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An Emerging Trend?

Published December 30th, 2010 by Bobby Henderson

I have noticed in the last few months an increase in upset emails from self identified atheists/nonbelievers and I’ve been thinking about what this means for the Church of FSM.  Seems like I’ve annoyed some people.  Maybe I can clear things up, and/or possibly further anger people.   

First of course, I am talking for myself, not the church as a whole – let me make that clear.

I have a lot of respect for atheists and freethinkers and related organizations, and for rational causes in general.  But there are times when I see atheist individuals and groups as combative and petty, leaving outsiders with a negative perception, hurting worthy causes in the process.  I said the atheist movement needed a PR team some time ago.  And then in an interview in WordyMofo I said atheists sometimes come off as "a bunch of assholes" to outsiders.  Last week I said they’re not making any friends with the Nativity showdown.

I’ve said a lot of things but mainly I am talking about the *way* things are done; that is, the context of things; not ideas or goals or substantive parts of any of these organizations.  I’m in favor of atheist/freethinker/rational causes.  I just think when those guys get together they very occasionally act like dicks, leaving outsiders with the perception that nonreligious people are bitter and angry.  And that is shame, because I don’t think it’s true.

What I worry most about, though, are the emails from young people who see in the Church of FSM an opportunity to bash religion in general and more specifically to bash people for being religious.  Tolerance is more of a nuanced view and I believe they will come to it eventually if they stick around but it’s really very concerning that so many kids think this way when they first come to a place of free thinking.

I am not a huge fan of organized religion, and it’s impossible to ignore the abuses and corruption that have grown onto so many religions over the years, but at the same time, it’s impossible to deny that so many people get something meaningful out of their beliefs and that they have every right to continue to believe whatever they like *even if it’s irrational*, as long as it does no one else any harm.  Just as we have the right to believe in the FSM. Just as nonbelievers have the right to be free from it.  And we are all richer and more complete people for interacting with people who challenge and disagree with us. 

The question is, can you confront the abuses and injustices that come along with religion in a way that doesn’t betray that tolerance for the beliefs of others?  I don’t know, but shouldn’t that be the ideal? 

What do you think?

*Update*

Wow, good responses. I will note that what I receive in email varies quite a bit from the comments here.  I like that most people took the message in the spirit it was intended. 

I think there is an idea that I’m defending religion, but it’s not really that … it was meant more as a defense of people and their *personal* religious beliefs.  FSM knows there are awful religious people, of course there are – there are awful people anywhere you look, but there are also good people anywhere you look and that includes inside of religion.

There are several occurrences where a curious Christian ventured here and engaged us for a while only to be stomped on en masse for their thoughts.  I hate that.  There is this idea, I think, that being correct is enough, that if we rip apart all their arguments thoroughly enough they will see the error of their ways and then … I don’t know, renounce their foolish beliefs and join up?   Except I don’t think it works that way.  There is that quote … "You can’t reason someone out of a position they didn’t reason themselves into."  I think there is a bigger picture and if we truly want to help someone along a path of Reason, it starts with an uncommon level of respect. 

Thank you, everyone, for your responses. Keep them coming.  I feel like we’re onto something.

*update 2*

I just found this and thought it deserved some attention:

"Do we want Christians to join us? Since when is this not about keeping religion out of science?"

That’s a valid point.  I think its worth talking about larger goals of the Church of the FSM but for now I think it’s safe to say there is a wish amongst non-religious that the religious acted more rational – particularly in areas where their actions intersect with the rest of the world. 

I’ve seen plenty of disagreements between religious and non-religious played out publicly and I’ve yet to see a person of faith swayed by articulate impassioned reasoning. 

And I doubt very much that people of strong faith are concerned whether their beliefs are strictly True or not.   Whether that’s a conscious realization or not I don’t know, but we have all known people with entrenched beliefs that are too irrational to believe (earth is 5000 years old, anyone?) except they do believe these things – they believe these things with a force to be reckoned with.

Well what is at the root of that force?  Clearly it has little to do with objective reasoning.  I suggest it’s due mainly to the attachment to the very real, very meaningful community that churches provide for so many people.   Cognitive dissonance — they can’t be reasoned with because betraying those beliefs puts in danger their relationship to the community they value so highly, therefore the thing is True.   That’s the force, the block that can’t be argued against.

Atheists, nonbelievers, freethinkers — we can say we build communities as well, and there are some examples but we’re not great at it.   Say what you will about Christians, they kick our asses at building communities.  There is something about Drinking The Kool-Aid that lets people do with genuine (sometimes very creepy) intention what seems very hard to do for a group with broader more objective views.  I’m not just talking about religion.  Squabbling academic groups, anyone? There is something about getting together in groups that is very hard to do positively.  How do you do it without being cynical?  We need to figure it out.

Will Christians walk from one community to another? Surely some will.  I have heard the same story from countless ex-Christians who have become Atheists and it’s always a lonely road, because it’s never just a matter of questioning ones beliefs, is it? It’s also a matter of losing that support system and community that came along with those beliefs.  

And maybe just having that option, knowing that questioning beliefs doesn’t have to mean such a loss, will make it easier. 



168 Responses to “An Emerging Trend?”

  1. d4m4s74 says:

    I don’t hate religion or religious people. I mean, I have lots of Christian, Muslim and one Jewish friends. I only hate idiots. And because if some reason most idiots. I.know are religious (even though my country is mostly non-religious.)

    • Hernando says:

      What, only one Jewish friend? Get more. The holiday food is great.

      • theFewtheProudtheMarinara says:

        I especially like the Jewish Christmas food – Chinese.

  2. Rohche says:

    There are many types of people. CG Jung, an early analytical psychologist, wrote about this. One can gain an interesting perspective of the differences by reading volume 6 of Jung’s collected works: Psychological Types. Not easy reading but worth the effort.

  3. Iron Mike says:

    I’ve been a bit strident myself but have had second thoughts about my approach. We need to respect people, even when we strongly disagree with them. I’m still an atheist, but I also have been trying to be more careful.

    Good thoughts Prophet Bobby.

  4. N Kalanaga says:

    I’m not an atheist. I’m a nonbeliever. Atheism is a religion, based on faith, with the fundamental belief that there is no god. As that cannot be proved, any more than the existence of a diety can be proved, it has to be taken on faith. I prefer beliefs that can at least be tested, thus, I’m a scientist.

    However, I’ll agree with Mr. Henderson and many of the commenters, disrespectful behavior towards a believer won’t accomplish anything, unless it’s to make them feel threatened, and thus less likely to listen. Unfortunately too many believers, of all faiths, seem to feel that respect for another’s beliefs is somehow a betrayal of their own.

    I’ve never had an atheist tell me I had to accept their belief. I have had that experience with Christians. A fellow employee once complained to the boss about my use off the word “evolution”. As I was talking about computer technology, I never considered it a religious issue. This employee did. The boss told me that I needed to accept the other person’s beliefs, and avoid “offensive language”. Careful questioning lead to the admission that the boss was using “accept” in the Christian sense of “take the other person’s belief as mine”, not “accept the other person’s right to differ with me”. That same fellow employee, and boss, both felt that “scientist” was a dirty word, as “scientists are all antiChristian”. And we were working for a data processing company!

    To quote Edgar Rice Burroughs, “one cannot show respect for what does not feel respect for”. I try, but it’s hard to remain respectful towards someone whose fundamental belief is their own rightness, regardless of what they’re “right” about.

    At least followers of the FSM generally have a sense of humor! And, like Teresa Boardman, I find that just letting them rant is often the best way of dealing with them. In many cases it’s also the most annoying thing one can do to them!

    • Drained and Washed Clean says:

      Atheism is not a religion. Definition of religion: “a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs. ” That is not us. Most atheists will acknowledge that it is ridiculous to completely rule out the idea of a deity and would change their mind if presented with evidence (for the same reason you say you will not say for sure). There is one thing I am 100% sure of though. If there is a god it is NOT what the Christians think it is.

      But Ramen to the rest of it :)

    • B. says:

      No, atheism is not a religion. The rest I agree with, but I feel like I must address this.

      As an atheist I have never seen any proof of the existence of a deity and therefore I do not believe. If someone presented evidence to me I would change my mind. I will return to a train of thought I used earlier when this came up:

      If you assume that lack of faith is a choice, you assume that being religious is the “natural state” to steal a term from John Locke. That one needs to make a choice from the natural state of being religious and chose to believe there is no God.

      I think this is approaching things from the wrong angle. I do not believe because no one has convinced me to believe. For me, atheism is therefore the natural state. There is no religious side of atheism, since we have no belief. One can spin it however one wants, with “you believe there is no God”, but really atheists LACK belief. That is the general point, that since there is no proof of the existence of God there is no reason to assume his existence. If you see it like that, atheism is not really a choice and can not be a religion in the way you described it.

      • N Kalanaga says:

        My position that atheism is a religion is based on two things. First, it is accepted as a religion by the IRS and US Military. That, in itself, proves nothing. For that matter, Buddhism is a religion, and it has nothing to do with deities one way or the other. It is possible to be an atheist, or Christian, Buddhist.

        Second, the dictionary definition of religion:

        a·the·ism
           /ˈeɪθiˌɪzəm/ Show Spelled[ey-thee-iz-uhm] Show IPA
        –noun
        1.
        the doctrine or belief that there is no god.
        2.
        disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.
        Use atheism in a Sentence
        See images of atheism
        Search atheism on the Web
        Origin:
        1580–90; < Gk áthe(os) godless + -ism

        —Related forms
        an·ti·a·the·ism, adjective, noun
        pro·a·the·ism, noun
        Dictionary.com Unabridged
        Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2010.
        Cite This Source

        Cultural Dictionary
        atheism [(ay-thee-iz-uhm)]

        Denial that there is a God. (Compare agnosticism.)
        The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
        Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
        Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

        agnosticism [(ag-nos-tuh-siz-uhm)]

        A denial of knowledge about whether there is or is not a God. An agnostic insists that it is impossible to prove that there is no God and impossible to prove that there is one. (Compare atheism.)
        The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
        Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
        Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

        Those who don't don't believe because they haven't seen any proof are closer to agnostics, basically, no opinion either way. That's also where I place myself, although many people in my area don't see the difference. An agnostic doesn't know, and atheist BELIEVES there is no god, thus a true atheist has faith. One scientific principle is "lack of evidence is not evidence of lack". From your description, you're much like me, and agnostic tending towards atheism.

        I have a firm belief that any deity who really wanted to be noticed would say so very plainly. Rearrange the stars to spell "I AM GOD!", maybe.

        However, I am NOT going to get into an argument about your religion or beliefs, as what you call yourself, and what you believe, are none of my business. If your beliefs satisfy you, and do no harm to others, then they are good.

        • B. says:

          Just like the one I argued with before, you seem to think that being scientific in ones outlook means being agnostic. No, I am not an agnostic. I am an atheist, since I DO NOT believe in God.

          “Second, the dictionary definition of religion:

          a·the·ism”

          Is atheism now a dictionary definition of religion?

          As Paul say, I believe there is no leprechauns. That doesn’t make it a religion of unbelieving in leprechauns. I do not have FAITH there is no leprechauns. If someone presented evidence of leprechauns existing, like one knocking on my door, I would be a believer. But that doesn’t make me a leprechaun agnostic, one that can’t decide either way. Just like with God, I see no reason to believe in them and therefore I won’t.

          It has really nothing to do with faith at all.

        • gordon_uk says:

          From the BBC website
          “Atheism is the absence of belief in any Gods or spiritual beings. The word Atheism comes from a, meaning without, and theism meaning belief in god or gods”. How is that any different from being a “nonbeliever”?

          The view point is very much from the theist side, as they believe in something therefore we must too as atheists so in their mind we have a belief. The word is a Greek word (θεος) not English so looking at an English interruption shows how our very culture is controlled by theists and you would be better looking at the original meaning. There is no requirement to believe anything to be an atheist just live without a belief in a god(s).

        • Noodlity says:

          Like I reckon I’ve mentioned before, using “belief” as an argument is a fallacy, due to the subjectiveness of the matter. Anyone can argue that their opponent doesn’t “really” believe what they claim to, and is just pretending. Such as it is, the appeal to “belief” is worthless.

          On the other hand, as an atheist, I do not *worship* any metaphysical entity whatsoever. I do not actively adhere to any religious philosophy, nor observe any related ritual or custom. And since gods, by definition, are worshipped, and not just “believed” in, then for me, they do not exist.

        • Brian Fritzen says:

          Atheism is not a religion. It is a societal construct. I don’t believe in any gods. This is not faith. I don’t have faith that there is no god. There is none. Just as there is not tiny workshop filled with elves making toys on the north pole. Nor is there a celestial teapot on the other side of the sun following the same orbit as the earth.

          Atheism is a label invented by those that don’t understand what an atheist is. It isn’t a disbelief. I simply don’t believe.

          You quote the dictionary as if it some sort of commandment on how to define language. A dictionary is an invention of man and is as fallible as man. A definition is a group of educated persons best guesses about what a word means. See the definition of run in a printed dictionary if you don’t believe me.

          As for the scientific front, The God Hypothesis has been tested many times. Every time it fails. There is not evidence of a heaven or hell, a god or devil. “God(s)” are a failed hypothesis. It doesn’t hold up to scientific inquiry. It doesn’t hold water. When the argument for god has been so exhausted that people revert to “faith” as a reason for its existence, then we know… yes KNOW that the thing does not exist.

      • Paul says:

        You’ve parroted a very common misconception of atheism. You mentioned that a true atheist has faith. That type of atheist is called an “explicit” atheist, they have a belief that there is NO God. The implicit atheists are the more common faithless type, they say “There is no evidence for the existence of God, so it is rational to live as though it didn’t exist”, just as you would with leprechauns or the Loch Ness monster.

        Here’s a useful link that explains this in detail:
        http://www.rationalresponders.com/am_i_agnostic_or_atheist

        • PlagueChicken says:

          I would classify myself as militant agnostic.

          I don’t know for sure, and you don’t either!

          PC

        • Brian Fritzen says:

          Plague,

          I do know for sure. There are absolutes that are found throughout nature (the universe). 2+2=4, no matter where you go in the current universe, 2+2 will always equal 4.

          There is no god/ creator. This is known based upon the lack of evidence. This creator of the christians only came on the scene, what?, 1500 years ago? or if you are Catholic 6000? Before that we had all sorts of silly versions of gods. Those gods were as real to those people as this god is as real to christians.

          I do know because there is no evidence. When someone dies, there is no loss of mass or weight that isn’t scientifically explained. Unless you are saying the soul evacuates with a bowel movement. There is no soul. Without a soul, you don’t have a deity. I am an organism that evolves from common ancestors as you do.

          I understand the agnostic stance and I respect it, though sometimes calling them wannabe atheists ;D. I just don’t share that belief: that there might be a god of some sort. Saying I do is something akin to christians claiming that I have never been in a foxhole (maybe not as insulting) but more like those that claim I secretly believe in their sky daddy.

          I don’t share that belief. I know there is no god, just like I know there are no elves living at the north pole making toys for good little girls and boys.

        • Brian Fritzen says:

          Plague,

          I read the article by the way. The root for gno is to know. a- not. Agnostic refers to not knowing, a willingness to say, “I am naive of such claims.” And in this instance, about a deity. So I guess I am explicit atheist… I will go with the language of the land and claim atheism because a language is defined by the people who use it (hence why English as exceptions to every literary “rule.”) not by some scholars in an Ivory Tower.

        • PlagueChicken says:

          Brian,

          Without going into the whole linguistic thing again, I’m just going to say one thing – and contradict myself in the process. Such is the nature of language. Absolutes don’t seem to exist. Might you say that PI is an absolute? The ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter is absolutely defined, yes? Non-repeating, non-terminating, but defined. Except, in different geometries, this is not necessarily true.

          2+2 only equals 4 so long as you are in the realm of real scalars. In vector spaces, this is not true. In the imaginary plane, this is not true. Again, absolutes absolutely do not exist.

          At the risk of being perceived as some sort of closeted god-ite, I would simply say that your assertion that you have absolute knowledge is a load of bollocks. Now, I’m certainly not in favor of the idea that people(ignorant and superstitious creatures that we are) managed to figure out the existence of a supreme being/creator before they understood sanitation, but by the same token I am not so cavalier about saying that we have disproved the existence of such an entity/force/whatever symbol you like because we haven’t found any proof yet.

          Just because our current crop of instrumentation is unable to determine if there is a mass-energy equivalent to the soul (postulating that is exists), using the absence of evidence to assert the absence of existence is a bit foolhardy. The neutrino was undetectable for a long time after it was proposed. The Higgs Boson is still being hunted. We believed in the neutrino’s existence long before it could be experimentally verified, because it fit with the rest of our hypothesis about the workings of the universe. Ditto for the Higgs ‘particle’. Do we need a ‘soul’ to explain things? Unlikely, but we can’t say for sure that the existence of such is impossible.

          You don’t share the belief in a creator-force, but not sharing belief is not akin to proving the absence of something. That for me is the crux of the argument. By saying I _know_ there is no such thing as a ‘god’, you are asserting absolute knowledge. If anything, the history of humanity’s ability to get things completely ass-backwards would leave me uneasy about making such a claim.

          Thus, I fall into the scientific method camp. I see no reason to require a god-force to explain existence, but I can’t absolutely say that no such thing exists. Since belief statements are at the heart of most conflict, I choose what seems to me to be a more rational approach. I don’t know, and I refute your assertion of knowledge.

          cheers

          PC

        • Brian Fritzen says:

          I get what you are trying to say and you are bordering on existentialism. There are absolutes. For instance, I know, absolutely that there is no group of elves living on the north pole making toys for good boys and girls.

          Higgs Particles and Neutrinos had evidence of their existence. We hadn’t observed or defined them but it was there. I think the confusion comes simply from how each of us see the world. I think you are using the lens of knowledge as a path to knowing. And I can see how, existentially speaking, there are no absolutes. But then again, I just gave you one about elves at the north pole. Yes, 2+2 =/= 4 in terms that we had to define ourselves. Evolution exists. Humans don’t have to understand it or even have knowledge of it for it to exist. And that is my viewpoint (and a bit of yours, I guess): My path to knowing allows for things I don’t or can’t understand (I am not referring to deities here.) For instance, I don’t know how to build a rocket large enough to get a human safely into space. They exist. I don’t understand completely how life started on earth, but it exists, and existed for millions of years without deities or mankind. I think the difference is of how we view not knowing. Correct me if I am wrong: but you see not knowing as allowing all possibilities? I see it as naivete. I am naive of how life started, but it doesn’t mean that “nothing is impossible.” To say there are no absolutes is to say “nothing is impossible.” It is impossible for me, without any protection, to stand nude on the surface of the sun as the sun currently exists and as I currently exist. That can be considered an absolute statement. And I know this.

          There is no god because god is a societal construct used to explain how things happened when current humans started asking about nature. To an atheist. “ism” is an act or condition, not a belief system. Communism, isn’t a belief in the community, it is the act or condition of coming together to form a community. “ist” means one who. So essentially, the dictionary definition is one without a god. It doesn’t deal with belief.

          I used to consider the possibility that there might be a creator and I didn’t know enough of the natural world to understand it. Hell, I had empirical evidence of Santa when I was young. I learned from those more knowledgeable and someone left presents under the tree and ate cookies. But I was naive. I didn’t know. Now I know that there is no Santa. Unless you want to talk existentially and say that Santa exists in spirit, which it does. But I can say, that Santa, as a man in a red suit who flies a sleigh around the Earth and delivers toys to girls and boys, and uses magic to get into homes, does not exist. That is an absolute.

          Faith and belief are things we revert to when we have no evidence of existence. It is a defense mechanism: aka denial (and sometimes referred to as delusion). But you can not absolutely say, “there are no absolutes” ;D. (The use of the second person pronoun is in general, not you specifically.)

          As for 2+2=4 in the natural universe this is an absolute truth when we are talking of adding the real number two and the real number two and getting the real number 4. When using imaginary numbers you have to change the equation and are no longer using real numbers. So it can be spoken of as an absolute.

          A lack of evidence is evidence of non existence isn’t my quote. I borrowed it. But it is true. The lack of six foot snuffleupagi dancing on my head IS evidence of the non existence of six foot snuffleuppagi standing on my head. I am not trying to be snarky, I am just trying to get concrete with how I see things and how I know things.

          How do you know what you know about anything is an important, but existential question. I know that babies can not be born of virgins. I know that no human amputee in has regrown limbs perfectly. There are ways of knowing and the Theory of Knowledge is but one way to know them. I love theory of knowledge and existentialism, but I can’t base all observations on it (nor do I think you do). You have to understand, though we celebrated Christmas, I grew up without knowledge of a creator. My children are growing up the same. It isn’t faith or even non faith. It just isn’t. And I think that is a problem for many people to understand. And that is why we seem snarky when we say, “Atheism is a religion like bald is a hair color, or non stamp collecting is a hobby.

          It is the application of the meaning of belief upon someone who does not believe. Not disbelief, but does not believe. And of course the counter argument would be, then how do I know, really know there is no creator based on an upbringing that included none (ie daoists, who don’t even like labels to being with!) Atheism is nothing more than a term proscribed to a group of people who don’t believe in a deity. It is a label, nothing more nothing less.

          But the statement, “There is no god,” is based on scientific inquiry into the hypothesis that there is a god. Stenger does a fantastic job of it in “God the Failed Hypothesis” where he even uses prayer studies conducted at Duke University. He addresses the agnostic, “Possibility of a god force.” I know you don’t see the possible existence of a white dude with a beard, but when you get existential then god could be anything you want it to be. To me, that seems like going back to square one. When there is no evidence of a creator force, then there is none. As I said before, neutrinos existed and there was evidence of them, as there is evidence of dark matter. If you get existential and claim that the Big Bang was the creator force then that would be a creator. But when I say I am atheist and there is no god, I am saying there is no intelligent force behind the existence of the universe.

    • Insightful Ape says:

      If you are a scientist, as you claim, then you must be aware of the concept of “null hypothesis”. To be brief about it, when a positive claim is made (e.g. aliens travel in UFOs; aspirin prevents heart disease) the default position is not to take it seriously, i.e., treat the statement as if it were false. It is up to the person presenting the claim to come up with evidence for it, in which case the null hypothesis is rejected. An easier way to look at this is the presumption of innocence: it is up to the prosecution to prove the guilt, not up to the defense to prove the innocence.
      It is not a “religious” attitude in any shape, form or way not to accept a positive claim presented without evidence. I can’t go out of my way trying to disprove any bizarre claim that is made. I will remain dismissive of UFOs, alien abductions and curative power of distilled water unless someone comes up with evidence.
      And when the claim is that someone, who is everywhere and nowhere at once, is reading my mind, and may suspend the laws of physics of he so wishes, that is about as bizarre as it gets.

      • Mr. A says:

        Could I ask a question to those who have responded to this thread? How does an atheist refer to him/herself when asked? I’ve been asked if I was an atheist, and my response is usually something like “well, I don’t believe in god, but I hesitate to call myself an atheist because to me, that almost implies that there is something out there to not believe in.” It seems odd to me to define oneself by what one *doesn’t* believe, otherwise one would have to spend the rest of one’s life listing all of the “a___ists” that one is. I don’t go around proclaiming myself an a-unicorn-ist.

        Has anyone else come up against this problem? Any creative solutions out there?

        • Brian Fritzen says:

          Atheist is a label placed upon us. Labels limit and define. Atheist means one without god. Which is a problem because it assumes that a god exists beyond the atheist.

          I came up with the problem above in my dialogue with PlagueChicken. Read that and you will see how I deal with it. I state there is no god, if they define that as I am atheist then so be it. I define myself that way because there is no god. But I think don’t believe in god is good because it gets the point across even though it allows for a “god” in definition, which is the problem.

          There is no god because there is no evidence of god. There is no tooth fairy because there is no evidence of a tooth fairy, although more evidence of a toothfairy can be found than of this god character. So, I think PlagueChickens link at the bottom of his post has an article about defining it. It isn’t perfect but I think they wish to define us as a “specialized atheist.” Which is fine but still a label.

          I tend to favor, “There is no evidence of the existence of any gods and lack of evidence is evidence of non existence.”

    • tony allen says:

      You may like Pat Condell on you tube. The talk titled “your religion is a joke”.

  5. sky lukewarmer says:

    I see education as the way to liberate the minds of the ill informed and indoctrinated people who are subjugated by mainstream religion,which is why I support the chFSM in their battle against the teaching of unscientific creationist dogma.On another level,as an atheist, I also see the chFSM as a platform where I can give voice to my concerns about religion and in light of bobby’s post it seems I may be wrong!

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  7. gordon_uk says:

    If only it was that simple!

    If we lived in a true secular society where no one group gained control over what is moral and right (and that’s before you talk about tax and government spending) we would have no issue at all. At the moment the theist side still have unfair monopoly on governing what is moral, what our laws should be and how our tax money should be spent. (i.e. In Belgium, the government pays the salaries of all priests and bishops, and the salaries for teachers in Catholic schools)

    A perfect example is the growing movement in the UK to repeal or amend the Human Rights laws as it infringes their Christian rights, with recent incidents adding fire to their arguments a recent one being a couple claiming they are having their human rights infringed by not allowing gay to stay hotel as it’s against their Christian belief (despite the fact they are open Sundays!!). We also see the same issue every X-mas where the Christians clime that they are being persecuted when originations don’t refer to it as Christmas saying that we are taking Christ out of Christmas despite the fact that it was air lifted to kill of the Pagan belief system which had been celebrating at the same time each year for at lest the past 6000 years!!

    How can we stop this? We have to make ourselves heard, sometimes that may make us look like the bad guys but quite often that’s just because we don’t allow someone to get away with something just because of their belief.

    Anyway rant over!!!

    I do find the below link quite an eye opener to what goes on.

    http://www.secularism.org.uk/whatthepaperssay.html

    RAmen
    Gordon

    • Brian Fritzen says:

      The funny thing here is that X is chi, the greek letter designated for Christ. And if you follow tradition, you are not supposed to write the name of your god. They are ignorant to the extreme. They don’t know their own religion.

    • tony allen says:

      Again, check out Pat Condell on you tube. He’s a Londoner and has a low opinion of religion.

  8. Brian Fritzen says:

    Hi all,

    I have encountered this type of behavior as well. I often find it amongst the newly atheistic rather than those of us who have been atheist for a while. For example: I have been atheist most of my life, from about the age of 8. I am now 38 and have lived with the religious right and their absurd notions. My brother recently realized as I do, that there is no creator. He is more “militant” than I am, absorbing texts about atheism at a rapid pace. I think he, as many a new atheist, have not found who they are as an atheist. It took me awhile to come to terms with who I am as an atheist. I learned the best lesson from pagans. As a test, I told one, I don’t believe in your gods and goddesses. The response wasn’t what you would find from your Abrahamic faiths. The response was: that is fine, believe however you wish. No threats of hellfire and brimstone, no screaming about where I get my morals from, nothing but acceptance. I like to think of myself this way. As and atheist, being good for goodness sake, means I must live and let live.

    It is only when a group such as a religious one imposes upon my life and liberties to which I take offense. I don’t think I should be militant about it. That is what they do. I think Ghandi did it best with non violence. It is the religious who are violent. And if we are to be truly better than them, then we must confront them and defeat them in the non violent way. Luckily, in America, our court system will do that for us. Time and again, the court system as defended the 1st Amendment instead of the religious right.

    If you have to do something, then give to Kiva, fight the good fight the best way we know how. Learn the laws of your land and fight using what is already established. Vote for representatives that reflect the secular stance. Run for office yourselves and prevent this garbage from going on.

    But to do it the religious way is tired and juvenile. A bigger statement rather than a tiny one works best. Just look at how the Church of the FSM came about. It is because of the support of all of us that this place has been a thorn in the sides of the religions. When an atheist sues (a school district, a courthouse, city hall etc.) to defend the 1st Amendment, don’t just comment on some forum. Or show your outrage in a letter to the editor. Educate yourself so you may make a valid argument and physically appear before that place. Physically make yourself be heard.

    • tony allen says:

      FFRF files the suit and the court decides if the 1st amendment has indeed been violated. The courts don’t automaticaly defend our rights.

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