I’m not sure I want to be called an atheist anymore

September 21, 2008 at 11:48 pm 113 comments

I change my mind a lot. For most of my life I have been on an involuntary spiritual journey that has led me into and out of Christianity, through explorations of Buddhism, through agnosticism and into atheism. And now I am not sure where I am heading.

This year I’ve decided that I’m not sure I want to be called an atheist anymore, even though I don’t believe in god(s). I know according to the dictionary that I am an atheist, but I’ve become disillusioned with the atheist movement, which largely seems to thrive on making fun of believers and ignoring the desire for spiritual fulfillment that most people feel.

Although I have some Christian friends in America, over the past years, I have found myself viewing all religious people as some sort of monolithic negative stereotype, hell bent on controlling everything and everyone, and teetering on the edge of insanity. I spent the summer in Lithuania where I met people from all over the world, I found that I’d made new friends who were Catholic, Orthodox, Evangelical, Buddhist, agnostic, and “just spiritual.” Although we didn’t talk very much about religion, we engaged in meaningful and interesting conversations about many different topics. I found myself rethinking the stereotypes I’d come to accept, and wanting to engage more fully with people of differing backgrounds and philosophies. I want to be open to see where my own spiritual journey will take me next, and I am not willing to be pegged down by labels or stereotypes, even those of my own invention.

I’ve recently read pieces by two other women authors who are in places that I admire. I’d like to share a few of their words with you.

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, aka The Yarn Harlot, is a well known knitting author who has outed herself as an atheist who can appreciate religion and spirituality.

I attended St. Paul’s Cathedral for the Sung Eucharist. Many of you will know that I often say that I am a godless heathen, which is to mean that I do not keep with any particular church, and that I am (gasp) an atheist. This doesn’t mean, however, that I don’t respect or enjoy religion in general, and as a matter of fact, there is a very great deal I find my personal moral code has in common with much of organized faith, particularly when it comes to the basic rules that almost all faiths…. and all good people, have in common. (It is the interpretation of those rules that defeats me. Stuff like “Thou shalt not kill” or “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”being interpreted as “Thou shalt not kill unless you happen to think that the other person isn’t really a person because of your own rules” or ” do unto others as you would have them do unto you unless you think that simply being a human isn’t a good enough reason to receive human rights” is a problem for me. I would have been invited to no parties at all during the Crusades.)

I loved the sermon (topic involved how being a good Christian must include being an environmentalist, should you respect the work of God at all) and was profoundly moved by almost all of the sentiment. When I was offered a sign of peace, and made that same sign to others, and the organ swelled and the choir sang, I was filled with an enormous feeling… A respect for the monumental force that is human faith. Although I don’t place my faith in a supreme being whom I believe to be sentient, I am faithful. I have faith in the goodness of people. Faith in the love I have for my friends and family, faith in the love they have for me. I have faith that people will almost always do the right thing, especially if they are not hungry or poor or homeless, or worried about becoming hungry or poor or homeless. I have faith that most poor human behaviour is driven by ignorance, not cruelty. I have a mountain of faith, and that was what I had in common with everyone else in that church. Faith. Different sorts of it, but faith nonetheless, and it was a very human and binding experience.

Sharman Apt Russell, another author I admire, has written the new book Standing in the Light: My Life as Pantheist. This book, which I’ve only begun to read, is giving me a glimpse into another, less conventional way, to explore spirituality — without superstition.

I am fifty-one years old, sliding toward death, and I don’t much like myself. I have failed at so many things–not the very best writer, not the very best wife or friend, not even the very best parent. I don’t much like the world either, which is too full of suffering and disease and war, as the world has always been. I am acutely aware of how my country has betrayed itself, refusing once again to fulfill its potential, to be wise and strong. I am acutely aware of how humanity has betrayed itself, poisoning the earth, heedless of the future we create for our children. As a Quaker, I have lost my sense of the Light. I dislike town. I don’t feel special. I am surrounded by miracles–the porch step, the blue sky, black ravens croaking and gurgling–only I don’t see the connection. What do they have to do with me?

Still, I feel hopeful. My husband and I have a house in the Gila Villey and a new view of mountains. Living in nature will restore me. This time, I will pay more attention. This time I will take along some friends, books I haven’t read for many years, some things I have forgotten. I will take along my science, my neglected pantheism, my neglected Quakerism. If I know anything, I know that I do not want to live in a universe devoid of community, mystery, and awe. I do not want to be alone in my brain, my timid and lazy personality, unconnected to the rest of the world. I cast my lot with Spinoza, Thoreau, and Einstein. I want to live every minute in a holy universe, so pleased and grateful to be part of this existence.

Of pantheism, I will ask the questions we must ask of any religion: How can I lead a better and more joyful life? How can I come to terms with my death and suffering? How should we live as humans on the earth? Ho can we be at home here?

These are the same questions we must ask of ourselves, those of us without religion. Desire, it seems, is the beginning of every journey. Whether we love or hate the current state of the world and of ourselves, if we can find the desire to grow and search, then — as they say in Lithuania — viskas bus gerai, everything will be all right. My own journey may be just beginning.

- writerdd

Cross posted on The Atheist’s Way.

Entry filed under: writerdd. Tags: , , , , .

Constructing God How some Christian commentors have helped…to solidify my atheism

113 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jamie G.  |  September 22, 2008 at 1:34 am

    I’ve been thinking about this alot as well. I am also studying about Buddhism. If I could be called a Buddhist, it would be an atheistic, naturalistic, rationalistic, pragmatic, progressive Buddhist.

    If you are into podcasts and are still looking at Buddhism, check out the Bad Buddhist Radio site as well as the podcast on iTunes. Very cool program.

  • 2. Quester  |  September 22, 2008 at 1:37 am

    Bravo, WriterDD.

    I have resisted accepting the term atheist for myself. Sure, it may be true, but it feels silly, like calling myself an afairyist or describing my hair colour as unbald. Sure, it says something about me, but not really anything useful.

    Accepting anti-theistic stereotypes as true appears even more ridiculous to me. Stepping back and acknowledging that I could find no evidence for a god in the world did not magically make me more rational, logical, intelligent or skeptical than I had been an instant before. I just see certain things from a different angle than I had. So, how can I label everyone who agreed with me last year as inferior in any way to everyone who agrees with me this year. Balderdash. There’s always more to learn and perspectives yet to be found.

    I’ve attended a few Universalist services, a few Quaker services and occasionally attend the same sorts of church services I did last year. So far, the latter depress me as I grieve my loss of the relationship I thought I had with God, but that may change. I know there is beauty and inspiration there.

    This community has helped me, and I stick around hoping to help others, and because there are few places I can speak to people about religious issues from an atheistic viewpoint. I do still enjoy discussing religion and faith; it has been a significant part of my life for most of it. But I see myself making bitter comments here, sometimes, and I don’t like it. I also have no interest in joining a larger atheistic community of any sort.

    I may end up accepting the label of atheist, or humanist, or pantheist, or panentheist, or apatheist, or whatever becomes accurate as I go on from here. But I have no desire to stand against faith or religion, and I’d rather find something I stand for than define myself by who I am not.

  • 3. The Apostate  |  September 22, 2008 at 2:05 am

    writerdd,
    our beliefs are one thing – what we do and say with them is another. I don’t have time to reply, but I would like to hear your thoughts on this thread over at the d-C community site.

  • 4. silentj  |  September 22, 2008 at 6:25 am

    I tend to be suspect of the atheist label too. Unlike calling yourself Methodist, Catholic, or Buddhist, atheism says nothing of your world view, other than you don’t believe in God. And, I agree that many atheists are pretty rude and condescending. (Although, you get a little uptight after being told so many times that you are like a child or blind to the truth.)

    Ultimately, I think a lot of people are still on a spiritual quest when they become atheists. However, they’re looking for something that seems real and makes some sense, which traditional religion does not offer.

  • 5. Sandy  |  September 22, 2008 at 9:46 am

    I understand where you are coming from.. You also have to understand that there are going to be people like that no matter what path you take. If you take a religious path there are going to be those that demonize the non-religious just like there are non-believers that demonize the religious.

    Not everyone does this on either side. There are just as many believers that are willing to allow others their beliefs as there are non-believers that will allow believers to see what they want.

    Try not to get too disheartened…

  • 6. VorJack  |  September 22, 2008 at 10:00 am

    I admit to being confused by some of this. I tend to think there’s a lot of value in the atheist label. Somebody should be there to provide a counter-point to the majority view of theism. Somebody should be there to remind people that faith and knowledge are not the same thing, and that there is value in the Enlightenment ideal of reason. To do otherwise is to do a disservice to our society, and I find these things easiest while wearing the atheist label.

    But I’m not confined to that label. I can be an atheist, a humanist, and an Episcopalian. I can accept the emotional benefits of attending service with it’s sacred language and community, then turn around and argue as an atheist against sectarian encroachment in schools.

    I say, just be pragmatic. Just because you can’t drive a screw with a hammer doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with the hammer. Put it down, you may need it again later. If one label isn’t working for you, don’t blame the label. No one is insisting that you stick to one label anymore than one tool.

  • 7. The Barefoot Bum  |  September 22, 2008 at 10:38 am

    This year I’ve decided that I’m not sure I want to be called an atheist anymore

    Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.

  • 8. LeoPardus  |  September 22, 2008 at 10:43 am

    Thanks for this article. One of the thing that bothers be a lot in the atheist/agnostic community is the “anti-theist” perspective. Anti-theists tend to be so vociferously against religion that they grab a lot of the spotlight. As a result, should you tell any theist that you’re an atheist, they bristle defensively because they expect to be attacked.

    Like you I don’t want the atheist label. It isn’t really useful and it carries a lot of baggage due to a vocal, and often vitriolic, minority.

    Oh, and like you, I love the beauty of some religious services. Why would I declare myself the enemy of that?

  • 9. VorJack  |  September 22, 2008 at 10:55 am

    LeoPardus – “Like you I don’t want the atheist label. It isn’t really useful and it carries a lot of baggage due to a vocal, and often vitriolic, minority.”

    Is that it, then? Is it simply because there is a reactionary element to the atheist community?

    Do you feel that they have defined what is means to be an atheist?

    Is it not worth the effort to claim it back?

  • 10. Lorena  |  September 22, 2008 at 11:00 am

    I am definitely in the group of people who refuse the atheist label for non-theist reasons.

    What I don’t like about the label is its extremism. Why do I have to go all the way from being a fundy religious to hardcore atheist who won’t believe anything unless science has proven it?

    I am more into having my own belief system about anything I want, and not having to defend those beliefs or push them on anyone. In others words, what I believe about the universe is mine and private. After all, there is more to my existence that there being a god or not.

  • 11. writerdd  |  September 22, 2008 at 11:01 am

    Is it not worth the effort to claim it back?

    No. For me, not really. I am too busy and I have too many other things that are much more important to me.

    I actually wrote about this on my personal blog too (http://www.sheeptoshawl.com/blog), and basically it’s the skeptic movement that I am more disillusioned with than the atheist movement, except where the two overlap. I found that when I was recently out of the country and meeting a lot of new people, I was embarrassed that they might discover that I write for Skepchick. Wow. I’ve been doing something for a few years and now it embarrasses me? Time to make a change!

    I really like Nica Lalli’s idea of just saying “nothing” when people ask me what religion I am. That’s what I’ve always said, even in the times I felt most closely aligned with the atheist movement (and I still have the scarlet A on my blog, BTW, which does not embarrass me in the least). I find that saying “nothing” opens the door for discussion, whereas saying “atheist” often closes the door and puts the person I’m talking to into a defensive mode, as someone mentioned above.

    Donna

  • 12. LeoPardus  |  September 22, 2008 at 11:19 am

    VorJack:

    Is that it, then? Is it simply because there is a reactionary element to the atheist community?

    From the sentence you copied right before this response (and echoing what others said), “It isn’t really useful”. It just doesn’t convey sufficient info. The negatives just make it even more useless.

    Do you feel that they have defined what is means to be an atheist?

    No. Webster beat them to it.

    Is it not worth the effort to claim it back?

    No. I’m not going to try to reclaim the meaning of the word “gay” either.

  • 13. john t.  |  September 22, 2008 at 11:21 am

    LeoPardus – “Like you I don’t want the atheist label. It isn’t really useful and it carries a lot of baggage due to a vocal, and often vitriolic, minority.”

    Interesting that you say that Leo, some days you seem to be that minority ;)

  • 14. SnugglyBuffalo  |  September 22, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    Just because you can’t drive a screw with a hammer doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with the hammer.

    Remember, any tool can be the right tool.
    – Red Green

    In all seriousness, though, I’ve never really seen atheism as a label so much as a descriptor (though I know that’s not how it works for practical purposes). As for labels, I really prefer skeptic and freethinker. Should I ever become disillusioned with the skeptic movement, I suppose I might drop that label, but whatever the case I would go for a label that emphasizes that I approach the world with rationality and reason. No amount of negative stereotyping of labels for such a worldview will change that for me.

    And to be fair, the “desire for spiritual fulfillment that most people feel” is very foreign to me. I’ve never really had much of a desire for that, even as a Christian; I went along with it because I was told it was the truth, not because I felt some innate need for it. I realize that it seems like most people need some kind of spirituality, but it’s not something I can meaningfully relate to. I wonder if those who ignore this desire in others aren’t in the same position, such that they ignore it because they don’t understand it and frankly aren’t likely to be capable of really understanding it. It’s certainly no excuse either way, though.

  • 15. Quester  |  September 22, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    Is that it, then? Is it simply because there is a reactionary element to the atheist community?

    No. In fact, for me, it has almost nothing to do with that.

    Before I admitted to myself that I no longer believed in God, I had watched the following video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ok2oJgsGR6c (relevant point starts at 6:22). There was a lot of criticism Sam Harris got for these words, but they made sense to me then; they makes sense to me now. I’ve never been able to get excited about any atheism movement.

  • 16. orDover  |  September 22, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    Snuggly,
    And to be fair, the “desire for spiritual fulfillment that most people feel” is very foreign to me. I’ve never really had much of a desire for that, even as a Christian; I went along with it because I was told it was the truth, not because I felt some innate need for it.

    I feel the same way. I’m really happy with my life as an atheist, and I don’t feel like I’m missing out on something. Nontheistic spirituality is something that has been talked about a lot lately. Everyone seems to be needing it. I don’t know. I feel subhuman for saying this, but what I have is enough: my love for my husband, the companionship of a certain purring ball of fluff, and the knowledge of my insignificant role in the vast universe. That’s as far as I go into the spiritual realm.

  • 17. orDover  |  September 22, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    This post and the comments has brought something to my attention: the things that atheists and agnostics value the most in religion is the things that most Christians find superfluous. The communal and historically traditional aspects of religion is what nonbelievers like, but those are the same things that Christians claim are unequivocally unimportant. How many times to we have Christians saying that they dislike “organized religion,” that all they believe is important is a personal relationship with god, not the liturgy, the songs, the Sunday services. In fact, they often say that focusing on the “church” aspects of faith is what caused us to fall away in the first place. They’re always saying, “I’m not a Christian. I don’t like that label. I don’t like the church. I’m just a follower of Jesus.” It’s a shame that they can’t recognize the few redeeming qualities that their faith does posses.

  • 18. PiedType  |  September 22, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    From the time I was old enough to think for myself, I’ve known I didn’t believe in a god. But I’ve never embraced the label “atheist” or any of the other options, for some of the same reasons you stated. Labels come with definitons and stereotypes, and I’ve never found one that seemed a comfortable fit. Nor have I felt it urgent to label for others and defend to others what is a null set for me.

  • 19. VorJack  |  September 22, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    orDover – “This post and the comments has brought something to my attention: the things that atheists and agnostics value the most in religion is the things that most Christians find superfluous.”

    Thank you for catching that. I think you’re exactly right. I join in with the Snuggly One in just not getting spirituality. I had thought for a while that the word was just used to mean “non-physical,” and that the emotional appeal of community, the elevation of the religious service and the connection to ancient tradition counted as spiritual. But lately I’ve gotten blank looks from theists when I talk about that. Now I have to confess that I just don’t know what the word is supposed to mean.

  • 20. orDover  |  September 22, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    Now I have to confess that I just don’t know what the word is supposed to mean.

    I don’t think I do either.

  • 21. LeoPardus  |  September 22, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    Interesting that you say that Leo, some days you seem to be that minority.

    LOL! :D

    Alas too much truth lies in that. I am inclined to engage argument with .. shall we say… great vigor. (How diplomatic of me.) And I admit to not sparing the acid with those who condescend and spew pat answers.

    I’m going to just plead “Guilty yer honor.”

  • 22. tana  |  September 22, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    I got excited when I read you quoting The Yarn Harlot. I don’t read her blog but I like her books and her overall, general persona. It is not surprising to me that she wrote what you quoted above. And it makes a lot of sense.

    It’s the need to define everything that really screws us up, I think. We have to name every thing, every emotion, ever action, every person. We (not all of us, but certainly the most of us) have this insatiable need to categorize. It’s extremely limiting of others and of ourselves. And it’s too bad.

    I can relate to your feeling of being on an “involuntary spiritual journey.” I think it’s going to be lifelong and I’ve finally just settled into it and accepted it. Some would be troubled by how quickly and easily the sand beneath my feet shift, but I’m try really hard to just take one wave at a time.

  • 23. john t.  |  September 22, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    Leo

    “Alas too much truth lies in that. I am inclined to engage argument with .. shall we say… great vigor.”

    Not sure which of my relatives said this of me too, but I think it was along the lines of Too Much Piss and Vinegar :)

  • 24. arensb  |  September 22, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    This year I’ve decided that I’m not sure I want to be called an atheist anymore, even though I don’t believe in god(s).

    One thing that pisses me off about moderate theists is that they so rarely stand up to the extremists and say “Look, you don’t speak for me. We may both be Christians/Muslims/whatever, but you’re wrong about XYZ, so don’t pretend like you represent all of us.”

    Sounds like you’re doing what they don’t. Good on ya.

  • 25. Prodigal Daughter  |  September 22, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    I am so glad you wrote this, I had been thinking along the same lines. I like the responses you got here from Quester, Leo, Lorena, orDover and others. I was going to say something similar but they said it first (and articulated it much better than I probably could have).

    When I was a Christian I refused to go by that label even though by definition I believed all the right things to qualify myself as a Christian. BUT – the stereotype of a conservative, fundie, evangelical Christian was not anything I wanted to be associated with.

    I feel same about the label “atheist”. Sadly I’ve found the stereotype to be true in many places I’ve visited online and in two out of the three atheists I’ve met in person (I know that’s not a lot). I am uncomfortable with the cynicism, making fun of Jesus and Christians, being demeaning and mean. I don’t want to be identified that way because its not me. “Live and Let Live” may sound trite but its been one of my mottos since childhood.

    Its ironic to me that many atheists spend so much time and energy belittling people with spiritual beliefs. If they believe themselves to be superior fine, but try not to be so obviously arrogant about it, it gives atheism a bad name (the whole point of your post).

    For example – the comment “don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out” is a good example.

    I know what I believe, I don’t like or dislike anyone else based on their beliefs, I look at a person’s character and values.

    Thanks for a great post.

  • 26. VorJack  |  September 22, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    “For example – the comment “don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out” is a good example.”

    Meh. For Barefoot Bum, this passes as a compliment. Usually he does want the door to hit your ass.

  • 27. silentj  |  September 22, 2008 at 6:44 pm

    The term atheism seems to have been brought into the lexicon with a negative connotation, more an indictment than a statement of belief. Those connotations still persist today, leading to many of us rebuffing the term.

    However, VorJack makes a great point: there is need for a counter-point, especially in terms of pushing the idea that we can have morality and working politics without basing decisions on faith or divine authority. Vorjack made me wonder if I didn’t like the term because of simply the connotations or because proclaiming atheism pushes me into the debate. I cannot say I’m an atheist and quietly hide behind the curtain. Rather, the confession of atheism often demands an element of confrontation, disputes that many of us don’t want to HAVE to fight. It’s much easier to live with our neighbors, family, and coworkers by simply proclaiming some abstract notion of what we are rather than say we are the anti-thesis of what they are, which is what they often believe. Consider the fact that so many think unfavorably of atheists and how many would not vote for a candidate because he or she was atheist. (http://atheism.about.com/od/atheistbigotryprejudice/a/AtheistSurveys.htm)

    So, I guess my question is as much to myself as to others: is not wanting to be called an atheist merely a problem of connotation and naming, or is it the lack of wanting to engage in debate in the public sphere, even if in friendly terms.

    On another note, how many people are open about their atheism with others and to what degree to you express it?

  • 28. writerdd  |  September 22, 2008 at 6:52 pm

    However, VorJack makes a great point: there is need for a counter-point, especially in terms of pushing the idea that we can have morality and working politics without basing decisions on faith or divine authority.

    Definitely. And I do still call myself an atheist, but I don’t wear a logo on my shirt or anything. I post all the time, even on my knitting blog, about not believing in god and about spirituality and morality and stuff. But I don’t use the A word all the time.

    I do like Sam Harris’s discussion of this (see link in an earlier comment).

  • 29. orDover  |  September 22, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    So, I guess my question is as much to myself as to others: is not wanting to be called an atheist merely a problem of connotation and naming, or is it the lack of wanting to engage in debate in the public sphere, even if in friendly terms.

    I certainly feel a little bit like that. I don’t want to have to live my life always debating my viewpoint. Atheism isn’t something people just accept, or respect, as a view point. The few times that I’ve told someone I’m an atheist I’ve been answered with, “Why?” Does anyone ever ask a religious person why they hold their specific beliefs just after they’ve met them? No. Religious belief is normalized–no one questions it.

    Another reason I tend to keep my atheist beliefs on the down-low is because, and honestly this makes me feel silly to admit, I’m afraid I’ll offend someone.

    In the original post writerdd mentions that she doesn’t like the way the atheist community at large isn’t respectful of positions of faith. I’m so afraid of that atheistic stereotype that I try to hide my real beliefs. I’m afraid that someone will hear I’m an atheist and automatically think that I find them and their beliefs stupid. While I might find religious belief irrational, I certainly would never judge a person’s intelligence or personality based on their belief.

    It isn’t even that I’m afraid of what religious people will think of me (ie I’m a godless, hell-bound heathen who delights in sin), but I’m afraid of what religious people think I think of them! Gah!

  • 30. SnugglyBuffalo  |  September 22, 2008 at 7:12 pm

    Now I have to confess that I just don’t know what the word is supposed to mean.

    Spirituality is such an ambiguous term to begin with, too.

    I wonder what it is about the handful of us that don’t experience this need? Why don’t I feel a need for spirituality when so many others do?

  • 31. the6thkidinthehall  |  September 22, 2008 at 7:46 pm

    I empathize, and I like the way you discuss this as a product of your travels. Like, the way you thought about both religion and non-religion (atheism) after you felt the weight of your cultural baggage.

    That, by the way, is how I prefer to think of atheism. As non-religion. Atheism shouldn’t exclude spirituality. But it should exclude dogma and doctrine.

    IMHO, atheism, like religion itself, has taken on unique meanings in the American mainstream. It has become a way of dividing the so-called moral from the amoral or immoral. I see this as a remnant of the Cold War era — a time that witnessed the rise of the Religious Right and the insidiously divisive “iron curtain.” The imposed binary of religion-atheism permitted the right wing to co-opt Jesus himself. When, as we all know, Jesus was a totally loving left-wing dude!

  • 32. writerdd  |  September 22, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    the6thkidinthehall, being in Eastern Europe makes you look at religion and atheism with a different perspective. Atheism is very much still associated with the Soviet Union over there but not in the same way you are talking about with the Cold War in the US. It’s quite complicated and I’m not qualified to discuss. I don’t even really know how to think about this. But it definitely got me to take look at my own beliefs from a different angle.

  • 33. silentj  |  September 22, 2008 at 8:27 pm

    the6thkidinthehall,

    If atheism as immoral is now distinctly American, that was not the case historically. As far back as the Greeks, atheism was associated with immoral people. I believe the tradition continues through much of the United Kingdom through the last millennium, though I have no idea how the word was perceived in continental Europe.

  • 34. VorJack  |  September 22, 2008 at 8:33 pm

    SnugglyBuffalo – “I wonder what it is about the handful of us that don’t experience this need? Why don’t I feel a need for spirituality when so many others do?”

    We’re mutants.

    I wanted the cool eyeblast, but I got the lack of spirituality instead.

    “IMHO, atheism, like religion itself, has taken on unique meanings in the American mainstream.”

    I don’t think that it’s unique. I’ve seen mideval writers referring to atheists, meaning “people who live as if there is no God.” This was when there were probably no real atheists in the west. I think the notion of atheists being immoral is a very old one.

  • 35. orDover  |  September 22, 2008 at 9:07 pm

    We’re mutants

    Ehem. I believe the term is “more highly evolved.” ;)

  • 36. silentj  |  September 22, 2008 at 9:08 pm

    I kan haz laser hands? :O

  • 37. qazse  |  September 22, 2008 at 9:34 pm

    I think this post is lovely. The quotes are gems. I believe in a God becoming. Peace.

  • 38. ciscorey  |  September 22, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    I’m an atheist and I try to live a life free of half-baked connotations. At it’s simplest, an atheist is one who does not possess a belief in god(s) — a suitable enough definition.

    Of course you will have those who prefer not to be called “atheists”; just the same as you will encounter those believers of Christ who would much rather not be labeled “Christians” — for one reason or another.

    Nonetheless, and without attributing excess meaning to them, I’ve come to understand what these words are and how they should be interpreted. After all, fault should not come with the labels we distribute but more so in improper labeling.

    Without entertaining arguments of epistomology; a red apple is indeed red — needless of any subjective views of the color red in particular.

  • 39. the6thkidinthehall  |  September 23, 2008 at 1:42 am

    ***“IMHO, atheism, like religion itself, has taken on unique meanings in the American mainstream.”

    I don’t think that it’s unique. I’ve seen mideval writers referring to atheists, meaning “people who live as if there is no God.” This was when there were probably no real atheists in the west. I think the notion of atheists being immoral is a very old one.***

    All very fair. Although for what I understand, Plato gave intellectuals permission to be atheists, so long as they remained “moral” — within the bounds of the State. So morality can have more to do with politics/power (i.e. on whose authority does authority lie?) than about religion per se; the power to legislate morality is not intrinsically religious.

    It would take a long time to clarify what I mean regarding the U.S., but suffice it to say that I had in mind the contentious relationship between politics, morality, and the modern nation-state — and what the American Religious Right has done since the rise of William F. Buckley. I only meant to imply its uniqueness in that sense.

  • 40. the6thkidinthehall  |  September 23, 2008 at 1:44 am

    I’m sorry, DD. Don’t mean to digress from your nice post.

  • 41. anyvainlegend  |  September 23, 2008 at 4:55 am

    I just think you’ve been moving in the wrong atheist circles, spending too much time on the wrong blogs — the ones that have a real problem with the religion thing.

    I got into it, and then over it, after I first de-converted completely last year. Now the whole thing seems a bit unbalanced, demonising the religious as much as many demonise atheism.

    You are a moderate atheist, but an atheist you are nonetheless. You are an atheist just like you are a woman, a writer, a human, a knitter, and, like all those groups you belong to, just because you are an atheist doesn’t mean you will like or agree with all other atheists.

    I’m an atheist and yet I attend a bi-annual hippy festival saturated with the supernatural and all kinds of weird and wonderful people. Why? Because I can find spirituality there – people with wonder in their eyes and open hearts. And they aren’t annoying or religious. Just beautiful folks.

    So I think I understand where you’re coming from, writerdd. If my book ever comes out, there’s going to be a chunk of it devoted to the kind of balance you are promoting.

  • 42. revromansky  |  September 23, 2008 at 11:49 am

    Belief in atheism cannot be proven, even theoretically. It is a belief system. It is systematic, and it is most assuredly a belief. Hence the label. Labels identify the contents.

    Call yourself what you like, there is more proof for intelligent design than for atheism. Atheism cannot be proven, even though atheists rely so heavily on science in their attempt to disprove God.

    And, yes, you are and atheist.

    We are not so smart as God is dumb.

    RevRomansky

    http://revromansky.wordpress.org

  • 43. BigHouse  |  September 23, 2008 at 11:54 am

    Wow, reverend, I don’t think any of that post is correct. But thanks for posting, I guess..

  • 44. Joan Ball  |  September 23, 2008 at 6:32 pm

    America is amazing. Even our faith identities are tied up in branding issues. Sam Harris et. al. come to represent the atheist brand so people who do not identify with that brand seek a new one. Dobson et. al. come to represent the Christian brand and people seek to separate and rebrand themselves under the “follower of Christ” label. I know it is loaded (especially here) but I identify as a Christian, even though it would be “cooler” or more progressive to migrate to the “follower of Christ” label. Doesn’t make me right and them wrong…I just don’t choose to let trends, the media and the worst of the tradition own my identity as I wander toward a deeper understanding.

  • 45. writerdd  |  September 23, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    Well, people were disassociating with the Christian label way back in the 70s when we used to say “I’m not religious, I just love the Lord” or “I’m not religious, I have a personal relationship with Jesus.”

    For what it’s worth, Sam Harris doesn’t use the word atheist to describe himself and he even started quite a stir in the atheist community when he suggested that it’s a superfluous term.

  • 46. silentj  |  September 23, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    What are your (all of you) thoughts on the Atheist Bible. I know the book isn’t mean to literally be a Bible. However, what do you think about a collected works of atheists writers?

    Is this an appealing idea or something that goes beyond what you’re looking for in your life? Have any of you read it and appreciated it?

  • 47. Brad Feaker  |  September 23, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    writterdd,

    I apologize for this long post – but the following pretty much sums it up for me…

    This I Believe.

    I am an atheist. I do not believe in any supernatural deities.

    I believe in Science, not the death cult superstitions of bronze age nomadic tribes in the Middle East.

    I believe in Logic and Reason, and not in vengeful gods that demand unthinking worship.

    My “Bible” is the ‘CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics’ and ‘Mark’s Standard Handbook for Mechanical Engineers’. My “Concordance” is ‘The Pocket Ref, 3rd Edition’.

    The symbol of my “faith” is not an ancient torture device, it’s a slide rule. The simple three part device that helped build the Brooklyn Bridge, Hoover Dam and the Empire State Building, as well as sending humans to the Moon and returning them to Earth.

    Algebra and Calculus are my “liturgy”, and Physics is the celebration of all that exists, from the smallest subatomic particle yet to be discovered, to the Universe as a whole.

    The “Saints” of my faith are legion. Galileo and Einstein, Sagan and Asimov, Eratosthenes and Fermi, Hawking and Feynman, Dawkins and Darwin, Jefferson and Franklin and Paine, and countless others who have sought and still seek to expand the knowledge of how the Universe works, for the betterment of all, to free the minds of humanity from the shackles of superstition and ignorance, and, finally & simply, “To Know.”

    I worship no god, nor bend the knee to anyone, man or god.

    And yet, despite my lack of fawning obeisance to the judeo/christian/islamic deity, I do not rape nor rob nor murder my fellow man or woman. I do not defraud them nor seek to enslave their bodies or their minds. I do not turn my face from them if their beliefs differ from mine, nor do I condemn them if they choose to love someone of the same sex or of a
    different “race”.

    My friends include the gay and the straight, the atheist and the deeply faithful, Caucasian, African and Asian.

    I help the less fortunate in this world as best I can, and do not seek to convert them to my way of thought by my actions. I help merely to ease their suffering.

    I choose to stand in the Light of Knowledge and Reason.

    I oppose the Darkness that is ignorance and superstition.

    And I KNOW that, in the end, it IS Knowledge and Reason that will triumph over ignorance and superstition, and triumph over those who would use ignorance and superstition for their own evil and ego-driven ends.

    THIS I believe…

    © Copyright 2008, Christopher H. Tucker.

    Used with permission.

  • 48. Ubi Dubium  |  September 23, 2008 at 9:47 pm

    Brad-
    Hear, hear!

  • 49. revromansky  |  September 24, 2008 at 9:51 am

    writerdd, you state you “believe in science”. Excluding maybe scientific law, science is theoretical. By its own standards science isn’t “provable” although “repeatable”.

    Believing in science takes faith. You’re believing in theories after all. BTW, where did scientific laws originate? If you believe in them, you must believe in their originator, must you not?

    Atheism is a dead end.

    We are not so smart as God is dumb.

    RevRomansky

    http://revromansky.wordpress.com

  • 50. Griffin  |  September 24, 2008 at 11:14 am

    Brad,

    “I believe in Science, not the death cult superstitions of bronze age nomadic tribes in the Middle East.

    I believe in Logic and Reason, and not in vengeful gods that demand unthinking worship.”

    When I read your post, I immediately knew what you meant but winced at the way it was stated. The post from RevRomansky that followed your only proved my point.

    Every time we say that we ‘believe’ in science, we open ourselves up to a critique (a false one, but one that many people fall for) that science is just another religion, as valid and as open for criticism as any other. But science isn’t a religion. It isn’t a belief system and when we talk about it within that framework, we damage science’s standing.

    What we should be saying is this: I accept science’s understanding of the world around us as fact – at least until new evidence leads to a better explanation of the universe. I accept logic and reason as the fundamental basis for interacting with my fellow humans and the world around us.

    Every time we equate science and reason with religion, we degrade science’s advantage – that it is based on evidence and observation and that it changes as new evidence is discovered.

    The phrase “I believe in Evolution” has done more to damage the perception of science by the population at large. If you say “I believe in Evolution” a person can respond “And I believe that god created the world in six days 6000 years ago. What makes your beliefs any more valid than mine?”

    And they’re right. A belief in evolution is nothing. Accepting evolution based on concrete scientific reasons is something else all together.

    My apologies for harping on a post that I agree with completely in principal. The way we talk about science is a very important and when I see people who are working towards the same goal that I am do things that are counter productive I feel compelled to say so. No offense intended.

  • 51. BigHouse  |  September 24, 2008 at 11:22 am

    Great post, Griffin. I also think that those that state they KNOW that God doesn’t exist, also do a disservice to the debate. I don’t think it’s possible to ‘know” but I think religion and science are taking MUCH different paths to understanding as much as we can.

  • 52. writerdd  |  September 24, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    writerdd, you state you “believe in science”.

    @RevRomansky, no, I don’t think I ever said “I believe in science”, but I have said “I love science” I have always loved science, ever since I was a little kid.

    I believe that the scientific method is the best – and probably the only – way we have to find out fact about the natural world. And I think that the idea of “super”natural is categorically impossible. Things either exist (are natural) or they do not exist.

  • 53. LeoPardus  |  September 24, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    revromansky:

    Excluding maybe scientific law, science is theoretical. By its own standards science isn’t “provable” although “repeatable”.
    Believing in science takes faith. You’re believing in theories after all.

    Why oh why oh why do the scientifically uneducated, untrained, unexperienced, uninformed/misinformed, INSIST on spewing their ignorance as if they are experts?
    It’s just a classic example of Rillion’s Law: “The amount of knowledge a person has of a subject will be inversely proportional to his or her tendency to make universal and authoritative statements about it.”

    Tell me Rev. do you think it brings glory to god or credit to you or your faith to spout off like an expert in areas of great ignorance?

    Atheism is a dead end.

    Theism is an exercise in cognitive dissonance.

    We are not so smart as God is dumb.

    You are not so smart as you think you are.

    Now Rev. apply the Golden Rule. Do you like me tossing cutesy quote/quips in your face?

  • 54. john t.  |  September 24, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    Atheism is a dead end.(Rev)

    One thing about dead ends, there good for making out, and who knows maybe making life ;)

  • 55. Brad Feaker  |  September 24, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    Ubi Dubium

    Hear, hear!

    Thanks!

    Griffin,

    Every time we say that we ‘believe’ in science, we open ourselves up to a critique (a false one, but one that many people fall for) that science is just another religion, as valid and as open for criticism as any other. But science isn’t a religion. It isn’t a belief system and when we talk about it within that framework, we damage science’s standing.

    The reason I ‘believe in science’ is that ANYONE who has the discipline can learn what they need to verify the facts for themselves. Many theists accuse atheists of using the argument from authority when discussing science. This is true to some extent with the following qualifier – while I cannot build or use such expensive experiments as the LHC, the results are not being produced by a single scientist. The peer review process in science can be brutal and tends to weed out any attempts at deception (see the debunking of Fleischmann and Pons cold fusion). My ‘faith’ is knowing that any truly valid scientific research (as opposed to homeopathy, astrology, etc…) will be scrutinized by many other scientists with many different agendas. And no offense taken – I am a bit out-spoken myself :-)

    BigHouse

    I also think that those that state they KNOW that God doesn’t exist, also do a disservice to the debate.

    I am assuming you were referring to my comment #47…Where did I say that I ‘know god does not exist’?

    Leopardus,

    Bravo…

    john t

    One thing about dead ends, there good for making out, and who knows maybe making life

    Heh!

  • 56. BigHouse  |  September 24, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    BigHouse

    I also think that those that state they KNOW that God doesn’t exist, also do a disservice to the debate.

    I am assuming you were referring to my comment #47…Where did I say that I ‘know god does not exist’?

    You assume incorrectly. I was speaking in generalities.

    Since science cannot prove a negative (that gos doesn’t exist), once must go on the best evidence to date. I think that evidence points to no God. But one that concludes they ‘know” there’s no God is not wielding the scientific information they support correctly.

  • 57. writerdd  |  September 24, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    Absence of evidence does, actually lead to the assumption of evidence of absence. We don’t find any evidence of unicorns or leprechauns so we conclude that they don’t exist. I see no reason to come to a different conclusion about god(s). If they exist, there will be evidence.

    Of course, sometimes we just haven’t found it yet. So if you want to keep looking for gods or unicorns or leprechauns, more power to you. Let us know when you actually find evidence.

  • 58. Brad Feaker  |  September 24, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    BigHouse

    My apologies for assuming incorrectly…

    writerdd,

    We don’t find any evidence of unicorns or leprechauns so we conclude that they don’t exist. I see no reason to come to a different conclusion about god(s). If they exist, there will be evidence.

    Exactly…while I cannot ‘disprove’ the existence of a god, the probability (to me anyway) is lower than the chance that quantum barrier tunneling will instantly make me disappear from my home and materialize on Jupiter. I COULD happen – but I am not losing sleep over it :-)

  • 59. john t.  |  September 24, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    I see no reason to come to a different conclusion about god(s). If they exist, there will be evidence. (writerdd)

    Again if our view of a creator/god/driving force is based on traditional religion then I agree completely with you. Now on the other hand if maybe its basis is different then what we traditionally believe then who knows. I still hold to the belief that its perfectly rational to think that something started all of this, and from what I can see it seems that there is a level of intelligence behind the Universe as I know it. Im not suggesting that is a Personal Deity in the classical sense though. So dont jump on me ;)

  • 60. writerdd  |  September 24, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    So dont jump on me

    No, I won’t jump on you. I’m just explaining how I came to my conclusions. I am not trying to de-convert anyone else.

  • 61. BigHouse  |  September 24, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    Writerdd, you support my very point with your first sentence:

    Absence of evidence does, actually lead to the assumption of evidence of absence.</i?

    Emphasis mine.

    There’s a difference between ‘proving” God doesn’t exist and the “strongest possibility he does not exist, based on the evidence”. That difference may be so small as to not effect your day to day life in any way, but it nonetheless “exists”.

    This is why atheism ISN’t a belief system, because it’s flexible to potential future evidence in either direction. if you dismiss any possibility of that fact, you have indeed created a belief system.

  • 62. BigHouse  |  September 24, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    My bad with the italics. They should end at the mis-typed ? there.

  • 63. Cooper  |  September 24, 2008 at 3:02 pm

    The “Saints” of my faith are legion. Galileo and Einstein, Sagan and Asimov, Eratosthenes and Fermi, Hawking and Feynman, Dawkins and Darwin, Jefferson and Franklin and Paine, and countless others who have sought and still seek to expand the knowledge of how the Universe works, for the betterment of all, to free the minds of humanity from the shackles of superstition and ignorance, and, finally & simply, “To Know.”

    I worship no god, nor bend the knee to anyone, man or god.

    And yet, despite my lack of fawning obeisance to the judeo/christian/islamic deity, I do not rape nor rob nor murder my fellow man or woman. Please pass the caviar will you, and find out who that person is on my lawn and kindly remove them. Now where was I? I do not defraud them nor seek to enslave their bodies or their minds. I do not turn my face from them if their beliefs differ from mine, nor do I condemn them if they choose to love someone of the same sex or of a
    different “race”.

  • 64. Cooper  |  September 24, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    I couldn’t resist adding a couple of lines to the recital above, as that type of statement always makes me think of what they did just after they got finished writing it. Although I do have to give the guy credit for being such a great guy.

  • 65. john t.  |  September 24, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    Cooper
    “Although I do have to give the guy credit for being such a great guy”

    You know something, theres a sliding scale when it comes to bad/good behaviour and I know many who are much closer to good side than the bad. This author sounds like they may be one of them. Youre remark suspiciously sounded very sarcastic, maybe you lean closer to the other side so you have a hard time relating.

  • 66. Brad Feaker  |  September 24, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    Cooper,

    When did you go to NZ and meet Chris Tucker? Or meet me here in Tennessee?

  • 67. Cooper  |  September 24, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    I just noticed that this was from copywrited material used by permission, not by the poster on the blog. My apologies for taking a part, and altering it. I just had to laugh though—because the author’s intent is to say that he is a great person without the belief in God (and really that’s fine—I’m sure there are lots of great and nice people who don’t believe in God) but it comes across as very self-righteous, which is usually how religious people sound. :)

  • 68. Cooper  |  September 24, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    Brad—

    I’ve never met you or Chris. I was having some “tongue in cheek” fun. The post by Chris sounds a bit like the Pharisee in the temple who said “I am not like other men. I give 10% of all I have. I never mistreat people or defraud them. I, I , I…..” while the publican says “Have mercy upon me oh God a sinner”. That was all. Just having a little fun.

  • 69. Cooper  |  September 24, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    John t—

    I aplogize for posting tongue in cheek. Perhaps if it had been a Christian going on and on about his morals and what he does and does not do it would be acceptable to poke a little fun at him. But I guess because he’s an atheist it’s wrong. Sorry about that.

  • 70. Brad Feaker  |  September 24, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    Cooper,

    Thanks…believe me – I don’t think I could pull off the ‘elitist’ bit :-)

  • 71. BigHouse  |  September 24, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    I gotta give Coop at least a bit of credit for including his own “pot meet kettle” reference with regards to self-righteous sounding people.

  • 72. Cooper  |  September 24, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    Brad/John T—

    Seriously—go back up to Chris’s short article and substitue “Christian” for “atheist”. Then substitue a lot of what he says with Christian jargon instead. Imagine if I or another Christian was to go through a litany of what we do and whom we do not hurt, etc. etc. don’t you think that immediately everyone would be calling me self-righteous, and poking fun at me? Yes–they would—-and you know what? I would deserve it. :)

  • 73. Brad Feaker  |  September 24, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    Cooper,

    Another point…this was meant as a statement of belief. Although it represents my beliefs dead on, it doesn’t mean I am always a good person. I can be petty, trite, selfish and (insert long list of faults here) just like anyone else. But I try hard not to and try to learn from my mistakes when I do…I know you get it – just wanted to clarify my position.

    Cheers…

  • 74. john t.  |  September 24, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    Cooper

    I actually dont have too much of a problem with the idea someone leans more to being good than bad. I even dont mind too much if they make that statement, so long as they are not arrogant about it. Just keep the comments about knowing “absolute truth” to yourself and all the rest is fair game.

  • 75. john t.  |  September 24, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    Cooper

    I take my last comment back. Heres my “Absolute”.

    “I Absolutely dont know what the absolute truth is about our Universe.”

  • 76. Brad Feaker  |  September 24, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    BigHouse,

    I gotta give Coop at least a bit of credit for including his own “pot meet kettle” reference with regards to self-righteous sounding people.

    I suppose you have never been asked to define the principles you live by. How would you describe the standard of morality you live by? Please see my comment #73 above before you assume too much.

    Cooper,

    go back up to Chris’s short article and substitue “Christian” for “atheist”. Then substitue a lot of what he says with Christian jargon instead. Imagine if I or another Christian was to go through a litany of what we do and whom we do not hurt, etc. etc. don’t you think that immediately everyone would be calling me self-righteous, and poking fun at me?

    I will ask you what I asked BigHouse…how would you define your moral standards in a clear unequivocal way without sounding self-righteous? The difference between what Chris and I believe and what theists believe is a simple thing and does not compare at all – I have good evidence and reasons for my moral principles – theists rely on ‘the bible’ or ‘god told me’ for their morality.

  • 77. Cooper  |  September 24, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    Brad—

    Perhaps Chris could add that confession to his treatise—it would help it be more down to earth in my opinion.

    John T—

    Understood. I do apologize—-I know my own tendency to spout off my own self-righteousness at times—-so when I read Christ’s treatise I burst out laughing—-probably because it is self-righteously written, with the intent of drawing out a “you said it friend!!” from those appreciating such a humbly put life-statement. Sorry about that.

  • 78. BigHouse  |  September 24, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    Brad, you’re really mis-reading me today.

    Cooper signed off his post by saying that usually religious people sound self-righteous. He’s right, and is guilty of it himself in a number of his posts. I was giving him kudos for pre-emptively admitting that his calling someone else self-righteous sounding is a “pot calling the kettle black” moment for him. I would be tempted to post it if he hadn’t already.

    I have no problem with what you posted.

  • 79. john t.  |  September 24, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    Brad

    I checked out your site. Great tackle by your Son. You should be proud.

  • 80. john t.  |  September 24, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    Cooper

    Thanks.

  • 81. Brad Feaker  |  September 24, 2008 at 3:44 pm

    BigHouse,

    Brad, you’re really mis-reading me today.

    My apologies – must be work (my only lame excuse – for today anyway)

    joht t.

    Thanks – he is a pretty good football player for 12 y/o. Plus he has a real size advantage – he is 5’10” and weighs in at 224 lbs. He is going to be a lot bigger than me ;-)

  • 82. john t.  |  September 24, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    Brad

    Yeah, his size freaked me out, considering when I was 12 I was 75 pounds lmao.

  • 83. Brad Feaker  |  September 24, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    john t,

    It freaks me out a little too – I have to buy the groceries! But the best thing is he is a thoughtful, well behaved kid, a straight A student and a has the driest sense of humor I have ever seen in someone so young. He and my daughter are a delight – they both make me proud.

  • 84. revromansky  |  September 24, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    Your mixed philosophical reasoning is staggering. On one hand, I can’t prove God because I can’t prove a negative, namely that he’s not there, and that proves he doesn’t exist.

    Then when I state the obvious, “prove atheism”, I guarantee you will back peddle, attack my person, and throw another fallacious quip out there, and congratulate each other for a job well done. And yet you will offer no proofs for atheism..

    Go back to school, stay awake this time.

    RevRomansky

    http://revromansky.worpress.com

  • 85. writerdd  |  September 24, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    @ revromansky,

    I’m not interested in proving anything. I don’t think there’s a god. I don’t see enough evidence to live like there is a god and I don’t see any religion where the people are any better than people of any other religion or than people of no religion. Therefore I will live as is there is no god and I am at peace.

    Are you trying to prove there is a god? If you succeed, you will become rich and famous. But if you have no evidence to present, what is the point of what you are posting here? All of us de-cons were believers before. We already know what just about every believer who comes here to comment has to say. You are the ones that apparently feel you have to prove something to us, to reconvert us.

    Why can’t you just accept that we don’t believe any more and leave it at that? I can accept that you are a believer and that’s your prerogative.

  • 86. BigHouse  |  September 24, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    Why can’t you just accept that we don’t believe any more and leave it at that? I can accept that you are a believer and that’s your prerogative.

    Probably because the reverend is a wise-ass hit and run poster with no interest in engaging in a debate.

  • 87. Cooper  |  September 24, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    I was giving him kudos for pre-emptively admitting that his calling someone else self-righteous sounding is a “pot calling the kettle black” moment for him. I would be tempted to post it if he hadn’t already.

    BigHouse—

    It would be nice to hear you admit that you sound self-righteous at times yourself in some of your posts also. :) Anyone being truly honest has to admit that at times they think they are just the greatest people around! :)

  • 88. BigHouse  |  September 24, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    Guilty as charged. I am great :-)

  • 89. Cooper  |  September 24, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    Probably because the reverend is a wise-ass hit and run poster with no interest in engaging in a debate.
    :) :) :)

    It’s interesting to watch discussion here at times. Someone will ask “Why do you believe in God?” So you answer, which provokes a discussion. The discussion goes back and forth, usually devolving to such comments as “I think Marianne and Cooper drank all the Kool-Aid” and finally ends with the dude being a “wise-ass” with no interest in engaging in debate (definition: discussing things the way we like to hear them).
    :) It’s all fun though!!

  • 90. BigHouse  |  September 24, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    Coop, you’re so focused on the meta-discussion, is it because you’ve run out of substance to discuss?

    Read the reverand’s posts and tell me which of my characterizations are wrong?

  • 91. Cooper  |  September 24, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    The Reverend is a “wise-ass” and I am a–what was it? Oh yeah–I’m a “know-nothing ingoramus” –when I’m not posting part-time as a “self-centered dumb-ass” :) :)

  • 92. Cooper  |  September 24, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    Read the reverand’s posts and tell me which of my characterizations are wrong?

    Actually, Bighouse, it appeared the reverend was trying to present his point of view. Maybe I didn’t read back far enough. He was posting on another thread (if not this one) though, and sounded reasonably coherent when doing so.

  • 93. Cooper  |  September 24, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    BigHouse—

    Read post #49—-I’m not sure why he should be labeled a “wise-ass” for posts like that. Maybe I’m not seeing the picture clearly though.

  • 94. BigHouse  |  September 24, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    Sigh. If I must, here’s post 49:

    49. revromansky | September 24, 2008 at 9:51 am
    writerdd, you state you “believe in science”. Excluding maybe scientific law, science is theoretical. By its own standards science isn’t “provable” although “repeatable”.

    writerdd never stated what the reverend claims. Off to a bad start arguing in bad faith.

    Believing in science takes faith. You’re believing in theories after all. BTW, where did scientific laws originate? If you believe in them, you must believe in their originator, must you not?

    Not his worst work, but his first premise is false. I’ll give some credit to posing questions.

    Atheism is a dead end.

    An assertion without backup.

    We are not so smart as God is dumb.

    Wise-ass comment.

    RevRomansky

    http://revromansky.wordpress.com

    Shameless plug for his own blog.

    And he hasn’t addressed the rebuttals posited by writerdd, leo, and others, as he didn;t in the posts leading up to his #49, hence “Hit and Run”.

    Softballs, Coop, do you have any heat to bring?

  • 95. john t.  |  September 24, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    Cooper
    “He was posting on another thread (if not this one) though, and sounded reasonably coherent when doing so.”

    Maybe his comment “atheism is a dead end” should give you a clue.
    And may I reiterate, if you state Chrisitianity is the only truth, how reasonable is that?

  • 96. silentj  |  September 24, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    All this talk about trolls, and the Rev, the guy asking for proof of atheism, gets a response? Wow!

  • 97. Cooper  |  September 24, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    Bighouse/John T—-

    Good points. :)

  • 98. SnugglyBuffalo  |  September 24, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    The fact that he says anything like “prove atheism” proves his ignorance. There is no intelligent debate to be had here.

    There are plenty of resources out there on why trying to “prove atheism” is a ridiculous concept. He either needs to re-word his request to get his true intent across (assuming he is not actually asking us to prove God doesn’t exist, which is what I take “prove atheism” to mean), or he needs to take the time to learn why his request is ridiculous. Until he does one of these things, or shows a willingness to learn about this from us, any attempted communication between him and the de-cons here is futile.

  • 99. LeoPardus  |  September 24, 2008 at 6:07 pm

    Looked at Rev Romansky’s blog. Right at the top, in the title is, “Unfathomable Love of Jesus Christ” I must admit that it is unfathomable how he thinks that he’s expressing the agapé love of Christ by coming in here with his insults and such.

    Oh well, at lest he’s another who can help remove any doubts from the minds of potential de-cons that there is anything of value in the faith.

  • 100. Brad Feaker  |  September 24, 2008 at 6:18 pm

    OK – the Right RevRomansky has convinced me – I am joining this church…

    http://worshipbacon.com/wiki/Main_Page

  • 101. gortimer  |  September 24, 2008 at 8:43 pm

    Perhaps your preoccupation with stereotyping and labeling is the problem. Accept yourself for the bundle of contradictions that you are and expect the same from others.

  • 102. orDover  |  September 24, 2008 at 9:01 pm

    gortimer has a point there.

    I don’t sterotype all Christian based on the Fred Phelps model. I understand that most of the public Christian figures are extremes, and I don’t think all Christian are like them, or even similar to them.

    Could a Christian possible look at an atheist and understand that we aren’t all like Dawkins? (This is an honest question, which I fear deserves a negative answer, but that is only because of the lack of presence of non-extreme atheists. I know not all Christians are like Phelps because I’ve met and interacted with several who constitute a continuum, but have Christians had the chance to see atheists who aren’t “militant” or Dawkins-ish?)

  • 103. Ubi Dubium  |  September 24, 2008 at 10:25 pm

    Hey! I like Dawkins! He’s brilliant, funny, eloquent, and much less “in-your-face” than the average evangelist.

    Now Hitchens – He’s militant. :)

  • 104. the6thkidinthehall  |  September 25, 2008 at 4:23 am

    Wow, the Rev is impossible. And bold enough to link us to his own page on top of that!

    Are you really a reverend?

    I am always stunned at the audacity intrinsic to the evangelical mindset. It really is a desire for everyone to believe like *me*. Which, as the Rev’s posts make painfully obvious, results in an a priori reading of everything into the unfathomably narrow channels of your a priori faith. And, as the rest of this thread shows, the end result is a conversational din, all because the only purpose for which the Rev enters into any conversation is to challenge the beliefs of others, to figure out why they don’t think like him, and then ultimately to make sure they understand how he sees the world.

    Did I get that right? I mean, go figure: a reverend trying to keep his job. You’re just a glorified salesman (which isn’t saying much).

    Anybody want to talk about the Theology of Liberation . . . about putting Jesus back on the Left where he belongs?

  • 105. freidenker85  |  October 10, 2008 at 11:59 am

    Personally, I don’t get what “the atheist movement” is. If it’s a movement designed to proselytise to atheism, then it’s a sinister movement that I want to have no part with. If it’s a movement merely giving support to atheists, then I hardly think anyone needs it. A bunch of people not believing in god probably don’t have a lot to share, unless they happen to share similar political and ethical worldviews.

    And, on the third hand, if this so-called “movement” is designed to teach and instruct the world about secular values and rational thought, then it’s pure plagiarism and, in fact, doesn’t even require anyone to be atheistic or even irreligious. Secular values are independent of religious beliefs.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m an atheist and I’m very excited about, say, Richard Dawkins’ and James Randi’s educational programs. They do a lot to teach the world about skepticism and science. That’s FINE. But what’s the point in gathering up with people who share what you lack?

    I don’t get it.

    I think Dawkins put it well: trying to organize atheists is like herding cats. And also, the stereotypes you were introduced to are quite disturbing, I mean, who says that evil is a religious problem? People can be evil regardless of their religion, and the same goes for being spiritual.

  • 106. Ubi Dubium  |  October 10, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    freidenker85
    I think my motivation comes from the way the evangelicals demonize “Atheists”. They are constantly telling their flocks that we are amoral, evil, and shouldn’t even be allowed to vote! We need to speak up for ourselves. We don’t need to convert all the evangelicals to our non-belief, but we do need to demand an atmosphere of tolerance that our society currently lacks.

    Racism did not really begin to deline in our country (US) until the African Americans began to speak up and be heard. When I was a child, it was OK for our leaders to be publicly racist, but not any more. Racism may not be gone, but it is no longer socially acceptable. It’s took years of speaking out, demanding fairness, and slowly changing attitudes to bring that about.

    But conservative politicians, and other leaders, can say that the 20% of the population who are non-believers are “unpatriotic evildoers” and they get away with it. That needs to stop, and it’s not going to stop until we speak up for ourselves.

  • 107. freidenker85  |  October 10, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    Ubi, again, you’re talking about secular values and disestablishment. There’s no “religion-atheism” dichotomy, there’s “religious bigots and fascists” on the one hand and supporters of equality, democracy and separation of church and state on the other. You could have atheists and theists on both sides. Personally, I sympathize with the liberal, secular cause of letting people vote and be equal citizens no matter their faith or lack of faith – but this is not why I became an atheist, has nothing to do with my atheism, and might as well could have been wrong if I were a “different kind of atheist”. I’m sure there’s atheists out there who want people of faith (or, even, of different worldviews) to be severely penalized or worse.

    I say, when it comes to liberal values, leave religion as a whole out of it. Yes, there IS a correlation between religiosity and the anti-democratic inanity displayed by some conservative politicians, but the converse shouldn’t be true, as well. I leave my lack of faith out of my politics in the same way that fundamentalists shouldn’t mix their zeal with politics.

  • 108. Ubi Dubium  |  October 10, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    freidenker85

    I say, when it comes to liberal values, leave religion as a whole out of it.

    I agree. That’s my goal too. But how do we achieve that? If the evangelicals insist on pushing religion into everything, and nobody is pushing back against them, we will continue to live in a country where politics is pervaded with religion.

    I like the approach of Americans United, which is staffed by both atheists and believers, and who work very hard to oppose the efforts of the religious right to push their beliefs into everything. But I also think it doesn’t hurt for Atheists to be more visible, to speak up, and to demonstrate that those negative stereotypes are completely untrue.

  • 109. freidenker85  |  October 11, 2008 at 3:33 am

    Ubi,

    listen, everyone should be heard, and it definitely works for my liberal agenda that liberal atheists speak their mind and fight religious hypocrisy (not to be confused with fighting religion, which is DEFINITELY not an agenda I have.)

    I can deduce from your comment that what we’re actually discussing is the right method to separate church and state, and not whether or not atheists should push atheism.

    That said, the evangelical quest to make America into a theocracy is a good example for a situation where every free-loving individual, regardless of faith and political affiliation, should give a hand to stopping the evangelicals. This is easily portrayed as a “religion vs. non-religion” battle, but it’s most definitely. It’s a battle between reason and democracy and insanity and servitude.

    Americans United, it seems, are a good example of peace-loving people with various beliefs fighting for a common goal. THAT is an organization I’m willing to fight for.

  • 110. Valkyrie  |  December 2, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    Calling yourself an atheist does not mean you automatically belong to an organization that all believes and strives for the same thing.

    For me, part of the beauty of being the atheist is I don’t have to do or say or believe anything I don’t want to. I don’t have to make fun of believers, or laugh at people who want spirituality. Even though I personally find religions unnecessary, it doesn’t mean I go around making fun of people who ARE religious – which is every other person in my immediate family.

    If you don’t like some of the bad things associated with atheism, yet still have atheistic beliefs, be the kind of atheist you want to see. :) Atheism and atheists subscribe to no dogma or rule, so you may still be antheist and find your own path.

  • 111. Alan  |  January 13, 2009 at 5:49 am

    I’m also fond of traditional christian ceremony. I like the richness of religious belief and practice of many kinds.

    But it’s a problem when people harm each other because they take these fairy tales too seriously.

    Praying instead of sending to hospital. Shutting down scientific enquiry into things that would be beneficial to humankind. Violent conflicts based on a difference of opinion as to which fairy tales are the best. Discriminating against gay people because of ancient texts. Children living in fear of divine retribution.

    These things have to be vigorously challenged now. It’ll balance out once the worst excesses of religiosity are behind us.

  • 112. Carina  |  December 20, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    that God never changes, it makes sense that he woudln’t just suddenly say, I’m changing the game ‘ But he did that exactly with Jesus. He changed the game so that instead of us having to live with our sins, Jesus died for them. That’s changing the game, so why not change it more sensibly? Instead of wasting 30-some-odd years with Jesus’ simply to kill him off for our sins, why not just start out saying, OK, when I count to three you guys are without sin again ? It amounts to the same thing. And punishment is not necessarily the logical conclusion of wrong-doing. From what I’ve read, recuperation is more effective than punishment. And woudln’t helping his creation recuperate be a better act for a loving god than punishing his creation for eternity with no parole?

  • 113. Krista  |  December 23, 2012 at 10:40 am

    that God never changes, it makes sense that he wuldon’t just suddenly say, “I’m changing the game. From now on, death/sacrifice is not necessary anymore”. His initial introduction of death still holds today, and does make sense to me. Punishment is the logical conclusion to a wrong-doing. And Jesus took over our punishment so that we wuldon’t have to face eternal death.I have some thoughts to your Jesus-story as well, but most of those are contained above. :)

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

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Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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