

  75. #75 Brownian, OM
    May 18, 2009

    I’ve no doubt within an hour I could muster together at least 100 people in RL and elsewhere to testify that of all the words one may use to describe me, ‘boring’ would be dead last among them.

    How ’bout you, Charl? Are you that interesting?

    Charlotte Allen thinks atheists are crashing bores.

    We think theists are crashing planes.

    Now, that’s a bumper sticker even Charlotte might find intriguing.

  76. #76 Escuerd
    May 18, 2009

    “So, atheists, how about…engaging believers seriously?”

    This would be a lot more reasonable a demand if Charlotte herself had managed to write anything that merited serious consideration. But there’s so little in religion that merits serious consideration to begin with that this really isn’t surprising.

  77. #77 386sx
    May 18, 2009

    Camouflage netting!

    I think she means god can see us but we can’t see god. But how does she know god is “just beyond” the scrim? Maybe god is a long way from the scrim. God can be anywhere at all and still do the god thing. (What with having infinite powers and whatnot.)

  78. #78 faid
    May 18, 2009

    From her sexist article in Dallas news:

    “Asserting that men and women are innately identical is, in strictly scientific terms, like asserting (as the Nazis did) that Jews are an inferior race[...]”

    Yup, that’s right. Saying that the two sexes are essentially the same, is the *same* as saying that one race is inferior to another. In “strictly scientific terms”, of course. 0_O

    All presented in pure, flawless Ben Steinian form: “What? Men and women are the same? That’s something HITLER would say”!

    After that, she compares the position that the differences between sexes are mainly sociological… to Lysenkoism. Seriously.

    The lady is a joke.

  79. #79 386sx
    May 18, 2009

    Apparently she thinks god is right there just behind the scrim, juuuuuuuuuusstt right there just out of reach but just almost close enough to frustrate the believers.

    “Missed it by that much.” — Dr. Frustrated Believer, Th.D.

  80. #80 Michael Kingsford Gray
    May 18, 2009

    Is she not a clear case of the lazy, incompetent journo’s dictum:
    “Controversial is good, Outrageous is better”?

    If this had been penned 50 years ago, she might have written in support of “atheist commies”, in order to get a rise, for very little outlay in either grey-matter, or ethical effort?

  81. #81 Donna B.
    May 18, 2009

    I can find no evidence whatsoever that God or gods exist, yet I find the literature surrounding them quite interesting. I’m much more literate about theology than most ‘believing’ people.

    Yet, after an extremely painful and sudden headache tonight, I found myself saying “oh god make it go away” over and over.

    So… maybe I’m just not a good atheist or a good theist. Maybe I’m just human.

  82. #82 Deen
    May 18, 2009

    So, atheists, how about losing the tired sarcasm and boring self-pity and engaging believers seriously?

    This is where my irony meter finally broke down.

  83. #83 Kobra
    May 18, 2009

    @61:

    That’s uncalled for. She may well be, but resorting to such vile name calling is out of line?and way too reminiscent of the dominant misogynistic patriarchal power structure.

    Oh shut the hell up. She’s a dumb bitch, like it or not. There’s nothing patriarchal about calling a dumb bitch a dumb bitch. That says nothing about other women; dumb, bitchy, or otherwise.

    Vile name calling? Since when do you decide what is out of line and what is not? I don’t recall asking for your opinion. Don’t like profanity? Turn on your parental controls.

  84. #84 John Morales
    May 18, 2009

    Donna @81,

    … Yet, after an extremely painful and sudden headache tonight, I found myself saying “oh god make it go away” over and over.

    Did you use the expression as an idiom or literally?

    So… maybe I’m just not a good atheist or a good theist. Maybe I’m just human.

    Being good and being theistic are independent attributes of humans (and applicable to all humans including you). For mine, being good is laudable and being theistic is risible; YMMV.

  85. #85 Anonymous
    May 18, 2009

    I wish I’d boycotted “Superman Returns”. What a piece of crap that turned out to be. But not for Allen’s reasons.

    I couldnt agree more. If I had known that the plane scene was going to be the best part Id have taken it in a bit more.

  86. #86 Deen
    May 18, 2009

    Oh shut the hell up. She’s a dumb bitch, like it or not. There’s nothing patriarchal about calling a dumb bitch a dumb bitch. That says nothing about other women; dumb, bitchy, or otherwise.

    Vile name calling? Since when do you decide what is out of line and what is not? I don’t recall asking for your opinion. Don’t like profanity? Turn on your parental controls.

    Sexism flame war starting in 3, 2, 1,…

  87. #87 ndt
    May 18, 2009

    Wait a minute.

    What atheists don’t seem to realize is that even for believers, faith is never easy in this world of injustice, pain and delusion. Even for believers, God exists just beyond the scrim of the senses.

    She admits this, yet expects us to engage with believers seriously?

  88. #88 Cosmic Teapot
    May 18, 2009

    Charlotte Allen, of course some of us have a minor “fixation with the fine points of Christianity”. Like a criminal trial, we need to know about the finer points to get at the truth.

    The church is the accused, and the bible is the churches statement. It is full of contradictions, and has evidence of alterations and additions over time. We have no supporting evidence from eye witness accounts in history. And archaeology, our forensic science tells us that the bible is not only a pack of lies, but also insanely delusional.

    In short, by looking at the finer points of christianity we see the church is guilty of deception of the grossest magnitude, extortion and murder.

  89. #89 amph
    May 18, 2009

    Charlotte Allen thinks atheists are crashing bores.
    We think theists are crashing planes.

    I believe God just made Charlotte write that sentence so that Stephen Carr could write the best comment of the month.

    Order your bumper stickers now.

  90. #90 strangebrew
    May 18, 2009

    ‘Even for believers, God exists just beyond the scrim of the senses.’

    Well that is the first time a godbot has admitted that god actually does not exist in the physical realm as is usually claimed as “god is everywhere”…

    So according to this bunny actually that is a lie, god is nowhere accessible, cos he is beyond the senses, he must be imagined, there you have it!

    Godbot just spilt the beans on the whole delusional pile of dung, is just imaginary BS nothing more.

    We owe her a big thank you for confirming the atheist contention,how ironic,yet how refreshing an honest xian.

    In attacking atheist she has inadvertently exposed the fat soft pink vulnerable underbelly of vacuous Christian religion.

    Waiting for the howls of back tracking from the afflicted, or maybe they have not quite realised their ark is holed below the waterline, being so fast on the uptake of understanding, tis not surprising!

  91. #91 ESPness
    May 18, 2009

    Of course we’re boring.

    We don’t get to dress up in fancy robes or wear special hats. We don’t practice genital mutilation on our kids. We don’t go around killing people in the name of the FSM, the list goes on.

    Yup, dead boring. I like it that way.

  92. #92 Barry
    May 18, 2009

    Well, she does have a point with the boredom. There?s not much from the so-called ?new? atheists that you can?t find in Ingersoll?s lectures from more than a century ago. Hell, Ingersoll even called his opponents ?fleas?.

  93. #93 Carlie
    May 18, 2009

    Actually, I think that a crashing bore is someone who likes to swagger about calling women bitches and then disingenuously claiming that it’s not a misogynistic slur whilst heroically slaying a strawman of profanity in general. But YMMV.

  94. #94 Lab Lemming
    May 18, 2009

    Dr. Charlotte Allen is a sedimentary geochronologist:
    http://scholar.google.com.au/scholar?hl=en&lr=&q=author%3Acm-allen+zircon&btnG=Search

    So forget your opinion rag, and catch up on her papers in Chemical Geology.

    Science is cooler than snark.

  95. #95 Freidenker
    May 18, 2009

    Just a thought: being able to write well doesn’t make you a smart person. Newspapers might seek people who are good writers, period. In that case, she writes rather well. It’s just that the content itself is utter garbage.

  96. #96 MadScientist
    May 18, 2009

    @PZ: If you’re daughter is in Az for long enough she’ll have plenty of amazing things to see. When the rains come many desert plants go into bloom and it’s just gorgeous – it took me a few days to learn not to reach out and pick the flowers, especially on those prickly pears.

    Then there’s the Great Ditch up north in Flagstaff and I hear the new see-through walkway that extends over the ditch is a real hoot.

    On the way there’s Meteor Crater, Sedona Canyon, some ancient calderas which were once inhabited by indigenous people, “Montezuma’s Castle”. In the south of course there’s Tucson and a number of the world’s great observatories (Mt. Graham, which includes the Vatican Observatory, the Kitt Peak Solar Observatory and the Kitt Peak Astronomical Observatory), and you just can’t miss the opportunity to go during thunderstorm season and sit in a carpark atop a small mesa and watch the lighting headed for you (stay in the car). There are a number of fascinating buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright including the Grady Gammage Auditorium.

    Yep, there’s plenty to do in that desert. Phoenix was always one of my favorite cities, but my buddies tell me I wouldn’t recognize it anymore if I returned.

    Oh, one thing about the rain season (monsoon) – it gets stinking hot and unbearably humid.

  97. #97 Smidgy
    May 18, 2009

    Barry #92:

    Well, she does have a point with the boredom. There?s not much from the so-called ?new? atheists that you can?t find in Ingersoll?s lectures from more than a century ago. Hell, Ingersoll even called his opponents ?fleas?.

    Ah, but, you see, in all that time, the other side has categorically failed to come up with anything new for atheists to refute, so no new arguments are needed.

    One thing, though – I love how Allen makes the point that atheists don’t take on ‘the serious arguments that theologians have made attempting to reconcile, say, God’s omniscience with free will or God’s goodness with human suffering’, to quote her exactly.

    Erm, hate to break it to you, but, to an atheist, those questions are entirely meaningless, as they’re based on the faulty premise that God exists.

  98. #98 raven
    May 18, 2009

    Only 1.6% atheist? Half the people I know are atheists, although not necessarily outspoken about it.

    It is right and it is not. The latest polls show atheists at a low percentage. But if you combine them with agnostics, apathetics, and no religion the category of irreligious runs around 20% of the US population. They tend to be the thought leaders of this category though. Who speaks for the agnostics? The apathetics really should hold a meeting or something but nobody cares. The no religionists are having a joint meeting with the non stamp collectors.

    This 20% makes them almost the largest sect in the USA. The RCC claims about 23% of the population.

    Who created the atheists and irreligious is something beyond Allen’s tiny brain. It was the christofascists and their humanoid toad leaders and their toxic poisonous cult ideology that nearly destroyed the USA. That would have been a better editorial and have the added advantage of a huge amount of data to support it. But then the LA Times would be a target of those “Gaza style rockets.” Unlike atheists, the religious fanatics use real rockets with real explosives to kill real people.

    The LA Times exists to make money for its owners, that capitalism stuff, not to provide news and intelligent commentary to its readers. Although if the latter helps them make money, they might do it. Ms. Allen is “controversial” enough in a 3 Stooges sort of way that they think she will help. Ha Ha, she made you look.

  99. #99 Fred the Hun
    May 18, 2009

    Charlotte Allen is no better than this:

    She could have written that protesting witches are a crashing bore and then made the same arguments she makes about atheists.

    http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/africa/05/18/nigeria.child.witchcraft/index.html

    “Sometimes, we get a dream that shows us a certain person is suffering from witchcraft,” said the Rev. Albert Aina, a senior pastor at Four Square Gospel Church. “Sometimes, you have a child who has inexplicable body marks because of struggling in the night. They are easy to identify, but why charge when you have been given a gift by God?” Aina said.

  100. #100 Richbank
    May 18, 2009

    OT, but possibly interesting: abuse of child “witches” in Nigeria http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/africa/05/18/nigeria.child.witchcraft/index.html

  101. #101 Drosera
    May 18, 2009

    Amplexus #55,

    I’m a college student here in Minnesota and I can’t tell you that personally that I have suffered discrimination. A girl I was seeing for like 3 months left solely because her parents would not like that she was seeing a godless person. It was pretty surreal.

    Maybe her parents merely agreed with Billy Graham:

    A.L.: Would it be a sin for me to marry a husband who isn?t of my faith?

    Billy Graham: (…) don?t be satisfied with anything less than God?s will for your future spouse ? a husband who loves Christ and wants to serve him above all else.

    So, yes, it would be a sin to marry an atheist.

  102. #102 raven
    May 18, 2009

    Actually the fear that is now showing in the theists eyes is the brightest I have ever seen.

    Most of them aren’t bright enough to understand fear much less show it.

    The areligous are around 20% of the population, almost as much as the RCC. In fact, given the RCC’s leadership failures, many of their members might be part of that 20%.

    Among young people it is higher, running around 30 or 40% of their segment.

    Between 1-2 million people leave xianity every year in the USA. That category is falling around 0.5% a year. A slow loss but in 50 years, xians will be below 50% of the population.

  103. #103 MadScientist
    May 18, 2009

    @CalGeorge #44:

    “… a recipe for dyed eggs or baby …”

    Yummy! I’m in! Time to eat babies!

  104. #104 raven
    May 18, 2009

    Actually the fear that is now showing in the theists eyes is the brightest I have ever seen.

    Most of them aren’t bright enough to understand fear much less show it.

    The areligous are around 20% of the population, almost as much as the RCC. In fact, given the RCC’s leadership failures, many of their members might be part of that 20%.

    Among young people it is higher, running around 30 or 40% of their segment.

    Between 1-2 million people leave xianity every year in the USA. That category is falling around 0.5% a year. A slow loss but in 50 years, xians will be below 50% of the population.

  105. #105 Raffinose Petard
    May 18, 2009

    Hey, I kind of liked that ‘beyond the scrim of the
    senses’ line. It seems to have been an accident, though.

  106. #106 ZeeDiscriminator
    May 18, 2009

    I’m a college student here in Minnesota and I can’t tell you that personally that I have suffered discrimination. A girl I was seeing for like 3 months left solely because her parents would not like that she was seeing a godless person.

    Well, there’s discriminating (as in ‘choosing’) and discriminating unethically. There’s nothing wrong with being discriminating — as in ‘picky.’ I’m pretty sure that I’d dump any girl who came out as a serious godbot after a few months. On reflection, I can’t say this seems unreasonable — not if I want to have a sane and happy family some day.

    So I guess my point is that I’m not sure this case counts as the sort of discrimination that we want to have laws against. One does not choose one’s gender, skin tone, or sexual orientation. One does choose to hang on to stupid beliefs (or clever ones). You makes your choices and you takes your chances. Free market of ideas and all that.

  107. #107 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    May 18, 2009

    Hell, if this dumb bi

    Oh shit. I’m just going to bail out of this thread right now, before the ludicrous cries of misogyny kick in. That’s more dull and pointless than a libertarianism thread.

    Hint for the future, Kobra: calling a woman an idiot, an imbecile, a jerkass, or a dumb fuck is acceptable, but using “bitch” makes you a raging woman hater. Also, referring to genitalia or physical appearance when discussing a man if just fine, but doing so when talking about a woman makes you a terrible, nasty man. (It’s assumed you’re a man, BTW.)

    Sorry, I don’t make the hypocritical, sexist rules.

  108. #108 Tom Wood
    May 18, 2009

    The problem with atheists… is that few of them are interested in making serious metaphysical or epistemological arguments against God’s existence, or in taking on the serious arguments that theologians have made attempting to reconcile, say, God’s omniscience with free will or God’s goodness with human suffering.

    Serious metaphysical? Those arguments don’t exist. The arguments about why a good god lets bad things happen, and the omniscient/free will conundrum, are always pointless dead ends with no resolution. They aren’t serious because they don’t matter. That’s the point.

  109. #109 strange gods before me
    May 18, 2009

    All presented in pure, flawless Ben Steinian form: “What? Men and women are the same? That’s something HITLER would say”!

    *grin*

    I swear, I just like the uniforms.

  110. #110 strange gods before me
    May 18, 2009

    Sorry, I don’t make the hypocritical, sexist rules.

    Nor do you speak honestly on the topic.

  111. #111 Kel
    May 18, 2009

    The problem with atheists… is that few of them are interested in making serious metaphysical or epistemological arguments against God’s existence, or in taking on the serious arguments that theologians have made attempting to reconcile, say, God’s omniscience with free will or God’s goodness with human suffering.

    The problem with theists… is that they want to talk about imaginary fabrics when quite clearly the emperor is naked ;)

  112. #112 GilbertNSullivan
    May 18, 2009

    @Carlie
    Actually, I think that a crashing bore is someone who likes to swagger about calling women bitches and then disingenuously claiming that it’s not a misogynistic slur whilst heroically slaying a strawman of profanity in general. But YMMV.
    Whoah there… I agree that “someone who likes to swagger about calling women bitches” is a crashing bore (rather worse than that actually) but I’m bound to say that… well… Kobra didn’t say that, being a woman, she is, ergo, a bitch.

    Unless it is now verboten to refer to someone being bitchy as a bitch it isn’t disingenuous to claim that he wasn’t being misogynistic either.

    As for the “strawman” element, that hardly seems fair either: he was being taken to task specifically on the grounds that he shouldn’t be vulgar and responded directly to that point.

  113. #113 strange gods before me
    May 18, 2009

    Oh shut the hell up. She’s a dumb bitch, like it or not. There’s nothing patriarchal about calling a dumb bitch a dumb bitch. That says nothing about other women; dumb, bitchy, or otherwise.

    It does say something about your opinion of women that you reach for a gendered insult when criticizing behavior that is in no way gendered.

    A man can make a stupid mistake and be judged as a stupid person. You choose to remind women that they cannot make a stupid mistake without being judged for being women.

    Vile name calling? Since when do you decide what is out of line and what is not? I don’t recall asking for your opinion.

    This is just a more cowardly way of saying “please don’t criticize me.” You don’t get to decide who may share an opinion of you. You speak publicly, you automatically invite criticism.

    Don’t like profanity? Turn on your parental controls.

    I doubt that anyone here cares about profanity. Misogyny, that’s another matter.

  114. #114 strange gods before me
    May 18, 2009

    Whoah there… I agree that “someone who likes to swagger about calling women bitches” is a crashing bore (rather worse than that actually) but I’m bound to say that… well… Kobra didn’t say that, being a woman, she is, ergo, a bitch.

    Yeah, right, he just happened to be criticizing a woman when he just happened to use a term traditionally for insulting women, and that was all an unfortunate coincidence.

  115. #115 #1 Dinosaur
    May 18, 2009

    My word, PZ, are you really that naive?:

    My usual theme instead is to show what a botch theists have made of the country, and how hypocritical they are, and how absurd their beliefs are.

    Of course politicians are hypocrites, and of course many of them use religion as an excuse for their hypocrisy. But if you really think that it is the sincerity of their beliefs in God that are the root cause of the mess they’ve made, think again.

    News flash: atheism offers no protection from corruption. Look at communist Russia. Surely those “godless commies” did just as good a job, if not better, at fucking up a country.

  116. #116 Somnolent Aphid
    May 18, 2009

    Yes, I like most of her last paragraph as well. It is difficult believing in god day in and day out, which is why most of us give it up for better occupations. But she seems to harbor the kind of belief one might that somewhere, someday, someone is going to run a stop sign and broadside me. So she’d better be careful and pay attention and keep believing and practicing that ritual looking both ways. And she seems be complaining that the rest of us are tiresome boors, reminding her that she doesn’t have to be so overly cautious at every intersection. Effectively she’s comparing us to back seat drivers, or a nitpicky spouse.

  117. #117 Happy Monkey
    May 18, 2009

    I’d say Ted Haggard was an imbecilic wanker, but I’d never call a woman a wanker – it’s a male term in my local slang.

    Am I wrong to say Ted Haggard’s a wanker, then?

  118. #118 DaveL
    May 18, 2009

    My problem with atheists is their tiresome — and way old — insistence that they are being oppressed

    Tell me, when is the last time you’ve seen a major newspaper give someone a column to do nothing but rail against theists?

    Allen gives us this:

    and their fixation with the fine points of Christianity.

    Then scant paragraphs later, this:

    The problem with atheists — and what makes them such excruciating snoozes — is that few of them are interested in making serious metaphysical or epistemological arguments against God’s existence, or in taking on the serious arguments that theologians have made attempting to reconcile, say, God’s omniscience with free will or God’s goodness with human suffering.

    So you wish atheists would… what? Address the so-called ‘sophisticated’ apologetics without delving into any details?

    The fact is atheists have engaged those arguments and continue to do so. Then buffoons like Allen ignore those responses and instead pretend atheists learn Plantinga and Aquinas and Descartes, not to mention read the Bible (plus apocryphal texts, the canonization process, a smattering of Greek and Hebrew, but I digress) because of some sort of mental short-circuit.

  119. #119 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 18, 2009

    I see our dinosaur has a dinosaur brain. Yawn. Boring troll.

  120. #120 Carlie
    May 18, 2009

    Happy Monkey – only if you’re content with implying that wanking is bad, particularly when practiced by men.

  121. #121 Happy Monkey
    May 18, 2009

    OK Carlie, but then you must also then imply that dogs are bad, particularly female ones.

  122. #122 Kel
    May 18, 2009

    I always wonder about that. Is it wrong to use a male-based insult like bastard or mongrel or cock in the same way as it’s wrong to use bitch or c#$% (censored myself, happy SC?) Is it okay to use it against a different member of the same gender, or to use it against someone of the opposite gender? Does it make a difference if you are male or female in using these terms? Does the cultural climate matter, whereby if a certain gender is being oppressed are they given concession by allowing them to use words that the other gender would be chastised for?

    Gah, you’re all taking the fun out of swearing!

  123. #123 strange gods before me
    May 18, 2009

    I’d say Ted Haggard was an imbecilic wanker, but I’d never call a woman a wanker – it’s a male term in my local slang.

    Am I wrong to say Ted Haggard’s a wanker, then?

    Are you contributing to a system that results in lost wages for men, and punishes men for being assertive?

    Then it’s not the same kind of problem, and since the magnitude is different, then one kind of slur is more contemptible than the other.

    But there’s nothing wrong with wanking; it shouldn’t be an insult.

  124. #124 strange gods before me
    May 18, 2009

    OK Carlie, but then you must also then imply that dogs are bad, particularly female ones.

    Cart, horse.

    The person using “bitch” as an insult is, by using it as an insult, implying that it’s bad to be a dog, particularly a female one.

  125. #125 Kel
    May 18, 2009

    The person using “bitch” as an insult is, by using it as an insult, implying that it’s bad to be a dog, particularly a female one.

    Can’t the same be said for wanking though? By using it as an insult, it’s implying it’s bad to be a wanker.

  126. #126 strange gods before me
    May 18, 2009

    I always wonder about that. Is it wrong to use a male-based insult like bastard or mongrel or cock in the same way as it’s wrong to use bitch or c#$% (censored myself, happy SC?)

    Wrong, yes. “In the same way” is ambiguous; certainly the effects of sexist language are different when used against the traditionally marginalized group.

    Is it okay to use it against a different member of the same gender, or to use it against someone of the opposite gender?

    Not okay. Sexism is reinforced by either use.

    Does it make a difference if you are male or female in using these terms?

    No difference. Everyone can contribute to a sexist culture.

    Does the cultural climate matter, whereby if a certain gender is being oppressed are they given concession by allowing them to use words that the other gender would be chastised for?

    Because so many people misunderstand sexism, in practice there are assumptions that, for instance, women cannot be misogynists. This is mistaken.

  127. #127 strange gods before me
    May 18, 2009

    Can’t the same be said for wanking though? By using it as an insult, it’s implying it’s bad to be a wanker.

    Yes, that’s exactly what Carlie and I said.

  128. #128 Kel
    May 18, 2009

    I remember once after a long car trip, my youngest brother decided to taunt me by calling me a bastard. I merely pointed out to him that my parents were married before he was born and his wasn’t (he’s a half-brother) so techincally he was the bastard, not me. That really upset him, which I found quite hilarious. He was hurling insults at me left, right and centre while all it took was one technical comeback to have him in tears.

    Serves the little bastard right. :P

  129. #129 Wayne Aiken
    May 18, 2009

    Anyone who uses the argument about anti-atheist clauses in State constitutions, simply hasn’t done their homework. In all instances, these have been challenged and overturned. The text remains in those Constitutions, however, even though it is no longer in legal effect; most States require that the “official” text be changed only during rare Constitutional Conventions. However, there may be any number of intervening court decisions striking down various provisions, all of which must be taken into account when considering the current interpretation of such Constitutions.

  130. Just posted to the LAT:

    Ms. Allen claims that atheists spend a great deal of time whining about how they are persecuted. Apparently, she is unfamiliar with the countless complaints by Christians and members of other religious groups that they, in fact, are the ones who are persecuted. But fairness and accuracy apparently don’t matter much to someone who alleges to be bored by atheists. So bored that she dedicates a column to how boring we are supposed to be. Sure thing, Charlotte: we really believe it’s our dullness that motivates you to write about us.

  131. #131 charley
    May 18, 2009

    So, atheists, how about…engaging believers seriously?

    What a joke. In my 40-plus years in the church and Christian community I can’t remember EVER witnessing a public dialog with atheists. When I did leave, almost everyone turned their backs and ignored me.

  132. #132 Seifer Ganon
    May 18, 2009

    “News flash: atheism offers no protection from corruption. Look at communist Russia.”

    Russians, although atheists, didn’t justify what they did because of their atheism. Their justification came from a form of super-patriotic nationalism–which closely resembled religion. Go find any act that the Soviets did that has atheism as it’s major justification. Since atheism is not a system of belief I think you’ll have a hard time doing this.

  133. #133 GilbertNSullivan
    May 18, 2009

    @strange gods

    Because so many people misunderstand sexism, in practice there are assumptions that, for instance, women cannot be misogynists. This is mistaken.

    Agreed, but in the confusion you describe lies the rub: if Kobra was simply mistaken to imagine that there is no inherent sexism in calling someone a bitch surely it’s unfair to call him – rather than his usage – sexist?
    If I can’t help feeling that there’s a degree of egalitarianism in calling James Dobson a dick and Charlotte Allen a bitch based exclusively on their utterances it certainly doesn’t mean – and nor is it the case – that I hold women to be other / lesser / worthy of insult.

  134. #134 strange gods before me
    May 18, 2009

    Agreed, but in the confusion you describe lies the rub: if Kobra was simply mistaken to imagine that there is no inherent sexism in calling someone a bitch surely it’s unfair to call him – rather than his usage – sexist?

    I said it was a mistake; I did not say it was an innocuous mistake. People who are not sexists find a way to avoid sexist language. People who are trying to let go of sexism take note of the mistake when it’s pointed out, and try to learn from it. People who embrace sexism react by saying “Oh shut the hell up. … I don’t recall asking for your opinion.”

  135. #135 ConcernedJoe
    May 18, 2009

    #115 — anything that has the characteristics and attributes of religion is a religion (no god belief is really required) and all religion enterprises are self-serving and in some fashion dictatorially oppressive. What you cited is a religious phenomena. Why?

    The incarnations of Communism as political systems – as ruling systems – have been as religious in nature as any common religion. As per your example specifically: it was not the atheism my friend – it was the imposed hierarchy to create personal power, enforced blind adherence to a dogma, self-serving intolerance, and insanity.

    PZ is not naive in the least. He well knows if you have been listening that atheism (lack of belief in a supernatural being) does not make humans immune from being sociopaths, and/or fanatical adherents to some wacko operating principle, and/or just plain stupid, and/or selfish and bad.

    What it does do though for me and I suspect PZ and others I associate with is give us greater freedom to be more rational, more understanding and tolerant, and more aware that what we do on this earth for the good or bad of ourselves and others really really counts in its own right.

    It is understanding and accepting that there is no free-pass; that one must own up to their own actions and take personal responsibility; that one must rationally and honestly optimize for the greater good of all; that one is not superior because of endowment unearned; that one has nothing to hide behind if one is intolerant, or if they are ridiculously stifled in thinking, or power grabbing self-serving.

    And most important for me — that the only helping hand out there is the helping hand we give one another.

  136. #136 truthspeaker
    May 18, 2009

    Posted by: strange gods before me | May 18, 2009 7:56 AM
    Oh shut the hell up. She’s a dumb bitch, like it or not. There’s nothing patriarchal about calling a dumb bitch a dumb bitch. That says nothing about other women; dumb, bitchy, or otherwise.
    It does say something about your opinion of women that you reach for a gendered insult when criticizing behavior that is in no way gendered.

    No, it really doesn’t say anything about his opinion of women.

    A man can make a stupid mistake and be judged as a stupid person.

    He’ll be called an asshole or a dick, both of which are gendered insults. When’s the last time you heard someone call a woman an asshole?

    This whole idea that word choice says something deep about the speaker’s attitudes towards gender has about as much support as Jesus’s resurrection.

  137. #137 strange gods before me
    May 18, 2009

    This whole idea that word choice says something deep about the speaker’s attitudes towards gender has about as much support as Jesus’s resurrection.

    You’re the one making the extraordinary claim that language choices are arbitrary.

  138. #138 bobxxxx
    May 18, 2009

    Some of us are a bit fascinated with the Christian obsession with the details of ritual and dogma in the absence of any reason to accept their core beliefs, but that’s not our weird fixation, Ms. Allen ? it’s yours.

    What interests me is the Resurrection, which is a belief every Christian must have to be a Christian.

    The Resurrection belief: An idiot preacher man got himself executed, decomposed for 3 days, turned into a stinking zombie, and then flew up to the clouds.

    It’s for a good reason Christianity is called a death cult. It’s for a good reason I call all Christians (no matter how moderate they think they are) stupid, insane, and hopelessly gullible.

  139. #139 Endor
    May 18, 2009

    “I’m just going to bail out of this thread right now, before the ludicrous cries of misogyny kick in. ”

    yeah, nothing more ludicrous than exercising one’s right to voice an opinion. Better we bitches just shuddup and take it lest we be considered by you to crazy bitches, amirite?

    *lol* Very amusing, NBWAW. thanks for that.

    “if Kobra was simply mistaken to imagine that there is no inherent sexism in calling someone a bitch surely it’s unfair to call him – rather than his usage – sexist?”

    Is a person who uses that “n” word not a racist if they pretend to be confused about the offense?

    If Kobra wanted to insult Ms. Allen, he could have done so very easily without making it about her sex. He chose not to and then chose to deny the obviously sexist nature of his statement in an exceedingly feeble fashion. There’s no “simply mistaken” about it.

    And for the record, yes, it’s also wrong to use male-gendered insults.

  140. #140 Happy Monkey
    May 18, 2009

    “Are you contributing to a system that results in lost wages for men, and punishes men for being assertive?

    Then it’s not the same kind of problem, and since the magnitude is different, then one kind of slur is more contemptible than the other.

    But there’s nothing wrong with wanking; it shouldn’t be an insult.”

    Are you seriously suggesting that calling someone a dumb bitch – when she’s certainly being dumb and bitchy – causes the wage gap?

    If a woman can’t withstand that then she’s in a very sorry state of affairs, no matter what social environment she’s in. As a woman, I’m really rather insulted that anyone would think that’d be enough to break me.

    And of course there’s nothing wrong with wanking. Or fucking, or shitting, or being a female dog. But then that’s the nature of swear words. I’m sure it’s a subject worthy of etymological discussion, but to suggest that it causes serious harm reeks of determination to be offended.

    (sorry, can’t work out the blockquoting – I’m a dumb bitch)

  141. #141 Endor
    May 18, 2009

    “This whole idea that word choice says something deep about the speaker’s attitudes towards gender has about as much support as Jesus’s resurrection.”

    *lol* Wow. White Male Blind Privilege table for one.

  142. #142 Leonard Pinth-Garnell
    May 18, 2009

    Dawkins is quoted (apparently accurately) as saying the following:

    “They feel uneducated, which they are; often rather stupid, which they are; inferior, which they are; and paranoid about pointy-headed intellectuals from the East Coast looking down on them, which, with some justification, they do.”

    I simply can’t imagine those religious dolts aren’t simply demanding that atheists run the country. It must be bigotry.

  143. #143 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 18, 2009

    He’ll be called an asshole or a dick, both of which are gendered insults. When’s the last time you heard someone call a woman an asshole?

    Fairly frequently. I don’t see asshole as gend…

    wait

    why the fuck am I getting into this

    /backs away slowly

  144. #144 Endor
    May 18, 2009

    “Are you seriously suggesting that calling someone a dumb bitch – when she’s certainly being dumb and bitchy – causes the wage gap?”

    . . . are you seriously suggesting THAT is what you got out of that post?

  145. #145 Endor
    May 18, 2009

    “why the fuck am I getting into this ”

    Why is it a bad thing to speak one’s mind about gendered bigotry?

  146. #146 DaveL
    May 18, 2009

    But if you really think that it is the sincerity of their beliefs in God that are the root cause of the mess they’ve made, think again.

    I don’t think anyone’s arguing that belief in God is the root cause, but it certainly provides a convenient cover for leaders’ other motives and makes it easy for them to amass a large following of uncritical supporters.

    News flash: atheism offers no protection from corruption. Look at communist Russia. Surely those “godless commies” did just as good a job, if not better, at fucking up a country.

    I think you’re falling into the trap of thinking of atheism as if it were a religion. It isn’t. Christianity may claim to lead to morality and the prevention of evil, but atheism does not. It simply removes one popular justification for atrocities, namely religion. Sadly, others remain.

  147. #147 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 18, 2009

    why the fuck am I getting into this

    /backs away slowly

    Smart man. I just lurk during these discussions.

  148. #148 GilbertNSullivan
    May 18, 2009

    People who are not sexists find a way to avoid sexist language. People who are trying to let go of sexism take note of the mistake when it’s pointed out, and try to learn from it. People who embrace sexism react by saying “Oh shut the hell up. … I don’t recall asking for your opinion.”

    Hmm… I honestly and respectfully disagree.
    I’d be far more affected at being called a sexist than I would being called a wanker / dick / [insert exclusively male term of insult here] because it’s a hateful thing to be, not mere invective. I might, consequently, react badly to someone mistaking my intent to merely insult for a slur on women in general without it meaning that I was clinging on to my right to be a misogynistic prick.

  149. #149 strange gods before me
    May 18, 2009

    Are you seriously suggesting that calling someone a dumb bitch – when she’s certainly being dumb and bitchy – causes the wage gap?

    The idea that there is such a thing as a “bitch” contributes to the culture that decides women’s work is worth less than men’s. It is precisely why an assertive woman is seen as “a bitch” and consequently punished in the workplace, while an assertive man is “a go-getter” who receives a raise. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/aug/21/gender.pay

    If a woman can’t withstand that then she’s in a very sorry state of affairs, no matter what social environment she’s in. As a woman, I’m really rather insulted that anyone would think that’d be enough to break me.

    Not for you to decide that other woman should accept being called bitches.

    “Break you?” Not at all. You can and should keep a positive attitude whenever possible. But you can’t simply wish male privilege away. And pointing out sexism does not mean crying about it.

  150. #150 strangebrew
    May 18, 2009

    104#

    ‘Among young people it is higher, running around 30 or 40% of their segment.’

    Which it its own way is cause for a celebration of kinds!

    In a way the future of Christianity really lays with other major world religions…especially if Islam degenerates and splinters into further fundamentalist extremism with more co-ordinated ideas.
    Christianity will respond cos folk get scared,they flock to the institution that might cover their arse, in this life or the next!

    But apart from that scenario the ingrained woo stuff is the worst stain to eradicate, they whine the loudest, and are the more vocal of their delusion.

    They have been steeped in the woo for so long the brain tends to atrophyism, by the time they are 12 years old, and sometimes younger, they are more not less likely to be lost forever to rational thought!

    A few of the atheistic sample from the 30%-40% might find the ‘born again’ nonsense appealing later in life,that is simple statistical plausibility, a variety of reasons,personal circumstance, mental illness,lying to impress a new bunch of friends or friend, all are possible.
    But in the main the lack of exposure to deep woo in the first few years of life kindda seals the religious fate.

    Why do you think the religious want in to schools?,they are leaving it at the moment to their hot-headed cousins the Creationists to take the secular onslaught, but they are not going to stop them.
    They want the kids to be young and impressionable,that is all they need,that the kid might have a family history steeped in woo worship that is to the better, but without that brain washing it is so much the harder, get ‘em young and the rest is assured.

    These statistical breakdowns will not be lost on the deluded as they plot and scheme…

    Expect other religious based attempts to infiltrate the classrooms…they will sooner rather then later…to keep the dogma alive they need fresh blood…those statistics paint a horror show for these droogies…they need access to the kids…and soon!

    50 years is far to long to await their demise…I would be content in 5 years but I am a militant atheist apparently…but practicality murmurs 15 years minimum….25 years and I would deal!

    30%-40% of kids profess no religious woo…say those kidds are between 10 years and 15 years now….in 15 years…they might be married planning family….in 20 years they have had family…and presumably few religious memes would be handed on with the DNA and how to fish or bake cakes…

    A generation and a half further on we have replaced the woo with rationality in a great swath of the population.

    Intense jeebus ‘lovin’ would still be confined to deep woo stagnated families in communities in pockets or nests, but the generalised irritation of what is these days, all the whining and hand wringing and protestations of intolerance and discrimination from atheists might well be a thing of the past,unless of course we do what they so desire in their little black martyr obsessed jeebus infested hearts and give them real intolerance and discrimination…in a serious way ;-)…I am not fussed…no real problem with it…maybe I could not be bothered…but it is an option!

    As I am writing this rant…the police sirens sounded….ambulances arrived at the end of the street and disappeared behind a block of flats…tapes were strung across the road…trauma helicopters arrived..a crowd gathered…
    The buzz filtered outwards…a little kiddy had fallen from the sixth floor balcony where he had been playing in the sun…the ambulances left with no sirens…the police walked away after 40 mins…they looked sombre…

    Where is god?

  151. #151 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 18, 2009

    Why is it a bad thing to speak one’s mind about gendered bigotry?

    In no way was I making that statement.

  152. #152 Carlie
    May 18, 2009

    This is getting as tedious as the libertarian discussions.
    Say whatever the hell you want, but if you use use sexist words, either masculine or feminine, then anyone is free to call it a sexist slur, and trying to say it’s not just digs you in deeper. Can we just make a macro or something?

  153. #153 strange gods before me
    May 18, 2009

    Hmm… I honestly and respectfully disagree. I’d be far more affected at being called a sexist than I would being called a wanker / dick / [insert exclusively male term of insult here] because it’s a hateful thing to be, not mere invective. I might, consequently, react badly to someone mistaking my intent to merely insult for a slur on women in general without it meaning that I was clinging on to my right to be a misogynistic prick.

    Look at the comment Kobra reacted to:

    @Kobra
    That’s uncalled for. She may well be, but resorting to such vile name calling is out of line?and way too reminiscent of the dominant misogynistic patriarchal power structure.

    Mark didn’t say Kobra was a sexist. He said Kobra’s language reinforced patriarchy. That’s the kind of non-personal comment you’re advocating, with a note on the speech rather than the speaker.

    Again, you seem to be saying that Kobra “just happened to be criticizing a woman when he just happened to use a term traditionally for insulting women, and that was all an unfortunate coincidence.”

  154. #154 genesgalore
    May 18, 2009

    just what it is about the fact that man made god, that they don’t get????

  155. #155 Aaron Baker
    May 18, 2009

    Kevin Drum has a good take down of Allen at http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2009/05/god-talk. He makes the point that atheists have been offering sophisticated, closely reasoned critiques of the arguments for religious belief since–well, forever. Which gives me the opportunity to be a bore once again and again praise John Mackie’s MIRACLE OF THEISM to the skies. Obviously, the philosophical proponents of religion haven’t been asleep since Mackie’s untimely death in 1984; but I don’t think their arguments have gotten better, and he covers the main points admirably.

    Mackie, by the way, is boring in the best possible way: slowly & meticulously exploring each argument by an opponent, to reveal its questionable assumptions or the shaky evidence on which it’s based. Since this kind of slow, hard work is an inescapable part of all serious investigation, Allen’s penchant for being easily bored marks her from the start as a complete trifler.

  156. #156 Lynna
    May 18, 2009

    So…she’s angry because her argument is all cotton-candy, and it really ticks her off to be reminded of this by rude atheists. I get it.

  157. #157 Copernic
    May 18, 2009

    I had no idea atheists despised agnostics for their wishywashyness. Most atheists I know understand the nuances between the two, either due to the difficulty in the philosophical journey or due to the nature of the question (do you know there is no god? or do you believe there is no god?).

  158. #158 zaine_ridling
    May 18, 2009

    Great points. Like the author, if someone mistakes me for a god-believer, I’m quick to correct them, letting them know I’m a proud and positive atheist. If they want to know the reason why I am, then I’m happy to share. But listening to god-believers screech about atheists is funny to me.

  159. #159 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 18, 2009

    I had no idea atheists despised agnostics for their wishywashyness.

    Don’t take the contempt of some here to paint that picture.

  160. #160 Endor
    May 18, 2009

    “In no way was I making that statement. ”

    No, you didn’t. Apologies, Rev, I implied something about you I didn’t mean to. That was a mistake on my part.

    I was actually thinking of other posts calling such ludicrous, or implying it’s wrong, etc. Yours wasn’t the one I meant to quote.

    ___

    “Say whatever the hell you want, but if you use use sexist words, either masculine or feminine, then anyone is free to call it a sexist slur, and trying to say it’s not just digs you in deeper.”

    It’s always fascinating to me to see the cognitive dissonance. How often have we seen an atheist (here or elsewhere) comment that theists just. don’t. listen. and that their confusing on issues relating to atheist are effected by their not listening.

    And yet, when discussions like this occur, people just. don’t. listen and it becomes painfully clear that their not listening effects their understanding of the issue.

  161. #161 ndt
    May 18, 2009

    Posted by: strange gods before me | May 18, 2009 9:55 AM

    The idea that there is such a thing as a “bitch” contributes to the culture that decides women’s work is worth less than men’s.

    What a load of crap.

  162. #162 Lynna
    May 18, 2009

    I think she opens with the “crashing bores” description of atheists because she wants to strike at the innermost fear of all atheists: being boring. The fact that she can’t back this claim up is not the point. She figures she had found our weak point. LOL. Fear of gawd plus fear of being totally ridiculous and inane makes her pick up any weapon, no matter how lame.

    Being boring *is* a sin, or it should be. “Thou shalt not be boring” would be more useful than “no other gods before me” and “keep the Sabbath holy.” Which brings us to the problem of repetition raining down on those who do keep the sabbath. When you have to keep saying the same things over and over, how many new ways can you come up with to elucidate the time-worn dogma. Example: the infamous “pickle analogy” from a Mormon conference…soaked in the brine and all that. At least that one was slightly funny.

  163. #163 Carlie
    May 18, 2009

    What a load of crap.

    Yawn. Can we get back to properly bashing Allen’s idiocy yet, or do we need to wait for the rest of the self-righteous twitching about to die down?

  164. #164 Rorschach
    May 18, 2009

    Why is it a bad thing to speak one’s mind about gendered bigotry?

    *Sigh*

    why the fuck am I getting into this
    /backs away slowly

    and

    Smart man. I just lurk during these discussions.

    Lets just say,xtian fundies are more fun to argue with !

    strange @ 134,

    People who are not sexists find a way to avoid sexist language. People who are trying to let go of sexism take note of the mistake when it’s pointed out, and try to learn from it

    “Sexist language” and “mistake”,as determined by who?

    /backs away slowly also..:-)

  165. #165 Benzion N. Chinn
    May 18, 2009

    She certainly beats the boring button a little too often. Atheists being highly polemical all while playing the victim card is a legitimate issue. All one has to do is look at the comments on this blog to make the point. In theory I would be the ideal target for evangelical atheism. I grew up in a deeply religious home and rebelled against to a large degree. I am also pursuing a graduate degree. I certainly have no interest in exchanging the hateful rantings of one side for the hateful rantings of the other. As I see it secularists have learned from the religious to play the polemical card and the religious have learned from seculars to play the victim card. Everyone learns the worst from each other.

  166. #166 truthspeaker
    May 18, 2009

    Posted by: Carlie | May 18, 2009 10:04 AM

    This is getting as tedious as the libertarian discussions.
    Say whatever the hell you want, but if you use use sexist words, either masculine or feminine, then anyone is free to call it a sexist slur, and trying to say it’s not just digs you in deeper.

    Words are not inherently sexist. They aren’t inherently anything. The meanings of words are entirely arbitrary. This is linguistics 101.

    Using the word “nigger” is racist in many contexts, but not if you’re singing along to Tittsworth’s “Broke Ass Nigga”.

    Posted by: Endor | May 18, 2009 10:28 AM
    And yet, when discussions like this occur, people just. don’t. listen and it becomes painfully clear that their not listening effects their understanding of the issue.

    It’s not that we’re not listening, it’s that we don’t agree with you. I have listened to your arguments, considered them, and rejected them.

  167. #167 ndt
    May 18, 2009

    Dammit, I swear the blockquote tags worked in preview. The first paragraph was written by Carly.

  168. #168 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 18, 2009

    Blockquotes are FUBARed with the new Science Blogs formatting.

    They don’t like blank lines between quoted paragraphs.

  169. #169 strange gods before me
    May 18, 2009

    “Sexist language” and “mistake”,as determined by who?

    Don’t play stupid, Rorschach. The effects of sexism are objectively measurable.

  170. #170 GilbertNSullivan
    May 18, 2009

    Mark didn’t say Kobra was a sexist. He said Kobra’s language reinforced patriarchy.

    That’s a pretty fine distinction: your, Carlie’s and Endor’s position is that one’s choice of words may amount to an act of sexism; Mark is saying that Kobra is reinforcing patriarchy through his language. Unless reinforcing patriarchy is not at womens’ expense I cannot see how he isn’t calling him a sexist.

    Again, you seem to be saying that Kobra “just happened to be criticizing a woman when he just happened to use a term traditionally for insulting women, and that was all an unfortunate coincidence.”

    Categorically no. I am saying that calling a woman a bitch or a man a dick is only sexist if by those terms you aim to demean them for being the applicable gender. You on the other hand seem to be trying to be frame me as some kind of enabler though.

    I want to see more women in the boardroom, in government, in IT, everywhere. I won’t be told that my actions at work, at the polling booth or doing what I can to support my wife getting her PhD are outweighed by the fact that I simply disagree that “bitch” demeans all women.

  171. #171 Pierce R. Butler
    May 18, 2009

    … their fixation with the fine points of Christianity.

    Pls file Allen’s lament for the next time atheists are accused of blatant disregard of theological niceties – though, as DaveL notes @ # 118, this does open us up for accusations of boringness.

    … we’re just supposed to believe in the absence of your ability to explain why we should.

    Well, just speaking personally of course, yeah.

    I believe in (the absence of (your ability to explain why we should)).

    Slightly OT, but a good read: Greta Christina defines the varying meanings of belief.

  172. #172 strange gods before me
    May 18, 2009

    Words are not inherently sexist. They aren’t inherently anything. The meanings of words are entirely arbitrary. This is linguistics 101.

    Then maybe you should try linguistics 102. Language has meaning in a culture. Gendered insults in a sexist culture reinforce sexism.

    It’s not that we’re not listening, it’s that we don’t agree with you. I have listened to your arguments, considered them, and rejected them.

    How nice for you. What you haven’t done is presented a counterargument.

  173. #173 brad6378
    May 18, 2009

    As has been observed several times, it seems like she might well be on our side:

    http://www.questionablecontent.net/view.php?comic=1384

  174. #174 GilbertNSullivan
    May 18, 2009

    @strange gods before me

    The effects of sexism are objectively measurable.

    The effect of language in perpetuating sexism – the point at issue – less so.

  175. #175 Rorschach
    May 18, 2009

    Don’t play stupid, Rorschach. The effects of sexism are objectively measurable.

    /must not reply…..:-)

    I give you a nice chillout music vid instead:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v22NMAG1k18

  176. #176 Lynna
    May 18, 2009

    Not even a recipe for dyed eggs or baby chick-shaped cookies graces the pages of the magazine.

    How about a recipe for deep-fat-fried baby chicks?

  177. #177 strange gods before me
    May 18, 2009

    That’s a pretty fine distinction: your, Carlie’s and Endor’s position is that one’s choice of words may amount to an act of sexism; Mark is saying that Kobra is reinforcing patriarchy through his language. Unless reinforcing patriarchy is not at womens’ expense I cannot see how he isn’t calling him a sexist.

    So now we have to tiptoe around Kobra because even though it’s a fact that he’s using sexist language and reinforcing patriarchy, he might be offended by anyone noting that fact?

    Categorically no. I am saying that calling a woman a bitch or a man a dick is only sexist if by those terms you aim to demean them for being the applicable gender.

    By the same notion, hitting someone with a baseball only hurts if you deliberately aimed at them.

    I want to see more women in the boardroom, in government, in IT, everywhere. I won’t be told that my actions at work, at the polling booth or doing what I can to support my wife getting her PhD are outweighed by the fact that I simply disagree that “bitch” demeans all women.

    Outweighed? That’s a strawman. It may or may not be outweighed, depending on a lot of things, and I’m not saying that. But whatever else you’ll do will be to some degree hindered by your apologetics for sexism.

  178. #178 Rorschach
    May 18, 2009

    Categorically no. I am saying that calling a woman a bitch or a man a dick is only sexist if by those terms you aim to demean them for being the applicable gender.

    Now all we need is Louis showing up :-))

  179. #179 strange gods before me
    May 18, 2009

    The effect of language in perpetuating sexism – the point at issue – less so.

    Shockingly, your ignorance is not actually an indicator of the studies.

    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2294/is_3-4_51/ai_n6212696/

    http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/recordDetail?accno=ED295262

  180. #180 Lynna
    May 18, 2009

    My take-away-and-keep realization from Charlotte Allen’s blather is that she reads PZ’s blog…and she writes down every word that she considers personally insulting. She has great respect for PZ.

  181. #181 truthspeaker
    May 18, 2009

    Posted by: strange gods before me | May 18, 2009 10:53 AM
    Then maybe you should try linguistics 102. Language has meaning in a culture. Gendered insults in a sexist culture reinforce sexism.

    Evidence for this assertion?

  182. #182 strange gods before me
    May 18, 2009

    I give you a nice chillout music vid instead:

    Rorschach. Your dismissive implication, that anyone disagreeing with you must be angry and needing to chill out, is erroneous.

  183. #183 truthspeaker
    May 18, 2009

    So now we have to tiptoe around Kobra because even though it’s a fact that he’s using sexist language and reinforcing patriarchy

    You have yet to demonstrate this is a fact.

  184. #184 raven
    May 18, 2009

    I had no idea atheists despised agnostics for their wishywashyness.

    It’s right there in the Atheist’s bible, Book of Dawkins. “Thou shalt sneer at agnostics as the nonexistent god doesn’t condemn the weak nonbelievers.”

    Since atheism has no central dogma or governing bodies, that can’t be true. Allen just made up a strawman and killed him or more likely just flat out lied.

  185. #185 Emmet, OM
    May 18, 2009

    In next week’s column, Allen will write about how much she hates Jews because ?they are stingy, have big noses, and killed Jesus?.

    What a cretin.

  186. #186 strange gods before me
    May 18, 2009

    Evidence for this assertion?

    Again, you are the one making the extraordinary claim that word choice is arbitrary. Your extraordinary claim needs extraordinary evidence.

    That women seen as assertive or “bitchy” are subject to pay discrimination, for example, was demonstrated. You have no counterargument.

  187. #187 Rorschach
    May 18, 2009

    Your dismissive implication, that anyone disagreeing with you must be angry and needing to chill out, is erroneous.

    Oh please !!!

    Strange,Im relaxing after an extremely stressful day at work,its 1am here,and I really dont feel like being drawn into any sexism discussions.
    Im sorry but the vid was not meant to imply anything of the sort.

  188. #188 GilbertNSullivan
    May 18, 2009

    So now we have to tiptoe around Kobra because even though it’s a fact that he’s using sexist language and reinforcing patriarchy, he might be offended by anyone noting that fact?

    Nope. You should probably prove your case that language causes and perpetuates sexism though. At the moment your “fact” sounds curiously like an assertion.

    By the same notion, hitting someone with a baseball only hurts if you deliberately aimed at them.

    No, but you’re only being violent towards them when you do.

    But whatever else you’ll do will be to some degree hindered by your apologetics for sexism.

    How so?

  189. #189 strange gods before me
    May 18, 2009

    Strange,Im relaxing after an extremely stressful day at work,its 1am here,and I really dont feel like being drawn into any sexism discussions.
    Im sorry but the vid was not meant to imply anything of the sort.

    Then don’t tell me to chill out.

  190. #190 strange gods before me
    May 18, 2009

    Nope. You should probably prove your case that language causes and perpetuates sexism though. At the moment your “fact” sounds curiously like an assertion.

    Links provided already, you’re ignoring them.

    Go on and tell me that teaching children to call black people “niggers” doesn’t perpetuate racism, too.

    No, but you’re only being violent towards them when you do.

    So you think “sexism” can only be intentional.

    Go on and tell us then that no one can hold unconsciously sexist attitudes.

  191. #191 tv
    May 18, 2009

    Wow, Allen was right – what a boring blog! Not an ounce of serious discussion to be found. I can’t believe I’m wasting my time.

  192. #192 Rorschach
    May 18, 2009

    Then don’t tell me to chill out.

    I didn’t.It’s your perception that I did.But you can’t tell the difference unfortunately.

    Go on and tell us then that no one can hold unconsciously sexist attitudes.

    Perception seems to be a big deal for you,actually.

  193. #193 Rorschach
    May 18, 2009

    @ 191,

    I can’t believe I’m wasting my time.

    Why are you then?

  194. #194 Walton
    May 18, 2009

    Yawn, not another of these discussions.

    Why can’t we all just pledge – for the sake of harmony, if nothing else – that we will not use the word “bitch”, or any other gendered insult towards women, in any discussion on this site? Even if you don’t personally see the sexism in it, can’t you defer to the sensitivity of others for the sake of avoiding offence? Is it so much to ask?

    Despite my lack of personal religious belief, I wouldn’t walk into a church and spit on the altar just for the sake of it. It’s no less insensitive to come into a forum full of feminists – even though I’m not a feminist myself – and start using demeaning terms towards women. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

  195. #195 raven
    May 18, 2009

    Atheists being highly polemical all while playing the victim card is a legitimate issue.

    Atheists are oppressed in many ways. Take Allen’s editorial and substitute Asian or Moslem for atheist. Would it be published?

    Try to run for dogcatcher or other poitical office as an open atheist. You won’t be elected. The number of open atheists in the US congress right now is zero although unconfirmed rumors are that there might be a few in the closet. Hmmm, why is that politician hiding in the closet anyway?

    In fundie circles, atheist rantks right along side witches, Moslems, gays, satan worshippers, and Unitarians as demons.

    The real oppression and oppressors are the fundies and their target isn’t just atheists but other xians as well. They don’t want to just practice their Death Cult oogedy boogedy religion . They want to rule and cram their beliefs down everyone else’s throat. Forget legalized abortion, obtaining contraceptives , and don’t be surprised when your kids learns in science class that the earth is 6,000 years old and jesus loves everyone. Polls show the majority of the US population have figured this out and dislike them.

  196. #196 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 18, 2009

    Wow, Allen was right – what a boring blog! Not an ounce of serious discussion to be found. I can’t believe I’m wasting my time.

    Well I’m convinced. The astute observations of tv have forced me to realize that the entire blog is full of useless discussions and I will find something more along the lines of tv’s preferred reading material to dive into.

    tv, which of the Garfield collections should I start with?

  197. #197 Emmet, OM
    May 18, 2009

    Atheists being highly polemical all while playing the victim card is a legitimate issue.

    I find generalisations about atheists vacuous ? there really is no such thing as ?atheists being? anything any more than ?people without moustaches are? anything. Atheists are an extraordinarily diverse group, having nothing in common other than their lack of belief in a deity. Some atheists are highly polemical, some atheists play the victim card, some atheists are fascists, some atheists are communists, some atheists are probably axe-murderers.

    In case you missed the point made by the so-called ?New Atheists?, religion has enjoyed a privileged immunity to criticism such that any criticism of religion is automatically strident, aggressive, hateful, offensive, and full of bile. Watch the Four Horsemen videos and listen to Dan Dennet talk about having drafts of Breaking the Spell proof-read by theists in an attempt to make it less ?offensive? ? there was no rewording that would satisfy them.

    á

    All one has to do is look at the comments on this blog to make the point.

    This blog is largely populated by outspoken atheist science geeks. We are not, and do not claim to be, representative of ?atheists?.

    á

    I certainly have no interest in exchanging the hateful rantings of one side for the hateful rantings of the other.

    Well, we’re about as extreme as atheists get. What’s the worst that we do? Call theists who voluntarily come here preaching long discredited nonsense ignorant fools. I long for the day that the worst thing that Fred Phelps and Osama bin Laden do is hurl insults on the Internet.

    á

    the religious have learned from seculars to play the victim card.

    You are taking the piss, right?

    The religious invented the victim card ? it has a crucifix, a star of David, and a crescent moon on it. I know of no religion that doesn’t moan about the suffering, past or present, of people for their particular faith. Christians, for example, have felt sorry for themselves being fed to the lions for 1500 years after the fall of the Roman Empire.

  198. #198 Newfie
    May 18, 2009

    Better to remain silent and thought the fool, then to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

    Her arguments boil down to nothing more then sticking her fingers in her ears and shouting, “LA LA LA LA”.

    Can’t wait for her expert critique of more subjects that she knows nothing about.

  199. #199 Walton
    May 18, 2009

    tv, which of the Garfield collections should I start with?

    Don’t knock Garfield – he’s my favourite cartoon character of all time.

    (Though the cartoons are starting to get a little depressing as I get older, and recognise more and more similarity between myself and Jon Arbuckle…)

  200. #200 strange gods before me
    May 18, 2009

    I didn’t.It’s your perception that I did.But you can’t tell the difference unfortunately.

    See, now you’re being dishonest. Typical for you.

  201. #201 Rorschach
    May 18, 2009

    When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

    Walton,

    I would have thought that if you had learned one thing on here it would have been that if you want to be a rational,sceptical thinker who is after truth rather than conformity,you do not do as the Romans do,if the Romans are doing the wrong thing.
    It takes courage though,especially if the Romans are rather ruthless.

  202. #202 stardust
    May 18, 2009

    IMO Miss Charlotte has other problems in her life, perhaps she is sexually frustrated? After reading her rant against her own gender, it makes me think so.

    And she calls us whiners! She comes across as a female Andy Rooney.

  203. #203 Rorschach
    May 18, 2009

    See, now you’re being dishonest. Typical for you.

    Ah,here we go ! I was waiting for you to tell me what my real intention was in posting that vid,after all,you know better than me what I intended.Must have been unconsciously, right….

  204. #204 Carlie
    May 18, 2009

    Wow, did Rorshach just say that it takes courage to stand up for the right to insult women? I didn’t realize feminists ran everything now. Between us and the Radical Gay Agenda sweeping the zeitgeist it’s amazing that any swaggery hetero male gets to get a word in edgewise anymore.

    Don’t knock Garfield – he’s my favourite cartoon character of all time.
    You must take a look at Garfield minus Garfield.

  205. #205 Kobra
    May 18, 2009

    @83:
    Oh wow, I worded that horribly. I was trying to emphasize the “otherwise.”

    Oh well. I’m sorry if anyone mistook me for a woman-hater.

  206. #206 CJColucci
    May 18, 2009

    A little additional data for the off-topic bitch-fest. Back in my Teamster days, I heard many disagreeable women referred to as “cunts” and many disagreeable men referred to as “pricks.” I also heard a sub-class of disagreeable men referred to as “cunts” and a sub-class of disagreeable women referred to as “pricks.” I always had a vague sense that whether you were referred to by your gendered derogatory term or the derogatory term generally applied to the other gender had something to do with particular ways in which you were disagreeable, but I never pursued the idea systematically. Any thoughts?

  207. #207 Adam R Cagle
    May 18, 2009

    This articlein the LA Times angered me, it is an outright attack on logical beliefs. If I had said half the things Charlotte said about us about any major religion, they would be bombing buildings. Calling us boring is an attack on those who have been doing research and learning from those that just place their fingers in their ears and pray when it comes to actually understanding our place in this universe. After a page of insults the writer asks that “So, atheists, how about losing the tired sarcasm and boring self-pity and engaging believers seriously?” Well I have no self pity, I feel bad for those who have been fooled by religion as it is a farce, and if I am sarcastic it is only because these peoples archaic beliefs are infecting everything from public policy to the LA Times and rather than dealing with things in the intolerant ways of religion like burning at the stake or stoning to death we just make fun of the idiots dumb enough to do those things. The reasons atheists have gotten more and more intense in their arguments surround us… Prop 8 was a mockery of the state legal system where religion was not separated from government and used as a veil to hide bigotry. In the LA Catholic Diocese a child has 600% higher chance of being molested than if they never attended a church. Religions around the world oppress women, they can’t hold high esteem in their churches like men, and their bible calls them help mates. And then of course the wars around our globe that kill hundreds of thousands a day in the name of god….just to name a very few of the injustices carried out by the god crowd. Atheists have just grown tired of the infection of Christianity upon our god free nation, Our forefathers went out of their way to create separation of church and state, when the church stops affecting public policy and warmongering than our mission is complete. We don’t mean to be rid of religion any more than we would want to insist that Civil War recreationists stop their make believe… we just don’t want the fiction used to created factual policies.

    The plain facts of the matter is that most of the Bible is a flat out forgery undertaken by Constantine to placate these idiots and get them to stop killing each other. People running around praying to Jesus is nothing more than entertaining, it would be like worshipping Gumby… it’s just a silly story to be entertained by not to kill someone over.

    So… to the LA Times. If I had said these things about Christianity publicly there would be riots… but yet you print out right hate speech against atheists. I would appreciate it if you allowed atheists to publish a retort article as this is beyond information, it is an attack on logical thinking people from someone who spends their life on their knees babbling to invisible men (which I believe is a form of submissive schizophrenia).

    Allowing this to be printed under your mast head is clear support of this bigotry… so the question is are you supporting the discussion or only one side of it?

    adam cagle

  208. #208 Rorschach
    May 18, 2009

    Wow, did Rorshach just say that it takes courage to stand up for the right to insult women?

    No Carlie,I didnt.
    Walton said,if you post on a blog with lots of feminists,keep quiet if you disagree.And I disagree with that viewpoint.
    No need for this “right to insult women” strawman.

  209. #209 strange gods before me
    May 18, 2009

    Ah,here we go ! I was waiting for you to tell me what my real intention was in posting that vid,

    No, you liar. I did nothing of the sort.

    What I said was you were sending an implication that was erroneous. You insist that your intention should trump my perception. I simply ask that you consider the implication instead of insisting that your intention can be the only thing that matters. And now this is too much to ask of you, so you start lying about me instead.

    You are dishonest, exceptionally so when it comes to making apologia for sexism, but that’s not what I was saying at first.

  210. #210 Kobra
    May 18, 2009

    @Everyone who responded to my above post:

    Let me restate my point in a clearer fashion:

    Charlotte Allen is a dumb bitch. (It’s a generic insult. Nothing to see here; move along.) Even if there are other women who might classify as dumb or bitchy, I’m not concerned with them right now. My focus is on Charlotte Allen, her stupidity, and her cranky bitching. That’s what I meant to imply.

    Also, let me state for the record that I use the word “bitch” to describe anyone (male or female) who whines about something that nobody cares about with unwarranted self importance. Sometimes I fall into this category. Not sure if I’m breaking a convention here or what.

  211. #211 Sastra
    May 18, 2009

    Charlotte Allen’s column seems to be an extended version of the popular phrase skeptics who critique or debunk irrational pseudosciences hear all the time:

    “It’s not what you’re saying — it’s the way you’re saying it.”

    Uh huh. Right. That must be it.

    Theists would love to have extended dialogues with atheists and listen to reasoned criticism of their beliefs. Atheists would be more than welcome onto discussion panels and eagerly requested to speak to civic groups and school children. Nothing would make theists happier than to vote for atheists, and read thoughtful books on atheism, and consider atheism as part of the mainstream of legitimate viewpoints, and worth considering on its merits.

    But they can’t. We won’t let them. We atheists have this horrible bad attitude — boring, and whiny, and shrill. We keep talking. And, above all, the religious complain, atheists commit the one Unforgivable sin: they act like they think they’re better than other people.

    When you know what people fear, you can control them. In our culture, we fear being what’s known as “stuck-up” — or seeming to be stuck up, which is just as bad. Somehow, they then try to turn this into an argument for the virtue of believing in God. It makes you humble.

    Oh, please. How unoriginal.

    I find it amazing that Ms. Allen refers to the works of Dawkins, Harris, Dennett, and Hitchins and then says that atheists don’t believe God exists because God isn’t fair and good enough to them. Because we’re all so stuck on ourselves, apparently.

    Unlike Ms. Allen, who only wants to be friends, and isn’t at all stuck-up.

  212. #212 Carlie
    May 18, 2009

    Walton didn’t say to keep quiet if you disagree, he said it’s polite to not use particular insults that have a long, florid history of being offensive to the particular group you’re hanging out with at the time. And it’s oppression education 101 that you don’t get to decide which words are offensive to a group you don’t belong to. For a primer on the word bitch itself, go here.

  213. #213 Kobra
    May 18, 2009

    @170:

    Categorically no. I am saying that calling a woman a bitch or a man a dick is only sexist if by those terms you aim to demean them for being the applicable gender. You on the other hand seem to be trying to be frame me as some kind of enabler though.

    Yeah, that’s what I thought.

  214. #214 strange gods before me
    May 18, 2009

    @Everyone who responded to my above post:

    Let me restate my point in a clearer fashion:

    Charlotte Allen is a dumb bitch. (It’s a generic insult. Nothing to see here; move along.)

    Again, you’re wrong, this is not a generic insult.

    Everyone understood you perfectly clearly the first time; you weren’t saying that all women are bitches, etc. Every criticism of your wording applies to your clarification as well. By choosing to respond with a gendered insult, you remind women that they cannot make a stupid mistake without being judged as women.

    Listen to Carlie at #212, if you want to understand. Keep arguing if you want to defend sexism instead.

  215. #215 GilbertNSullivan
    May 18, 2009

    Links provided already, you’re ignoring them.

    My bad: didn’t see them before, reading them with interest now. A cursory glance tells me that I will owe you an apology though.

    Go on and tell me that teaching children to call black people “niggers” doesn’t perpetuate racism, too.

    Why should I? I’ve never maintained anything more than scepticism that the word “bitch” necessarily implies sexism when applied to someone behaving unpleasantly.

    Go on and tell us then that no one can hold unconsciously sexist attitudes.

    I’m rather more interested in peoples’ conscious actions than second-guessing what they themselves are unconscious of.

  216. #216 Kraid
    May 18, 2009

    1. I’m really starting to loathe the idea that atheists need to “engage the believer more seriously.” Yeah sure, there’s a mountain of “sophisticated” theology about the emperor’s new clothes, but I’m not inclined to waste much time reading up on it. Unfortunately, I worry that this makes myself and other atheists appear (at least superficially) like the creatards: willfully ignorant of the subject (in their case, evolution. In ours, theology) but all too eager to criticize it. I have yet to forumulate a satisfactory response to that accusation. I think the answer lies in something fundamentally different about the two… the atheist’s beliefs are generally built up from in skepticism and observable reality, while the theist’s are grounded in all sorts of make-believe and rationalizations for that make-believe… or something like that.

    It’s like the theist is using the wrong end of a telescope to look at life, and then they ask you to take their observations seriously and reconcile them with your own. It’s awfully tempting to just say no reconciliation is necessary, you’re just doing it wrong! But again, that comes off as another strident, arrogant, condescending atheist who is apparently as closed-minded as the theist.

  217. #217 Endor
    May 18, 2009

    “It’s not that we’re not listening, it’s that we don’t agree with you. I have listened to your arguments, considered them, and rejected them.”

    You do understand how condescending and dishonest this comes off, yes? I very much doubt you’ve given it any thought at all. You’ve merely decided that you’re correct. Which is very, very typical behavior in such discussions (as is all the “this is so boring/stupid/worthless/etc!” silencing tactics). The people actually experiencing the affects are wrong, you’re right. Because you say so.

    ++

    “I won’t be told that my actions at work, at the polling booth or doing what I can to support my wife getting her PhD are outweighed by the fact that I simply disagree that “bitch” demeans all women.”

    Using sexist language- or racist language, or ableist language, etc – contributes to the overall problem. Such does not outweigh positive actions, and no one said they did. It simply doesn’t help.

    ++

    These discussions are usually tedious because they’re usually one big round of cramming fingers in ears and screaming “nah nah nah can’t hear you” surrounded by feeble excuses for both using sexist language and refusing to be honest about it, and choosing one’s own narrow, usually uninformed perception over the real world experience of another.

  218. #218 Walton
    May 18, 2009

    Rorschach: Don’t misunderstand me. I wasn’t saying that one should keep quiet about the substance of one’s beliefs in order to avoid causing social disharmony; as a passionate individualist, I certainly don’t believe that.

    Rather, I was merely saying that when you are, as it were, in someone else’s territory, there is no need to deliberately use insults which you know will offend them. There is a difference between rationally expressing a controversial view, and deliberately being offensive for the sake of it.

    For example, I am outspoken – both here and in real life, where I have lots of religious friends – about my lack of belief in a god. Yet, as I pointed out earlier, I would not go out of my way to offend my religious friends by going into a church and spitting on the cross. There would be no possible value to such an act, and it would hurt other people fairly deeply for no good reason.

    Similarly, I would not, when on this site – or in any other context where a significant proportion of people are feminists – go around referring to anyone as a “dumb bitch”. I just wouldn’t. If I’m asked for my opinion on sexism and gender equality, I give it, and the substance of my beliefs certainly irks many people. But there’s a world of difference between that and being offensive.

  219. #219 Kobra
    May 18, 2009

    @214:

    Well, it is a generic insult to me, since I use it pretty indiscriminately to describe both genders, but I really can’t expect anyone here to know that because none of you talk to me in person, so I’m just going to drop it.

    Charlotte Allen is a fucking moron. That’s really all that matters.

  220. #220 Emmet, OM
    May 18, 2009

    Why can’t we all just pledge – for the sake of harmony, if nothing else – that we will not use the word “bitch”, or any other gendered insult towards women, in any discussion on this site?

    I agree, but very few of the regulars ever do, either because they are not so inclined, or for precisely the reason that it leads to this tedious thread derailment. I’m surprised that Kobra, who’s been around a while, started the latest round of derailment on this topic.

    I’m starting to think that PZ should post a notice below every article about a stupid, ignorant, bigoted or otherwise reprehensible woman that reads ?Please avoid gendered epithets as it derails the thread. Any person to use the words bitch, cunt (or similar) will be banned for causing extremely tedious thread derailment.? It sounds like an extreme solution, but it happens every single fucking time PZ blogs about Palin, Bachmann, or any other female imbecile and it has become very tiresome.

  221. #221 Kobra
    May 18, 2009

    @220:

    I’m surprised that Kobra, who’s been around a while, started the latest round of derailment on this topic.

    Yeah, sorry. That was unintentional. It was my failure to communicate effectively.

  222. #222 Endor
    May 18, 2009

    “let me state for the record that I use the word “bitch” to describe anyone (male or female) who whines about something that nobody cares about with unwarranted self importance. Sometimes I fall into this category. Not sure if I’m breaking a convention here or what.”

    Insulting men by calling them women (i.e. “bitch”) is not sexist how?

    We get it – you’re not a sexist. Or rather weren’t trying to be. Doesn’t change the problems with the words used.

  223. #223 Leonard Pinth-Garnell
    May 18, 2009

    “The plain facts of the matter is that most of the Bible is a flat out forgery undertaken by Constantine to placate these idiots and get them to stop killing each other.”

    Best send-up of the week. Well done.

  224. #224 strange gods before me
    May 18, 2009

    Why should I? I’ve never maintained anything more than scepticism that the word “bitch” necessarily implies sexism when applied to someone behaving unpleasantly.

    And I’m only saying that actions can be sexist regardless of intent.

    For example, some of the pay discrimination against women is due to unconscious and unexamined attitudes. That’s unfortunate, but the effect is still that women are paid less. It’s a sexist outcome.

    Much as life would be simpler if we could focus only on conscious intention, that will not address all the real discrimination in the world.

  225. #225 Endor
    May 18, 2009

    “It sounds like an extreme solution, but it happens every single fucking time PZ blogs about Palin, Bachmann, or any other female imbecile and it has become very tiresome.”

    Then perhaps its not an extreme solution. What does it say about the people who can’t, not ONCE, let a topic about an ignorant ass who happens to be female pass without misogynistic insults? As people are under no mandate to stay silent about bigotry, someone is always going to call it out, creating more “tiresome” discussions about respecting women.

  226. #226 Deen
    May 18, 2009

    Benzion N. Chinn wrote (#165):

    As I see it secularists have learned from the religious to play the polemical card and the religious have learned from seculars to play the victim card. Everyone learns the worst from each other.

    Actually, the persecution card has been used by the church from the start – wasn’t Jesus persecuted and didn’t he die a martyr? Persecution has always been an important part of Christianity. Admittedly, during part of its early history, they actually were being persecuted, by the Romans. Ironically, the Romans persecuted the early Christians for being too atheistic: they denied the whole pantheon.

  227. #227 Kobra
    May 18, 2009

    @222:

    Doesn’t change the problems with the words used.

    Get over it. If I was not using the words to slander and demean women, or the equivalent, I don’t see a problem. Well, maybe that’s not how I should phrase it. I do see a problem, but the problem deals with other people getting offended and I don’t honestly care about others’ feelings.

    If there are a lot of readers here who have dealt with rampant sexism and are hurt by my usage of a word that used to slander them in a different context, then I’ll simply refrain from using it here. It doesn’t change that I use it elsewhere, so it’s not “self-censorship to appease the offended” or whatever that strawman has evolved into. Therefore, everybody wins.

  228. #228 strange gods before me
    May 18, 2009

    Well, it is a generic insult to me, since I use it pretty indiscriminately to describe both genders, but I really can’t expect anyone here to know that because none of you talk to me in person, so I’m just going to drop it.

    Kobra, once the words leave your mouth they impact the world in a certain way. You can’t make the word “bitch” not be sexist, except perhaps if you keep it entirely in your own head.

  229. #229 Rorschach
    May 18, 2009

    Similarly, I would not, when on this site – or in any other context where a significant proportion of people are feminists – go around referring to anyone as a “dumb bitch”

    and

    Rather, I was merely saying that when you are, as it were, in someone else’s territory, there is no need to deliberately use insults which you know will offend them

    Yes,I understand that.
    My point is that claiming the meaning of certain words,and claiming the “territory”,is a tactic that makes it impossible for anyone else to argue against it.Its a fundamentalist tactic,and not good reasoning at all.
    Unfortunately,and not only on this blog,rational arguments about this always get drowned by a wave of emotion caused by personal involvement,claims of being “sexist” etc,so it always ends in name-calling and people interpreting the “true” meaning of what you say for you.

    What Carlie wrote:

    And it’s oppression education 101 that you don’t get to decide which words are offensive to a group you don’t belong to

    It is therefore pointless to participate in these discussions.So Nerd’s and Chimpy’s tactic is probably in fact the better one..:-)

  230. #230 Kobra
    May 18, 2009

    @227:

    Wow, massive formatting fail. I should get a V mask for that one.

  231. #231 Endor
    May 18, 2009

    “Get over it”

    In other words, BE SILENT. That’s totally going work, I’m sure.

    “I do see a problem, but the problem deals with other people getting offended and I don’t honestly care about others’ feelings. ”

    So, you’re saying that you don’t have to care what bigotry does to other people because it doesn’t affect you. You do realize that this comes off as self-obsessed and privileged, right?

  232. #232 Kobra
    May 18, 2009

    @228:

    You can’t make the word “bitch” not be sexist, except perhaps if you keep it entirely in your own head.

    Very true. However, I’m not very comfortable with the proposition that certain words have inseparable cultural baggage associated with them. It might very well be true, but it’s not an idea that I’m comfortable with.

  233. #233 strange gods before me
    May 18, 2009

    Get over it. If I was not using the words to slander and demean women, or the equivalent, I don’t see a problem. Well, maybe that’s not how I should phrase it. I do see a problem, but the problem deals with other people getting offended and I don’t honestly care about others’ feelings.

    Ah. In that case I refer you to http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/05/charlotte_allen_really_is_angr.php#comment-1640144

    If you act like a sexist accidentally, and then when your accident is pointed out, you continue to do it deliberately, then you are deliberately a sexist.

    You are a fucking moron. That’s really all that matters.

  234. #234 Glen Davidson
    May 18, 2009

    I don’t know, I’ve tended to think atheists were boring, when arguing against god. Not much meat there, you know–meaning that there’s so little to theism.

    I don’t think she’d have written a long diatribe against them if she thought so, though.

    Her problem seems to come up at the end of her rant, which is that it’s hard believing in magic tales. And then come along a bunch of people who say, “then don’t.” That’s so unkind to mindless believers, and she hates them for it.

    I would have to ask, like someone else did, who is she anyway?

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

  235. #235 Kobra
    May 18, 2009

    @231:

    “Get over it”

    In other words, BE SILENT. That’s totally going work, I’m sure.

    No. “Get over it” is not the same thing as “Shut up.” “Get over it” means that you’re objecting to what I perceive to be a non-issue.

  236. #236 Walton
    May 18, 2009

    I do see a problem, but the problem deals with other people getting offended and I don’t honestly care about others’ feelings.

    [my emphasis]

    Are you serious?

    And to think I get accused of being arrogant and self-obsessed.

    Like many people, I lack natural empathy and find it hard to judge other people’s emotional reactions to what I’m saying; but at least I try. It would be forgivable if you simply hadn’t considered or foreseen how your choice of words would affect other people. But I find it very worrying that you frankly admit to not even caring how other people are emotionally impacted by your word choices.

    If other people’s feelings are not important, then what do you care about?

  237. #237 strange gods before me
    May 18, 2009

    “Get over it” means that you’re objecting to what I perceive to be a non-issue.

    Kobra: all that matters in the world.

    Everyone else: a non-issue.

  238. #238 Endor
    May 18, 2009

    Out of curiosity, Rorschach – have you ever considered that maybe it’s not all those whiny, crazy fundamentalists feminists (you claim exist) that are the problem? Perhaps these (apparently existing) people know more about certain subjects then you do and you simply failed to grasp that before breaking off more than you could chew in a debate with them?

    That’s something seen at feminists sites painfully often – The Newcomer Who Knows Everything Comes To Teach The Silly Feminists A Lesson.

    Sound familiar? Pharyngula gets that an awful lot too – just in Theist flavor.

  239. #239 Holbach
    May 18, 2009

    Who gives a crap what Charlotte Allen thinks or says? I pay as much heed to that moron as I do to idiotic rantings. If she would like to debate, I’m sure we can accomodate her and her turnip brain and prepare her for a full dessication of her religion spattered brain. Her brain will have as much substance as Charlotte’s web.

  240. #240 Kobra
    May 18, 2009

    “I do see a problem, but the problem deals with other people getting offended and I don’t honestly care about others’ feelings. “

    So, you’re saying that you don’t have to care what bigotry does to other people because it doesn’t affect you. You do realize that this comes off as self-obsessed and privileged, right?

    It’s not bigotry! We’re arguing over word choice and semantics.

    Furthermore, it’s not that I don’t care what happens to other people, I just don’t care about their emotions.

    This conversation is quickly going from pointless to meaningless. If we continue, we’re all just going to continue getting increasingly defensive because you all are inclined to act like I’m the Paladin of Injustice or something and I’m inclined to act like you are trying to change me as a person and it’s just not going to be productive.

    With that in mind, I concede.

  241. #241 Anonymous
    May 18, 2009

    “Get over it” means that you’re objecting to what I perceive to be a non-issue.”

    You have the right to say what you will, and so do I. What YOU perceive to be a non-issue is irrelevant to me.

  242. #242 Kobra
    May 18, 2009

    If other people’s feelings are not important, then what do you care about?

    It’s not just other peoples’ emotions, I don’t care about my own emotions. Sometimes they get in the way, but I try my best to ignore them.

    What do I care about? Nothing relevant to this discussion.

  243. #243 strange gods before me
    May 18, 2009

    Hey, Walton.

    Don’t leave me hanging too long on the power/freedom thing back in the other thread, please. I’m interested in your thoughts. Even if those thoughts are as sparse as “sounds like bullshit to me.”

  244. #244 Endor
    May 18, 2009

    “It’s not bigotry! We’re arguing over word choice and semantics. ”

    I’ll clarify: The wording was bigoted. I’m not calling you a bigot.

    It’s merely word choice semantics to you because it doesn’t personally affect you. I feel very differently. And were this discussion about theist’s speaking about atheists, so would you.

  245. #245 Kobra
    May 18, 2009

    @244:

    And were this discussion about theist’s speaking about atheists, so would you.

    Aside from the tendency of theists to make straw man claims about all atheists at once and to use the logical fallacies that get under my skin the most, yes, but to a lesser degree.

    If anyone else wants to continue bitching at me about how much of an inconsiderate asshole I am, I’m signing on meebo right now. My AIM screen name is cr4kobra. Let’s not flood Pharyngula with this derailment.

  246. #246 stogoe
    May 18, 2009

    Well, it is a generic insult to me, since I use it pretty indiscriminately to describe both genders,

    So your point is that you insult men by calling them women? That you think calling someone a ‘Woman’ is an insult?

  247. #247 Pareidolius
    May 18, 2009

    I find it ironic that atheists will gladly sink into a morass of telling each other how to feel and what to believe. Can we call Allen some nice body-related yet pan-gender slurs? Could she be a sphincter-head? A spleen-weasel? A phlegmy lung-bat? Will the lung-bat slur insult Chiroptera Americans? I’m sure I shall be set straight . . . hey I’m gay and I resent the idea that I need to be “straight”! Oh, great, now I’m doing it . . .

  248. #248 Kobra
    May 18, 2009

    So your point is that you insult men by calling them women?

    No, because I don’t tend to associate “bitch” with “woman.” Although, now that I analyze what the word means, I do see a pretty obvious logical connection between the two.

  249. #249 Prof. Henry Armitage
    May 18, 2009

    #165: “In theory I would be the ideal target for evangelical atheism.”

    Why would anyone want to change your beliefs? If you’re happy with them, and they are causing no-one else any harm, then… meh.

    “As I see it secularists have learned from the religious to play the polemical card and the religious have learned from seculars to play the victim card.”

    The fact that you happily conflate “secular” and “atheist” is not very impressive.

  250. #250 Emmet, OM
    May 18, 2009

    What does it say about the people who can’t, not ONCE, let a topic about an ignorant ass who happens to be female pass without misogynistic insults?

    Most likely, there’ll always be a few. Most of us avoid the use of certain gendered epithets either because we recognise them as misogynistic or because we don’t want to derail the thread. I think it’s usually someone new who hasn’t seen the dozens of train-wreck threads on this issue.

    á

    As people are under no mandate to stay silent about bigotry, someone is always going to call it out, creating more “tiresome” discussions about respecting women.

    Yes, I would prefer that people didn’t use gendered epithets in exactly the same way that I prefer that people don’t use the word ?nigger?: it would be nice if everyone eschewed it, but if some people abstain from using it solely to avoid having scorn heaped upon them, then that’s better than them using it.

  251. #251 Endor
    May 18, 2009

    “If anyone else wants to continue bitching at me about how much of an inconsiderate asshole I am, ”

    *lol* Even calmly discussing something with you is both “bitching” and insulting you in some way. My goodness, such thin skin.

  252. #252 Pierce R. Butler
    May 18, 2009

    raven @ # 195: The number of open atheists in the US congress right now is zero although unconfirmed rumors are that there might be a few in the closet.

    Pete Stark is still a sitting Representative, thank FSM!

  253. #253 Carlie
    May 18, 2009

    If I was not using the words to slander and demean women, or the equivalent, I don’t see a problem.

    Then think of this: those words have always, since they were invented, been use to slander and demean women. You may be the bright shining exception, but the majority of other people still use them that way. And when you use those words, you are condoning and encouraging their use by the people who really DO mean it that way. You are their cover, in the same way that moderate Christians are the cover for extreme fundamentalists. “Oh, I’m not one of those people who mean THAT by it”. No, you’re just using the exact same language, and thereby contributing to a culture that makes it ok to talk about women that way, and making the extreme misogynists much more comfortable about it.

    Also, think about what it really means. What is the definition of a bitch? Why isn’t it used for men nearly as often as for women? Because it describes a particular kind of woman. It describes a woman who isn’t acting the way a woman “should” act. A way, in fact, that passes without note for a man, which is why they are almost never called bitches. (Unless one is trying to get a twofer with a gay slur as well.) How is it an insult at all, if not implying that the person in question is acting like a woman who is bucking societal norms in a negative way?

  254. #254 Kobra
    May 18, 2009

    @251: Er, I was being tongue-in-cheek. If I felt I was being bitched at, I wouldn’t give you guys a way to contact me in realtime, would I?

  255. #255 Rorschach
    May 18, 2009

    Endor @ 238,

    have you ever considered that maybe it’s not all those whiny, crazy fundamentalists feminists (you claim exist) that are the problem? Perhaps these (apparently existing) people know more about certain subjects then you do and you simply failed to grasp that before breaking off more than you could chew in a debate with them?

    Strawman,but thats ok.
    I dont consider special interest groups “whiny” because they have a special interest they are emotionally involved in and represent in public fora,its what they do,and its important they do.
    Suggesting that I just dont “get” what it’s about because these people “know more about certain subjects” I think just reflects that members of special interest groups are more emotionally/personally involved.
    It doesnt mean that I dont “get” it.
    You are confusing my arguing against claiming ownership of certain terms and the declaration of certain “mots de guerre” as offensive with dismissal of feminist arguments.Nothing could be further from the truth,but insinuations are much easier then good arguments,a fact I acknowledge.Thats why I said staying out of those discussions is generally the wiser option.

  256. #256 Kobra
    May 18, 2009

    @253:

    Right. Except this part. “It describes a woman who isn’t acting the way a woman “should” act.” That’s an outdated notion. Or perhaps that’s your point.

    I see what you guys are saying, though.

  257. #257 strange gods before me
    May 18, 2009

    I find it ironic that atheists will gladly sink into a morass of telling each other how to feel and what to believe.

    I find it idiotic that you associate atheism with lack of any values at all.

    To believe that anything is correct is to believe that others ought to agree, and that if they don’t, at least one party is wrong.

    Arguing about it is the obvious response, else why did you even bother to comment?

  258. #258 Prof. Henry Armitage
    May 18, 2009

    #180: “My take-away-and-keep realization from Charlotte Allen’s blather is that she reads PZ’s blog…and she writes down every word that she considers personally insulting. She has great respect for PZ.”

    Has anyone seen Charlotte Allen and Casey Luskin in the same room? Anyone?

  259. #259 Kobra
    May 18, 2009

    @257:
    Oh snap!

    @258:
    Oh snap!

    (Yes, I had the same response to two consecutive posts. That’s so improbable that I can think of no other conclusion that it was caused by a omnipotent deadbeat.)

  260. #260 Kraid
    May 18, 2009

    Eh, insulting men by calling them feminine in some respect doesn’t equate to insulting femininity itself. It’s a subtle enough point that it usually gets overlooked by the zealous, but FWIW, the insult is that the man isn’t behaving as expected (i.e. masculine). There aren’t many examples of this being reversed, which I attribute to the fact that masculinity is a much more rigid straight-jacket than femininity… but one example I’ve heard is a woman called “butch” as an insult. It’s pretty obvious that this isn’t an insult to masculinity itself, but rather a way of insulting someone by saying they don’t possess the qualities that they’re supposed to. Of course, whether those expectations themselves are idiotic or not is another matter entirely.

  261. #261 chgo_liz
    May 18, 2009

    Kobra @ #232:

    Very true. However, I’m not very comfortable with the proposition that certain words have inseparable cultural baggage associated with them. It might very well be true, but it’s not an idea that I’m comfortable with.

    You’re on an atheist’s blog, posting on a thread about yet another (culturally supported) example of atheism-bashing, living in a country in which the majority of the population actually believes the word “atheist” is a synonym for “immoral,” and that’s what you have to add to the discussion?

    This is not the place to be if feeling comfortable is your primary objective.

  262. #262 Cosmic Teapot
    May 18, 2009

    When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

    I’ll fetch the lions, you fetch the christians.

  263. #263 Kobra
    May 18, 2009

    @261:

    Well, the notion that the scars of the past that were inflicted on people that will be dead in 50 years anyway will never heal (or, at least, take several hundred years) seems a tad bit strange. Part of my brain says “Something is wrong here,” but I don’t know what.

  264. #264 Prof. Henry Armitage
    May 18, 2009

    “I had no idea atheists despised agnostics for their wishywashyness.”

    Atheism and agnosticism refer to two different concepts: god-belief, and knowledge. They are not in the least bit mutually exclusive. Most atheists can be described as agnostic, and many agnostics can be described as atheist.

    It’s true that some atheists get tired of agnostics who vociferously state that they are not atheists, despite the fact that they do not actually believe in any gods. The same atheists would also get tired at people who believe that the Sun orbits the Earth.

  265. #265 Kobra
    May 18, 2009

    “Most atheists can be described as agnostic, and many agnostics can be described as atheist.”

    Yeah. Technically, I’m what Richard Dawkins described as a Temporary Agnostic in Practice and Albert Ellis described as a Probabilistic Atheist. Atheist is a less verbose adjective, though.

  266. #266 Cosmic Teapot
    May 18, 2009

    some atheists are probably axe-murderers.

    I’m smiling because they haven’t found the bodies yet ;)

    Whoop’s that was out loud, wasn’t it.

  267. #267 Prof. Henry Armitage
    May 18, 2009

    “(Yes, I had the same response to two consecutive posts. That’s so improbable that I can think of no other conclusion that it was caused by a omnipotent deadbeat.)”

    Sorry, Kobra. I would have checked for similar responses, but this thread is running so fast, and the site is soooooooooo running slow, so I didn’t.

    ——

    (Seriously, PZ, can you get the Seed overlords to do something about the performance (and now, formatting) issues? Cheers)

  268. #268 Kobra
    May 18, 2009

    @267:

    Haha. Don’t bother; it was a joke.

  269. #269 Endor
    May 18, 2009

    “I was being tongue-in-cheek.”

    As was I.

    ++

    “I dont consider special interest groups “whiny”

    Whiny was my shorthand for the way your portrayed them in earlier posts.

    “Nothing could be further from the truth,but insinuations are much easier then good arguments,a fact I acknowledge.”

    I get the joke now. You make post after post that rather artfully contain no direct statement of your own opinion except one (#229. )That way, despite having said only one thing for someone to go on, you can throw out all kinds of underhanded insults at them for getting you All. Wrong.

    Silly me. I should have seen that coming.

  270. #270 Kobra
    May 18, 2009

    @269:

    Cursed text-based communication media! We should probably use emoticons, even if they are a bit annoying.

  271. #271 aratina cage
    May 18, 2009

    The plain facts of the matter is that most of the Bible is a flat out forgery undertaken by Constantine to placate these idiots and get them to stop killing each other.

    Which is why I find it hilariously ironic when Christians go around quoting Jesus: “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.” Without Caesar, there would be no Christians.

  272. #272 Rorschach
    May 18, 2009

    You make post after post that rather artfully contain no direct statement of your own opinion except one

    *Sigh*

    As this thread again has shown,I can rely on people to interpret the true meaning of my posts for me,even if it is a music vid,I cannot hide the true hidden anti-feminist message…..:-)

    Where is nothing’s sacred when you need him.
    Night.

  273. #273 Endor
    May 18, 2009

    “insulting men by calling them feminine in some respect doesn’t equate to insulting femininity itself.”

    Insulting a man by calling him a woman is saying that to be a woman, or to be like to woman, is beneath is man.

    It is a direct insult to the man’s masculinity using accusations of femininity.

    nothing subtle about it.

    Notice that it’s only “bad” to be “butch” in a woman, because it means she’s not docile and obedient enough.

  274. #274 Pierce R. Butler
    May 18, 2009

    Carlie @ # 253: What is the definition of a bitch?

    Historical trivia of possible relevance: use of the b-word to describe women goes back to Elizabethan times, when it was applied to prostitutes. Anyone who’s observed the behavior of competing working girls in a buyers’ market, and that of a (canine) bitch in heat, should have little difficulty in finding a basis for the metaphor.

    The linguistic metamorphosis over the last four centuries might make an interesting study, in that the partially contradictory words “bitch” and “whore” are now used together mostly when someone angry at a given woman is running through their full vocabulary of invective.

  275. #275 Sastra
    May 18, 2009

    Kraid #216 wrote:

    Unfortunately, I worry that this makes myself and other atheists appear (at least superficially) like the creatards: willfully ignorant of the subject (in their case, evolution. In ours, theology) but all too eager to criticize it. I have yet to forumulate a satisfactory response to that accusation. I think the answer lies in something fundamentally different about the two… the atheist’s beliefs are generally built up from in skepticism and observable reality, while the theist’s are grounded in all sorts of make-believe and rationalizations for that make-believe… or something like that.

    I think your approach to the charge that ‘the atheist is ignorant of theology in the same way the creationist is ignorant of evolution’ is a good one, because it starts to get into the disconnect between science and faith. Theology is only analogous to the scientific theory of evolution if the existence of God is rationally demonstrable to skeptics through reason and evidence — and that’s why people believe in it. But Allen’s snarling caricature of the humanist position — “if science can’t prove something, it doesn’t exist” — shows that no, she does not want God’s existence to be approached the same way we approach the theory of evolution. It’s not science, fer crissakes.

    She –and many other theists — really fail to get the significant import behind the response “it isn’t? Well, why not? When you look at the claim carefully, shouldn’t it be? Isn’t it already?”

    Dr. Harriet Hall invented a phrase she uses when dealing with the so-called scientific evidence for alternative medicine: “Tooth-fairy science.” It refers to studies which get involved in measuring and comparing and refining our understanding of something like homeopathy or energy healing, and never examine whether there is really anything there to examine in the first place. She says this is like collecting data on how much money children get for their teeth from the tooth fairy, and thinking you’re adding to the heavy weight of evidence for her existence.

    A lot of apologetics are Tooth-Fairy Science. Theology is a sort of pseudoscience.

    Arguments for the existence of God either don’t work, or only get you a God which can be reconciled with our observations IF you really want to believe in it, for other reasons.

  276. #276 Walton
    May 18, 2009

    strange gods: I’ve replied on the Daniel Hauser thread.

  277. #277 ThirtyFiveUp
    May 18, 2009

    Send those letters; you know you want to. But avoid the naughty words.

    letters@latimes.com

  278. #278 Zia
    May 18, 2009

    The Sunday morning cartoon shows are not to be taken any more seriously than the Saturday.

  279. #279 Emmet, OM
    May 18, 2009

    Kraid & Sastra,

    Well, I think that we have to distinguish between the the subset of theology that overlaps with other disciplines ? history, linguistics, literary analysis, paleography, anthropology etc. ? and the pseudo-philosophical fiction of theology that distinguishes it ? arguments for god(s), properties of god(s), how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, etc.

    I think it’s possible, as Dawkins does, to acknowledge the good bits while rejecting the preposterous speculation out-of-hand.

    The theists expect us to seriously engage with a vast quantity of material on the desires, character, and other properties of their invisible magic friend(s) without any empirical evidence for his/her/their existence. I think it’s perfectly fair to call them out on that ? there is nothing crassly ignorant about rejecting leprechology until there is evidence for leprechauns, and the same goes for theology and gods.

  280. #280 Sven DiMilo
    May 18, 2009

    Evidence from this thread:
    She’s right. We are boring.

  281. #281 Kraid
    May 18, 2009

    It is a direct insult to the man’s masculinity using accusations of femininity.

    Here I agree.

    Insulting a man by calling him a woman is saying that to be a woman, or to be like to woman, is beneath is man. [...] nothing subtle about it.

    Here I disagree. Or at least, I don’t necessarily agree. The insult is that he’s deviating from expected norms, not that femininity in itself is inferior to masculinity by some objective measure. That’s the subtle part.

    Notice that it’s only “bad” to be “butch” in a woman, because it means she’s not docile and obedient enough.

    If we’re using docile and obedient to describe femininity, then yes, this illustrates my point. The insult is rooted in the idea that she isn’t behaving as expected, not in the idea that “butchness” in itself is bad. Calling a man mannish isn’t an insult, but calling a woman mannish is; it has nothing to do with whether mannishness is a bad trait.

    All this being said, for the sake of heading off confusion I want to repeat that the different expectations we place on men and women may be idiotic (for example, subservience as an expectation of women), but that’s a separate issue.

  282. #282 Qwerty
    May 18, 2009

    Nothing like reading a whine about how whiny atheists are.

  283. #283 JHS
    May 18, 2009

    I don’t care how wry or witty or sarcastic they are, I will never cease to be amazed when people take on atheists for being, for lack of a better word, ridiculous (whiny, shrill, wrong, whatever). You implicitly endorse a system of belief that is entirely based in fiction, tribal lore, etc, and you want to lecture US about how WE conduct our rational, woo-less selves? Really?

    And funnily enough, I imagine that Ms. Allen and I might agree on many points. It’s like a gay man that rags on the “gayer” guys…I can only wonder, what exactly are you trying to accomplish here? Because you’re either implying that one must be credulous and “faithful,” or . . . what?

    She seems fairly typical for a media type…wondering aloud and thus validating the most absurd things, just for the hell of it. Maybe the sun IS made of candy and angel farts — we’ll have a roundtable, up next!

  284. #284 Holbach
    May 18, 2009

    Sastra @ 275

    Theology is a sort of pseudoscience?

  285. #285 Sastra
    May 18, 2009

    Emmett OM #279 wrote:

    I think it’s perfectly fair to call them out on that ? there is nothing crassly ignorant about rejecting leprechology until there is evidence for leprechauns, and the same goes for theology and gods.

    I agree. And studying the myths and legends of leprechonology, and the social practices, superstitions, and symbols which came out of it, would be a perfectly reasonable thing to do (assuming you’re not planning on making a living out of it.) Perhaps there’s a distinction between religious studies — the history, linguistics, literary analysis, paleography, anthropology, even neurology of religious belief — and theology, which comes down to the study, not of God-belief, but of God itself.

  286. #286 Rick020200
    May 18, 2009

    In his online “Atheist Manifesto,” Harris writes that “no person, whatever his or her qualifications, can seek public office in the United States without pretending to be certain that … God exists.” The evidence? Antique clauses in the constitutions of six — count ‘em — states barring atheists from office.

    Perhaps I missed it if someone else pointed this out, but this seems not only naive, but incredibly dishonest. She implies that Harris uses state constitutional law as evidence supporting the assertion that we can’t run for office. I can’t find any mention of state constitutions in the manifesto. So, she has copied his quote, then added her own ridiculous evidence for believers to laugh at. The reality is far more nuanced, as others have pointed out, e.g. wheatdogg @19. But the implied “evidence” is her own, and its wrong to imply it was Harris’.

  287. #287 Sastra
    May 18, 2009

    Holbach #284 wrote:

    Theology is a sort of pseudoscience?

    I’m suggesting it, yes, having recently reread Sokol’s essay on “Pseudoscience and Postmodernism” in Archaeological Fantasies (great book!) — in his appendix, he makes a case that traditional religions fit most of the characteristics of pseudoscience.

    (You can read it online at http://www.physics.nyu.edu/faculty/sokal/pseudoscience_rev.pdf

    Here is his list for pseudoscience:

    1.) It makes assertions about real or alleged phenomena and/or real or alleged causal relations that mainstream science justifiably considers to be utterly implausible.

    2.) It attempts to support these assertions through types of argumentation or evidence that fall far short of the logical and evidentiary standards of mainstream science.

    3.) Most often (though not always), pseudoscience claims to be scientific and even

    3′) claims to relate its assertions to genuine science, particularly cutting-edge scientific discoveries.

    4.) It involves not a single isolated belief, but a rather complex and logically coherent system that “explains” a wide variety of phenomena (or alleged phenomena.)

    5.) Practitioners undergo an extensive process of training and credentialing.

    Sokol writes “Items (1),(2), and (4) describe the traditional religions so perfectly that further explanation is hardly needed. Items 3 and 3′ are less common in the traditional religions, but are becoming more frequent in recent years among the more sophisticated advocates of religious ideas.”

    Since pseudoscience is classified as being like religion, maybe it works both ways.

  288. #288 Holbach
    May 18, 2009

    Sastra @ 287

    Sastra, it would be the same if I said that tooth fairyology is a sort of pseudoscience. You cannot equate one nonsense with another and lend credence to it. It is still nonsense no matter in any combination.

  289. #289 hrob27
    May 18, 2009

    Just for the record, I read the LA Times everyday, I am a professed Christian, and yet I have no idea why anyone would listen to this raving lunatic of a woman. Until now, I’ve never even heard of Ms. Allen, and now that I have, I don’t feel that I missed out on much. First of all, in reference to her other article, why is she bashing her own gender?

    My only hope is that nonbelievers do not accept this person’s ridiculous views as indicative of how all believers feel or think. I myself have no problem with those who choose not to believe in any particular deity. And despite what she says, Allen is dead wrong. Anybody running for public office at any level wouldn’t have a chance of winning an election if they admitted publicly that he or she did not believe in God.

    The problem is not faith itself, but rather the extremes to which people are willing to go to enforce complicity with laws based on those beliefs. This is the biggest problem facing our society today, and it remains the reason why the debates concerning abortion, stem cell research, and gay marriage simply won’t end. A lot of believers just don’t seem to understand that they can’t just force their views on everybody else. In fact, many of them are convinced that their faith is under attack, and thus they have to launch some sort of counter-assault in order to preserve what they believe to be true.

    This is the cloth from which Charlotte Allen is cut. No matter how much you try to reason with people like her, they will never listen. The only thing rational people on both sides of the God debate can do is shake their heads and move on. Let each person find peace and understanding in their own way.

  290. #290 Hu
    May 18, 2009

    Atheists are boring in a fascinating way.

  291. #291 Holbach
    May 18, 2009

    hrob27 @ 289

    Peace maybe, but never understanding.

  292. #292 Emmet, OM
    May 18, 2009

    Thus spake Pharyngulord Sastra:

    I agree. And studying the myths and legends of leprechonology, and the social practices, superstitions, and symbols which came out of it, would be a perfectly reasonable thing to do (assuming you’re not planning on making a living out of it.)

    Sure, and there surely are mythologists who specialise in medieval Irish/Celtic mythology who undoubtedly do study these things and even make a (partial) living out of it.

    á

    Perhaps there’s a distinction between religious studies — the history, linguistics, literary analysis, paleography, anthropology, even neurology of religious belief — and theology, which comes down to the study, not of God-belief, but of God itself.

    I’m not disagreeing with you ? I think that is a fair dichotomy ? but I’m not entirely sure that such a clear distinction is commonly accepted. For example, I would see comparing different theologies, say Jewish and Christian theology, as being a perfectly reasonable thing to study, falling on the ?study of religious belief? side rather than the ?study of God?, but I’m not sure that it wouldn’t be considered ?comparative theology? and part of theology. I suppose that the point I’m making is that when we say ?theology is bullshit?, we ought to be careful to specify theology ?in the narrow sense, as the study of the existence, character, and attributes of God? (or somesuch), excluding the legitimate religious studies parts that are often considered part of theology in the broader sense, if we want to preempt accusations of being ?ignorant of theology?. It’s possible to be a theologian in the broader sense without being a God-riddled idiot ? Hector Avalos, for example, is often (albeit wrongly ? he is Professor of Religious Studies) referred to as a theologian.

  293. #293 Dahan
    May 18, 2009

    She’s not bored by atheists, she’s scared.

  294. #294 Siamang
    May 18, 2009

    Thanks for the kind words hrob27.

    You wrote:

    “The problem is not faith itself, but rather the extremes to which people are willing to go to enforce complicity with laws based on those beliefs. This is the biggest problem facing our society today, and it remains the reason why the debates concerning abortion, stem cell research, and gay marriage simply won’t end.”

    I see your point. But also one might argue that the problem IS faith, for faith is what takes issues like abortion, stem cell etc off the table of debate and puts them up on a shelf alongside other things *that Shall Not Be Questioned*. If you and I have differing opinions on what should be done with stem cells, we might have a chance to solve it. But not so if one party to the discussion posits an invisible, undetectable magical property to those cells and says another invisible undetectable magical entity will get angry unless I agree with you.

    In essence, faith is an assertion of epistemological superiority which ends any and all discussions where common ground could otherwise be reached based on shared, verifiable reality.

    Skeptics provide a much-needed but rarely-heeded reality check to faith, which by definition cannot make a claim bounded in any way by any reality-based limitation.

  295. #295 Carlie
    May 18, 2009

    The insult is that he’s deviating from expected norms, not that femininity in itself is inferior to masculinity by some objective measure. That’s the subtle part.

    And it’s the expected norms that are the problem. Using feminine insults for a man or the opposite reinforces that there are norms that they ought to be meeting and aren’t. It hurts men too, by not allowing them to enjoy lots of things they might otherwise be drawn to.
    I don’t think it’s at all stretching it to say that femininity is inferior to masculinity in those insults- one isn’t just a girl, but a sissy girl or a whiny girl or a crybaby girl or hey, just a girl is enough to cause a fight. A girl being “butch” isn’t an insult on nearly the same level.

  296. #296 AdamK
    May 18, 2009

    Among my acquaintances who are about Kobra’s age–perhaps a little younger–it seems to me (from casual observation) that “bitch” really has lost its gender associations. I’d guess it’s used by males and females toward both females and males roughly equally.

    I think they’re deriving it via back-formation from the verb “to bitch,” meaning “to complain,” and using it to describe someone as a whiner. I doubt they’d construe it as anything like a “vile insult.”

    So perhaps one should not be too quick to assign nefarious motivations, conscious or un-, to Kobra.

    He is probably well advised to stop using the word, of course, to avoid misunderstanding and offence.

  297. #297 Snarla
    May 18, 2009

    Boring? In what alternate universe?

  298. #298 frank keefe
    May 18, 2009

    Im from the UK and saw this article on a forum.I thought I would take a look at this site to see your constructive comments and guess what she has got you boring atheists bang to rights.The comments here (except mine that is) are infantile and boring beyond belief its the stuff we used to call each other in the school yard when I was a kid.You criticise her rant and all Ive seen here are super rants.I look at this and other atheist sites and they reek of self-engrandizement and juvenile mockery of those who have the audacity not to take on their atheistic ideology you all bow down and worship at the feet of Dawkins.Viewing the comments posted here I do wonder if some of you have ever managed to lift yourselves out of that primordial soup you continually rant on about..

  299. #299 Anthony McCarthy
    May 18, 2009

    Well, she is practicing group guilt through dishonest stereotyping, but that’s not any different from what’s done here just about every day.

    You and she deserve each other.

  300. #300 Emmet, OM
    May 18, 2009

    Re #298,

    They must be rationing commas and apostrophes in the UK.

  301. #301 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 18, 2009

    Re #298,

    They must be rationing commas and apostrophes in the UK.

    We won’t say else is being rationed, but lack of perspective is one of them. Must be another god-besoaked-bot.

  302. #302 Mike
    May 18, 2009

    I think she meant to write “boor” instead of “bore” but a common mistake for people who don’t pay attention to what they’re saying.

  303. #303 Jadehawk
    May 18, 2009

    Among my acquaintances who are about Kobra’s age–perhaps a little younger–it seems to me (from casual observation) that “bitch” really has lost its gender associations. I’d guess it’s used by males and females toward both females and males roughly equally.
    I think they’re deriving it via back-formation from the verb “to bitch,” meaning “to complain,” and using it to describe someone as a whiner. I doubt they’d construe it as anything like a “vile insult.”
    So perhaps one should not be too quick to assign nefarious motivations, conscious or un-, to Kobra.
    He is probably well advised to stop using the word, of course, to avoid misunderstanding and offence.

    I can confirm this. I could never figure out what the fuck the problem was with the word “bitch” until I heard my boyfriend’s brother use it to describe his girlfriend in a very particular tone. My first reaction was to want to shrink into the background. the second was to want to rip his face off. the third was to try to figure out if it’s better to reclaim that word (“you say ‘bitch’ as it were a bad thing…) or stop using it all together. the fourth was to stop using it as an insult, because that serves neither purpose in step 3

  304. #304 Carlie
    May 18, 2009

    Reclamation is a good thing, but incredibly tricky. The biggest problem is that to reclaim it, it can’t be used in the original sense or in a way that could be interpreted as the original sense, which is a difficult thing to do.

    If we’re being infantile schoolyard brats in the primordial soup, then #298 definitely needs to be given a wedgie.

  305. #305 Ciaphas
    May 18, 2009

    I thought I would take a look at this site to see your constructive comments and guess what she has got you boring atheists bang to rights.The comments here (except mine that is) are infantile and boring beyond belief its the stuff we used to call each other in the school yard when I was a kid.You criticise her rant and all Ive seen here are super rants.

    Let me sum up the discussion so far:

    Charlotte Allen: wharrgarbl!!!!

    Pharyngulites: That was pretty fucking stupid.

    You: OMG! You can’t refute wharrgarbl without resorting to ridicule!

    Maybe we can’t refute wharrgarbl without making fun of it. But can you refute racoon gymnasium donut pencil brick?

    You can’t, can you?

  306. #306 Sniper
    May 18, 2009

    How does Allen expect atheists to engage her arguments when they all start with, “Assume there’s a god…”?

  307. #307 Feynmaniac
    May 18, 2009

    hrob27,

    Just for the record, I read the LA Times everyday, I am a professed Christian….

    Alright everyone, get your pitchforks and torches.

  308. #308 Liz
    May 18, 2009

    A. Phoenix for 10 weeks of research (she has arrived, and seems a bit shocked to be in a desert)

    Well, if you’ve never actually lived in a desert, it can be literally shocking!

    Anyway, what #7 said: desert survival = (1) sip, sip, sip, all day long or (1a) if your pee isn’t nearly clear, get a quart or two of water on board

    B. First off, there’s atheist victimology: Boohoo, everybody hates us ‘cuz we don’t believe in God. If that isn’t a straw-man argument, I don’t know what is.

  309. #309 Neko-Onna
    May 19, 2009

    My take on the Allen article, plus one of my uproariously funny* Mush and Peanut cartoons on Creationism.

    Yawn. Yep. Boring As Hell.

    *In my own mind.

  310. #310 Carlie
    May 19, 2009

    Oh, dear. The LA Times is addressing the article and its backlash, but unfortunately says that PZ has a category labeled “gooks” rather than “kooks”. That… needs a correction in the paper very badly.

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