Pharyngula

Subversively charming

This is such a sweet story: a little boy willingly hands out cheerful notes and cookies to his neighbors, simply to make them feel good. It’s such a feel-good story that a Christian inspirational site picks up on it and shares Logan Davis’s good news.

“I wanted to do something to brighten our neighbors’ day,” the motivated youngster told the news source. “My parents have always taught me it’s good to be nice to others.”

What none of the stories seem to mention, though, is that it’s a godless family.

Bwahahaahahaa! Our plans are working: we shall conquer the world with our niceness and our habit of raising happy, well-adjusted children! And cookies and flowers!

Comments

  1. #1 Shala
    March 23, 2010

    If he’s handing out any cookies with raisins in them, then he’s actually evil!

  2. #2 Shala
    March 23, 2010

    The friends decided to perform an encore March 7 by baking and delivering nearly 100 chocolate chip and M&M cookies. This time the note read “Sweets for sweet neighbors!”

    I retract my previous statement, these children are amazing.

  3. #3 Ferris
    March 23, 2010

    Cookies really are a good way to conquer the world. If they were able to make me 6th grade class president, they can do anything really.

  4. #4 vanharris
    March 23, 2010

    Jumpin’ Jeezus; they did all this without the benefit of the bible-bogey!

  5. #5 AZ Writer (Kim Hosey)
    March 23, 2010

    Being nice just to be nice? The things kids are learning. Doesn’t he know he should be making the rounds telling everyone that they deserve eternal torment?! The blazered kid who accosted me in the Target parking lot knew it.

  6. #6 Shala
    March 23, 2010

    It’s all part of the hidden atheist communist socialist agenda to fatten up Americans and destroy your country from the inside out! They must produce the data that says they are giving out cookies out of the goodness of their heart, or else it’s a conspiracy! :)

  7. #7 Alverant
    March 23, 2010

    Isn’t it a bit deceptive of Guideposts to leave that tidbit of information out? Doesn’t that qualify as “bearing false witness”?

  8. #8 https://me.yahoo.com/a/Z3sI89Rsz8vNKvxNOZdJZCFVQ5syeH_Hv6n1mrUmxGRZCw--#0d8a2
    March 23, 2010

    Come to the godless side, we have cookies!

  9. #9 Biddy
    March 23, 2010

    Atheist children are happy and friendly? Even during Lent?! Must be hard to fathom for some. I?ll wait for the follow up story about the neighbourhood Catholic kids posting notes doors stating: ?Jesus is coming. Are you suffering enough??

  10. #10 chrstphrgthr
    March 23, 2010

    Wait a minute… jesus’ knob-slobbers might very well claim that those awful materialists were using their child to bribe them into gratitude. A good christian knows the real way to win hearts and minds is through useful, productive activities like prayer and bible study; along with time-tested products like promises of a sweet-hereafter and assurances that JC is just as hung as all the iconography implies.

  11. #11 Glen Davidson
    March 23, 2010

    See, it’s because god implanted morality within the human heart, and even forsaking god by denying his existence isn’t enough to extinguish conscience and the will to do good.

    They say the above seriously, btw.

    Just wait till he reads Pharyngula regularly. Then he’ll just be a hateful troll, like the rest of us. I know I can hardly wait.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p

  12. #12 Matt Penfold
    March 23, 2010

    I quite often make cakes and biscuits for my neighbours.

    I enjoy baking but am also a bit of a pig. By giving a way much of what I bake I do not grow so fat.

  13. #13 tsg
    March 23, 2010

    He’s obviously not a True AtheistTM. If he were, the cookies would be chocolate chip and baby.

  14. #14 https://me.yahoo.com/a/AKp_B_gSkpRDRUl5yBtgnnB0OHZG#94c23
    March 23, 2010

    So, the old bait-and-switch, huh? Make ‘em think they’re getting cookies from a God-fearing youngster, and BAM!

    Atheists can be so sneaky.

    </snark&gt

    –Raynfala

  15. #15 Shala
    March 23, 2010

    So, the old bait-and-switch, huh? Make ‘em think they’re getting cookies from a God-fearing youngster, and BAM!

    Just another Cookie For Jesus!

  16. #16 cactusren
    March 23, 2010

    Alverant @7: To be fair, they seem to have gotten this story from the newspaper article, which makes no mention of the boy’s non-belief. So they aren’t actually lying, just being incredibly presumptuous.

  17. #17 Dae
    March 23, 2010

    Cookies are truly devious little creations, it’s true. Especially the ones made with dark chocolate.

    Also:

    Key Lime Cookies

    0.5 cup butter
    1 cup white sugar
    1 egg
    1 egg yolk
    1.5 cups flour
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    0.5 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt (trust me on this one)
    0.25 cup fresh lime juice
    1.5 teaspoons grated lime zest
    confectioner’s sugar to dust

    – Cream the butter and sugar together; add egg and egg yolk and beat till smooth.
    – Add the lime juice and zest.
    – Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; stir into the wet ingredients until combined.
    – Form dough into balls and bake at 350 F for 8-10 minutes.
    – Let cool and dust with confectioner’s sugar.

    (Mostly from allrecipes.com, though my significant other and I found that using sea salt instead of iodized, and being a bit generous with it, made the cookies considerably yummier.)

  18. #18 tytalus
    March 23, 2010

    Well, if the cookies were made with fluoridated water, that just ruins it. What’s next? Ice cream, Mandrake, children’s ice cream.

  19. #19 ereador
    March 23, 2010

    This is very cool. My older son got religion when he was a teen, through his mother and being in rural Kentucky. (They had a deacon give a lengthy — ~20 minutes — prayer about sin at his graduation.) He has given up organized religion for the most part now (he’s 26). He’s smart enough that he’s going to hit the wall one of these days, even trying to invent his own religious views. My younger son at the age of 9 sees god(s) as just an interesting possibility, like faeries.

    @cactusren #16: Presumptuous is exactly right. Everything good is done by gawd, everything bad by lowly, sinful, worthless man, so they can take creditfor it because they are “in” with gawd.

  20. #20 amandamom
    March 23, 2010

    godless soccermoms ftw

  21. #21 Tree Lobsters
    March 23, 2010

    “Come to the Dark Side. We have cookies.”

  22. #22 ronsullivan
    March 23, 2010

    It works for the Girl Scouts; it can work for us!

  23. #23 akshelby
    March 23, 2010

    ereador: You give me hope that my 18 year old nephew, who has been attending a bible church for the past two years, might eventually give up religion. He even wants to attend Falwell’s University and wholeheartedly swallows creationism. He’s a sweet boy other than that.

  24. #24 https://me.yahoo.com/a/r7kAmRt814xGiYGiGP.4Dge.PCMaPdaz#eefdb
    March 23, 2010

    Nice job on the comments over at that xtian site. I’m assuming that is the work of the Pharyngulites. “Thank you for this inspiring story. It makes me proud to be an atheist. You have shown the world that it is possible for people to do good without god,” etc. We’ll see how long those stay up…

    –Nurse Ingrid (despite the yahoo gobbledygook above)

  25. #25 Matt Penfold
    March 23, 2010

    “Come to the Dark Side. We have cookies.”

    I became a Christian (for about 9 months) because of cake.

  26. #26 1webdeveloper
    March 23, 2010

    During his time as a prison guard, my guy became convinced that cookies were the reason why inmates suddenly became very Christian ;)

  27. #27 ereador
    March 23, 2010

    akshelby @23: I’m glad, and I understand. The older son went to Boyce College (undergraduate school for Billy Graham’s Southern Baptist Theological Seminary). He lasted into the second semester before dropping out and going to live with buddies in Louisville. He really got involved in all that crap because a youth minister glommed onto him at a vulnerable time. I can’t stand for those jackasses at all, as a result of that. I was only mildly against it before, trying to do the “to each his own” attitude.

  28. #28 nigelTheBold
    March 23, 2010

    ereador,

    Presumptuous is exactly right. Everything good is done by gawd, everything bad by lowly, sinful, worthless man, so they can take creditfor it because they are “in” with gawd.

    Yeah. After I graduated high school, I met this young woman. We went on several dates before she found out I didn’t believe in god. “But… but… you’re so nice!”

    Yep. We still got married. My daughter (22 in a couple of weeks) also believes in god, but I think she’s starting to rebel a little. I’m hoping she does as your older son did. You give me hope.

  29. #29 ereador
    March 23, 2010

    Give me atheist cookies any day, although i am not sure how they would differ from regular cookies.

  30. #30 wanderinweeta
    March 23, 2010

    From the first comment on Guideposts:

    “If it is true that the family is “Godless” as one comment put it, I am thrilled by this clear indicator that even if you do not believe in God, God still believes in you.”

    Because it takes God believing in you to do something friendly?

    The ultimate answer to “You can be good without God!” A sugary “But God believes in you!”

  31. #31 akshelby
    March 23, 2010

    ereador: Yup, that’s why my nephew got involved in it. They bomb you with that fake love and invite you into their community. Now he’s dating a young girl who’s father wants them to get married young because that’s what the bible says, when neither of them have even graduated from high school, yet.

    Religion ruins society.

  32. #32 Chris Hegarty
    March 23, 2010

    It’s sad; even after this really good story, I’m sure that many theists will stick to the view that atheists can’t *possibly* raise a child who does any type of good deeds. Still, it’s a good story. Great kid.

    http://hegartyblog.wordpress.com

  33. #33 runcibald
    March 23, 2010

    ereador @#29: Well I would assume all cookies are atheist cookies, unless you could actually demonstrate that a cookie has a belief in a god. And no, cookies that happen to be burned with an image that vaguely looks like jesus don’t count.

  34. #34 https://me.yahoo.com/a/2Cpr09BisvAGE8xTLScKqHa9oE8qMtok#e64de
    March 23, 2010

    Can someone please take the person to task in the GuidePost comments for saying that the kid is only good because of God working through him?

    I can’t register at the site here at work.

    Because using my yahoo ID to login doesn’t let me put in the name I want at the top of my comments,
    -Kemanorel

  35. #35 corvustristis
    March 23, 2010

    I used to leave anonymous cookies for the neighbors. I’d leave them all nicely packaged with a nice note, ring the bell, run off, then come back by in a few minutes to make sure they took them.

    One time I added a new house, a little bit further down the street, to my usual roster. When I came back around the father of the family jumped from the bushes where he had been hiding, grabbed my arm before I could say anything and shook me demanding if I was the one who left the cookies on his front step. I was all of… oh, 7?

    I vividly recall running home crying, and never delivered cookies to anyone again. Does it mean anything that I know Mr. Paranoid-and-Terrifying was very active in a local church?

  36. #36 bbgunn071679
    March 23, 2010

    I’m relatively new here, and I don’t know if it’s been mentioned before, but maybe atheist and free-thinker gatherings should include a bake sale. If we can’t get them to give up the delusion, at least we can take their money and donate it to a worthy cause. A few less dollars (Euros, pounds, guilders, etc.) for their pastors’ coffers.

  37. #37 jerthebarbarian
    March 23, 2010

    @7:

    Isn’t it a bit deceptive of Guideposts to leave that tidbit of information out? Doesn’t that qualify as “bearing false witness”?

    No. Because “bearing false witness” actually means “perjury”. It doesn’t actually mean “lying” in the general case. Most Christians don’t grasp this and you end up with weird things like Southern Baptists insisting that the Germans who lied to the Nazis to hide Anne Frank’s family in their attic were sinning when they did it.

    I think it’s because most Christians pick up their beliefs when they’re being taught as children in Sunday School, and the blanket “don’t lie” is a lot easier to explain to a class full of 5 years olds than “don’t tell lies that get someone else in trouble”. Plus if you use the more nuanced version you have to additionally explaining why lying to keep yourself out of trouble is also bad even when you don’t get someone else in trouble with it. And that would be hard, because you have to look outside of the Bible and think for yourself to figure out what THAT’S a bad idea. And then the Bible suddenly isn’t the ultimate authority for all morality and that can’t possibly be the case …

  38. #38 mazyloron
    March 23, 2010

    Aww, look…there’s a new comment that tells me that even though I don’t believe in God, God believes in me. And in fact, even if I manage to somehow do good while not believing in Him, it is only because He did good through me, and not because I’m just a good person. Nope, no credit to me whatsoever; I am incapable of doing good on my own, silly! Apparently all good acts, even those specifically not done in His name, are still His. He’s so good it’s inescapable!

    Really warms the heart.

  39. #39 KOPD
    March 23, 2010

    But of course if you do something bad, he had nothing to do with that. He can’t lose.

  40. #40 daveau
    March 23, 2010

    ereador & akshelby-

    My brother (in Texas, naturally) sends his young kids to a religious school (Lutheran or Methodist, don’t remember; can’t keep all those cults straight.) So I’ve been sending them books* for squidmas that are more culturally diverse, like native american creation stories and such. The kids love them, and I hope that they will one day question: “why these myths and not those others?”

    *yes, I’m that uncle- at least it’s not socks. I also send them kazoos ‘n stuff to drive him crazy.

  41. #41 tsg
    March 23, 2010

    I think it’s because most Christians pick up their beliefs when they’re being taught as children in Sunday School, and the blanket “don’t lie” is a lot easier to explain to a class full of 5 years olds than “don’t tell lies that get someone else in trouble”.

    Quite a bit of Christianity sounds like it was geared towards five-year-olds who became adults and just never got the grown-up version.

  42. #42 claire-chan
    March 23, 2010

    However, we likely shouldn’t sound like we’re gloating too much. We can, but it doesn’t paint the calm-nice-atheist picture very well.

  43. #43 ereador
    March 23, 2010

    You are clearly E-VILL-a, daveau.

  44. #44 lykex
    March 23, 2010

    #38
    Text book example. God can’t lose.
    The moron even claims it as “strong evidence” for god.

  45. #45 KOPD
    March 23, 2010

    They obviously don’t know what “strong” or “evidence” mean.

  46. #46 Gyeong Hwa Pak, Scholar of Shen Zhou
    March 23, 2010

    #38
    On the flip side, any good that they did is through their God. So even with their belief, they’re just as worthless as the rest of us. lol If that’s evidence of anything, it’s that they have a power-hungry malevolent God.

  47. #47 akshelby
    March 23, 2010

    daveau – I try to insert tiny questions myself. Plus, we’re on eachother’s facebook and I don’t hesitate to post nonstampcollector videos and gay rights posts. They still love the heck out of me, so he’s not totally lost.

    And atheist cookies come free of the dangerous hooks and poison that are in “christian” cookies.

  48. #48 John Marley
    March 23, 2010

    Heh. My mom reads Guideposts. I’ll have to make sure to tell her that bit they left out.

  49. #49 ereador
    March 23, 2010

    christian cookies. The phrase “lost my cookies” comes to mind, as in “I just about….” That’s the same as singing breakfast, for the Aussies. Just kidding.

    There is “strong” “evidence” that gawd does not exist: christian cookies are, in actuality, no different from atheist cookies, or Hindu cookies. (My buddhist cookies have no independent reality.)

  50. #50 daveau
    March 23, 2010

    ereador & akshelby-

    They’re 5 & 8 so no facebook. I also never visit my brother because he’s a dumbass* and lives in TX. I visited once; that was enough. Yes, I do pride myself on my evil subversiveness. He hasn’t caught on, mostly because he’s a dumbass.

    *He was a dumbass before he moved there. TX just exacerbates it.

  51. #51 Moggie
    March 23, 2010

    #49:

    christian cookies.

    Not “Christian cookies”, but “cookies of Christian bakers”.

  52. #52 akshelby
    March 23, 2010

    Christians probably think the “cookies of atheist bakers” contain evil demons of atheism, perversion, and flavored with the blood of infants.

  53. #53 alysonmiers
    March 23, 2010

    A couple of godbotherers knocked on my door this morning to hand out invitations to a “memorial service for the death of Jesus,” which I will assume is a Good Friday service at their church. I muttered “we have our own church, thanks” and shut the door in their faces, which is technically true; my parents are UCC members and I worship at the altar of creativity and smartassery.

    I would have much rather opened the door to find a kid handing out cookies and friendly notes. I don’t normally eat sugary stuff, but for sweet little boy who wants his neighbors to feel good, I’d make an exception. :)

  54. #54 KOPD
    March 23, 2010

    Christians probably think the “cookies of atheist bakers” contain evil demons of atheism, perversion, and flavored with the blood of infants.

    That’s what makes ‘em taste so good. It’s that or transfat – take your pick.

  55. #55 jafafahots
    March 23, 2010

    When I was 8 or 9, my friend and I decided to cut lilacs off my mom’s lilac bush, then go door to door handing all the neighbors their evening newspapers with a lilac. The neighbors loved it, thought it was sweet.

    My mom wasn’t so crazy about it though.

  56. #56 alareth
    March 23, 2010

    I became a Christian (for about 9 months) because of cake.

    May years ago when my youngest stepson was a preschooler, we had a friend staying with us who was a devout Catholic.

    He begged to go with “Uncle” Steve to Mass one Sunday morning and we said it was ok if Steve was willing to take him.

    Mass was a unique experience for the boy, having been raised attending a Southern Baptist church with his mother.

    Some time later that day Steve returns looking defeated and shaking his head while mouthing the words “Never again”. The boy rushes in and announces very loudly that he wants to be Catholic.

    “Why do you want to be Catholic?”, we asked. His face lit up and he says, “Because you get doughnuts when you’re done!”

    It turns out that on the way out Steve had stopped at a bakesale table and bought my stepson a doughnut and having never seen all the ceremony involved in Catholocism assumed it was part of the religion. A religion that involved doughnuts was something he could really get behind.

    There are more fun stories tied to that day but I think the doughnuts are the best one.

  57. #57 Ol'Greg
    March 23, 2010

    A year or so ago I was traveling and I bought a little chain necklace from a thrift store. I liked it a lot but I hadn’t seen a charm like that before. It had a little heart and a little anchor. Later some one told me that it was a set of Christian symbols so I looked it up and it turns out these chains were pretty popular at times but they are supposed to have a little cross for faith, an anchor for hope, and a heart for charity. I thought it was kind of nice that mine had lost the cross some where along the way. Who needs faith?

  58. #58 Credo
    March 23, 2010

    mazyloron,

    And in fact, even if I manage to somehow do good while not believing in Him, it is only because He did good through me, and not because I’m just a good person. Nope, no credit to me whatsoever; I am incapable of doing good on my own, silly!

    Even without bringing God into the picture, I would have to argue that no, we’re not capable of doing good on our own, since selfISHness is a characteristic we all seem to be born with while selfLESSness must always be taught. Even the child in the article reenforces this when he admits:

    “My parents have always taught me it’s good to be nice to others.”

    No one teaches a child to snatch a toy and yell “Mine!” — but all children have to be taught how to share. No matter your religion (or lack therefore), I think we must face the fact that people are not “naturally” good.

  59. #59 philboid
    March 23, 2010

    Jeetarded comments from Guideposts:

    If it is true that the family is “Godless” as one comment put it, I am thrilled by this clear indicator that even if you do not believe in God, God still believes in you. In this story, we have strong evidence that God can work through anyone, regardless of their professed belief. I believe God used this young man to bring good to God’s people. We are all God’s people and those who are non-believers can still be saved by God’s Grace!

  60. #60 CortxVortx
    March 23, 2010

    It’s a frakkin’ cookie!

  61. #61 timothy.green.name
    March 23, 2010

    All but one of the comments on Guideposts are from atheists, and none of them are “gloating”. The tone is perfect. There’s a little impatience shown in the way some of them replied to the insipid Godbot, but nothing nasty. Well done, guys.

    TRiG.

  62. #62 Ol'Greg
    March 23, 2010

    No one teaches a child to snatch a toy and yell “Mine!” — but all children have to be taught how to share.

    Actually not all kids do this. Some kids, for whatever reason, are just really passive and let the other kids take their things. These kids actually have to be taught to fight a little or else they will end up with any little thing you put on their bodies stolen by their peers/siblings.

  63. #63 Bill Dauphin, OM
    March 23, 2010

    Credo (@58):

    No matter your religion (or lack therefore), I think we must face the fact that people are not “naturally” good.

    There is emphatically no sense in which I feel I must face any such “fact.”

    No one teaches a child to snatch a toy and yell “Mine!” — but all children have to be taught how to share.

    And they’re taught by whom? Why, people, of course. Unless you think, as I certainly do not, that goodness (and the ability to teach same to children) is a gift from some nonexistent spook, it follows that goodness does, in fact, arise “naturally” in people, even if it is not fully developed at the moment of birth.

    I imagine there’s some intersection of anthropology, sociology, and evolutionary biology at work here that someone else with more science than I possess could explicate, but from a layman’s POV, I believe that what we call good is that behavior that is necessary for humans to live together… a natural result of the inherent interdependence of human lives.

    Amusingly, your example of the ability to share is a perfect example of what I see as “good” behavior that arises naturally from the human condition.

  64. #64 jcmartz.myopenid.com
    March 23, 2010

    Bwahahaahahaa! Our plans are working: we shall conquer the world with our niceness and our habit of raising happy, well-adjusted children! And cookies and flowers!

    Shhh…Don’t Tell Anyone. But, if those cookies are brownies I’m sold.

  65. #65 Bill Dauphin, OM
    March 23, 2010

    Dae (@17):

    JOOC, your cookie recipe refers to Key Lime in the title, but the ingredients list omits the word key when referring to the lime zest and juice… so, key limes or reg’lar limes? Enquiring minds want to know!

  66. #66 Jadehawk, OM
    March 23, 2010

    No one teaches a child to snatch a toy and yell “Mine!” — but all children have to be taught how to share. No matter your religion (or lack therefore), I think we must face the fact that people are not “naturally” good.

    dude, you do realize that children aren’t full-grown humans, right? socialization is part of the nature of humans.

  67. #67 Ol'Greg
    March 23, 2010

    I’ve never understood the fascination of “naturally” anyway.

    Most people have the capacity to want to be helpful and kind. Most people have the capacity for algebra.

    People have to be taught algebra, and they have to be taught whatever socially held values that fit them into society, but a lot of empathy and love can also arise spontaneously.

    I wouldn’t, however, say that because humans have to learn algebra that the capacity to study math does not arise naturally from the human condition. The capacity is there whether it is nurtured or not.

    As far as good. It really depends anyway. I don’t think in terms of good and bad. I think in terms of useful right now and not useful, useful long term and…. what is basically never useful. Then there’s intent, which is separate.

    Some amount of selfishness is useful and helpful.

    Baking cookies is useless but sweet and well intended. It shows a desire to be good. A sociopath could also do it because they want to be perceived as good.

    If the cookies are good, I’m happy.

    *shrugs*

  68. #68 Gyeong Hwa Pak, Scholar of Shen Zhou
    March 23, 2010

    No one teaches a child to snatch a toy and yell “Mine!” — but all children have to be taught how to share. No matter your religion (or lack therefore), I think we must face the fact that people are not “naturally” good.

    Wrong. Humans, like many animals, have sharing wired into our instinct.

  69. #69 IaMoL
    March 23, 2010

    …I would have to argue that no, we’re not capable of doing good on our own, since selfISHness is a characteristic we all seem to be born with while selfLESSness must always be taught.

    You didn’t waste money on a Behavioral Science Degree, I see. Instead of truthiness, why don’t you actually research what you’re talking about rather than give your personal ideology/cognitive bias/limited experience as empirical fact. Who knows, you may find out you’re an example of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

  70. #70 MadScientist
    March 23, 2010

    Beware the candyman – or his sidekick cookieboy! It’s sounds so lovely until you discover they hand out apples with razor blades in them on Halloweeen – I know because I saw Teller bite into one about 20 years ago.

  71. #71 Bill Dauphin, OM
    March 23, 2010

    Ol’ Greg (@67):

    I’ve never understood the fascination of “naturally” anyway.

    Yah, I’ve always thought the distinction between natural and artificial was bogus and not useful; OTOH, the distinction between natural and supernatural (which I take Credo @58 to be arguing for, albeit somewhat sneakily) is vital: Many things about humans are not natural, in the sense that they’re things that have been invented or need to be taught… but so what? OTOH, nothing about humans is not natural, if by that term you mean arising from nature, and not bestowed by some supernatural force or being.

    So sharing, for instance, may or may not be natural, in the former sense, but in any case, it is certainly not a supernatural gift from any god, as I believe Credo meant to imply.

    PS: I know I promised you an e-mail. I haven’t forgotten; I’m just a lousy correspondent. Maybe later tonight.

  72. #72 http://www.clarkcox.com/blog/
    March 23, 2010

    It looks like they’ve taken the story down: The only thing I see when going there is:

    “You are not authorized to access this page”

  73. #73 Killua
    March 23, 2010

    I’ve also got the “You are not authorized to access this page” message. It appears that if Christians do good things they’re happy to spread the word that “look, little good christian boys do good things”, but as soon as they realize the boy isn’t Christian they pretend it never happened.

    Honestly this behavior is a bit disgusting. If they’re going to post it as an example of a good deed, the least they should do is LEAVE IT ON THEIR WEBSITE, maybe with a caveat “this boy isn’t Christian, but it shows people of all faiths can be kind”. Hell, if they want to be particularly disgusting, put a Christian spin on it and say “god has given everyone, even non-Christians, the capacity for good”. But no, instead they pretend it never happened.

    I say we write them in as a mass of godless heathens and petition them to replace the article. It’s the only honest thing for them to do. (I believe all of us here realize that everyone, Christian or not, has the capacity for doing good. It’s sites like that which cloud that message and attempt to make it seem like atheists can never do anything right)

  74. #74 cory.albrecht.name
    March 23, 2010

    They’ve taken the page down at Guideposts. Anybody know how long ago that happened and have a cache of it?

  75. #75 Paul
    March 23, 2010
  76. #76 cory.albrecht.name
    March 23, 2010

    Found a cache of the article on Google. All comments were polite, no nasty language.

  77. #77 mike.davis.50322
    March 23, 2010

    Hello everyone,

    Mike Davis here, Logan’s (proud) Dad. Just want to say ‘thank you’ to all of you (and especially PZ) for your kind words about my son. By the way, here is a closeup of the ‘sunshine note’ that he gave to all of our neighbors:

    http://twitter.com/mikedavis50322/status/10949844390

  78. #78 Killua
    March 23, 2010

    Mike that’s adorable! I would say you should be proud of your son, but clearly you are, for very good reason…

    It does remind me though, I wish I knew how to bake when I was his age. I never really started cooking until this year, it’s remarkably fun. I’ve got a pie I wanna make today.

  79. #79 truthspeaker
    March 23, 2010

    @Bill Dauphin in #71:

    Love and Rockets summed this concept up beautifully:

    You cannot go against nature
    because when you do
    go against nature
    that’s part of nature too

  80. #80 mike.davis.50322
    March 23, 2010

    Thanks, Killua. Well, he’s always loved helping his Mom bake. He had her help baking the cookies, but the whole thing was his idea.

    He does this kind of thing all the time. We’ve done our best to teach him that you do the right thing simply because it IS right, not for a reward.

    One of my favorite shows is ANGEL (the BUFFY spin-off). In one episode, Angel has an epiphany. He tells a friend that he has realized that in the long run, nothing at all matters; and that being the case, if nothing at all matters, then all that matters is what we do. The smallest act of kindness can be the greatest thing in the world.

    A good philosophy to live by.

  81. #81 truthspeaker
    March 23, 2010

    Mike, I remember that line from Angel and thought it was a great response to the idea that atheism inevitably leads to nihilism.

    It’s no cooincidence that Joss Whedon is an atheist.

  82. #82 Killua
    March 23, 2010

    That is a great philosophy, few things compare to making others around you happy. Plus, studies have shown, the more kind people are, the happier people tend to be. There was that study on generosity not too long ago
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/319/5870/1687?ijkey=r33pt45ZU39aU&keytype=ref&siteid=sci

    It seems fairly universal, doing good is an important function for humanity, and of course this is completely independent of religion.

  83. #83 Shala
    March 23, 2010

    Wow Mike, you seem like a really amazing person.

    Good taste in television programs too might I add.

  84. #84 Ol'Greg
    March 23, 2010

    Mike you sound awesome!

  85. #85 Ol'Greg
    March 23, 2010

    Yes I was kind of thinking that after I made the comment above that strengthening the sense of community is probably one of the most important social goods.

    I mean, I don’t even know my neighbors :/

  86. #86 mike.davis.50322
    March 23, 2010

    um… wow, guys. Thanks for all the kudos. I better start watching my hat size. ;)

    Seriously, though, thanks. Obviously I need to spend more time here, I’ve come by from time to time but I think only commented once before.

    Anyway, here’s the quote, for those who are interested. And I didn’t know Whedon was an atheist, but given this speech, it doesn’t surprise me!

    “Well, I guess I kind of worked it out. If there is no great glorious end to all this, if nothing we do matters, then all that matters is what we do. Because that’s all there is. What we do, now, today. I fought for so long. For redemption, for a reward, finally just to beat the other guy, but… I never got it. And now… All I want to do is help. I want to help because I don’t think people should suffer, as they do. Because, if there is no bigger meaning, then the smallest act of kindness is the greatest thing in the world.” – ANGEL, ‘Epiphany’

  87. #87 Kagato
    March 23, 2010

    No one teaches a child to snatch a toy and yell “Mine!” — but all children have to be taught how to share. No matter your religion (or lack therefore), I think we must face the fact that people are not “naturally” good.

    No one teaches a baby to poop and pee* — but all children have to be taught to eat food. I think we must face the fact that people do not “naturally” eat.

    * I am of course talking about the biological process, not using the potty or toilet.
    I am currently well aware just how much teaching goes into that skill set.

  88. #88 Killua
    March 23, 2010

    I don’t believe we need to face the fact people are not “naturally” good.
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v450/n7169/abs/nature06288.html

    It seems rather likely that people are naturally good. Society also does seem to function remarkably well. Yes, there are lots and lots of horrible people out there, but substantially more good people out there. People become happier when they are generous, humans are born to naturally prefer and emulate good, humans are “designed” to function well in a society, and societies where people behave morally will function better than one that doesn’t.

  89. #89 mazyloron
    March 23, 2010

    @Credo #58

    I think others have taken your post apart rather handily, but allow me to add my two cents.

    First off, I guess I didn’t include my sarcasm font, so I hope it was obvious I was mocking the comment from Guideposts that said that all credit for good deeds, even those of the godless, is due to god. Because I was mocking it. Because it was insipid drivel, and insulting not only to the intelligence of everyone who reads it, but to the very humanity of everyone who reads it. We, as a species, are perfectly capable of doing good on our own, without ascribing the credit for it to some fictional genie.

    Even without bringing God into the picture, I would have to argue

    You “have to argue”, hmm? Why, does the spirit of Christ compel you, or something?

    that no, we’re not capable of doing good on our own, since selfISHness is a characteristic we all seem to be born with while selfLESSness must always be taught.

    Hmm. Really? Taught to us by who? God? Or other people?

    Even the child in the article reenforces this when he admits:
    “My parents have always taught me it’s good to be nice to others.”

    So, goodness only counts if we come to it spontaneously, without any influence from the outside? That seems silly.

    No one teaches a child to snatch a toy and yell “Mine!”

    …but all children don’t do this, do they? Just some of them.

    – but all children have to be taught how to share.

    Again, wo teaches them, god? Or just other humans, who developed a sense of fairness, altruism and “goodness” on their own, collectively, without aid from a supernatural being?

    No matter your religion (or lack therefore)[ed. "thereof"], I think we must face the fact that people are not “naturally” good.

    No, we musn’t. And, it’s not a fact. Some people are bad, some people are good, some people learn to change based on their interaction with others. Most are a mix of the two, and a lot of gray in between, and learn to change some things about themselves based on interaction with other people. At no point does jeebus wave his magic wand and teach any of us to be good. Even when someone learns to be good through selective cherry-picking of the Bible (or Koran, or whatever floats your boat), they’re learning to be good from another human, not from a supernatural force.

  90. #90 mazyloron
    March 23, 2010

    Ugh, sorry about the spacing in my previous comment, it really did look more legible in the preview.

  91. #91 God
    March 23, 2010

    Such horrible parents, using an innocent child to spread the idea that you can be good without Me.

  92. #92 Lowell
    March 23, 2010

    If it is true that the family is “Godless” as one comment put it, I am thrilled by this clear indicator that even if you do not believe in God, God still believes in you.

    Oh, how cute! He’s inching his way towards Argument for the Existence of God #41:

    ARGUMENT FROM EMOTIONAL BLACKMAIL
    (1) God loves you.
    (2) How could you be so heartless to not believe in him?
    (3) Therefore, God exists.

    They’re all there: http://www.godlessgeeks.com/LINKS/GodProof.htm

  93. #93 https://me.yahoo.com/a/8QrNVGN8w4F0V4pUBCZEG101fw--#1b1a0
    March 23, 2010

    I wonder what will happen to this page?

    Post repeated here, in case it goes away:

    I was so sad to see that the article at http://www.guideposts.com/story/neighborhood-boy-spreads-sunshine was removed. I can only assume that it was because some members of the Atheist community discovered that the little boy’s father gloated of his “Godlessness”.

    Comments by the Atheists themselves seemed to be generally respectful, if misguided. I don’t see that the poor little boy’s unbelieving father in any way detracts from the story of his caring nature. In fact, it is perhaps an even greater testament to the power of His Love.

    Is faith so weak that we must hide from the fact that the child of an unbeliever can behave in in an inspirational way? My day, for one, way brightened, and my spirit lifted by the actions of that sweet child.

  94. #94 https://me.yahoo.com/a/8QrNVGN8w4F0V4pUBCZEG101fw--#1b1a0
    March 23, 2010

    Apparently I missed the quotes around the URL: http://www.guideposts.com/forum/fear-faithless

  95. #95 mazyloron
    March 23, 2010

    Nice find!

    I want to say unpleasant, irreverent and generally blasphemous things in the comments on that page. But I must go to bed. Fortunately, I suspect some others will step up and comment.

    I hope so, and I hope that page is not also taken down.

  96. #96 Owlmirror
    March 23, 2010

    No one teaches a child to snatch a toy and yell “Mine!” — but all children have to be taught how to share. No matter your religion (or lack therefore), I think we must face the fact that people are not “naturally” good.

    Except that this is not a fact. Or at least, not a complete fact.

    Here is a video from the documentary “The Human Spark”:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RK8rKKp-vP0

    It depicts small children spontaneously helping out when something is out of reach.

    It also depicts young chimpanzees spontaneously helping out when something is out of reach.

    Without negating the existence of innate human (or primate) selfishness, there is empirical evidence that humans (and other primates) also have an innate generosity/helpfulness/willingness to co-operate.

    Clearly, the question of whether selfishness or generosity dominates in an individual person depends on the various contingent factors that give rise to personality.

  97. #97 John Morales
    March 24, 2010

    Owlmirror,

    Clearly, the question of whether selfishness or generosity dominates in an individual person depends on the various contingent factors that give rise to personality.

    Clearly.

    I suggest that operant conditioning is not an insignificant factor, either.

    Not just nature, but nurture.

  98. #98 Owlmirror
    March 24, 2010

    Not just nature, but nurture.

    Sure. “Contingent factors” is, I hope, a sufficiently broad term to encompass that.

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