Pharyngula

There is something heretics do that I never anticipated would generate such fury in the godly — an act of heresy so profane, so vile, so revolting that it triggers legal action all across the country and expressions of outrage everywhere. Don’t read through this post: the images below the fold will sear your eyeballs and invoke the wrath of God, just like opening the Ark of the Covenant did in that Indiana Jones movie.

Apparently, the worst thing you can do is put up a sign somewhere that suggests that God might be superfluous.

i-9b672d869c03abcecf6649672da872a0-godless_sign1.jpeg
i-d437eb8e5d06b0bfb123993e6f16c67b-godless_sign2.jpeg
i-e7e07b393436ef0dfefe2debf89c6d1d-godless_sign3.jpeg

These signs incite furious letters to the editors of local newspapers; billboard companies refuse to run them; bus drivers run away from buses bearing them; and sometimes people run out and vandalize them. It’s rather amazing. How dare atheists suggest that they can act ethically, too? This goes against generations of demonization!

Now I’m sure no True Christian would be resentful of good behavior on the part of their godless compatriots, so I’m sure there’s got to be some other reason they’re upset about it. And I think it’s because we’re in rough economic times, and they sympathize with God.

Face it, he’s old. If he’s told he’s extra baggage, that people are quite capable of being good without him peeping into their bedrooms and sending Pat Robertson whispered messages, then he might be sacked. At his age, that’s no light punishment — nobody is going to hire him, and it’s a bit late for retraining. Besides, he’s way behind the times on all the high-tech stuff, so what’s he going to do? Sell used cars on commission? Stand around and be a Wal-Mart greeter?

No, he’s going to go on the dole. He’d have to go stand in line at the welfare office, and you know what he’d find there: Zeus and Odin and Ahura-Mazda and Marduk and all those other gods he’s been lording it over for a thousand years, and they’d all just smile their smug smiles as he joined their queue, and I don’t think he could bear it. He’s used to hosannas and fatted calves and being able to lie back in his recliner and munch down on foreskins while watching the 700 Club. Can you even imagine how expensive a foreskin habit would be if you don’t have people offering you mountains of them? They’re tiny. It takes tremendous numbers of Christian and Jewish babies to make even a light snack.

Probably the worst thing you can do to a patriarchal deity is impugn his career and his manhood. To suggest that he’s a useless old fart and that his life’s career of whipping fear into people is a failure…even I feel a little pity for the cranky old geezer.

I’m still handing him his pink slip, though.

Comments

  1. #1 Aquaria
    February 21, 2010

    The foreskins are tiny, especially when you’re so huge, as YHWH is supposed to be.

    Maybe he needs the reduction program, ne?

  2. #2 Invigilator
    February 21, 2010

    But if “a thousand ages in his sight, are but a moment gone,” then he should’nt need a snack that often.

  3. #3 Doug Little
    February 21, 2010

    That’s some funny shit PZ, bravo. I’d love to see a Monty Python skit of the unemployment line of previous Gods or better yet a temp agency with them all getting reassigned to less Godly duties.

  4. #4 Aquaria
    February 21, 2010

    Also, as soon as Alex Jones mentioned the Journal of Religion & Society, my first thought was–Gregory Paul is at it again.

    I’m pretty sure he remarked in one paper that the reason America is still so religious in comparison to other First World nations is that our socio-economic policies make our people more fearful about their futures and their place in society?

  5. #5 timgueguen
    February 21, 2010

    Ads promoting godlessness have appeared of late on a couple of Saskatoon buses. No one seems to be up in arms about them. No stories of bus drives not willing to drive them or screeching letters to the editor of the Saskatoon Star Phoenix. I guess people realise that if they can have church ads on buses non-religion ads are just as acceptable.

  6. #6 Aquaria
    February 21, 2010

    #5

    In the America of my lifetime, there is no fair play of ideas. There’s only civilized reason–and foaming at the mouth screaming stupid.

  7. #7 tsig0
    February 21, 2010

    When you’re in with the Sky Daddy you never have to say you’re sorry.

    Responsibility? God made me do it.Then god escapes the guilt by pointing to free will and so it goes.

    Kill a doctor for Christ and you get support. Kill for Allah and you’re a fanatic terrorist.

    YMMV in Muslim countries.

    People should keep their gods in their heads.

  8. #8 SC OM
    February 21, 2010

    These signs incite furious letters to the editors of local newspapers; billboard companies refuse to run them; bus drivers run away from buses bearing them; and sometimes people run out and vandalize them.

    And this is one of the reasons people expressing their concern about the assertive language used here in the clear rejection of religion give me a pain. When these billboards and bus signs are perceived as aggressive and threatening, we are not dealing with people or societies in which aggression and threats are reasonably ascertained.

  9. #9 vanharris
    February 21, 2010

    That mother-fucker Allah/Jehova/Yahweh is one mean son of a bitch. He wouldn’t take that crap without doin’ a whole load of smiting.

  10. #10 Nebula99
    February 21, 2010

    That’s a cool study, though it’s hard to tell if there’s causation involved. It could be that religiosity leads to social issues; it could also be that people with worse lives tend to turn to religion for hope and consolation. I hope they do more work on this.

  11. #11 blf
    February 21, 2010

    In the UK, BBC Radio 4 has a daily short commentary called Thought for the Day, which (as I recall) ranges from benign to insane rantings by various faithheads. Apparently, the BBC is currently negotiating with the Paedophile-in-Chief to present/record one.

  12. #12 Jimmy-boy
    February 21, 2010

    Still – in the UK when the bus adverts went out (a la ‘don’t waste your sunday morning, there’s probably no god’ or something) we had all sorts of religious heads saying how good it was to have the public debate. We’re civilised on our side of the pond you see.

    Oh no: I forgot. Our head of state is also the head of the state religion – we’re idiots as well. Darn!

  13. #13 Knockgoats
    February 21, 2010

    I’m inclined to think the correlation may result from a common cause: economic inequality. The gulf in religiosity between the US and western Europe is, I think, largely a post WWII phenomenon – and it was in the immediate aftermath of WWII that economic inequality in western Europe declined sharply, with a great expansion in the welfare state, and much less so in the USA. But I’ll get hold of Greg Paul’s study as soon as I can!

  14. #14 tsig0
    February 21, 2010

    As has been said:

    It’s not freedom of religion but freedom from religion that I seek.

    I have seen people reduced to angry incoherency when I told them I was an atheist.

    Them: You can’t believe that look at the world around.

    Me:(we were standing in the middle of an auto factory) Everything I see around here was made by man.

    Them: I mean the whole thing, the Universe it fits us so well.

    Me: Or we evolved to fit it you see..(Interrupted by flow of words)

    Them: (rising angry tone)But..morals..love..family..Blood of Christ..Guilt, guilt guilt.

    Me: (walks away)

    {sorry about the formatting but the comments do not seem to follow normal rules}

  15. #15 Sastra
    February 21, 2010

    Can you even imagine how expensive a foreskin habit would be if you don’t have people offering you mountains of them? They’re tiny. It takes tremendous numbers of Christian and Jewish babies to make even a light snack.

    Talk about causing offense! Now you’ve really done it.

    Better be prepared for some angry letters, from RD Net and maybe even the Professor Himself. There are no “Christian and Jewish babies.” As Dawkins makes painfully clear in God Delusion and elsewhere, there are only babies of Christian and Jewish parents.

    Reap the whirlwind…

  16. #16 Knockgoats
    February 21, 2010

    Hmm, why has this come up now? When does the video date from? The only article by Gregory Paul in the Journal of Religion and Society is from 2005! I think I saw something very brief from him recently – a letter in Scientific American or a response in Nature or Science?

  17. #17 alysonmiers
    February 21, 2010

    Now I’m sure no True Christian would be resentful of good behavior on the part of their godless compatriots, so I’m sure there’s got to be some other reason they’re upset about it.

    Of course they’re resentful of good behavior in godless folk. Religions depend on a sharp division between the believers and the infidels. Having it pointed out that the argument from consequences is actually the opposite of what they think it means is inevitably going to make a lot of God-fearing believers feverishly uncomfortable. What else are they going to hang their hats on?

  18. #18 SecularDad
    February 21, 2010

    I’m the first to want to believe this is true, but the Gregory Paul story raises a bunch of my skepticism red flags.

    1. Paul is working outside of his field of study. That isn’t alone a sign of a crank, but it makes the checklist of bad indicators.

    2. The last line of the video is telling. They ran it past three statisticians, who all recognized a correlation. It seems to me that this is relevant, depending on what Paul is trying to say. If he is trying to argue that there is a causation between religious belief and societal ills, that case doesn’t seem to have been made. If he is saying that a society can be good without gods, well sure. This is just another nail in that “how can you be moral?” coffin.

    3. Paul clearly has an axe to grind. Not that this is a bad thing, but as someone who is wary of confirmation bias, the first thing I did was google this and look at what the people mad about it are saying. They are making criticisms about his choices of nations to examine, particularly the nations he chose to omit from his study. Some of what they are saying seems to make sense superficially. I haven’t read or even have access to Paul’s study. So I’m bringing my concerns to a group that probably do have access to published literature.

    Finally, I am very glad these studies are happening. This is exactly the kind of thing that Dennett was advocating for a few years ago with Breaking the Spell.

  19. #19 Becca Stareyes
    February 21, 2010

    That’s some funny shit PZ, bravo. I’d love to see a Monty Python skit of the unemployment line of previous Gods or better yet a temp agency with them all getting reassigned to less Godly duties.

    Remember seeing a chapter in a book by Tanya Huff that involved a bunch of geriatric Greek deities on a tour of North America, stopping in at the protagonist’s boarding house. Hermes was the tour guide, and was still relatively youthful, because of all the folks using him as a symbol of delivery services.

    (Though, heck, thanks to Br’er Rabbit, a bunch of Trickster figures could probably metamorphosize into Bugs Bunny. ‘Ain’t I a stinker?’ indeed. And Thor wouldn’t even need to find a set of animal ears — Marvel comics is treating him well.)

  20. #20 Knockgoats
    February 21, 2010

    It takes tremendous numbers of Christian and Jewish babies to make even a light snack. – PZ

    What about Muslim babies? Once again, PZ lets Islam get away without criticism! The world outside the USA is clearly not real to liberal environmentalists like PZ. This is obviously racism, and yet no-one but me has the courage and integrity to criticise him!

    [/Cimourdain]

  21. #21 SecularDad
    February 21, 2010

    @Knockgoats – I think this is a followup study to the 2005 one, published last year.

  22. #22 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    February 21, 2010

    Not bad Knock, but you need some more ignorance and far more arrogance in your imitation of that ‘turd.

  23. #23 Kathy Orlinsky
    February 21, 2010

    @14

    That whole, ‘you want proof of god? Just look at trees!’ line of arguing is so tiresome.

    I was once talking to a theist who used that line. I asked him if he didn’t think it was odd that god should have created this entire ginormous universe just for the benefit of one eensy-weensy planet*. At the very least, wouldn’t that be an awfully peculiar way to set things up? Of course, he responded that we can’t know the mind of god. Oh, and BTW, look at trees.

    *apologies to non-cosmologists for the technical language

  24. #24 SecularDad
    February 21, 2010

    Oops, looks like I may have been wrong. I found the 2009 study in Evolutionary Psychology.

    http://www.epjournal.net/filestore/EP073984414.pdf

    Lol. Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens and Harris all made it into his references. Nice.

  25. #25 jaranath
    February 21, 2010

    Becca @ 19: I also highly recommend Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.

    PZ’s theme reminds me of Julia Sweeney’s take on God’s departure:

    “Eventually I said goodbye to God, and I imagined him as this old man, this old broken down man, more like an older version of the God on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. But if you looked closely, you could even recognize the Jesus from the poster in my high school bedroom…but older, much, much older, with long, gray and white hair and lots of lines on his face. An old hippie who still smoked. And at one time he seemed so all-powerful, all-knowing and all-protective. But now, he just seemed a little stinky.

    And I could just see him sitting on the suitcases near the front door of my house, and I went to him and I said ‘I’m sorry, God. It’s not you. It’s…it’s me. It’s just…I don’t think you exist. I mean, God, look at it this way: It’s really because I take you so seriously that I can’t bring myself to believe in you. I mean, if it’s any consolation, it’s sort of a sign of respect. So…sit here for a while if you want to. You can stay a little while if you need to. There’s no big hurry.’ And slowly, over the course of several weeks, he just disappeared.”

  26. #26 Zeno
    February 21, 2010

    One of the billboards put up by the Sacramento affiliate of the United Coalition of Reason was vandalized. Fixed now, but I presume the Christian who spray-painted on the sign is now in need of forgiveness for his sin. (Maybe he’ll go to hell!)

  27. #27 RBH
    February 21, 2010

    @SecularDad: Gregory Paul isn’t quite that clueless. Listen to this interview on Reasonable Doubts. He’s got a pretty good good handle on the questions you raise.

  28. #28 lesbianjesus
    February 21, 2010

    I would assume that the reason for this is not that religious people commit more crime, though that wouldn’t surprise me either especially sex crimes, but that if you look at industrialized countries, the more religion there is, the greater the separation of the classes and the greater the poverty.

    I mean, Sweden and Denmark are among the least religious countries in the world and Sweden is the least poor nation on the “Human Poverty Index”

    Religion does have motive to keep people poor and ignorant so they are more malleable.

  29. #29 Knockgoats
    February 21, 2010

    In the linked article, Paul gives references showing that religiosity is suppressed by benign socio-economic conditions, which would seem to support my hunch that the latter are the main causative factor.

    How Are Other First-World Nations Suppressing the Adverse Consequences of Violence and Youth Sex in the Modern Media Environment?.

  30. #30 Knockgoats
    February 21, 2010

    Here’s an excellent and recent review article by Phil Zuckerman on associations between religiosity and various social pathologies. Only for suicide is there no clear positive correlation; for suicide, there is some evidence in the other direction, but it may have other explanations – e.g. most of the “top ten” nations for suicide rates are relatively secular, but 8 of these top ten are “post-Soviet”. (Which means, though the article does not say so, that they are likely to have experienced rapid recent increases in inequality.)

  31. #31 Teshi
    February 21, 2010

    It’s weird that both blue-sky posters have the exact same puffy clouds but they are arranged in different configurations.

  32. #32 chuckgoecke
    February 21, 2010

    Sastra #15: If we grant that the children are just children, and not christian or jewish or muslim children, what about the foreskins, once they are severed? A jewish foreskin is probably not Halal, as a muslim one is not kosher. Whats a god to do?

  33. #33 daveau
    February 21, 2010

    Fuckin’ A. That’s my new motto: God is superfluous.

  34. #34 a_ray_in_dilbert_space
    February 21, 2010

    Daveau says “Fuckin’ A. That’s my new motto: God is superfluous.”

    When LaPlace described his mechanics to Napoleon, the Emperor asked him, “Very interesting, but where does God fit into your system?”
    “I have no need of that hypothesis,” replied Laplace.

    Two hundred frickin’ years ago, and it still pisses people off when you don’t need their imaginary friend.

  35. #35 DLC
    February 21, 2010

    PZ’s comment about god being out of work reminds me of a Mel Brooks movie:

    Clerk: “Did you Supreme being last week”
    God : “No”
    Clerk: “Did you try to supreme being last week”
    God : “Yes!”

  36. #36 'Tis Himself, OM
    February 21, 2010

    A jewish foreskin is probably not Halal, as a muslim one is not kosher.

    Any human is not kosher, since it neither chews the cud nor cleaves the hoof.

  37. #37 Kel, OM
    February 21, 2010

    I really don’t like this whole “Good without God” movement. Maybe its necessary to correct the misconception that atheists are immoral, but all it does is feed into the idea that morality and religion are tightly coupled.

    At best they could argue for belief in belief, but there’s no getting round the Euthyphro dilemma.

  38. #38 jaranath
    February 21, 2010

    Teshi @31:

    I see what you mean, but actually, I don’t think they are reconfigured, with the minor exception that the small one directly under “without” in the BigAppleCoR ad is deleted from the NorthwestFreethought ad. The distance between the two main cloudbanks might also have been tweaked slightly to fit the words. The other differences are in areas of the images that the ads don’t share; they’re out of the field of view in one or the other.

    Not sure why I found that so interesting…

  39. #39 MaleficVTwin
    February 21, 2010

    It takes tremendous numbers of Christian and Jewish babies to make even a light snack.

    That is ripe to be quote mined.

    I’ll make the popcorn. :)

  40. #40 Pierce R. Butler
    February 21, 2010

    A Million New Yorkers Are Good Without God.

    Eh? Citation needed – and not (only) about the gawdlessness part…

  41. #41 supernorbert
    February 21, 2010

    nice Advertisement

    Nice Advertisement!

  42. #43 Pierce R. Butler
    February 21, 2010

    Can you even imagine how expensive a foreskin habit would be if you don’t have people offering you mountains of them?

    You gotta stretch ‘em out, by using ‘em as toppers on Christ Chrunchies?. Better yet, make a paté with lots of onions, maybe a few pimentos, black olives &/or jalapeños – cover the taste of the chrackers as much as possible.

  43. #44 emote_control
    February 21, 2010

    A million New Yorkers are good without God. Are you?

    It’s kind of funny the way that answering this question in the negative implies that, without God, the person wouldn’t be good. The further implication being: atheists don’t need God to be good, but theists are incapable of being good without constant monitoring by a nosey deity.

  44. #45 Randomfactor
    February 21, 2010

    Any human is not kosher, since it neither chews the cud nor cleaves the hoof.

    My brother-in-law chews the cud and spits the tobacco juice into a cup.

    But I guess the hoof thing disqualifies him. Now, if we could get the devil to turn to chaw…

  45. #46 llewelly
    February 21, 2010

    RBH | February 21, 2010 1:30 PM:

    Gregory Paul isn’t quite that clueless. Listen to this interview on Reasonable Doubts. He’s got a pretty good good handle on the questions you raise.

    I think you mean episode 62, but it’s not clear, as while episode 62 covers Gregory Paul’s work, the person interviewed in that episode is not Gregory Paul; they interviewed Tom Rees. Reasonable Doubts has not yet interviewed Gregory Paul.

    I urge everyone interested in Gregory Paul’s work to listen to the episode of Reasonable Doubts I have linked above. Tom Rees has done related work (using different methods) which comes to similar conclusions, and Reasonable Doubts discusses it at length. I think many (but not all) of the criticisms of Gregory Paul’s work raised here are addressed either by the folk of Reasonable Doubts, or by the work of Tom Rees.

    Research into the relationship between societal health and religion is still in its infancy, but the work of Gregory Paul and Tom Rees shows substantial progress, as well as running counter to widespread assumptions.

  46. #47 https://me.yahoo.com/a/PbW94bQ7hfDDpgZIW3U_hMjFlIlrQRqxDkwdPxjeJX9Bt9yQZ6yJi6Qwhij8ldlG#35d13
    February 21, 2010

    Cold comfort Reality

    Who-needs-God ads threaten to destroy ?the comforts of religion? — millions of true believers will overwhelm mental health clinics and tens of thousands of religious “authorities” will be unemployed. (Don?t you just love apocalypses? Me too.)

    Obviously a sudden disappearance of ?God? would bring about a Great Depression, economic as well as psychological. You can understand why so many are angry ? ?God? is a comfort and ?God? is a big part of the GDP.

    Xianity will never wither away without viable substitutes. True believers will never give up their fantasy of post-mortem survival. Reality is cold comfort.

    True swindlers will never overlook an opportunity to give dupes exactly what they want ? reassurance that their miserable egos are valued and loved by Daddy. (?In the sure and certain hope of the Resurrection? ? as the Anglicans carefully say at the grave site.) Besides, there?s money, big money in the con.

    Xians, especially right-wing fundies, beneficiaries of US tax laws, complicit elected officials, and somnolent journalists make billions of tax-free dollars off ever gullible true believers. ??Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven?? says Jesus, #1 Son.

    The earliest xian con artists already had a Jesus-based scam up and humming, probably before 100 CE. How does one get ?God? to pay very special attention to your little ego? Glad you asked my friend.

    ?Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy?.? Just give over your dirty, worldly treasure into God?s Hands and His servants will launder and invest it for you so that it will pay you unending heavenly returns in the next life. ?For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.?

    Every sect among the Big-3 god pushers practices vampirism so heartless that Anne Rice would blush. The ?authorities? must feed upon the faithful ? sucking money, time, psychological energy, and life itself (?martyrs?) ? to enrich their institutions and to establish their irrational political agendas.

    They may be funny, many are probably mentally disturbed, and a few are dangerous.

    the anti_supernaturalist

    Here are the words attributed to Jesus in a text (?gospel?) allegedly by Matthew:

    Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Mat 6:19-21 NIV)

  47. #48 https://me.yahoo.com/a/BS4fk_Acp.K621dX9qDeI4TECRaosmkgg2A04A--#09c7f
    February 21, 2010

    There’s one particular theist blogger, Mariano of the Atheism is Dead fame, who loves to shoot down any concept of atheist morality, especially when it comes to charities

    He complains about atheist billboards and bus ads, while ignoring any real charitable work we do, all the while ignoring the fact that xians also put up billboard and bus ads.

    For the past few years atheists worldwide have literally wasted enormous amounts of money during times of recession, war and poverty not in helping anyone in any material need but in order to purchase bus ads and billboards attempting to demonstrated just how clever they consider themselves to be; and now they want to become the charity police?please!

    Just click on the sidebar picture labelled atheist charities.

  48. #49 Alverant
    February 21, 2010

    I have to wonder how many death threats he’s received and how many “real” christians remembered laughing at muslims with signs reading, “Death to those who say Islam is violent!”

  49. #50 Cheezits
    February 21, 2010

    I have a big problem with “You can be good without God.”

    It should say “You can be better without God.”

  50. #51 Darkwater
    February 21, 2010

    Hey – what about Muslim foreskins? Don’t they count?

  51. #52 Darkwater
    February 21, 2010

    Oh crap. Now that I’ve read *all* of the comments, I see I’ve been beaten to this by several commenters.

    But since in many Muslim countries circumcision isn’t undertaken until near puberty, shouldn’t their (larger) foreskins count for more?

  52. #53 Diane G.
    February 21, 2010

    #31Posted by: Teshi | February 21, 2010 2:46 PM

    It’s weird that both blue-sky posters have the exact same puffy clouds but they are arranged in different configurations.

    Probably God having a little joke…

  53. #54 Usagichan
    February 21, 2010

    From the above comments I think I misinterpreted the meaning slightly – I thought “good without” was part of the modern idiom roughly meaning “ok without” – sort of “you want a coffee?” “No, I’m good without“.
    Still its nice to see some dog-fearin’ xtians taking pity on the sad old geezer upstairs and lendin’ a hand with the smitin’ (hint guys, an aerosol can doen’t have quite the same cachet as a thunderbolt!)

  54. #55 Epinephrine
    February 21, 2010

    Can you even imagine how expensive a foreskin habit would be if you don’t have people offering you mountains of them? They’re tiny.

    Am I the only one who pictured God cross-dressing as a nun? Only the next line made it clear that it was habitual foreskin consumption rather than a foreskin habit.

  55. #56 Kamaka
    February 21, 2010

    Kel @ 37

    I really don’t like this whole “Good without God” movement. Maybe its necessary to correct the misconception that atheists are immoral, but all it does is feed into the idea that morality and religion are tightly coupled.

    The presupposional claim that people need gawd to be moral is a major insult to all of humanity.

    “Good without God” is a soft-sell, for sure, but it’s a start.

  56. #57 Kel, OM
    February 21, 2010

    The presupposional claim that people need gawd to be moral is a major insult to all of humanity.

    Indeed, and a wholly false claim at that.

    “Good without God” is a soft-sell, for sure, but it’s a start.

    Perhaps, though it still feeds this misconception. It’s like those who assert that evolution is impossible because you don’t see dogs turning into cats is not rectified by showing a tabloid article of some women claiming her dog gave birth to kittens.

  57. #58 Dust
    February 21, 2010

    PZ said:

    No, he’s going to go on the dole. He’d have to go stand in line at the welfare office, and you know what he’d find there: Zeus and Odin and Ahura-Mazda and Marduk and all those other gods he’s been lording it over for a thousand years, and they’d all just smile their smug smiles as he joined their queue, and I don’t think he could bear it.

    Gods on the Dole

  58. #59 Bad Earl
    February 21, 2010

    Y’see, the thing about those foreskins is, you rub them a few times and they swell up to the size of pork rinds! Tasty snack!

  59. #60 Rorschach
    February 22, 2010

    Kel @ 37,

    I really don’t like this whole “Good without God” movement. Maybe its necessary to correct the misconception that atheists are immoral, but all it does is feed into the idea that morality and religion are tightly coupled.

    I did not like the “there is no god so enjoy your life” billboards, it seemed like a non-sequitur, and somewhat ambiguous statement to me.
    These ones are a bit better, but I agree with you that it might reinforce to some people that there is a natural relation between those 2 things, “god-given”, if you like.

    Maybe we should form a committee at the GAC to come up with some decent billboard messages !

  60. #61 Kamaka
    February 22, 2010

    Maybe we should form a committee at the GAC to come up with some decent billboard messages !

    That is a very good idea!

    It’s not very diplomatic, but bible quotes could be great fun.

    “Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death.”

  61. #62 circleh
    February 22, 2010

    Hello. Here is a thought experiment I just performed about religion. Please tell me what you think.

    http://circleh.wordpress.com/2010/02/22/judgement-day/

  62. #63 Rorschach
    February 22, 2010

    Hello. Here is a thought experiment I just performed about religion. Please tell me what you think.

    No thanks.

  63. #64 balneus
    February 22, 2010

    Hmmm. Let’s follow the logic here.

    Activities that impose a financial burden on societies (such as increased health care costs resulting from cigarette smoking) attract a punitive tax.

    Social pathology is costly to society (looking after victims, social support for teenage mothers, costs of incarceration of criminals…).

    The stats could be used to esimate the partial contribution to social pathology, and costs, that can be attributed to the incidence and virility of faithfulness (perhaps using indices such as evolution/creation to differentiate particular “brands” in the religious marketplace).

    Therefore, it should be possible to calculate an equitable punitive tax on religious organizations to recoup the cost of the damage caused.

  64. #65 destlund
    February 22, 2010

    I like how in the video, the anchor flat out said “A higher level of religious belief leads to more crime and other undesirable social problems.” Never mind that it would be difficult to imagine a desirable social problem, the guest continues to imply causation throughout the story until his last few words, “in the strict terms of what he wrote, simply showing a correlation, the study holds up.” Note how he even rushes through the words, “simply showing a correlation.”

    At the societal level, I tend to believe that religion is a comorbidity, not a cause. At the personal level, it ranges from something the individual just feels comfortable with and hasn’t thought out (yet), to the root of a whole host of ailments, such as ignorance, bigotry, and unethical behavior.

  65. #66 mwsletten
    February 22, 2010

    A superfluous God…

    Brings a whole new meaning to the title, The World’s Biggest Loser.

  66. And yet they think it’s perfectly okay to spread hate and promote belife useing religous billboards.

  67. And yet they think it’s perfectly okay to spread hate and promote belief using religious billboards.

  68. #69 Peter Ashby
    February 22, 2010

    Of course the other reason the US is more religious than Europe is that we exported most* of our religious crazies to your fair and welcoming shores in times past. Starting with the Pilgrim Fathers. It’s why we don’t have any Puritans, Menonites, Amish etc any more. Australia escaped because that was filled with ordinary criminals (ie poor people) while New Zealand was settled in an organised fashion and you had to pay to get on the boat.

    *Unfortunately we missed the ancestors of the Rev Dr Iain Paisley.

  69. #70 Matt Penfold
    February 22, 2010

    Of course the other reason the US is more religious than Europe is that we exported most* of our religious crazies to your fair and welcoming shores in times past. Starting with the Pilgrim Fathers….

    When I lived in Plymouth I did some water sports instructing from a base near where the Pilgrim’s sailed from.

    I used to take great delight in telling Americans that the Mayflower Steps could be seen in the ladies toiler of a pub across the road1 and we were glad to have seen the back of them since they were such bores when it came to things like drinking and partying.

    1. Originally of course they went from street level to water level, but subsequent development pushed the waterfront several meters distant and pub was built on top of them. Pity it was (at least when I lived locally) such a lousy pub.

  70. #71 Molly, NYC
    February 22, 2010

    Johnson described Paul’s findings as “surprising,” but they weren’t, especially.

    Big Religion tends to replace adherents’ (a) faith in their abilities to make their own futures with planning, hard work, keeping a clean nose, etc. with “que God wills to sera, sera”-type beliefs (reinforced by clergy who commonly tell them to suck it up when things go south); and (b) sense of right-and-wrong, justice, ethics, whatever-you-want-to-call-it, with hysteria about sex, with the results that (1) many of them don’t react as strongly to, e.g., theft or violence as they do to lack of conformity to often-ridiculous strictures on sexuality; and (2) their ability to deal with their own sexuality in a well-thought-out way is greatly diminished.

    –all of which lead to the sorts of problems mentioned in Paul’s study (poverty, crime, corruption, STDs and other effects of not believing it possible to be both sexual and responsible).

    I think most nonbelievers back away from religion in an utterly undramatic manner: it simply occurs to them that there’s a more logical explanation for how the universe works than can be had in church/temple/mosque. However, a sticking point for the well-indoctrinated is considering whether they’d still act decently without religious threats–as alluded to in those billboards and bus ads; but it usually unsticks when they realize how little of their behavior would change.

    (They might start enjoying sex more–with or without a partner–but even there, they’re less likely to make trouble with it; you don’t see atheists’ love-lives featured in the National Enquirer.)

    The realization that one is truly a good person, who will act well whether frying in Hell (or whatever) is a possibility or not, is one of the great pleasures of giving up religion.

  71. #72 Tray
    February 22, 2010

    Is anyone else wondering if a side of fried foreskin looks just like calamari?

  72. #73 Kamaka
    February 22, 2010

    circleh @ 62

    God: You are an IDIOT! I never sent you ANY revelations

    Yup, that’s right circleh, you have no special insights. You are only annoying. Go blogwhore somewhere else, this is not your market.

  73. #74 Kamaka
    February 22, 2010

    Tray @ 72 and the rest of you comedians.

    You wanted to be repulsive, right? Well, it worked. That is just nasty.

  74. #75 'Tis Himself, OM
    February 22, 2010

    No, foreskins aren’t at all like calamari. They’re the basis for creamed chipped beef.

  75. #76 'Tis Himself, OM
    February 22, 2010

    No, foreskins aren’t at all like calamari. They’re the basis for creamed chipped beef.

  76. #77 Shuggy
    February 23, 2010

    “It takes tremendous numbers of Christian and Jewish babies to make even a light snack.” Only parents in some rather obscure Christian sects circumcise – and Americans, for whom the circumcision memeplex has morphed into its “medical”/”traditional” allotrope.

    One way that religion might directly lead to worse behaviour is in the Catholic variant, where the cycle sin -> confession -> absolution -> sin leaves people without residual guilt to prevent them sinning again. I’m told its official that there are more Catholics in prison than any other sect, but you’d need to compare that with the levels outside – trivial in Eire, significant in Wales.

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