Pharyngula

Atheist convention sold out

The Global Atheist Convention is now officially sold out. If you want to get in, you’ll have to find a scalper.

I am still surprised at how oblivious some commentary on the convention can be. Some people can’t imagine what we could have to talk about without any gods in the room.

But, if the atheists who post on this blog are to be believed, they have nothing in common with each other except a lack of belief in “imaginary friends”. They stand for nothing together, hold no ethical precepts in common, hold no ambitions in common (except, perhaps, a desire to see a religionless world). So what on earth (given that heaven is ruled out) will they talk about?

We stand for nothing together…except for the importance of reason, evidence, and science in understanding the world. You know, scientists routinely hold conventions much larger than this, and somehow we find lots to say. For that matter, car salesmen have bigger conventions, and I’m pretty sure their conversations don’t center around religion much, either.

We have no ethical precepts together…does he expect that this will be a meeting of axe-murderers, father-rapers, and church-burners? We hold a common morality that ties society together, and as the more gregarious subset of the freethought community (the less gregarious are staying home) we also believe in the importance of coordinated communal activity.

We have no ambitions in common…except that we’d all like to live in a more rational world, where our leaders made political decisions based on evidence rather than faith, where secular education was paramount, where we recognized the common humanity of everyone on the planet and worked to make this world a better one, free of the illusion of another world beyond.

As we’ve come to expect, that’s another hoodwinked, naively pro-religion commentator whose imagination is in a state of critical failure.

Comments

  1. #1 Sven DiMilo
    February 2, 2010

    axe-murderers, father-rapers, and church-burners

    that’s this bench over here, Arlo

  2. #2 Todd
    February 2, 2010

    Atheists should have no opinions. They certainly shouldn’t voice them out loud. God forbid they try to make friends with other atheists. Talking and hanging out with like minded people is a sure sign of extremist fundamentalism.

  3. #3 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    February 2, 2010

    Like all paranoids, the religious are afraid we will talk about them. Psst, did you hear the one about the religious guy who walked into a bar…

  4. #4 MetzO'Magic
    February 2, 2010

    axe-murderers, father-rapers, and church-burners

    Close. It was actually:

    “Mother rapers. Father stabbers. Father rapers!”

    From:

    http://www.arlo.net/resources/lyrics/alices.shtml

  5. #5 dsmwiener
    February 2, 2010

    What these people are really doing is showing their hand. They have put everything into the religion basket and I think they are sincere in their inability to understand how others function without it. It is total cult immersion.

  6. #6 Truckle
    February 2, 2010

    There is always bacon to talk about…

  7. #7 Legion
    February 2, 2010

    Comment from Zwart to Dave Nichols in the comment section of the article. Emphasis ours:

    But when you say you lack freedom from religion in Australia, that sounds a strong claim. Who forces religion of any sort on you. Perhaps you could amplify what you mean? And of course atheistic parents bring up their children as atheists. Few send them to church so they can make a “choice”. This indoctrination by religion versus the purity of atheism is another dearly beloved fantasy of many fundamentalist atheists.

    This implied claim that religious belief isn’t forced on anyone, provides clear evidence that Mr. Zwartz is another disingenuous liar for Hay-sus. Assuming he’s some species of xtian, we find it hard to believe that he is unaware of the central tenet of his faith, which is to go forth and aggressively proselytize to the heathens.

    We find it unfathomable that he is unaware of efforts at home and abroad to dilute science with superstitious fucknuttery.

    We are appalled at his implied claim that religious belief and ritual do not permeate society from cradle to grave, effectively forcing said belief and rituals on all members of society.

    We find ourselves utterly stunned that he pretends to be unaware of the fact that to be an atheist today, is akin to being gay in the 1970′s (albeit, without all the killing… so far, thank FSM)

    Finally, his protestation reminds us of certain other types who claim that racism and sexism don’t exist either.

    What a smirking ball of animated dirt.

  8. #8 Deen
    February 2, 2010

    But wouldn’t our differences and disagreements give us more to talk about, not less?

  9. #9 mck9
    February 2, 2010

    In fairness to Barney Zwartz, the author of the article cited, he does say in a footnote at the bottom:

    I know atheists are never short of things to talk about. (That?s a joke too.)

    It’s not much of a joke that needs a footnote to identify it as one. Still, he does seem to know better than what he says.

  10. #10 dkbuck
    February 2, 2010

    Sorry, PZ, but I have to call you out on quote mining on this one. In the rest of the article, the author states that it actually looks like an interesting conference and he plans to comment on the individual talks. At the bottom he stated that he was joking about atheists having nothing to talk about.

  11. #11 jashbowie
    February 2, 2010

    This reminds me of the one irritating scene in the otherwise enjoyable movie, The Soloist. The reporter lead character (Downey) is searching for a story and finds a member of an atheist group that is sponsoring the cleanup of a section of highway. The reporter snidely asks if they meet and if they only talk about how they don’t believe in god…and the atheist just stands there like a Three Stooges idiot. What’s really annoying about that scene is the answer is RIGHT THERE…the atheists have agreed to help make Los Angeles a better place by volunteering to clean up garbage. Clearly they work towards bettering society through action, and this was an opportunity (I know it was just a movie) for the atheist to talk about ethics sans-religion.

    But I think the writer of this scene is like so many others who simply can’t even imagine that atheists can be compassionate, fulfilled, joyous people who are motivated to work in harmony with others to improve this world for everyone. Sigh.

  12. #12 Rorschach
    February 2, 2010

    And of course atheistic parents bring up their children as atheists.

    I think I will write Mr Zwartz a quick note on this.
    It might involve the terms “factory setting”, “brain” and “lack of indoctrination”.

  13. #13 Strangest brew
    February 2, 2010

    I think it is quite obvious that the religions, especially the xian one, hate it when atheism attracts enough folks to hold a convention.

    You see if atheism is big enough to hold a convention they are big enough to confront religion and that is scary, they might win an argument.

    The other quite obvious point is, religion lovers have no way to get a handle on atheism, they don’t understand it, the don’t like it, they are indeed a threatened by it.

    A movement which apparently is not another religion but then again must be cos they ‘believe’ the same thing as each other apparently.
    So confusing.

    And where do they get their morals from cos we use a bible they use nothing, they in fact must make it up, seems odd that is seems not unlike our own moral direction in some ways just less in our other ways of intolerance, bigotry, and hatred, totally unchristian just weird, they must be a religion otherwise it is impossible…isn’t it?

  14. #14 Carax
    February 2, 2010

    dkbuck #10 said:

    ?Sorry, PZ, but I have to call you out on quote mining on this one… At the bottom he stated that he was joking about atheists having nothing to talk about.?

    Yes, but then he adds that he’s joking about that too.

    So, quote mining? Not really. Look at the title of the article, ?2500 people with nothing to talk about?? and notice the asterisk at the end of the sentence refers to ?Will they exchange recipes? Knock knock jokes? Will they go door to door, evangelizing Melbourne, saying ?have we got a non-belief for you?? *?

  15. #15 Moggie
    February 2, 2010

    Shorter Barney Zwartz (judging by the article and the comments):

    David Nicholls is a commie! I didn’t say that! Fundamentalist atheists indoctrinate children! Reason is overrated! Lots of scientists are Christian! Ok, some scientists are Christian, but they’re the best ones! Deep rifts! Religion doesn’t have undue privilege and influence on government, despite evidence to the contrary! You’re just paranoid, like Christians!

  16. #16 Knockgoats
    February 2, 2010

    They sold out???!!!?! Announced their conversion to fundamentalist Christianty??? Why, the…

    Oh. I see. Carry on!

  17. #17 NewEnglandBob
    February 2, 2010

    Beautifully said, PZ.

  18. #18 Hypatia's Daughter
    February 2, 2010

    Many Christians are absolutely staggered when they meet a confessed atheist at how normal they are. But, but….you can’t be a godless atheist. You are happily married, raising a couple of well-behaved kids and keeping you grass mowed…..
    Aren’t conventions just so conventional for such amoral, anti-social types? It would be like the Hell’s Angels holding a convention at the downtown Hilton.
    But what can you expect from a group who recast the god(s) of other religions into the Satan of their own?

  19. #19 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 2, 2010

    Atheists are bigfoot?

  20. #20 fordiman
    February 2, 2010

    “What will they talk about?”

    Almost anything of interest. For example, I’ll probably drone on about LFTR and Thorium, the level of WTF of five members of the SCOTUS, Haiti, education, the need to reduce our international interdependence (especially where the middle east is concerned), etc.

    Politics, tech, and geekdom, really. I mean, you don’t talk about God all the time at church services, yeah?

  21. #21 Moggie
    February 2, 2010

    #18:

    Many Christians are absolutely staggered when they meet a confessed atheist at how normal they are.

    True. But what makes the article in question noteworthy is that it’s written not by some bozo in bible belt America, where atheists keep a low profile, but by the religion editor of an Australian newspaper. Unless he’s unusually sheltered, he meets confessed atheists every day. Surely an Australian who clutched their pearls at every atheist encounter would wear them out pretty quickly.

  22. #22 spulido99
    February 2, 2010

    Hey! wasn’t he joking? I even liked when he said: “Looking at the speakers? abstracts, I was surprised to find myself part of one of the topics for discussion, apparently endorsing something I certainly didn?t know I believed”

  23. #23 Cuttlefish, OM
    February 2, 2010

    My faithful friends were wondering,
    And I was wondering, too,
    When atheists get together?
    Just what all do they do?
    They have no common purpose,
    And so I find it odd,
    To think they join together
    And talk about ?no god?.

    My faithful friends were arguing,
    I made my case as well,
    Which people went to Heaven
    And which ones went to Hell.
    Which version of our Holy Book
    Is better than the rest,
    And, ultimately, which of our
    Religions was the best.

    My faithful friends were fighting
    And I, too, joined the fight
    God?s Holy Word demanded it
    And so we felt it right.
    The heretics and infidels
    All needed to be taught;
    God will not stand for people
    Not believing what they ought!

    My faithful friends were killing
    As we have throughout the years
    An internecine battle with
    Our brothers and our peers
    With countless souls in suffering
    And countless hearts in grief
    To show that there is nothing
    More important than belief

    My faithful friends were dying
    By the dozens, by the scores
    In random city bombings
    And in major bloody wars
    We lose our lives as instruments
    Of God’s own rightful wrath;
    And when we’ve gone, our children too
    Will follow in our path.

    My faithful friends were wondering,
    And I was wondering, too,
    When atheists get together?
    Just what all do they do?
    They have no common purpose,
    And so I find it odd,
    To think they join together
    And talk about ?no god?.

    http://digitalcuttlefish.blogspot.com/2010/02/nothing-to-talk-about.html

  24. #24 Rickety Cricket
    February 2, 2010

    As an expectant first-time father, I have been experiencing a rather nasty backlash from family leading up to the birth of our daughter. This is, of course, in regards to questions surrounding baptism and raising our child “in the church.” My refusal to participate in either has lead to the universal presumption that I am being irresponsible and generally immoral.

    @7 & 12, the point is raised by the commenter that “atheism” is denying any choice. I have yet to receive an appropriate answer for how it is that baptism and attendance at a specific church within a specific denomination of a specific religion is allowing for any kind of option at all. It’s the ultimate non-choice, where freedom to explore the world and its various philosophies is almost certainly stripped.

    I am, apparently, a bad (future) parent for thinking this way. So be it, I suppose.

    Also, in a coincidence to tasty to pass up, a friend of mine just emailed me this bacon-themed recipe while I was typing…
    http://www.bbqaddicts.com/blog/recipes/bacon-explosion/

  25. #25 Rorschach
    February 2, 2010

    The gentleman from the linked “Age” article was pointed to this blog post by one of his readers and responded thusly :

    What impresses me there is the fair-minded atheists who actually read the whole article and came to my defence. A lesson to us all. P.Z. Myers clearly does not have that intellectual credibility.

    My attempts at commenting there have not yet yielded any success.

  26. #26 PZ Myers
    February 2, 2010

    Sorry, not impressed. He doesn’t get to express incredulity at what we’d talk about, speculate bizarrely about knock-knock jokes, and then tag on a “just joking” PS and get excused from his laziness.

    He could have called up the organizers and asked what kind of discussions atheists would have, and they would have told him. Then he could have written an article that, instead of reveling in his ignorance, would have actually explored a few ideas, even if he was critical of them.

  27. #27 Iris
    February 2, 2010

    @cuttlefish

    Bravo. Fucking brilliant.

  28. #28 Antiochus Epiphanes
    February 2, 2010

    Cuttlefish: Nicely done. After posting elsewhere, I have had the Pogues Sickbed of C˙chulainn stuck in my head. Your poem can be sung to the tune of that song.

    Happy, happy. AE

  29. #29 gistgrant
    February 2, 2010

    @Iris

    Ditto !

    Had a lovely poetry moment with the wife.

  30. #30 Truckle
    February 2, 2010

    Cuttlefish, how many Interwebz have you won now?

    However many it is +1…

  31. #31 Richard Eis
    February 2, 2010

    I will look forward to his blog posting on the actual conference. He is clearly just baiting us at the moment.

    So, are the schisms pre-organised, or do we bring our own?

  32. #32 DN King
    February 2, 2010

    Wait, no father-rapers? Son of a bitch. Well, that really blows. I mean, church burners are everywhere, I hang out with them all the time. I was really looking forward to some baby stabbers and father rapers, maybe a few Panda pokers. I’m not even going to bother going.

    Theists always seem to miss the point of atheist conventions. Do all theists share anything in common other than in believing a supernatural force controls existence? Yet there are conventions, churches, meetings, colleges, and governmental bodies set up in the name of theism. What do they all talk about? “There’s a god. a-Yup! Sure is. Let’s go beat up gays!”

    Atheists have nothing in common as atheists. But a subset of atheists can still share much in common. Raelians are atheists, for example. They share a bizarre delusion in common that has nothing to do with theism. An atheist convention draws people that are a subset of the atheist population, a subset that tends to embrace science, tolerance, education, and good will.

    It’s much like Orthodox Catholics know they don’t want to attend a “Catholic” church. Catholics know they don’t want to attend a “Christian” church. Ken Miller certainly does not call himself a “Christian Scientist.” Atheists know if they are the sort of atheist that does or does not want to attend such a convention. Since the religious aren’t really invited (though not banned, either), why do we have to make this clearer for them?

    Perhaps that’s what really pisses them off. They’re so used to having religion get an automatic invite to every occasion, they’re suffering from “15 year old former popular girl cry-baby without an invitation” syndrome.

  33. #33 Kobra
    February 2, 2010

    I’ve been to anime and other nerd conventions, and I’m going to attend a 5-day (!!!) anime/furry/steampunk convention in May. If a room full of otaku and furries can find something to do for 5 days, I’m sure a crowd of atheists will be able to entertain each other for 3.

  34. #34 RBH
    February 2, 2010

    I was taken by this remark by the piece’s author later in the comments:

    They [fundamentalist atheists] often come from engineering or science backgrounds, and do not realise how artificial and value-laden a construct “reason” is, and refuse to consider the implications of that.

    Kinda says it all, no? Gotta be wary of that thing called “reason.” And the implications? What, like, say, questioning whether there’s any evidence for the purported supernatural agent(s) religions invoke as ‘explanations’? Yup. Gotta be careful about those implications all right.

  35. #35 Moggie
    February 2, 2010

    #33:

    I’ve been to anime and other nerd conventions, and I’m going to attend a 5-day (!!!) anime/furry/steampunk convention in May. If a room full of otaku and furries can find something to do for 5 days, I’m sure a crowd of atheists will be able to entertain each other for 3.

    Atheist cosplay, of course! Prizes for the most convincing Dawkins costume.

    #34:

    Kinda says it all, no? Gotta be wary of that thing called “reason.” And the implications? What, like, say, questioning whether there’s any evidence for the purported supernatural agent(s) religions invoke as ‘explanations’? Yup. Gotta be careful about those implications all right.

    Yes, “reason” is kind of like bleach. It’s useful to have around, but you need to be careful how you use it, and keep it away from children. It cleans things up real good, but incautious use can ruin treasured things.

  36. #36 Sastra
    February 2, 2010

    But, if the atheists who post on this blog are to be believed, they have nothing in common with each other except a lack of belief in ?imaginary friends?. They stand for nothing together, hold no ethical precepts in common, hold no ambitions in common (except, perhaps, a desire to see a religionless world). So what on earth (given that heaven is ruled out) will they talk about?

    Okay, I read the article and think that the writer was making a not unreasonable point: it is counterproductive for atheists to insist that “atheism” is empty of any content other than “lack of belief in God” — and then affix values and philosophy to the atheist movement. In other words, the technical term ignores the fact that, in practice, the atheists who get together at conventions (and on blogs) are almost uniformly secular humanists, advocating naturalism, reason, science, critical thinking, human rights — and all the other things we talk about.

    So, if this is where the writer was going, I think it a fair argument. When we claim that the only thing that atheism entails is a “lack of belief in God,” we then need to take the time to add in that atheism is really then a smaller conclusion in a larger philosophy: science-based Humanism. Humanists have the necessary tools to make the case that you can be good without God, or that modern science fails to support the need for a creator and its creative force.

    If we don’t make the distinction between content-free atheism and atheistic humanism clear, we end up sounding like we’re contradicting ourselves. I don’t think Christians aren’t totally to blame then if they find it confusing.

  37. #37 Sastra
    February 2, 2010

    I don’t think Christians aren’t totally to blame then if they find it confusing.

    Er, that was confusing, and I am to blame.

    “I don’t think Christians are totally to blame then, if they find it confusing.”

  38. #38 raven
    February 2, 2010

    I don’t know where so called xians get off considering the No Religions exotic or weird. In the USA, the most religious of the western countries, the No Religions are now 24% of the population, one of the 3 largest “sects” if they were a sect. And needless to say, the best and brightest of our society. That is 72 million people and growing rapidly.

    Xians could and often do say the same thing about each other. There are multiple xian religions with nothing in common but the word xian somewhere in the name.

  39. #39 boygenius
    February 2, 2010

    Cuttlefish, your poems generally make me smile, occasionally even outright laugh. This one brought a somber tear to my eye.

    Thank you.

    +1

  40. #40 davej
    February 2, 2010

    PZ wrote: “We stand for nothing together…except for the importance of reason, evidence, and science in understanding the world. You know, scientists routinely hold conventions much larger than this, and somehow we find lots to say.”

    Well, if only this was entirely true. I’m afraid that many self-declared young atheists have little interest in reason or science. All they want out of it is independence.

  41. #41 lose_the_woo
    February 2, 2010

    @davej #40

    I’m afraid that many self-declared young atheists have little interest in reason or science. All they want out of it is independence.

    Interesting. What in your experience causes you to think that?

  42. #42 Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom
    February 2, 2010

    What do they want to be independent of? Do you mean they simply wish to have no consequences ever? Do they wish to strike out against their families? *Is curious*

  43. #43 JJ
    February 2, 2010

    Legion@7
    From what you quoted

    And of course atheistic parents bring up their children as atheists. Few send them to church so they can make a “choice”. This indoctrination by religion versus the purity of atheism is another dearly beloved fantasy of many fundamentalist atheists.

    Well I was brought up without religion (the whole religion thing was just ignored, really). Not specifically atheist or agnostic or whatever. But, for a short period of time, my older sister started to go to church (though I think it was just to hang out with a boy). Then, she made her own decision that it was dumb (CHOICE!).

    I never went to church but once, with a girlfriend.

    To this day I have always seen religion as silly, and always forget that people actually beleive this stuff. I think I’ve accidentally offended friends in the past not realizing that they were actually religious.

  44. #44 OurDeadSelves
    February 2, 2010

    Raven-
    I don’t know where so called xians get off considering the No Religions exotic or weird. In the USA, the most religious of the western countries, the No Religions are now 24% of the population, one of the 3 largest “sects” if they were a sect. And needless to say, the best and brightest of our society. That is 72 million people and growing rapidly.

    Intriguing and useful. Do you have a citation for this?

  45. #45 Caine
    February 2, 2010

    So what on earth (given that heaven is ruled out) will they talk about?

    It’s interesting, the blindspot atheism invokes in the religious. When religious people get together, they aren’t talking gods 24/7. I’d say the complete failure of imagination is partly due to them having no desire whatsoever to associate with other believers.

  46. #46 OurDeadSelves
    February 2, 2010

    Lose the Woo and Rutee,
    I don’t know what DaveJ was going for, but in high school I knew far too many libertarian, Ayn Rand loving, atheist twits. Yes, part of it is not being accountable to anybody or anything and part of it is purely teenage ignorance/selfishness.

  47. #47 Sanction
    February 2, 2010

    For those who scrolled past Cuttlefish@23 without reading the entry:

    Go back and take a look. It’s a haunting poem, an instant classic.

  48. #48 Maslab
    February 2, 2010

    “Yes, part of it is not being accountable to anybody or anything and part of it is purely teenage ignorance/selfishness.”

    For some, yes. But not all of us are that way.

    However, I do, being a cynic, believe that the majority of human actions are selfish or influenced by it.

  49. #49 ianmhor
    February 2, 2010

    davej #40:

    I would also like to see justification of that statement.

    I and my two sisters were allowed to choose – religion was not forced on us but we were made to at least experience a little of it. In the end 3 atheists.

    Interestingly, my wife had a similar situation with her two sisters though in their case no exposure at all – another 3 atheists.

    Nowhere was the idea ever part of the struggle for independence that took all the normal routes in the two of the six that could be bothered.

  50. #50 Kamaka
    February 2, 2010

    Rickety Cricket @ 24

    As an expectant first-time father, I have been experiencing a rather nasty backlash from family leading up to the birth of our daughter. This is, of course, in regards to questions surrounding baptism and raising our child “in the church.”

    *GASP*

    You are endangering her immortal soul, doncha know?

    I went through that shit when my twins were born. “You ARE having the boys baptised, aren’t you?” “No, why do you ask?” I found out years later my father “baptised” them on the sly.

    On this subject, they just won’t take no for an answer. If my experience holds, the crap will not end until death shuts them up.

  51. #51 OurDeadSelves
    February 2, 2010

    For some, yes. But not all of us are that way.

    Oh, for sure. I didn’t mean to paint all young atheists that way. Hell, I never had a break from religion– my parents raised me in a secular household and I’ve considered myself an atheist ever since I had a word for it.

    My reaction was to DaveJ’s Well, if only this was entirely true. I’m afraid that many self-declared young atheists have little interest in reason or science. All they want out of it is independence. (@40) and I was agreeing with him ‘cos waaaaaay back in my youth I knew some kids in high school who were simply doing it to be non-conformist.

  52. #52 Maslab
    February 2, 2010

    “Well, if only this was entirely true. I’m afraid that many self-declared young atheists have little interest in reason or science. All they want out of it is independence.”

    That’s generally why I say I promote atheism and reason/critical thinking.

  53. #53 Legion
    February 2, 2010

    JJ:

    I think I’ve accidentally offended friends in the past not realizing that they were actually religious.

    We were once talking to a co-worker and casually asked if she could recommend a good contract lawyer. The conversation went something like this:

    Co-worker: “Yes I know someone. He’s great and he’s a believer.”

    Legion: “In what?”

    Co-worker: ???

    Legion: Your guy, the lawyer. What’s he believe in?”

    Co-worker: [petulantly] “In god of course.”

    [Awkward silence]

    Legion: “Oh. I didn’t realize… I thought maybe he was into some cult or something.”

    Co-worker:

    Legion: “Uh, I think I’m late for an appointment.”

  54. #54 raven
    February 2, 2010

    Intriguing and useful. Do you have a citation for this?

    Yes. These numbers can be found in the ARIS reports for 2000 and 2008. Use google.

    I combine the atheists, agnostics, nones, and Deists into the No Religion category.

    The No Religions cover a large spectrum of thought and “atheists” are a small part of it. The Deists are 12% of the population.

    Self described xians are 76% of the population. People who believe in a personal god are 70%. It looks like a lot of xians are just box checkers. How can you be a xian and not believe in a personal god?

    IIRC, the number of people who actually go to church is something like at most 35% of the population.

  55. #55 Brian English
    February 2, 2010

    Barney Zwartz is a certified liar for Jesus. I’ve seen him lie about Richard Dawkins (and other atheists), and when pulled up on his ‘error’ he acknowledges or ignores it, but most certainly has seen the objection/evidence, then later repeates the lie(s) as if they were facts. Truth is only important to him regarding atheism when it occassionally is useful in deriding atheism and atheists.

    One of the reasons I decided not to attend the conference (I did initially volunteer) is that shit heads like Zwartz would go there, be treated with respect, then lie about it or slant it (the conference/atheists), in their reports and blogs. It pisses me off no end that he can unjustly impune people who want to make the world better and reasonable and be lauded for it, whilst being a pernicious, irrational arse who is respected because he’s a memember of a mainstream cult. It seems horribly unfair. At least by not attending I keep an arms distance (well, 25 kms distance to be precise) and will not feel so personally agrieved by the inevitable slander and misrepresentation that occurs by Zwartz and fellows in the MSM. And any (miniscule) urges to publicly embarass myself by insulting or attacking Zwartz will be thusly avoided. I guess I’m not the most rational atheist out there. :)

    (Besides, as much as I love Richard, P.Z. and others there’s probably not a lot new I’d hear from them that I haven’t already soaked up on the intertubes. I hope some bright, interesting, public types attend and are inspired to further the enlightenment project and secularism in Australia by that attendence.)

  56. #56 OurDeadSelves
    February 2, 2010

    Gracias, Raven!

  57. #57 raven
    February 2, 2010

    Legion: “Oh. I didn’t realize… I thought maybe he was into some cult or something.”

    Co-worker:

    Legion: “Uh, I think I’m late for an appointment.”

    That is funny.

    Many of my friends here on the coast are New Agers of a vast assortment. I just smile and nod. It is mostly harmless. They may talk forever about healing rituals and so forth but when they are sick they go to doctors like everyone else.

  58. #58 Legion
    February 2, 2010

    BTW, speaking of conventions, has anyone else been following the upcoming teabagger party conference. Apparently a deep schism has arisen within the teaballers movement.

    The chief organizer has been charged with price gouging ($500+ to attend). Michelle “Crazy Eyes” Bachmann has backed out and a significant number of tickets remain unsold.

    Most amusingly, keynote speaker Palin is caught in the middle. If she attends, she’ll be branded a sellout by the faithful. If she doesn’t, there’s speculation that the teasack movement will fade into obscurity, and more importantly (to Palin) she’ll loose the $100,000+ speaker’s fee.

  59. #59 Kemist
    February 2, 2010

    It would be like the Hell’s Angels holding a convention at the downtown Hilton.

    Well… They do have those sort of meetings. Actually, some of them even got to meet the Queen of England some years ago – that was sort of a scandal here. Not all of them are bearded dudes riding harleys – some have respected legal businesses as well as their shadier ones.

    The meetings are quite odd. The police usually hangs out outside, openly taking pictures and IDs of people attending, a sort of who’s who of organized crime.

  60. #60 tsg
    February 2, 2010

    Let’s see, the religious pigeon-hole people based on one single, common trait and use that trait to justify heaps of scorn, hatred and derision on them, and then act surprised when that group of people uses that trait as a rallying point?

    Fuck you, you fuckity fucks! I didn’t climb in this box, you put me here. And now that I’ve found myself in it with a bunch of others with the same problem (namely you), you’re criticizing me for working with them on how to solve it?

    Even if we had nothing else in common, even if we had nothing else to talk about, we could spend the entire weekend talking about how to get dumbasses like you off our backs.

    Sorry for the starfart, but this shit pisses me off.

  61. #61 Knockgoats
    February 2, 2010

    Actually, some of them even got to meet the Queen of England some years ago – that was sort of a scandal here.

    Indeed it was: respectable thieves and drug-dealers hanging out with lowlifes like the Windsors! Whatever next?

  62. #62 skylyre
    February 2, 2010

    I heart Cuttlefish. Thank you for that.

    Well I know I’m not the only atheist who likes food. I could talk about recipes for hours… so maybe after all the serious stuff gets covered at the GAC, we can all have a godless food convention! Which is probably very similar to any other food convention, minus any cannibalism.

  63. #63 tsg
    February 2, 2010

    we can all have a godless food convention! Which is probably very similar to any other food convention, minus any cannibalism.

    You mean, except for the baby-eating, right?

  64. #64 spulido99
    February 2, 2010

    WEEE HAVE A MESIAS!!!!

    A virgin has conceived a child with the help of a knife!!!!

    Virgin + Dove = Jesus
    Virgin + Knife = ?????

    “Oral conception. Impregnation via the proximal gastrointestinal tract in a patient with an aplastic distal vagina. Case report.”

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/discoblog/2010/02/01/ncbi-rofl-thats-one-miraculous-conception/

  65. #65 Hekuni Cat
    February 2, 2010

    Thank you, Cuttlefish.

  66. #66 Rox
    February 2, 2010

    Let’s assume for a moment that this guy is correct and the atheists at this convention have nothing in common beside a lack of belief in god. Why would this automatically mean that they would have nothing to talk about? Conversations with people who are very different from you can be some of the most enlightening and interesting. I would hate to go a convention where everyone agreed on everything–where is the opportunity to debate and encounter new ideas?

    Also, regarding the comment below the article about atheists raising their children to be atheists…

    I can’t speak for all atheists, but I was never once in my entire childhood indoctrinated by my non-believing parents to be an atheist. In fact, my father always offered to take me and my brother to church if we ever wanted to go (we didn’t). We both had religious friends so we were certainly exposed to religious ideas. I have been to Sunday School with a Christian friend and once spent Passover with a Jewish one. We even had Bibles in our house.

    In other words, religion was never forbidden in my house. My parents neither taught me to believe in god or not to believe in god. I was allowed to learn about whatever religion I wanted and make up my own mind. THAT is true freedom of religion.

  67. #67 Endor
    February 2, 2010

    “Fuck you, you fuckity fucks! ”

    LOL. Oh man, I’m stealing this and making it a bumper sticker.

  68. #68 alysonmiers
    February 2, 2010

    You make “religionless world” sound like a trivial, passing interest. That is a massive project, motherfuckers! Who’s with me?!

  69. #69 Sastra
    February 2, 2010

    davej #40 wrote:

    I’m afraid that many self-declared young atheists have little interest in reason or science. All they want out of it is independence.

    I’ve met some atheists who aren’t particularly keen on the science and reason — but they’re very concerned about the moral problems connected to theism. They don’t like religious organizations telling people what to do; they don’t like religious believers telling people they’re going to hell; they don’t like the way religion “judges” and “condemns” other people. And they don’t like the way God is like His followers: they turn Him into a bully.

    In a sense, they’re very similar to the religionists themselves, in that, they’re not really considering the empirical evidence: they’re riding on emotion. If the consequences of a belief are bad, then the belief must be false. They’re atheists because they’re nicer people, when they don’t believe in God. This of course sounds suspiciously like those Christian apologetics which defend the existence of God by focusing on the moral benefits of believing. Instead, they defend atheism by focusing on the moral benefits of not believing.

    Secular humanism isn’t just the moral component: the method matters, and it comes first. These morality-driven atheists put it second, and it makes me uncomfortable. For one thing, a lot of faitheists seem to fall into this category. Oh, if only Christians would act more like Jesus; oh, if only faith ennobled people the way it should, instead of too often bringing out their worst; oh, if only people would just stop arguing over religion, and just respect each other, whatever they believe.

    I’ve met some of these atheists in the UU; they’re often active in church-state separation orgs. From what I can tell, they’re less likely to be at atheist conventions, because just by having an atheist convention, they think we’re being too ‘judgmental.’ What horrifies them about religion, is that it makes people think they’re better than other people.

    My guess is that Christians really like this version of atheism. It’s familiar to the way they themselves approach belief. They’re also probably optimistic that, if they can just show atheists how inspiring and positive religion can be — and it can support all their moral intuitions — then they’ll convert them, and have a very satisfying response to why there are atheists. It’s not about the evidence, or any line of reasoning. No, no, no. Look away from that. Concentrate on fulfilling deep needs of the heart. Right.

  70. #70 Kel, OM
    February 2, 2010

    I’ve come across people making this straw-man before. Some seem to think that it’ll be one long sermon of “there is no god” for 3 days. These weren’t religious people either.

  71. #71 Sastra
    February 2, 2010

    Rox #66 wrote:

    My parents neither taught me to believe in god or not to believe in god. I was allowed to learn about whatever religion I wanted and make up my own mind. THAT is true freedom of religion.

    My parents did the same, and I pretty much followed that approach with my own children. What I did not want, was for my kids to get caught up in the idea that belief in God is a sign of being a special type of person. Even moderate and liberal religions tend to value faith as if it were a positive character trait that takes love and discipline. I wanted them to approach religion as hypotheses, and think them through as a series of fact claims.

    I’m going to disagree a bit, though, with people above pointing out that atheist conventions are great places to talk about all sorts of stuff other than atheism. Well, yeah — but if I fly halfway across the country and shell out big bucks for a hotel, I don’t want to sit at dinner with people and discuss recipes, or families, or favorite movies, or the same damn stuff I can talk about at home with virtually anybody. I sure as hell don’t want to do that more than I have to.

    No. I want to talk shop. Arguments for and against God, atheist activism, war stories, humanism, ideas, science, pseudoscience, philosophy, fundy anecdotes, etc. So do most of the people there, I notice. And debates and disputes — on topic.

    I mean, people presumably don’t go to science fiction conventions with the resolution to try to talk as little as possible about science fiction, so they can show outsiders they have a regular, normal life and science fiction doesn’t define them.

    Or maybe I’m misunderstanding some of the comments…

  72. #72 echidna
    February 2, 2010

    I’m for talking shop too. And bacon.

  73. #73 Kliwon
    February 2, 2010

    We had the Parliament of the World’s Religions here in Melbourne in December 2009. I can imagine them greeting each other “Good morning, you filthy infidels!” But after that, what could they have possilbly talked about? Whose god actually did create the universe? Which god has the remote control to do the fine tuning?

  74. #74 lose_the_woo
    February 2, 2010

    @Sastra

    No. I want to talk shop. Arguments for and against God, atheist activism, war stories, humanism, ideas, science, pseudoscience, philosophy, fundy anecdotes, etc.

    I tend to agree with this. And I would hope that organizers would know how to structure events/materials to provide attendees with the tools they need to deal with religionists. Certainly there should be socializing and casual conversation about the best way to prepare bacon, but like you said, it should have an agenda and be productive to the atheist/humanist endeavors and communities.

  75. #75 WowbaggerOM
    February 2, 2010

    I’m going to the convention and I’m having trouble explaining to people what it’s about.

    What’s also a problem is that to be seen as ‘trying too hard’ at certain things is considered very un-Australian. While most people here don’t give a crap about religion (even if they do identify as Christian on things like the census), that’s very different from actually expressing it and spending time with other people talking about it.

    Overtly religious people are scorned for exactly the same reason. Believe what you want but don’t appear to take any of it seriously. It’s not sport, after all.

    There is a strong undercurrent of religious political meddling in this country, but it’s very, very subtle compared to how it is in the US. So anyone standing up and attempting to oppose something that the majority of people don’t recognise as a problem is going to attract a somewhat negative response.

    I’ve ended up saying that it (for me at least) is a lot to do with politics and how religious views get disproportionate representation in determining public policy. Once it’s explained in that context – framed (if you will) as being more about politics than beliefs per se – they’ve appeared to understand my motivations a bit better.

  76. #76 Rox
    February 2, 2010

    @Sastra #71

    I’m not sure if your comment was addressed to me, but when I talked about people at the convention having different opinions I meant within the realm of atheism, philosophy, secular humanism and the like. And I was also referring to the fact that people from different countries deal with different problems concerning religion so it is good to hear their perspective as well. Of course you are right that you don’t pay to go to an atheist convention to swap recipes ;P

  77. #77 WowbaggerOM
    February 2, 2010

    Of course you are right that you don’t pay to go to an atheist convention to swap recipes ;P

    I don’t know – have you read some of what the regulars write about being able to create? If Rev. Big Dumb Chimp and MAJeff* were both here I’d probably spend more time extracting recipes from them than listening to people talk about the non-existence of gods.

    Heck, I already know why I don’t believe there are gods. Cooking, on the other hand, I’m mostly clueless about…

    *Apologies to any of Pharyngula’s other gastronomic geniuses for leaving you out; it’s just that these two are the first to come to mind when the topic of creative cookery comes up – I also follow MAJeff on Twitter and he’s almost always talking about food!

  78. #78 Walton
    February 2, 2010

    Of course you are right that you don’t pay to go to an atheist convention to swap recipes ;P

    I’m surprised. Food seems to be taken very, very seriously around here. I seem to remember a heated discussion on the endless thread about the merit or lack thereof of white bread, for instance. :-)

    (As someone who mainly subsists on Diet Pepsi and supermarket ready meals, I’m personally somewhat mystified by this particular collective obsession.)

  79. #79 Barney
    February 2, 2010

    Hello PZ.

    It’s gratifying to be noticed by a luminary such as yourself, but I think you misread me. Did you not read the whole thing because bursting into flames? Did you notice the conditional – IF the atheists who post on my blog are to be believed? That is because of an ongoing argument for three years on my blog about whether atheism in practice generally involves a worldview – and I’m pleased to have you confirm it (reason, evidence, science).

    Did you not notice that I wrote positively about the convention, and how I look forward to going. It’s true that I identify on my blog as a Christian, but my blog has always endorsed atheism as an internally coherent and rational approach. In news coverage for the paper my own position is irrelevant. At the convention, which I will be covering for my newspaper, I expect to learn things and to be challenged. I also expect to be irritated, as you evidently have been. So be it.

    Incidentally, I did call up the organisers, and I have read the abstracts etc on the website. I am also pretty much the only journalist who has shown any interest since the convention was announced, though that will change by the time it starts.

    Meanwhile, can I thank your posters such as mck9 and dkbuck for their fairness – a model to us all. Best wishes, Barney Zwartz, The Age

  80. #80 Kamaka
    February 2, 2010

    Walton @ 78

    (As someone who mainly subsists on Diet Pepsi and supermarket ready meals, I’m personally somewhat mystified by this particular collective obsession.)

    What mystery? Food is one of the great pleasures of life. Since we know there’s only the here and now, it makes sense to enjoy life while we can.

    So quit eating crap and learn to cook. The process is it’s own pleasure.

    (Diet Pepsi? Yuck.)

  81. #81 Barney
    February 2, 2010

    Self justification is always a bit unedifying, so I’ll leave it at this:

    Can I point out this paragraph on the blog. (The news article in the paper was properly neutral, apart from the value judgment in referring to a “stellar” line up of speakers.)

    The case for the defence, the relevant par:

    “That aside, what I do see listed looks fascinating, and I am looking forward enormously to covering it. Some speakers, including Richard Dawkins, broadcaster Philip Adams and Atheist Alliance International president Stuart Bechman have yet to identify their topics, but here are some of the highlights of those who have: Muslim activist Taslima Nasrin on her struggle for rights and secularism; English philosopher A.C. Grayling on atheism, secularism and humanism; Australia?s Peter Singer on ethics without religion; biologist P.Z. Myers on the conflict between science and religion; former evangelist Dan Barker on how his journey to atheism; lesbian comedian Sue-Ann Post on ?20 years of kicking God in the shins?; and Max Wallace on how tax-payers subsidise religion.”

  82. #82 Sastra
    February 2, 2010

    Barney #79 wrote:

    At the convention, which I will be covering for my newspaper, I expect to learn things and to be challenged. I also expect to be irritated, as you evidently have been. So be it.

    I expect you will also have a very good time ;)

    Most atheist conventions are heavy on the secular humanism; atheism as a byproduct, not an a priori.

    Walton #78 wrote:

    I’m surprised. Food seems to be taken very, very seriously around here.

    Only by those who take it seriously. Same thing with computers, or math, or science fiction, or any other interest. Those who post on it, will post on it.

  83. #83 'Tis Himself, OM
    February 2, 2010

    Did you not notice that I wrote positively about the convention, and how I look forward to going.

    I noticed where you sneered at reason. But since belief in gawds is anti-reason, I shouldn’t be surprised at the sneer.

  84. #84 yolande
    February 2, 2010

    @Barney #79

    I also noted the lack of comprehension; it seems that even though we are all typing English, Americans sometimes tend not to “get” Australians and the way we write. There seems to be an automatic contrariness on their behalf, and will contradict anything said by anyone and if you identify as Christian, the American Atheists seem to be much more concerned with attacking you and your beliefs, whereas Australians couldn’t really care or be bothered.

    Obviously religion is a much bigger issue in the US and atheists there quite rightly have a lot to contend with, but let’s not forget that internet commentary is dominated my Americans and their loud, unabashed manner creates the view that all atheists are militant, when the opposite is true.
    I personally applaud you as a Christian for being pro-atheist and I hope you enjoy the conference.

  85. #85 Sastra
    February 2, 2010

    yolande #84 wrote:

    Obviously religion is a much bigger issue in the US and atheists there quite rightly have a lot to contend with, but let’s not forget that internet commentary is dominated my Americans and their loud, unabashed manner creates the view that all atheists are militant, when the opposite is true.

    “Americans and their loud, unabashed manner?” “Militant” atheists?

    Oh, dear. I fear you’re generalizing and stereotyping, and your use of the term “militant” is inappropriate in this context.

    But then, that might be a bit loud, unabashed, and militant. Oh, dear.

  86. #86 'Tis Himself, OM
    February 2, 2010

    * This is a joke. I know atheists are never short of things to talk about. (That?s a joke too.)

    This is something I’ve always found annoying. It’s a form of bullying. “Ha ha, that insult was just a joke. Can’t you take a joke? You know I was just joking.”

    No, Barney, I don’t know it’s a joke. If you have to label something as a joke, that’s a pretty good clue that you know some people won’t recognize it as a joke. What I think you did was a typical goddist gibe at atheists and then tried to cover up your rudeness by calling it a joke.

    Sorry, but I didn’t laugh, either time.

  87. #87 Kel, OM
    February 2, 2010

    (As someone who mainly subsists on Diet Pepsi and supermarket ready meals, I’m personally somewhat mystified by this particular collective obsession.)

    It’s for the same reason why those who listen to Kylie Minogue will never understand why people can get so heated music.

    That is because of an ongoing argument for three years on my blog about whether atheism in practice generally involves a worldview – and I’m pleased to have you confirm it (reason, evidence, science).

    Atheism is not a worldview, atheists however do have worldviews. Atheism is in itself a negative, a negation of theism and in no way prescriptive. Though people who are atheists aren’t going to live in that negative, why wouldn’t people themselves have positive thoughts and expression about the world?

    There are plenty of atheists who are by no means supporters of the findings of science, and who readily promote unreasonable positions on various matters.

  88. #88 https://me.yahoo.com/hairychris444#96384
    February 2, 2010

    gregarious

    Gregarious? Nope… just the subset who can afford a trip to Oz this year. Bastards!

  89. #89 Sastra
    February 2, 2010

    “Atheism” isn’t a world view, for the same reason “theism” isn’t a world view: it’s too narrow a subject, and too vague to have clear implications. “Atheism in practice” is usually the most common nontheistic philosophy: secular (or scientific) humanism.

  90. #90 ambulocetacean
    February 2, 2010

    Kylie Minogue did some good stuff. Fever was a gerat album :)

  91. #91 otrame
    February 2, 2010

    Re #23

    I know that Cuttlefish is the Poet Laureate of Pharyngula, but that one… All the usual adjectives are fine, but they’ve been used so often for his work. I need a stronger word than brilliant, beautiful, and heartbreaking.

    We need another laudatory title to add to Cuttlefish’s many awards for that one. I am no good at coming up with such things.

    P.S. How the hell does he knock those out so fast?

    P.P.S. Cuttlefish, I love you.

  92. #92 ambulocetacean
    February 2, 2010

    * a great album

    And yeah, Cuttlefish is awesome. Perhaps Kylie can put his/her new masterpiece to some bangin’ house beats on her next album…

  93. #93 FossilFishy
    February 2, 2010

    Also from The Age Feb 2nd, also by Barney Zwartz:

    ”We were very annoyed that all three tiers of government refused to assist us,” Mr Nicholls said.

    He said Canberra bureaucrats said such funding was not part of the portfolio responsibility of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd or his deputy, Julia Gillard, and provided no other advice.

    The Victorian Government raised hopes, then suddenly told him ”the event has been secured, so you’re not getting the money”, he said.

    The Parliament of the World’s Religions, held in Melbourne in December, received $2 million from the federal government and the state government.

    I wish I could say I was surprised.

    Mr Nicholls is convention organiser and Atheist Foundation of Australia president David Nicholls.

    I’ve been lurking here for a while, never commented before though. Pharyngula commenters make my level of education, reason, sarcasm and outrage seem inadequate to the task. :)

    Oh, and:

    Comments open up
    Threading poetry deftly
    Cuttlefish swims through

  94. #94 ambulocetacean
    February 2, 2010

    Ha ha! Lovely haiku, Fishy.

    I don’t think atheists should get government funding though.

  95. #95 John Morales
    February 2, 2010

    Otrame,

    How the hell does he knock those out so fast?

    Cuttlefish is a genius, IMHO.

    (Some people cuttlefish are just at the far end of the probability distribution, in a given talent.)

    FossilFishy, welcome!

  96. #96 skylyre
    February 2, 2010

    No tsg you big silly, that’s what those skeptics do! Us atheists, we don’t do anything.

  97. #97 truth machine, OM
    February 2, 2010

    When I met PZ, I smiled and offered my hand and mentioned that I’m the only recipient of an OM that he has threatened to ban. He pointed out that he didn’t actually ban me — although I believe that’s because I chose at the time to lay low for while to avoid it. His kind gentle words in response to my outreach were “You’re very obnoxious”. I think the obnoxiousness he experiences from me is that I don’t treat him as a sacred cow, above criticism. I usually agree with him (and before the hypocritical threats to ban me I would regularly go out of my way to defend him), but not always, and here’s a prime case. This post of his is extraordinarily stupid and oblivious, a rancid piece of quote mining, as the author goes on to mention a number of things that the people at the convention will talk about, and states that his comment about having nothing to talk about is a joke.

    As we’ve come to expect, that’s another hoodwinked, naively pro-religion commentator whose imagination is in a state of critical failure.

    No, asswipe, it’s not.

  98. #98 Brian English
    February 2, 2010

    No, asswipe, it’s not.

    I have to agree, that it’s not naive, not that I’d wipe my derriere with PZ. Zwartz knows what’s he’s doing, he just feigns innocence whilst he popously and sometimes dishonestly defends the irrational.

  99. #99 Patricia, Ignorant Slut OM
    February 2, 2010

    Here we go.

  100. #100 Brian English
    February 2, 2010

    Where do we go? Pub? Please?

  101. #101 Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom
    February 2, 2010

    Probably a discussion that involves snowflakes and sheep. But I’m just guessing.

    Patricia, your screen name reminds me of that Dan Akroyd character on SNL. “Jane you ignorant slut!”

  102. #102 lisainthesky
    February 2, 2010

    I’m just glad that the convention sold out. Its a shame that the whole convention won’t be in the bigger auditorium but its still going to be amazing.

    My sister, Dad and I are travelling 750 kms to go and we are pretty much counting down the days.

    This is something unique and since planning to attend and talking about my little trip, I have found that maybe Australia isn’t as free from the grips of religion as I had hoped.

    A group of chistian protestors would certainly liven things up hehe…

  103. #103 Patricia, Ignorant Slut OM
    February 2, 2010

    Rutee, Shrieking Harpy – Very astute SNL quote.

    Shut up Brenda, you ignorant slut!

    set off one of the most solid platinum threads Pharyngula has ever seen. PZ almost had to come home and spank us all.

  104. #104 jbeck.myopenid.com
    February 2, 2010

    …where our leaders made political decisions based on evidence rather than faith, where secular education was paramount, where we recognized the common humanity of everyone on the planet and worked to make this world a better one, free of the illusion of another world beyond

    Paul,

    a. You can’t be serious
    b. Gedoudda’heere!
    c. You must be dreaming
    d. You must be smoking something!
    e. Not in a million years, like hell they ever will
    f. All of the above!

  105. #105 apostrophobia
    February 2, 2010

    While I do think Barney thought he was joking, the overall tone of the article is condescending, not funny.

    This is theoretically true, but it?s a safe bet that the convention will deal only with a reductionist, mechanist universe. I don?t see any seminars on astral travelling or crystals.

    My chief hope, unlikely to be fulfilled, is not too much fundamentalism please, and a fair representation of what they attack.

    So he’s telling us he expects speakers to reject astral traveling and crystals, (which is true but why is that statement even there?), and that the speakers will also lie and attack the religious.

    So how is this a good thing?

  106. #106 misspadfoot
    February 2, 2010

    I desperately wish I could go to this convention, especially to see Peter Singer. I’ve seen a bunch of the others before, but not Singer. I love his books and his philosophy and I’m very glad he’s lending his voice to the secular “movement”, or whatever you want to call it.

    Too bad it’s almost completely on the other side of the world from me!

  107. #107 John Morales
    February 2, 2010

    tm,

    This post of his is extraordinarily stupid and oblivious, a rancid piece of quote mining, as the author goes on to mention a number of things that the people at the convention will talk about, and states that his comment about having nothing to talk about is a joke.

    I don’t think it’s quote-mining, rather, it’s singling out a portion of the opinion piece that PZ finds revealing and on which he in turn opines.
    I note that PZ includes the entire paragraph (third of the piece), and furthermore links to the original.
    (I grant that PZ did not include the asterisk leading to the foot-note where Barney claims that it is but a joke, or the foot-note itself.)

    There’s certainly an argument to be made (and it has been made, in the comments above) to the effect that this is a sly dig dressed up as a joke; to what extent it’s tongue-in-cheek or indicative of a misunderstanding of atheism is disputable.

  108. #108 Patricia, Ignorant Slut OM
    February 2, 2010

    Gosh I wish I could go to the convention, to see if Wowbagger looks like Hugh Jackman, and have Bride of Shrek give me some python handling tips.

  109. #109 Kel, OM
    February 2, 2010

    This is theoretically true, but it?s a safe bet that the convention will deal only with a reductionist, mechanist universe. I don?t see any seminars on astral travelling or crystals.

    I really don’t get why the word reductionist is there. What is the fascination that so many have with that word?

  110. #110 WowbaggerOM
    February 2, 2010

    This is something unique and since planning to attend and talking about my little trip, I have found that maybe Australia isn’t as free from the grips of religion as I had hoped.

    That’s something that’s only recently dawned on me as well. And, as I noted upthread, it’s something I think a significant proportion of Australians don’t realise that’s the case.

    Hence the importance of getting the event publicised – if people are made aware of exactly how much power religious leaders exert in this country they might actually decide they don’t like it – and, more importantly, realise that they can do something about it.

    I’m just hoping there’ll be a broader range of journalists there than just the Barneys of the world. Otherwise we’ll just get more ‘reporting’ of the style the original article is in – implying that atheists are angry but mostly harmless and slightly silly and don’t have anything useful to say about anything.

  111. #111 John Morales
    February 2, 2010

    Kel,

    I really don’t get why the word reductionist is there. What is the fascination that so many have with that word?

    I don’t think it’s meant literally; rather, I think it’s code for ‘materialist’ (or, more accurately, ‘non-supernaturalist’).

  112. #112 professordendy
    February 2, 2010

    I have two back-stage passes for sale to the atheist convention… they were given to me… highest offer gets them!

  113. #113 A. Noyd
    February 2, 2010

    Kel (#109)

    I really don’t get why the word reductionist is there. What is the fascination that so many have with that word?

    It’s a way to say that scientific knowledge isn’t really priveleged because scientific findings rely on simplifying what is complex and incomprehensible in reality. If the lens of science has enough flaws, then it’s only as good as all the other “ways of knowing.”

  114. #114 Patricia, Ignorant Slut OM
    February 2, 2010

    I’ll trade you God Almighty for one pass.

  115. #115 Sven DiMilo
    February 2, 2010

    fuck off, dendy

  116. #116 A. Noyd
    February 2, 2010

    Er, I don’t agree with that position, by the way. It’s just what I’ve noticed other people mean by it.

  117. #117 Patricia, Ignorant Slut OM
    February 2, 2010

    Oh come on Sven, raise my offer by a Jesus.

  118. #118 WowbaggerOM
    February 2, 2010

    I have two back-stage passes for sale to the atheist convention… they were given to me… highest offer gets them!

    Why not give them to the real father of your stepkids? Intelligent thought is probably yet another thing he can manage that you can’t.

  119. #119 professordendy
    February 2, 2010

    {duck} kapow shazaam… the hits just keep coming! Man you guys are so fun yet so “not with it”… lol

  120. #120 Patricia, Ignorant Slut OM
    February 2, 2010

    You guys are not with it… whew, that leaves me safe. I was saved and washed in the blood of the lamb more than once.

  121. #121 WowbaggerOM
    February 3, 2010

    Hey dendy, what’s that sound? Is it your wife getting a real man to do to her what you can’t?

  122. #122 professordendy
    February 3, 2010

    oh that’s a good one WowBagger… go for wife jokes… makes you a real man eh? lol

  123. #123 Kel, OM
    February 3, 2010

    I don’t think it’s meant literally; rather, I think it’s code for ‘materialist’ (or, more accurately, ‘non-supernaturalist’).

    I found this on Wikipedia that seems to sum it up for me: Both Dennett and Steven Pinker argue that too many people who are opposed to science use the words “reductionism” and “reductionist” less to make coherent claims about science than to convey a general distaste for the endeavor, saying the opponents often use the words in a rather slippery way, to refer to whatever they dislike most about science.

    In other words, it grounds metaphysics in reality as opposed to allowing for magic thinking. If that’s Zwartz’s point then I can get on board with that. Magic thinking is incoherent, and the universe is grand enough as is without needing to augment it with magic.

  124. #124 Patricia, Ignorant Slut OM
    February 3, 2010

    …makes you a real man eh?

    Yes.

  125. #125 professordendy
    February 3, 2010

    while he’s packin” mud no doubt!

  126. #126 WowbaggerOM
    February 3, 2010

    ‘professor’ dendy wrote:

    oh that’s a good one WowBagger… go for wife jokes… makes you a real man eh? lol

    You know, you could easily avoid me reminding you of your many failures if you stopped coming here – or, alternatively, if you started posting comments of substance. Because as long as you come here making inane, pointless comments in an attempt to blogwhore I’m going to keep insulting you on any level I see fit. Including pointing out your inability to perform your husbandly duties.

    Why? Because I have a strong distaste for chronically unfunny, inspid, intellectually dishonest, lying, hypocritical, anti-choice homophobes and find that treating them like the turds they are is the only option.

  127. #127 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    February 3, 2010

    Hey Dandy, where is the conclusive physical evidence for your imaginary deity? The fact that you don’t try to display here is conclusive evidence that you have no evidence, making you a delusional fool.

  128. #128 professordendy
    February 3, 2010

    well WowBagger… I would say that little tidbit of a speech really slammed me… and as I pick myself up off the floor, I am reminded of the nice soft, beautiful, and very educated, young wife (13 years younger to be exact) that I go to bed with and wake up with… sorry if that turns you off… I’m sure u prefer the nut to butt style, but frankly, I don’t swing in those perverse circles!

    Now there is some substance for you!

  129. #129 professordendy
    February 3, 2010

    Now I can’t help it if every time I toss a bone out into the dung heap of Pharyngula, a bunch of “free thinkers” dive for it… what’s a man to do, walk away from the fun and games?

  130. #130 WowbaggerOM
    February 3, 2010

    dandy ‘professor’ dendy wrote:

    while he’s packin” mud no doubt!

    Maybe dendy needs to read up on Reaction Formation.

    From the article: ‘A reaction formation is used to exaggerate heterosexual behavior outward, to relieve inward anxiety regarding homosexual desires.’

    Combined with dendy’s other…behaviours…this sounds like a good possibility.

  131. #131 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    February 3, 2010

    Dandy, you have nothing. There isn’t enough substance to you and your posts to be a good chew toy. You don’t have enough intelligence and integrity to keep our coats sniny and our teeth free of tartar. You are ten day old fermenting mush.

  132. #132 professordendy
    February 3, 2010

    Oh Nerd… I am quite proud of you… you have learned to cut and paste… the same ole statement that you have every time…

    “Hey Dandy, where is the conclusive physical evidence for your imaginary deity? The fact that you don’t try to display here is conclusive evidence that you have no evidence, making you a delusional fool.”

    Can’t you think of something new?

  133. #133 Janine, Mistress Of Foul Mouth Abuse, OM
    February 3, 2010

    oh that’s a good one WowBagger… go for wife jokes… makes you a real man eh? lol

    Old fuckface, seeing the hairballs that you call jokes, you are in no position to criticize. Also, seeing how you first came to this blog with lies and still refuse to address the issue, no one has any reason to believe you on any subject.

    As I said before, I feel sorry for all the students you have had. You are not worthy of the respect.

    Also, it is telling that you think that you are the only person here who wakes up with the one they love.

  134. #134 Patricia, Ignorant Slut OM
    February 3, 2010

    Yes, idiot, walk away. You aren’t a proper chew toy and you don’t make the cougars and sluts purr.

  135. #135 Janet Holmes
    February 3, 2010

    I’m going to the conference to meet PZ. I like Richard Dawkins too but PZ in soooo cuddly!

    I’m really pissed off that the government refused to sponsor it, everything else gets bucket loads of our money (The Grand Prix costs about $80mil a year IIRC) so I don’t see why we atheists aren’t entitled to suck on the public tit as well! The lack of funding means the organisers have had to book smaller venues and if that means that there is not enough room to sit comfortably in PZ’s talk then I’m really gonna be mad.

    The religionists got 2 million last year as noted above. They also got several front page articles in The Age Newspaper where Barney blathers. These articles you will be astonished to hear asked no difficult questions, failed to point out that most of these people were obliged by their religions to kill each other on sight and generally made damned irritating reading.

    I wonder what sort of coverage we will get. Any front pages for us do you think? I bet the sycophantic tone which even Australians who should know better use when around the religious, will be nowhere to be found. Thank Ceiling Cat for that anyway. I hope some other reporters who don’t have an ax to grind come along.

    It must be a weird job being religion reporter on an Australian newspaper. I’d be willing to bet most of the other reporters are atheists, and Australians generally consider talking about religion to be bad form. Of course most of the news about religion is yet another article about misbehaving priests.

  136. #136 Janine, Mistress Of Foul Mouth Abuse, OM
    February 3, 2010

    what’s a man to do, walk away from the fun and games?

    You are not a man.

    And you are too much of a coward to allow this kind of give and take on your blogs.

    But guess what! You have just admitting that you are here only to be a shit kicker. That is a reason to ban you. Look under Dungeon at the top of the page and look up Wanking.

    You really are a miserable example of humanity. Seriously, if you are the type favored by your big sky daddy; your heaven is the most miserable place ever.

  137. #137 Miki Z
    February 3, 2010

    dendy says

    I have two back-stage passes for sale to the atheist convention… they were given to me… highest offer gets them!

    I’ve now got ‘pathological lying’ on psychopath bingo now. Get your checklist here.

  138. #138 WowbaggerOM
    February 3, 2010

    I am reminded of the nice soft, beautiful, and very educated, young wife (13 years younger to be exact) that I go to bed with and wake up with…

    You mean the one who has to go elsewhere to get the job done? She’s probably glad you spend so much time on the internet puzzling over the big words people write in responses to you; it gives her all the time she needs to seek out someone who can do for her what you can’t.

    Are the not-your-kids aware (and glad of the fact) they don’t share your fucked-up DNA and that their mom went somewhere else to get the seed planted?

    What do your stepkids call you anyway? Professor, Dendy, or just not-Dad? ‘Dumbass’, probably.

  139. #139 Patricia, Ignorant Slut OM
    February 3, 2010

    No fool, I’m with Nerd, show me your gawd or shut up. Trot out Jesus or fuck off.

    This is a science blog we require proof.

    Something new? Yeah, that would be proof of God. Show us.

  140. #140 Janine, Mistress Of Foul Mouth Abuse, OM
    February 3, 2010

    Can’t you think of something new?

    When it comes to a one note fool like you, Nerd doesn’t need to waste his time nor energy.

  141. #141 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    February 3, 2010

    Can’t you think of something new?

    Why can’t you put up the evidence Dandy? I will always be at the first step of your delusions, that your imaginary deity exists. Because if you can’t prove your deity exists, your babble can’t be inspired by god, and must be a book of fiction. You are totally falsified. If you are any type of scientist you would understand that.

  142. #142 Patricia, Ignorant Slut OM
    February 3, 2010

    You reap what you have sown, and the answers you get are those you deserve.

    Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.

    Prov. 26:5

    Fool.

  143. #143 Ichthyic
    February 3, 2010

    Can’t you think of something new?

    why should he, when you appear incapable of even beginning to address such a simple request?

    I still want to know who is on your PhD thesis committee, or were you lying about that, too?

  144. #144 Malcolm
    February 3, 2010

    Dendy,
    Nerd wouldn’t have to keep repeating himself, if you just answered his question.
    How long is it going to take you to realise that until you can show that your god exists, we will continue to treat your beliefs as just another delusion?

  145. #145 Patricia, Ignorant Slut OM
    February 3, 2010

    I’ll make you an offer Dendy, I’ll bend the knee and kiss the ass of any God, dragon or unicorn you can produce.

    Bring it on.

  146. #146 Ichthyic
    February 3, 2010

    I don’t think it’s meant literally; rather, I think it’s code for ‘materialist’ (or, more accurately, ‘non-supernaturalist’).

    no, it is in fact a slightly different argument, a subset of the materialist argument, if you will.

    while the materialist argument in broad terms is simply the rejection of anything supernatural in explanation, the reductionist subset of that claims that any particular observable phenomena can be broken down into ever smaller, explainable parts, that completely explain the whole.

    It’s often used to claim that reductionists try to explain consciousness by looking at chemical reactions, but that they have failed because chemical reactions are insufficient to explain the whole of consciousness and thought.

    It is also applied (rather incorrectly, actually) to the old phrase: The whole is more/not more than the sum of its parts.

    I say incorrectly because the reductionist approach does not preclude emergent phenomena, like most religionauts seem to imply it does.

    Frankly, I find the reductionist, materialist approach to be more and more supported by experiment and evidence.

  147. #147 The Silent Moose of Doom
    February 3, 2010

    Extremely excited about the convention… even though it took me a while to afford the ticket. The Convention admin staff are brilliant and were really patient with me while I put the money together. :)

    It may be a little too late for everyone who’s already made accommodation plans, but I probably have some couch/mattress-on-floor space available if anyone wants it and doesn’t mind spending time in a teeny tiny flat. I’m in the inner suburbs of Melbourne and about 10mins walk from the tram to the Convention Centre…

  148. #149 Ichthyic
    February 3, 2010

    I’ve now got ‘pathological lying’ on psychopath bingo now. Get your checklist

    meh, he will never meet the Cunning/manipulative requirement.

  149. #150 The Silent Moose of Doom
    February 3, 2010

    I’m in the inner suburbs of Melbourne and about 10mins walk from the tram to the Convention Centre…

    Mmm, unintentional ambiguity.

    What I meant to communicate there was that the tram (which is ten minutes’ walk from my house) goes straight to the Convention Centre. It’s about a fifteen-minute tram ride.

  150. #151 Patricia, Ignorant Slut OM
    February 3, 2010

    We need better trolls. This Dendy fool is as tasteless as barley gruel.

  151. #152 Miki Z
    February 3, 2010

    meh, he will never meet the Cunning/manipulative requirement.

    He does have a job teaching science.

  152. #153 John Morales
    February 3, 2010

    Ichthyic,

    no, it is in fact a slightly different argument, a subset of the materialist argument, if you will.

    I’m aware of that, which is why I wrote “I don’t think it’s meant literally”.
    I suspect that most who actually use the term in that derogatory manner are unaware of its technical meaning, or even of its raison d’ŕtre.

  153. #154 blf
    February 3, 2010

    As someone who mainly subsists on Diet Pepsi and supermarket ready meals, I’m personally somewhat mystified by this particular collective obsession.

    I think we have an explanation for the mystery that is Walton. When he seems to be chasing bats whilst wearing a straitjacket, it means he just ate. When he seems almost human, someone must have tied him down and given him some real food.  ;-)

  154. #155 FossilFishy
    February 3, 2010

    ambulocetacean #94. Thank you. I’m not sure atheists should get gov money either, but if they’re going to give it to religious conventions why not atheist ones as well?

    John Morales #95. Cuttlefish is indeed a genius. Thanks for the welcome.

    WowbaggerOM #110. I’m a Canadian ex-pat now living in rural Auz. My small town is heavily Catholic and yet I hear nothing about it. I’ve observed in the last year and a half that there’s a cultural reticence about displaying one’s faith. While it makes for a pleasant environment it also hides the true level of religiosity here. Hopefully the conference will stir things up enough to get a clearer picture of where people stand.

  155. #156 Janet Holmes
    February 3, 2010

    Using ‘reductionist’ as a pejorative is all part of the romantic anti-understanding movement from the late 18th and 19th century. It was described most memorably by Wordsworth “We murder to dissect” in a poem he wrote in 1788. A very popular poem all about how worthless knowledge is and how it’s better to just look at a flower than to try to figure out what it’s for and how it works.

    http://bartleby.com/145/ww134.html

    Of course the fact that it carries the connotations of making things smaller makes it easier for those who don’t really know what it means to assume it means something bad.

    (Hope that link works, I haven’t done one before)

  156. #157 Kamaka
    February 3, 2010

    Ig Slut @ 151

    We need better trolls. This Dendy fool is as tasteless as barley gruel.

    Yah, I know. Why does anyone give this worthless, smug and arrogant blog-whore the time of day?

  157. #158 FossilFishy
    February 3, 2010

    Kamaka #157

    I think he’s like one of those clown punching bags, the inflatable ones with a weight in the base so it pops back up after you hit it. Sure, the results of your punches are negligible, but the whacking in and of itself feels good.

  158. #159 ambulocetacean
    February 3, 2010

    Oh yeah, anyone need a crash pad for the conference in Melbourne? I billeted a couple of Sri Lankan journos during the Commonwealth Games (the former British Empire Games) a few years ago, which was fun. They paid me off with bottles of Sri Lankan arak (hint, hint). Some guy from Sri Lanka won a weightlifting medal, as I recall…

    Try me at ambulocetus1@gmail.com. I only made the address to troll the webs, but I might be able to remember the password.

  159. #160 WowbaggerOM
    February 3, 2010

    WowbaggerOM #110. I’m a Canadian ex-pat now living in rural Auz. My small town is heavily Catholic and yet I hear nothing about it. I’ve observed in the last year and a half that there’s a cultural reticence about displaying one’s faith. While it makes for a pleasant environment it also hides the true level of religiosity here. Hopefully the conference will stir things up enough to get a clearer picture of where people stand.

    I used to live in the country but left before I thought about such things. Now I live in South Australia where a lot of recent legislation has come about thanks to the Jesus-sucking scumbag Family First party that the government kiss up to.

    But yeah, I’d like people to know exactly how much bowing and scraping our politicians do to keep the child-rapist-enablers and other brands of woo-soaked cretin happy.

  160. #161 Kel, OM
    February 3, 2010

    Oh yeah, anyone need a crash pad for the conference in Melbourne?

    I possibly do.

  161. #162 Kel, OM
    February 3, 2010

    Stephen Conroy who is trying to ban naughty things from the internet is a conservative Catholic. Don’t tell me Australia is free from religious influence, it’s factually incorrect.

  162. #163 WowbaggerOM
    February 3, 2010

    Oh yeah, anyone need a crash pad for the conference in Melbourne?

    I ended up booking a place in the city – but thanks for the offer anyway.

  163. #164 ambulocetacean
    February 3, 2010

    Hey FossilFishy,

    Wow, Canadia to rural Oz? Whereabouts? How’s the culture shock going? Maybe you should have moved to New Zealand, which in my imagination is kind of like the Canada of the South Pacific.

    I know that the religious are Araldited* to the Australian government tit, but aren’t we better than that?

    FWIW, I’m a long-time lurker, recent poster as well. The intellect and erudition and especially the venom of a lot of the regulars is a bit intimidating, but fuck it.

    Kel, drop me a line at the address I posted above. I remembered the password :)

    * Araldite is a kind of super glue, not sure if it’s Oz-only.

  164. #165 ianmhor
    February 3, 2010

    Dendy – troll pure and simple. Put him in the dungeon.

  165. #166 ambulocetacean
    February 3, 2010

    Hi Wowbagger,

    Lol – they were bagging you out in your absence on the stupid Herald Sun Faithworks blog. I stopped going there after a few days’ trolling because it hurt my head too much.

    Most of the religious posters on Barney’s blog at The Age have the sincerity and the brains to engage in discussion and debate, unlike most of the angry little homophobes on Faithworks.

  166. #167 FossilFishy
    February 3, 2010

    ambulocetacean, Ah, the culture shock isn’t too bad. Canada and Australia have pretty similar cultures. Sure they’re differences but nothing too drastic. Mind you, I’m in the Alpine Shire of Victoria so it’s not exactly beyond the black stump territory. (Does anyone say that anymore?)

    Wowbagger mentioned the Family First whackaloons, that’s exactly the sort of thing I was hoping I’d left behind in Alberta: the Texas of Canada.

    I too thought WTF and decided to put in my two cents. I figure eventually I’m going to say something stupid and the regulars are going to slap me silly. No big deal, if I can’t defend my position then maybe I need to educate myself more. Or maybe my idea will be truly wrong and I’ll have to change my thinking. Nothing to worry about there. The only thing that still makes me hesitate is that I may come to crave that smack down. Where does that end? With me in a gimp suit yelling “There’s no transitional fossils!” and “Half a wing is not a wing!”? I can’t afford to pay people to role-play Janine, Patricia and/or Nerd.

    Anyway we’re way off topic on this thread. See you in the Neverending thread perhaps.

    Oh, I haven’t heard of Araldite. We’re mostly a Clag sorta family, comes with having a 2 year old artistic genius running around the place. :)

  167. #168 Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom
    February 3, 2010

    With me in a gimp suit yelling “There’s no transitional fossils!” and “Half a wing is not a wing!”? I can’t afford to pay people to role-play Janine, Patricia and/or Nerd.

    BDSM Queens are pretty expensive…

  168. #169 Janine, Mistress Of Foul Mouth Abuse, OM
    February 3, 2010

    Someone just name checked the original Gruesome Trio. I am getting misty eyed with nostalgia.

    BDSM Queens are pretty expensive…

    Those outfits make of leather and of latex are rather costly.

  169. #170 David Marjanovi?
    February 3, 2010

    and have Bride of Shrek give me some python handling tips.

    Let John Scanlon do that?

    “A 3 m Olive [python, Liasis olivacea] is marginal, safety-wise, for handling by a single person (if it gets round your neck and you can’t find the tail to unwind it…). I’ve helped hold one that was about 4.5. Over 5 m, I probably wouldn’t touch it.”

  170. #171 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    February 3, 2010

    FossilFishy, you should be able to find an old, fat, and bald wino to play me for cheap. Just don’t let him near the grog first.

  171. #172 ddpej
    February 3, 2010

    Regarding davej @ 40:

    I’m afraid that many self-declared young atheists have little interest in reason or science. All they want out of it is independence.

    and related comments:

    My own personal experience as a youngster was actually quite the opposite. I grew up going to a Presbyterian church, and at about age twelve (after years of boredom and a general lack of reason to believe any of it) I told my parents that A) none of it made sense to me, B) I didn’t feel any connection to these ‘faith’ and ‘God’ and ‘prayer’ things everyone was talking about, C) dressing up in uncomfortable clothes just to ‘respect’ some invisible fellow in the sky who I wasn’t even sure existed, much less could or cared to see me back, was just stupid, and D) while I had no personal objection to the church and all, I didn’t see why why I should have to go every week. I was promptly told that, since I wasn’t old enough to understand or be making decisions about such things, I was in fact just trying to be rebellious and that bucking church was merely the strongest way I could think of to accomplish this.

    (After I got over the initial fury of being told, by my parents no less, that I wasn’t old enough to think about my own experiences and beliefs as a person, I realized the full extent to which my intellect and indeed my imagination had been insulted by their replacement motive, and got good and mad about that as well. But that’s a different story.)

  172. #173 tsg
    February 3, 2010

    I was promptly told that, since I wasn’t old enough to understand or be making decisions about such things, I was in fact just trying to be rebellious and that bucking church was merely the strongest way I could think of to accomplish this.

    I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find out that many of davej’s “self declared young atheists” are in fact asking many of the same questions we are and not getting satisfactory answers. They may not be declaring an interest in science and reason, but that is what they are practicing, whether they know it or not. You don’t have to take a college level logic course to understand that “god is real because the bible says so and the bible is the word of god” doesn’t hold up.

  173. #174 Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom
    February 3, 2010

    Those outfits make of leather and of latex are rather costly.

    Perfectly aware. Specially fitted, specialty stuff, after all. Not that I know anything about that, of course.

    I was promptly told that, since I wasn’t old enough to understand or be making decisions about such things, I was in fact just trying to be rebellious and that bucking church was merely the strongest way I could think of to accomplish this.

    Do religious people ever listen to complaints levelled against their culture? Seriously…

  174. #175 Janine, Mistress Of Foul Mouth Abuse, OM
    February 3, 2010

    Perfectly aware. Specially fitted, specialty stuff, after all. Not that I know anything about that, of course.

    Would you like a sample?

    (Seriously, I am trying to sound seductive here.)

  175. #176 WowbaggerOM
    February 3, 2010

    Lol – they were bagging you out in your absence on the stupid Herald Sun Faithworks blog. I stopped going there after a few days’ trolling because it hurt my head too much.

    Really? On which thread? I can’t even be sure I posted anything on that stie, thought I do remember visiting one about ‘challenge to atheists’. When I did a search through that one I could find any instances of my name.

  176. #177 FossilFishy
    February 3, 2010

    The Gruesome Trio?
    Fearfully he backs away.
    Safeword on his lips.

  177. #178 ambulocetacean
    February 3, 2010

    Hi Wowbagger. I can’t remember what thread it was, probably that stupid go-on-then-prove-that-god-doesn’t-exist one.

    Whatever it was that you posted someone was accusing you of plagiarising it from PZ. Doesn’t really matter anyway. It’s an infantile little sandbox. I’m never going back :)

    … OK I went back. It’s on the thread titled “Christianity is not a religion”.

  178. #179 WowbaggerOM
    February 3, 2010

    ambulocetacean,

    I did end up finding it – for whatever reason the way that site is formatted makes it hard to use the search function.

    A pity I hadn’t noticed it earlier; I’d have pointed out that the poster in question didn’t seem to have a problem with all the Christians on the site copying and pasting huge chunks of the bible in their comments.

    Not to mention the fact that they also neglected to include any refutation of the point I’d made.

  179. #180 Bill Dauphin, OM
    February 3, 2010

    Sastra:

    But then, that might be a bit loud, unabashed, and militant. Oh, dear.

    I think you automatically lose your Loud, Unabashed, and Militant© card if you say “Oh, dear!” I mean, I’ll have to double-check the bylaws, but I’m pretty sure….

    JanePatricia, [You] Ignorant Slut (@108):

    …have Bride of Shrek give me some python handling tips.

    Nudge, nudge; wink, wink! A nod is as good as a wink to a blind bat, eh?

  180. #181 ambulocetacean
    February 3, 2010

    Yeah, it’s dumb the way they do that, and especially the way they smugly end their posts with some random bible verse, as if it’s the equivalent of saying QED.

    If I could be arsed trolling there I’d make a point of ending my posts with random verses too, all the rapey/incesty/animal sacrificey bits.

  181. #182 WowbaggerOM
    February 3, 2010

    Yeah, it’s dumb the way they do that, and especially the way they smugly end their posts with some random bible verse, as if it’s the equivalent of saying QED.

    Yeah, it’s not exactly a haven for intellectual expression. I found it far to painful to read; the lolspeak and constant emoticon use – one moron (whose name I didn’t bother to note) seemed to use two or three smileys per line – just made my head hurt after a few minutes.

  182. #183 Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom
    February 3, 2010

    Would you like a sample?

    Waaah. Being fitted would freak me out ;.;

    I think you automatically lose your Loud, Unabashed, and Militantę card if you say “Oh, dear!” I mean, I’ll have to double-check the bylaws, but I’m pretty sure….

    What if it’s “Oh dear, get the fireaxe, there are Jehovah’s Witnesses at the door”?

    Yeah, it’s dumb the way they do that, and especially the way they smugly end their posts with some random bible verse, as if it’s the equivalent of saying QED.

    That sounds like a smug overload…

  183. #184 Miki Z
    February 3, 2010

    Yeah, it’s dumb the way they do that, and especially the way they smugly end their posts with some random bible verse, as if it’s the equivalent of saying QED.

    Is QED not an abbreviation of Quod Erat Decretum?

  184. #185 John Morales
    February 4, 2010

    Rutee,

    What if it’s “Oh dear, get the fireaxe, there are Jehovah’s Witnesses at the door”?

    Rutee Addams, I presume? :)

  185. #186 ambulocetacean
    February 4, 2010

    Miki, was that a play on words? Latin gags go right over my undereducated head. Does decretum mean decree, in the papal sense?

    I used to work at a newspaper where the sub-editors had a motto that was supposed to be Latin for “Who wrote this shit?” What would that be?

  186. #187 Miki Z
    February 4, 2010

    Yes, decretum means decree, though I may have the wrong declension — I looked it up in a dictionary, as I don’t actually speak latin. I’m not a big fan of “QED” at the end of a proof, I prefer just a square. Historic proofs get exempted in the same way that proofs not written in English do: it’s not their fault they didn’t know better.

  187. #188 boygenius
    February 4, 2010

    - one moron (whose name I didn’t bother to note) seemed to use two or three smileys per line – just made my head hurt after a few minutes.

    It wasn’t, by any chance, David Marjanovi??
    :-D :-D :-D

    *I kid because I love*

  188. #189 aharleygyrl
    February 4, 2010

    well, the author said it was a joke. so, i will take it as that, but if it wasn’t, i have 2 things to say about the following:

    But, if the atheists who post on this blog are to be believed, they have nothing in common with each other except a lack of belief in ?imaginary friends?.

    Atheists can and do believe in astrology, ghosts, New Age philosophies and many other things we might categorise as paranormal.

    1. what’s wrong with the commonality of a lack of belief? Man, they just don’t get it, do they!

    2. i call bullshit. atheists who believe in ghosts are not real atheists. wow, no wonder religious people don’t understand us, they think we are all getting our palms read and cursing god to be assholes.

  189. #190 Kel, OM
    February 4, 2010

    2. i call bullshit. atheists who believe in ghosts are not real atheists.

    Bullshit, unless ghosts are gods then this statement is both stupid and fallacious. The only commonality atheists share is the lack of beliefs in / non-belief in / belief in no Gods. It’s a negative position and pertains no prescriptive elements beyond the lack of belief in interventionist deities. To make atheism prescriptive in the sense of anti-paranormal / anti-supernatural is to conflate atheism with naturalism and use the term in such a way that it conflates atheism to a belief system.

    This is by no means to say its rational for someone to believe in ghosts, nor that the suppositions that dismiss gods aren’t similar to those that dismiss ghosts, but it’s entirely possible to believe in ghosts and not gods and hence be atheists.

  190. #191 aharleygyrl
    February 4, 2010

    i knew someone would get pissed. sorry, i don’t believe a true atheist believes in ghosts. no one has any proof of ghosts or ufo’s or santa claus. shove it Kel OM, i don’t give a rat’s ass if what other atheists think about it. so, in my book if you say you have seen ghosts, but you’re an atheist, i will say re-think that one. seeing ghosts and seeing gods are the same thing. i never said there were not weirdo atheists out there who believe in ghosts. you analytical-types can be a pain in the ass, always going by the book. jesus, lighten up!

  191. #192 WowbaggerOM
    February 4, 2010

    aharleygyrl, you sound a lot angrier than Kel. Why? Sorry to break it to you but he’s 100% correct and you’re wrong. Atheist just means lacking a belief in gods – that’s all.

    It’s important to be consistent with terms, even if for no other reason than to keep asshats from taking stuff we say out of context.

  192. #193 Rorschach
    February 4, 2010

    aharleygyrl,

    . seeing ghosts and seeing gods are the same thing. i never said there were not weirdo atheists out there who believe in ghosts.

    You might enjoy reading Bruce Hood’s book “Supersense” on the subject of supernatural beliefs.

    Lots of atheists unfortunately believe in irrational or supernatural stuff.
    Not believing in gods is just that, no immunity to other superstitions or irrational thoughts follows from it.

  193. #194 aharleygyrl
    February 4, 2010

    he cannot be 100% correct WowbaggerOM. i am 100% correct. it is my opinion and i am entitled to it. i could care less what other atheists believe. if they believe in the tooth fairy or santa or ghosts. to me, they are not a real atheist. this is the last time i explain this to you. but i do not think you understand what an opinion is.

    I DO NOT BELIEVE PEOPLE WHO BELIEVE IN GHOSTS ARE REAL ATHEISTS. TO ME, THEY CANNOT PROVE TO ME THEY ARE.

    WHY DO YOU INSIST ON SHOVING YOUR BELIEFS ON ME? YOU MIGHT THINK THERE ARE REAL ATHEISTS WHO BELIEVE IN GHOSTS, AND THERE ARE AS FAR AS BODIES. BUT I AM TALKING ABOUT PROVING THEIR BELIEFS TO ME, THAT GHOSTS EXIST.

    YOU GUYS JUST WANT TO ARGUE. I HATE WRITING ON THESE FUCKING SITES, BECAUSE EVENTHOUGH I SAID I PERSONALLY DON’T BELIEVE THEY CAN BELIEVE BOTH IN GHOSTS AND NO GOD, YOU KEEP INSISTING I CHANGE MY MIND AND THINK THESE PEOPLE EXIST. WELL, FUCK, I AM CERTAIN THEY EXIST. BUT IF THEY COME TO MY HOUSE AND TELL ME THEY ARE ATHEIST AND SAW A GHOST, I AM NOT BUYING THE ATHEIST THING. I AM NOT GOING TO EXPLAIN TH8IS AGAIN, SO GO BOTHER SOMEONE ELSE AND CORRECT THEIR OPINIONS FOR THEM. PEACE OUT.

  194. #195 aharleygyrl
    February 4, 2010

    “aharleygyrl, you sound a lot angrier than Kel”

    LAUGHING MY ASS OFF!

    i get called stupid and i seem angry about that. well no shit, sherlock. lol!!

  195. #196 aharleygyrl
    February 4, 2010

    all you have to do is play what if. what if the ppl who believe in ghosts had a doctrine like the bible and went around using it to control ppl and have wars and all that. what if there were just as many ghost believers as there was religious believers. as an atheist, you’d try to dispell their beliefs by telling them they have zero proof, no evidence. so, to me, TO ME. I’LL SAY IT AGAIN, TO ME, it is the same thing. i do not see why that is so hard to understand. but it’s comforting to know that i can always come here and have my opinion handed to me without any thought of my own. thanks for that, at least.

  196. #197 WowbaggerOM
    February 4, 2010

    aharleygyrl wrote:

    it is my opinion and i am entitled to it.

    You are entitled to your own opinions. You are not entitled to your own facts. Atheist = without belief in god(s). It is no more subject to opinion than any other definition.

    I HATE WRITING ON THESE FUCKING SITES, BECAUSE EVENTHOUGH I SAID I PERSONALLY DON’T BELIEVE THEY CAN BELIEVE BOTH IN GHOSTS AND NO GOD, YOU KEEP INSISTING I CHANGE MY MIND AND THINK THESE PEOPLE EXIST.

    If you hate being corrected, there’s any easy way to prevent it: stop being wrong. Is your ‘opinion’ that Monday is between Tuesday and Wednesday rather than between Sunday and Tuesday? That π = 6.1? That the capital city of California is London? Because all of those are as subject to your opinion as atheism is for the definition of the necessary non-belief in ghosts.

    Stop shouting and start thinking. And reading for comprehension, because Kel didn’t say you were stupid, he said your statement was. There’s a difference.

  197. #198 John Morales
    February 4, 2010

    aharleygyrl, a quick search shows:

    thejesster, on October 28th, 2009 at 12:24 pm Said:

    Hey now, I?m an atheist, but I totally believe in ghosts. In fact, I think atheists should be MORE likely to believe in ghosts and the paranormal, because it?s not like we?re going to heaven when we die!

    (Interestingly, the next comment on that thread is by “Kel”.)

    As one more example (there are many):

    lee said…
    I’m an atheist and I believe in ghosts. I’ve had a lot of experiences with ghosts that I can’t really explain otherwise.

    I grant that perhaps in your estimation they’re not true atheists™, or that they might be lying.

  198. #199 badgersdaughter
    February 4, 2010

    Stupid is as stupid does. It’s not so shameful to be stupid if you’re willing to become less so. Proper English often helps people take you more seriously.

    I have friends who don’t believe in gods, per se, but do believe in “something more than the material realm.” I have trouble understanding what the hell they’re talking about. Usually they’re making the error of separating an attribute of a thing from the thing itself, as if “redness” or “rectangularity” were themselves existent things without reference to something red or something rectangular. They believe in Love independent from lovers, Spirit independent of people acting and thinking spiritually, and a Universe that does not correspond to what can be detected (or potentially detected) by scientists and mathematicians. They think they’re being tolerant, even complementing me, by telling me, “You only think you’re an atheist.”

    Well, kids, I don’t believe in God, but I do admit that things may exist for which we have not yet discovered evidence. I simply draw the line at believing in specific claims without evidence for them.

  199. #200 strange gods before me, OM
    February 4, 2010

    i am 100% correct.

    but i do not think you understand what an opinion is.

  200. #201 badgersdaughter
    February 4, 2010

    Complimenting. Damn auto-spellcheck.

  201. #202 aharleygyrl
    February 4, 2010

    WowbaggerOM, you are an absolute moron. you must be hard up for entertainment tonight. i told you lots of times it is an opinion and i told you lots of times i know atheists exists who say they believe in ghosts. to me they are not true atheists. to the rest of the world, they may be the best atheists who ever lived. but your brain is too small to wrap it around what i am saying. i agreed with you and you still fight. i don’t read the crap you write anymore, so all you are doing is preaching to the choir and thinking these people here will be so proud of you. who gives a fuck. i stated an opinion after my original post. if i wasn’t called stupid by kel, i would have explained it a little more civilly. but, nonetheless i cleared it up. BUT, you relentless 2 or 3 people will not take a chill pill and let me have an opinion. you moronically say i am stating a fact. i could sit here and write 50 more posts saying it is an opinion and you would still say i was stating that atheists do not believe in ghosts.

    SO, I AM AGREEING WITH YOU. SOME ATHEISTS BELIEVE IN GHOSTS, ASTROLOGY, NEW AGE PHILOSOPHIES AND/OR THE PARANOMAL AND THEY ARE REAL ATHEISTS. I AM NO LONGER ENTITLED TO MY OPINION TO THE CONTRARY. MY OPINION SIMPLY DOES NOT COUNT AND HAS NO PLACE IN THE WORLD. I WILL REFRAIN FROM EVER HAVING AN OPINION AGAIN THAT IS CONTRARY TO ANYONE ELSE’S.

    SO THERE IS NO ARGUMENT. I ONLY BELIEVE WHAT YOU DO. I ONLY ACCEPT WHAT YOU ACCEPT. THERE ARE EXCEPTIONS TO THIS. OH YEAH, AND I SUCK.

    THERE, ARE YOU HAPPY? I BET NOT. I BET YOU WOULDN’T BE HAPPY IF YOU WERE HUNG WITH A NEW ROPE.

  202. #203 badgersdaughter
    February 4, 2010

    Opinions have to be backed up by facts. If you state an opinion, you are implying that you have facts to back it up. If you don’t have facts to back it up, then what you have is not an opinion, but just a piece of “maybe.”

  203. #204 aharleygyrl
    February 4, 2010

    NO EXCEPTIONS, I MEAN. IT’S GETTING LATE HERE.

    UNLESS YOU THINK IT IS NOT GETTING LATE HERE. THEN, OF COURSE IT IS NOT.

  204. #205 Kel, OM
    February 4, 2010

    sorry, i don’t believe a true atheist believes in ghosts.

    And you’re committing the same logical fallacy as a religious person when they say not a true Christian believes in evolution.

    shove it Kel OM, i don’t give a rat’s ass if what other atheists think about it.

    That’s the problem with your position, when you’re using a term in your own way. Language is useless when individuals use language in personal terms. So if you don’t give a rat’s arse about how others use a word, then refrain from using the word in the first place. And you are using the word wrong, trying to put prescriptive measures onto a word that simply negates the idea of belief in gods.

    you analytical-types can be a pain in the ass, always going by the book.

    So instead we might as well engage in personal definitions of words that take any notion of clarity and meaning away. If you’re going to engage in a “No True Scotsman”, then don’t do it by trying to set prescribed notions to a word that is merely descriptive. Lest we will turn atheism into a belief system. You were wrong, pure and simple. Getting indignant about being called out, well that’s just making things worse.

    (Interestingly, the next comment on that thread is by “Kel”.)

    That ain’t me.

    aharleygyrl, you sound a lot angrier than Kel.

    I sound angry?

    You might enjoy reading Bruce Hood’s book “Supersense” on the subject of supernatural beliefs.

    Lots of atheists unfortunately believe in irrational or supernatural stuff.
    Not believing in gods is just that, no immunity to other superstitions or irrational thoughts follows from it.

    Indeed, it’s a mighty good read that one.

  205. #206 badgersdaughter
    February 4, 2010

    Oh, and grow up.

  206. #207 aharleygyrl
    February 4, 2010

    atheists fighting is pathetic. i think it has something to do with a lot of rational thought going on. but wait, i don’t really have any opinion of that, so scratch that. anyway, atheists dog the christians for having so many different religions and none of them in agreement, but they are just as bad. i have seen tons of fighting among atheists in the last year on here, on youtube, on the net. they are no better than christians. no wonder christians say they don’t want to be atheists. but, i didn’t say that. a ghost did. i do not have any opinion on this one way or the other. none. zip. zero.

  207. #208 Kel, OM
    February 4, 2010

    if i wasn’t called stupid by kel, i would have explained it a little more civilly.

    Where did I call you stupid?

  208. #209 Rorschach
    February 4, 2010

    I AM NO LONGER ENTITLED TO MY OPINION TO THE CONTRARY

    Infantile knee-jerk persecution reaction aside, you just don’t get to dictate the use of terms, equate gods and ghosts and get away with the false equivalence.Wrong place for that.

  209. #210 WowbaggerOM
    February 4, 2010

    aharleygyrl frothed and gibbered:

    i told you lots of times it is an opinion and i told you lots of times i know atheists exists who say they believe in ghosts. to me they are not true atheists.

    The plural of unsupported assertion is not argument. Are you aware there’s a difference between opinion and definition?

    Opinion: ‘An opinion is a subjective statement or thought about an issue or topic, and may be the result of emotion or interpretation of facts.’

    Definition: ‘A definition is a formal passage describing the meaning of a term (a word or phrase).

  210. #211 Miki Z
    February 4, 2010

    Japan has millions of people who believe in ghosts but not Gods. Many sorts of Japanese Buddhism are explicitly atheistic, or view ? (kami), which is often translated as ‘God’ or ‘Gods’, in a way that western theists would not recognize as a God, especially those sects in which humans are viewed as a higher form of being than ‘Gods’.

    I happen to believe in extra-terrestrial intelligent life, given that we’ve found indications of other life in our solar system and planets conducive to life orbiting other stars. It seems like irrational exceptionalism not to. I also think the chance that such beings visit us is infinitesimally small.

  211. #212 Walton
    February 4, 2010

    No True Atheist puts paranormal sugar in his porridge.
    :-)

  212. #213 John Morales
    February 4, 2010

    aharleygyrl, we understand that this is your opinion you’re offering. I’m taking you seriously.

    I for one would appreciate it if you cared to define the term ‘atheist’, in your own words.

    And, having done so, if you explained (if necessary) how that definition precludes belief in ghosts.

    Here is a suggested template:
    “An atheist is someone who [your words here]“.

    (The reason I ask is that I strongly suspect you’re using the term ‘atheist’ to refer to what others denote as a ‘skeptical rationalist’.)

  213. #214 strange gods before me, OM
    February 4, 2010

    i told you lots of times it is an opinion and i told you lots of times i know atheists exists who say they believe in ghosts. to me they are not true atheists.

    Fine, it’s your opinion, but your opinion is wrong.

    You could say that they are logically inconsistent atheists, or confused atheists, or stupid atheists, and then your opinion would be arguably correct.

    But you do not get to redefine the word “atheist.”

  214. #215 Kel, OM
    February 4, 2010

    I called someone’s statement wrong, therefore I’ve taken away entitlement to their opinion? I wonder if creationists feel this way when I say they are wrong too. I’m pretty cruel to creationists come to think of it, when they say “there are no transitional fossils” or “evolution works by magic” I immediately call bullshit then spend time explaining to them just how such statements are false.

    Who would have thought that the post-modernists were right and knowledge deconstructed falls to merely opinion? Shit, I never realised how horrible I can be. I’m taking what people say and holding them to account, which takes away their entitlement to hold that position.

  215. #216 badgersdaughter
    February 4, 2010

    The reason I ask is that I strongly suspect you’re using the term ‘atheist’ to refer to what others denote as a ‘skeptical rationalist’.

    I would suspect that too, except aharleygyrl defines herself as an atheist. From all appearances, she believes “atheist” means “petty little sneer factory without a clue.”

  216. #217 Miki Z
    February 4, 2010

    Kel,

    You join Paul W. and SC in the ranks of Those Who Silence Comments on Pharyngula.

  217. #218 strange gods before me, OM
    February 4, 2010

    atheists fighting is pathetic. i think it has something to do with a lot of rational thought going on. but wait, i don’t really have any opinion of that, so scratch that. anyway, atheists dog the christians for having so many different religions and none of them in agreement, but they are just as bad. i have seen tons of fighting among atheists in the last year on here, on youtube, on the net. they are no better than christians. no wonder christians say they don’t want to be atheists.

    Ramen!

    Comrade, if you would just agree with everything I say from now on, we could stop fighting. :)

  218. #219 Walton
    February 4, 2010

    atheists fighting is pathetic.

    Er, not really. As people are trying to explain, an atheist is just someone who doesn’t believe in any gods. The term “atheist” tells you nothing else about a person’s philosophy, beliefs and worldview, other than that he or she doesn’t believe in gods. For example, strange gods and I are both atheists, yet we hold opposing opinions on a very wide range of philosophical issues.

  219. #220 Legion
    February 4, 2010

    There is a class of faux atheists that could best be described as being “angry at god.” They’ve never had the chummy relationship with god that others speak about. They’ve never had a prayer answered, or had a religious experience.

    Their atheism isn’t based on reason, but on a reason: namely, that god hasn’t been returning their calls.

    Inevitably, this condition self-corrects with sufficient self delusion. God finally pops their woo cherry, or so they think, by giving them an indescribably transcendent experience or some other such bullshit, and they happily return to the flock as a reformed atheist.

  220. #221 Kel, OM
    February 4, 2010

    You join Paul W. and SC in the ranks of Those Who Silence Comments on Pharyngula.

    Who would have thought calling out someone has being wrong would cause such a reaction? The use of the word bullshit may have been a little harsh tbh.

    no wonder christians say they don’t want to be atheists.

    Yep, it’s the argument over words that’s preventing them from joining us. If only we could agree to stand as a united front, then they won’t care that we’re shitting all over their cherished beliefs.

  221. #222 John Morales
    February 4, 2010

    Walton @219, though you are quite correct in what you write, I think you have fallen prey to ignoratio elenchi here.

    You didn’t explain why it’s not pathetic, only that but the one opinion is shared amongst atheists.
    How that implies that internecine conflict is not pathetic is not addressed by your response.

  222. #223 strange gods before me, OM
    February 4, 2010

    a very wide range

    Among all the things that people really disagree about (excluding things which could be disagreed, but for practical purposes aren’t, like the color of the sky), I think it is a rather small range, and I think this holds true even when constrained to politics. Note the frequency with which you are assumed to be a US-style liberal, and I am called a “proper paid-up libertarian” or similar.

    Your aversion to dogs is nearly intolerable, but if you would just welcome Cthulhu into your mind and liver, I could rest at ease (relatively, what with the bone-shattering nightmares and all).

  223. #224 Miki Z
    February 4, 2010

    Who would have thought calling out someone has being wrong would cause such a reaction? The use of the word bullshit may have been a little harsh tbh.

    I think when someone declares a belief ‘bullshit’ to use that same word in reply is fair.

  224. #225 John Morales
    February 4, 2010

    SGBM,

    (relatively, what with the bone-shattering nightmares and all)

    Well, admittedly, one does need protection, which should last until the stars are right.

  225. #226 Rorschach
    February 4, 2010

    /nitpick

    I think you have fallen prey to ignoratio elenchi here.

    Seemed to me he disn’t miss the point at all, but made a specific argument as to why it isn’t pathetic.

    /end nitpick

  226. #227 Legion
    February 4, 2010

    Arguing an issue is a healthy way to work toward the truth, so long as all parties agree to an open-ended no-holds-barred discussion. This is what atheist strive for. In this sense, arguing can be very productive.

    Arguments within the theist sphere generally start with an unsupported hypothesis positioned as fact: that god(s) exist. It goes downhill from there, with all kinds of intellectual barriers put in place designed to prevent the argument from going off the rails by concluding (or even discussing) the primary lie about the existence of god(s).

  227. #228 WowbaggerOM
    February 4, 2010

    Really, it could have been a lot more unpleasant. I was expecting that someone being this wrong on the internet would have sent kind of bat-signal to bring forth Truth Machine…

  228. #229 strange gods before me, OM
    February 4, 2010

    Anyway it’s possible to have “seen gods” and still be an atheist. Maybe it was the mushrooms, maybe the confused memories of a small child, maybe a mental illness that involves hallucinations. Generally in these cases one sees a god while still a believer, or becomes a believer temporarily, but it’s even possible to be “seeing a god” at the very moment one does not believe in that god.

  229. #230 Miki Z
    February 4, 2010

    it’s even possible to be “seeing a god” at the very moment one does not believe in that god.

    Isn’t this a standard theist argument? That we’re seeing God and just too stupid/angry/evil to know it?

  230. #231 strange gods before me, OM
    February 4, 2010

    I suppose, but most of them would not allow that you could really see God while you’re tripping (that’s obviously the Devil trying to trick you).

  231. #232 John Morales
    February 4, 2010

    Legion,

    Arguing an issue is a healthy way to work toward the truth, so long as all parties agree to an open-ended no-holds-barred discussion. This is what atheist strive for.

    Hm. I think you’re making the same type of mistake that aharleygyrl is.

    How does disbelief in deities imply one strives towards “agreement to an open-ended no-holds-barred discussion”?

    Rorschach @226, what was the specific argument made towards the inter-atheistic strife being not pathetic, in Walton’s post? I don’t see one.

  232. #233 Rorschach
    February 4, 2010

    John,

    the way I read his post, where he argued that

    The term “atheist” tells you nothing else about a person’s philosophy, beliefs and worldview

    he specifically adresses the idea that infighting and argueing between atheists is something to be frowned upon or unacceptable, which is how I interpreted the use of the term “pathetic”, in saying that we are people with lots of different opinions on anything and everything, and therefore the idea that there should be no dissenting opinions is wrong.

    You might argue the degree of relevance of his post, but I think this degree is quantitative not qualitative, if that makes sense.I certainly didnt think his post was totally missing the point, which is what ignoratio elenchi means.

    Now I better go and have some espresso since I have to go and work all night…:-)

  233. #234 Legion
    February 4, 2010

    How does disbelief in deities imply one strives towards “agreement to an open-ended no-holds-barred discussion”?

    Disbelief now doesn’t rule out belief at some point in the future given sufficient evidence. That would be a no-holds-barred discussion. Honest atheism sort of requires that we be open to the possibility of the existence of deities.

    Theists, OTOH, take a position that denies the possibility of the non-existence of deities. This is a dishonest and ultimately unproductive position that makes internecine arguing among theists a waste of time.

  234. #235 Walton
    February 4, 2010

    By way of clarification, the point I was trying to make (though admittedly I didn’t make it explicit) is that there is no intrinsic reason why atheists, as a class, ought to be assumed to agree on anything other than their lack of belief in gods. What I should have added was that, in my view, vocal disagreement is not “pathetic” but a good thing. Since atheism is not a movement, there is no reason why I should agree, or pretend to agree, with someone else merely because he or she is an atheist. aharleygyrl seemed to be implying that atheists should stick together and form a united front against non-atheists (though I may, admittedly have misunderstood her, and I apologise if this is the case). I disagree wholeheartedly with this idea.

    For instance: my local MP, here in Oxford, is a Liberal Democrat named Evan Harris, who is an outspoken atheist and member of the National Secular Society. However, I do not support him, and am instead supporting his Conservative opponent at the next election – because although I agree with Dr Harris’ view that gods do not exist, I also disagree with him on a range of political matters, and I believe a Conservative government is the best thing for the UK at this time.

  235. #236 Legion
    February 4, 2010

    We’re heading out for the day, so any reply to our last post at #234 will, sadly, go unanswered.

    Elvis has left the building.

  236. #237 John Morales
    February 4, 2010

    Thanks for your responses, all. They’re good.

  237. #238 aharleygyrl
    February 4, 2010

    “Er, not really. As people are trying to explain, an atheist is just someone who doesn’t believe in any gods.”

    REALLY. NO FUCKING SHIT, REALLY? NOT THAT I DON’T CONSTANTLY TELL CHRISTIANS ON YOUTUBE THAT ATHEISM IS NOT A RELIGION. OH HELL NO, I NEVER HAVE A CHANCE TO DO THAT, EVERY DAY FOR THE LAST YEAR.

    ANY OF YOU ON HERE WHO TELL ME, AN ATHEIST, THAT AN ATHEIST IS SOMEONE WHO DOESN’T BELIEVE IN GODS, IS STUPID FUCK. IF I THOUGHT ATHEISTS BELIEVED IN GODS, I WOULD NOT BE AN ATHEIST.

    I AM NOT GOING TO GO INTO YOUR NUTTER ARGUMENT AMOUNGST YOURSELVES, EXPLAINING HOW THERE ARE ATHEISTS WHO BELIEVE IN GHOSTS.

    YOU KNOW, I COULD HAVE COME ON HERE AND SAID ATHEISTS DO NOT BELIEVE IN GOD OR ANY GODS. AND SOME MORON ON HERE, WHO HAS NOTHING BETTER TO DO, WOULD HAVE FOUND A WAY TO ARGUE WITH ME.

    BTW, YOU ALL WASTED YOUR TIME, I DIDN’T READ ONLY A LINE OR TWO PAST ALL THE STUPID-ASS RIDICULOUS STATEMENTS HOW I COULD NOT HAVE AN OPINION. I MADE A MISTAKE BY NOT SAYING IT WAS AN OPINION, THEN I CLARIFIED. BUT NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, THAT WAS NOT GOOD ENOUGH. I AM NOT ALLOWED AN OPINION. I, AS AN ATHEIST (SO PROUD, THANKS GUYS *SMILES SWEETLY*) AM ONLY TO STATE FACTS THAT AGREE WITH EVERYONE ELSE’S FACTS. I KEEP FORGETTING THIS IS A SCIENCE BLOG. AND WE DON’T HAVE ANY TIME FOR ANYONE’S PERSONAL BELIEFS OR OPINIONS. IT IS BY THE BOOK HERE, MAN. WE DON’T MESS AROUND.

  238. #239 Miki Z
    February 4, 2010

    I believe in lower case letters.

  239. #240 badgersdaughter
    February 4, 2010

    Poe.

  240. #241 aharleygyrl
    February 4, 2010

    ENJOY YOURSELVES. BUNCH OF HYPOCRITES. YOU PEOPLE ARE LOSERS BECAUSE YOU ATTACK YOUR OWN. SO I DEDICATE THIS VIDEO TO YOU:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/coughlan666#p/search/5/rsHOImGOnJo

  241. #242 aharleygyrl
    February 4, 2010

    “There is a class of faux atheists that could best be described as being “angry at god.” They’ve never had the chummy relationship with god that others speak about.”

    WOW, LEGION, YOU’RE JUST BRILLIANT. I’VE GIVEN THAT SPEECH A HUNDRED TIMES LAST YEAR.

    GOSH, SHUCKS, I SURE AM GLAD I AM A LERNIN’ HERE. LERNIN’ AT LEAST OPINIONS ARE NOT TOLERATED. BUT THAT IS A GOOD LESSON.

  242. #243 aharleygyrl
    February 4, 2010

    “Anyway it’s possible to have “seen gods” and still be an atheist”

    OK, NOW YOU’RE JUST BEIN’ STUPID.

    I COULD GET RUN OVER BY A PINK CADILLAC TODAY, TOO. BET IT WON’T HAPPEN.

    WELL, I AIN’T STICKIN’ AROUND TO LISTEN TO ANYMORE OF YOUR NONSENSE. YOU SCRAPED THE BOTTOM OF THE BARREL WITH THAT COMMENT.

  243. #244 Rorschach
    February 4, 2010

    Better be Poe.
    Makes you doubt humanity otherwise.

  244. #245 John Morales
    February 4, 2010

    aharleygyrl,

    IF I THOUGHT ATHEISTS BELIEVED IN GODS, I WOULD NOT BE AN ATHEIST.

    Yes. But the issue was that you think atheists cannot believe in ghosts, counter-examples and arguments notwithstanding.

    BTW, YOU ALL WASTED YOUR TIME, I DIDN’T READ ONLY A LINE OR TWO PAST ALL THE STUPID-ASS RIDICULOUS STATEMENTS HOW I COULD NOT HAVE AN OPINION.

    Yes, clearly you didn’t read much, and what you did read you misinterpreted.
    Are you proud of this?

    As to wasting our time, well, perhaps. You’re claiming you’re a hopeless case, but I doubt that.

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, THAT WAS NOT GOOD ENOUGH. I AM NOT ALLOWED AN OPINION.

    Interesting conceit. Why do you give us power over you, gyrl?

    Isn’t it clear that you’re allowed your opinion (there it is, for the whole world to see!)?

    Aren’t we equally allowed to have our opinion about your opinion?

    PS if you stopped bellowing, you’d seem slightly less hysterical.

  245. #246 Walton
    February 4, 2010

    YOU PEOPLE ARE LOSERS BECAUSE YOU ATTACK YOUR OWN.

    I really do not get this. Why is it “attacking my own” to criticise other atheists? Why should I be expected to unite with other atheists against the rest of the world, even where I disagree with them on other issues? Is the non-existence of gods the only issue that matters to you? Atheism is not a political party, a movement or an organised campaign, as you well know, so I don’t see why you expect me (or anyone else) to be more tolerant of your bizarre views simply because you are an atheist.

  246. #247 strange gods before me, OM
    February 4, 2010

    Well, I don’t normally do this, but I recommend you try ingesting a lot of tryptamines, aharleygyrl. It could hardly make you any more insufferable.

  247. #248 aharleygyrl
    February 4, 2010

    I’M BEGINNING TO THINK THAT A GOOD SHARE OF ATHEISTS ARE SMOKING POT ON A REGULAR BASIS.

    I KNOW I KNOW, YOU CAN BE AN ATHEIST AND STILL SMOKE POT. YOU CAN BE A GOD AND STILL BE AN ATHEIST. YOU CAN BE AN ATHEIST AND STILL BE A GOD. YOU CAN SEE AN ATHEIST AND STILL BE A GHOST. YOU CAN BE AN GHOST AND STILL BE AN ATHEIST. BUT, BETCHA NONE OF THEM CAN STOP THINKING ABOUT PIE CHARTS

    http://www.neatorama.com/2009/01/03/bizarro-betcha-cant-stop-thinking-about-pie-charts-now

  248. #249 Miki Z
    February 4, 2010

    The linked livejournal is dedicated to sending people to Tijuana for ‘biologic’ dental treatment. She claims to have 10 different diseases and to be permanently disabled from having her teeth filled with mercury.

  249. #250 John Morales
    February 4, 2010

    OK. 3-comment rule and more.

    aharleygyrl gives every indication of being a troll.

    PS I don’t click on troll links.

  250. #251 badgersdaughter
    February 4, 2010

    Aharleygyrl’s profile here http://member.wayn.com/Aharleygyrl says she is a Christian. (I saved the site and took screenshots, Torrie.)

  251. #252 strange gods before me, OM
    February 4, 2010

    I’M BEGINNING TO THINK THAT A GOOD SHARE OF ATHEISTS ARE SMOKING POT ON A REGULAR BASIS.

    Pot? Really? When you think “delusional” you think pot? Are you twelve?

  252. #253 WowbaggerOM
    February 4, 2010

    aharleygyrl exploded:

    ENJOY YOURSELVES. BUNCH OF HYPOCRITES. YOU PEOPLE ARE LOSERS BECAUSE YOU ATTACK YOUR OWN.

    We ‘attack’ wrongness, inaccuracy and sloppy thinking – no matter who is being wrong, inaccurate and sloppy. Why should you be considered immune to criticism? None of the rest of us is. You seem confused about what atheism is in regards to beliefs; are you also confused about what it may indicate in terms of tolerance of ridiculous notions?

    I’ve had my ass handed to me a number of times, and I learned from it – how, then, am I a hypocrite?

  253. #254 strange gods before me, OM
    February 4, 2010

    Pot? Really? When you think “delusional” you think pot? Are you twelve?

    she is a Christian.

    Ah, that explains it.

  254. #255 strange gods before me, OM
    February 4, 2010

    also explains:

    no wonder christians say they don’t want to be atheists.

  255. #256 llewelly
    February 4, 2010

    Walton | February 4, 2010 5:46 AM:

    What I should have added was that, in my view, vocal disagreement is not “pathetic” but a good thing. Since atheism is not a movement, there is no reason why I should agree, or pretend to agree, with someone else merely because he or she is an atheist.

    But Walton, if we all agreed on everything, the concern trolls would have to concern troll about something else.

  256. #257 WowbaggerOM
    February 4, 2010

    Comment by aharleygyrl blocked. [unkill]?[show comment]

    Lying Christian troll gets the inevitable.

  257. #258 John Morales
    February 4, 2010

    aharleygyrl, nice one.

    What did you think of us atheists? :)

    I know what I thought of you.

  258. #259 Kel, OM
    February 4, 2010

    THAT WAS NOT GOOD ENOUGH. I AM NOT ALLOWED AN OPINION. [citation needed]

    This is a complete over-reaction. I called your argument wrong, nothing more, nothing less. Yet you alleged that I’ve called you stupid and you’re raving about how somehow you’re not allowed an opinion.

    Get off your high horse, I didn’t personally attack you nor am I denying your right to hold any position. It’s amazing that you can go from “you’re wrong for reason X” to “you’re an idiot who can’t hold any opinions”. If you want to believe that the earth is flat, go ahead. But don’t expect people to agree with you or say “that’s your opinion” on matters that aren’t purely subjective.

    Grow up.

  259. #260 strange gods before me, OM
    February 4, 2010

    badgersdaughter, you may be interested in http://www.webcitation.org/archive

  260. #261 Kel, OM
    February 4, 2010

    If that really is her profile and she’s 45, then this is all quite sad. Go read my initial post again, and please show me where a) I called you stupid, and b) where I denied that you’re entitled to have opinions.

  261. #262 aharleygyrl
    February 4, 2010

    i would love it if someone came to my house and said i believe in ghosts and i am atheist. i would say, what the hell? na. i don’t think you are a real atheist, because ghosts are supernatural and provide no evidence, same as religion. and they would say, you’re stupid. because we all know that the computer is real life and people talk exactly in person as they do on the net. they would say, it is a fact, atheists can believe in ghosts and there are many of us. and i would say, dude, keep them the hell away from me. i wanna be a pure unfettered atheist without any pink unicorns or ghosts in my machine. and they would say, you are wrong and you stated that i am not atheist because i believe in the ghost and mrs muir. and i would say, no man, chill, you can be anything you want to be, but to me you don’t represent my idea of an atheist. you are an atheist who believes in ghosts, whatever the hell they call that, mate. i have not heard the term. how about we call you a ghatheist? i dunno mate. then, they would go get all their friends who smoke pot. ok, not. or maybe. i dunno. they would get their friends who come over and say, hey, an atheist is someone who doesn’t believe in god. then, another would join in and scream, you take that back, you can only state facts. you are only allowed to say atheists don’t have beliefs in gods. period. end of story. say it. say it, they shouted, above their voice. (haha). then more come, they gather ’round the seemingly disgraced peon who muttered not an atheist and ghost lover shall i be. off with your head, they all shouted! just the facts mam. and just on friday. and i called my buddy david after dentist (strange name, his parents were ghosts) and i said, is this real life? i feel funny. why is this happening to me. is this gonna be forever? but he was no help. he just screamed and said i had four eyes. so i jumped off the tallahassee bridge. i am now a ghost. an i am an atheist. go figure….

  262. #263 strange gods before me, OM
    February 4, 2010

    i wanna be a pure unfettered atheist without any pink unicorns or ghosts in my machine.

    Well there’s your problem right there.

    If you don’t believe in the Invisible Pink Unicorn, then you aren’t a true atheist.

  263. #264 badgersdaughter
    February 4, 2010

    Nice site, strange gods before me, good to know about it; thanks!

  264. #265 strange gods before me, OM
    February 4, 2010

    No problem. It’s been around for a few years, and I expect funding issues eventually so it will probably disappear in a few more years. But for now it’s pretty sweet.

  265. #266 Walton
    February 4, 2010

    I find it ironic that aharleygyrl is accusing other people of being on drugs.

  266. #267 Miki Z
    February 4, 2010

    Something that makes more sense than 262 to cleanse the palate:

    riverrun, past Eve and Adam?s, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.

    Sir Tristram, violer d?amores, fr?over the short sea, had passen-core rearrived from North Armorica on this side the scraggy isthmus of Europe Minor to wielderfight his penisolate war: nor had topsawyer?s rocks by the stream Oconee exaggerated themselse to Laurens County?s gorgios while they went doublin their mumper all the time: nor avoice from afire bellowsed mishe mishe to tauftauf thuartpeatrick not yet, though venissoon after, had a kidscad buttended a bland old isaac: not yet, though all?s fair in vanessy, were sosie sesthers wroth with twone nathandjoe. Rot a peck of pa?s malt had Jhem or Shen brewed by arclight and rory end to the regginbrow was to be seen ringsome on the aquaface.

    The fall (bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonner-ronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthur? nuk!) of a once wallstrait oldparr is retaled early in bed and later on life down through all christian minstrelsy. The great fall of the offwall entailed at such short notice the pftjschute of Finnegan, erse solid man, that the humptyhillhead of humself prumptly sends an unquiring one well to the west in quest of his tumptytumtoes: and their upturnpikepointandplace is at the knock out in the park where oranges have been laid to rust upon the green since dev-linsfirst loved livvy.

  267. #268 The 386sx Society
    February 4, 2010

    Gotta agree with aharleygyrl on this one. Something with believing in ghosts and still being atheists ain’t quite lining up right somehow. Does not compute.

  268. #269 John Morales
    February 4, 2010

    aharleygyrl-troll, I find you a sad, sad person.

    Truly, I pity you.

  269. #270 strange gods before me, OM
    February 4, 2010

    Had I known that she was coming, I would have stocked up, so she could have been funny instead of just sad.

  270. #271 badgersdaughter
    February 4, 2010

    It really depends what you call a ghost and where you think they come from. Some of my friends who don’t believe in gods (but do believe in the “Universe”) claim that a ghost is a natural part of a person, but that it connects to “spheres” and “dimensions” that are outwith the limits of “materialistic” scientific inquiry. But they do not believe in gods!

  271. #272 strange gods before me, OM
    February 4, 2010

    If the human consciousness really did span other dimensions, we’d be a hell of a lot more impressive creatures than these slow and stinky apes.

  272. #273 strange gods before me, OM
    February 4, 2010

    YOU PEOPLE ARE LOSERS BECAUSE YOU ATTACK YOUR OWN.

    Wenn ich Atheisten h÷re … entsichere ich meinen Cyberpistole!

  273. #274 curezone
    February 4, 2010

    comment 268
    Posted by: The 386sx Society | February 4, 2010 6:50 AM

    Gotta agree with aharleygyrl on this one. Something with believing in ghosts and still being atheists ain’t quite lining up right somehow. Does not compute.

    I am in agreement, also. Did I miss something? I was under the impression that Atheists didn’t believe in God because he is supernatural and there is no evidence for him that can be cooborated and scientifically proven.

    Please explain to me how one could be an Atheist and believe in supernatural entities and not be shunned by fellow atheists. Thanx

  274. #275 Stephen Wells
    February 4, 2010

    Since atheism is a lack of belief in gods, and ghosts and not gods, the whining is ridiculous. @274: different atheists disbelieve in gods for different reasons. Rational atheists disbelieve on evidential and logical grounds, but not all atheists are rational.

    The phrase “didn’t believe in God because he is supernatural” is any case incoherent. I, for example, do not believe in any gods (not the plural) because there is no reason to believe such beings exist; whether they would be supernatural, if they existed, is irrelevant.

  275. #276 Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom
    February 4, 2010

    @262: Then you’d be pulling the same No True Scotsmen Christians love to do.

    You can say they’re Atheists who are no more connected with reality then Religion folks, but you can’t say they’re not atheists if they explicitly believe in no gods.

  276. #277 Stephen Wells
    February 4, 2010

    ghosts _are_ not gods, sorry for the typo.

  277. #278 Rorschach
    February 4, 2010

    Please explain to me how one could be an Atheist and believe in supernatural entities and not be shunned by fellow atheists. Thanx

    Holy stupidity Batman !
    What do they put in the water around here lately ?

  278. #279 curezone
    February 4, 2010

    comment 275
    Posted by: Stephen Wells | February 4, 2010 8:16 AM

    Rational atheists disbelieve on evidential and logical grounds, but not all atheists are rational

    I assume all Atheists are not rational is similar to saying not all Christians believe eating pork is a sin. But, I am speaking of the rational Atheists. Don’t the rational Atheists make up a majority of Atheists? I mean only a small percentage of Atheists believe in ghosts, would be my assumption, just as only a small percentage of Christians believe they are to handle serpents.

    The phrase “didn’t believe in God because he is supernatural” is any case incoherent. I, for example, do not believe in any gods (not the plural) because there is no reason to believe such beings exist; whether they would be supernatural, if they existed, is irrelevant.

    What I meant was, I was unaware that Atheists believed in things that could not be proven to exist through scientific verification. And, wouldn’t ghosts fall in that category? I also question that if some Atheists believe in ghosts, are they actually Atheists or have they just not yet had a personal experience with God, but have with ghosts. I assumed that ghosts and Gods were what we refer to as supernatural, not of the natural world that we can see. I was not using the term to suggest there is such a thing as supernatural, just was using it for lack of a better way to write it out.

  279. #280 badgersdaughter
    February 4, 2010

    What do they put in the water around here lately ?

    Oh, it’s no mystery, really. The alt-med website Curezone is the place where Aharleygyrl (aka Torrie Crocker) has a forum to pitch her dental woo. Google it (it’s blocked from my work).

    Since the commenter “curezone” seemed to have a much saner approach, I was going to let sleeping dogs lie, but since they’re both harping on the same old argument, I thought everyone should know.

  280. #281 Stephen Wells
    February 4, 2010

    @279: and what you’ve learned is not to write “atheists believe…” when you mean “sceptical rationalists believe…”. There’s a lot of overlap between the groups but they are not identical. I think the level of belief in ghosts among sceptical rational atheists is close to zero.

    Also, why are you persistently capitalising the word atheists? Are Atheists a special subset of just plain atheists?

  281. #282 curezone
    February 4, 2010

    Ok, I think I am understanding. There must be a lot of Atheists who believe different things. Is this because there is no church, no central gathering place to share? So, it turns out Atheist is a very broad term. Part of me still wants to put the ghosts in the same category as gods. So, this is a difficult concept. But, Atheists must also be rationalists or skeptics to not belive in ghosts?

    comment 280

    Posted by: badgersdaughter | February 4, 2010 8:59 AM

    Someone else brought that to my attention a while back, however I have owned this ID for a long time and it belongs to no one but me. So it must be a different site you are referring to.

  282. #283 ambulocetacean
    February 4, 2010

    Don’t click the link in curezone’s name. It tries to install virus crap on your computer.

  283. #284 curezone
    February 4, 2010

    comment 283

    What?!

    What virus? I don’t have any viruses!

  284. #285 Stephen Wells
    February 4, 2010

    Atheist: one who does not believe in gods. After that you’re on your own, I’m afraid :) and you really don’t have to capitalise the word when it’s in the middle of a sentence.

    Most sceptical rationalists do put ghosts and gods in the category of “fictional supernatural entities that turn up in stories but aren’t actually real.” It’s just that not all atheists are sceptical rationalists.

  285. #286 ambulocetacean
    February 4, 2010

    When I clicked on your name to see what it linked to I got an intrusion attempt. Said it was trying to install fake anti-virus software.

  286. #287 badgersdaughter
    February 4, 2010

    curezone@282: Interesting, OK. Thanks for explaining.

    It is rational to disbelieve in things if there is not enough evidence for them. Some people think that the available evidence for whatever they call “ghosts” satisfies their standards. Some people think that the available evidence is insufficient to demonstrate the existence of any such thing. If that’s what you mean by skeptical and rationalistic, then, OK.

    The same arguments hold true for gods. Get three people in a room, and you’ll wind up with four definitions of “God,” “the gods,” “the Goddess,” or whatever they choose to call it. I could, of course, define “god” trivially as “the cup of rapidly cooling Earl Grey tea at my elbow,” and be perfectly correct in assuming it exists at that moment. Or, I could be lying, or in error (I might have reached for the blueberry tea by mistake). In any case, you would be smart to demand a good strong standard of evidence, and you would, quite rightly, dismiss my cup of tea as anything like your idea of God.

    I guess what this all boils down to is that it makes little sense to say “atheists believe” this, or that, or the other, without arriving at a consensus (for the sake of the argument) upon the definitions of “atheist” and “belief,” and a definition of the thing that may or may not be believed in.

  287. #288 Miki Z
    February 4, 2010

    aharleygyrl has deleted her livejournal. Apparently, we are just too mean.

    Atheists can believe in all kinds of stupid things, and they can even believe in stupid things without believing in ghosts. It’s not necessary to be a rationalist to not believe in ghosts. One can, for instance, believe in homeopathy but not believe in ghosts. One can even hold these views at the same time as a lack of belief in gods.

  288. #289 ambulocetacean
    February 4, 2010

    Oh, and by the way Torrie/Curezone/Aharleygyrl, you might want to stop recommending chelation therapy for children who don’t have mercury poisoning (because amalgam fillings don’t cause mercury poisoning FFS).

    Chelation can kill people, especially when it’s done by unqualified quacks. If you had a medical degree you would know that. Shit, I don’t have a medical degree and even I know that.

  289. #290 curezone
    February 4, 2010

    comment 285

    Atheist: one who does not believe in gods. After that you’re on your own, I’m afraid :) and you really don’t have to capitalise the word when it’s in the middle of a sentence.

    Yes, I am starting to see this. I am Atheist, I do not believe in any God of any kind. However, I live in the rural midwest and I’m afraid there are no Atheists around to talk to. So, I do not know all the different types, or that there were a lot of different types. I wish they had a meeting place, although I am quite a ways from Minneapolis.

    Question, how did some of you come by this information about Atheists, I cannot even find any Atheist group to belong to to get this information?

    and you really don’t have to capitalise the word when it’s in the middle of a sentence.

    I looked and I do not see it. Where is it? I have tried to edit and do not know how, so I cannot correct it, unless someone knows how.

  290. #291 Miki Z
    February 4, 2010

    curezone,

    You might just join some groups that do things that interest you, rather than looking for a group specifically of atheists. Many, but not all, of the regulars on here are involved in science or education, and you’ll find atheists where those are discussed. Some of us have hobbies and participate in groups based around those, and you’ll find atheists where those happen.

    If you’re an atheist and not afraid to say so to those around you, this can be a good way to meet more atheists — you probably know some already.

    And the people commenting on your capitalization are talking about how when you mention Atheists you capitalize the word. (I put it in bold so that it would stand out for you.) You need not do this, the same way you need not capitalize dentist or waiter or neighbor.

  291. #292 curezone
    February 4, 2010

    comment 289
    Posted by: ambulocetacean | February 4, 2010 9:50 AM

    Curezone was the name of an anti-itch powder I sold back in the 90s. I am well aware there is a website by that name, as I was not able to register mine. However, I am not the person you are speaking about. Maybe you should go to that site and tell her, because I am neither female, nor do I really know what Chelation therapy is.

  292. #293 AJ Milne
    February 4, 2010

    Atheists can believe in all kinds of stupid things, and they can even believe in stupid things without believing in ghosts. It’s not necessary to be a rationalist to not believe in ghosts. One can, for instance, believe in homeopathy but not believe in ghosts. One can even hold these views at the same time as a lack of belief in gods.

    Quite. Note also that there are some incredibly nasty cult/religious* structures that posit no gods. Scientology, for one.

    People tend to assume when you say you’re an atheist that you’re probably also a rationalist, a materialist, an empiricist, so on, since that type has tended to be the one that gives organized religions the most grief, and is probably the type that scares them the most–probably because competing but also deliberately antirational woo has similar vulnerabilities to belief in gods, and so on, and really, most belief in gods is awfully similar psychologically to belief in ghosts anyway, where it isn’t actually a subcategory thereof. But sure, you absolutely can not believe in gods and still believe lots of other incredibly stupid stuff. And as per the scientology example, you can even technically not believe in any gods and still be one seriously fucked up member of a seriously nasty, predatory social structure that works on you socially and psychologically the same way the worst of cults and religions do.

    Note also that it’s probably about odds. As in: if you say first you’re an atheist, it probably means the patterns of thought by which you arrived at that position are themselves important to you, your attitude toward those nasty psychological and social structures is probably a critical one, and probably important to you–not some other creed which happens to use those very same structures to preserve itself. As in: if you were, say, a Scientologist, you’d be likely to mention that first. So, oddly enough, tho’ ‘atheist’ is technically more of a negative label–insofar as it describes what you aren’t, calling yourself one does still tend to be something of a tell this way. So the assumption that the underpinnings of your atheism are essentially rationalist, empiricist, and so on isn’t entirely unwarranted. It’s often a decent guess.

    (*/As per a question asked in another current thread, the distinction between these two is something of a judgement call, honestly. Psych types will tend to identify certain coercive features of organizations they’ll expect to be present before they’ll call them a cult, but honestly, in my ever so humble opinion, most of these features are to some degree present in all organized religions anyway. In practical terms, it seems to me a religion is just a cult with enough members that folk feel nervous calling it one. And usually one which has been around long enough that the founding member or members are dead, and the social coercion that keeps it together is more maintained communally by the members than directed from the top by a single charismatic type.)

  293. #294 ambulocetacean
    February 4, 2010

    Oh, sorry Curezone. I guess I was just confused because she has a forum on curezone and you two popped up on the same thread with the same idea about atheists being unable to believe in ghosts.

    Chelation therapy is a legit treatment for heavy metal poisoning but it’s bad juju if you don’t have heavy metal poisoning. It can cause all sorts of serious problems with the heart, kidneys, brain, blood and bone marrow.

    Alternative medicine quacks think that everyone is full of mercury from vaccines and tooth fillings and that pretty much everybody should get chelation. People die from it.

    http://whatstheharm.net/chelationtherapy.html

    On curezone.com, Torrie/aharleygirl is advising people to chelate their children — over the freaking internet.

    I’m sure I couldn’t talk her out of it if I tried.

  294. #295 curezone
    February 4, 2010

    comment 293

    AJ Milne | February 4, 2010 10:18 AM

    Oh, that makes sense. Yes, my oldest son was involved with Scientology and they do not believe in God. They believe they came from the planet Venus, I believe it is. Ok, thanks for the insight. I really wish to find other Atheists to gather with, but can only find websites on the computer. I normally do not ask questions. With all the different types, I am a little reluctant now to pursue it. My wife is Catholic, but not practicing. So, I am on my own with my struggles.

    Comment 294 Posted by: ambulocetacean | February 4, 2010 10:31 AM

    I have found all sorts of products on the internet that I do not agree works. Even my own product was not the cure all like it sounds. But, we went with product name. However, I hope people will make informed choices. Just because something is sold, doesn’t mean folks have to believe it works. Thank you all and I bid a good afternoon.

  295. #296 curezone
    February 4, 2010

    comment 291

    Posted by: Miki Z | February 4, 2010 10:12 AM

    Oh, I understand now. Ok, will do.

  296. #297 Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom
    February 4, 2010

    Quite. Note also that there are some incredibly nasty cult/religious* structures that posit no gods. Scientology, for one.

    Lawology has an evil being of near-deity status. The only difference is he uses SCIENCE! It’s Clark’s Law, basically.

  297. #298 aratina cage of the OM
    February 4, 2010

    Well that was interesting. I’d gone to aharleygyrl’s link a few times in the past (probably because I liked what she had said—oh well…) and saw the mercury poisoning woo. To that I can only say, <snark> how can you be an atheist and believe that amalgam fillings cause mercury poisoning? </snark>

    Seriously, though, being an atheist says nothing about how religious a person is and being irreligious says nothing about whether a person is an atheist or a theist. I think ghosts is also a broad enough term that it can include gods (i.e., Holy Ghost).

  298. #299 Kel, OM
    February 4, 2010

    and what you’ve learned is not to write “atheists believe…” when you mean “sceptical rationalists believe…”. There’s a lot of overlap between the groups but they are not identical. I think the level of belief in ghosts among sceptical rational atheists is close to zero.

    To talk about “sceptical rationalists believe” sounds wrong. There’s no dogma being adhered to, rather a mode of inquiry. One would hope that through being a sceptical rationalist one would discard the belief in ghosts, but in order to be a sceptical rationalist it’s not requisite to not believe in ghosts. Lest we reduce sceptical rationalism to mere dogma.

    I’m nitpicking I know, but it’s an important distinction to point out.

  299. #300 Stephen Wells
    February 5, 2010

    Since we all believe things about the world and hope that our beliefs are true, it is perfectly reasonable to write “skeptical rationalists believe…” ; for example I would assume that skeptical rationalists believe that skeptical rational enquiry is the best method for ascertaining empirical truths. It’s profoundly dangerous to cede the verb “believe” to dogmatists, as if it always meant “believe dogmatically”.

    I also didn’t claim that (all) skeptical rationalists do not believe in ghosts; I said that I thought the level of ghost-belief among skeptical rationalists is near zero.

  300. #301 Kel, OM
    February 5, 2010

    Since we all believe things about the world and hope that our beliefs are true, it is perfectly reasonable to write “skeptical rationalists believe…”

    Agreed, but the point I’m making is that on a whole when one says “X believes”, it talks about specifics as opposed to methodologies. Among people here that distinction is unnecessary, but you’ve seen how easy it is for people to talk about atheist beliefs of sceptic beliefs as if it were all engaged in groupthink – that’s what I’m trying to argue against.

    I hope my beliefs are true and I certainly do believe things, but I don’t necessarily share those beliefs with other sceptics.

    I also didn’t claim that (all) skeptical rationalists do not believe in ghosts; I said that I thought the level of ghost-belief among skeptical rationalists is near zero.

    Agreed, it was nothing wrong with your position. I just took issue with the wording because of how it may be taken. There was a post upstream that went along the lines of: “That is because of an ongoing argument for three years on my blog about whether atheism in practice generally involves a worldview – and I’m pleased to have you confirm it (reason, evidence, science).”

    PZed sed something so therefore it applies to all? It’s that kind of misconceptions I hope to avoid, so like I said it was purely nitpicking and nothing against the substance of your post.

  301. #302 Circe of the Godless
    February 6, 2010

    What will I get out of it?

    talking to some sane people for starters……

  302. #303 spunmunkey
    February 7, 2010

    Um… maybe closer to the Conference, PZ can set up a thread regarding what is happening afterwards?

    As I was too late in getting my arse organised – but just realised if people are going to do some travelling whilst they are in Australia – I would love to arrange a night in a pub(s) in the Nation’s Capital.

  303. #304 Kel, OM
    February 9, 2010

    As I was too late in getting my arse organised – but just realised if people are going to do some travelling whilst they are in Australia – I would love to arrange a night in a pub(s) in the Nation’s Capital.

    Contact the guy who runs this if you’re in nation’s capital. A Wig & Pen night is a must!

  304. #305 spunmunkey
    February 13, 2010

    Cheers Kel. I’m usually propping up the bar, swilling cider @ the Phoenix… But have been known to saunter down to the Wig for an ale…
    :)

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