Pharyngula

I’m so sorry for you, Indiana

But then, you elected this profoundly stupid man to be your governor, so it’s all your own fault. I was reading an interview with Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana that was just embarrassingly bad.

To me, the core of the Christian faith is humility, which starts with recognizing that you’re as fallen as anyone else. And we’re all constantly trying to get better, but… so I’m sure I come up short on way too many occasions.

Our country was founded -this is just an historic fact; some people today may resist this notion but it is absolutely true- it was founded by people of faith. It was founded on principles of faith. The whole idea of equality of men and women [and] of the races all springs from the notion that we’re all children of a just God. It is very important to at least my notion of what America’s about and should be about and I hope it’s reflected most of the time in the choices that we make personally.

The core of Christianity has never been humility, but arrogance. This is a faith that claims its followers have privileged contact with an immortal, omniscient being, that claims that believers are especially loved by the most powerful intelligence in the universe, and that those who believe most devoutly will be rewarded after death with cushy lives in paradise, while the rest of us burn in torment for eternity. Governor Daniels needs to crack a dictionary.

hu•mil•i•ty
noun
a modest or low view of one’s own importance; humbleness.

There is nothing humble in believing one has an inside line to god. Sure, Christians talk about being “fallen” and “sinners”, but what it’s all about is false modesty: we’re all fallen, but Christians get to be saved, and you don’t.

Our country was founded by people of diverse faiths, many of which modern Christians would not recognize as anything like their beliefs; Thomas Jefferson and Tom Paine only get to be kept in the fold post mortem because they’re Thomas Jefferson and Tom Paine, but anyone who says the things now that they said in life is a heretic and apostate.

Equality was not one of those principles held to with any consistency by the founding fathers. Slavery was condoned. Slavery was justified by the Bible; what kind of “just God” orders his people to slaughter whole nations and enslave their women and children? Equality was an ideal of the Enlightenment (implemented poorly, in fits and starts, and with its own share of blood and pain), not Christianity. The Christian ideal was a hierarchy on earth and heaven; a monarchy topped by a god.

Mellinger: Is there part of you that is bothered by the aggressive atheism of a [Sam] Harris, a [Christopher] Hitchens, a [Richard] Dawkins? And what I mean is… this atheism is a little different than atheism has been in the past because it does seek to convert people.

Daniels: I’m not sure it’s all that new. People who reject the idea of a God -who think that we’re just accidental protoplasm- have always been with us. What bothers me is the implications -which not all such folks have thought through- because really, if we are just accidental, if this life is all there is, if there is no eternal standard of right and wrong, then all that matters is power.

And atheism leads to brutality. All the horrific crimes of the last century were committed by atheists -Stalin and Hitler and Mao and so forth- because it flows very naturally from an idea that there is no judgment and there is nothing other than the brief time we spend on this Earth.

Everyone’s certainly entitled in our country to equal treatment regardless of their opinion. But yes, I think that folks who believe they’ve come to that opinion ought to think very carefully, first of all, about how different it is from the American tradition; how it leads to a very different set of outcomes in the real world.

There is no eternal standard of right and wrong. It has changed from generation to generation; what was considered right and wrong in the Biblical Middle East would horrify us with its injustice if implemented in 21st century America, and reciprocally, a Judean priest from the 1st century BC would be calling for the wrath of Jehovah to fall upon those licentious, evil people like Pat Robertson or James Dobson, who lead millions into a life antithetical to ancient Jewish custom.

It is revealing that when Daniels speculates about what matters if there is no god, all he can imagine is the worship of power. That tells you exactly how hollow his morality is at the core; he cannot imagine a good life without a priest telling him what is right and wrong.

I’d answer differently. In the absence of a god-given absolute morality, all that matters is how we treat one another in this one life we have. What flows naturally to me is not brutality, which requires an absence of awareness of the suffering of others, but recognition of the fact that my fellow human beings really are my equals: we’re all going to die, we only have these few brief decades of life, and who am I to deny someone else the same opportunities I’ve been given?

Skipping past the obvious falsehood in his comment — Hitler was not an atheist — it is an absurd non sequitur to declare that awareness of our mortality leads directly to oppression and abuses of power and the selfish acquisition of power at any cost. There are no gods, no objective enforcement of a benign morality on us, and that has a couple of consequences. One is that we ought to reject out of hand any claims to morality based on theocratic morality as false; we should not aspire to build a just society on lies. Another is that we should do as Daniels says but patently does not do, and think very carefully. We should build our morality on reason.

I think it’s obvious, actually, even if it is a non-trivial problem. I can at least say that my ideal society would not be led by an autocrat who thought power was a sufficient justification for his actions, the conclusion Daniels thinks is natural for atheists, nor do I think that a culture built around obedience to tradition, as interpreted by a tribunal of priests, is my idea of a desirable society. And I’m an atheist. Why would a mindless ratbag politician like Daniels think that my dream world would be led by a dictator? I get so tired of being told by the ignorant that my goal is to put a Stalin in power, when they dream of a Palin.

I hope you do better in your next election, Indiana. Try to find someone who doesn’t confuse faith with justice next time, OK?


Aww, someone didn’t like what I said. Timothy Stone just had to write to me to argue that he wasn’t really being ignorant…while telling me I’m going to hell for not believing in his god. These guys have no sense of irony (also, the formatting of the email was even more mangled than what I show here. I have no idea why he decided the last half looked better in blue.)

The core of Christianity has never been humility, but arrogance. This is a faith that claims its followers have privileged contact with an immortal,
omniscient being, that claims that believers are especially loved by the most powerful intelligence in the universe, and that those who believe
most devoutly will be rewarded after death with cushy lives in paradise, while the rest of us burn in torment for eternity.

This is an example of someone who really does not get Christianity at all. With all of the doctorate degrees that you have and all of the power that you have, you simply
have failed to understand what God is all about and what humanity is all about. You could not get it more wrong.

The entire point here is that there are two types of people in the world, people who accept God and those who don’t. There is nothing arrogant about that.
It is, what it is. I can’t judge you personally, but I would believe that if a person did reject God and they died that person would end up in Hell.

See you don’t believe any of this, but belief does not matter. It is all real no matter how you try to hide or not. All of the events of all of our lives are being recorded.
You can say you don’t believe all you want. None of this matters. I know you think everything is a myth with the exception of science and the scientific method, but
that is simply not true. That is a lie that you keep telling yourself because you don’t want to accept God. No matter what proof is given, you will never ever believe in
things beyond the this natural world.

What if you tried to give a scientist the facts that Atoms existed and what if he never believed the scientific method, what if he believed his own methods.
My point being that some people have agendas and no matter how much proof or what kind of proof you give them, they still won’t understand.

Heaven and Hell are real. Hell is not meant for people, it is meant for other spirit forms that you don’t believe in.
However, there are some people in there because they just outright rejected God and then they died and it was too late.

I know how you work, you will call me a loon and then brand people like me a moron for what we believe because you think that everything that isn’t scientific
in nature is just myths and fairy tales. You do this every blog post and you beat the same horse over and over again with nothing really new.

Anyway, the only way to make you really understand all of this is when you die. However, it will simply be too late.
My hope is that you turn your life around before you die at least. I may not like what you say, but I would not want you to go to Hell.

Comments

  1. #1 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawl3TpOVyxxwCT5cVU3M80c_cpxoMBZmiOQ
    December 27, 2009

    Blablabla morality bla founding fathers bla Christian Nation blableeebluh Hitler blablabla GOATS ON FIRE!

    What a drivel. If all that was said about atheists – they only want power, they are selfish, etc. – you’d find way more of them in the GOP, opposing anti-rape laws.

  2. #2 MaikUniversum
    December 27, 2009

    Oh yeah, that was good post :)

  3. #3 Sven DiMilo
    December 27, 2009

    Indiana wants me
    But I can’t go back there…

  4. #4 MaikUniversum
    December 27, 2009

    P.S. Isn’t it funny that people elect idiots to rule them? I mean, democracy is worst political system ever. The majority of people has a chance to elect some fools who then make idiot laws and when people do not agree with laws, they have nothing to do, just.. they only can vote for new idiots :D haha.

  5. #5 taxmantenm
    December 27, 2009

    The whole idea of equality of men and women [and] of the races all springs from the notion that we’re all children of a just God.

    If that’s true then why did it take so long for such a country such as the USA to come about? Guess it was purely a coincidence that the Enlightenment was going on at the time.

  6. #6 Sastra
    December 27, 2009

    I’m also constantly puzzled by how easily theists miss the arrogance of their position by simply employing the superficial tactic of claiming that their inside knowledge, and the superiority of their position, is due to their “humility.” Well, okay then — that’s taken care of. Now you’re bullet-proof from accusations of pride. When atheists argue against you, they’re really just arguing with God. You’re so small, it’s just like you’re not there.

    The God of the Bible is part of a totalitarian system. In this theistic view, there’s nothing at all wrong with an absolute dictator and his slaves, as a concept. In fact, it’s the only valid frame for society, or the cosmos, for that matter. The only question is whether one is following the correct absolute dictator. Does He own the universe?

    Whenever someone tells me that democracy flows right out of traditional Christianity, I ask whether the point of the Bible then is for people to realize that God’s power and right to govern us is therefore rested in our consent, and God is our equal. It seems it is not.

  7. #7 'Tis Himself, OM
    December 27, 2009

    All the horrific crimes of the last century were committed by atheists -Stalin and Hitler and Mao and so forth-

    Not this shit again.

    Despite what Aaron Baker may pretend, none of these “horrific crimes” were committed in the name of atheism. Plus Daniels is ignoring the fact that Hitler wasn’t an atheist. The only reason why the horrific crimes committed by goddists in the 17th Century weren’t quite at 20th Century standards was a lack of technology. Matchlock muskets just aren’t as efficient as machine guns or poison gas. Still, the religious armies in the Thirty Years War did manage to kill one-third of the population of Central Europe.

  8. #8 monado
    December 27, 2009

    As someone (Alan Watts [the philosopher, not the weather expert]) once remarked, if you want to know how kings were addressed in the ancient Middle East, note how JHWH is addressed in the bible.

  9. #9 Lynna, OM
    December 27, 2009

    This whole “without God we’d be immoral, power-hungry demons” bit takes a big hit when you see that it is a cabal of religious leaders that are fighting gay marriage tooth and nail. Where’s the equality in that stance? Where’s the the morality in purposely denying equality to one’s fellow mortals?

    Like Stalin, Palin is apt to latch onto pseudo-science, so we could probably count on her to starve ten million people on the basis of belief with no evidence to back it up. Faith turns out to be the closest we can come to matching a definition of sin — faith harms everyone, even its practitioners.

  10. #10 monado
    December 27, 2009

    Uh, MaikUniversum, they aren’t just any idiot. They’re photogenic idiots. Stuffed shirts. Mouthpieces.

    Whatever Hitler’s beliefs–and mouthing Christian code phrases don’t make him a practising Catholic–his evil deeds don’t flow from attributed atheism any more than from his vegetarianism. He tapped into an ancient stream of Christian antisemitism, but probably wanted to make religion an organ and prop of the state.

  11. #11 bkniaz
    December 27, 2009

    Feels as though it is getting worse, not better. I mean Regan was nuts, but these people (Palin, Cheney et al) are bat-shit crazy.

    Nice take-down PZ. Maybe when my Mother In Law starts to tell me how wonderful her flavor of jeebus is, ill point her to this.

  12. #12 black-wolf72
    December 27, 2009

    ‘Tis Himself,
    thanks, what you write sounds like one of my previous posts, so I don’t have to say it yet again.
    Know what a theist answered to this? “Oh yeah? French Catholics were fighting Austrian Catholics, so it can’t have been a religious conflict.”

    *sigh*

  13. #13 nastasie
    December 27, 2009

    Stalin and Hitler and Mao – oh, my!

    *headdesk*

    They could start going “Atheism leads to *insert obligatory mention of 20th Century tyrants*”

    Just, you know, for a change of style, at least?

  14. #14 https://me.yahoo.com/a_ray_in_dilbert_space#6e51c
    December 27, 2009

    P.S. Isn’t it funny that people elect idiots to rule them? I mean, democracy is worst political system ever. The majority of people has a chance to elect some fools who then make idiot laws and when people do not agree with laws, they have nothing to do, just.. they only can vote for new idiots :D haha.< \blockquote>

    Well, as the late, great Molly Ivins said: “If they weren’t all scoundrels, liars and idiots, it wouldn’t be representative democracy.

    Or you could take H. L. Mencken: “Democracy is the philosophy that the people know what they want…and deserve to get it good and hard.”

  15. #15 cag
    December 27, 2009

    If the US Xtians are going to “accept” the “fact” that it was founded on faith, then should the Xtians not also accept that outdoor plumbing is “in” and cars, TV, the internet and all our modern conveniences are not? If you want to believe like a Pilgrim, you should live like a Pilgrim. Otherwise live with the knowledge we have now, not what was falsely believed a few hundred/thousand years ago.

  16. #16 Janine, She Wolf Of Pharyngula, OM
    December 27, 2009

    If one took random paragraphs of Mitch Daniels’ interview, assigned each with a random name and started posting on this thread, it would look like an infestation of trolls.

  17. #17 Sastra
    December 27, 2009

    The whole idea of equality of men and women [and] of the races all springs from the notion that we’re all children of a just God…

    … a just God, who will separate the saved from the damned, the sheep from the goats, the “humble” worthy from the “arrogant” unworthy, the people who matter from the people who don’t, the select from the garbage, and the people who reflect “His image” from those who do not. The entire point of life on earth, in fact, is to separate people by putting them into their proper place, by God judging them.

    Of course, the democratic way to resolve who belongs in which group, is to get everyone together and vote on what you think God thinks. Nothing promotes a peaceful, harmonious society like trying to agree on what the supernatural realm is really like, and who is getting God right, through the use of a totally objective voting process — and then go with the majority.

    Well, at least the majorities may think this — if it’s stipulated upfront that they will be the majority.

  18. #18 The Science Pundit
    December 27, 2009

    @ MaikUniversum (#4)

    I mean, democracy is worst political system ever.

    If you’re going to quote Winston Churchill, the least you could do is to use the whole quote.

    Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried.

  19. #19 MikeyM
    December 27, 2009

    Let me add to the list of non-Christian Founders the brilliant James Madison.

  20. #20 aratina cage
    December 27, 2009

    I mean, democracy is worst political system ever. -MaikUniversum

    I think it can be the best, actually. It is a major civilizational achievement to get millions of people to share power together. The catch is that the people in a democracy need to be educated, not brainwashed as Indiana’s governor is with regard to atheists and despots. Especially in the USA, we have a vocal minority of believers pushing for brainwashing as a substitute for public education, which should never be acceptable.

  21. #21 Janine, She Wolf Of Pharyngula, OM
    December 27, 2009

    Just be happy that humans and the big sky daddy do not have to come up with a consensus on anything.

  22. #22 Planeten Paultje
    December 27, 2009

    Well, at least I know I’m fallen; I have the radius fracture to prove it ;-).

  23. #23 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    December 27, 2009

    Mitch Daniels is modest in the same way Jimmy Olsen is modest when he tells everyone he can how he is just a regular guy who is Superman’s best pal. Except Superman actually shows up when Jimmy uses his signal watch.

    I should read fewer comic-book oriented websites.

  24. #24 Janine, She Wolf Of Pharyngula, OM
    December 27, 2009

    Jesus, for the ultimate “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” moment.

  25. #25 Richard Eis
    December 27, 2009

    if there is no eternal standard of right and wrong, then all that matters is power.

    As opposed to taking your morals from an all powerful god…because he’s “the all powerful god”?

    Yeah, well done there. Your projection, governor, can be seen from space.

  26. #26 Sastra
    December 27, 2009

    All the horrific crimes of the last century were committed by atheists -Stalin and Hitler and Mao and so forth- because it flows very naturally from an idea that there is no judgment and there is nothing other than the brief time we spend on this Earth.

    This isn’t even consistent by their own standards. The most evil people don’t do their deeds while saying “what I do is wrong, but I don’t worry about getting caught.” Not even to themselves. That’s what petty criminals may say, but it’s not what people who commit “horrific crimes” say. Nor is it what they think. Nor do they think it’s all ephemeral.

    Instead, what makes them really dangerous is their certainty that they’re doing Right. They’re doing what is Best. They’re fulfilling destiny. They are acting out their proper role in the grand scheme of things — and this Grand Scheme is more important than the lives of individuals.

    Hitler, Stalin, Attila the Hun — you name it. Not a single one of these great dictators thought they were “getting away” with doing wrong because there was no judgment and nothing matters. They were convinced that what they did mattered, they were in the right — and that they would be judged by God, history, and other people to be GREAT. They positively welcomed the concept of “judgment,” because they saw it as being positive. And the last thing they wanted, was an “anything goes” society. They wanted strict, rigid controls.

    Religion feeds into this. It’s even better when God is on your side. And it’s even better than that, when you are sure you’re on God’s side.

  27. #27 Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom
    December 27, 2009

    @23:
    Also, Superman’s the pope.

    I just love when people say atheism is the cause of horrible things.

    Crusades? That was against brown people.
    Inquisition? Who cares about Jews, really?
    The 30 YEars War? Pshaw.
    Religion propping up slavery? (as in, if you don’t turn in a slave, you’re going to hell, like in The Adventures of Huck Finn) Those weren’t /true/ Christians.
    The burning of witches? Well we don’t do it NOW.
    The execution of Gays in Rwanda? Well if those darn homos would just live like God intended, there’d be no problem.
    Rampant child molestation? Feh, Catholics.
    Sri Lankan horrors? Asians aren’t people.

    The list goes on and on, even still. Just, ugh.

  28. #28 Janine, She Wolf Of Pharyngula, OM
    December 27, 2009

    This isn’t even consistent by their own standards. The most evil people don’t do their deeds while saying “what I do is wrong, but I don’t worry about getting caught.” Not even to themselves. That’s what petty criminals may say, but it’s not what people who commit “horrific crimes” say. Nor is it what they think. Nor do they think it’s all ephemeral.

    It takes a special kind of religion to reduce monstrous human figures into comic book villains. Ming The Merciless is a complex figure compared to their visions of tyrants.

  29. #29 SC OM
    December 27, 2009

    Jesus, for the ultimate “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” moment.

    …and other predicaments as well:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ht9EMjjr5oM

  30. #30 raven
    December 27, 2009

    Our country was founded -this is just an historic fact; some people today may resist this notion but it is absolutely true- it was founded by people of faith. It was founded on principles of faith.

    Which principles of faith are those?

    The Pilgrims came over to escape persecution.

    They then proceeded to persecute everyone around them.
    1. The local Indians ended up getting massacred and all but disappeared.

    2. For some unknown reason, they decided to reenact one of the bloodier and dumber of xianity’s atrocities and hung 25 alleged witches at Salem. This was the crowning achievement of American theocracy.

    3. Not content with witch hunting and murdering, they also hung a few heretics, Quakers and Unitarians. Rhode Island was founded by refugees from those “people of faith”.

    Governor Let’s Rewrite History: It was founded on principles of faith.

    He’s got those principles down. Genocide of whoever has stuff you want, murder of imaginary witches, and sectarian warfare.

  31. #31 Janine, She Wolf Of Pharyngula, OM
    December 27, 2009

    SC.

    HOLY FUCKING SHIT!

    (Sorry. That is all I can say in response to that.)

  32. #32 RamblinDude
    December 27, 2009

    As a native Hoosier, I?d be very surprised if the governor of Indiana didn?t say such things. The place is largely god-soaked, and the general populace would be in fine agreement with just about everything he said because those same talking points are reiterated constantly. It tends to be a gregarious place, and a lot of time and energy is given to coming to collective agreement on ?Christian? and ?American? principles. Quality investigation and fact-checking, not so much.

  33. #33 Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom
    December 27, 2009

    @29
    I
    I have no words

  34. #34 raven
    December 27, 2009

    Our country was founded -this is just an historic fact; some people today may resist this notion but it is absolutely true- it was founded by people of faith.

    This is just a lie. The original settlers may have been the usual homicidal religious kooks.

    Most of the founders of the USA were Deists and anti-xians, Jefferson, Madison, Payne, and so on.

  35. #35 Janine, She Wolf Of Pharyngula, OM
    December 27, 2009

    Raven, the Pilgrims were forced out of England by the Puritans for being too strict. They were in the Netherlands for a while but found the Dutch to be just too tolerant.

    But we know that for the likes of Daniels, all freedom means is being able to choose to live by the big sky daddy’s bloody whims.

  36. #36 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawlLc8Gfo6oZ8uAX3dYeOBxChVtMasvnHck
    December 27, 2009

    These godbotherers obviously would love the law to require a “faith test” for public office. OK, until they have the power to change the US constitution, atheists can do the job. In the next elections, test your “christian”, would be politicians.

    Start with easy questions, such as list the 10 commandments in the correct order. If they can do that, try asking them why naughty children are no longer stoned as recommended in the bible. Try them with the clothes of mixed threads rule etc.

    Over here, in the UK, we have a state religion and as a result politicians don’t do the “god thing” in public. Of course it took 200 years of civil wars to convince them that religion was best left in the church.

  37. #37 SC OM
    December 27, 2009

    SC.

    HOLY FUCKING SHIT!

    (Sorry. That is all I can say in response to that.)

    @29
    I
    I have no words

    I…can’t stop watching it.

    *hangs head in shame*

    BAIL OUT BAIL OUT BAIL OUT BAIL OUT BAIL OUT BAIL OUT

  38. #38 Janine, She Wolf Of Pharyngula, OM
    December 27, 2009

    Over here, in the UK, we have a state religion and as a result politicians don’t do the “god thing” in public.

    You did recently have a Prime Minister who allowed his religious faith to make him into a certain US President’s lapdog.

  39. #39 Rincewind'smuse
    December 27, 2009

    as a.c. said in #20, the whole system was predicated on having an educated population fairly well equipped to consider the issues of the day; to that end fundamentalists are scoring at least some victories in dismantling public education.There will always be a minority that will deny that the earth is round regardless of their education simply as a matter of this stilted perception of EVERYTHING(including reality and truth)being there simply to test their faith believe as a whole a more educated population would be much more likely to reject Daniel’s type of tripe as the lie that it is. Anyone who’s read a history book should be banging their head with it at the sound of his voice.

  40. #40 David Marjanovi?
    December 27, 2009

    and reciprocally, a Judean priest from the 1st century BC would be calling for the wrath of Jehovah to fall upon those licentious, evil people like Pat Robertson or James Dobson, who lead millions into a life antithetical to ancient Jewish custom.

    No, because they aren’t Jews… right?

    Faith turns out to be the closest we can come to matching a definition of sin — faith harms everyone, even its practitioners.

    :-o

    Lynna for NOM. Already.

  41. #41 Joker
    December 27, 2009

    Part of me wonders if it might be something connected to how a lot of conservative Christians seem to be raised. Authoritarian parents who teach them to think only in Binary and taught to worship at the altar of authority they find the idea of power and force to be the primary means of understanding and working within the world. Diplomacy and the like in that worldview are either signs of weakness or something done to hide duplicitous behaviors.

    I’ll be honest, I’m a Christian and I find the actions by a lot of these guys disgusting. I find most of them trying to use the faith as a means to either manipulate true believers or to twist dogma to serve their own ends.

  42. #42 RamblinDude
    December 27, 2009

    Sastra, you’re in fine form today.

  43. #43 Janine, She Wolf Of Pharyngula, OM
    December 27, 2009
  44. #44 ex-minister
    December 27, 2009

    Here is one of my favorite Bible text showing how “moral” it is

    Deuteronomy 22
    28 If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered,
    29 he shall pay the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the girl, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.

    I am sure a woman would be delighted to marry her rapist while her Dad makes a tidy profit.

    The whole chapter is rich with stoning people for having sex. But a rapist who has some scratch now that would be crazy.

  45. #45 Janine, She Wolf Of Pharyngula, OM
    December 27, 2009

    He’s my daddy too!

    SC! You have struck gold!

  46. #46 airbagmoments
    December 27, 2009

    It’s too late at this point, but I wish atheism could be thought of by the general public as also “anti-dogmatism”. I’m so f*ing tired of atheism being trotted out as the cause of the crimes of Stalinism, and Maoism, which were essentially dogmatic religions.

  47. #47 Carax
    December 27, 2009

    #2 MaikUniversum:”P.S. Isn’t it funny that people elect idiots to rule them? I mean, democracy is worst political system ever.”

    Then what is the “best” political system then?

  48. #48 Steven Dunlap
    December 27, 2009

    Although nothing, and I mean nothing can hold up compared to the Jesus bail bonds ad (#29 – thank you SC) there is this somewhat pedantic but amusing video by Nonstampcollector which answers the “atheists were the worst mass murderers meme” :

    Special investigation – 20th century killers

  49. #49 airbagmoments
    December 27, 2009

    Also, by the way, it’s wonderfully hypocritical when politicians claim to be so humble. How dare they?! What part of “I’m better than anyone else for this job so elect me” indicates humility?

  50. #50 Judy L.
    December 27, 2009

    Atheist are seeking to convert people? Show me the Atheist Inquisitors who are doing the torturing, the kidnapping of children away to residential schools, and threatening an eternity of being roasted on a spit by Satan’s kitchen staff to those who don’t embrace reason and decent secular behaviour. By all historical religious standards, Atheists asserting their civil rights and expressing their beliefs about non-theist morality can’t possibly be construed as attempts to convert anyone.

  51. #51 Hannah
    December 27, 2009

    The most ridiculous and upsetting part of the Daniels interview for me was his laugh-out-loud statement that the notion of gender equality comes from Christianity. The idea that a religion that has so strongly contributed to the silencing, devaluing, oppression, and abuse of women for centuries actually supports equality between men and women is repulsive and absurd on its face. It makes me want to ask Daniels what exactly his idea of “equality” is.

  52. #52 ex-minister
    December 27, 2009

    Humility in the Christian world is in reference to God and not fallen man. A Christian is to be humble, teachable, before God, but not man, especially fools like yourself and other atheist. As the Bible text says A fool says there is no God.

    OK, while a Christian is riddled with doubt, he cannot show it especially to non-believers. If he appears to have doubt that is a thought that can send him to hell. Doubt is not allowed in the Christian world. It is a sin. I had doubts in my religious life and did my best to crush it, because it showed how evil I was. There is nothing good inside of me, so I needed to prostrate myself before God and beg his forgiveness. It was a painful life and I had to leave it. It has been many years and I have had a number of devout Christians saying I was going to hell. I am comforted by that now because I have found the people I like will be there with me. I am allowing myself to have doubt now and have found it be the best thing about me. The right interpretation of the word humility is to be teachable, but unless you are quoting from the Bible few Christians will listen. They might hear something that will cause them to go to hell. That point was brought home in the Ben Stein movie. He made sure Christians heard if you read about evolution you WILL become an atheist. Reading between the lines you will go to hell.

  53. #53 raven
    December 27, 2009

    The most ridiculous and upsetting part of the Daniels interview for me was his laugh-out-loud statement that the notion of gender equality comes from Christianity.

    Just read the bible for an idea of what Biblical marriage is all about.

    1. If you end up being a barren woman, you are required to provide your husband with a brood slave so he can have children anyway.

    2. You can have as many wives as you want. One of god’s favorites, Solomon, had 700 wives.

    3. You can also have as many sex slaves as you can afford. Solomon also had 300 sex slaves.

    4. If you are tired of your kids or need some extra money, you can sell them as sex slaves.

    I’m sure the fundie cult women are just waiting and praying for biblical marriage to be reinstated.

    And oh yeah, when the gender equality amendment, The ERA was shot down, it was shot down by xians and Mormons. It ended up being law anyway by legislation and court cases. The world as we know it didn’t end.

  54. #54 someclone
    December 27, 2009

    Humble is one of those words that doesn’t mean the same thing to Christians. Like theory. They are only expected to be humble before god, not each other or the rest of us. Especially those of us who are atheists. Since they believe god is all powerful and can destroy them with a thought on a whim they cannot be arrogant before god because they accept that god is more than they are. Only those who deny god and god’s power, who don’t believe in god are arrogant before god. Some weird argument that atheists think they are better than god because they don’t live in abject terror of god. Humility to theists is cowering before their imaginary Sky Bully. Being arrogant before god, denying his power, is a sin worthy of destruction, and since god is far to patient to deal with those monstrous people it falls on the good Christian to try get it done for him. They aren’t capable of realizing the implicit contradictions in their position, the arrogance of their humility, or the ineptness of a god they must clean up for.

    The most telling part of their position of humility before god is the fact that for most it isn’t done without expectation, it isn’t done because it is right. Mostly they do it because they expect to be rewarded and not punished. To the truly faithful there’s a carrot and a stick to all faith, and without both they’d likely not have any faith at all. Imagine Christians trying to deal with a god who expects them to be good but doesn’t offer heaven or threaten hell, who actually expects them to be good and decent people because that’s the right thing to be. Many American Christians would likely revolt, in fact most of the real right wingers seem to have done so already even from the jealous loon they already claimed to be following. If they couldn’t get the satisfaction of imagining anyone who slights them being sent to hell, or the smugness that comes with “knowing” they are better than everyone else a lot of them would probably commit suicide.

  55. #55 destlund
    December 27, 2009

    To me, the core of the Christian faith is humility, which starts with recognizing that you’re as fallen as anyone else.

    Somebody get the stupid extinguisher. I didn’t even make it past the first sentence before my GOAT was ON FIRE.

  56. #56 bcbchandler
    December 27, 2009

    Hey, PZ–we didn’t ALL vote for that fuckstick. As a matter of fact, my whole family voted against the arrogant, sniveling bastard both times.

    Fat lot of good THAT did us…

  57. #57 Pastor Farm
    December 27, 2009

    You know, if lies are the language of the pious, then I worry about their future attacks on atheism. Such as:

    Yeah? You know who else was an Atheist?

    Dolley Madison. And what did she do? Open a bakery and make us all eat her delicious pastries. Atheism leads to fatness.

    Also, C.S. Lewis was an atheist, then he went and became a Christian and then wrote the Chronicles of Narnia. Because of Atheism, I know think God is a Lion that hangs in my closet. You bastard, Lewis!

    Lex Luthor was an Atheist, and you know what he did? He killed people and got his ass handed to him by a man with great hair. Atheism makes you bald!

  58. #58 aratina cage
    December 27, 2009

    Show me the Atheist Inquisitors -Judy L.

    *raises hand* As one of the unholy, I was told I was “jacked up” (deranged and threatening) by the most recent door-to-door Jebus-bots. I would have brought my *gasp* atheist bible with me, too, if it had been published yet (how’s the book coming??).

    Torture is us questioning faith. Kidnapping of children is us inculcating the worst kind of doubt by saying there is no god in front of children. Threatening an eternity of hellfire is us saying there is no Heaven, no Hell, no afterlife; life is a one-off chance. If you would only define things the way believers want you to define them, you would see that atheists are just as bad as the Inquisitors were.

  59. #59 Maronan
    December 27, 2009

    And atheism leads to brutality. All the horrific crimes of the last century were committed by atheists -Stalin and Hitler and Mao and so forth- because it flows very naturally from an idea that there is no judgment and there is nothing other than the brief time we spend on this Earth.

    Factual errors aside, statements like these provide a chilling view into the mind of fundamentalism.

    Fundamentalists believe that there is no such thing as morality? might makes right, all that matters is power, but God is so powerful that we can’t defeat him even if we ganged up to take him on together, so you have to do what he says. By misusing terms like “morality” to mean “obeying the dictates of the most powerful” and generally co-opting the language of morality to refer to obedience to the will of the powerful for no reason other than power, and putting it all in terms of their delusion of a phantom source of absolute power, fundamentalists manage to give the impression that they have some understanding of right and wrong.

    But it’s a false impression, as is seen whenever they try to understand atheist morality. Then it becomes clear; they believe morality doesn’t exist, they believe that behaviour should be restricted only by the limits of power, so if the phantom source of absolute power is removed, that leaves only humans with finite power to consider. The values of the variables have changed, but the equation is the same; might makes right, and suggesting that something is “wrong” means only that you are physically incapable of doing it without consequence.

    The best case scenario is that some moral impulses are hard-wired into humanity, and the fundamentalist notion of “might makes right, but God is the most powerful and says no killing” is merely a superstitious pseudo-explanation assigned to an underlying instinct in much the same way that God’s instructions to multiply are assigned to the instinctive desire to reproduce. The worst case, I suppose, is that fundamentalists really do believe that might makes right.

    There is some anecdotal evidence to support the worst case scenario; stories of life-long fundamentalists who discover that God doesn’t exist and, not having a decent secular education in morality, simply recalculate their religious “power calculations” and go on a shooting rampage. Luckily for us, I guess, there is little hard evidence to support this (that I know of). I wouldn’t mind doing the experiments, though, if there was some way to conduct them. I’d imagine getting past the ethics panel would be the least of anyone’s worries given the difficulty of setting up a feasible experiment to begin with.

  60. #60 puseaus
    December 27, 2009

    I always keep a good dictionary at arms length. Had to look up the word “respect” the other day, just in case I had gotten it all wrong from the beginning.
    Thank o’crack I’m made of such rational stuff and allowed to doubt even the stars. Wonder what the entry for “politician” says?

  61. #61 Dust
    December 27, 2009
  62. #62 shatfat
    December 27, 2009

    PZee, before I read the comments, I think I must quibble with your characterization of equality being an Enlightenment value. It may have followed from the Enlightenment, but only when ordinary people (shop clerks and other lower orders of burghers) caught hold of it.

    If I recall my Central European history correctly, the original, relevant Enlightenment ideal was Toleranz. The idea of tolerance was that people of differing ethnicity/religion could–and should–live peacefully together, as they did in medieval Turkey. The story of Saladin, a 12th century Sultan who spared the lives of some captured Christian crusaders, was held up as a moral exemplar. Closer to home, the treatment of the Jews became a pressing social concern for social improvers. Jewish life and wellbeing across Europe depended on the whims of the petty powers and principalities that obtained from place to place. It was not uncommon for Sephardic and Ashkenazi communities to seek a separate peace with the authorities, and it was quite common for an entire community to be compelled to flee on short notice. During the Enlightenment period (and after) Jewish community leaders such as Moses Mendelssohn were quick to emphasize that Jews and Christians could live in harmony. This idea of inter-faith harmony came with an increase in secularism, and paved the way for full integration.

    These early efforts probably influenced Napoleon, a member of an ethnic minority himself, to open the ghettos across Europe in the beginning of the 19th century.

    As for égalité, this is the rallying cry not of the élites, the “enlightened despots” who ushered in the first reforms and considered the people to be nothing more than unreformed rabble, but of the footsoldiers of the French Revolution, who had tired of paying 40% taxes–not on net, but on gross–while the elites paid nothing. In the People’s Republic, all citizens would have the same social standing. This was a revolutionary idea and recognized as such.

    Thomas Paine was probably the biggest radical involved in the American Revolution. A good number of the revolutionaries did recognize that their pretty words more or less implied that the slaves ought to be free as well (including Jefferson, who nevertheless rang up such debts that he was unable to legally effect even the manumission of his own offspring and, rather, assisted them in running away), and a good number of those were agitating, openly or quietly, for such, but as a practical reality, getting the South on board meant tamping down the Revolutionary fervor. The 3/5 compromise is the result of wrangling between Northern politicians unfriendly to slavery and Southern politicians looking for a vote advantage in the House. Indeed, Northern states began to outlaw slavery even before the adoption of the Constitution of 1787.

    America had a class of small farmers and small proprietors who were better off (and better fed) than their counterparts in Europe. The parasitic class had not had as much time to develop and become entrenched, and it didn’t help that the Crown insisted on excluding the American-born from plum posts like Governorships.

    As for religion and Abolition, well it was all about what religion you subscribed to! Quakers–anti. Southern Baptists–pro. Seems like the Babble is up for interpretation after all. Whaddya know.

    Incidently, just because Paul says that Jew and Gentile, man and woman, servant (=slave) and free will become one in Christ Jesus, this does not mean that the Bible promises the freeing of slaves. Indeed, quite the opposite. Servants (=slaves) obey your masters, etc.

    (For those unfamiliar with latin, servus, the root of the word servant, means a slave, while our term, slave, comes from sklav, meaning a Slav.)

  63. #63 destlund
    December 27, 2009

    And #29 begat #45, and #45 begat Jones’ Good Ass BBQ & Foot Massage. And it was good.

  64. #64 SQB
    December 27, 2009

    Over on the XKCD forums, the discussion of the latest comic somehow turned into “all morals come from religion, atheists have no morals”.

  65. #65 Noni Mausa
    December 27, 2009

    “…sin, young man, is when you treat people as things. Including yourself. That’s what sin is.’

    ‘It’s a lot more complicated than that-‘

    ‘No. It ain’t. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they’re getting worried that they won’t like the truth. People as things, that’s where it starts.’

    ‘Oh, I’m sure there are worse crimes-‘

    ‘But they starts with thinking about people as things.’

    Granny said it,
    Pterry wrote it,
    That settles it.

  66. #66 Capital Dan
    December 27, 2009

    I wish these crazed politicians would read American History before rewriting it.

  67. #67 shatfat
    December 27, 2009

    What bothers me is the implications -which not all such folks have thought through- because really, if we are just accidental, if this life is all there is, if there is no eternal standard of right and wrong, then all that matters is power.

    It may surprise Daniels that, in fact, not everyone thinks this way. The people who do think this way are called “social dominators”. Daniels, who clearly knowns little about psychology, has just outed himself as one. Social dominators are, generally speaking, poor leaders because, as Daniels admits, all they care about is power.

    It’s a nice thought, though, to think he can douse all that naked ambition in religious dressing and imagine that that makes it palatable.

  68. #68 Richard Eis
    December 27, 2009

    I have never liked the word tolerance. It implies that something is bad or wrong but that I should put up with it. Not something you really want to apply to ethnic groups or (shall we say) unusual genders.

  69. #69 Sastra
    December 27, 2009

    Maronan #59 wrote:

    The values of the variables have changed, but the equation is the same; might makes right, and suggesting that something is “wrong” means only that you are physically incapable of doing it without consequence.

    Well put. I also like the way Steve M. summed it up on a recent thread:

    God is the answer to the idea “it ain’t illegal if you don’t get caught”. The only counter they can come up with is “god will catch you eventually.”

    Note that this way of looking at “morality” completely bypasses any meaningful content to what it means to be right or wrong, good or evil. Anything, presumably, will fit. To proceed to make rational sense of those concepts, you have to start evaluating human relationships, values, principles, and the interactions in the world — and now you’re in ‘Philosophy and Ethics.’

    Divorced of a well-grounded secular philosophy and ethics, religious morality reduces to “doing what you are told” — much the same way ‘faith’ reduces to “believing what you are told” — with the given context being parent and child, and no ambiguity in the context being a given.

    Fortunately, they don’t really believe what they’re saying. They can’t go any deeper than a child does — and they’re not children. That’s why they don’t like being challenged: it forces them to confront the poverty and shallowness of their own views.

  70. #70 Peter G.
    December 27, 2009

    Daniels is right about the US being founded on faith but it was faith in humanity and reason not god.

  71. #71 Richard Eis
    December 27, 2009

    Over on the XKCD forums, the discussion of the latest comic somehow turned into “all morals come from religion, atheists have no morals”.

    I notice the guy didn’t say “Every other set of beliefs but mine has the wrong morals”. Which, lets face it is what he really should be saying. After all if christianity = morals then…

    I suggest you tell him. I’m sure he will gladly correct his post once that happens. Then everyone will see what he really means and they will no doubt shower him with praise for being so forthright, honest and (morally) right.

  72. #72 Pareidolius
    December 27, 2009

    People who reject the idea of a God -who think that we’re just accidental protoplasm- have always been with us. What bothers me is the implications -which not all such folks have thought through- because really, if we are just accidental, if this life is all there is, if there is no eternal standard of right and wrong, then all that matters is power.

    Mr. Governor, your slip is showing . . .
    Love, Sigmund

  73. #73 Momo
    December 27, 2009

    I can say as a someone living in Indiana that cannot currently move that the state is filled with these morons. This is the thinking of a good majority of the state. This state is so disillusioned with reality I’m not surprised at his remarks.

  74. #74 Janine, She Wolf Of Pharyngula, OM
    December 27, 2009

    Dust and destlund, according to the address that is in that, ahem, commercial, I only live about seven or eight miles from the, ahem, restaurant. If you visit the website, one of the items on the menu is beer battered bacon. (I can hear the collective group starting to salivate.)

    One of the buckets that is featured is a parody of a Chicago South Side chain, Harold’s Chicken Shack.

    Funny thing, 119th and Cicero places the, ahem, restaurant at only a half mile away from the Burr Oaks Cemetery. Until last summer’s news about the dumping of bodies, it was best known for being where Emmett Till is buried.

  75. #75 Owlmirror
    December 27, 2009

    I have never liked the word tolerance. It implies that something is bad or wrong but that I should put up with it. Not something you really want to apply to ethnic groups or (shall we say) unusual genders.

    You may not like “tolerance”, but consider it in light of its direct opposite…

    The concept of tolerance emphasizes that some group may be considered inherently evil by another group, but it is possible and desirable for the groups to live in peace, rather than living in (mutually) destructive war; or equally under the law rather than one being highly favoured by the law and another being highly disfavoured by the law.

    Considering how Protestants and Catholics treated each other, and how both treated the Jews, this was (and in many places still is) definitely a step up.

    You’re probably trying to say that acceptance and fairness, or perhaps even peace, love and understanding, are much better. But tolerance is at least a beginning for societies to build such ideals on.

  76. #76 shatfat
    December 27, 2009

    @52 exminister

    Thank you very much for your comments, especially the first paragraph. Since I was raised Catholic, not evangelical, and was a member of the laity, that is new and very insightful for me. (Catholics must not only be humble before God, but before Church authority. It gets better because the authority you usually deal with, the priest, must also have utter obedience towards the bishop. And even the Pope must kiss god’s ass, or at least that’s the way the pope when I was a Catholic, JPII, saw things. He affected great piety and humility, choosing to forego the traditional golden robes and pointy hat. Of course, he was a historical outlier. He also had his arrogant moments, though he has nothing on Pope Ratzi.)

    Actually, in my milieu (New England) where liberal Christianity with god as this sort of gentle best friend is common, the “sin” of transcendentalism (addressing god directly instead of through the hierarchy) seemed rather appealing. Actually, it was not much discouraged as long as you understood that all moral teachings come from the Church.

    Not defending RCC nuttiness, just saying it’s quite different from evangelical xtianity. The theology is very different too. The concept of spirit is completely different.

  77. #77 RamblinDude
    December 27, 2009

    ex-minister,

    OK, while a Christian is riddled with doubt, he cannot show it especially to non-believers. If he appears to have doubt that is a thought that can send him to hell. Doubt is not allowed in the Christian world. It is a sin. I had doubts in my religious life and did my best to crush it, because it showed how evil I was.

    It might be hard for someone who hasn?t grown up with this indoctrination to understand, but the heroes in Christianity are those who have the most faith. They are considered the most godly, the most pure in heart, and not only do these ?spiritual? people get the biggest share of God?s love, they are given great power by the Almighty. Their prayers get answered, and they are given a higher place in heaven.

    Greed for this ultimate prize of absolute faith is palpable in your typical worship service. It?s what everyone is concentrating on. As a Christian, you are told repeatedly that removing all uncertainty from yourself will bring you the ultimate joy. And who doesn?t want to have the ?faith of a grain of mustard seed? so that you can move mountains on a whim? How many sermons have I heard that drove the point home forcefully, repeatedly ? Doubting Thomas? do not get rewarded?

    This is how you subjugate an entire population. You convince them that they will be punished even beyond death for disbelieving and disobeying, and you convince them to be happy about it.

  78. #78 Knockgoats
    December 27, 2009

    “Over here, in the UK, we have a state religion and as a result politicians don’t do the “god thing” in public.”
    You [Brits] did recently have a Prime Minister who allowed his religious faith to make him into a certain US President’s lapdog.
    – Janine, She Wolf Of Pharyngula, OM

    Indeed so – we’re not as free from goddist domination as is often assumed, and they are on the attack. What’s more, I don’t go along with this idea that it’s because we have a state religion that we have been somewhat less goddist-dominated than the US: it’s kept the C. of E. a toehold in the legislature and a voice in the affairs of the monarchy, which they use.

  79. #79 Richard Eis
    December 27, 2009

    Considering how Protestants and Catholics treated each other, and how both treated the Jews, this was (and in many places still is) definitely a step up.

    The protestant/catholic thing is sooooo fucking dumb. There are no words to describe the unutterable idiocy of those people.

    I know what you mean, but tolerance can lead to complacency. We tolerated them for this long, lets just continue…no need to fix anything. That big wall down the middle of our land to help tolerance is doing just fine.

  80. #80 frzamonkey
    December 27, 2009

    @monado

    hitler was not a vegetarian, either. just so you know.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolf_Hitler%27s_vegetarianism

  81. #81 'Tis Himself, OM
    December 27, 2009

    Shatfat #62

    it didn’t help that the Crown insisted on excluding the American-born from plum posts like Governorships.

    No. While most governors were British born, there were several who were American born. Benjamin Franklin’s son, William, was the last Royal Governor of New Jersey.

    Incidentally one part of British rule of the colonies was the refusal to establish an aristocracy. The British were having problems with the Irish peerage. They tended to vote as a block in the House of Lords on any question having the least to do with Ireland. So for purely political reasons there was no pre-revolutionary nobility established in the American colonies or in any other colony. Lord Baltimore and Lord de la Ware had English titles, not American.

  82. #82 funnyguts
    December 27, 2009

    My governor! Woo! Isn’t he great?

    Not only does he not know what he’s talking about here, he’s also awful enough to suggest bringing back corporal punishment in schools. He’s so big on it he put it in his fucking State of the State address.

    I really hate Indiana.

  83. #83 SQB
    December 27, 2009

    I suggest you tell him.

    I probably should, but I’m not sure if I even have an account over there. By the way, would it be wrong to pharyngulate the XKCD forum?

  84. #84 Carlie
    December 27, 2009

    By the way, would it be wrong to pharyngulate the XKCD forum?

    No. I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t. Fire away!

  85. #85 Gregory Greenwood
    December 27, 2009

    ‘The whole idea of equality of men and women [and] of the races all springs from the notion that we’re all children of a just God.’

    How . . . interesting. On the face of it it seems that the whole Hammite origin of ethnicity thing, and the idea tht Eve was a derivative creature created from Adam’s rib and responsible for original sin, was evidence that the babble was far from an origin text for equality in society. Xians have consistently used the babble to justify their favoured prejudice of the season for the last couple of millenia, and continue to do so even today as evidenced by the interminable repetition of the babble quote that amounts to an injunction against homosexuality (but only between men. Seems like a green light for lesbians everywhere.)

    It would be interesting to hear Governor Danials explain how these little inconveniences in the biblical text can be squared with his ludicrous claim that religion is the well spring of equality.

    ‘And atheism leads to brutality. All the horrific crimes of the last century were committed by atheists -Stalin and Hitler and Mao and so forth- because it flows very naturally from an idea that there is no judgment and there is nothing other than the brief time we spend on this Earth. ‘

    To this intellectual titan, non-belief in a capricious and sociopathic deity whose authority is predicated soley on an unreconstructed Thucididean concept of ‘might makes right’ (as pointed out by Maronan @ 59) somehow inevitably leads to ‘brutality’ and generally the crimes of the most depraved despots of the 20th century. The weapon’s-grade stupid on display here very nearly leaves me speechless.

    He claims that these men were atheists even though one could argue that both nazism and extreme communism both have more in common with the structure of a theocracy where the idea of god is supplanted with that of the ‘Fatherland’ or ‘Workers Utopia’ respectively.

    He quite literally cannot conceive of a desire to behave in a moral fashion that comes from an individual genuinely caring about the well being of his or her fellow human beings, rather than fearing unavoidable divine sanction from a godly Santa Clause in the sky who always knows if you have been naughty or nice.

    ‘Everyone’s certainly entitled in our country to equal treatment regardless of their opinion. But yes, I think that folks who believe they’ve come to that opinion ought to think very carefully, first of all, about how different it is from the American tradition; how it leads to a very different set of outcomes in the real world.’

    You can just tell that these words were bitter as gall to the Governor. All he could do was paternalistically admonish those nasty atheists to think carefully about their wicked godlessness, when all he weanted to do was outlaw atheism and smite the unbeliever so that he could bathe in the approval of his imagined psycopath of a god. The idea that a man such as this could hold any fragment of democartically mandated power within the world’s most powerful nation really is rather terrifyng.

    Still, at least Sarah Palin did not become Vice President. Whenever I feel depressed, I just think of that and I instantly feel better. It is just icing on the cake that these days she is reduced to writing pseudo-autobiographical books with silly titles.

  86. #86 Rorschach
    December 27, 2009

    @ 59 FTW !

  87. #87 chicagomolly.myopenid.com
    December 27, 2009

    Whenever I hear christers unload about our not being able to behave ourselves without the old heaven/hell bribe/threat it puts me in mind of the Phil Ochs song When I’m Gone. If we secular types had the kind of knock-yer-socks-off public performances that they have (what do they call them these days, “Praise Services?”) we could use it as our anthem.

    In fact we need more good songs to get atheism out. Listen to some of those good old blood and thunder protestant hymns some time. Song is a sort of ‘meta-meme’ that replicates so easily that it can carry along the verbal memes of whatever text you choose to set. You can get a congregation to learn the most horrifying load of theological rubbish by getting them to sing it. We could promote godless morality the same way.

    In four-part harmony.

    With feelin’.

  88. #88 tas121790
    December 27, 2009

    Mitch Daniels is a good enough governor for me to ignore that bull…
    Hes made some tough decisions to keep Indiana relevant while bordering states (Michigan) are rusting away

  89. #89 chicagomolly.myopenid.com
    December 27, 2009

    @funnyguts, #82:

    Not only does he not know what he’s talking about here, he’s also awful enough to suggest bringing back corporal punishment in schools.

    His Grace The Gov: “What bothers me is the implications -which not all such folks have thought through- because really, if we are just accidental, if this life is all there is, if there is no eternal standard of right and wrong, then all that matters is power.”

    Ah. Now I understand.

  90. #90 Gregory Greenwood
    December 27, 2009

    ‘I think that folks who believe they’ve come to that opinion ought to think very carefully…’

    Folks who believe they’ve come to that opinion? That sounds suspiciously like the old theist cannard that atheists are not really atheists. That we don’t mean it, we are simply unhappy and in need of a hug/stern talking to/stretch in a correctional facility (delete as appropriate to the degree of craziness associated with the fundie in question) to straighten us out.

    This is the final refuge of those theists who are incapable of forming a cogent or even coherent argument in support of their chosen woo. Its the fall back position for those for whom even the moldy and moth eaten discipline of mealy-mouthed theist apologetics is just too darned hard.

  91. #91 Gregory Greenwood
    December 27, 2009

    tas121790 @ 88;

    ‘Mitch Daniels is a good enough governor for me to ignore that bull…
    Hes made some tough decisions to keep Indiana relevant while bordering states (Michigan) are rusting away.’

    Even if the governor’s economic policies have been successful, surely there is more to being a good governor than just ensuring that the sheckles keep rolling in? This man has a hand in every non-federal area of policy in the state of Indiana. Given that he is openly promoting a grotesquely inaccurate portrayal of history and willfully misrepresenting atheism from his position as governor, if I lived in Indiana I would have very grave concerns about this man’s influence on such things as education policy.

  92. #92 Anri
    December 27, 2009

    God it perfectly just.

    You can tell, because under god’s system, everyone gets exactly what they deserve.
    For example, all humans deserve to go to hell, but not all of them do.

    Oh, bad example. Never mind. Don’t read that bit.
    Ummm, goats on fire…?

  93. #93 tas121790
    December 27, 2009

    @Gregory Greenwood
    As an atheist i find his comments absurd and stupid. But as a resident of Indiana i see his actions are working and he is effective in an area where he has authority. He has never pressed Social Conservationism compared to other republicans. Indiana Dems wouldn’t be much different. So the way I see it is that I’m willing to put up with that bull if he is effective. His opponent in the election was an ineffective candidate who couldn’t even run her campaign.

  94. #94 Gregory Greenwood
    December 27, 2009

    tas121790 @ 93;

    Sounds like Indiana is suffering from a malady well known to us Brits. We call it ‘Tony Blair Syndrome’, where the established candidate is not really all that great, but his or her greatest strength is the weakness (and/or teeth-grinding inducing incompetence) of his or her opposition.

  95. #95 destlund
    December 27, 2009

    hitler was not a vegetarian, either. just so you know.

    Ahh, but he did have a moustache, no? Et voila! The connection between Hitler, Stalin, and Mao–oh, wait.

  96. #96 Valdyr
    December 27, 2009

    This is an example of someone who really does not get the Norse religion at all. With all of the doctorate degrees that you have and all of the power that you have, you simply have failed to understand what the Aesir are all about and what humanity is all about. You could not get it more wrong.

    The entire point here is that there are two types of people in the world, people who accept Odin and those who don’t. There is nothing arrogant about that. It is, what it is. I can’t judge you personally, but I would believe that if a person did reject the pantheon and they died that person would end up in Niflheim.

    See you don’t believe any of this, but belief does not matter. It is all real no matter how you try to hide or not. All of the events of all of our lives are being recorded. You can say you don’t believe all you want. None of this matters. I know you think everything is a myth with the exception of science and the scientific method, but that is simply not true. That is a lie that you keep telling yourself because you don’t want to accept the gods. No matter what proof is given, you will never ever believe in things beyond the this natural world.

    What if you tried to give a scientist the facts that Atoms existed and what if he never believed the scientific method, what if he believed his own methods. My point being that some people have agendas and no matter how much proof or what kind of proof you give them, they still won’t understand.

    Valhalla and Niflheim are real. Niflheim is not meant for people, it is meant for other spirit forms that you don’t believe in. However, there are some people in there because they just outright rejected the sa and then they died and it was too late.

    I know how you work, you will call me a loon and then brand people like me a moron for what we believe because you think that everything that isn’t scientific in nature is just myths and fairy tales. You do this every blog post and you beat the same horse over and over again with nothing really new.

    Anyway, the only way to make you really understand all of this is when you die. However, it will simply be too late. My hope is that you turn your life around before you die at least. I may not like what you say, but I would not want you to go to the Abode of Mist to by gnawed eternally by the great dragon Nhggr.

  97. #97 Sastra
    December 27, 2009

    Valdyr #96:

    Clever ;)

  98. #98 Lars
    December 27, 2009

    “there are two types of people in the world, people who accept God and those who (…) end up in Hell.”

    “you will call me a loon and then brand people like me a moron”

    GOL (Guffaw Out Loud). PZ doesn’t need to brand you a moron. You’re doing it all by yourself.

  99. #99 destlund
    December 27, 2009

    Valdyr,
    If you don’t straighten up and get right with the Lord, you will be eaten last!

  100. #100 timgueguen
    December 27, 2009

    It’s interesting to read this just after finishing a book on the Corleone mafia groups in Sicily. THe Corleonesi Bernardo Provenzano, the “boss of bosses” of the Cosa Nostra until his capture in 2006, became quite pious as he got older. He regularly read the Bible and wrote down passages from it in a notebook, and often reminded himself in writing to pray. But did that stop him from being a Mafioso? Of course not. He didn’t get religious, realise what he’d done was against Christ’s teachings, and confess all his crimes to the authorities. His reign was considerably less violent than that of his old friend and predecessor as big boss, Salvatore Riina, but that was about improving the image of the Cosa Nostra as anything else, and people were still murdered. He would sometimes talk about the will of God, and that will apparently included him being a murderous crook.

  101. #101 funnyguts
    December 27, 2009

    @Gregory Greenwood 94: Not so much incompetence as opposed to lack of meaningful difference. Other than some details of fiscal policy and maybe the corporal punishment stuff, an Indiana Democrat who would have a shot at being governor would be no different from Daniels. I’m sure if asked former governor and current senator Evan Bayh would repeat everything that Daniels said about atheism.

  102. #102 Mike in SD
    December 27, 2009

    Someone in the comments section brought up that dubious study that found atheists are underrepresented in prisons. Obviously, they couldn’t control for intelligence in that study.

  103. #103 iwannaluvu2
    December 27, 2009

    To your argument that Christians are not humble due to their belief that they will go to heaven and you to hell, they will easily counter that you could go to heaven too if you simply believe in their God.

    I believe Christians are arrogant because they are so certain their beliefs are true without adequately considering the evidence for their beliefs.

  104. #104 Gregory Greenwood
    December 27, 2009

    Timothy Stone is one of those unintentionally funny Xians. I love the bit about how he would not presume to judge PZ, but PZ is going to hell for being an atheist!

    The projection is even better;

    ‘That is a lie that you keep telling yourself because you don’t want to accept God. No matter what proof is given, you will never ever believe in things beyond the this natural world.’

    Of course, Stone is lying to himself about the existence of his evidence-free deity rather than accept the liklihood that his entire life has been lived based upon a theology that is no more than a cunningly constructed lie.

    ‘My point being that some people have agendas and no matter how much proof or what kind of proof you give them, they still won’t understand. ‘

    Shiny, shiny mirror.

    ‘I know how you work, you will call me a loon and then brand people like me a moron for what we believe because you think that everything that isn’t scientific in nature is just myths and fairy tales.’

    It doesn’t help that he clearly is a loon, and people like him are for the most part morons. Trying to convince people of your sanity and good intentions while you impotently seek to threaten them with your own sick fantasies of eternal torment, is always going to be an uphill struggle. PZ is just tellin’ it like it is.

    ‘You do this every blog post and you beat the same horse over and over again with nothing really new.’

    What a neat little discription of all theist apologetics.

    I get the impression that Tiny Tim is the kind of bloke who, if he were to find himself at the bottom of a deep pit, would refuse offers of help from rescuers and instead would say;

    “Toss me a spade. If I keep digging down I’ll come out the other side eventually!”

    Keep digging, Tiny Tim. Keep digging.

  105. #105 Gregory Greenwood
    December 27, 2009

    ‘See you don’t believe any of this, but belief does not matter. It is all real no matter how you try to hide or not. All of the events of all of our lives are being recorded. You can say you don’t believe all you want.’

    As I said @ 85, to some of these Xians god is an amplified Santa Clause who always knows if you have been naughty or nice. I also like the way he says that this is all real no matter what atheists say. Still, he is a little more honest than most fundies. He doesn’t even try to cobble together some patently spurious ‘evidence’ for his claims. Tim simply declares “‘Tis so! If you do not believe me, God’ll getcha. You see if he don’t!””

    ‘All of the events of all of our lives are being recorded.’

    So, this is god as ‘Big Brother’. How delightfully Orwellian. I doubt that Tim has stopped to consider that he has as good as admitted that his concept of a divine, perfect being is a big, creepy voyeur who gets his jollies invading the privacy of all the little humans and spying on them 24/7. It certainly knocks reality tv into a cocked hat (as an aside, I really hate reality tv. More than I can express.)

    So, Tim’s god and sexually dysfunctional stalkers have something in common. Why doesn’t this surprise me?

  106. #106 John Morales
    December 27, 2009

    D’oh, just noticed the update to the post and now Valdyr’s comment is even more amusing!

    PS I note the tell-tale use of the conditional and of the subjunctive in:
    I may not like what you say, but I would not want you to go to Hell.

    Mealy-mouthed to the last.

  107. #107 Angel Kaida
    December 27, 2009

    Pastor Farm #57,
    That’s not ALL Lex Luthor did because of atheism.
    Since no god was looking, he took forty cakes.
    Atheism made him take 40 cakes.
    That’s as many as four tens.
    And that’s terrible.
    :|

  108. #108 raven
    December 27, 2009

    Why does Timothy Stone hate Odin, Zeus, the Easter Bunny, and Bob the Rain God.

    You see, they are real. They love you whether you like it or not.

    And if you don’t believe in them, after your death various horrible things will happen.

    Tim, wouldn’t want you to spend all your eternal life without any Easter eggs or candy. It’s not too late.

  109. #109 Thom
    December 27, 2009

    On behalf of all Hoosiers, I am sorry. I apologize to the country. Not all Indiana residents, including us Ft. Wayne residents, are that stupid.

  110. #110 Sastra
    December 27, 2009

    Oh, I just noticed the update also. I thought Valdyr was being clever using only a hypothetical Christian as template.

    Timothy Stone wrote:

    The entire point here is that there are two types of people in the world, people who accept God and those who don’t. There is nothing arrogant about that. It is, what it is.

    This is an example of someone who doesn’t get our point at all on where the problem with arrogance lies. It’s not about whether you believe the true thing: it’s about the method you use to decide whether it’s true or not. Does your method give you too much power? Does it place you so that, even if you’re wrong, you can’t know? Does everything turn into evidence that only supports your belief more and more and more?

    If you are right about God, then you are right for the wrong reason. That’s what matters. We’re fallible. The existence of God is not some clear, obvious truth that only the perverse would deny. Telling yourself that it is, is arrogant. Giving yourself no way to be checked, is arrogant. Placing yourself in a position where disagreement with you, is disagreement with God, is arrogant.

    Pay attention. Method, method, method. Not what you know you know, but how you know you know it.

  111. #111 severthistie
    December 27, 2009

    “My point being that some people have agendas and no matter how much proof or what kind of proof you give them, they still won’t understand.”

    QED

  112. #112 blackmas
    December 27, 2009

    “a scientist [...] what if he never believed the scientific method”

    …the hell does that mean?

  113. #113 severthistie
    December 27, 2009

    “You do this every blog post and you beat the same horse over and over again with nothing really new.”

    I agree, but it’s the theists who should really come up with some new arguments. The “god told me so” argument and misinterpretations/fabrications of science are getting old.

  114. #114 Andyo
    December 27, 2009

    OK, who started this whole “New Atheism” thing? It seems neither the atheists nor the theists think there’s anything new at all.

  115. #115 Forbidden Snowflake
    December 27, 2009

    Jesus and Mo say it all, as usual.
    http://www.jesusandmo.net/2007/10/05/share/

  116. #116 Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom
    December 27, 2009

    Isn’t Jesus and Mo based on a flawed principle? To say the least, portraying JESUS in the wrong for believing in Jesus seems.. nonsensical. Don’t Atheists usually say “Sure, if there was PROOF that God existed, we would at least accept that reality.”

    I get that he’s a stand-in, but wouldn’t using the Pope and the Ayatollah (Or genericized versions of each) be more effective and logically consistent?

  117. #117 S.T.U.N. Runner
    December 27, 2009

    This kind of crap gets me so wound up that I end up on Reddit making very angry posts regarding my contention that Christian values are inherently un-American.

    I wrote this in a fit of Hitchens-inspired rage:

    An American values liberty and justice in the here and now.

    A Christian prefers being a slave and expects justice to be meted out in some future time by an omnipotent being.

    An American looks forward to an America filled with opportunities, peace, and prosperity for generations to come.

    A Christian looks forward to the annihilation of the human species for the glory of God, eagerly hoping to see this happen in his or her own lifetime.

    An American believes in personal responsibility and accountability.

    A Christian believes that his or her own misdeeds are washed away by a blood sacrifice committed two thousand years ago.

    An American cherishes democracy, rejecting the very idea of being lorded over by a hierarchical system of hereditary authority figures such as kings.

    A Christian revels in the notion that the universe itself is a cosmic imperium, immutable, eternal, absolutely permanent, inescapable, and lorded over by a jealous, angry, exclusive, capricious, omnipotent creator-being.

    An American believes that all men are created equal.

    Christians insist that, at best, they are themselves superior to non-believers and to those of conflicting faiths, and, at worst, that their own superiority was predestined.

    An American believes that a strong military is necessary to protect America’s safety and interests, domestically and abroad.

    A Christian believes that the American military’s purpose is to protect and spread Christianity.

    Just pissed off, I am.

  118. #118 'Tis Himself, OM
    December 27, 2009

    Tim came close but he didn’t actually use Pascal’s Wager.

  119. #119 Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom
    December 27, 2009

    Also, this governor guy seems immune to irony and cognitive dissonance.

    “It’s not about belief, so you’ll burn in hell for not believing! Also it’s about belief!”

    Also, I’m pretty sure what he’s saying IS wrong, based on what Jesus said, but what do I know?

  120. #120 KLT
    December 27, 2009

    I need to respectfully disagree on this.

    The teachings of Christianity are in direct opposition to the characteristics of arrogance, superiority, haughtiness, and class distinctions…(which conversely), have been the ‘norm’ throughout virtually every other nation and society within the ancient world. (including the Jewish society which Jesus grew up in)

    One of the most impressive aspects of Jesus’ teachings is the fact that what he taught was completely new and unfamiliar to the people of his day. That’s why everyone was puzzled as to where he came up with all this stuff, since they were aware that he hadn’t received any formal education or Rabbinical training.
    Even the Roman soldiers who were ordered to arrest him, came back empty-handed after listening to him, saying:
    “Never has another man spoken like this.” (John 7:46)

    There are numerous instances which demonstrate this point:

    -He repeatedly urged his disciples to display a humble and meek attitude toward all. He taught them not to look down on lowly ones or those despised by society in general, (such as lepers, widows, orphans, and the poor, etc.)

    -He made a point to speak to the Samaritan woman in public (although he was breaking Jewish custom by doing so) since Jewish men at that time did not ‘lower themselves’ to speak with women in public (let alone Samaritan women)

    -He was criticized by the Jewish religious leaders who looked down on him because they saw him eating meals and having discussions with confirmed ‘sinners’

    -He corrected the apostles whenever they argued among themselves about ‘who was the greatest one’ (which they did quite often)…and he repeatedly gave them counsel regarding the importance of being willing to minister to others, and how vital it was to rid themselves of any tendency towards superiority, arrogance, or a spirit of competitiveness, saying:

    “If anyone wants to be first, he must be last of all and minister of all.” (Mark 9:35)

    -Lastly, Jesus himself was the ultimate example in living up to his own teaching:
    “Keep this mental attitude in YOU that was also in Christ Jesus,…he emptied himself and took a slave?s form and came to be in the likeness of men…he humbled himself and became obedient as far as death.” (Philippians 2:5,7,8)

    Whether or not a person chooses to *BELIEVE* the account of Jesus’ life and ministry, is besides the point. The fact remains, that Jesus’ teachings set a precedent…which is void of arrogance and superiority.

  121. #121 John Morales
    December 27, 2009

    KLT, quoting the New Testament to sustain your contentions about Jesus is very silly.

    PS King Arthur’s Round Table was also “completely new and unfamiliar to the people of his day” — so say the Arthurian Romances, anyway… ;)

  122. #122 amphiox
    December 27, 2009

    KLT #120:

    First of all, these teachings of Christianity are not unique. It is only the New Testament that claims that the teachings of Jesus were so unique and surprising, that they were unfamiliar to the people he preached to, that they came away amazed and puzzled.

    You cannot cite a self-referencing source as reliable evidence unless you have another independent confirmation, which in the case of the New Testament we don’t have.

    Even a cursory examination of contemporary and older religious beliefs reveals multiple elements of these so-called core Christian beliefs present in disparate belief systems throughout the ancient world. The call for personal humility in particular was a common element of multiple Eastern faith traditions, many of which predate Christianity by centuries if not millennia.

    Indeed, the apropriateness of humility in man before the glory of god is almost a religious universal.

    Finally, irrespective of what the New Testament says that Jesus did or did not teach, what matters more is how self-proclaimed Christians today, in real-life, behave. And while we can certainly find examples aplenty from both ends of the spectrum, it is plainly obvious that at this moment in time, arrogance predominates over humility among the Fundamentalist Christian Right.

    Boasting about one’s humility as if it were a badge of moral superiority, is false humility, and the epitome of arrogance.

  123. #123 Valdyr
    December 27, 2009

    The Gospels were written decades after Jesus’ death by men who may or may not have actually known him. We have no writings from Jesus himself or mentions of him or his preaching from contemporary historical sources. To show how utterly unconvincing the Gospels are to atheists, let’s use an analogy.

    Imagine that in 1960, a charismatic shaman of a new religious sect on a remote island in the South Pacific was reputedly executed by local authorities for heresy, but then resurrected himself from the dead and vanished from the world, as well as performing other miraculous feats, such as transmuting brine into freshwater and curing malaria-infected villagers with a touch. We are, for some reason, only just now hearing about this through a best-selling book published in 2008, by a group of followers of the shaman’s religion. The rural people of the island are enthralled with the tales of the miracle man, though no records exist of his deeds or even his birth or family with the island’s government.

    Would you read this book and immediately conclude that it was 100% fact? Of course not. My analogy is not as strong as it could be, though–given the amount of time that has passed since the writing of the Gospels, there has been a much, much greater chance of the writings–unreliable to begin with–being distorted, than would be the case of a book published just last year.

    I think the reason that Christians would apply their common sense to the story of the island medicine man and not the story of Jesus is primarily that most of them were raised from childhood to believe in it, and have accepted it as unquestioningly and eagerly as they did the Santa Claus story.

  124. #124 RamblinDude
    December 28, 2009

    KLT,

    I know too many ?good Christians? who would be in complete agreement with you on principle?they even nod in accord and whisper ?amen? when hearing sermons that espouse that very ideal of Christ?s humility you talk about?but when you look underneath that reverence, what do you see? You see the most appalling violence and arrogance toward people who don?t appreciate the humility of Jesus the way they do. And their intolerance and arrogance is generally coupled with a thick-headed ignorance of how the world works because they?ve got all the answers they need in the bible and through prayer and sermons, and they don?t need to search any further. This is not humility; it is the opposite of humility.

    The religion?especially evangelical Christianity?is based on greed and fear, and greed and fear do not lead to humility.

  125. #125 RamblinDude
    December 28, 2009

    Perhaps I shouldn’t say it’s “based” on it, but it is what fuels it.

  126. #126 F
    December 28, 2009

    what kind of “just God” orders his people to slaughter whole nations and enslave their women and children?

    Crom?

  127. #127 John Morales
    December 28, 2009

    Actually, Crom is not an interventionist deity; he orders nothing.

  128. #128 kyhwana
    December 28, 2009

    Man, this Timothy Stone guy is a moron..

  129. #129 Rorschach
    December 28, 2009

    KLT @ 120,

    One of the most impressive aspects of Jesus’ teachings is the fact that what he taught was completely new and unfamiliar to the people of his day

    Quoting the bible or Harry Potter doesnt actually count as an argument around here.

    The religion?especially evangelical Christianity?is based on greed and fear, and greed and fear do not lead to humility.

    Fear leads to the dark side

  130. #130 RickR
    December 28, 2009

    *reads the amended post*

    *FACEPALMS 1000 TIMES AT THE IGNORANT ARROGANCE*

    *drinks*

    (at least something good came out of it)

  131. #131 ElitistB
    December 28, 2009

    @120, “One of the most impressive aspects of Jesus’ teachings is the fact that what he taught was completely new and unfamiliar to the people of his day.”

    Jesus said nothing new. Maybe it was the first time those particular desert dwellers heard the concepts he espoused, the world at large had heard them many times before.

    I could understand this statement if you were living back then. But as a grown adult living in this century with the internet at your command, this statement is irresponsible.

  132. #132 John Morales
    December 28, 2009

    KLT is particularly inane, even for a goddist. I can’t resist addressing this particularly ironic point:

    He [story-Jesus] corrected the apostles whenever they argued among themselves about ‘who was the greatest one’ (which they did quite often)…and he repeatedly gave them counsel regarding the importance of being willing to minister to others, and how vital it was to rid themselves of any tendency towards superiority, arrogance, or a spirit of competitiveness, saying:
    “If anyone wants to be first, he must be last of all and minister of all.”

    So this dude repeatedly corrects his disciples and counsels them to not be competitive, but instead to outdo each other in humility!

    And we’re supposed to find this exhortation to be holier-than-thou an example of humility?

    <spoing!>

  133. #133 shonny
    December 28, 2009

    Posted by: Janine, She Wolf Of Pharyngula, OM Author Profile Page | December 27, 2009 2:43 PM

    Over here, in the UK, we have a state religion and as a result politicians don’t do the “god thing” in public.

    You did recently have a Prime Minister who allowed his religious faith to make him into a certain US President’s lapdog.

    Lapdog? Nah, he had the honorary position of asswipe, together with the then Aussie PM, Li’l Johnny, of whom you mostly saw the shoes when the rest of him was up the shrub’s alimentary canal, entering at the exit end.

  134. #134 Richard Eis
    December 28, 2009

    KLT,

    “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

    Mahatma Gandhi.

    oh and Timothy with “My point being that some people have agendas and no matter how much proof or what kind of proof you give them, they still won’t understand.” just cracked me up.

    “You do this every blog post and you beat the same horse over and over again with nothing really new.”

    Yes, because there is only one horse, and it needs beating until you get it. Nothing new in 2000 years.

    Myths and fairy tales. Unicorns, zombies, dragons, magic apples, talking animals, healing magic, werewolves…shall I go on Mr Stone?

  135. #135 raven
    December 28, 2009

    oh and Timothy with “My point being that some people have agendas and no matter how much proof or what kind of proof you give them, they still won’t understand.” just cracked me up.

    Like xians don’t have agendas. The fundies are all Dominionists whose goal is to take over the USA and destroy it. This governor is one of them.

    And Timothy has “proof”. Proof that is so good no one has ever heard of it. Proof that is so convincing that despite 2,000 years of unrelenting, horrendous mass murder, the vast majority of the planet’s people still don’t believe it.

    What will doom xianity is real simple. They lost the power of the gun in most countries. Without a gun to their head, people are free to run out the doors. Run, they do.

  136. #136 isaksson.e
    December 28, 2009

    “My point being that some people have agendas and no matter how much proof or what kind of proof you give them, they still won’t understand.”

    Word.

  137. #137 Fred The Hun
    December 28, 2009

    Sastra @ 26,

    Hitler, Stalin, Attila the Hun — you name it.

    No, no, no… That list is supposed to be, Hitler, Stalin, Mao– you name it.

    The kind and benevolent leader that was Attila, doesn’t belong in such a list and anyone who disagrees should have their head chopped off and stuck on the end of a pole!

  138. #138 Baccala
    December 28, 2009

    Wow – I had to develop a whole new name and go through hoops to sign in. PZ if you are listening please when you can give us (me) some hints as to what we (I) can be doing wrong. This is ConcernedJoe and I used to be able to use TypePad. I doubt you banned me :-).

    My salty two cents re: this post:

    The danger of a democracy is that about 30% of the people are RWA as a fait accompli – people are just born that way and they change only ever so slightly and they are almost impervious to education or social pressures to change.

    I say about 21% are Right leaning and 9% Left (overall in USA). Given their propensity to duty they VOTE almost always – especially if they sense an “enemy” of their way of thinking in opposition. I say the USA National elections are swayed by the RWA Right up to about 55-60% level of EV voting. That is if only 50% vote the Right (super panderers to the conservative RWA Right) wins!

    You want a more sane and just government then all get out and VOTE! Support incrementally progressive candidates that you can see winning and get them in. Do not expect overnight change – be persistent BUT be patient. Do not throw the baby out with the bathwater because change is not radical and immediate. This is a game of increment steps toward an ideal. The trend line counts not the perfection of every result and action.

    An example of this is what is happening here and now. The 9% RWA (the Lefts) are grumbling so loud (almost in unison with the Right) that the 70% (the mostly reasonable rational voters – but also lazy voters) get negative and either do not vote or vote according to the last sound bite. And in the world of sound bites the Rights win. Just like Creationism has better sound bites – their “facts” are easy to relate to – dead wrong – but they do exude “common (too too COMMON) sense” and they make any who accept them feel – well superior, right, and an expert.

    Remember this formula – estimated: 21% RWA(R) when only 50% of us vote makes for a 42% (R) advantage to the 18% L! Though more rationals would go Left, with only 50% turnout the advantage is just too great to overcome barring exceptionally bad R candidate.

  139. #139 Strangest brew
    December 28, 2009

    #135

    “What will doom xianity is real simple. They lost the power of the gun in most countries. Without a gun to their head, people are free to run out the doors. Run, they do”

    While that is a very apt point, it seems that the real killers of xian dogma and religion will not be absconding marks and targets, not atheists saying and doing nasty things like speaking out against insanity, not other world religions orchestrated by some xian invented bogey man and not secular poisoned scientists, but xians themselves.

    They love a good schism does ya average god botherer.
    They like imposing a non-biblical morality on their surroundings, they like the thought of the holier then thou church cred they get from espousing personal bigotry, intolerance and ignorance!

    They like the fashioning of a morality that promotes their own traits, they always have done, and when that is not available under present worship they invent a new one.
    That is the religious attraction for the jeebus legions, not worship of some deity but the worship of their own arrogance.

    People are starting to notice that the gentle xian rhetoric of love and salvation is anything but.
    Xians are showing their real filthy stinking faeces stained, threadbare lingerie peeking from under their sparkly party duds, and they are embarrassed and sputtering somewhat with shame.

    Because for all their rhetoric, for all their claims and for all their hatred these attacks are being exposed as just a delaying tactic, they are trying to buy time so they must attack the atheist threat in a last gasp cavalry charge, if nothing else then to distract, they are losing the battle they instigated, and they know it!

    Their ‘salvation’ is the minute possibility of gaining unlimited access to education, contaminate a generation and you have insured a longevity for the delusion, at least for another generation.
    But they need time to manipulate the legislature, not overly successful but with idiots like Daniels, small victories but no rout.

    They are a fading shadow, they will pass into the history books as a curious cult, and heads will be shaken in disbelief at the the utter inanity and ignorance that typified the xian godbot and the laughable fairy story they promoted!

  140. #140 Richard Eis
    December 28, 2009

    Support incrementally progressive candidates that you can see winning and get them in.

    And also at each increment put in actions that prevent undoing whats been done. Or at least make it difficult for them.

  141. #141 Baccala
    December 28, 2009

    Consideration well taken Richard. There is an inertia to laws (e.g., the Rockefeller Drug Laws in NYS, or “3 Strikes” in CA)

    So let me ask you – do not the conservative candidates play that incremental change game too? Would we not get “stuck” with their incremental right leaning legacy?

    The answer is an empirical YES. And by the way the progressive – but admittedly imperfect – incremental changes (like minimum wage, medicare, medicaid, voter rights, repeal of segregation laws, etc.) sure look a darn sight better to me than the the alternative null actions or antithesis laws the conservatives would or have got enacted.

    Just saying .. a good equation has 2 sides so to speak – and as in chemistry – balancing counts.

  142. #142 Richard Eis
    December 28, 2009

    Would we not get “stuck” with their incremental right leaning legacy?

    I thought you already had.

  143. #143 Ajje
    December 28, 2009

    Daniels has obviously seen the light….too bad it was UV-C and it damaged his braincells!
    What arrogance he has!?

  144. #144 baron.army
    December 28, 2009

    The ONLY reference to “god” in either the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution of the United States of America is “nature’s God” in the preface of the Declaration of Independence.

    “Nature’s God,” as any well-educated man of the day would know (and Jefferson certainly was one) is an almost direct reference to Baruch Spinoza’s concept of god. Unfortunately, this does not play well with Christian facist or fundamentalist belief. Boiled down to its bare essentials, Spinoza’s god is the physical process of nature — not some all-knowing imaginary friend.

  145. #145 KLT
    December 28, 2009

    Richard Eis / RamblinDude

    You both nailed the point I wanted to make…
    The principles of Christianity are worthless unless actually applied and put into practice…therein lies the problem.

    Richard,…Gandhi also made another very simple, yet profound statement in that regard when he was asked by former British Viceroy of India, Lord Irwin, what he thought would solve the problems between Great Britain and India. Gandhi opened the Bible to the fifth chapter of Matthew and said: “When your country and mine shall get together on the teachings laid down by Christ in this Sermon on the Mount, we shall have solved the problems not only of our countries but those of the whole world.”

    So my objection is that Jesus’ teachings and his *true* followers should not be the source of contempt and hatred of Christianity…doing so would be just as wrong as blaming a victim of rape for the attack, instead of placing blame on the perpetrator of the crime.

    In that same regard, it’s the corrupt and hypocritical rulers and religious leaders of Christendom who’ve made a mockery of authentic Christian values and doctrines over the centuries who should be put on trial (so-to-speak). They are the ones who’ve betrayed their namesake by forming political alliances with the very nation that tortured and executed both Jesus and his true disciples for refusing to compromise their beliefs. The early Christians were not soldiers because they would not betray the command to “love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44) by taking up arms in warfare, and they also would not hold political office or meddle in politics.

    In fact, you all wouldn’t be battling educational policies in school right now if Christians were doing what they’re supposed to do, by obeying Jesus’ command to stay separate from affairs of the world, and to remain politically neutral.
    A Christian’s job is to preach and teach the gospel to all the nations (Matthew 24:14)…not get involved with lawmakers by attempting to *force* public policy.

    It was only when Church and State were combined in the 4th century that Christianity began meddling in politics and forcing religion on the populace. (with the sword when necessary) Which was entirely political in nature…using false doctrines of hellfire and damnation to keep the populace in submission and fear, and to keep that money rolling in to line the ‘holy robes’ of the clergy.

    And in the ultimate act of betrayal, they turn around and celebrate the birth of Christ (which he never even commanded his followers to do) on the same date previously dedicated to the Romans’ religious Solstice festival. I can’t think of a more vomit-worthy act of backstabbing and betrayal of your so-called friend and mentor.

    Jesus said that not all who came in his name would be his true disciples, but rather: “…Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.”(John 8:31)

    And this is the *identifying mark* of all true Christians today:
    “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34,35)

    So all I’m saying is…don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.

  146. #146 Dorkman
    December 28, 2009

    “I may not like what you say, but I would not want you to go to Hell.”

    And yet he is perfectly sanguine with accepting as “just” and “loving” a God who would send PZ there at all.

    His statement is a lie, of course. Timmah would actually like nothing better than to point and go “haw-haw” while PZ burns. But he’s supposed to sound compassionate, so he goes all concern troll with it.

    Setting aside how Hitler wasn’t an atheist, it’s always shocking to me that these people can invoke Hitler and Hell without really thinking it through.

    So, Hitler was a bad man, and if anyone deserves to be severely punished for what they’ve done in life, I think we can agree that killing 6 million Jews should probably earn him some time in the fire (although I don’t think eternal punishment is warranted even for Hitler, but I digress). If any person can be called a monster, I think Hitler’s a good candidate.

    I think any Christian would agree that Hitler is a monster for killing 6 million Jews, and yet a Christian like Tim would also have to admit that those 6 million Jews went to the exact same Hell as Hitler, because they didn’t accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

    So Hitler kills them, he’s a monster. God tortures them for eternity alongside Hitler, and he’s…the greatest good? WTF?

    Ultimately his “argument” just proves PZ’s point — the accusation that atheists worship power is merely a case of psychological projection. The Christian God is only “good” if might makes right.

  147. #147 bonze
    December 28, 2009

    There are two types of people in the world, people who accept Huitzilopochtli, and those who want the Sun to go out, plunging the world into darkness.

    OK, OK, sorry, there’s a third type: the type who on encountering a Godwin promptly submit a post conforming to one of the numberless corollaries to that Great Law: 1) Hitler was Teh Evil and thus was not a theist; 2) Hitler was Teh Evil and thus was not a (nationalist/racist subtype) socialist; 3) Hitler was Teh Evil and thus was not a vegetarian; etc., etc.

  148. #148 Blak Thundar
    December 28, 2009

    As a Hoosier, this is neither the first nor last time I will be embarrassed by having Mitch Daniels as our governor… ugh…

  149. #149 TimKO,,.,,
    December 28, 2009

    Timothy Stone:
    “there are two types of people in the world, people who accept God and those who don’t.”

    Yup, just two types. Wait, there’s also those that accept Shiva, so, three types. There’s also those that accept Pele, come to think of it, so make it four types. Oops, I forgot to count those that DON’T accept Shiva.

    KLT,
    Since Jesus preached within Judaism, and since he did not ask anyone to start a new religion separate from Judaism, why not just convert to Judaism? Isn’t it the height of arrogance to say that a modern religion with its recent developments is better than the one Jesus believed in? Can a “true follower” of Jesus be a member of a religion that Jesus never heard of or envisioned?

    Where in the gospels does it say that Jesus “hadn’t received any formal education or Rabbinical training”?

  150. #150 wockrassa
    December 28, 2009

    All of the events of all of our lives are being recorded.

    The sad part about that is they never give you a refund at the Akashic record store. “You open it, it’s yours, pal.”

  151. #151 destlund
    December 28, 2009

    They are a fading shadow, they will pass into the history books as a curious cult, and heads will be shaken in disbelief at the the utter inanity and ignorance that typified the xian godbot and the laughable fairy story they promoted!

    Such a rosy picture. Probably the only way to extinguish delusional beliefs would be to eliminate poverty and educate everyone. But the Bible says “The poor will be with us always, therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall freely open your hand to your brother, to your needy and poor in your land.’ and whenever you wish you can do good to them so forget about trying to help them and enjoy your luxuries.

  152. #152 Knockgoats
    December 28, 2009

    I may not like what you [Timothy Stone] say, but I would not want you to go to the Abode of Mist to by gnawed eternally by the great dragon Nhggr. – Valdyr

    A tempting thought, though, in Mr. Stone’s case, you must admit!

  153. #153 Knockgoats
    December 28, 2009

    KLT,

    Two points:

    1) You are very selective in your picture of Jesus as he appears in the gospels. There are quite a number of points where he does not appear particularly humble, but rather as a bullying cult-leader who orders his followers to desert their families, tells them to take no thought for the morrow, threatens those who do not accept his teaching and status with the wrath of God, destroys the property of others (to wit: one herd of pigs, and one fig-tree), and resorts to physical violence to enforce his views (driving the money-lenders out of the temple).

    2) Even if we take your picture of Jesus and his teachings as accurate, the fact is (as you admit) that those who describe themselves as Christians mostly have not followed and do not follow those teachings. The most exalted moral code is useless if human beings cannot come anywhere near following it, or if those who do follow it can readily be exploited by those who do not: calling for complete unselfishness falls into the first error, for people consistently to “turn the other cheek” into both. For a society of intelligent, autonomous beings to work, its members need to be peaceful, tolerant and forgiving, but not without limits: aggression, greed and dishonesty must be checked, or those most prone to them will flourish and others will copy them.

  154. #154 Richard Eis
    December 28, 2009

    KLT,

    There is one more point to make…

    We don’t need Jesus to be nice, or attach the word christianity to any good deed. We know what needs doing. We need no religion for that. Everything is already laid out in society and nature.

    As far as i’m concerned Jesus was pointing out the blatantly obvious when he was being nice. Except…

    aggression, greed and dishonesty must be checked, or those most prone to them will flourish and others will copy them.

    Sometimes you gotta be cruel to be kind. Slapping people down when they do wrong is sometimes necessary. You are doing them a favour in the long run.

  155. #155 John Morales
    December 28, 2009

    KLT, you keep quote-mining from the propaganda tract. :)

    I note how story-Jesus the hypocrite exhibits humility via diktat: “A new command I give you: Love one another.”

    Don’t forget the “or else”… you know, the weeping and the gnashing of teeth-type stuff (e.g. Mark 9:43-48).

    Your putative Christian morality is so very selfish at heart; it’s disgusting.

  156. #156 Baccala
    December 29, 2009

    Sorry Richard Eis — I miss read your original comment to my original — I must have been sleepy or something.

    Yes we were violently agreeing – my bad for misreading. And thanks for your comments throughout.

  157. #157 Gus Snarp
    December 30, 2009

    And in the latest news, Governor Daniels also wants to cut funding for public schools to fix the state’s budget problems.

  158. #158 KLT
    December 30, 2009

    TimKO/Rorschach/John Morales/KnockGoats

    TimKO re:
    “Where in the gospels does it say that Jesus ‘hadn’t received any formal education or Rabbinical training’?”

    here ya go:

    “…Jesus went up into the temple and began teaching. Therefore the Jews fell to wondering, saying: ?How does this man have a knowledge of letters, when he has not studied at the schools??Jesus, in turn, answered them and said: ?What I teach is not mine, but belongs to him that sent me.” (John 7:14-16)

    “And after coming into his home territory he began to teach them in their synagogue, so that they were astounded and said: ?Where did this man get this wisdom and these powerful works?” (Matthew 13:54)

    “When it became sabbath, he started teaching in the synagogue; and the greater number of those listening were astounded and said: ?Where did this man get these things?” (Mark 6:2)

    “Now when they beheld the outspokenness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were men unlettered and ordinary, they got to wondering. And they began to recognize about them that they used to be with Jesus” (Acts 4:13)

    Rorschach & John Morales re:
    “Quoting the bible or Harry Potter doesnt actually count as an argument around here”

    “KLT, you keep quote-mining from the propaganda tract. :)”

    Of course. If we were debating the intricate details within the Harry Potter series and their meaning, as well as the reason for its growth and popularity among its fans, you’d better believe I’d quote directly from the source! :) As well as try to present the opinion of the author as to the meaning of the contents, rather than just the opinions of critics.

    How else would one conduct an honest inquiry without doing so? There’s never been a famous author, humanitarian, philosopher, or leader etc, on this earth whose managed to escape the negative opinions of their critics who’ve misrepresented them and their motives…no matter how wonderful their contributions to society and love for humanity has been.
    There have always been ‘haters’ who try to twist and manipulate public opinion and launch smear campaigns.

    KnockGoats
    Speaking of critics and smear campaigns and twisting the Bible’s message…Remember that conversation we had about the Nazis awhile back? And the possibility of governement stepping up effort to ban religion? Well it might not be happening on ‘a large scale’ yet with the ‘bigger’ Christian denominations right now, but already Russia has stepped up the effort to ban JW’s there, citing that we are ‘extremists’ and the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation liquidated one congregation already and banned 34 pieces of our literature last month, which could set a precedent for other Christians there now.
    Which you can see here:
    http://www.jw-media.org/

    (Some of the literature which has been put on the ‘ban list’ is so innocent…one is a children’s picturebook “My Book of Bible Stories” and another is one of my favorite books about Jesus’ life and ministry “Come Be My Follower”)

    So does that make sense? Russia calling us extremists and saying we are ‘dangerous’ and we ‘break up families’ after their government *literally* broke up familes by exiling them off to Siberia in boxcars following WWII and keeping them in Soviet prison camps for decades after the war. Plus, they continue to launch smear campaigns against Christian minority groups (such as us), while at the same time continuing to conduct raids and property confiscation…even breaking in during meetings and removing children from their parents. And in one instance this past year, injuring a pregnant Witness who miscarried after being detained in custody. And even turning private medical records of JW patients over to the authorites and releasing them from the hospital without administering treatment.
    Yet they aren’t imposing bans or restrictions on other Christians or even most Muslims…don’t you find that odd? Especially when we are so small how could we be a threat? It’s obviously political in nature.

    Because come on, this is the 21st century, so why are they moving backwards towards that old, harsh Soviet-propaganda thinking again? There’s nothing more dangerous than that.

    So getting back to the point I was making originally…you’ve gotta be careful who you believe. Sometimes the very people who say the worst things about others and misrepresent them, are themselves the worst villains with an agenda. … That’s why you have to look at ‘the fruitage’ they produce, -(as to whether it’s good or bad), since actions speak louder than words.

  159. #159 John Morales
    December 30, 2009

    KLT, way to ignore the irony I mentioned. Truly, he who chides his disciples and commands them is an epitome of humility! ;)

    Re: quoting NT to support the truth of NT:

    Of course. If we were debating the intricate details within the Harry Potter series and their meaning, as well as the reason for its growth and popularity among its fans, you’d better believe I’d quote directly from the source! :)
    [...]
    How else would one conduct an honest inquiry without doing so?

    To what honest enquiry do you refer? Mythic fantasy is a staple, and inspiring though fantasy might be, it’s infantile to take it as veridical.

    You’re fond of quoting from Matthew; look at Matthew 27:45-53, and tell me you take it seriously. I’d like a good laugh.

    You might as well have quoted the Book of the Dead, or Rigveda, or any other scripture for that matter — you’d be taken every bit as seriously.

    It’s so amusing that self-professed Christians privilege the Bible over other works with arguments that work every bit as well for those others. Heh.

  160. #160 KLT
    December 31, 2009

    John Morales re: Matthew 27:45-53

    So I take it you’re not much on ‘fulfilled prophecy’ are ya? =)

    But even from a strictly secular standpoint the Bible is unlike any other ancient document in history. I don’t expect you to ‘put faith’ in its contents (even though that would be fantastic) however, I do expect an honest atheist with a healthy knowledge of history and ancient documents, to acknowledge the validity and authenticity of the text.

    Watch this short videoclip of author Ravi Zacharias giving an explanation to a student during a lecture, who asked him the same exact question which you just brought up to me. (in regards to ‘what makes the Bible unique from any other ancient religious text?’)

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

    Towards the end he says: “After you take the 20,000 lines of the New Testament it is safe for any scholar to say there is at least a 99.6% accuracy. No ancient document…none…has the kind of documentary support that the Bible has. Over 5000 documents … One thing we cannot deny the Christians is that the documentation which is available across the centuries, nothing in ancient literature matches it…”

  161. #161 Owlmirror
    December 31, 2009

    After you take the 20,000 lines of the New Testament it is safe for any scholar to say there is at least a 99.6% accuracy.

    LOL. Only in the sense that 99.6% of all statistics are made up on the spot.

    Really, what does that number even mean? What does “accuracy” mean when he says it?

    No ancient document…none…has the kind of documentary support that the Bible has.

    What is “documentary support”?

    One thing we cannot deny the Christians is that the documentation which is available across the centuries, nothing in ancient literature matches it…

    Which means what, exactly? What is the evidence that what the events described in the bible are true?

    —–

    Note what Ravi Zacharias says at 2:46-3:05 —

    “Now, if the Bible made several assertions, one after another, that you found out to be false, either historically, or philosophically, or in the existential realm, you go further and further and if you see that kind of systemic contradiction and failure, then you have reason to believe that I cannot really trust this document; it is not in keeping with the way I’m seeing history and reality.”

    Heh. So since the Bible makes assertions in Genesis, one after another, that are indeed false historically….

    —–

    Oh, LOL. Is he really saying that all of Daniel was written 500BC? That Zacharias (in the bible) was a prophesy of Jesus?

    He’s a flake.

  162. #162 Richard Eis
    January 1, 2010

    No ancient document…none…has the kind of documentary support that the Bible has.

    The bible wasn’t even written down till years after all the events that supposedly too place by people who weren’t around at the time. Now the Koran however …

    Anyway…5000 documents from where? Other parts of the bible? And what do these sources say about the bible?

    I mean the Koran tells of Jesus but says he was a prophet, not the son of God. Is that the kind of evidence you think christians are going to like?

  163. #163 John Morales
    January 2, 2010
    You’re fond of quoting from Matthew; look at Matthew 27:45-53, and tell me you take it seriously. I’d like a good laugh.

    John Morales re: Matthew 27:45-53
    So I take it you’re not much on ‘fulfilled prophecy’ are ya? =)

    That’s what’s called a non-answer. An evasion.

    Do you or do you not believe in the zombie plague incident recounted therein (or are you too cowardly to answer the question asked)?

    Watch this short videoclip of author Ravi Zacharias giving an explanation to a student during a lecture, who asked him the same exact question which you just brought up to me. (in regards to ‘what makes the Bible unique from any other ancient religious text?’)

    So what makes the Bible privileged is that Ravi Zacharias says it is.

    That’s your answer? Really?

  164. #164 george_fish
    January 12, 2010

    I am so glad for this posting! I live in Indiana, or should I say I’m economically stuck here in this bastion of mediocrity that not only drove noted writers Kurt Vonnegut & Dan Wakefield out in disgst, but constantly regurgitates “leaders” pandering to religiousity & pietism such as Gov. Daniels. I would like to mention that, along with a good friend of mine, Dave Fey, we posted an article, “Mediocrity–a Hoosier affliction,” that appeared in the Bloomington (IN) Alternative July 12, 2009. You can see it by going to the Alternative’s website, http://www.bloomingtonalternative.com, which I hope you do.

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