Searching For Honest Atheists

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

The God ArgumentDamon Linker doesn’t see the need of another book about atheism. This time it’s British philosopher A.C. Grayling’s The God Argument – The Case against Religion and for Humanism, to be published on March 26. Linker quotes honest atheist and philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche when Nietzsche proclaimed that the death of God would be an “awe-inspiring catastrophe” for mankind. Although numerous gods from humanity’s past have lost their imagined effect on the human condition without catastrophic results, Nietzsche seems to think the passing of this god will be different.

Linker writes:

If atheism is true, it is far from being good news. Learning that we’re alone in the universe, that no one hears or answers our prayers, that humanity is entirely the product of random events, that we have no more intrinsic dignity than non-human and even non-animate clumps of matter, that we face certain annihilation in death, that our sufferings are ultimately pointless, that our lives and loves do not at all matter in a larger sense, that those who commit horrific evils and elude human punishment get away with their crimes scot free — all of this (and much more) is utterly tragic.

The claim that “we’re alone in the universe,” attempts to lump all of humanity into one group that will be alone with Linker’s god. However, since only individuals can feel loneliness, humanity may be alone but will not be lonely. The search for intelligent extra-terrestrial beings echos the same need for humanity to not be alone.

The lament that “no one hears or answers our prayers,” reminds me of a child’s devastation when that child learns that Santa doesn’t read the letters that they have written.

Linker thinks that under atheism, “humanity is entirely the product of random events.” Evolution puts lie to Linker’s straw man fallacy. Natural selection is not a random process. Randomness shouldn’t scare us. Humanity is used to the randomness of which sperm will penetrate the egg, making everyone’s identity the result of a random event.

While atheism does hold that we “face certain annihilation in death,” that annihilation makes life all the more precious. The world got along just fine before we were born, it will get along just fine after we’re dead. We live on only in the minds of those who survive our death. How we’re remembered is all that matters because that is all that remains.

Linker’s religion inflates its followers’ egos by claiming an all-powerful being loves them. The loss of that all-powerful being is a blow to the ego few theists are willing to accept. The feeling of being special in a world teeming with humans is seductive. Religion’s seductiveness also extends to the human desire for revenge. However, it is this very seductiveness that should make us skeptical of its truth.

We have followed the repeated attacks on atheists by political and religious leaders and Linker can be added to hall of shame. Linker believes, contrary to the Constitution’s requirement of “no religious test,” that “radical atheists” are “simply incompatible with high office, and sometimes even active citizenship, in a democracy.” Jews are atheistic regarding the Christian god. Is being Jewish also incompatible with high office?

In the case of Torcaso v. Watkins (1961), unanimous in the result it was the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion that:

We repeat and again reaffirm that neither a State nor the Federal Government can constitutionally force a person “to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion.”

H/T: Larry Moran, PZ Myers, Jerry Coyne, Jason Rosenhouse.

57 thoughts on “Searching For Honest Atheists

  1. After reading the provided enties from the featured book I was both dismayed and excited.
    Dismayed at the fact that this Linker fellow actually found someone to publish this tripe and excited as my young son who fancies himself a writer will be awarded the Pulitzer Prize shortly if this is his competition.

  2. The observation in the article that humans worry that no one hears their prayers, no God hears their prayers, much less answers them, demonstrates once again why humans congregate in order to pray. Because of God or Dog doesnt hear their prayers, perhaps JoeBob sitting, kneeling, standing and singing, next to the prayer giver, will respond.

    So, if I am starving and praying for a dog biscuit, I can eat at church. etcetera.

    Of course, the saying goes, ya gotta have faith. The word “faith” has to be spoken with a southern twang. The sentence has to be uttered smugly. The person uttering the phrase has to be standing upright and be looking at you and not at the car he is trying to sell you. The car he is trying to sell you has to have been made in a Christian nation. If you drive a Chinese car you better have Faith.

    Just a few observatins from a dog. A dog who was a former human and who went through the Pearly Gates routine to come back as a dog in this incarnation. A dog who can tell you that there aint no heaven and there aint no hell. There is limbo and its a suburb outside of Saint Louis called Florissant, Mo.

    Keep the Faith. And you dont need no book to advise you on Faith.

  3. Why would anyone want to use Neitzsche as a source for anything? He believed that all women and non-white people were inferior to white males. Just google his name and see his views toward women and non-white people.

  4. The are a lot of dishonest believers. So dishonest that you wonder if they believe in God or just believe in the Almighty Dollar. Watch these religious channels on TV. These guys up there in garb who preach on TV are the epitiomy of what we call “schmucks” here in the dogpac. Now, it is true that a schmuck can believe in both God and the Almightly Dollar. Take Creflo Dollar for example. He truly believes in both and in the order stated. If he were in France he would believe in the Euro but to hedge his bets he would own somed dollars and if he were in Greece he would rue the day that they go back to the Drachma.

    Religion is the opposite of science. That is why we teach Darwinism on Monday and Creationism on Sunday. Praise the Lard on Sunday and praise Krisco on Monday. It is always a Sunday to Monday switcherroo. Loyal to wifeypoo on Sunday and out with the secretary for lunch on Monday. Absinence makes the fart go fonder or something like that as well.

    So, believe in religion. Dont forget. On the Eighth Day God created Dog. If you need guidance see a dog and leave Jerry Falwell enough alone.

  5. “If atheism is true, it is far from being good news. Learning that we’re alone in the universe, that no one hears or answers our prayers………”

    I interpret this paragraph as an admission that man creates gods, not the other way around.

    I heard some say once that when monotheists acknowledge why they’ve rejected all the other gods of available throughout history, they’ll understand why their god is rejected by atheists.

  6. Linker cliff notes:
    “There is a God, because I don’t like the idea of there not being one.”

    If there is to be a rule that aetheists are to be barred from high office, there would have to be rock solid legal proof of their aetheism. Otherwise the election/appointment processcould get bogged down in ongoing court actions.
    Getting them to swear it on The Bible should probably do it.

  7. Rcampbell,

    I think you have a vald point….. Are the Druids any less Druid because there God was taken away…. Are the Mayans any less because the Catholics killed them all or at least tried to….. The list is endless…… Most people’s God is the currency….. That they use to buy and influence things…..

    Nal, excellent article…. Beautifully presented….

  8. rc,

    Excellent point. “I heard some say once that when monotheists acknowledge why they’ve rejected all the other gods of available throughout history, they’ll understand why their god is rejected by atheists.”

    I’m going to use that one.

  9. This is like the silly arguments between Creation & Natural Selection, God (Big Being up there) & No Spirits Anywhere (this definition of Atheism), & lastly, Prosecution & Defense in western law. Not only should there be no such extremes! THERE ARE NO SUCH EXTREMES! And this extremism gets in the way of finding out the TRUTH, which is what the prosecution, defense, judge, & every lawyer SHOULD BE DOING! (& why western justice is so fragile & rare).

  10. It is what it is and nobody knows what It/it is.

    That being said, religion pushed the founding of this country in ways both overt and subtle … thank England’s Glorious Revolution.

    Any serious student of the American Revolution recognizes the role religion played from the Golden City on a Hill in Massachusetts to the disagreement between the New Lights and Old Lights in Connecticut to the fear of a royal appointment of an Anglican Bishop in Pennsylvania and New York to the threat of the godless heathen on the frontiers in Virginia and the Carolinas … religion is as much a part of our culture as guns.

    I left out the Popery fears emanating from Rhode Island which leads me to the next thought.

    I have read that one of the specific reasons for the election of this new Pope stems from the inroads evangelical Protestantism is making in South America.

    Thus the beat goes on.

    So Linker’s book may very well be silly and misguided as he!! but culturally, it is right on target. It will sell, which, as far as I’m concerned, is the only real purpose religion serves … sales.

  11. Nal,

    Courageous.

    Like religion and like philosophy, I think it is quite obvious that one man’s evolution is another man’s evolutionary lie:

    Linker thinks that under atheism, “humanity is entirely the product of random events.” Evolution puts lie to Linker’s straw man fallacy. Natural selection is not a random process. Randomness shouldn’t scare us. Humanity is used to the randomness of which sperm will penetrate the egg, making everyone’s identity the result of a random event.

    To some evolutionists human intelligence is the pinnacle of natural selection, while other evolutionists consider it to be a fatal mutation that will lead to extinction of the human species.

    Randomness has been called a fundamental essence of evolution because of the uncertainty of protons at the base of RNA and DNA:

    “In this paper we have pointed out that, since the protons are not classical particles but “wave packets” obeying the laws of modern quantum theory, the genetic code cannot –in spite of all precautions– be 100% stable. Due to the quantum-mechanical “tunnel effect,” there is always a small but finite probability that the protons will change place, alter the genetic code, and give rise to mutations. This implies also that this transfer of protons over a distance of about 10-^8 cm may be one of the driving forces in the evolution of living organisms on the earth.”

    (Stem Cell Malfunction A Quantum Toxin Source?). The science wars over issues has been ongoing in modern times as religions ideological battles have.

    One fundamental reason is that our “knowledge” is really trust in another person (Doctor, lawyer, merchant, chief, parents, pastors, scientists, etc.) who tell us what we believe through our trust in them.

    The study of “knowledge” and how to handle it, especially when experts of equal credentials differ fundamentally on the same evidence is ongoing in Epistemology (The Pillars of Knowledge: Faith and Trust?). We see this at work on this blog, and every other blog, in politics, in religion, and in science.

    We tend to believe who we like and trust because we actually do not have the time or resources to be the discoverers.

    We ingest what others say and make our decisions with subconscious mechanisms that develop from our youth.

    This morning a quote caught my eye:

    “Events in my life caused me to start questioning my goals and the correctness of everything I had learned. In matters of religion, medicine, biology, physics, and other fields, I came to discover that reality differed seriously from what I had been taught. As a result of this questioning process, I was startled to realize how much of my “knowledge” was indeed questionable.”

    – Dr. Thomas C Van Flandern

  12. Nothing worse than a dishonest atheist. They can steal and not go to hell. They can go to the cathouse on Sunday. They can at Krisco on Sunday and praise it. They can live with out Faith (said with a southern accent). They can read the Koran and the Bible at the same time and not get struck by lightning.

    Now an honest Athiest is another matter. He can go to the bar and see his friends and get respect. He can go fishing on Sunday and caught his limit. He can go to the cathouse on Sunday and put in his fair share. He will have respect. He wont go to hell because there is none. He wont go to NYC because it is full. He can pass go. Honest Abe was an honest athiest. You would be too if you were married to Mary Todd. Or was she at the Helm. I get those names mixed up.

    Just remember that hell hath no fury like a women scorned.

  13. Its not fried chicken daddy, its Shake N Bake. So said the kid on TV one day before the apocolypse. Athiesm is like Deism– they both take a lot of criticizm. Me? I am a non believer in believing. Some things are just beyond belief.

  14. Reality is exactly what you make it No more, no less. There are as many realities as there are speakers to comment upon on it. Where we overlap in our views, particularly among the sciences, is were we “agree” on the parts of our reality that seem to be shared.

    And it generally “works,” or our technocracy could never have been built, much less function.

    Randomness appears to drive practically every event in this universe, which is set up Just So such that the speed of light is Just This Much, and acceleration due to gravity is The Exact Proper Amount, and so on, or the whole works comes crashing down.

    Whenever I write a new software app of any merit, it always begins with the Config File, a small patch of data that tells the application what to do with itself. If it’s accounting software, the state sales tax rate would go here, and so on. Everything in the config file is Just So, and any tiny changes will result in almost certain Higgeldy-PIggeldy, affecting the entire application.

    Many are addicted to the quest to find the config file for the local universe. We do not yet know all the settings. Most, perhaps, but something fundamental is still missing. I think it has to do with the intimate inclusion of the observer, which science tends to ignore.

    For me the universe is much more fabulous absent an angry meddling old fart with 15 (CRASH! Oy! Make that 10) things you ought not be doing, at least half of which are to care for the teenage vanity-god who brooks no competition, yet alleges omnipotence. I am related by blood to true believers of that drek. And to them, mozoltov! But please, please do not drag it into our shared public square where we need something a wee more concrete than “I believe.” and divine abjuration of any who dare disagree.

    Lastly, for true believers who use their beliefs to deprive others of their rights, please get out of government. Your time has come to an end, and in our connected age, you have all the trappings of the slow-motion staged electrocution of a marionette.

  15. Blouise reflects, “So Linker’s book may very well be silly and misguided as he!! but culturally, it is right on target. It will sell, which, as far as I’m concerned, is the only real purpose religion serves … sales.”

    Well-said. As in all such matters, Follow The Money.

  16. One has to wonder if natural selection stopped midstream:

    “One would say that [man] is destined to exterminate himself after having rendered the globe uninhabitable.”

    – Lamarck (1817) [a famous evolutionist.]

    If natural selection resulted in humans, and they are the cause of human extermination, such selection is worthless. The same can be said for religious notions that God is governing this planet, because the extinction of human civilization or the end of the world, is also worthless governance.

    Again:

    ” Looking to the world at no very distant date, what an endless number of the lower races will have been eliminated by the higher civilized races throughout the world.”

    – Charles Darwin (1881)

    Was he informing us of a high level natural selection that would manifest as Eugenics or violent race bias?

    Religious notions of race superiority are likewise useless.

    Finally:

    “Mayr, from the point of view of a biologist, argued that it’s very unlikely that we’ll find any [extraterrestrial intelligence]. And his reason was, he said, we have exactly one example: Earth. So let’s take a look at Earth. And what he basically argued is that intelligence is a kind of lethal mutation … you’re just not going to find intelligent life elsewhere, and you probably won’t find it here for very long either because it’s just a lethal mutation”

    – Dr. Noam Chomsky (paraphrasing Dr. Ernst Mayr a famous evolutionist.)

    If God created humans in his image, and their intelligence is the cause of civilization’s demise, what is the big whoop? Same with natural selection that just showed up to bring some fatality to evolution.

    If two ideas are bankrupt, why fight for either one of them?

  17. Religious folk can dress up their war sales with images of whatever god-version best suits the buyer. Choose your paint color.

    Atheists are stuck with the undisguised truth … greed and ground. Only one color available.

    Is it any wonder people in positions of power and leadership choose the god route?

  18. My apologies to the Colony of Georgia who had godless heathens on one frontier and Spanish Popery on another … that’s why they were kinda late to the game.

  19. The basic tug of war between religion and no religion is Revelation versus Investigation.

    The former puts people in blind folds both on the outside and to the inner sight, hence the blind faith/beliefs; where as the latter opens the inner eyes through which everything can be seen, investigated and observed in a nitid manner.

    I will stick to the latter.

  20. Blouise 1, March 16, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    Religious folk can dress up their war sales with images of whatever god-version best suits the buyer. Choose your paint color.

    Atheists are stuck with the undisguised truth … greed and ground. Only one color available.

    Is it any wonder people in positions of power and leadership choose the god route?
    ==================================================
    That observation shows up in recent historical books concerning the history of war:

    The enemy aggressor is always pursuing a course of larceny, murder, rapine and barbarism. We are always moving forward with high mission, a destiny imposed by the Deity to regenerate our victims, while incidentally capturing their markets; to civilise savage and senile and paranoid peoples, while blundering accidentally into their oil wells.

    (Flynn, 1944). Can anyone say holy war is good for business?

    And the scientists, who are predominately evolutionists, incessantly make the weapons to help the holy wars bring lasting peace to the Earth.

    Without that fatal mutation that produced Einstein there would be no nuclear weapons that are stockpiled with enough power to destroy human civilization 50 times over.

    I think the proper diagnosis of natural selection or its religious equivalent, divine guidance, really need therapy:

    “Insanity in individuals is something rare – but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

    “I would not say that such an attempt to apply psychoanalysis to civilized society would be fanciful or doomed to fruitlessness.” – Sigmund Freud

    The reality is that our knowledge production and advocacy for it, is not very different from gang signs and tats.

    Crips v Bloods baby.

  21. The great ain’t God ain’t gonna hear your prayers, ain’t gonna make you rich, and ain’t gonna smite people you’re p-offed at. You need a congregation to do those things. Then it’s okay. A congregation can make the great AIN’T into the great AM ….. of course the great am really ain’t, but don’t try to tell them that,. cause theyam will take your money and theyam will smite you. …… It’s tax free too!!!

  22. Teji Malik 1, March 16, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    The basic tug of war between religion and no religion is Revelation versus Investigation.

    The former puts people in blind folds both on the outside and to the inner sight, hence the blind faith/beliefs; where as the latter opens the inner eyes through which everything can be seen, investigated and observed in a nitid manner.

    I will stick to the latter.
    ===========================================
    In both cases “knowledge” … what you believe to be so … is revealed by someone and you choose that particular selection naturally because of the 98% of your cognition that is subconscious, along with the 2% that is conscious.

    In the one case revelation of some knowledge is by a cleric, but in the other case the revelation of some knowledge is by a secularist, which does not ipso facto change the nature of the natural knowledge selection:

    I find myself believing all sorts of things for which I do not possess evidence: that smoking cigarettes causes lung cancer, that my car keeps stalling because the carburetor needs to be rebuild, that mass media threaten democracy, that slums cause emotional disorders, that my irregular heart beat is premature ventricular contraction, that students’ grades are not correlated with success in the nonacademic world, that nuclear power plants are not safe (enough) …

    The list of things I believe, though I have no evidence for the truth of them, is, if not infinite, virtually endless. And I am finite. Though I can readily imagine what I would have to do to obtain the evidence that would support any one of my beliefs, I cannot imagine being able to do this for all of my beliefs. I believe too much; there is too much relevant evidence (much of it available only after extensive, specialized training); intellect is too small and life too short.

    What are we as epistemologists to say about all these beliefs? If I, without the available evidence, nevertheless believe a proposition, are my belief and I in that belief necessarily irrational or non-rational? Is my belief then mere belief (Plato’s right opinion)? If not, why not? Are there other good reasons for believing propositions, reasons which do not reduce to having evidence for the truth of those propositions? What would these reasons look like?

    In this paper I want to consider the idea of intellectual authority, particularly that of experts. I want to explore the “logic” or epistemic structure of an appeal to intellectual authority and the way in which such an appeal constitutes justification for believing and knowing.

    (from links up-thread). This is the subject matter of Epistemology, the way we naturally select what we will call “our knowledge.”

    We first select intellectual authority, be it clerical or secularist, then through trust in what they say, we absorb it into our brains.

    And over time both sources prove to be wrong from time to time, no matter what techniques they employ.

    And since we judge who is right and who is wrong using our trust mechanisms, we have a circular analysis flaw.

    It seems that the conclusion is that we have not formed sufficient means and methods for producing knowledge, but we have very active means and mechanisms for producing belief.

  23. Faith, by it’s very definition, requires the long-play version of the suspension of disbelief. Faith is the belief in or acceptance of something despite the absence of any supportive evidence or in spite of the evidence which proves it false. It requires a deliberate and sustained aversion to logical or critical thinking. I can do that for a couple of hours at a time in a movie theater, but not as a way of living in the real world. Why doesn’t walking around in a permanent state of suspended disbelief and/or the ardent belief in spirits controlling human activities qualify as a mental illness?

  24. Linker is obviously a man that hates both I democracy and the Constitution. He is exactly the kind of apologist for the excesses of religion and religion in general that gives all religious people a bad name. Unfortunately,and it pains me to say this, as religions get more and more aggressive about the need for the government to enforce their religious beliefs and prejudices the religion of an office seeker has become more relevant. Theocrats should not be permitted to hold office in a democracy because if they take over democracy wil be over. One election and done because once god or his representative is In place any one who tires to unseat him is condemned.

    To all those theocrats out there just remember there are many gods and many religions. As a result, you should be careful what you wish for because you wouldn’t like it if you got it. An that was exactly what the founders realized when they wrote the Constitution. They had seen enough of the wonders of religious wars and the death and pain they delivered in the name of god. No established religion, no religious tests and the separation of church and state, for dead old flawed white guys they were pretty smart!

  25. “It’s tax free too!!!” (David Blauw)

    Well sure … once a year the good folk have a food drive to feed the poor … they’d do it twice a year but the choir needs new robes or the minister just has to have his/her educational sabbatical to the Holy Land and the dog-gone roof over the sanctuary needs to be repaired … and, for cryin’ out loud, the congregation can only give so much … they can’t possibly pay taxes and have a yearly food drive!

  26. Another day, another theist regurgitates another false and long discredited “argument”.

    Atheism is the arrogant belief that the entire billion-galaxy universe was not created for us.

  27. There have been a few good comments on knowledge & how we know, often taking the ideas of ones we trust. But there is another way & while we don’t have to question every little thing, we certainly should on those which don’t appear to work well. This could be called knowing how to know & would include the subject of how to study. Such subjects have been devised, the last, a Study Technology, being a subset of the former. I’ll mention the former in a minute, knowing that the usual gang of idiots will pounce like rabid dogs as they did when I suggested a certain human rights group could throw light on the white male mass murder problem without throwing out the 2nd Amendment. Of course, they do this precisely because they DON’T know how to know & end up accepting someone else’s warped ideas, based on ignorance or malice. So you probably guessed by now that the study of knowing how to know I speak of is called Scientology. Incidentally it leaves the choice of God, Atheism, or what have you, up to the individual, but if you know how to know you have a better chance of figuring it out.

  28. rcampbell asks: “Why doesn’t walking around in a permanent state of suspended disbelief and/or the ardent belief in spirits controlling human activities qualify as a mental illness?”

    Back to the def of ‘faith’, first; a belief in something for which there is no evidence. Even though this is the definition of ‘faith,’ and faith is a cornerstone in our world’s major religions, the faithful don’t like to acknowledge this aspect of their order, in my experience.

    The most ardent, outspoken xtians/muslims tend to profess(and believe) that the fables and prophecy from the books that form the foundation of their ‘faith’ can/will be supported by science and history. This desire to find evidence for something that by definition does not rely, depend, or is even capable of being supported with evidence(the supernatural by definition is outside detection of the natural world) shows that there is an acknowledgement that ‘faith’ alone isn’t enough in our time for many believers. Yet, the desire for promises like an afterlife and punishment for wrongdoers is strong.

    This sets up the scenario for mass cognitive dissonance. The misalignment of evidence and desire/comfort-in-belief creates the niche market that apologists like Linker and Lee Strobel exploit, plus website/.orgs like ICR, by giving believers something that appears to be scientific/academic to bridge the growing divide between belief and reality.

    This misalignment between evidenced reality and ‘faithiness'(the desire/belief that a thing is true regardless of what is/can-be shown to be true) would surely be considered mental illness under less entrenched circumstances.

    **I’m heavily generalizing. These views are meant to show my opinion of a large and distinct thread within the major contemporary religions.

  29. P.smith”Atheism is the arrogant belief that the entire billion-galaxy universe was not created for us.”

    What is your belief? Does Objective Realty need any belief? Please share.

  30. Dredd: Please read my whole post again and perhaps slowly this time. You know very well what I meant by Revelation.If you do not, it was in the religious context. Nothing to do with your babble by twisting the meaning I mentioned.:-)

  31. @ P. Smith

    Atheism is the arrogant belief that the entire billion-galaxy universe was not created for us.

    Religionism, nay, Catholicism, is the arrogant belief that the entire billion-galaxy universe was created for Infallible me.

    Signed, Poop Franky. The new poop, same as the old poop.

  32. Very interesting topic Nal! I kept wondering how much money the Cathoic Church could give to the poor by not flying over one hundred Cardinals to Rome to vote for the new Pope.

  33. Makes more sense than the way our AH president wastes our money NOT freely given, along with his AH banker buddies & corporate AH buddies. Corporations are okay if they don’t use our tax dollars but most of the big ones do, along with eminent domain & other worse crimes. I don’t personally believe in a Deity or BigBeingInTheSky, but you have to be a bit of an AH yourself to knock a billion Catholics. (you are not alone on any of these sites, but that is no excuse)

  34. John Hagee tells atheists to get out and wants Congress to shred the First Amendment
    Daily Kos
    6/5/12
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/06/05/1097604/-John-Hagee-tells-atheists-to-get-out-and-wants-Congress-to-shred-the-First-Amendment

    Excerpt:
    Last Sunday, John Hagee gave a sermon that is absolutely staggering, even by his standards. He not only called for atheists and other non-Christians to pack up and leave if they didn’t like the fact that this is a “Christian nation,” but also effectively called for Congress to tell our troops that the First Amendment doesn’t apply to them.

  35. Raff,

    So far I’m very impressed by what I’ve read about this new pope…. It’s a little inspiring…. So far his humility is the same… One think I read… Rather than the argetenians spending money to come to Rome… He wants them to spend or give it to the poor…. After he was selected pope…. He went to the hotel… And personally paid his account and retrieved his own bags…. If all of this is true…. I hope to learn a great deal inspiration from his acts….. He is practicing the fatith as the original Francis….. When all else fails… Speak…

  36. If Ray Comfort can write a book about atheism/atheists or any subject for someone with an I.Q. higher then 40, then this Damon Linker can. After all, there is still quite a large market in America to appeal to bashing atheists.

  37. Blouse,

    Thar s no Devine belief in a Gad in Georgia since Sherman came through…. Only kiddin ya…

  38. As an atheist, I am for more comfortable thinking that most deaths are the result of randomness, in accident or accidental encounter with bad humans, than thinking they were planned by a Supreme being.

    The premise that God has a “plan” that calls for innocent children to be tortured and raped to death for the perversely horrific pleasure of others is simply abhorrent to me. My youngest brother was a good kid, summarily shot through the heart for insulting a drug dealer. My youngest sister was not only a praying Christian but a woman trying to protect her two-year child when she was murdered (but her child was saved). My next-youngest sister was burned over 60% of her body as the result of a prank by neighborhood kids and it has ruined her life and potential. My next youngest brother choked to death in a random accident. A cousin I grew up with was struck and killed by a car while walking on the side of the road due to his own broken car. If all that was part of His plan, screw the plan.

    I find it far more palatable to believe there is nobody deciding anything, there is no “plan” except for the ones we make ourselves, and bad things happen to good people because of randomized bad luck, dumb human decisions, and morally defective humans, and that we can try to engineer a society that minimizes our losses without minimizing our freedoms. That view is not filled with contradictions and impossibilities, it is just reality.

  39. Teji Malik 1, March 16, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    Dredd: Please read my whole post again and perhaps slowly this time. You know very well what I meant by Revelation.If you do not, it was in the religious context. Nothing to do with your babble by twisting the meaning I mentioned.:-)
    =============================================
    All words have various meanings of course.

    Many of the meanings are fabrications.

    Knowledge by revelation is not limited to religion.

    My “babble” is about the nexus between what we call “knowledge” and who we get it from.

    In that context, scientists reveal knowledge to us and we believe it or we do not, depending on our faith / trust in that individual and science.

    Often that “knowledge” turns out to be wrong. In fact most major scientific teachings eventually are shown to be in error in some degree. Sometimes the degree is 100%.

    Likewise, religionists reveal knowledge to us and we believe it or we do not, depending on our faith / trust in that individual and religion.

    Often that “knowledge” turns out to be wrong. In fact most major religious teachings eventually are shown to be in error in some degree. Sometimes the degree is 100%.

    It is your faith / trust that is driving your ideology. And mine. And theirs.

  40. rcampbell 1, March 16, 2013 at 1:09 pm
    … Why doesn’t walking around in a permanent state of suspended disbelief and/or the ardent belief in spirits controlling human activities qualify as a mental illness?
    ===========================================
    It does qualify as a mental illness, as does believing human civilization is in control.

    But it is not an individual illness, it is a group illness:

    “Insanity in individuals is something rare – but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

    “I would not say that such an attempt to apply psychoanalysis to civilized society would be fanciful or doomed to fruitlessness.” – Sigmund Freud

    IMO this thread is not about which side is crazy in this ideological war, because both sides are a part of a crazy group called “human civilization.”

    Both are hurtling towards catastrophe that will destroy civilization, but instead of choosing to avoid the catastrophe, the crowd is more concerned about their origin than they are of their destination:

    “One would say that [man] is destined to exterminate himself after having rendered the globe uninhabitable.” – Lamarck (1817)

    “Mayr, from the point of view of a biologist, argued that it’s very unlikely that we’ll find any [extraterrestrial intelligence]. And his reason was, he said, we have exactly one example: Earth. So let’s take a look at Earth. And what he basically argued is that intelligence is a kind of lethal mutation … you’re just not going to find intelligent life elsewhere, and you probably won’t find it here for very long either because it’s just a lethal mutation” – Dr. Noam Chomsky paraphrasing Dr. Ernst Mayr

    This war of origins that conducts various forms of knowledge production while driving down the road to the future — steering by viewing only what is in the rear view mirror — is not going to be successful for either religionists or scientists, both of which have some common beliefs from time to time:

    “Looking to the world at no very distant date, what an endless number of the lower races will have been eliminated by the higher civilized races throughout the world.” – Charles Darwin (1881)

    Our knowledge production on either side tends toward increasingly “sophisticated” violence based on who has the best “knowledge.”

    Knowledge that is determined by who one believes.

  41. I do not believe anything about religion that I have not seen. I have been through the Pearly Gates routine on the reincarnation routine and it is not all that holy or roller. It is kind of like Ellis Island. I went to the little seminar called Come Back As A Dog. It was a pretty good show. The deal is that they place you with a family in a civilized nation state, not a Pirate Territory like Morroco where dogs are sold in the markets hangin by their rear feet while still alive for food. You get a bowl of dog food and a a rather healthy family. The rest is up to you. You have to provide guidance and comfort in the tryhing times.

  42. AY,
    the only thing Francis I has going for him is that he is a Jesuit. His record also reflects that he is a hardliner on many issues that Catholics everywhere do not agree with or follow. When he orders all Bishops to turn over all pedophile priests to authorities, then we may have something. I might even go back to church if that happens!

  43. “The lament that “no one hears or answers our prayers,” reminds me of a child’s devastation when that child learns that Santa doesn’t read the letters that they have written.”

    Wow, another validation of the theory “Santa Syndrome” which states that atheism is caused by Santa Claus. It is observed that atheists will almost always attempt to tie the belief in God with Santa Claus, as well as other strawman arguments like pasta monsters, unicorns, teapots in space, etc…

    “We have followed the repeated attacks on atheists by political and religious leaders and Linker can be added to hall of shame. Linker believes, contrary to the Constitution’s requirement of “no religious test,” that “radical atheists” are “simply incompatible with high office, and sometimes even active citizenship, in a democracy.” Jews are atheistic regarding the Christian god [sic]. Is being Jewish also incompatible with high office?”

    This is peculiar, where we see references to fictitious “repeated attacks” on atheists. Really? Just about daily, we read or hear about yet another attack by atheists on people exercising their freedom of religion. Whats more, atheists pervert laws and use the court system to force their belief on others. Attacks on atheists? That’s the funniest thing I’ve hear in a while. SMH

  44. Hubert: At my university, one of the student organizations is an Atheists club. Faculty (like me) are welcome, and I try to attend when my schedule permits. (Quietly; I like to hear them discuss atheism on their own).

    In particular, I am interested in the new members recruited every year, we have a meeting where people are invited (not required) to tell the story of how they came to be an atheist.

    One particular story I heard went like this, and is representative of about half of them. A young man said,

    “In high school I was a Christian, and vocal about it, but other Christians seemed to know the Bible so well, and I hadn’t even read it. So one summer I sat down and I read the Bible, cover to cover. When I put it down, I was an atheist.”

    That wasn’t my own story, but the cause is similar. Atheism isn’t caused by Santa Claus, the disbelief in Santa Claus and a disbelief in God just spring from the same well: An insistence that things make sense and are logical and cohere. Santa Claus is the easier problem, the evidence for his non-existence is more readily available and more readily admitted.

    God is much the tougher problem, the story is constructed to be circularly reinforcing, and His non-existence is adamantly and angrily denied by adults, many willing to commit violence over it; from punishing or beating their children into submission, to murdering the infidels.

    Which to me, makes those that arrive at atheism on their own heroes, people with fortitude and vision clear enough to find the true path despite 95% of the people they meet (and often their parents, family, friends and peers) vehemently insisting they are wrong, wrong, wrong.

  45. Raff,

    I cannot disagree based upon how I feel as well….. What this guy has going for him…. Is he is not acting like his predecessor in anyway…. Thus far….. We can’t say that about politics here….

  46. “DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
    “Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
    “Papa says, ‘If you see it in THE SUN it’s so.’
    “Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?

    “VIRGINIA O’HANLON.
    “115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET.”

    VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

    Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

    Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

    You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

    No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

  47. Here are some more cases of honest athiests:

    “The ascription of all changes in form to chance has long caused raised eyebrows. Let us not dally with the doubts of nineteenth-century critics, however; for the issue subsided. But it raised its ugly head again in a fairly dramatic form in 1967, when a handful of mathematicians and biologists were chattering over a picnic lunch organized by the physicist, Victor Weisskopf, who is a professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and one of the original Los Alamos atomic bomb group, at his house in Geneva. `A rather weird discussion’ took place. The subject was evolution by natural selection. The mathematicians were stunned by the optimism of the evolutionists about what could be achieved by chance. So wide was the rift that they decided to organize a conference, which was called Mathematical Challenges to the Neo-Darwinian Theory of Evolution.

    The conference was chaired by Sir Peter Medawar, whose work on graft rejection won him a Noble prize and who, at the time, was director of the Medical Research Council’s laboratories in North London. Not, you will understand, the kind of man to speak wildly or without careful thought. In opening the meeting, he said: `The immediate cause of this conference is a pretty widespread sense of dissatisfaction about what has come to be thought of as the accepted evolutionary theory in the English-speaking world, the so-called neo-Darwinian theory. This dissatisfaction has been expressed from several quarters.”

    (G.R. Taylor, Great Evolution Mystery, 1983, p. 4.) The thing is, these atheists and evolutionists are honest enough to argue like Shia and Sunni at a blasphemy conference at Mecca:

    “The immediate cause of this conference is a pretty widespread sense of dissatisfaction about what has come to be thought as the accepted evolutionary theory in the English-speaking world, the so-called neo-Darwinian theory … These objections to current neo-Darwinian theory are very widely held among biologists generally; and we must on no account, I think, make light of them.”

    (Paul Moorhead and Martin Kaplan (ed.), Mathematical Challenges to the Neo-Darwinian Interpretation of Evolution). It is a good thing when scientists can be honest and disagree about a theory:

    “Throughout the past century there has always existed a significant minority of first-rate biologists who have never been able to bring themselves to accept the validity of Darwinian claims. In fact, the number of biologists who have expressed some degree of disillusionment is practically endless. When Arthur Koestler organized the Alpbach Symposium, in 1969, called `Beyond Reductionism,’ for the express purpose of bringing together biologists critical of orthodox Darwinism he was able to include in the list of participants many authorities of world stature, such as Swedish neurobiologist, Holgar Hyden; zoologists, Paul Weiss and W.H. Thorpe; linguist, David McNeil; and child psychologist, Jean Piaget. Koestler had this to say in his opening remarks: `. . invitations were confined to personalities in academic life, with undisputed authority in their respective fields, who nevertheless share that holy discontent.

    “At the Wistar Institute Symposium in 1966, which brought together mathematicians and biologists of impeccable academic credentials, Sir Peter Medawar acknowledged in his introductory address the existence of a widespread feeling of skepticism over the role of chance in evolution, a feeling in his own words that: `… something is missing from orthodox theory.’ “

    (Michael Denton, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, 1985, pp. 327-328). Even if one considers all the questions to have been resolved, one cannot deny that there were honest atheists arguing amongst themselves at times:

    “The doubt that has infiltrated the previously smug confident certitude of evolutionary biology’s last twenty years has inflamed passions . . There has been a total lack of agreement even within the warring camps . . Things are really in an uproar these days . . Sometimes it seems as though there are as many variations on each [evolutionary] theme as there are individual biologists.”

    (Niles Eldredge, “Evolutionary Housecleaning,” in Natural History, February 1982, pp. 78, 81). The honest atheists are much like their counterparts, the creationists, when those creationists are heard when arguing about the age of the Earth.

  48. If Christianity is true, it is far far worse than the bleak portrait painted of the universe by the atheist viewpoint in the Linker quote above. If Christianity is true, it means that billions of human beings will not have their sufferings in this life ended – instead they will have them multiplied for eternity – all not because of any evil deeds they may have committed in this life, but because they failed to smooch the butt of a egotistical God. However nihilistic the atheist outlook may be, it is far more rosier than this scenario.

  49. I think humans will always have more dignity that a tree because we know we will die and rot yet carry on despite that. The more humanely we carry on while living with this knowledge, the more dignity we have. We don’t need god to do that; in fact, a god would reduce the dignity of that.

  50. What if you were a god and never died? Do we have to blame or praise one big god & give him a capital G? Now that last one is a lot harder to prove than the first. If you think not, examine your argument: its probably based on blind faith.

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